Windows XP Update Kills

Have I told you recently how much I love Linux and all the GNU utilities that surround it?

Sunday I was asked to help out a family in need. Their computer would no longer work and I was politely asked if I would be willing to get the machine back on it's feet. In my opinion, there's nothing better to do than use what little talent I have to help those in need. I certainly wouldn't be much help if they asked me to replace a head gasket for them.

The machine was brought to me and after a quick check it was obvious that one or more key files for the OS were gone. Specifically vgaoem.fon was not available, which tells me that something chewed-up and spit-out the system - probably a worm or virus. Fortunately for the owner of this machine, it is an HP and it still had it's original recovery partition. After a few click and a restore, the system booted and was ready for me to bring it up to date.

Now, I said that last sentence easily, with little stress. I have become use to an update process that rarely requires a full system reboot, and that only when the core system kernel has been replaced. There rapidly comes a time when even that might not be necessary with kexec and all. Updates are pleasant experiences that take a little time but bring fresh, clean software.

I had forgotten about the Windows update process.

Please understand that this is a rather old machine. It's running a Pentium 4 with 512Meg of memory. Not the beefiest machine, and certainly will be somewhat slow - but it'll work. Right?

I started updating at about 6:00 pm. This system appeared to be at WinXP SP1, but the first thing it needed to do was update it's updating software - and reboot. OK, I don't understand why a simple program (it's simple, right?) needs a reboot, but I'll go with it.

Next it needed to install SP2. This was about the time when I started remembering just how painful this process could be. This is about 6:45pm and roughly the time I decided to take a nice walk with my family. I needed to find my happy-place, and soon.

When I got back, the SP2 update needed rebooting. Then followed the patches to SP2, then followed the SP3 update, then followed more patches to the SP3 update, then followed a patch to the previous patch. Each of these updates required a new reboot. Mind you, the reboot was the fast part of the patching process. Overall, each patch took one to two hours.

Then I was silly enough to attempt the optional upgrades. Oh, what was I thinking?! Even still, after a three hour software upgrade (media player and various collaboration tools), it failed. The error I got told me I was canceling the install. Lies!

Anyway, at about 3:30am, Lisa comes out to tell me that I'm an idiot that needs to be getting up in two hours. OK, she didn't directly call me an idiot (she's too nice for that), but it was pretty obvious to me what appellation should be applied. Luckily for my sleep schedule, I managed to nap in between updates starting at midnight. I may not completely die today.

Anyway, I write this post in order to help me remember how bad the update process is, and to schedule a couple of days in order to cover the madness. Someday I may learn.


MattMatt, 2011/05/26 05:30

The reboot after update really does get old. If i were king i would decree that update for all things only be once every 3 months or 4 times a year. But what if a error happened and a “quick update” was needed?

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