Ok.. I’m ready. I have a machine built and Vista Ultimate installed. I used the following hardware for this new PC:
- ASUS P5W64-WS Professional Motherboard
- Intel 2.4 ghz Core2Duo Processor
- 2 Gig Kingston DDR2 800mhz RAM
- ASUS 7900 GS (NVidia) Video adapter
- Plextor PX-755SA Dual Layer DVD/CD writer
- Two Western Digital 500 gig SATA drives in RAID 1
I chose the ASUS board because of the 1066 mhz Front side Bus and DDR2 800 mhz RAM support. And, because I like ASUS, their boards are generally fairly reliable.
Windows ultimate installed perfectly. No need to install any drivers except the RAID on the motherboard. Otherwise it looks like Microsoft has started to get their act together.
The second time I installed the OS was even better… Well… exactly the same actually. (I installed again because I didn’t partition my drives the way I wanted.) Then on the second install, I learned that you can convert your disks in Vista to Dynamic Disks and I started to play. I second guessed my partitioning again and decided I needed more space on my new system partition. With a dynamic disk you can shrink and expand your partitions. But, when you expand a disk you can only use contiguous disk space. at that point I had an 80 gig partition (system) and about 400 gig partition (data). with no space in between them.
What happened next? Well, my brilliance holds no bounds. I thought I could make some contiguous space for the “c:” drive. Theres not much data yet on “e:” so.. I’ll shrink it! and create a new partition at the end of the drive, then move my data to the new drive! That went off without a hitch. Then, I deleted th old “e:” drive creating…. contiuous space for “c:”!! Amazing!! Next step.. expand the “c:” partition with the new unused space. Beautiful!! now I have the partition the way I want it. This is great. Well… almost…. It was great until I needed to reboot. At that point it was no longer great. In fact, it was much less than great!
You see, one thing I didn’t think about was the consequence this act would have on my partition table.. Ummm it seemed to have destroyed it. Another thing I didn’t know was, Vista no longer uses boot.ini or ntloader files to hold boot and os info.. It uses something new called the BCD (Boot Configuration Data base) to store the information on how the PC is to boot… Things like ummmmm.. where the operating system is. Well, When I rebooted I was presented with… “insert proper boot media. hit any key to restart” Well crap!!
Well, not to fear!! I’ll boot to the Vista DVD. There has to be a repair function. And, There is!! A very good function too. There is an automatic repair you can try.. it didnt work for me. Or, you can drop to a command prompt where Vista has created a RAM disk with loads of repair utilities. Including a file called, BCDEdit.exe This file lets you directly edit your BCD. There’s one catch needed for this to work. It needs to be able to identify the “device” that the installation of windows is located on. And to do that you need a valid Master Boot Record. Which, I did not. Needless to say, after about 6 hours waisted trying to make the repairs to the MBR and BCD, I was forced to clean the disk of partitions and start over.
So, now on my third installation of Vista…. It appears to be very good. No crashes yet.. No blue screens nothing stop working that wasn’t caused by me poking around. And, now I have to learn where everything is located. Apparently things are in the same place (TCP/IP setup, etc) there just appears to be new ways to get to that same place?!?
Ok, now that I have the partitions the way I want them (I’m not going through all that again) I’ll start installing software. More later…
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