Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas Computer

So Christmas is coming up, and what better gift to receive then a new computer. Well I'm quite poor so rather then buying a new computer to give away, my mum decided we should format one of the old computers she has lying around. After all, they would only use the computer for the internet and Word.

Issue 0:
Find a screen that works, keyboard and mouse.

Issue 1:
Current OS Windows Vista Enterprise has expired. Enter product key. Cannot access command line, or anything helpful from here. Nothing helpful in the BIOS either. Must find a way to format the drive.
Attempt 0:
Luckily we had an old Windows XP Professional disk lying around. Put that in, goes half through through the install process and then decides it can't read the disk.
Due to the current OS being a later version it appears that the 'upgrade' is unable to go through. Error message only says please insert disk. Hmmm...
Attempt 1:
Luckily we also had a Windows 7 upgrade. Unfortunately the computer doesn't meet the system requirements. Which seem to be a huge step up from Vista. Not too surprising. The main reason people didn't like Vista was because their computers were good enough to run it properly. Somehow, this disk allowed us to get to the command line. Strange but we'll go with it.
SOLVED got to command line.

Issue 2:
Turns out the 20Gb harddrive is partitioned into 2 parts. Not helpful. I only want one clear partition.
Part 0:
Format C:, then format D:. That worked fine. Now finding some way to get rid of the partition.
Part 1:
Found a command DiskPart. Within this you are able to view each harddrive and the partitions etc.

>list drive
'all drives are listed'
>select drive 0
>list partition
'all partitions listed, the C: of 8Gb (partition 0) and D: of 10Gb (partition 1).'
>select partition 1
'partition 1 selected'
>delete partition
>list partition
'now only the C: drive is shown of 8Gb. Where did my 10Gb go? Oh crap.'
--Restart computer.--
>select drive 0
>list partition
'C: (partition 0) is now 18Gb. Phew...'


DiskPart also has a clean command that zeroes the entire disk. I'll remember this.

Issue 3:
Now we need an OS to put on it.
Attempt 0:
Try that Windows XP disk again.
No luck. Must be a disk error.
Attempt 1:
Download Ubuntu 10.10.
Burn iso image to CD-RW using Windows 7 image burner. Very handy.
Boot from CD.

No init found. Try passing init= bootarg.

BusyBox v1.15.3 (Ubuntu 1:1.15.3-1ubuntu5) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help for a list of built-in commands.

Now I'm in a bash command line.
After spending an hour on two on google searching this problem, I've found two solutions.
Unfortunately both of these require booting from disk and using bash from there.
As my problem is the disk command line, this isn't going to help. A lot of basic commands aren't found; sudo being one of them. This leaves me with very few options.
Attempt 2:
Download Ubuntu 9.04.
Burn image to disk.
Boot from disk.
Change some setting and clicked install.
Ubuntu is now formatting your harddrive... Well that's convenient.
SOLVED as an added bonus, Ubuntu comes with Open Writer. Sweet.

[Last edit: 201012231820]


  1. Nice and complicated little christmas project haha

  2. Really I could've just done the last step and it would have done the rest for me... But learnt some things on the journey.