Every time I try to do anything interesting or nontrivial with Windows, I get let down. I feel like it has to be due to my personal ignorance of the environment. But my problem is, the more I learn about it, the less I feel like it’s ignorance and the more I feel like it’s actual, practical experience that tells me so.
For example, I have a busted windows box with a dying HD. I install ‘Doze on the “D” drive – the second IDE disk. I use this copy of windows to try to copy off the data from the C drive. It takes a long time – the disk is trying over and over and clicking and warming up and all kinds of terribleness – but eventually I get some data off it. So great. I try to do some actual work on this new install of windows and I feel like it keeps trying to look at the C drive, so I figure I’ll unmount it. Can’t. It’s a “boot” drive, even though the D drive is my ‘system’ drive. Well, fine, so I pull my dying C drive (I figure I got what I could off of it anyway). System won’t boot. Oh well, I guess I need a bootsector rewrite or something. Fine. Windows CD, recovery console, fix it…and it can’t find my windows. I might as well not have it installed. Never mind the fact that every single file that Windows should rightfully need is right there. But Recovery console can’t find anything. So I have to reinstall windows. And if I try to reinstall it right back to where it was before, it threatens to toss my files (including my recovered server volume). So I have to put it somewhere else.
Mind you, on a Linux box or a Mac, I could do this in 2 seconds. In linux, you re-lilo (showing my age there) or re-grub the disk, and that gets you a new bootable volume (BIOS permitting, HD sizes, etc, etc). On the Mac…I don’t even think you have to do that because the firmware is a bit smarter about locating disks and booting off of them. You can either use the Startup disk control panel from a CD or even hold Option during boot and it will let you pick which volume to boot from. Easy.
So now as I’m running through the Windows install I thought I would document the reboots. My policy is I install everything on the ‘express’ list.
- When it switches from textmode to graphics mode. (OK, this one barely counts, but it is, strictly speaking, a reboot. I saw BIOS. It rebooted.)
- When graphics mode completes, system installed.
- New version of Windows Update requires reboot
- Service Pack
- 52 updates
- IE 6
- 9 more updates post IE 6
- .NET 2.0 plus video driver
- Whoops! two security updates for .NET 2.0 – edit – this did NOT require a reboot!
That’s fucking shit. What should take minutes takes hours.