Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Windows Hardware

Lessons In Hardware / OS Troubleshooting 236

Posted by kdawson
from the feels-so-good-when-i-stop dept.
Esther Schindler writes "We like to imagine that every Microsoft OS installation will work just as well as the company promises. When things don't work out, identifying and remedying the case of failure can be time-consuming and frustrating. This lesson in how to determine why Windows 7 didn't install may help you troubleshoot a problem of your own, and save you from a Lost Weekend. Maybe you'll find this account useful all on its own. But the real key here is that the author is Ed Tittel — who's written over 100 books. If this hardware geek spends days solving a CPU-meets-Windows 7 problem, what chance do mere mortals have?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lessons In Hardware / OS Troubleshooting

Comments Filter:
  • Sooooo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:05PM (#31825016)

    He has issues with an "unsupported and unwarranted engineering sample CPU from Intel" with Windows 7... and Windows 7 is of course to blame according to the OP.... *roll eyes*

    • Re:Sooooo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:09PM (#31825046)
      This is Slashdot. Windows is always to blame.
    • Re:Sooooo (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ralish (775196) <ralish&gmail,com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:42PM (#31825394)

      I also found it bizarre that at no point did he seem to think of checking the setup logs [microsoft.com]. Admittedly, it probably wouldn't have helped him in this case, as logs often don't reveal anything in the case of intermittent hardware failure, but really, if I have a problem with setup, the first thing I'd think to check would be the log files in case they turn up something interesting. That's, you know, kind of why they're there...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by postbigbang (761081)

        The logs aren't very useful, even when they trap things. Unsupported CPUs may also have unsupported or doctored chipsets. Bitching about it, 100 books or no, seems a bit silly. With fast CPUs and weird cache setups, FSB speeds approaching C, you're just going to have problems unless something's vetted.

        Moaning about an engineering sample seems nihilistic to me, Windows 7 or no.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimicus (737525)

        It would never have helped him - he was using an engineering sample CPU, for heaven's sake!

        Having said that, I'm a Linux admin and it causes me no end of frustration when I need to troubleshoot something on Windows and I am painfully reminded that:

        - The event log is a PITA to browse through, because you have to double-click on specific events to see the detail. Search doesn't work very well when you're not entirely sure what you should be searching for.
        - Application software frequently doesn't write to the

    • I didn't read the article, but judging by the summary, I think it is more about troubleshooting than assigning blame.

    • Re:Sooooo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lorenlal (164133) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:13PM (#31825666)

      Actually, let's recap the action and the missteps:
      Inconsistent failure point during the initial installs. Yes, it could've been a problem with the ISO or the media. He correctly tried re-applying the image and also tested on another machine.

      At that point, you don't replace the motherboard. You might as well replace everything else first... Start with slapping the HD into the machine that worked and try the install again. When that worked, that would've reduced the potential culprits to the memory, CPU, and then lastly the mainboard. Memtest would've found no memory issue (which would also indicate that the mainboard is also less likely a problem), so that's when the CPU switch should've happened... Especially since it was "an engineering sample."

      Writing 100 books does not an expert make. Of course, I'll grant the guy some slack. Even the best of us have an experience where we throw our better judgment out the window. We make mistakes, or just totally forget how this is supposed to work, get into a panic, and goodness knows what else.

      The difference, and where I think this guy made the big mistake? When he decided to post this experience. Would've been much better just writing it like this:

      "I tried to go from x86 to x64, and it failed. I troubleshot it like a noob. I'll do better next time."

      • by lorenlal (164133)

        Sorry to reply to self, but there's another problem I have with his execution:

        If you're replacing the mainboard... You might as well go whole hog. Get yourself something nice...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ByOhTek (1181381)

        *typically* the a non-overheating CPU tends to work to spec (or similar to other models in the line), or not at all, without much inbetween behavior. I can see why he would replace it last, if it were a normal CPU. That being said, as the article stated, he's not using a normal CPU.

        With particularly quirky errors, I would go for Memory, Motherboard and PSU as the most likely cause (add disk in this case as it is during file writes - however the disk worked fine with the previous OS, so that mitigates a lot

  • actually (Score:5, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:07PM (#31825026) Homepage
    We like to imagine that every Microsoft OS installation will work just as well as the company promises.

    Actually around here people like to imagine that every MS OS installation will miserably crash, because then they strut around feeling good about using Linux.
    • But for the generalisation, what you say is true. The more I delve into operating systems the less I like any of the current ones out there - Linux included.

