Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.
slithytove

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Homebrew PC, No. 6

IT not only posted, but Win2K installed very smoothly. I didn't figure out how to get it to install on the RAID array, though. It's a little tricky, because the RAID isn't formatted, or even partitioned, at the time you're trying to install the OS. There's instructions in the Promise manual on how to do this, but the prompts I got on the screen didn't match the ones in the manual, so I just installed Win2K on the third HD, and built the array, partitioned, and formatted the RAID array once Win2K was up and running. I dunno whether to keep it this way. I could wipe the disks, install Win2K again, and this time put it on the RAID, leaving the third HD for swap file as I had originally planned. Hm. What to do, what to do... If I'm going to do this, I've got to decide now, before I get anything else installed. I think it's possible to move the Win2K installation to the RAID later, but I dunno how to do that. Hm.

BTW, a learning point from this is not to try to do two new things at once. If you've never built a PC before, it's probably smarter not to install on it an OS you've never used before. ^^;; I had never used Win2K before, and I expected its interface to be pretty much like Win98, even though the internals were different. Well, sorta. There are differences. I went to the DOS prompt, oops, it's no longer DOS, it's the 'Command prompt', to run FDISK to partition my RAID array, and found that FDISK no longer exists. Uh-oh. Now WTF do I do? It took me a while poking through the help files to discover that Win2K has a system management center, accessible only if you're logged on as root, oops, I mean as an 'administrator', in which you can do stuff like partitioning and high-level formatting. The stuff under 'System' in the Control Panel is also different. And I haven't been able to figure out how to get it to recognize my monitor.

I was also puzzled that the Asus GeForce card I pulled from my HTPC wasn't recognized by Win2K. Huh? GeForce has been around for almost two years now, what's up with that? And the Asus drivers disk wouldn't install, its setup.exe didn't recognize the OS. But the disk had a folder of NT drivers, and because Win2K is basically NT with a human face, I tried those, and voila, they installed and ran perfectly. Sweet.

I also had an anxious moment with my new SCSI controller, when I realized the box didn't say it supported Win2K. Win95, Win98, NT, even Macs. No Win2K. Hm, think I can pull the trick with the NT drivers again? I stuck the card in the machine, booted... nothing happened. Oh, damn, Win2K didn't even recognize the card. I'm in trouble. I checked in the System app. No, wait, there it is, Adaptec 2906 SCSI. But I hadn't even installed the drivers! Would it work? I shut down, stuck my SCSI Zip on the SCSI port, and rebooted. Now, under 'My Computer', there was a new 'removable drive'. And on it were the files I expected.

Damn, this is sweet! Not only had Win2K recognized the new hardware, it had installed the proper drivers without telling me, and had the stuff up and running by the time the login screen came up. And it happened very quickly, boot time was no longer than it ever is. There were no 'Found new hardware, looking for drivers' boxes, and none of those damned 'Insert Windows 98 installation disk' prompts that drive me batty when I try to install new hardware on Win98. Yessss, baby! So far, I like Win2K a lot.

Oh, and something else: when you hit ctrl-alt-delete to shut down a process you don't want, the process management screen comes up instantly. Win2K seems to be a true preemptive multitasking OS, where the OS really has control of all processes. And when you shut down a process, it shuts down, instantly. None of the operating system waiting around to see if the process is willing to yield control nonsense that Win98 is full of. And no warning signs about how you should now reboot. Nope. The process is gone, it's been killed, bye-bye, adios, sayonara, the memory has been reclaimed, what's next, boss?

Reminds me of Unix. This is the way an OS should behave. Although I've had a few anxious moments with it, and as I said above, it probably wasn't the wisest thing to try to use an OS I hadn't used before in a PC I hadn't ever built before, so far I'm glad I picked it rather than Win98SE.

One final word: my Millennium Glaciator cooler is working very nicely. The install is scary, especially if you haven't done one before. Get too much thermal grease on your processor, and the cooler will squeeze it out onto the core, shorting out the bridges and the other little electronic parts on top of the core (what are they, anyway?) and your processor will fry when it powers up. Too little, though, and the cooler won't make adequate thermal contact with the processor, and your processor will fry. The layer of thermal paste on top of the processor is supposed to be 'paper thin'. Well, I tried. Guess I did it correctly. 

Running at normal speed and voltage, at the desktop with only the background daemon processes running, my 1.4GHz Athlon runs at a comfortable 42° C. Oh, and although I don't know what its stepping was, it came with the L1 bridges unlocked. So if I want to overclook it [Ohohohoho!] I don't even need to do that hack with a lead pencil on the bridges. Yeah, I know, I said I wasn't planning on overclocking. But I'm a guy, you know? It's a testosterone thing. Maybe just a little...

The Glaciator fan isn't very loud, either, is which is one of reasons I picked it. Nor are the quiet fans I got from Directron.com. The loudest fan in the thing  seems to be the power supply fan, which I can't do anything about, except by replacing the power supply. There are noise-control power supplies. The best are made by a company called PC Power and Cooling. Unfortunately, they're very expensive. A PP&C power supply hefty enough to power my rig would run about $150. For comparison, a generic power supply of about the same wattage runs around $12 retail. Fan noise is okay, but the machine as a whole will be somewhat louder than my old PC.

And that's it for now. Next on the agenda is reinstalling all my apps, and transferring all my data, a long and annoying job. Probably I won't post again about this project until I've made the final switch from the old PC to the new one, and am able to connect to the net from it. Then I'll post a wrap-up on the project, what I've learned, and suggestions for other homebrew n00bs.

BTW, when you install Win2K, you have to pick a name for your machine, even if it's not on a network at the time. My old PC is named HOMEBOX, which is a little dull, but I couldn't think of anything else at the time. The new machine is named RADICAL-EDWARD. Seemed only appropriate. ^^

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