Sunday, January 27, 2008

Windows XP installer crashes

Very rarely, I have the need to take a machine which had a Linux distribution installed on it, and need to reinstall it with Windows. Typically, it's a work laptop for which I have temporarily borrowed, and need to return it to the state I got it in.

Recently, I've had two machines which the installer crashes whilst booting the Windows XP install CD, still on the black screen. Any Linux installer will boot fine, however. It took me a fair while to rule it down to Linux having written to the MBR of the disk, and Windows installer getting confused. I didn't guess this initially, because I thought Windows would just overwrite it. But apparently not.

So, if you've got an ex-Linux boot disk, and you want a Windows XP (Home or Professional) CD to boot with it, then boot a Linux install CD in "rescue mode" (I used the CentOS 5 DVD, and typed "linux rescue" at the first prompt). Then, once it's booted and you've got a shell type:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1

This will make your previous Linux install fail to boot; but that's fine, I wanted the machine to boot Windows only anyway.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mac OS X v10.5 and Java 6 (Part 2)

I was browsing the Apple Developer site today in the vain hope that they might have addressed the problem of the lack of a Java 6 SDK for Mac OS X. I must admit, after over three years of using a Mac for my Java development at work, I had started using a Linux PC again.

Anyway, I was shocked to see that Apple had indeed shipped a new beta of JDK 6, now at Developer Preview 8. I almost downloaded it too, but I read the fine print. Only works on Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), and only works on 64 bit Intel Macs.

Now, I'm running Leopard, but I've got a first generation MacBook with the Core Duo (not the Core 2 Duo, which was 64 bit). This machine is less than two years old, and Apple are going to force me to upgrade to return me to the functionality that I had before their (paid) upgrade to Leopard.

So I guess I'll be forced to keep using a Linux PC for Java development work a little while longer.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Updating with SuSE / Novell service packs

I've had Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu products before, and occasionally they have "Service Packs". Essentially, some time the vendor decides "gee, we've shipped a lot of patches. Lets respin the CD". Apparently this isn't what Novell / SuSE do.

You see, when Novell / SuSE ship a "service pack", they helpfully stop all machines which don't have that service pack from taking any updates. And you have to go through a long winded "upgrade to the service pack" process (documented here, I used the "rug" method), after which you can once again resume normal service of getting patches.

So that's why my updates haven't been working for a while on my SuSE servers.