James Aylett: Reinstall

Published at
Wednesday 25th February, 2009
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I'm currently reinstalling my Windows machine, giving it brand new drives and basically a complete make-over, this to prepare it for editing Talk To Rex's next production. Generally speaking, you have to reinstall Windows every so often anyway, and this machine has gone for some time without, so all is well and good.

Except... except that it all seems so alien to the modern way of working with computers. For instance, the motherboard doesn't have SATA onboard, so I have a card to do that. Windows therefore can't install onto the new drives, despite the card installing BIOS features so that everything other than Windows knows what's going on. Instead, I have to install onto a plain IDE drive, install the SATA drivers onto that (which is painful in the extreme, because the driver disk doesn't install directly but instead tries to write a floppy image containing the installer), and then let Windows take control of the new drives. Another example: my keyboard and graphics tablet are USB, like anything sane these days, and are plugged into my monitor, which is a USB hub plugged into the computer. Windows Setup doesn't bother initialising the hub, so it's like there's no keyboard plugged into the machine until I go and find an old PS/2 one to use.

Admittedly I'm spoiled because most of the time I'm using a Mac, or a server running *nix. Both of these tend to just plug and play anything that is actually going to work with them in any way; no messing around there. (When I had to replace a drive in my server earlier this year, it took five minutes; by the time I'd found a way of logging in from the insanely set-up network in the data centre, it was already rebuilding the volume onto the drive quite happily, thank you very much.)

But this spoiling is the way of the future. It's the reason I'm able to blog while waiting for Windows to figure out what I have to do next; this is probably the first time I've installed Windows while having a second machine lying around that wasn't just a server or firewall. And, despite having just bought a brand new Samsung NC-10 (no link because their website is utter shit and I gave up looking), this will likely be the last time I install Windows. Ever. The next evolution of this machine will be either to take the two 1TB SATA drives out and put them in a Mac Pro, or to slap linux on the machine once more and be done with it. Microsoft loses: there's nothing running on that machine I cannot replace with similar software on other platforms. Usually it's better. It's almost never as annoying.

Except for one thing. I'm doing another install, at the same time as this, to get a working Windows system on my Mac again, under VMWare Fusion, on the off-chance that I need to test things.

I doubt it'll be all that long before my multimedia machine ceases to run Windows. I'm guessing that Creative Suite 5 will be out, at the latest, in early 2010; at that point I'll probably bite the bullet and both upgrade and get them to transfer the license to Mac. Windows will have been relegated.