OS Wo-Es [constantly updated]

I’ve never been gladder to see my Windows boot-up screen, trust me. The problem right now is, even with the advent of the Free software movement, and GNU/Linux, it is hard to get hardware that is preconfigured for a Linux system [OpenBIOS], and what hardware we make do with on the desktop, are ridden with legacy drivers and BIOS, that over the years have been optimized for Windows [and therefore makes it harder for any other OS to be easily installed].

My CD-burning drives are pooched, and I’m officially stranded high and dry…I managed to make backup copies of important documents, and luckily or unluckily, that was the last CD that worked… :s
My backup drive is chockful with my documents, pictures, music and comics, and the other IDE drive’s external enclosure doesn’t work!!

I tried to back up everything as best as I could, to install Linux [Fedora didn’t burn properly, Kubuntu refused to boot, and Ubuntu tried but couldn’t stand against the united might of Windows’ legacy shit] but no, I’m not so lucky.

You know what we need? We need hardware manufacturers to start opening up at least the documentation for their hardware. We need an updated BIOS, not something that’s almost 20-30 years old. Well Dell has already started distributing pre-loaded Ubuntu boxes. It’s only a matter of time, before ndiswrapper is no longer needed except for troubleshooting. It’s time to change.

PS: July 21st: I’m typing this on my dad’s laptop, officially the only working comp in my house right now. Since I was having problems with just loading the Ubuntu and Kubuntu CDs, and I KNOW for a fact it’s cos of shitty inflexible legacy BIOS settings, I decided to back up everything and wipe the entire hard-drive and install Fedora. And yes I managed to revive my DVD-Burner, so burnt me a Moonshine copy nice and slow, and lo, it actually booted and it installed, and I was VERY impressed. Considering I hadn’t toyed with the default BIOS settings this time round. Hats off or should I say Fedoras off to the Red Hat team. BUT every time after installation, instead of loading a graphical bootloader interface, it dropped me at the GNU GRUB terminal, limited in scope but powerful in authority. However, being the Linux n00bie I am, I was unable to make head or tails of any of the commands listed in help. Dad’s laptop proved instrumental in looking for internet resources to try and set things straight but even their possible solutions at fedoraforums was not useful. Never mind, I actually tried to install again. And again and again. And again. GRUB terminal every time! I gave up on Fedora, and tried to boot from Ubuntu and/or Kubuntu, and the only 32-bit Kubuntu loaded, once! I was so happy, I installed over the LiveCD, a bit disappointed that it was Kubuntu and not Fedora [thanks to Mr. Harish for making me a convert!], and even more disappointed with the apparent lack of theme taste in Kubuntu [the fonts were horrible! and Konqueror instead of Firefox was just dumb!]

I thought it was a successful installation cos it rebooted happily, and I took out the CD, and guess what, it didn’t load.

Loading GRUB 1.5
Error 21

Error 21: no such disk or something like that.

EDIT: As of April 2008, I have figured out that if you’re using a p965neo mobo, and a SATA HDD, then make sure the harddrive is connected to the ICH8 controllers [purple] rather than the JMicron controller [black]. There is as I mentioned earlier some legacy shit when the BIOS handles signals from this that’s altogether unfriendly to native Linux installs. I was randomly tinkering around and just changed that one plug and lo and behold I had a completely sweet Linux splash for the first time. Of course there was some more minor trouble, but Linux doesn’t hate your comp THAT much πŸ™‚

I’m inclined to think maybe this is not endemic to my mobo, and in general, connect your HDD to ICH8 rather than JMicron controllers for a fun Linux experience. Welcome!

Oh bother, you know what I should’ve done? Installed LinuxBIOS while still inside the LiveCD…but I didnt!! Anyway, I popped in the Kubuntu CD again and it didn’t work! Horror. I popped in the Fedora 7 CD and installed again. Installed like a charm, and took me right to the stupid grub interface! I know it’s powerful, but it’s something I would prefer not to see 😦
Ok, so I try to fix the installation again by rebooting and starting the Fedora rescue disk, but now the CD’s corrupted and wont work!

Ok, big problem, I pop in XP and that CD wont boot either!! That was the ultimate disaster. Ok, I don’t panic easily, so I pop in Win2K and it loads and I reformatted the drive one last time to NTFS, and let it install…

Meanwhile I download the Ubuntu alternate install CD, and I’m going to try that now. Wish me luck.

Why don’t I just use Windows?
Stop asking me that, I feel like being contrary!

PPS: The plot thickens. Ubuntu installed well, but GRUB still wouldn’t even laod. I am beginning to suspect Linux/GRUB has something against SATA drives. So I sniff around, and found alternative bootloaders SuperGRUB and GAG [edit: Ultimate Boot CD has both of these within it and more! It works great and I think it’s one of those essentials for every comp.].

**Don’t use GAG unless you have working OS-es. I didn’t, but I went ahead to see if it recognised Linux, and it seemed like it did but actually, it didn’t and by installing GAG, I’d sorta kinda removed the original legacy MBR [Master Boot Record] module which is friendly to CD installers. And when I remove GAG, it doesn’t replace the original MBR, so now I have a well and truly screwed SATA drive…

PPPS: Ok, I somehow managed to repair and force a GRUB installation using the SuperGRUB bootdisk. It wasn’t easy, definitely. I mean I had to play around with the backup IDE drive first and then plug in the SATA one back and force a GRUB install. Phew. That’s ok now. But the fact remains that only LiveCDs are working now! Dumb right? I can boot Knoppix and openSUSE [omg it’s BEAUTIFUL!!] but and it’s the ease of bootability that makes these distros well-loved for being LiveCDs [especially Knoppix], but you know what? If they’re so good, why can’t someone um…make a installable copy too? I mean they work better out of the box [they booted instantly!!] than even Fedora‘s comprehensive DVD install. Sigh, I simply REFUSE to give up now. I feel like I’ve magically crossed the barrier into advanced computer u53r territory just deciding to boot into Linux [pun intended] full time. And the only reason I’m not panicking at any stage of this ongoing mess is the amount of experience I’m gaining. I’m THIS close to level up :p !