      Having said all that, when I need to protect highly sensitive information or critical systems then I won't be using Windows. Not because it is specifically 'teh 5U>0|2Z' but because I don't have the fine grained control I need.
    • We like to imagine that every Microsoft OS installation will work just as well as the company promises.

      Actually around here people like to imagine that every MS OS installation will miserably crash, because then they strut around feeling good about using Linux.

      [X] Psst ... it's not your imagination, honey :-)
      [X] I use BSD, you insensitive clod!
      [X] In Soviet Russia, Windows crashes YOU! ... oh, wait a sec ...
      [X] CowboyNeal is my runtime environment (Ewww!)
      [X] ... but at least it blends ...
      [X]

    • Re:actually (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:34PM (#31825322) Journal

      I've installed Windows 7 on my home PC. Played some games on it. I'm impressed. It's at least as stable as XP, and not noticeably slower.

      I still strut around feeling good about using Linux. You don't have to hate one to like the other you know. I wouldn't use Windows every day by choice, only because the command line utilities on Linux are so much more convenient. I like the GUI better too, real virtual desktops, windowshading, the selection buffer, all great. And the repositories are great too.

      So yeah, not everyone who likes linux is prejudiced against Microsoft.

      • Re:actually (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fallingcow (213461) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:54PM (#31826622) Homepage

        Do what I do--run Windows, put Linux in a VM. Virtual Box is free, robust, and easy to use, or there's always VMWare.

        Run the VM full screen and you can forget you're not running it natively, so long as you don't need to do anything in 3D or very processor intensive (video encoding, for example). Drop to Windows if you need a Windows app (say, a recent version of Photoshop or real MSOffice) or to play games. Plus, if your chosen distro decides to make horrible decisions that cause massive audio breakage (Ubuntu.... *glower*) you can still listen to music or watch Youtube videos in Windows without rebooting.

        Another plus is that your Linux installation is all in a single file that you can back up or transfer very easily.

        I find that this works far better than dual booting. Saves disk space, saves time. I felt kind of crappy at first for making Linux a second-class citizen on my machine, but this works so much better that I wish I'd done it years ago--though I supposed high clocked multi-core processors and multi-gigabyte RAM sticks weren't commonplace back then, so the experience might not have been so nice.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Jettamann (25050)

          If I had mod points.. i would devote them all to you..

          I do exactly what you do in ALL my workstations.. from my 8 year old 1.7Ghz single Core Pentium-M with only 2GB Ram (Run windows 732bit Host) and use VMWare Workstation 7 to run latest ubuntu in full screen... its fast.. all the way to my latest 64bit Core-i7 HyperThreaded runing 64bit Windows-7 with 8GB Ram.. with 4GB devoted to my 32bit paravirtualized kernel of Ubuntu 9.10 for development in full screen on a tripple monitor system!

          Can't beat it for fl

        • by Mathinker (909784) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:56AM (#31828230) Journal

          One of the reasons I use Linux is that, currently, it is much more secure than Windows, given my personal use scenario.

          Yes, if I were a specialist in securing Windows that might not be the case, but I'm not. Yes, if equivalent amount of effort was invested to break the security of casual users of Linux compared to that invested in breaking Windows, again, Linux might not be any more secure than Windows (well, with Linux, there are distros where I can always boot off of USB and then not save any changes, so until Microsoft offers me the same functionality there's little chance that I could use it in as secure a fashion as I can use Linux).

          Running Linux in a VM under Windows just wouldn't "cut it" for me. Sorry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)

          I love that idea and tried to do it at work to help myself learn more Linux, but I just couldn't. Part of the problem was that I'd drop back to Windows when Linux was being a pain and just not go back to Linux since there was nothing Linux did that Windows didn't. The other problem is that a large part of my job involves running various VMs on my system and as anyone can tell you, running multiple VMs in parallel that hit the disk hard on consumer hardware is a world of pain.

          You are correct though that on m

        • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @06:55AM (#31829442)

          INstall linux and run Windows in a VM. When your windows install gets infected/hosed with a virus/malware/whatever it could well mess up your linux VM machine and make it inrecoverable but if you install Windows in a VM and run on top of linux the worst that can happen is the VM gets hosed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192)

          No thank you. 95% of my time is spent in linux. It runs my RAID array, my torrents, I do a lot of emulation on it. A VM just isn't going to cut it. Maybe once a week or so I'll reboot for some modern 3d gaming, and that really isn't that inconvenient.

