15 June 2011

Some machines fight every step of the way

Po: a machine to replace an existing Windows XP box which mostly displays slideshows. The existing XP box contracted a virus which doesn't seem to do much destructive but does axe anything even vaguely to do with the Win32 “shell” (loose use of the term: CMD.EXE) including downloading virus scanner database updates. The machine does not often enjoy an Internet connection so presumably was infected from somebody's Flash USB stick.

No problems. Install XP on a replacement machine with a 30% faster (& dual-core) CPU, twice as much RAM & PS/2 sockets (the original Dell box had none, USB keyboard & mouse only) so that it was possible to respond to prompts issued by the non-Dell-specific XP installer. Add LibreOffice (the original MS-Office disks are the install-three-times variety which have already been installed three times), Audacity, GIMP, SD-Player a non-Adobe PDF displayer, a few other tools & it’s all good... then XP fails to complete the SP2 update, gets halfway through the boot process, flips to a blank text screen (no cursor), show is over. <grumble>

Plug in a Kubuntu Natty Narwhal disc, install, no worries, get a GRUB prompt. We can now half-boot into XP, or not boot at all into Kubuntu. Blank screen, not even kernel messages. Can boot the Live disc, flawlessly, but not from the hard drive at all. <grumble>

Pull a (Matrox!) PCI video card out of an antique PC (still has 2x AT-class ISA sockets on motherboard), plug it in, convince the BIOS to use it in place of the built-in Intel display interface, XP comes good as if nothing had ever been wrong. Kubuntu still AOT. <grumble>

Make XP as good as it’s going to get.

Later, whip out a Kubuntu Maverick Meerkat disc, plug it in, install Meerkat over the top of Narwhal. It works flawlessly.

Scratch head.

It’ll do the job. <shrug>

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