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color cycle (slow)

Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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color cycle (slow)
So I spent the last two days, give or take, trying to fix the dual-boot on this computer I broke three months ago: in trying to install Linux, I made Windows refuse to launch.

I now have Windows running, ending my three-month streak of using no Windows operating system on either of my two main computers. It's not really something I like, but I had no choice; Windows is required to make my computer talk to my Voyage 200, and as I rely on it to take notes but I want to be able to back up my notes, I don't really have a choice.

Note that this was not the inexpensive way of making Windows run, only the easy way. No force on this Earth would make Windows boot from the partition we made for it. The upshot to this? My computer now has two hard drives.

When I ordered the damn thing, I got it with more than enough HD space. Now it really has more than enough HD space. We're talking 260 gigabytes total here. (160 on HDA, 100 on SDB.) It took me three years to run through 30 GB on my other computer, and now I have 260? I just hope they're reliable drives, because they'll probably be expected to outlast the usefulness of the processor. At least this is one of those computers that's easy to upgrade.

But that's why I haven't been around; fighting against Windows has been taking all my time and energy. Just as installing the software I need on it will likely do for the next several days, too.

I have reminded myself why I hate Windows with at least half a burning kilonun of passion, if not more. (I think I've made previous posts on why the burning kilonun is the proper Metric unit of passion, so I will not repeat them here.) It does boot and shut down faster than Linux, but everything... loads... slowly. And it operates slowly. And it doesn't have a lot of the convenient input features I got used to- mark buffer with third-click paste, for one.

But I'm also reminded of what Windows can do that Linux cannot: Windows-based games. I am promptly re-installing most of my collection.

Mrr. My Wintendo, it is.

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This seems very odd to me. I've never had problems getting Windows to operate in a dual or even triple boot environment (Two versions of Windows plus Linux, two versions of Linux plus Windows...)

The only considerations I've taken are:

1) Always let Windows do the partitioning and format its own partition.
2) Never overwrite the drive's master boot record with LILO or another boot utility.

When running Windows NT, I let NT's own boot manager handle the boot menu and selection, which kept it happy. I haven't tried this with XP but surely it must have something equivalent.

What I normally do is use LILO to set up a boot sector on the primary Linux partition, and use Windows' fdisk to make that the active partition. Then create a Windows boot option within LILO that sends control back to the primary Windows partition. Yes, I know, some people claim LILO is 'obsolete' but darn it, LILO works. The newer, shinier things being touted for this purpose don't seem to be as reliable, even though they may be easier to set up. This initial setup requires having boot floppies for both environments that point to the proper partition to boot, because you have to switch back and forth a couple of times before it is all working properly. But once set up, it has never given me any problems, even when the Windows partition was later upgraded using only Microsoft's own procedures. (95 to 98, and NT to 2000.)

SuSE had to repartition the disk for Windows, and I couldn't let Windows reformat it- I wanted it in FAT32, and the installer wouldn't do anything but NTFS. (I needed FAT32 as SuSE won't write data to an NTFS partition as it's too unreliable.) But still, I did fresh installs, and gave it free run of the MBR- still didn't work.

NTLDR is NTLDR, whether for NT or XP; the trick to make NTLDR chainload LILO or GRUB is still fully valid. It's just not useful for me.

What I've got right now is GRUB doing a virtual swap of the hard drives so Windows thinks it's on the first drive (as it demands to be), and it's got that drive all to itself. It then chainloads into that hard drive's MBR, and Windows will boot gracefully- well, maybe not gracefully, but maybe with all the flopping grace of a drunken trout on land- from there. Of course, that takes, as I said, twin hard drives.

I'd have tried (and maybe you did) manually telling Windows to format the drive in FAT32, and doing a manual install. I don't trust Linux to format VFAT, FAT32, or any other Windows-native format. MSDOS FAT it can handle.

Failing that, I'd have used two partitions. Let Windows have its NTFS for the system but use a FAT32 partition for applications and data. That certainly should work, or at least I think it should.

I would gladly have let Windows format it, but how? I didn't have a working Windows at the time?

SuSE never directly formatted the partition. I ordered the computer with WinXP on a FAT32 filesystem, because the SuSE installer can resize a FAT32 partition without data loss (unlike an NTFS partition). It merely resized the existing partition.

The Windows install I'm running now can talk to that partition just fine, though...

Frankly, the main advantage of Windows is that it doesn't require a degree to use. My experiences with Linux have been dogged with being unable to install this package because it has that dependency, then that only comes as source and won't compile on my distro for totally unknown reasons. Also, games.

Games are Windows' only advantage over SuSE Linux. The automatic package manager that tells you exactly what you need to do to dependencies and in fact handles most of them automatically is a truly wonderful thing. YAST (Yet Another Setup Tool) is that one major innovation that really has made Linux as easy to use as Windows; it's a well-designed central control system for superuser administration, the thing that Linux had previously lacked under the assumption that the superuser would be skilled with Linux anyway.