  • You're Kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:09PM (#31825054) Homepage Journal

    This is front-page news for Slashdot now? Here's the sum total of TFA:

    • Guy tries to install 64-bit Windows 7 on a machine previously running 32-bit Windows 7
    • Install fails over and over again
    • He replaces hardware components with no luck until he swaps out the CPU
    • Windows installs but is unstable
    • Worthless ASUS BIOS automatic "optimizers" cause stability problems (surprise!)
    • With BIOS settings changed to sane values Windows is stable

    Wow, color me impressed!

    How are "mortals" supposed to figure it out? I guess they buy a PC from Dell because everything in that article qualifies as "no duh" for system builders.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wes mantooth (1761262)
      Also, let's not forget that the CPU he used was an engineering sample: "In fact, of the 30-plus Intel processors I’ve installed Windows 7 on, this one is not only the single solitary item I’ve had any problems with at all, it’s also the only freebie engineering sample I used."
      • Re:You're Kidding (Score:4, Informative)

        by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:33AM (#31827386) Homepage Journal

        Wow, he has installed 30-plus intel based Windows Seven machines? Since its launch, I have had about 40-50 DOA intel processors, NONE of which were engineering samples.

        Guy is what we, in Australia, would call a "Tosser" who for lack of a better description is "Talking wank".

        No, mere mortals would never be required to sort out this problem, because they would never encounter it.

        Order for troubleshooting random seeming install fails is:

        Install media (the disk, get a known good image/disk)
        Hardware that reads that media (DVD drive, cable)
        Ram
        CPU
        HDD (and cable)
        Board
        PSU

        Most DOA PSU problems are dead PSU, most of the rest are rating selection errors (not powerful enough).

        Also, this list is optimised not only for most likely faults but for parts that are "easy" to replace :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is the reason I will not buy a "Enthusiast" or a "Entry-Level" piece of hardware. With the former it's always the overpriced overclocking features that are wonky, and with the latter, it's the cheap hardware. Second-generation midrange stuff (with FreeBSD-compatible hardware (i.e. open source drivers available), even if it will only run Windows) has always been the best.

    • Re:You're Kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lalena (1221394) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:21PM (#31825198) Homepage
      Exactly. He swapped every piece of hardware - saving the engineering sample CPU as the last thing he swapped. The system ran fine under Win 7 32 bit. You have to assume that hardware still works fine and that the problem was 64bit specific - which points to the CPU. Granted Intel said it should support 64bit, but it was an engineering sample.
      He replaced the case, power supply, the video card, the mother board, the hard drives, and the cables first??
      • I could be wrong, but all production CPUs will load updated microcode at POST (stored in BIOS ROM) if available. In short, microcode is like a patch to correct CPU errata. Engineering samples are like beta CPUs though, right? It would stand to reason that no such microcode is available for them from a consumer (non testing board) Motherboard.

      • by IICV (652597)

        Yeah, this makes no sense to me. He basically replaced everything but the bleeding edge engineering sample? If it was my computer, that's the third thing I'd swap out once it gets to the point of potential hardware failure (ram is really easy to replace so why not, and hard drives are only marginally harder as long as you've already got the case open)

    • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:25PM (#31825234)

      You should be impressed. No mere mortal would ever look at computer and think "let's replace random parts until it starts working!" This guy is clearly some sort of magical god of electronic troubleshooting. Quite possibly with a unicorn for a sidekick.

    • No kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:02PM (#31825572)

      Dear self important guy who isn't near as good at computers as he thinks he is:

      This may surprise you to learn, but all those defaults out these, all those specified values, all that kind of stuff, that isn't just arbitrary. See many smart engineers and other folks worked on designing and creating all the hardware for your computer. A lot of extremely complex stuff went in to it, modern computers are quite a marvel of engineering. As such, they discovered that certain tolerances, certain ranges work well. Outside of that, there can be problems. Thus the defaults because, well, default. They set them so that things are very likely to work in all cases.

      As with most things, they aren't absolutes. They aren't things you can never exceed. In various circumstances you can go outside those normal ranges, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. However, problems can potentially result. What problems those are and when they happen is not predictable. A system can appear stable but only crash on one app, or it can be stable for awhile then develop an instability.

      Regardless, the first step to troubleshooting should be to USE THE FUCKING DEFAULTS, you idiot!

      Seriously, I'm supposed to take someone seriously who is running overclocked settings of some sort or another (RAM timings, FSB, etc) and an engineering sample CPU and has problems? Ummm, duh. That right there is asking for problems. When you OC, you go in to it knowing you may have some difficulties. You understand this is the tradeoff for something that runs faster than spec. If you start having problems, the first step is to back off the OCing and see if that fixes it.

