Saturday, October 13, 2007

How I Spent Columbus Day (Observed)

Last Monday was a Federal Holiday, and I'd done all the yard work I was going to do over the weekend. So how to spend the day? I know! said my Internal Optimist, Let's rebuild the Windows machine!! It will be fun!!! I should have shot him after the first exclamation point.

Follow: Some months ago I had to reinstall Windows XP on Hal's Evil Twin. Well, I pretty much made a hash of it. It's extremely slow. (I'm a Geek, but I don't claim to be a Competent Geek.) Nevertheless, I don't use Windows, and the complaints from the natives were rather quiet, spouse having consented to read her email on Hal.

Then I read that Penguin Pete was playing around with a Windows machine, just to see how fast he could make it. I also remembered that I'd done a test install of XP on Hal's Other Twin, where, unencumbered by anti-virus protection, it boots up very fast (convenient when I want a quick game of Pinball).

I suspect that my problems come from loading up GooglePack and the Comcast supplied McAfee anti-virus software. Both of these packages add a large number of tasks to the start menu. Well, I mainly put in GooglePack to install Firefox and Thunderbird, and McAfee anti-virus because it was free. Pete, however, turned me on to the Open Disc project, a successor to the Open CD, which includes Firefox, the ClamWin anti-virus scanner, and a whole lot more. Good enough, I think.

So to start we:

  • Back up Hal's “Documents and Settings” directory, which contains most user settings, as well as the shared “My Music” and “My Pictures” directories. This is much easier than last time, as I now have a 400 GB external disk. It's also easier to do this from the dual-boot Ubuntu partition I put on the Evil Twin. Just go into root and copy everything over as needed.
  • Put a copy of the Network Install version of Windows XP Service Pack 2 on a CD, along with the Updated drivers for the Wacom CTE-430 (Sapphire, aka Graphire3) tablet/wireless mouse that we use for drawing. I downloaded both the newest tested version, 5.03, and the 5.01-9 driver I used last time. I'll try 5.03 first, knowing that I have a backup. (It works fine.)
  • Make a copy of the OpenDisc CD
  • Get a copy of Going Postal, which I'm re-reading before I get to Making Money, since I've forgotten such important plot points as who Adora Bell Dearheart is, and why she's so interested in Golems. I need a refresher course. (Look it up. I Could Tell You, but then I'd have to Lend You Thirty-Some Books.)
  • Make sure the current Windows setup can read the backup data.
  • Print out all the steps I took last time — something surprisingly difficult to do from my current Blogger template — to serve as a template.
  • Take a deep breath — it's too early for a shot of whiskey.

Oh dear me, here we go again. Note that the times noted below are skewed by the fact that I'm doing other things while this long, long process is going on.

