Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Oh Windows, you are awful!

So, I am back online with my slightly upgraded computer. Things didn't go very smoothly with the upgrade.

The first problem I had was that after installing Windows I found that the WiFi drivers I had didn't work. So I had to use another PC to find the correct ones, then copy them across. And when I installed them, they also installed a useless wireless utility. So I uninstalled them then told Windows to look in the driver folder for the device drivers, which worked okay.

But then when I restarted the PC, I got a message that no boot drive was found. I messed around with the SATA cables, trying to get the new OS drive to be the boot drive, but nothing worked.

Then I realised that actually you can the set the drive order in the BIOS. (I had tried setting the boot order in the BIOS previously, but this just allows you to choose Floppy, CD, or the 1st hard drive). But after setting the OS drive to the 1st drive, and as the 1st boot device, I still got the same message about there being no boot device.

So I decided to install Windows again. Thankfully this time after the install was complete I could reboot and shut down, and the machine would boot back into Windows successfully.

However, after I installed the WiFi drivers Windows became unresponsive and blue screened. Then I got the same no boot device message after restarting. Looking in the BIOS, the drive wasn't listed.

After a bit of cable fiddling the drive was found again, and Windows would boot. But one of the other drives now wasn't appearing.

With some more cabling fiddling and multiple tries this morning I finally managed to get it all working with all drives recognised. (As well as one of the hard drives, the DVD drive also kept disappearing). Just have to be very careful not to move any cables inside the PC!

After getting it working, and installing the graphics card drives I had to restart. Windows tried to install 136 updates on shut down. This took ages, and after restarting it took ages finishing installing them all.

Except, that it didn't actually install them. It said update failed after a bit, then rolled back all the updates. So that was about an hour wasted.

I manually used Windows update to install the updates 18 at a time (which required a restart after each batch). This probably took about an hour too, but at least it did install the updates successfully.

Really MS should offer downloadable DVD images of updated Windows installs that contain all updates so far. Then you could just burn it to a DVD and install from that without having to spend ages downloading millions of updates. Since you still need a valid serial number to activate Windows I don't think there should be any reason why they couldn't do this.

Since installing the 136 updates earlier, there have been about another 30 updates I've installed. And I just checked again now, and there another 89 important updates that need installing.

I had some trouble getting my VPC VMs working. They all said that the parent disk image was missing. But the parent disk image did not appear to be missing. After a bit I figured out the issue - all my disk images were differencing disks from a 'Windows XP Mode.vhd', which was in itself a differencing disk from 'C:\Program Files\Windows XP Mode\Windows XP Mode base.vhd'. This base image was what was missing. After installing that, the VPC VM would start successfully.

Well, actually, it only got as far as asking me for a username and password. But what on earth would this be? Searching yielded no useful information. Apparently Windows XP Mode should ask you for a username and password when you install it. Having just installed it, I can say that it certainly did not ask me for this information.

Eventually I managed to guess the correct combination - XMPUser as the username, and the password was what I had set as my Windows password.

The next issue was that the internet wasn't working in the VM. I had to go into the VM settings and change the Network adapter to shared NAT. I'm sure that's what it was set to previously though, so I'm not sure why that would have changed.

A couple of things I had forgotten to back up were my Filezilla config and hosts file. So I had to manually edit them to add back in the essentials that I need.

In terms of speed difference with the OS installed on an SSD rather than two standard HDs in RAID 0, the TTLS is about the same. But from login to Windows loading fully and being ready to use is much faster.

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