PPPPS: Ok, yesterday night, late at night, a very customised playing around with the Fedora installation gave a very surprising working install. Nope I’m not in Linux GUI yet but the sectors have been formatted correctly [meaning GRUB recognises the filesystem. That’s an improvement, trust me..], and grub> is back! [Definitely not going to be happy with a LiveCD boot every single time!!] Going to try the Fedora LiveCD now. Hope this works!

5 minutes later: I am in the friggin LiveCD now! And installing as I type…hmmm hope the Fedora LiveCD gets something right that the installer DVD didnt. Hmmm. Here goes nothing.

Humbug, it asked me to help it report a bug to bugzilla cos of some exception.

15 minutes later: So after 2 KDE environments on LiveCD [OpenSUSE and Kubuntu] I must say I prefer Gnome. Looks elegant. To think I was rooting for KDE all the while, it’s still a bit on the previous decade style. Check out some of the upcoming GNOME release screenshots. Really pretty!
Point being, installing Ubuntu 7.04 from LiveCD, not the alternate installer. Hopefully that works. Haha I did say I’m not going back that easy right?
I guess it’s the “cost” I gotta pay. In some ways, it’s true, the OS is free [as in beer, and sometimes as in speech [Solaris, SUSE and Red Hat have large deployment comercial solutions!] but there’s also probably a time involved learning it. Fortunately I have LOTS of time NOT. Aaargh exam on Wednesday!

PPPPPS: Big sigh. Ok, now I figured out that GRUB just does favour IDE to SATA. SO at the risk of losing quite a bit of data from a IDE HDD, that was previously inaccessible in a dead external enclosure, I disconnected one my DVD-RAM drive [leaving a normal slave DVD-RW drive] and then made the IDE drive master, and changed the boot priority to IDE drive. Ok now the problem is, whether I like it or not, Fedora recognises my IDE HD as primary based on BIOS settings, but Ubuntu doesn’t. The good news is, I was thrown back into GRUB>, which actually is a good thing, it means my system is alive and well and kicking and just doesn’t know what to boot, but the bad news is, I was thrown back into GRUB and Fedora wouldn’t load. PLUS trying a GRUB re-install/re-configuring from the prompt showed me this:

grub> root
(hd0,0) Unknown filesystem type and unkown partition 0*83

:s

It should at least recognise the filesystem type! So now ok, I’m trying a live Ubuntu install with the secondary drive as the MBR-master. Let’s see how that works.

To people who are reading this, [and are not supportive and think I’m being stupid] I must add a disclaimer. The only reason I was willing to give up a perfectly good Windows installation is to force the necessity. Let’s say I still had Windows fully working and I was playing with Linux, just a dabble on the side and it didn’t work the first, second or even the third time, would I have continued? Of course not. That’s what most wannabe converts do, and I’m not one of them. I don’t hate Microsoft for their products. I don’t like their predatory practices. What they’ve done is make the majority of the world dependent on their proprietary software, but don’t have the responsibility to at least provide a [as] secure [as possible], openly compatible product, and really, I don’t like monopolies. Think about it, if you bought a new computer, and you wanted to install an OS on it, your only real choice is Windows. The ease of installation they say. But if you do have a Linux bootable comp then it’s actually a case of being spoilt for choice. There’s just TOO many distros.

The only real reason that some BIOSes seemingly prefer Windows is cos Microsoft had a hand in the research project that gave birth to commercial mainstream BIOS. And this BIOS doesn’t just love Windows, it hates everything else with a vengeance. Even the Windows bootloader is programmed to not be easily configurable except by other Windows versions. Now that’s wrong, don’t you think? What about people who wanna run other OSes.
And I’m beginning to suspect that maybe my mobo is also at fault. Everyone’s using systems that’s at least a year old, so they are more likely to be well-supported. This really stinks!

Bah it just doesn’t work. I suppose I have to wait a bit longer. But know this, I’ll be back for you Linux. For what it’s worth I’m really digging this experience, I have like 3 distro installations [at least one should work on probably 90% of computers] and 3 Live CDs [Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora 7]. Uber powerful in times of great need for system reformat. But for now, I concede. I fought the good fight and now I’m waiting for the BSOD [well to be fair to M$, I haven’t seen BSOD on XP ever before, but then again, I’m also quite anal about security maintenance…]

PPPPPPS: 😦 I had to install XP three times before the stupid activation department got it right. Hmmm, did I mention I’m not going to give up so easy? If GRUB as a problem with SATA drives how about I let NTLDR do the job for me?

238GB drive partitioned into 38GB C:, 99GB D:, 99GB E:
D: will be the Media/Memory Buffer folder. Guess what goes in E:
I love Fedora! :p
Success will be recorded later. Haven’t actually done it yet.

Anyway, set up Windows XP and since I’ve spent so long with Flyakite OSX, I decided to give Vista Transformation Pack a go. And it looks awesome. All the power of Aero, with none of the UAC! I’ll type out a recommended list of things to have on any freshly installed Windows desktop, for anyone! That’s later. But remember, it’s not over!

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