Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sony Vaios Suck

Holy hell do Sony PCs suck. Or maybe Microsoft sucks. (OK, Microsoft DOES suck.)

I have been working on a new Windows image for the Sony Vaio Media Center PCs in our lab. They were purchased several years ago, used to test many different programs, and as you'd imagine, Windows bit rot has set in. So, we wanted to reformat the drives and rebuild them from bare metal.

Unfortunately, while we have the Windows XP Media Center 2005 discs, we don't have any driver discs for the hardware. Normally, this wouldn't be too much of a problem but for some reason, after reinstalling XPMC, the Intel NIC driver installer won't see the onboard Pro 1000 MT Gig-E NIC.

I even downloaded DriverMax and used it to backup the existing drivers on an identical Vaio but when I restored them to the NICless box, the Ethernet card still wouldn't work.

I tried a couple different versions of Intel's driver software to no avail. To try and narrow down the problem to hardware or software, I wiped the hard disk again and installed XP Pro. Now I was able to get the NIC running. WTF?

At this time I've got all the hardware installed except for sound, which like the NIC, XP won't recognize. Tomorrow I'll boot up one of the Vaios which I haven't touched yet to ID the sound card, then see if I can download a driver from the Internet.

Once I do finally get a good image with all the Vaio's hardware working as it should, I will do a backup with Ghost, so that future rebuilds will take minutes, rather than days.

I may initially save the Ghost image to DVD, but soon I should have network storage in our lab. We have two Apple XRAID storage arrays with 11 terabytes each. Currently, they are idle, since we don't have a spare server with a Fibre Channel card to drive them. I'm hoping that will change in the near future, as yesterday I spec'ed out a shiny new Apple Xserve. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on that.

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