Another reason I try to avoid Windows

I decided to replace the hard disk in my Dell Optiplex 755 with a larger model (500GB). Migrating Ubuntu was trivial; Windows Vista was not. Clonezilla did its best but I ended up running into all sorts of Windows BCD corruption issues. Most of the various repair tools on the Windows DVD failed with incredibly non-descriptive error messages.

After giving up I quickly discovered that Windows would refuse to even install, citing Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installing. This was even after zeroising the first few GB of the disk with dd. WTF Microsoft?

Even a BIOS update didn’t do the trick. (hint to Dell, et al.: DOS is dead. Please give us a modern, OS independent BIOS update mechanism)

It turns out that two things seemed to have an affect on this: my HP Photosmart printer with its built-in card reader and floppy drive setting in the BIOS. Disconnecting the printer and setting the floppy drive mode from USB (default if there is no internal floppy drive) to None cured the problem.

By this stage I had wasted enough hours so didn’t even bother trying to see if the clone would work this time around.

Of course all along Ubuntu behaves just perfectly.

Stripboard Magic

Stripboard Magic is a Windows application for designing PCB layouts on stripboard (aka prototyping board). It was released by a British company called Ambyr which ceased trading a long time ago. The interface is a quite primitive and a little strange but the program is functional even on Windows XP. It also works great in Linux using Wine. Read more of this post

Grep for Windows

Ever since using Ubuntu as my primary OS I’ve missed many of the command line tools when using Windows. However I just discovered Windows has it’s own version of the grep command called findstr.

I’m probably a bit behind the eight ball here but despite it’s awful name, mangled switches and  other Microsoftisms findstr seems to behave in quite a similar fashion to good old grep, enough for basic commands at least.