12:56:22. Starting installation. I go to my software library and find the Win2k (SP1) media that was used for the original installation of my workstation. I read the accompanying "Quick Start Guide." It claims, "Time to complete: about 10--15 minutes." Excellent. It says I must gather the following items:
- Win2k Pro CD. Check.
- Pencil and paper. Check.
- Win2k Pro Certificate of Authenticity (COA). Check.
13:04:21. I put in Setup CD and power on.
13:07:14. Setup says "Welcome to Setup." I press Enter to indicate that I want a new installation.
13:08:10. Setup has determined that my hard disk is new or erased. It wants me to make sure that the disk really is empty before continuing. Since the drive is new, I press C to continue.
13:09:18. EULA. I just ignore this, hitting F8 to continue.
13:09:56. Disk partitioning time. Setup notices a 114,471-MB unpartitioned space on MB Disk 0 at Id 0 on bus 0 on atapi. I select it and hit Enter. Setup says it has created a new partition on the device, which now must be formatted. It says it will format the device as NTFS, and I press Enter to continue. "Setup is Formatting." I watch the progress bar move slowly from left to right. So far, so good.
A darkness looms
13:17:48. The formatting is presently at 5% completion. The hard-drive activity indicator shows a blip of activity every four seconds or so. Shouldn't the indicator be on solid? I figure I'll give it a few more minutes before I start worrying. In the meantime, I start surfing from one of my Linux boxes, searching for information about installing Win2k on modern, larger hard drives.
I Google on "windows 2000" "install" "hard drive". The third hit is this MS KB article: 247804 - How to Remove Linux and Install Windows on Your Computer. I find this funny because right now, realizing that Win2k's Setup can't even format my hard drive, I'm considering the exact opposite move: Dumping Win2k for Linux on this workstation.
13:29:37. The formatting is now at 6%. I'm now surfing MS's Windows 2000 Support Center. I search on install formatting. One of the hits looks to be promising, but turns out not to be relevant. No luck.
13:40:46. Still at 6%. I head to MS Download Center, hoping on the slim chance that they have an updated installer I can use. I search on "installer": nothing. "Setup" yields 11 hits, none of them relevant. Most are for patches and service packs, not full installs.
13:45:57. Finally, 7%! My current assumption is that Microsoft's ATAPI driver is old (the setup CD's copyright date is 1999) and having trouble with my modern 120-GB hard drive. Maybe my mobo vendor has some kind of workarounds. Surfing to ASUS's web site. Nothing seems relevant. At this point, I'm thinking of moving the new drive to the mobo's built-in Promise Ultra 100 controller instead of the plain-Jane ATA/33 controller it's on now. (The reason it wasn't already there is because I'm conservative when it comes to stability. I would rather use the older, more widespread controller, even if it's slower.) Maybe Promise has built some magic into its controller's BIOS to deal with the kinds of problems I'm having with Win2k's Setup.
In support of this option, I check the ASUS FAQs, in particular I cannot install Windows NT / Windows 2000 on A7V or CUBX-E board when the HDD is connected to the Promise ATA100 IDE connector? Looks like I'll need to download some drivers to a floppy that I can provide to Setup during the installation of Win2k. OK, let's find those drivers.... I'm assuming that "Promise Ultra 100 IDE Controller Driver V2.00.0 (Build 18)" is the right one, so I try to download. Oops. The USA ftp server is too busy. Trying the "Global" server. That works. Unzipping drivers. Making floppy:
- mformat a:
- mount /dev/fd0
- rsync -av promise/ /mnt/floppy/
- umount /mnt/floppy
14:05:34. Format is now only at 8% and obviously hanging. At this time I give up and power-off the workstation. I go to the hardware shelf, find the box for my workstation's motherboard (ASUS A7V), and extract the 80-conductor UDMA/100 cable and the manual. Next I remove all power and cabling from the workstation, open it, remove the old IDE cable and replace it with the 80-conductor cable, plugging in this time to the UDMA/100 primary port (blue side of cable to mobo) instead of the old, reliable primary IDE port.
14:25:00. Done w/ cable swap. Re-cable computer. Power on. POST. Setup dies at startup: "Boot from ATAPI CD-ROM: No emulation. Error loading operating system." What does this mean? Is this a BIOS problem? A Win2K Setup problem?
