Every six months or so Windows goes mental and I have to re-install it. This time my server is blue-screening almost as soon as the system boots, so I can’t even back anything up before wiping the boot drive. Last time I needed to do this I took the drive out, stuck it in another PC, and backed everything up that way. This time I’m PC-less, having given my PC away and switched to the smaller Macs, so I needed another solution.
Obvious choice - Ubuntu Live CD.
I have a mixed opinion of Linux. I think the ethos is fantastic, as are the goals of the project. The OS itself, though, I’m not so keen on. I’ve been trying it on and off since Red Hat 6, and have tried all of the major distros and many of the smaller ones at one time or another. They have all had huge problems that prevented me from using them. Still, every time I re-install Windows I come back to Linux and give it another go.
First impressions of Feisty Fawn are good. It boots quickly enough, even from the CD. It looks good. It doesn’t force me to edit config files to get a resolution other than 640x480. It works with both of the server’s network cards and even its wireless card. It detects all of the hard drives, SATA and all, and mounts them as read-only NTFS disks.
Excellent. I back up the boot partition onto a NAS disk and wipe it. Set up the partitions, run the installer. All goes smoothly. Reboot.
Now it all goes wrong. Disk is not bootable, says the computer. OK, I switch to a different boot drive in the BIOS. Disk boots, GRUB error 17. GRUB can’t read the disk’s format. Looks like it’s trying to boot the wrong disk. Why is this? I have no idea. After two and a half hours of fiddling, editing, researching, reading, waiting, rebooting, installing and re-installing, I’ve got absolutely nowhere. I’ll give it one more go tomorrow and re-install the whole OS from scratch. If that doesn’t work it’s back to Windows again.
Linux - wonderful idea, but if you can’t get the basics like booting right, what is the point? Windows does many (most?) things wrong, but at least you know that it’ll boot once it’s installed. And OSX - who knows what that does when it gets installed? In two years of running a Mac I can’t remember ever seeing it crash, let alone having to re-install the operating system.