System building

I was planning to head to the LUG meeting today, but a combination of over tiredness, things that needed doing and apathy set in and it didn’t happen. What did happen was supposed to be reasonably productive – once I’d got myself going that is!

The first achievement was a good positive one. I tried the scanner I picked up from Jamies a while ago for the second time and found it actually worked. My first test was simply a power on test and when the scanning light didn’t come on and it made no noise or other indication of life I feared the worst. Well it seems that the modern USB scanners do the sensible thing and stay dormant until required – and this includes keeping the light off. My ancient SCSI one has the bulb lit permanently and makes a solid clunking sound as the mechanism checks that it is settled in the parked position as soon as power is applied.

The second thing turns out not to be much of an achievement at all. The plan was to quickly throw Windows XP on a machine I had partly built and then enjoy putting Linux on as a dual boot. This should have been already done, but the box has proved a bit of an oddity. I reminded myself of this when, after booting a few times to run a full set of diagnostics on the 120G Maxtor drive I found the next reboot left me with no picture on the screen. This I’ve seen before (although only since this particular build started, not previously with the same hardware). After a good deal of playing around, a few random successful boots an card swapping galore I decide to swap the graphics card over. All seems well with the new card except for one thing – it doesn’t have the analogue video capture that I was after (and was on the Matrox Marvel).

OK, next item on the install agenda, drop the ITE8212 based RAID card in to gain a couple of extra IDE channels (no RAID). Fine, all physically fitted and working – BUT. A big but it is too, but not unfortunately a new one. It is the good old catch 22 situation of needing to load the drivers for the card the install drive is connected to. Windows XP, in Microsoft’s wisdom, appears to be incapable of pulling the driver of the media that most drivers have been supplied on for a good few years now – CD. It has to be floppy disk. Now I have worked with machines that have no floppy drive, so where this leaves those people I’ve no idea, but that’s not my immediate problem. My problem is getting the driver onto floppy in the first place. My Windows box is in pieces (so unusable); the floppy drive on my laptop doesn’t work; the one on my desktop seems to have issues reading/mounting; my DMZ server is temporarily decommissioned; There’s no CD drive in my firewall; my BartPE CD doesn’t like not being in the CD drive all the time; my DOS boot floppy hangs. This leaves the options of my Linux desktop or server to get the files off the CD and copy then to floppy.

Ah well, there’s always tomorrow to finish the job off!

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