14:30:04. To test, I put in a KNOPPIX Linux CD and restart. Naturally, KNOPPIX boots up just fine. So this is a Win2k problem. Now I must guess what's causing Win2k to barf. Googling on "no emulation" leads to a few hits: "No Emulation" message when I try and boot, Making a Bootable Windows 2000 CD with Service Pack Integrated, and this from MS: INFO: Quick Guide to Preinstalling Windows, which says, "Your computer must have El-Torito No Emulation CD boot support if it is an x86-based platform." Well, since I booted from the Win2k CD only 90 minutes ago, I reason that my computer does have this support. But, owing to the recent move of my hard drive from one controller to another, Win2k no longer thinks that this support exists.
Now what? Time to start making guesses. Well, the CD drive is on the secondary controller's master port, and now, after the hard-drive move, there is nothing on the primary controller. Maybe Win2k requires me to use the primary before the secondary? Woohoo! Time to pull all the cables, open the case, and move things around again. Oh, happy day! (Since I can tell it's going to be a long day, I switch my powered speakers to my old Beige Mac G3 and fire up iTunes. I select a calming playlist.)
15:07:28. Power up. Change BIOS settings to reflect new drive locations. Boot Win2k Setup CD. Crap! "No emulation" error again. Now what?
15:11:42. New theory: With the new hard drive plugged into the Promise Ultra 100 controller, the controller's BIOS is now loading when before it didn't, and this BIOS doesn't make Win2k's Setup program happy. Surfing to Promise Technology's web site. Go to Support, Ultra100, Downloads, and I grab the most-recent Ultra100 BIOS, hoping for a fix.
15:31:57. Oops. More research shows that this isn't the way to update the on-board Promise controller's BIOS. Its BIOS is integrated into the mobo BIOS, and I already have the most-recent version of that (1011). Searching the A7V FAQs on ASUS's site reveals that a 1012a7v01a (beta?) version is available. I download it. Looks like I need a bootable DOS floppy to use it. Great. Surfing to FreeDOS.org.
15:45:41. I'm having a hard time finding a bare-bones bootable FreeDOS floppy image to which I can add the ASUS flasher.
15:48:47. Okay, found a candidate. Downloading fdos1440.zip from beta9rc4. Using dd to write the image to a floppy. Mount the floppy. There's 458 KB available. Should be enough. I copy over AFLASH.EXE and the BIOS image 1012a7v.01a. Unmount floppy. Put floppy in Win2k workstation.
15:55:01. Reboot the workstation. (Cool. FreeDOS uses SYSLINUX.) Weird. I can't find the AFLASH program on the floppy under FreeDOS. Ah, A: is a RAM disk. B: is the floppy where AFLASH is. Running AFLASH. Flashing. (Crosses fingers.) Flashed successfully!
16:04:30. Rebooting w/ Win2k Setup CD. Yes: This BIOS incorporates a more recent Promise BIOS. Argh!: Still, "No Emulation" is what the Win2k Setup CD claims before it gives up: "Error loading operating system." What a load of crap. How come KNOPPIX didn't have any problems?
16:06:35. Time to play w/ BIOS settings. Changed boot settings to boot from CD before floppy. Rebooting. "No emulation," again.
16:08:27. Must. Keep. Down. Anger. Serenity Now!
A new day dawns, slowly
16:08:43. Maybe I can boot from floppies? That would really suck, but maybe I don't have any choice. I mount the Win2k install CD on my Linux laptop. In the bootdisk directory there are four 1440-KB files: floppy images. So, I find four blank floppies and start the copying process via dd.
16:19:35. First floppy done. While the second is copying, I put the first into the workstation and boot it. Seems OK. I hit F6 to provide the Promise driver disk.
16:22:21. Second floppy has I/O error during writing. I trash it and put in another floppy.
16:23:07. Oh, joy! The floppy-based install has died: "File \ntkrnlmp.exe could not be loaded. The error code is 7," and "Setup cannot continue. Press any key to exit." I'm hoping it's just a bad floppy.
16:25:34. While cmp compares the floppy with the image on my Linux laptop, I ponder. I start thinking things like, I really, really wish I didn't have to use Windows. A net-based Kickstart install of Fedora Core 1 is particularly tempting right now.
16:27:33. Ah! It is a bad floppy. I pitch it, find another, and start writing cdboot1.img to the new floppy. Verifying copy. Nope, another bad floppy. Trash it. Trying another. This one verifies.
