I had just installed Windows 7, and didn’t I do it the hard way!
So there I was, sitting with a computer running Windows 7. It’s all in 100Gb of a 2Tb drive. I’ve got four other operating systems on an external drive which need putting back, along with a large data partition. So I ran a live USB (acutally PCLinuxOS KDE-Darkstar) which has GParted on it, so I can do the rest of the partitioning and get my Linux back.
I decided to set up six 16Gb partitions and to copy mine back, plus two more 16Gb partitions for new experiments, then my big Data partition to take up the rest of the disk. It went surprisingly easy, but of course, I couldn’t get to any of them, unless I could install GRUB over the Windows bootloader. The best way to do this was to install another Linux. I decided to use a distro (Linux Distribution) called AntiX, because it’s fast, small and installs in no time. After I had done so, it set up a bootloader, and included every other OS on the drive. Windows 7, 3 PCLinuxOS installs (KDE-Darkstar, XFCE and LXDE desktop environments), and one of MX Linux (which is basically AntiX plus!).
Fancy some GRUB?
The next thing was to run the KDE-Darkstar where all the graphics for GRUB (GRand Universal Bootloader) were kept, and I could tidy it up from there. Except that I couldn’t. I knew the problem, but not the solution. The problem was that the program had been set up for an MBR disk, but it had been copied back to a GPT disk. For the non-technical, Windows (7 onwards) only works on one or the other, but without warning. And converting from one to the other means that all data on the disk is lost.
So to the internet for some help and… no internet! But it wasn’t the provider’s fault. Because my mobile phone, connected to the same internet via the same router was fine. I decided to return to Windows 7 and get some stuff done there.
Video Driver on Motherboard CD doesn’t work!
I got one error when I installed all the Windows drivers from the ASUS disk. On checking through the Hardware Device Manager, I found it was the Video that hadn’t installed properly. I checked it, and instead of reporting it as Intel Graphics (i630), it was telling me that I had “Generic SVGA” graphics. Problem was, that the internet was intermittent, coming on and off randomly. So it took a lot of patience and persistence, trying various drivers with the same result, and eventually finding a solution on the “Toms Hardware” site. No link, but pointed in the right direction, and found the driver I needed, an unofficial hush-hush one that seemingly wasn’t made for us plebs, on Softpedia. We are told that these latest (Gen 7 and up) processors cannot be made to work fully on Windows 7/8/8.1 but this driver proves they can. It’s just that Micro$oft and Int€l are working together to force everyone onto that abomination that is Windows 10 (as are AMD).
The return of the PS/2 mouse
I managed to get a free anti-virus program (Avast) downloaded and installed, and the various Windows Updates, but it was hard work with the internet cutting out and coming back randomly. Eventually it was time for bed. So I closed the computer down, and as I was about to stand up, I thought about the PS/2 mouse that was still plugged in though not being used. So I unplugged it, and thought, unlikely though it might be, I should start the computer again for a minute or two. And on came the internet in all its glory! I shut down again, and went to bed with the smug look of someone who had just solved a problem.
Having got up for a wee wee in the wee wee hours, I popped down to kitchen for some liquid, then into the living room to test the internet again, just for a minute. Yep, working! I was so proud. But as they say, pride comes before a fall….
Another Day, Another pile of Shit!
So, up the next day, ready to breeze through getting everything up and running again. First looked at Windows 7 and was greeted with a message that there were another 9 updates. So off I went to install them only to be greeted with an error message. It seems that one of the updates I installed the previous day added something that stopped me getting Windows Updates! Or more precisely, stopped anyone with a Gen7 or later Intel Processor from getting them, with an error message “Unsupported Hardware”. And… to cap it off, the Internet was still not working, just intermittently coming on and off. Thankfully I could still connect via my phone. Again, there is no reason that it Windows 7 wouldn’t work with my processor, just that Micro$haft and In-hell didn’t want it to! Anyway I had a working computer in front of me, so at worst, Windows 7 wouldn’t work with new features from the Gen7 series, but still worked with the old ones. And some of these updates were needed to protect my computer from “exploits”. After all the things I had to do to get Windows 10 off, with a perfectly legal install, why should I?
Zeffy to the rescue
Never met the person but s/he is my hero! The creator of a program that neutralises the Unsupported Hardware crap, and enabled me to download more updates, including the crucial one that would defend me from a very real and serious “exploit”. I’m not worthy!!!
Just as aside, while you’re going through all the internet pages when you search on this problem, all the paid hacks of the computer press are telling you that the best way to deal with it is to upgrade to Windows 10 and be done with it. Well if they ever do a cut down version that enables you to run your programs and otherwise keep the f**k out of the way, I might consider it.
Mount the EFI partition
OK, so back to my Linux partitions. The solution to the fact that I was unable to rewrite the boot partition from any of the Linux versions except the one I had installed after the restoration of stuff from the external drive, wasn’t anywhere to be seen on the net, but I did a comparison between different setups, and came to the conclusion that I had to create a folder at /boot/EFI and mount it to the drive’s EFI partition (the small one at the start of the disk). One problem solved!
Drive ID Numbers
I managed somewhere to lose an important folder, but remembered that it would have been on the back up drive. But when I switched it on, and tried to mount it, I couldn’t. Turned out that, where I had backed up partitions, then restored them, those on the back-up drive, and those on my hard drive, had identical ID numbers! Took me a while to figure it out, and managed to change them. A related problem with the swap partition (that was different to the one expected as I hadn’t backed it up) resulted in delays when I booted up the Linux partitions while it looked for a swap partition which wasn’t there. I had to go through each one and correct the File System Table file, so that it was loading the correct swap partition. I recovered my missing folder, and my 5 Linux systems were back to booting up in seconds (as they do nowadays).
Not thinking of the bleedin’ obvious
Now the only thing left to resolve was the regular Internet breakdowns. It was off more than on by now. I saw loads of reports on lots of help pages, that people’s Wired Internet was problematic, either not working at all, or subject to intermittent failure, but the wireless through the same router was fine. Going back to 2006 to date, and not one of them seemingly resolved! The most obvious solution to me would be to add a USB wireless dongle to the computer. But later that evening, in the pub, when my partner went outside for a smoke, I had one last look on my phone, and I found someone who had managed to resolve the issue. The solution? Try a different ethernet cable between the computer and the router! I had a few spare cables at home, so the next morning I did. And up to now, the internet has not dropped at all. There are times when you feel like such a dickhead for not thinking of the bleedin’ obvious right at the start.
In a day or so, I am expecting in the post a Wireless USB dongle I don’t need. Still it was only a fiver and you never know when it might come in handy!
You think that’s the end of the saga? Sadly it wasn’t. More to come!