the personal blog of Greg Bassett, IT Security, Travels & Endurance Sports

Category: mac

Windows7 upgrade nightmare

I finally got Windows7 to install on my home desktop. What a royal pain in the ass. I purchased the Home Pro upgrade via the student discount option, and chose the 64-bit version. This was my first mistake. I received the update notice in my in-box, and was able to successfully download the package. When I ran the “unpackager” tool I ran into an error:

“We are unable to create or save new files in the folder in which this application was downloaded. Please check the folder properties to make sure that you have security
permission on the folder to write files and that the folder is not read-only”.

A quick Google search revealed that this was a relatively common problem with the student upgrade. I followed the instructions for downloading a tool that allowed me to create an ISO file from the install package, burned the ISO to DVD and begin the upgrade.

Because I was moving from 32bit to 64bit, I had to do a clean install. I deleted the old partition (after backing everything up, of course!). I ran the install and it would proceed through the “expanding files” module. At 91%, the system would hang for 30-45 minutes, then fail. I retried this multiple times with the same results.

So now I have a bricked desktop computer. Several hours of Google-fu, downloads and frustrations, I finally figured out that the DVD image I burned from the Dell desktop was corrupt. After a few more hours of work, I got a procedure to work:

(1) Download the package to a portable hard drive
(2) Run the “unpackaging” tool in a XP session on VirtualBox on my Macbook Pro
(3) Use ocsdimg to create an ISO on the portable hard disk drive in the VirtualBox session
(4) Burn the ISO to DVD using the Disk Utility on the Macbook Pro.
(5) Run the install
(6) Skip the entry of the license key during install, since an upgrade key won’t work for a new install
(7) When the install is complete and all patches are applied, run this process to activate the license.

So the Dell desktop is now successfully upgraded, and I’m working through the slow process of reinstalling all my apps, restoring backups and dealing with incompatibilities (grr.. printer drivers….)

Isn’t being a geek fun?

Mac update

It’s been several months since I wrote my “I’m a Mac” post.  I thought I’d add an update about what I’ve been doing with the new computer.

My Macbook Pro 13 has quickly become my ‘go-to’ computer.  Mostly because it’s portable and sits in my living room, but also because it just seems to work so much better than my Windows based desktop.  As I’m back in school now, I’m finding that I’ll do my homework on the Mac rather than on the desktop.  I purchased a mini-DV-to-DVI adapter to let me plug the Mac into my desktop monitor, and I’m also considering a KVM switch in order to use the desktop keyboard and mouse.  If I go that route, then the Windows system’s days are numbered.

I’m trying not to store documents permanently on the Macbook.  I use Dropbox to keep my working personal and school files synced between my desktop/laptop and available if I need them at work.  Its a pretty good system, but it requires a software install and keeps copies of the files on three computers, something that keeps a security-geek awake nights.

Speaking of security, I decided to encrypt the disk on my Mac.  First, I tried my favorite app, TrueCrypt, but found that it doesn’t support whole-disk encryption on a Mac.  So I went ahead and used FileVault.  That was ok, but it has problems.  I recently learned that PGP had a beta version of PGP Desktop for Snow Leopard, so I’ve installed that and am working through the testing.

So far it’s been a pretty satisfying experience. Next I’m going to start playing with some Mac-only software and utilities.