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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...

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