(This revised blog was posted to myspace on Saturday, August 8, 2009)
An OOPS! Moment
On this fine new day I thought I would try to try install Windows XP Home SP3 from a CD that I own to an new empty hard disk in my netbook. Bunging the CD into my external USB drive, I started up the netbook, pressed F12 at the BIOS screen and selected the DVD-ROM drive as the boot disk. The CD in the drive whirred around, nothing appeared on the netbook screen, and nothing continued to happen for a while ... then that was when I had the OOPS! moment. I suddenly realized that Windows XP cannot be installed from an external USB CD-ROM drive - the dumb Windows installer would not know how to handle this device during install! I also realized that I would have to create a USB thumb drive Windows install media and install from that. Now I do know how to create a Linux USB thumb drive install media (even with my eyes closed!) but I did not have any experience with creating one for Windows. So it was google time ... after reading through the various methods available - and they are more complex than creating a Linux USB thumb drive install media - I decided to put the experiment of trying to install Windows XP Home SP3 to my netbook on hold for a while.
Using the previously created recovery discs
Since I already have a blank hard drive in my netbook, I decided to test out the recovery disks previously created from a basic Windows XP Home installation. My expectation is that the discs will allow me to re-install Windows onto a new (blank) hard drive - a simple expectation, I think and doable from what I read from the User Guide.
Before I used the recovery discs, and just out of curiosity, I pressed the OKR button to see what would happen. I did not expect the OKR system to work because there was no hidden partition on the new hard drive - and I was right. All that appeared on the screen was messages on a PXE network boot, but since the netbook did not have a PXR ROM, it gave up and displayed a boot failure message - just what I was expecting.
I rebooted the netbook with the first recovery CD in the external DVD drive. At the BIOS screen, I pressed F12 and selected the external DVD drive as the boot drive. The Windows Vista-like startup screen appeared and after a while the OKR splash screen appeared. A restore summary screen appeared - I noticed right away here that the 'Target partition' was blank but the 'Selected disk' was the new hard disk drive. Despite this I pressed the 'Start' button - immediately a message box appeared saying 'The available space is not enough.' My thoughts at this point was 'Not enough? 160 GB not enough? You gotta be kidding!' Then I began to suspect that space was not the issue here - it is that there is no NTFS partition on the new drive and that the stupid OKR recovery system does not know how to create one! I would like to point out that the User Guide state that you can restore the new hard disk to a previously backup status using the recovery disc. This is a big lie!!!! I am staring at the truth on the screen right now - YOU CANNOT RESTORE A SYSTEM TO A BLANK HARD DISC DRIVE USING THE RECOVERY DISC!!!!
Just out of curiosity, I decided to create an NTFS partition on the blank hard disk drive using my trusty SystemRescue CD and then try the restore using the recovery discs again. I created an NTFS partition of the same size as the original hard disc - i.e., 104 GB in size - the rest of the space was left unallocated. Then I started the recovery process again. This time when the OKR summary screen appeared, the 'Target partition' was marked as C: - which was a good sign. I clicked the Start button and was again greeted with a 'The available space is not enough.' message box. I nearly went ballistic at this point! But I will persevere and now try using the whole hard disk formatted with the NTFS filesystem. 160 GB of hard disk space should be enough to the brain-damaged OKR system.
After repartitioning and reformatting the whole hard disk, I started the recovery system again. This time when I pressed the Start button, I was now prompted to confirm the restore - I pressed OK and the system recovery progress screen appeared. Things are looking up - apparently the moronic ORK wants a larger space to restore from the backup.
Once the restore was completed and upon clicking OK the system rebooted. I expected to see the Windows normal startup screen - instead all I got was a blinking cursor at the top right hand of the screen and nothing else happened! Words cannot describe my feelings at this point and if I did find the words, it will reduce Lenovo's ORK design team to a pile of hot steaming lava.
Not giving up yet, I pressed CTRL-ALT-DELETE to reboot and at the BIOS screen, pressed F12 and chose the hard disk as the boot device. Again I got a blinking cursor at the top right hand of the screen and nothing else happened. Time to use my trusty SystemRescue CD to examine the hard disk. Rebooting into SystemRescue, I used gparted to examine the hard disc - all the expected files were there - so, why wouldn't it boot? Did the moronic OKR restore the MBR? Then I noticed that the boot flag was not set for the partition! I corrected that and re-booted again. Success!! The normal Windows startup began and the desktop appeared. Everything seems to work except Windows Explorer complained about the missing D: drive.
So apparently even marking the partition as bootable was a task way beyond the famous (or is it infamous) OKR system. Needless to say my faith in the OKR system has totally disappeared. In summary, I will repeat the previous warning message but modified to - YOU CANNOT RESTORE A SYSTEM TO A BLANK HARD DISC DRIVE USING THE RECOVERY DISC UNLESS A LARGER BOOTABLE NTFS FILESYSTEM IS CREATED PRIOR TO THE RESTORE!!!!!
I ought to mention in passing, one more thing about the system that was restored by using the recovery discs on a new hard disc drive. That fairly obvious thing is that the recovery disc will only restore the C: partition - the D: and the hidden partition will NOT be restored. If a D: (or any other partition) is required you can use a utility like gparted to shrink the C: partition and then create the new partition(s) on the new hard disc drive.
Musings on the Lenovo OneKey Rescue System (OKR)
Over the last 3 day of my ownership of the Lenovo Ideapad S10-2, I have discovered a lot of things about the OneKey Rescue System (OKR) - mostly negative. To be fair to Lenovo - the OKR will work well only if the netbook original hard disk drive is not faulty. In this scenario, OKR works well as a backup tool and also in restoring the OS to a previous state from a backup. Even the recovery disc will work fine. It also works well in restoring the C: partition to the factory default - a useful thing to have if the user has totally screwed up the netbook's Windows OS - the restore to factory default (launched via the OKR button) will allow the user to start afresh. This is the extent to which the OKR works fine.
The scenario in which the netbook suffers a catastrophic hard disk drive failure showed up the OKR's weakness. The logical thing to do in this scenario is, of course, replace the faulty hard disc drive with a new (blank) one. This is where the trouble starts. The recovery disc created by the OKR can be used to restore a working OS to the new drive. Of course, the user must have had created the recovery disc(s) previously - if not there is nothing the user can do, except call upon Lenovo for help. The user must also remember to create a bootable NTFS filesystem on a new hard disk drive before the restore process. Then, and only then, can the netbook be used again. However, the OKR button will no longer function and all the backups (assumed to reside on other media) will be rendered useless at a single stroke. Why you may ask - well, the only way to restore those backups is from the process started by the OKR button - WHICH NO LONGER WORKS! The backup application in the Windows-based OKR is now also useless! What is the point of making backups if they cannot be used for restoration later. Also note that the former contents of the D: partition is no longer available since the recovery disc only restores the C: partition.
What a mess! Really, Lenovo should come up with a better system than the present OKR system.