"Flaming kilonun." I must have missed those earlier posts, because this is the first I've heard of it, but that is a damn nice burn turn of phrase.

If you can give me a link to said previous posts, it would be awesome.

Also, re space. 1) Do both OSes have access to each other's drives? If so, might be worth finding a free/cheap synchronization program and do a sort of "software RAID" setup. If you have regular backups of both drives on each other, you've got more (though not perfect) protection against some sort of electronic disaster. 2) Otherwise, start expanding your media collection.

On metric burning kilonuns

It might have been only in comments, then. It's derived, obviously, from the expression "the passion of a thousand burning nuns". Note that a burning kilonun is a very large unit; the general consensus on Television Without Pity was that Jonathan, on the Amazing Race 6, was hated with the passion of a thousand burning nuns, and that's after he hit his wife on national television. So that I hate Windows with the passion of five hundred burning nuns is perhaps fairly impressive, but I feel it's accurate.

I do believe it's safe to call the unit "burning kilonun" rather than "kilo-burning-nun", placing "burning" as a constant factor rather than an inherent attribute of the unit. Consider the baseline. Is a group of nuns set on fire quadratically, linearly, constantly, logarithmically, or some other function-ally more passionate than an identically-sized group of nuns which has not been set ablaze? The only logical conclusion I could come to is that it is a constant multiplicative factor, as there is no logical reason that the passion of burning nuns should play off each other in ways that the passion of less flammable clergy does not. Therefore, "burning kilonun" is probably the best way to express the Metric unit.

Linux can read from, but not write to, the 100GB of NTFS I just added to the system. Windows has no clue what to do with the 100GB of ext3 on which Linux currently resides. The two both understand the 60GB of FAT32 I planned to put Windows on. So no RAID here; we'll have to find some other way to spray for bugs.

Yeah, I think I might want to use K3B to archive my Monty Python's Flying Circus DVDs, for one, as the DVD cases are kinda bulky...

Yay for the Wintendo. Some bigger/newer games are coming out on Linux, though, such as Doom III and UT2k4, so maybe others will follow...

Package managers are great, though sometimes I would really like to install something manually, but my Ubuntu makes this impossible like so:

"dependency problems prevent configuration of so-and-so depends on libc6 (>= 2.3.2.ds1-21); however:
Version of libc6 on system is 2.3.2.ds1-20ubuntu13."

See the awful problem they have there? I don't suppose you know how to get around that, do you?

Uh, upgrade libc6? Ignoring the suffix of "ubuntu13", you've got 2.3.2.ds1-20, and whatever you're installing demands 2.3.2.ds1-21, one CVS dump later. (If they require it, that means they need it.) Look for an upgraded libc6 package- are you getting .rpm, .deb, ,slk, or some other package format for Ubuntu?

If you don't mind reinstalling Linux (but preserving home directories!) I'd like to suggest, as always, SuSE. YAST, its package management system, is just that good.

Alas, software complains even when the -version- is the same. It's the "Ubuntu" suffix that kills it.

Mmm, I'll give SuSE a go, though I notice the highest version number, the professional edition, is money-cost. Is the community edition any good?

SuSE 9.3 Professional is free and open-source. What they describe as the "Eval" version, from their download page here, is actually the full version of the operating system; it's "Eval" because the CDs and DVD only contain 1/3 of the availible packages. (The shipped version has three DVDs.) But all the packages are availible from the FTP servers!

I've never given Novell a cent.

Woo, thanks. And wow, five CD ISOs to download. What I don't understand is how some of these distros need three DVDs (SUSE) or fourteen CDs (Debian), when Ubuntu needs only one and a few downloads for everything one needs. Obviously it does not have everything one needs, but it has a large repository...

Ubuntu's one CD contains only the OS and a few applications; the three DVD's or 14 CDs are the entire SuSE package archive. The five SuSE CDs only cover about 1/3 of the packages; the remainder are availible online.

Also, see the instructions about how to download one 64MB CD image, and install from that; it contains just enough code to boot the computer and then stream the installation off an FTP server. The packages are then downloaded on-the-fly during the install. This means you only download what you need and you have every package availible right from the get-go, but then it takes about nine hours, and you don't have a working computer for that time because it's installing its own operating system!

I did a Debian net-install last, but I won't be doing it again, as I fear something may go wrong during, or after the installation, meaning I'll have to download everything again!

*downloads SUSE*

Hey Kistaro! Guess what? I was inspired by your efforts to build my own Type II spirit/arcane deck, though it has quite a different goal than yours...anyway I'd love to pit it against yours sometime...

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