Reinstallation af PC #2

Jeg kommer til at trække nogle udtalelser i tidligere indlæg tilbage.

For det første, at min opgradering til Windows 10 Fall Creators Update “gik fint” var en konklusion med meget kort holdbarhed.. Det viser sig af problemet med “Task Host Windows@Plug and Play” er et som mange brugere har set dukke up en uges tid efter at de opgraderede – men de har vel set fejlen ca. samtidig med mig og så begyndt at poste, hvorefter der går et par dage før jeg ser problemet i mine Google søgninger.

For det andet, tilbagerulning til tidligere version gik heller ikke så godt som ventet. Måske fordi mit installations medie er det oprindelige 1507 så bliver installationsprogrammet forvirret undervejs og fejler et par gange før jeg succesfuldt har Windows 10 Creators Update (1703) installeret og fuldt opdateret. Derefter følger softwareinstallationer som går fint, men to problemer hænger ved: Explorer har åbner langsomt op (i 2017 er en 2 sekunders pause jo et problem) og så de tidligere OneDrive foldere blevet korrupte. Samtidig ser jeg stadig lange start- og nedlukningstider. Mere bøvl, men vel også en mulighed for at lære.

Der ser ikke ud til at være umiddelbare løsninger på den langsomme navigationsmenuen, mens problemet med  – kan den være forårsaget af korrupt OneDrive filer, så jeg koncentrerer mig om det. Helt kortsigtet kan jeg genoprette fra backup, men jeg kan fortsat ikke fjerne de skadede filer. Da jeg så prøver at installere en Fall Creators, under antagelse af at dén kan tilgå filerne går det for alvor galt. Et motherboard problem dukker op – det lader til at sættet af mulige bootsystemer er fyldt op med UEFI entries – som jeg ikke kan fjerne fra et OS der er ikke er installeret med UEFI! Du godeste. Så nu skal jeg til at rode i UEFI (BIOS). Og eftersom jeg har opdateret nogle af mine data, skal der lige laves fuldt backup igen.

Heldigvis findes der software til at redigere UEFI entries, så efter endnu en reinstallation –  nu under UEFI – kan jeg rydde op i menuen, installere Fall Creators, fjerne OneDrive filer (som var låst af de for så vidt udmærkede tilføjelser i Fall Creators opdateringen), dernæst geninstallere 1507, opdatere til 1703 og så deaktivere opdateringen til 1710.  Trættende forløb.

I sidste ende starter problemet nok med én eller anden driver inkompatibilitet introduceret i Fall Creators update, som ikke passer med ét eller andet stykke hardware i maskinen som er bygget 2011-2012. Jeg må nok erkende at min PC i sin nuværende form har begrænset tid tilbage.

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Reinstallation af PC

Steam Incident leaves No One Steaming

This morning I set out installing SteamOS on my desktop computer 1. That turned out instructive and satisfying, though not in the way first intended.

My desktop is a dualboot system running Windows and Linux on separate SSDs, with an extra hard drives for storage, and while I use Windows as my daily driver (even using virtualization t´when I need Linux for work or education purposes), there are enough situations where being able to boot into another operating system is useful. Linux Mint is my distribution of choice and since I had v17 installed and wanted to upgrade to version 18 anyway it was not a big issue to use replace it with another distribution as experiment.

So I went ahead – downloaded the SteamOS installer and loaded it unto a USB stick and then shutdown the PC to do what one should always do when installing a new OS: Disconnect all hard disks except the installation target. After this basic precaution it was all a matter of opening the bootmenu, select USB and follow the instructions inside the installer. Straightforward, though a bit quirky compared to the installers of distributions like Mint or Fedora, but SteamOS is in beta and probably also more intended for products like Valve’s own Steambox than DIY projects like mine. Still, I made it through and up with one running Steam machine.

That’s where trouble started, because I couldn’t get SteamOS to place nice with my usual dual-boot setup (otherwise easily managed with EasyBCD). However, since SteamOS installs it self in EFI mode, it wouldn’t play nice and frustrating troubleshooting followed. it was also time for breakfast and for me to close the box, and let it be reminder to not do things on an empty stomach that at this time I tried a fresh installation of SteamOS with all drives connected. I carefully selected the right drive for installation and once more SteamOs installed. However, gone was my Windows installation too. Initially I suspected a corrupted bootloader and tried out the repair utilities on my Windows installation disk, but to no prevail and the disk appeared to be dead (it has happened to an SSD of mine before, so OK, stuff happens). My last troubleshooting step was to boot into Linux from a live DVD and that’s when I saw it and understood. Regardless how careful I was when I selected which disk to install on, the SteamOS installer had still applied the same partition scheme to my Windows disk as on my Linux disk, but without installing. Thankfully not to my data disks though, although given that I have a double cloud backup of my data, the worst thing would have been waiting for data to be downloaded and restored.

Reinstalling Windows then took only a couple of hours until I was up and running with most of my standard software (how online installation files and fast internet changes things! )

Looking back, on the one hand side I feel a bit silly for not taking the basic precaution of disconnecting all hard drives before installing a new OS; however, I am almost cheerful (perhaps even smug) to see how having proper backup would leave me safe in a not-quite worst case scenario, and how my basic rules of keeping OS and data on separate disks kept me safe (I have broken that rule once in 23 years, which is also the number of times a system disk has failed – coincidence? Murphy says “no”)

I probably got rid of a few unnecessary applications at the same time,got my start menu sorted and upgraded to Mint 18 as planned anyway, so no issue there. I also got to know EFI and I understand why some communities are concerned about it.

