Posts Tagged ‘XP’

I Learned Something New About Screen Captures

19 June 2011

I learned something new about Windows XP just now. I do a lot of screen captures (what used to be known as a screen print) to get map data to a place where I can edit it with notations, or to crop it. Most of the time, I do the screen capture (it’s Ctrl-Print Scrn on most keyboards).

Right now I am running with my laptop as the primary display, and a flat panel as my secondary display. I’m looking at stuff on the primary, and annotating a captured map on the other.

I accidentally did a Shift-Print Scrn, and when I did the past, I got the capture from the secondary display. That’s pretty cool. I verified the behavior a couple times.

So add that one to the list of keyboard shortcuts. I know it’s probably documented somewhere, but it’s cool to find it out inadvertently.

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I Finally Have An Upgraded Disk

6 February 2011

My trusty desktop has an 80GB disk that I upgraded a couple years ago from a 20GB disk. Now, between a lot of downloads, photos, videos, etc. that disk was about 97% full. It is time for another upgrade. My computer has two disks in it: the 80GB XP disk, and another 80GB that has a 20GB Fedora 12 installation (soon to be Fedora 13), and the rest of the disk is shared space (formatted FAT32) for DVR functionality.

I have a 500GB drive that was recovered from a failed video recorder. I popped the drive into an external carrier and looked at it; it was formatted NTFS and had Windows 2000 Professional on it. I zorched the partition, took it from the external carrier, and installed it into my desktop as an IDE slave. It was recognized by the BIOS, looking good so far.

I started the machine up with System Rescue CD. It found the disks, but when I did an fdisk -l, it found a bunch of RAID stuff as well (RAID == Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, a methodology of automatic backups of data, for databases and the like). NBD, I thought, I’m about to wipe the drive anyway.

My usual process here is to clone a known good drive to the new drive, then grow that partition to fit the new, presumably larger drive.

So I started the cloning process using the trusty dd command. My old XP partition was copied over to the “new” 500GB drive after a bit. I moved the IDE connections around to make the 500GB drive the master and rebooted the computer. XP came up, Linux came up, all looked good so far.

I rebooted into System Rescue CD, and fired up Gparted (Gnu Partition Editor) to grow the XP partition to the full 500GB size. Here is where I ran into a problem. The partition grow process seemed to work OK, but when gparted did the final check, it reported that another process had locked access to the 500GB disk. WTH?

Doing some rooting around in the log files showed that Linux thought that the 500GB disk was still a RAID, and it had started RAID services on the disk. These services in turn had complained during boot up that the RAID was screwed up. I know little about RAID administration, so I was off to what I soon found was a confusing and limited set of information about RAID management.

Many things were tried, and none worked. I inquired of Hitachi, the manufacturer, about the possibility of a low-level reformat; they recommended against it. The dd cloning operation was re-performed about five times over a couple days.

Finally, I found a description of a similar problem online. The dmraid command was the answer. I did a dmraid -r, it listed the RAID information it thought it knew about. Next, I did a dmraid -rE command to zorch that “RAID”. The next dmraid -r showed no RAID information. I jumped to gparted, grew the partition, and got no errors reported.

Finally, I booted both Linux (OK), and Windows (also OK). Windows complained about the disk partition being “dirty”, did some chkdsk and other checks, and finally settled down and started working. The usage has gone from 97% to 14.5%, so I have a while to go before another upgrade is needed.

I am still a bit mystified as to how Linux detected that the 500GB disk had been part of a RAID. The disk had Windows 2000 on it. Overwriting the W2K with the XP partition should have gone a long ways to de-RAIDing the disk. I can only surmise that there was RAID information on the disk past the 80GB point, and Linux picked up on it during the boot process. Hitachi said that there was no RAID markers in the Master Boot Record (MBR). Gparted did not show that there were any RAID flags set either. Maybe I can go figure that out later, in my “spare” time.

So, I FINALLY Have A Dual-Boot Laptop Computer Again

25 July 2010

I keep two disks for my work laptop. One is the original disk that came with the computer (this one has Vista on it), and is locked down, tight. I keep another disk that I call my “useful disk”. It has various tools that I use in my job, but can’t be loaded on my Vista machine. It has software development tools for the several software packages I support, tools that I use to perform security testing on various networks, and utilities and tools.

Keeping a separate disk avoids me from having to get permission (which would be denied, anyway) to run and use these tools, and it keeps me from lugging two laptops around.

So when I got my new HP 6930p, I went out and bought a SATA disk for it, popped it in, and started off by loading XP (which I have licenses for), or rather, TRYING to load. I got BSOD after BSOD. WTH? I then tried loading Fedora 10 (followed by 11 and 12), each of which crashed. I finally got System Rescue CD to boot and run with no problem.

Off to research. I quickly found out that the Intel IO processor in the 6930p uses a BIOS setting that screwed the computers head into the ground. A bit of research showed that adding the boot parameter “intel_iommu=off” allowed the Fedora installation to complete and run. So I was halfway there.

I now knew what the problem was. It could be corrected with a BIOS setting, but the BIOS was locked with a password (those AF sysadmins have NO sense of adventure). There were hints that if a certain replacement driver file was used in a certain way, then the install could be completed. Problem – can only be installed from diskette. So I bought a USB diskette drive, loaded what I thought was the right driver file, and tried again. And again. And AGAIN. No luck.

I got a Windows 7 evaluation disk that I was given by Microsoft at a conference and tried it; surely it would have the right driver. Wrong-o. I got other Windows XP CDs and tried them same result. I perused the forums on the HP website, and online. Nothing definite.

I finally posted a message on the HP business forum, and got a link to the exact file I needed to download, put on diskette, and load. Still got BSODs a couple times, but finally got it narrowed down to the Intel(R) ICH 9M-E/M SATA AHCI Controller, one of about 20 devices addressed in the driver file. So the load was completed, but it wiped out my Linux Fedora 12 installation since Windows only cares about Windows.

I reloaded Fedora to make the computer a true dual-boot. I did have one problem, Fedora did not carry the “intel_iommu=off” from the installation into the GRUB boot file, so I had to reboot the computer with System Rescue CD, make the addition to grub.conf manually, and finally, it worked!

This whole process was the most difficult OS installation I have had, with the exception of Solaris 9. I had no help from the existing Vista installation on the machine, and I am really surprised Win 7 had the same problem. Even the normally-smooth Fedora installation was too hard, and failing to carry the required obscure parameter over to the GRUB file, well, that made it way, way too hard for a casual user (who carries a bootable rescue CD around? I do, but I’m an Alpha Geek).

So I am in the process of loading my tools onto the two OSs on the dual-boot disk. My original equipment disk still works also. This all took almost THREE months! There are enough 6930ps on the market I am really surprised it took so long.

But I’m rolling now!