  1. 12 noon: Put Dell's SP1 Windows Restore drive into the computer. Boot. Do the “Press Any Key” option. Note that the computer has found the Microsoft Wireless Keyboard, and, presumably, the mouse. Wait a bit for the system to load up.
  2. 12:15 pm: Choose the “Fresh Install” option.
  3. I'd previously divided Twin's 120 GB disk into two partitions — one NTFS, for Windows, and one FAT32, where files can be easily shared with Linux. Well, now we can also share with NTFS, but let's keep everything as before, and put Windows on the 70$nbsp;GB NTFS partition. Reformat the partition, just to avoid problems.
  4. 12:38 pm: Setup starts copying files to the Windows Installation folders.
  5. 12:44 pm: Windows doesn't like something on one of the hard drives, probably the one holding Linux. That drive's failure started the first reinstallation. Go ahead with boot. The screen says 39 minutes left.
  6. 12:48 pm: Missed the world famous 34 minute installation bug. Chose Regional and Language options, US/East Coast, naturally.
  7. Give the computer its name: Hal's Evil Twin.
  8. Windows wants to know how to make phone calls. Silly Windows.
  9. 1:01 pm: Windows reboots, allegedly improving my screen settings — well, it might, but first we have to install the missing Drivers from the Dell driver list:
    • Audio
    • Mouse
    • Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility
    • Intel 845 G/Gl Integrated Video (Had to do this twice. My mistake, I think.)
    • Broadcom 4401 Integrated NIC Driver
    and reboot.
  10. 1:24 pm: Change resolution to 1024x768 and 32 color (was 800x600 after driver installation.)
  11. 1:26 pm: Install D-Link wireless driver. Reboot.
  12. 1:29 pm: Set up wireless network. Well, try. D-Link's software doesn't seem to want to work. Reboot and try, try, again.
  13. 1:36 pm: Wireless card still won't find network. Turn off everything before being tempted to throw it out the window.
  14. 2:20 pm: Somewhat calmed down, bring up computer again. Still doesn't work. Get the installation manuals off the CD, which requires I install Adobe Reader 6.0. Yuck.
  15. 2:27 pm: Finally. You have to uncheck the box that tells Windows to set up the network, then click OK, then wait for D-Link to get around to pulling up its utility. From there you configure access to a WPA-PSK network.
  16. 2:29 pm: Network access established.
  17. 2:30 pm: WACOM tablet driver, now. Hopefully this will cause it to come up early in the log-on sequence. Reboot.
  18. 2:37 pm: Install Service Pack 2. Turn off network while we're doing this, just in case.
  19. 2:50 pm: Finished with SP2. Reboot.
  20. 2:53 pm: Turn on automatic updates, set up user accounts. Tell Windows that we have an anti-virus program, and keep the Firewall on.
  21. 2:58 pm: Install first round of post-SP2 updates.
  22. 2:59 pm: Reboot.
  23. 3:00 pm: Get out the OpenDisc CD and install:
    • Firefox
    • Thunderbird
    • ClamWin anti-virus scanner. Since it doesn't do on-the-fly scanning, have it do its work at 1 am every day. Note that it takes a while to update the data files off the web. Also note that it only does a scan when someone is logged on, so remember to “switch user” rather than “log off” if we're not going to shut down the machine.
    • GIMP (graphics manipulation)
    • 7-Zip compression/decompression program.
    • version 2.3
    • PDF Creator (Note that OpenOffice can create PDFs out of the box, this is for other programs.)
  24. 6:01 pm: No, it didn't take that long. We went out to run errands. As we were shutting down, Windows did another update, and now we have to accept yet another set of updates.
  25. 6:04 pm: Reboot
  26. 6:06 pm: Have ClamWin do a virus scan, just as a safety measure.
  27. 8:50 pm: OK, I took another break, but it took a couple of hours to complete the scan on a more-or-less empty machine.
  28. 8:52 pm: Install Microsoft Wireless Keyboard/Mouse software, just in case we need it.
  29. 8:57 pm: Install drivers for Canon printer.
  30. 9:07 pm: Install drivers for Visioneer 4400 Scanner.
  31. 9:11 pm: Reboot
  32. 9:15 pm: Install the ancient copy of Photoshop Elements (2.0) that came with the equally ancient scanner.
  33. 9:18 pm: Install Nero CD/DVD burning software.
  34. 9:25 pm: More XP updates have shown up. Load them up and reboot.
  35. 9:31 pm: Load in the ancient copy of Office (97). (Why do we need this if we have Because sometimes even really old real PowerPoint looks better than Oo.o's simulated PowerPoint. Don't like it, but there it is.)
  36. 9:47 pm: Odd. Internet Explorer, I assume 6.0, hangs up every time I try to run it. Which means no updates, except by AutoUpdate? Scary.
  37. 9:51 pm: OK, a reboot fixes that. Go through the update process, installing the “new” version of Windows update, including that Windows Genuine Advantage thing.
  38. 9:59 pm: Install files that the users of this computer need, then quit for the night.

And then I ran out of energy to write anything down anymore. In short, the next evening I:

  • Set up the individual user accounts: all with administrative access, of course, since you can't easily run Windows without it — actually I think I did this on Monday, but I've repressed many memories from that day.
  • Found all possible updates to Office 97.
  • Updated Internet Explorer from dreadful to barely acceptable — uh, I mean from 6 to 7.
  • Installed VLC off the OpenDisc to enable movie-watching.
  • Killed off Adobe Reader 6.0, installed the newest version (8.1?).
  • Installed Java.
  • Hey, what do you know? It's Update Tuesday. Download and reboot.
  • Killed off start menu and bootup items that seem unnecessary.
  • Restored everybody's files.
  • Say “Good Night,” Dick. “Good Night, Dick.”

And done. So far, one week out, ClamWin has only claimed to discover two viruses, both of which are Win 97 files, which makes the detection look suspect.

And the system runs much faster. I guess we'll keep it this way for now.