Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NaNoWriMo - why do I need a floppy to slipstream?

My three mistakes over the weekend:
  1. Choosing not to read the instructions
  2. Trying to improve something while distracted
  3. Trying to improve something while dis... oh. Yeah.
It took me quite a while on Saturday to retrace more or less the same steps I'd taken in 2007:
  1. Try and install new operating system on Laptop
  2. Install failed because Laptop has new SATA drive which old Windows XP doesn't recognise
  3. Find SATA driver on Acer's website
  4. Try installing XP
  5. Install fails because driver not on floppy drive
  6. Stomp around the room in frustration because I don't have a floppy drive
  7. Read the forums
  8. Discover nLite and how to 'slipstream' a driver into an XP installation CD
  9. Create my first cut down version of XP using driver file obtained from Acer
  10. Stomp around the room some more because the install fails - still not finding my Laptop's harddrive
  11. Do some more research - find that I have to run the 'driver' which is actually an executable designed to write files to - and only to - a floppy disk.
  12. Cue more stomping...
Although I understand why Acer provide an executable program which automatically installs driver files to a floppy drive, it irritated me back in 2007 and still does in 2011. Acer knew their laptops didn't come with floppy drives but I guess that five to ten years ago most PCs still had one.

Back in 2007 - the memories come flooding back at this point - I didn't! I had built our PC myself: speccing the parts; ordering them; and putting the whole thing together - from the motherboard up; without a floppy drive! I reasoned we would not need one anymore. DVD's were the new norm and we could save files to both CD and DVD without any issues. Until I tried changing the operating system on my laptop.

In 2007 my only choice was to abandon the upgrade or make a trip to a PC store. I chose the latter and
forked out a tenner for a floppy drive that I only needed once in the next four years. I installed the floppy drive, extracted the actual driver files to a floppy disk and slipstreamed them into an nLite CD.

I'm fairly sure I saved the driver files somewhere... But late on Saturday evening I found myself rooting about in a cupboard for the floppy drive I had removed almost as soon as I'd installed it four years before:

Having all the necessary drivers ready, I re-ran nLite and created a new CD, only to find it was around 50Mb bigger than the last time. This was irritating as a major point of slipstreaming is to reduce the installation size. I decided to start again but of course this entailed setting up the install and I quickly backtracked. After a couple more attempts at reducing the size of the CD, by which time it was past midnight, I gave up. Each time I tried - it added on 50Mb!

I know a definition of madness is retrying something that failed the last time but sometimes I just can't help myself! (Anyone have any suggestions why the installation kept increasing in size?)

In the end I used one of the early attempts and although it wasn't quite as automatic as I'd hoped, it worked pretty well. Half an hour later and I'd got Internet up and running, installed Microsoft Office and checked I could access all my backed up files. I was booting up in under a minute - quite an improvement over the plus five minutes Vista had been taking.

(Why did it all take so long? It was Saturday evening and the TV was on, what can I say! I'd recorded Fringe earlier in the week and between that and my wife's favourite hospital dramas, I struggled to concentrate.)

Once online, I used my blog page to check T'Internet and saw this:
I'm rather fond of my new Amazon carousel. I make a few pence from any sales of books I recommend. But even if no-one buys anything, I love watching those books spin!

New operating system equals no plugins. First up: Adobe Flash Player (Without 'Free! McAfee Security Scan Plus' thank you very much Adobe!)

And so it begins. A gradual progression of installing software that will one day cause my computer to run so slowly I'll want to re-install the operating system. Hopefully next time I'll remember where I saved those driver files...

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