      This is true even of OC'd systems that were fine but aren't now. I had a Celeron 300 that I OC'd to 450 back in the day and it worked well for about a year, then started to burn out. System started crashing randomly, and so on.

      To me, it sounds like he's being whiny because he didn't bother to troubleshoot his setup properly. Come talk to me when you've got a retail CPU running at stock spec and FSB, RAM running per it's JEDEC spec at standard voltage and so on. Oh, what's that? You did that and it stopped having problems? Well there you go then. Don't bitch that your i7 920 "should" run at 3.8GHz. I don't care if others have done it, doesn't mean it'll work in your case. If it does, wonderful. It if doesn't well tough shit. Don't get mad at the software. It has pretty much no way to know if the CPU is going crazy as it runs on the CPU. About the only way software can indicate a CPU problem is by inducing a problem and thus a crash.

      • Regardless, the first step to troubleshooting should be to USE THE FUCKING DEFAULTS, you idiot!

        The only problem with your rant is that the Asus AI Tweaker is turned on by "fucking" default (or at least set to "auto"). It is how Asus tries to score higher in benchmark tests. As he found out, these auto settings can get confused and push the speeds too high.

        I don't bother with any overclocking these days, so I alway turn off these so-called intelligent settings. The slight improvement in speed can be completely offset by random crashes. It has been a long time since I had a computer that wasn't more th

        • Regardless, the first step to troubleshooting should be to USE THE FUCKING DEFAULTS, you idiot!

          The only problem with your rant is that the Asus AI Tweaker is turned on by "fucking" default (or at least set to "auto"). It is how Asus tries to score higher in benchmark tests. As he found out, these auto settings can get confused and push the speeds too high.

          I don't bother with any overclocking these days, so I alway turn off these so-called intelligent settings. The slight improvement in speed can be completely offset by random crashes. It has been a long time since I had a computer that wasn't more than fast enough for my needs. (Mind you, I don't play Crysis.) But I can understand how someone might think that the default setting would be the conservative one.

          The author of TFA claimed it's on by default, but it wasn't on when I received my Asus P5E3 Pro, which is the same motherboard he used. I suspect he accidentally turned it on without realizing what it was while mucking around in BIOS before the OS install.

          • What kind of expert is he if he can't figure this out? I mean I'll give normal users a pass on this kind of stuff. It is complicated, no question about that. To the extent I'll razz normal users it is to not mess with it. However, if you are a supposed expert, you should understand it. While complicated, it isn't really all that hard. Learn about what the different kinds of settings are, learn the defaults (or know where to look them up) etc. This is the kind of thing to check when you are troubleshooting a

    • by drfreak (303147)

      You forgot: Profit!

      I can totally understand why the CPU was last on his checklist. In times past (pre-2003ish), CPU type and frequency were set by jumpers or dip switches on the motherboard; similar the the ISA days where we had to do the same for add-on cards. Most (if not all, I don't build computers anymore) motherboards after then gave an "Auto" option and people stopped paying attention to the CPU except to make sure the motherboard supported it before installing.

      Now that we are in the 2010+ era, I'd i

  • by jra (5600) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:10PM (#31825062)

    just rolls right on past the fact that, if what he was installing was -- oh, say -- a Linux distribution, he wouldn't have an opaque "I'm uncompressing files" thermometer, he'd have real progress status messages, with, y'know, *parameters* and stuff, and -- unlike me this morning with my boss's iPhone -- a hope of actually figuring out what's broken.

    But he's apparently completely blind to the fact that that's the *real* problem here.

    "We'll just make fault-tolerant users", indeed

    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:16PM (#31825118)

      just rolls right on past the fact that, if what he was installing was -- oh, say -- a Linux distribution, he wouldn't have an opaque "I'm uncompressing files" thermometer, he'd have real progress status messages, with, y'know, *parameters* and stuff, and -- unlike me this morning with my boss's iPhone -- a hope of actually figuring out what's broken.

      And what specific parameter in any Linux installation error message is likely to point towards the CPU being defective? Most of them would be generic hardware-has-shit-itself errors (DMA failures, null pointer exceptions, hash failures) that could mean any of the cpu/motherboard/ram/psu/hdd are defective. It's impossible, even in principle, for any installer to be able to pinpoint with specificity what hardware is fucked.

      Just for lols, I wish you would get modded up (me too, of course :-P) so that the OP can install $DISTRO on that original setup and see what error we get and whether it exactly pinpoints the cpu or whether it spits out a generic hardware error.

      • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:37PM (#31825354)

        And what specific parameter in any Linux installation error message is likely to point towards the CPU being defective? Most of them would be generic hardware-has-shit-itself errors (DMA failures, null pointer exceptions, hash failures) that could mean any of the cpu/motherboard/ram/psu/hdd are defective.

        That would be the P.O.S.T. [wikipedia.org] which your BIOS should be checking.

      • by cenc (1310167)

        At least it would tell you everything else is fine, and using proper process of elimination work your way back to 'dam must be the processor'. That is assuming you ignore the error messages related to the processor in Linux.

    • SHIFT+F10 will give you access to a command prompt during setup, which you can then use to vew status messages and parameters and stuff...

  • 100 books? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cranesan (526741) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:12PM (#31825094)
    I'm a little suspicious; how much of an expert can you be writing 100 books on a variety of subjects.

    Reminds me of a tech instructor I had who proudly informed the class he teaches oracle classes, mysql classes, sql server classes, cisco classes, juniper classes, .net development classes, php, etc..... Yeah he couldn't answer any basic questions that strayed from the text book in front of us.
    • by NitroWolf (72977)

      I'm a little suspicious; how much of an expert can you be writing 100 books on a variety of subjects.

      Reminds me of a tech instructor I had who proudly informed the class he teaches oracle classes, mysql classes, sql server classes, cisco classes, juniper classes, .net development classes, php, etc..... Yeah he couldn't answer any basic questions that strayed from the text book in front of us.

      Haha no kidding. I had an instructor once that taught the A+ certification class as well as bunch of other computer classes, but when I asked a question about Big Endian vs Little Endian in regards to one of the test questions on significant bits, he had no idea what I was talking about and had never even heard of Endian-ness. It was at that point I discounted just about every authoritative thing he tried to say in class.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordVader717 (888547)

      Different tasks, different skills. If you can write good guides and enjoy doing it, why should you want any more? Having in-depth knowledge doesn't make you a good teacher.

  • ES CPU (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:18PM (#31825150) Homepage

    If this hardware geek spends days solving a CPU-meets-Windows 7 problem, what chance do mere mortals have?"

    You need first to show me a "mere mortal" who has, and uses, an engineering sample CPU. There is a very good reason why -ES parts are marked as such - because they have bugs. And those bugs will be a problem sooner or later.

    So the whole sob story can be reduced to this. The guy runs software on a prototype hardware, and the software crashes. In other breaking news, dog bites man.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Well I thought it was CPU bites man. Everyone knows that unless the CPU Blood God gets his fill when you're doing an upgrade, you're going to have problems.

  • by ben_kelley (234423) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:24PM (#31825222)
    If you have never had a hardware issue when installing Linux on a machine you must be very lucky.

    "Most things work fine" people tell me, which is true. The trouble is that the chances of you owning something that doesn't work is relatively high. (There's probably something from my statistics course that explains why that is, but I have so far managed to suppress that memory.)

    After having rebuilt a Mac with OS X, and rebuilt a laptop with Ubuntu 9.04, I was surprised at how smooth and the Ubuntu install was. Of course that was until I wanted to use my webcam with Ubuntu. These kinds of problems get very difficult very fast in Linux. When 9.04 first came out there was a dependency problem that meant that you couldn't easily get some webcams working.

    To be fair, that problem is most likely sorted out now, and a non-Apple webcam would have needed a (very easy to install) driver on OS X as well. The point is, Windows and hardware generally work very well.
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:49PM (#31825460) Homepage

      There was another fellow that mentioned the idea of staying away from the top and the bottom.

      Avoid the dregs and the bleeding edge.

      That middle will probably me much more reliable under Windows and more likely to be supported on Linux (or even MacOS).

      No one cares enough about the dregs to support them under Linux or MacOS and the bleeding edge stuff is just too new.

      That approach does pretty well regardless of OS today and did pretty well 16 years ago too.

      The problem with "statistics" is that any give PC isn't really random. It's a reflection of it's owner. It may be a dreg, a poster boy for bleeding edge gamer conspicuous consumption or something that's more moderate.

      "When 9.04 first came out" is covered by this rule actually.

