Mar 212008

So I got a new laptop for home the other day.  It had Vista Home edition preinstalled.  I really need  remote desktop, which is only available in Vista Ultimate (and Vista Business) edition, so I picked up a Vista Ultimate Upgrade box.  The Vista Upgrade box is a little cheaper than full the full-on Vista Ultimate box.

This simple cost-savings choice has now cost me nearly 3 nights of repeated installation wrestling, trying to get the system set up the way *I* want it.  Actually, the tally is more than 3 nights, since I’ll be starting over again this weekend with a new Vista Ultimate install.

Now, if I were the kind of person who leaves everything at its default settings, I probably wouldn’t be writing this rant now.  But I do change defaults, and that often brings out any and every wart in any installation package. 

I prefer to partition my hard disk into two partitions:  one for the OS and most applications, and the other for “data” – stuff that I actually work on, utility apps, command line stuff, and so forth.  I find this helps keep the high volume of file activity (compiling code, creating and deleting hundreds of files at a time) and associated disk fragmentation from polluting the partition that contains the OS and primary apps.  The system partition is “mostly read only” and shouldn’t fragment badly on its own, other than by continual system updates and registry rot.  (Always defrag after any significant software install, especially large service packs from Microsoft)

Vendors never configure hard disks with multiple partitions any more.  It’s always a monolithic slab of sectors, and always a pain to repartition. 

So I pop the Vista Ultimate upgrade DVD into the machine while running Vista Home, and step through the prompts (including entering the product activation key code) to the point where it asks if I want to upgrade the existing installation or do “advanced” stuff like repartition.  Hey!  Let’s repartition!  Bzzt.  Can’t do that from the setup launched within Vista.  You can only do that by booting from the DVD.

Ok, so let’s shut down and boot from the DVD.  System->Shutdown-> Please wait half an hour while 42 updates are installed for your new Vista Home installation.  Arg!

Come back after dinner to boot from DVD.  Step through the DVD setup steps (including entering the product activation key code) to the point where it asks about upgrade or repartition.  Hey! Let’s repartition! Bzzt. Can’t do that with the product key you entered.  Arg!

Vista Upgrade DVDs can’t repartition the drive on installation.  Period.  The laptop’s OEM installed Vista Home edition can’t repartition the drive on installation either, since rebuilding the system from the recovery DVD sets it up exactly as it was delivered: one partition.  Arg!

Time to go get the real Vista Ultimate product DVD and start over.  Slick the disk and build from the bottom up.