Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Gordian Knot

We needed a new computer in a hurry last week, to replace the one that has been faithfully driving my camera for a year, but just couldn't seem to go on running stably for another day. Our software and drivers don't run on Vista, of course. But I can't find anyplace that stocks a new machine that has, simultaneously, a PCI-E slot, room for two hard drives, and XP loaded. That's okay; we can make do with two out of three. We got a Dell with all the slots and bays, but loaded with Vista, and bought a copy of XP.

Of course, we had no idea that we had just picked up a Gordian Knot of the computer world. Apparently, one cannot install XP "over" Vista. One must do a "clean" install after formatting the hard drive. But Vista will not let one format the hard drive. One must boot up from a disk, reformat in a DOS environment, and install the operating system from there. After finding all the drivers from the individual component manufacturer's websites, of course, since, for anything new, they won't be on the XP install disk. And Dell only maintains a list of Vista drivers on their website. At least this is what the guys from our computer support department told me after working on this for two days. I didn't get as far as booting from a disk.

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