    • by Kitkoan (1719118)

      If you have never had a hardware issue when installing Linux on a machine you must be very lucky. "Most things work fine" people tell me, which is true. The trouble is that the chances of you owning something that doesn't work is relatively high. (There's probably something from my statistics course that explains why that is, but I have so far managed to suppress that memory.) After having rebuilt a Mac with OS X, and rebuilt a laptop with Ubuntu 9.04, I was surprised at how smooth and the Ubuntu install was. Of course that was until I wanted to use my webcam with Ubuntu. These kinds of problems get very difficult very fast in Linux. When 9.04 first came out there was a dependency problem that meant that you couldn't easily get some webcams working. To be fair, that problem is most likely sorted out now, and a non-Apple webcam would have needed a (very easy to install) driver on OS X as well. The point is, Windows and hardware generally work very well.

      Linux works very well with PC hardware too. Apple's hardware isn't an exact copy of normal PC hardware if I recall correctly (thats why you need to buy Mac versions of things like graphic cads). This means that you will need slightly different drivers (and your comment of a non-apple webcam tells me its a MacBook you installed Linux on). And while many (though not all) pc hardware vendors release Linux drivers, Apple on that other hand doesn't which makes it that much more harder.

    • "Most things work fine" people tell me, which is true. The trouble is that the chances of you owning something that doesn't work is relatively high. (There's probably something from my statistics course that explains why that is, but I have so far managed to suppress that memory.)

      It's simple probability. If (let's say) 95% of all current devices are supported under Linux, that means there's a 5% chance -- 1 in 20 -- that any randomly selected device won't work under Linux. Now, how many devices -- i.e., components requiring drivers -- are there in or attached to your computer? Odds are that it's at least twenty, and on many plain vanilla boxes, probably more. Linux works amazingly well considering the odds. Most of the problems I've had have been with graphics cards whose manufactur

    • Of course that was until I wanted to use my webcam with Ubuntu.

      I recently bought a new laptop and installed Fedora 12 on it. I was quite pleased to see that Anaconda had detected my webcam and installed cheese, and the first time I ran it, It Just Worked. Considering that Fedora's a bleeding-edge test-bed for RedHat, I'd expect Ubuntu to have the procedure down pat. Did you add the webcam after installation?

  • "If this hardware geek spends days solving a CPU-meets-Windows 7 problem, what chance do mere mortals have?"

    Simple really. WE ARE SPARTANS!

  • And those work because they have the drivers built in without the need to swap hardware or anything.
  • He had a running PC, but he couldn't figure out how to install a different OS on it (using the barely-supported bootable flash drive method)... so he threw parts at it until it worked, essentially installing Windows on a completely different PC than the one he started with.
    I fix computers for a living, and I often reinstall Windows for my customers... the difference is that if I fail, I don't get paid.

    He should have tried installing Windows from the DVD, or from the hard drive (using WIndows PE to kick of
    • by Aranykai (1053846)

      The flash drive method is very much supported and works great in my experience. I do about 10 installs a week and I use a USB flash drive for all of them. I have yet to run into a single instance where installing from flash hasn't worked. Its not only faster, its a heck of a lot quieter too.

      When I return the machine to the customer their Windows disc is all nice and intact and I never had to touch it.

  • by UnifiedTechs (100743) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:00PM (#31825554) Homepage

    Actually I had the exact same problem a few months ago upgrading a Dell server from Win2003 x86 to Win2008 x64, I suspected the CPU from the beginning, but I spent a few hours before the Dell Tech agreed with me. They sent a replacement and it worked like a champ.

    This proves it has happened to a production Intel Core2Duo CPU at least once, I can't believe I was the only one.

  • Not all Windows 7 installs are painless. When I installed mine, I found out the hard way just how dependent a Win7 installation is on a network connection. My network connection wasn't supported so the install failed miserably (seriously - I haven't seen a desktop like that since Windows 95). I eventually worked my way around it by installing a wireless card and connecting through it. Great fun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Windows 7 will install perfectly well without a network connection. (Just to make sure, I postponed sending this until my test VM, sans network interface, had completed installing.)

      My guess would be either you were using badly OEM'd install media (a practice I do wish MS would prohibit) or you don't know how to manually install device drivers.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      That is odd. I install my Windows 7 boxes not connected to the network in any way until I make sure the firewall has the "Block all incoming connections" checkbox on. I've never had a problem with it having to get to the network during the install process.

  • by rueger (210566) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:07PM (#31825620) Homepage
    The guy does 400+ successful installs, then runs into a decidedly obscure hardware problem, and people flame him? And Windows 7?

