Windows 7

So, I have to take the computer to the store (again). But I only have Linux installed, and I don’t want to let the techies there handle it—for pretty obvious reasons. So I had an idea: let’s install Windows 7, and see what all the hype is about! And the same time, I can leave the computer at the store with a system that will be (one hopes) more familiar to the guys there than any UNIX relative. It’s supposed to be user friendly—but, as so much else in life, user friendliness is in the eye of the beholder. As long as the beholder is not any other OS living on the same machine.

But first things first. I have two hard drives, sda and sdb. ArchLinux is installed on the former, and Win 7 was to be installed on a FAT logical partition on the latter. First (not so unexpected) surprise: it can only installed on NTFS. Oh well. Format took care of it. Second (way more, completely unexpected) surprise: After formatting the drive, it warned that it may create additional partitions to help the boot process. WTF?! I was this close of trashing the CD and shutting down the entire she-bang… but I didn’t. Curiosity (plus the fact that I needed for the aforementioned reason), spoke louder, and I went through with it. Installation is pretty much like its predecessor, WinXP, just “next” it until there’s no more, but this time there is a catch: it is SLOW! Really SLOW. I have a Quad core machine, with 4Gb of RAM, and just the change between menus took minutes!

But I’m going astray. After the install, Windows 7, like all of its predecessors, wiped out the existing Master Boot Record, so GRUB had to be reinstalled. I booted the Kubuntu live CD, but before going into the GRUB part, I ran cfdisk on both drives. sdb had an NTFS partition, marked as bootable, as expected. But the really really scary and totally completely unexpected surprise, came from sda: it had an NTFS partition! Curse! Curse curse CURSE! My data!! Alas, no, after a big scare, all my Linux partitions were OK, and that new NTFS thing on sda had just a couple of Mb. Strange, but oh well, reinstall GRUB, modify (from ArchLinux) it’s menu.lst to allow Win 7 to boot and reboot, and … FAIL. Windows complains something is missing. Mess around with bootloader’s config to see if we get lucky, but no. Until, an idea comes. Instead of trying to boot the NTFS partition on sdb (which is where Win 7 was installed), just boot the one in sda. And surprise, it now works!

So, to sum it up, Windows now cannot be installed on a single partition. What is worse, you have NO CONTROL on what other partitions it might create, and just have to hope for the best, i.e., that it doesn’t wreck anything else on the process. I mean come on, even Linux can be installed on a single partition, if you ditch swap! And windows needs another partition JUST TO BOOT?! Like them guys say, EPIC FAIL!


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