Installing err Recovering Windows XP

Factory Ferrari 4000 came with two partitions: one about 3G of unknown junk and another about 40G installed with Windows XP. One of the few things I did on my Ferrari 4000 was to blow away its Windows partition and reuse its space attached to a ZFS pool. Adding or removing partitions to a file systems is not only possible, but also easy with ZFS - the last word in filesystems!

Everything was fine, until I had to fill a form on an US Government site, which had a page, which had a big button titled "Continue" and above it were these words written in red, font size X-Large: "CLICK THE CONTINUE BUTTON ONLY ONCE. DO NOT CLICK IT AGAIN AFTER YOU CLICK ONCE. PLEASE WAIT FOR THE NEXT PAGE WHICH MAY TAKE SOME TIME TO LOAD.." I faithfully clicked the button once, the mouse pointer showed busy signal and the page was waiting to load ... 1 min ... 2 min ... 15 min ... it is still waiting! I have no idea what would happen if I clicked it again. Well after some investigation, it seemed, that brainless site either used active-X or some other critically insecure Technology (or No-tech-logy), that refused to work on Firefox, not even on the latest Opera 9 (it is available for Solaris x86 right on their download page!)

At any cost I had to submit a form in the national interest of United States, and thus had no option but to re-install Windows. I hadn't thrown away the recovery CDs, because like everything else that came with the laptop, they happen to be Company property. I backed-up all data on Solaris partitions just in case the Windows recovery program happens to erase them. I Inserted the recovery CD and rebooted. It started restoring windows. It took about 45 minutes, changing three CDs in the proces, before it said "Recovery complete". (Ah, Solaris install from a single DVD is so painless and faster)

I rebooted and was delighted to see that GRUB is still there and showed an option to boot Windows. On booting windows, it said "Preparing to start windows for the first time.." ... BEEP ... A black screen and a small dialog "Setup was not complete"; with a single 'OK' button. I clicked the OK button and it rebooted. May be I had inserted the CDs in wrong order, when it asked disk 1 of 2... may be it rebooted before installing everything ...

So I restarted the recovery process all again.. After another 45min to 1 hour of listening to the Recovery CDs whirl inside the drive, I encountered the same dreaded black screen with a short dialog box that said "Setup was not complete".

Third attempt, meanwhile few friends knock the door, and to get them directions to somewhere, I had to reboot in Solaris to use Google maps.

Fourth attempt, 45 mins.. big black screen with small dialog box that is laughing at me "Ha Ha Ho.. Set up is not complete. Hu Hu Ha Ha". Here I am sacrificing my comfort of Firefox browser on Solaris desktop environment, in the interest of safety and security of the people of this country, to submit an online form of utmost National importance to United States, more critical than war in Iraq or the rhetoric in Iran; and this silly small evil dialog shows up from nowhere and throws up a meaningless OK button like a North Korean missile ... and laughs at me.

Not accepting defeat, I tried for the fifth time. Just like North Korean missiles do not carry the name or brand which supplied the underlying Technology, nowhere in the recovery program can you see the brand name of Microsoft. While searching for the brand name I saw the vital clue which was the main reason for failure to set up, even when the recovery program hailed it a success. This whole brainless recovery thingy was going on to the factory default 3G partition, too small to fit the recovery bits.

Then I picked up a Linux Rescue CD that had QtParted tool and deleted the 3Gig partition and the old Windows 40Gig Partition to create a new 20G FAT32 partition meant for the recovery tool to reinstate Windows XP to that partition. It went fine this time, and when I saw the chiming XP animation, I knew Victory isn't near yet.

The most crucial part is now to get the latest updates from Microsoft headquarters, quickly before the vanilla system gets infected with numerous worms, launching deadly packets targeted at my Widows RPC ports. I quickly navigate to Start -> Control Panel -> Security -> Check for Windows Updates.. It goes connects to headquarters and the very first message from there is "Please try our Windows Genuine Advantage tool!" That is like a silly pepper mint jingle advertisement to a soldier in distress, needing critical supplies. It took two reboots and about 60 minutes to completely reinforce the system with latest updates. Much more time to upgrade than it took to setup.