    Yee Gods. Get a life folks. I read this as a success story, both for the author and for Microsoft.
    • by Kaboom13 (235759)

      It's more that he did 400+ installs, clearly considers himself an "expert" yet is completely incompetent as a technician. I don't mean to be purposely insulting, but it is the truth. He has a problem installing Windows, and instead of first verifying the integrity of his hardware (using any of a wide variety of tools available for that express purpose) or he buys a new motherboard. When that doesn't fix it, he replaces everything else and buys a new power supply. When there is nothing else left, he fina

  • by The Spoonman (634311) on Monday April 12, 2010 @09:19PM (#31825710) Homepage
    Nowhere in the original article did I get the sense that the author was blaming Windows for his issues. In fact, he starts out by stating that he's installed Windows 7 hundreds of times without a single incident, but this was a "problem PC". So, how did this turn into an anti-Windows rant? Oh, right, it's Slashdot...

    who's written over 100 books

    Michael Behe's written dozens of books trying to debunk evolution. It does not make him an expert in evolution. He installs Windows, copies down what he sees on the screen and writes it down. That does NOT translate into "he knows what he's doing". I'm not saying he's not an expert, just that it's not a valid qualification.

    If this hardware geek spends days solving a CPU-meets-Windows 7 problem, what chance do mere mortals have?"

    They wouldn't be installing an OS. Very few non-geeks do so. They buy a computer from a vendor like Dell, it comes with an OS. When it's time to upgrade, they buy a new PC and give the old one to their kids or grandparents. They also, as has been stated numerous times in the comments, wouldn't be installing on machines that had an engineering sample for a CPU. Actually, this debunks the claim that because he's written books, he's an expert. He knew he had a machine with an unsupported processor in it and still replaced everything in the machine first. Um....duh!
    • by Barny (103770)

      Well, first of all he might not be an expert but he is a professional, which is mildly disturbing.

      Although he claims 400 installs (personally I accomplish about 6-10 a day, not counting pre-install/slipstreamed systems installed from my installer disk by another person) he admits at the end he has only installed about 30 intel based CPU systems with Windows Seven, this is not a large amount when you think about it, although I guess this system counts about 10 times according to his description about his fin

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @04:55AM (#31828734)

      When you crank out a lot of stuff, it is extremely hard to make all of that stuff be high quality. Quality usually takes time, it takes research, it takes refinement. It is possible, in some rare cases, to have someone that produces a vast quantity of work, all of which is top quality. However it is far more common to see someone produce a vast amount of mediocre to bad quality work.

      As an example: Dr. Mark Russinovich has written a grand total of three technical books to date. So, clearly a man who doesn't know what he's talking about right? Wrong. Those three books are "Inside Microsoft Windows 2000," "Windows Internals Fourth Edition," and "Windows Internals Fifth Edition." He has, literally, written the book (along with David Solomon) on the recent versions of Windows, published by MS themselves. These are extremely accurate, comprehensive, technical documents of Windows down to its very fundamental levels. He also has written a suite of tools, the Sysinternals tools, so good that MS bought them, and hired him on as a technical fellow.

      So while he's produced only three books, they are all of the highest quality of technical information. There haven't been more because he hasn't had the time to write hundreds of books, nor the need to issue revisions to correct problems with the ones he has (each new edition covers a new version of Windows).

      Thus when I hear someone talk about how good they are because of the quantity of they works, I am skeptical. The only way you get a vast quantity of high quality work is either laboring an entire lifetime (and even then often not), being a prodigy, or both.

  • The Gregory House M.D. of OS installation.
  • Standard approach for solving installation issues:

    • Check installation media.
    • Check cables.
    • Remove components; add one at a time.
    • Swap memory/move to empty bays.
    • Change RAM completely. (Or test it with MemTest86+ et al, i.e. the REALLY FUCKING LONG way)
    • Change hard disk (or test it with manufacturer-provided tools et al)
    • Test with different CPU, if available
    • THEN test motherboard.
    • Replace power supply.
    • At this point, it's a complicated problem.

    This isn't even geeky; it's rote procedure for anyone that's been in the te

  • My lesson. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by w0mprat (1317953) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:04PM (#31826156)
    Just last night I fixed my parents computer in one of those long fixes that turns out to be the most fundamentally trivial things. This is why this is not my main occupation.

    Basicly they had a reccently built custom Windows 7 + Ubuntu PC that had begun randomly shutting down, often minutes after it had been powered up.

    Ok first thing, any obvious errors or cicumstances? No, it would just randomly power off. Windows event logs showed kernel power events, no specific driver, service or app crashing anywhere. Linux was the same. Not a thermal issue cpu + gpu temps nominal and stress test din't immediatley cause a crash.

    Suspecting a power or a motherboard issue, first checked and re-seated things internally. It still occured.

