Friday, January 07, 2005

Windows reinstall irony

I've had lots of fun the last couple of nights!

The hard drive in Sarah's computer was making noises like it was about to die1, so I had to go out and buy a new hard drive to replace it. I managed to get all the important stuff off the dying drive before it carked itself (despite a moment of panic where it froze and then wouldn't even detect the drive on a reboot - before I'd even managed to copy the most important stuff off, i.e. Sarah's uni files). Have I mentioned that I hate computers?

So I've spent the last couple of nights setting up the drive and re-installing everything. Lucky me. There's soooo much to do to get it all running (Office XP is up to 3 service packs now!), so it's taken ages.

"Where's the irony you so tantalisingly referred to in the title of this post?" I hear you all asking.

Well, I tend to partition hard drives into 4 partitions - one for windows (NTFS2), one for Linux (usually ext33), one for Linux Swap, and one for all the miscellaneous data (which I format as FAT32, because that's the most portable filesystem between Linux and Windows). FAT32 is a Microsoft-developed filesystem - it's what windows 9x used to use, and windows 200 & XP can still use it now.

So I figured, it being a Microsoft thing, it's a reasonable assumption that you'd be able to format a partition as FAT32 from windows. But try as I might, the only option I could find for formatting the partition in windows was NTFS - which I definitely didn't want. In the end, the only way I could find to format the drive as FAT32 was to use Linux4!

How ironic - a Microsoft OS won't format a partition with a Microsoft filesystem, but the main competitor that they've been fighting against will, with zero effort. Nice.


  1. Also, the SMART parameters for the drive (as reported by smartctl) all had values with labels like "Pre-Fail" and "Old_Age". Good sign.
  2. NTFS is a windows filesystem. It's most user-visible benefit is that it recovers gracefully from unexpected shutdowns; i.e. no more scandisk runs at bootup, like good old win98.
  3. ext3 is a Linux file system used by many distros like Fedora Core. It's good.
  4. Knoppix - so handy. Saved me from several nasty computer moments.

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