16:35:15. Booting workstation from new floppy. Meanwhile, I copy disk image 3 to a floppy. (Image 2 verified.) Again, I press F6 because I must provide a driver disk.
16:38:14. Win2k Setup asked for the second floppy. I feed it. (Image 3 just finished. Verified.)
16:43:50. Setup asks me to press S if I want to provide a driver disk. I press S, insert the Promise Ultra 100 driver disk, press Enter. Win2k finds three drivers, and I select the Win2k driver. After a while Setup complains, "File \Win2000\Ultra.sys caused an unexpected error (512) at line 1211 in D:\nt\private\ntos\boot\setup\oemdisk.c." Nice. Maybe another bad floppy? I can only hope.
16:49:20. Looks like another bad floppy. The garbage can is dining well today. I create a new floppy. I verify the copy. Looks good.
16:53:49. At least Setup didn't completely abort. I press S and try again with the new driver floppy. Yes! This time it seems to work. I don't have any other driver disks, so I hit Enter to tell Win2k to continue with the setup process. It asks for Setup disk 3, and I feed it.
16:58:25. Finally! On to disk 4. The disk swapping is done.
17:00:55. Back to the main Setup screen, F8 the EULA into oblivion, select the big 114,471-MB partition, confirm that I want to erase it, and start formatting. This time the disk-activity light is going strong -- a good omen.
17:03:51. Woohoo! Already at 5%, disk-activity light going strong.
17:10:31. At 20%.
I N T E R M I S S I O N
Since it would seem like I have some moments to spare, I would like to take this opportunity to rant about the hoops that proprietary software vendors make their customers jump through. Note that nearly three hours ago KNOPPIX booted up on the very same hardware just fine. In other words, if I had been installing Linux instead of Win2k, I would have been done by now instead of just getting started.
The problem, see, is that vendors of proprietary software have all sorts of restrictive and crippling licensing schemes that require the honest folks who legitimately purchase their software to do dumb things LIKE RE-INSTALL FROM ORIGINAL, 5-YEAR OLD MEDIA HAVING HOPELESSLY OUT-OF-DATE DRIVERS. I guess this kind of crap motivates some people to stay on the upgrade treadmill, to "stay current" for fear of falling behind, but to me it demonstrates, rather painfully, that my company ought to be free of dependencies upon vendors that try to ensnare their customers.
Just for comparison's sake, the licensing terms of Fedora Cora 1 Linux (my distro of choice) give me the freedom to keep complete, up-to-date versions of their OS distribution on deployment servers on my office network. I can pop a FC1 boot CD into any computer on my network, enter linux ks=http://myserver/whatever-config.ks at the prompt, and walk away. When I come back 20 minutes later, the install is done. After a restart, a simple yum -y update brings the system up to date with any patches that have been released since the installer came out. That's it. I can get back to work.
Why can't proprietary software be that simple, that supportive of its customers' needs? Why must I keep around 5-year-old media, maintain "Certificates of Authenticity" and CD Keys just to install the software that I paid for? Why isn't this kind of thing factored into the Total Cost of Ownership studies I keep hearing about? I've wasted, what, nearly five hours so far, and I'm just getting started with the re-install. How much does a day of downtime cost?
And then, the rain
17:43:04. At 85%.
17:56:49. At 100%, but the disk-activity light now seems to be doing the blinkin'-rarely dance. It blinks, then nothing for 4 seconds, blinks, and then about 10 more seconds of nothing, blinks, and then repeats. Well, I'll give it some time. Maybe the installer is in some post-formatting stage.
18:10:37. Still at 100%. It's starting to look grim.
18:21:25. Just freakin' great: "Setup was unable to format the partition. The disk may be damaged." Damaged. Yeah, right.
What a colossal waste of time. Why didn't the installation work? Was my Win2k installation media too old? Was my UDMA 100 driver bad? I don't know.
What I do know is that this probably wouldn't have happened with Linux. First, I would be installing from up-to-date media with up-to-date drivers. Second, crappy drivers don't exist long in Linux. Because their source code is open for all to see, crap is quickly detected and fixed. (Too bad I don't have the luxury of being able to install Linux on this workstation.)
Oh, I do know one other thing: I am not a happy Microsoft customer.
A so ends our tale of woe
Well, I'm giving up. If anybody has any ideas about what I can do to install Win2k from my original CDs, please throw me a clue.
|< Ahh, the lazy afternoon sunlight. | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|