Finally, bruised and hungry, when I clicked on that button which had the large red text above saying 'CLICK ONLY ONCE' I felt victorious!

Well, While not all software is perfect,
Imperfect software sold at hefty prices is cheating,
Charging for imperfect software bundled with a laptop is extortion,
Asking money for its security updates is blackmail,
It is also greater threat to world peace and security than North Korean missiles.


HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) Now come into my position when our university project managers blackmail me to use Windows instead of Linux or Solaris or BSD. They scream "Nooooo don't do it!!!!!!!!! we cannot work without WINDOWS".

Posted by Vasileios anagnostopoulos on July 05, 2006 at 07:59 PM PDT #

This is one of many reasons that I hate MS Windows - there is no easy bear metal restore from a backup and it's time consuming and convoluted. You are computer savy and you finally worked it out but can you imagine an ordinary user going thru this?

Posted by PJ on July 05, 2006 at 09:29 PM PDT #

It is a bit unfair to blame Microsoft Windows for all of the problems listed in your story.. I think we should blame Acer for not providing a real installation media (a bootable installation cd/DVD) instead of the solution of installing everything on a "magic partition" they can install everything from.

I had the same problems when I wanted to upgrade the bios on my Ferrari... I had removed all partitions on my harddrive so It was not that intuitive to figure out that I had to create the little 3GB partition the software could be loaded on so it could be copied to the second partition after the reboot...

Why can't they provide an bootable cd-image one may use to flash the bios? I feel that it is a waste of hardisk-space to have Wintendo installed just to be able to install a new bios version...

Posted by Trond Norbye on July 05, 2006 at 09:54 PM PDT #

"That is like a silly pepper mint jingle advertisement to a soldier in distress, needing critical supplies." - LOL! That was hilarious!! BTW, next time around try something like Norton Ghost - Install XP once, apply updates to MS's heart's content and ghost the image and keep it somewhere on a DVD - next install will be painless. Oh and don't forget to remove pepper mint, er... I mean WGA before ghosting! :) Or switch to Linux/VMWARE like I did - XP runs only in VMWARE.

Posted by Parag on July 06, 2006 at 12:27 AM PDT #

Amen to that. M$ is incredibly destructive -- the EU ruling gives some clue as to the damage being done to society, culture and technology by this crooked behemoth. The sooner they fall, the better.

Posted by Toby on July 06, 2006 at 02:10 AM PDT #

Yes yes Windows is evil and so is Billy G. We have all heard that before. But when I get a new laptop and yes when I want to use Windows XP Professional, I get a tool called nLite and make my custom Windows cd for me that is an unattended install. Basically using Nlite I strip out around 400 mb of stuff from the OS like drivers, and Movie Maker and all that crap that I never use and make my custom XP Pro install cd which literally, if you dont count the reformat gets installed and is up and running in 15 min. (Yes I have timed it.) Also if you get the update packs which are available you can get all post SP2 updates till the latest which would be June integrated into your XP cd. So you dont have to update. And this makes WGA an optional install! How great is that? Bottomline if you have to use Windows, make it do what you want it to do and not the other way around. I have a Dell XPS Gen 1 laptop with a 3.4 ghz processor 2 gb ram and win XP Pro running on it. My windows folder takes up a gig of hard drive space and thats it. nLite turns your XP into literally.....your XP! And if you want anti virus software look no further than NOD32. Thats it. REally thats all you need to have XP going.

Posted by Surya on July 06, 2006 at 04:31 AM PDT #

i faced the same problem. after trying three times using the recovery cds that comes with the laptop. i got vexed and used windows 98 cd so that i deleted all partitions and GRUB LOADER. then i proceed to up grade by using the recovery cds tht comes with laptop. finally i used partition magic to partition the disk and loaded the linux adv. server 4. now i am planning to install vmware and install solaris 10 as a guest software. if any one have information regarding this please post me. thank u

Posted by abhilash paladugu on November 01, 2006 at 11:19 AM PST #

i have suddenly lost my word connection and do not have original disc(iy was put onat place I purchased my lap top!!!help please

Posted by germaine on March 13, 2007 at 12:23 AM PDT #

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