    Removed extraneous cards, connectors and drives. No result. It would even happen sitting in BIOS setup. Have ruled out a number of problems.

    Checked for electrical shorts, poor voltage etc.

    Dying power supply? Overloading or shorting? Nope, all voltages nominal, and it was brand new.

    I was about to try a spare power supply and a thought occured to me..

    It's almost as if the reset switch was being hit, but it wasn't even close to being knocked at any point and the switch otherwise worked fine. Then I knocked the case and the system reset. Yep, the reset switch was faulty, jolting it even slightly would reset. Who needs a reset switch since Vista anyway? Unplugged it from mainboard. Solved.

    I decided not to even joke about charging my Dad for two hours of my time.

    Chances are if he paid someone to do it they wouldn't necessarily have found the fault that quickly, and he'd be hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

    The lesson in troubleshooting? Um... I'm not sure.
    • Re:My lesson. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:44AM (#31827442)

      The lesson in troubleshooting? Um... I'm not sure.

      You did exactly what any computer tech should: Check the most common reasons for failure, then move to the edge cases. A faulty switch is rare. Swapping individual components out would have eventually narrowed it down to the case itself. Two hours sounds about right for a competent technician to run down the list to get to the point where that would be a likely cause of failure.

  • Chaos Manor? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:25PM (#31826360) Homepage

    How many people had the same impression I had: "Why, this sounds exactly like one of the 'Chaos Manor' columns Jerry Pournelle used to write in BYTE!"

    All it needs is a few of Jerry Pournelle's favorite stock phrases. "The disk trundled for a while..." "I tried swapping out the hard disk, but no joy..." "I called up Bill Godbout..."

  • That's exactly why I wouldn't trust him much. Takes time to write a book. More time to write it well.

  • That was not a strong article in troubleshooting.

    He basically used the parts blast technique to isolate the problem. No where in the article did I read any actual troubleshooting steps.

    In situations like this there are two methodologies that can be applied. In a system with many components its usually easier to use a reduction technique. It's just a play on the isolation technique, but removing a large number of components.

    For home troubleshooting you can still get fairly far without a lab full of equipment

  • Wow, what a dope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by frist (1441971)
    What were those 100 books on? Think about that - how many years has be been writing books. Say it's been 10 years. 10 books a year? A book every 5.2 weeks? WTF
  • Here's what I posted as a reply to this "expert's" article. It's now awaiting admin approval to appear as a comment. We'll see if it makes it.

    ==================
    While reading, I was thinking this was a well-written detective story. Then I got to the end and found out it's a story about a massive waste of time because you didn't follow standard procedures.

    Here's how to save a few days next time: go to the motherboard manufacturer's website, get the list of supported CPUs for the motherboard you're trying to i

  • The gjy is using an engineering sample CPU, he has a motherboard set up for overclocking, and he doesn't have a set of CPU diagnostics. Clueless.

  • by sarkeizen (106737) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @05:09AM (#31828804) Journal
    ..a clue about how computers work. Even experienced windows professionals.

    I mean this guy has 32 bit OS working and moves to 64 bit OS...am I following this ok. The 32 bit install presumably went well on the hardware and the 64 bit install fails.

    So I grok his first attempts which are replacing the install media once. Seems like a reasonable assumption (some bit out of the billions on the DVD image just happened to be flipped the wrong way). From there though he starts to lose me. The motherboard is perhaps plausible but you would have to be assuming some rather significant difference in hardware support between the 64bit and 32bit systems. From there? RAM is 64bit how? Or even my HD?

    I think the most significant thing to learn here is twofold.

    i) People - even experienced computer professionals - treat computers like they are magic. Like there is no real science behind how they work. Clearly this guy was replacing parts based on some "experiential weighted average" with regard to how likely they are to cause a "weird" problem.

    ii) When A. C. Doyle said "When you have excluded the impossible" he neglected to state that the *order* in which one does so is significant. Eliminating things in order of their apparent relation to the problem (i.e. all the things for which 64 bits makes a difference) and (in a business environment) with respect to cost (i.e. Replacing a CPU is often a cheaper test than replacing a motherboard wrt labour) will likely fix your problem sooner than just going for the "usual suspects".

    Aside: I've had two cases where I found a CPU issue. One was very similar to this - crashing during a Windows 2000 install - often at the same place. The problem I had was actually thermal - the heatsink was reversed leaving the thermal patch making minimal contact with the heat spreader. Somehow I figured that out without replacing everything else first.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley

Working...