Well, that’s it. Goodbye Windows XP. I used your great-great-[not so]great-grandfather, Windows 3.1 sometime in the early 90’s. It was cooler to use and almost did as much as DOSSHELL. Ever since then, except for your bastard cousin (twice-removed, according to a later Microsoft Press Release) Windows ME, I can say I’ve used and entrusted my data to you and your family for close to 15 years now. Good luck, Godspeed, and, well… Good riddance.

I’ve been dealing with ever-increasing XP issues for the past few weeks. I didn’t put much thought into it, though, safe in the comforting arms of my Maxtor OneTouch II backup drive. Yeah, I know, Insert Music of Impending and Inevitable Doom Here. It seems that the backup drive couldn’t handle something about the .Net framework and stopped backing up data about a month ago.

Then, about 4 days ago, one of the “extreme” measures taken to try to restore the backup drive finally pushed the PC over the edge into BitBucket land. It won’t even boot. What’s the lesson here? The backup drive works great unless you’re having computer troubles? Sounds like a solar-powered flashlight to me.

I was able to diagnose the XP errors and determine the probable fix: rebuilding the boot.ini from the XP CD. Then I noticed this awesome note on the webpage with the fix: “If you have a system recovery CD or restore CD these steps will likely not work for your computer.” Great- so I could fix the error if Microsoft wasn’t so anal about privacy. Did I buy a computer with Windows XP? Yes. Did I receive Windows XP? Yes- kinda. Sorta. Except it’s for Dells only, and its actually only a limited-functionality recovery CD. But I can’t complain- they may be anal, but at least they’ve managed to significantly curb software piracy throughout the world. Right? RIGHT?? Sorry, speak up Microsoft, I can’t hear you. I even looked into trying to reinstall Windows on my main partition whilst keeping the data partition untouched, but XP Setup could only detect one partition, despite the fact that I have three.

I’ve dumped probably 30 hours into, at the very least, saving our data. My machine (and the backup drive, or so I thought) holds thousands of photos, 3-4 years of financial data, over a thousand songs, and various website backups going back at least 5 years. It deserves and needs to be saved. And I feel like I should be exempt from the usual criticism about users’ naivette towards backups; hell, I invested around $200 and a lot of time into that backup drive.

The funny thing is, both Knoppix and Ubuntu LiveCD’s worked just fine, and they both detected all three of my partitions. Unfortunately they couldn’t write to the Maxtor (since I now have to resort to just using it a big hard drive for pure point & click storage) and they couldn’t see my other external USB hard drive. Since I was able to at least see the Maxtor in Linux, I started there; I wiped out the whole drive and reformatted it as FAT32 (after trying EXT3), and I’m now backing up all my data onto the Maxtor, after which I’ll copy it to QT’s spare hard drive for safekeeping.

Then the Reformat Party shall begin. And that party shall be DJ’d, MC’d, and catered by my new buddy Ubuntu. I’ve played around with Ubuntu (Dapper Drake mostly) and OpenSuse 10.2 enough to know that I probably could rely on Linux for my full-time operating system, with a medium (and much-needed) learning curve, but until recently I never had a compelling reason to force myself to switch. This last week of agony is more than enough reason. So, as I stated earlier, goodbye Windows. Over the years your behavior has confused me (“Gee, I thought I told that icon to Always Hide?”) and put me through incredibly annoying and common-sense-defying technical loops (see “Some programs seem to stop working after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2“) and now you’ve literally and unabashedly disgusted me into switching my operating system.

As soon as this backup and transfer is done, I’ll be installing
Ubuntu Feisty Fawn as my primary OS. Of course, I’ll have to slave off a small partition and keep you around, Windows XP. Mostly for games, and also to ensure I can access all my other data as I figure out how to migrate it into Linux (like our taxes, for example). But until you somehow convince me otherwise (and no, I don’t mean with Vista), you’ll always be the evil step-child OS I keep in the closet and only bring out to play Age of Empires and Command & Conquer.

Whew. This post has been highly therapeutic.

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