Ali vs. Fraser? Try Ali vs. Maxtor

Well, after 7 repeated re-installs of Windows XP, I have decided that I hate computers more than A___ and M____ combined. (The incognito thing is still in effect, trust me that otherwise I would have no problem spitting out their first names)

So after my last post (the first install), I installed a patch from Ali (the Asus offshoot that manufactors the chipset of my motherboard -- if the first half of this bracket confuses you perhaps just give up now) that replaces the Microsoft-edition of my M5229 IDE controller with a brand-spanking new Ali-edition of what they call an "Ultra IDE controller" that is as I said their own proprietary version which is actually older than the one I was using. I reboot 5 or 6 times in accordance with the flaming hoops they send me through, and low and behold: it works! I dance insanely to Offspring in celebration, and then reboot and proceed to trash this HDD that I have just fixed. Why? Because I dual-boot (trey-boot?) Windows XP along with MS-DOS 6.22 (old skewl) and Debian 3.1, as I believe I've mentioned before. But this Windows thing was its own partition. So the next day I made two changes:

1) I used the clone of the bootable-DVD that I had to make because my collegue wished to have his disc back within 48 hours of the first receipt
2) I used Partition Magic to make 4 nice partitions, the first of which took MS-DOS as a logical necessity, since it could not accept anywhere else. What was also logical was the partitions, which was a bad thing.

I go about installing DOS, which for me is quite the procedure (what's with the sudden surge of lists?)
a. Remove side of case, remove IDE cable from 3.5" floppy and 5.25" floppy, and re-attach master plug to the 5.25", leaving the 3.5" unconnected to the bus
b. In BIOS, make the 5.25" the A: drive
c. Using my MS-DOS 5.0 boot disk, install MS-DOS on C:
d. Reboot to C:, and use my 5.25" MS-DOS 6.22 upgrade discs to (slowly) update DOS
e. Shut off computer, re-attach cables, and move onto installing Windows.

Windows started creating its own problems: the new DVD-ROM seemed much slower than the others, and put up the very obnoxious "Cannot Find Disc: Cancel, Try Again, Continue" window before really doing anything. Try Again failed miserably, while Cancel and continue seem to do the same thing: continue. I stared at a bluish screen (not a Blue Screen, which is I think a registered trademark) for a few minutes, and then saw the familiar "Installing Windows" screen. 39 minutes to go. The next screen says 36 minutes. The next screen says 26 minutes, followed by 19 minutes. Do you know how I know this? Because each screen stays in place for half a fucking hour! I would apologize for the language, but I think that Ming-Kai Tsai, William Gates III, whoever is the CEO of Maxtor Corporation, and the moron who made the 137GB limit for super-large hard drives (even though he picked my favourite number as an upper bound) all should really be apologizing to me.

So where was I? Oh yes, waiting six years for the thing to install. But finally, there it was. I check the email I sent myself with the exact .exe that worked the last time. I fire it up, reboot, and.... the computer reboots again before I even see a Windows XP splash screen. Soon I'm "Changing to Last Good Settings" on the XP failed bootup screen and wondering what to do. So I turn to this site, who really has more helpful information than all those tech boards and nobody else should have to sort through as many worthless pages on Google as I did, so this will help his ranking slightly I hope, where I learn that the UltraIDE driver I used was, when there is a newer available. I happily download it, blissfully ignoring the advice in the section on the driver that states "If you have the A7A266 (or other ALiMagik 1 chipset based board) then do NOT run the newer integrated drivers that you might find on ALi's website -- they cause the IDE Controller to no longer respond to Windows" not worrying about what that might be.

You know what that means? I should have, and now I can confirm that once applied the drives used UDMA-6 at 100/133MHz as one might hope. There was however a slight problem when Windows and the bus had a shared resource issue whereby every time I did anything involving a hard drive access, I had to wait a minute or so as the drive was needlessly queried over and over again. Just pressing the Start button would do it: 45-60 seconds later the damned menu actually appeared. Do you know how many HD accesses a startup of Mozilla uses? Or browsing the Disk Drives in Explorer? I have a rough idea now. Convinced that having every data flow action take 200 times longer slightly outweighed the 30X speed benefit of each individual data flow, I had to re-install Windows again. This is when I discovered that in fact the Windows partitioner had screwed up the Partition Magic achivements: PM formatted /dev/hda2 (I'm falling back on Linux conventions, so sue me) in NTFS, but XP refused to accept it and re-installed. Unbeknownst to me, it decided to use a logical/extended partition for itself, rather than the logical (very droll, Prime Minister) choice of primary partition. So I repeated the whole deal (including the DOS install) this time having Partition Magic leave the Windows partition as FAT32, so Windows just re-formatted the partition rather than muck around with an MBR that was going to have to go through a lot more shit if I had my way. Again with all the problems: a carbon copy of the previous annoying effort. So aha, I decide: the first time there was no partitioning at all, why not repeat that performance? So I installed just Windows XP, and noticed that in fact the "Cancel/Try Again/Continue" trifecta was replaced with smooth disc operation and the 39/36/26/19 indicators actually being relatively close approximations to the actual elapsed times.

So of course I screw it up. I figured that the failure was likely a result of the partitioning as well, so I reinstall it, only to be taunted with failure as the computer does the reboot-foxtrot that the driver performed after the partitioned install. So I install the driver, but it doesn't seem to actually install because I can't uninstall the driver, and then I realize that the Device Manager thinks that the "SCSI/RAID" controllers are interfering with the Primary and Secondary IDE controllers. This can't really be pinned entirely on Device Manager, which I think gets a little more shit than it actually deserves even though its not quite blameless, since the "SCSI/RAID" controllers are the fake controllers that the UltraIDE driver uses to replace the Primary/Secondary controllers which the Microsoft-flavoured IDE drivers created. This is about when I discover that the UltraIDE drivers cannot be removed through Device Manager, but can be with the "add/remove programs". I removed one of the Ali drivers, but removing the other froze up the machine. I don't know, and I didn't want to know whether the stuck driver was 4.0.0.{7/8}, I just wanted my computer to work and maybe to lay down and cry.

So I trashed the whole thing, for fun tried to put on Linux only to find that the Debian Installer was unable to properly partition /dev/hda, and most certainly could not hope to put and ext3 filesystem on it. Back to Windows XP, I go. This time I just let it go do its business whilst I labour away at work. I come home, decide to live with PIO-3 for just a little while longer, and eventually produce this entry. Typing this all out was supposed to help me deal with my anger: now if the NDP show up at my door tomorrow morning they're going to get to see some too-hot-for-Canada-Customs T-shirts showing their esteemed provincial leader with a swastika emblazened on his skull. Maybe a little political jargon can catch the eyes of those who lost me somewhere around the phrase "the UltraIDE driver I used was, when there is a newer". If anybody actually reads this site, which as I think I've already stated, they don't. Maybe this whole exercise is just for therapy. But I doubt it: I plan to try the older IDE driver that worked the first time tomorrow. Now perhaps I should go to bed: it is 5:30am after all.

One thing I'm not doing tonight, and that's putting the case back on this computer... I might end up installing DOS again.