Random 05 Feb 2008 07:57:12

New Hardware

Ordered a new computer Friday, received it Monday.


  Old New
CPU AMD Athlon XP 3200+ Barton Intel C2D E6850 3.0GHz 1333 4MB
MB Soltek SL-75MRN-L Abit IP35-E
RAM 1.25GB DDR 4GB DDR2 PC6400 800MHz (2x2GB)
Storage 2x320GB + 1x60GB 500GB + 320GB
Cabinet Some AOpen thing Colors-IT L8027-C43 Black/Silver
Cabinet Fan None 80mm Arctic Cooling AF8025 19dB
PSU Seasonic SS-430HB 520W Chill CP-520A4 140mm (12-16dB)
CPU FAN GlacialTech 80mm GlacialTech Igloo 5062 Silent
CD/DVD/RW 16x Lite-On DVD/RW DL White 20x Lite-On DVD/RW DL Black
Speakers Viking VK4-80 Logitech R-20 2.1

What I look for…

As is probably evident from the hardware list, I value silence. I do not, however, care what the cabinet looks like as long as it has USB plugs in the front. The computer goes under the table, so I won’t be looking at it enough to care whether it is black, white, or purple.

The 320GB harddrives are Seagate Barracuda 7900.10’s, which are nicely silent. I wanted to move both drives over, but hadn’t foreseen that the DVD drive would take up an IDE slot (duh me), so I’ll have to get an external enclosure for one of them. Suits me fine as I also wanted a nice big portable drive anyways.

Relocating Windows XP via Ubuntu

As my old computer’s DVD burner was rather dead, I wanted to use the new machine to burn a Windows XP SP3 (sic) disc I had slipstreamed with latest updates and various drivers. Luckily I had Ubuntu 7.10 on dual-boot from the 320GB PATA drive, which had no problems with any of the hardware changes. So I used Ubuntu to dd the entire harddrive over to the 500GB SATA drive, basically relocating existing installations so that when the system boots from the SATA drive, partitions won’t complain about being re-enumerated. This worked without any problems and I could boot Ubuntu from the SATA drive after some /etc/fstab and /boot/grub/menu.lst edits.

I figured that my old Windows installation would blue-screen or refuse to boot since all the hardware had changed and I had not made a clean hardware profile for it. I also recalled something about Windows needing a clean reinstall to properly detect and work with multiple processors if it had been installed with only a single CPU. So I didn’t even consider booting that installation. If only I had…would have saved me a few hours.

I installed the fresh Windows XP SP3 (sic) onto a new partition and started filling it up with drivers and tools. That turned out to be terribly buggy: Sound would not work at all and applications would randomly crash. After a few hours of grumbling, I decided to see what would happen if I booted my existing Windows XP SP2.

To my amazement, it worked. No blue screen, no warnings nor errors. It simply ignored hardware it couldn’t find and happily started detecting all the new hardware, so I installed the drivers and everything just worked. Windows XP SP2 successfully relocated to entirely different hardware (even from PATA to SATA drive), and it just worked. No need to reinstall any of my applications, and it has full use of both cores in the CPU.

I must grudingly admit I had not expected that at all. I thought only Linux/BSD/MacOSX were hardware agnostic to such a degree. But I cannot complain…saves me weeks of fiddling with installations and preferences.

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