Finally, my wife always tells me that reinstalling an OS once in a while seems to make me happy. Having written this I believe she is right. Of course she is…


Windows 10 Installed and so what? (in a good way)

July 29 has come and passed , with Windows 10 being released as expected. There are some nice additions and some oddities. And now I am back to doing whatever  I was doing before installing it, which is just the way it should be.

While I have had the the preview versions running on virtual machines and old laptops since last October, I have waited for the final release to update my primary PC. Not only because I don’t want to take chances on the workhorse that also handles all l my private stuff (I don’t want to repeat the surprises I got with OneDrive after upgrading to windows 8.1 and I don’t mind that this online/off-line file thing is not in Windows 10 (yet)), but also because I use the opportunity to upgrade the system with new discs etc. (and doing the upgrade without touching the existing system definitely gives peace of mind).

I prefer to do clean installs – and have done so ever since (inevitable?) mixed success when I installed Windows 95 and OS/2 Warp on top of Windows 3.1 – so I followed this guide from Ars Technica: How to do a clean install of Windows 10 (from Windows 7 and 8), starting out with a fresh Windows 7 installation. It was quite straightforward.

It still amazes me how easy it has become to install a new OS, be that Windows or Linux. Long gone are the days of gathering a stack of driver CDs (or floppies : ) for each piece of hardware in the box,  and gone are the anxiety that a wrong move might require you to start installation all over. Having done the Windows 7 installation just before installing Windows 10 demonstrated recent improvements: For the first one I needed to install the LAN card driver, for Win 10 I didn’t. The only disc I needed this time was the driver for software and driver for my scanner – everything else was available online, including drivers for an old TV card I just bought second hand.

It is good to see the new operating system running on proper hardware and so far all is good. There were no surprises (which is not surprising, since the final version was the as the latest Insider preview). I don’t doubt sure there are bugs to be fixed new UI inconsistencies and useless touch UI apps, but after installing my usual suite of application I probably won’t notice any that. Outlook for mail, Google Chrome browser, Evernote, Steam…  It all runs and I am back to doing things the usual way, with the OS being unnoticeable once the login screen is passed.

In that way, moving to the new OS is both totally irrelevant and all important. Irrelevant because once my favorite software is installed I will hardly notice it, all important because a well working and fully updated OS is what allows me to concentrate fully on work and play, without having to worry about what happens under the hood.

Windows 10 and me (part 2)

Apr 28, 2015 Update: Obviously: If one wants to join the choir of bloggers writing about a major and hyped upcoming tech event, then updating every 5-6 months aren’t good enough…

At first I didn’t intend to write any immediate followup to my previous Window 10 post: “Part 1” should just mark it as a first impression, with a long time relationship coming up with the final release. However, interesting and shareworthy news will be coming, and I will compile and re-post them here.

Windows 10: release date, price, news and features: Everything we know about the future of Windows (Techradar)

New security features, including 2FA: Microsoft beefs up security features in Windows 10 (Techradar)

A new way to update the OS: Windows 10’s very different way of updating (Ars Technica)

In-built support for MKV media files: Watching movies on Windows 10 just got a whole lot easier (Techradar)

Windows 10 and me (part 1)

As expected and heavily rumoured, the new Windows 10 was announced on Sep 30 and the Technical Preview made available for anyone interested. Since then IT news sites have filled with hands-on tales, previews and opinions.

Here’s my story. I downloaded the 3.8Gb iso file with the preview overnight, and back from work, I started up VirtualBox and created a virtual machine for the install.  The first attempt failed and I soon learned that one must pick the right type of Windows VM  for this (‘other x64’ doesn’t work, ‘win 8.1 x64 does’ – thanks to betanews for posting the solution : ).

20 minutes and a couple of restarts later  and I could login. There is an option to copy settings from a Windows 8 installation or set up as new. I choose to set up as new. I think the only time I have done such a settings export was from win 3.1 to Win 95 and I wasn’t happy with the result. Now many years later it probably works fine (I should grab a VM and try : ), but with this first install I wanted to see the stock setup.

I enable OneDrive integration (that will make the install actually usable on a small VM disk) and then the installer takes care of a few things and my apps. Windows 10 starts up and my desktop opens, and well, it looks just like the Windows 8.1 desktop on the host.on my Windows 8.1. Then I open the Start menu – the big change that is expected/hoped to redeem Windows – and…

First of all: When I had hit the start button 2 or 3 times, a notification message was shown with the question how hard was it to use start?” (quite unobtrusive and no need close it manually). Well, thanks for asking, I appreciate it. Really. Regardless how this ends, you can’t say MS didn’t ask for feedback. And it is hard to come back later and complain that Win 10 sucks and MS never listens to the users (then again, time will tell if it is an empty gesture to appease critics…).

…and I can see what MS is trying to do here and this hybrid between the newer Start screen and older Start menus may work. I need to play around some more (and let MS know what I think). Probably try first configuring the new menu into something similar to the 8.1 screen which I actually like, then into something like the Win 7 version and finally find whatever middle ground is just the right thing for me.

Apart from the Start menu, it all looks very familiar, in just the same way that every other Windows version has looked a lot like the previous one, while there is probably lots of new stuff under the surface (again, like always).

Update: Just saw a demo of how windows can be snapped into place and easily arranged on the screen. That looks cool. And useful.

I will keep playing and testing, and look forward to the upcoming versions. And in the end it will probably all be fine and I will install the final version on my PC, install the usual applications and keep going, get back to business as usual. Because that is something left out in much of the OS hype and hate: Every OS is useless, it is the apps and how you use them that matters.

PS: Installation of Virtual Box Guest Extensions failed – not surprisingly, considering that Oracle’s developers are also just having their first look at Win 10. So are the charms of pre-release software : )