Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Windows 7 Upgrade: Is This Wise?

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor warns me to get the TI PCIxx12 Integrated FlashMedia Controller driver update -- but there does not actually seem to be one -- and the Intel PRO/100 VE Network Connection driver update.  Unfortunately, the Intel version of the newer driver won't install on an HP DV5220 because HP made their own special version of the driver, and HP's web site has a driver update -- but it says that "Your system does not meet the minimum requirements for this update.  Update has been cancelled."  What does that mean?  In any case, the driver date is 2006, which hardly sounds like something that would be Windows 7 appropriate.

I am getting increasingly reluctant to go forward with this upgrade out of fear that by the time I am done, I will have a completely inoperable PC.  Yeah, yeah, I know, Linux, leave the evil empire of Redmond behind.  That's not completely practical quite yet.  But if this PC is just too old to upgrade with drivers that will work with my hardware, maybe I am better buying a new PC with Windows 7 included.

UPDATE: I think at a minimum, I will use XXCLONE to copy the Recovery partition on my old hard disk onto a CD, so that if installing Windows 7 turns out to be impractical, I can at least reinstall Windows XP before buying a new PC.  Curiously enough, my much older (2003 or so) Compaq NC6000, according to Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, will have no problem running Windows 7.

One of the comments said to run Windows XP in a VM of Linux.  I might take a look at that as a solution, assuming that VMWare is available for Ubuntu Linux.  But finding time to get these things done is fast becoming a serious problem. I need to create a PowerPoint presentation for the event coming up in Denver, I have an actual paying research project that I am supposed to be doing, and I still need to prepare weeks 10-16 of my online Western Civ class.  If only I did not need to go to my day job as well.

UPDATE 2: Here is a detailed description of installing Windows 7 Professional in VMWare for Linux.  This looks really cool -- and best of all, I can try it on my dual boot Linux/Windows box first and see how well it works!

UPDATE 3: Some of the comments on the previous linked article indicate that Virtualbox is perhaps even a better solution.

There are several attractions running in a VM:

1. Improved security, since the worst that is likely to happen is that you have an infected operating system in the VM, and you can discard and reinstall without losing functionality of the Linux box.  Of course, if the infection gets into files that you want to restore to the VM, that does not solve the problem.

2. Because it uses the host operating system's device drivers, if it supports a device, and the OS you have installed in the VM does not, no problem.  The VM translates requests from the virtual OS to the host OS.

The downside is likely to be performance.  I would expect that any situation where the VM interacts with the host OS are going to be slower, perhaps quite a bit slower, than running native.


  1. "But if this PC is just too old to upgrade with drivers that will work with my hardware, maybe I am better buying a new PC with Windows 7 included. "


    Redmond's work is done.

  2. After years of resistance, I finally switched most of my universe to a Mac Mini (and a Macbook Air for portable).

    I still have to have Windoze, though - now on a VM. Sigh.

  3. I'm an IT professional and I've been running a Linux desktop since 1999.

    Yes, it takes a bit of adjustment. And for those few applications you just can't live without (or are not allowed to live without) you can run Codeweaver's Crossover which duplicates the API of many Windows programs or go full out and install a VM of whatever version of Windows you need in VMWare or VirtualBox.

    On my personal PC I use both, using Crossover Games for Windows games and a VM of Windows XP for the few bits of software (like the installer for my Buffalo NAS) that I just can't get working with Crossover or for which there is no Linux replacement.

    The additional upside to Windows in a VM is that it's a nice, stable "hardware" platform that never, ever changes.

  4. On our windows machines, we never upgrade the operating system. When the PC is old, we buy new ones with a new operating system. Windows just never learned how to upgrade. In the old days of mainframes and minis, upgrading the OS had no effect on the software. None.

  5. Two things I've done that have completely change how I use computers.

    First, I no longer use internal drives. All of my drives are in externally-removable trays. Makes swapping things around a lot easier.

    Second, I no longer run on bare hardware. All the work I do is in virtuals. I'm running Linux Mint 11 as a host machine, but everything I actually do I do in a VM. Completely separates upgrading hardware from upgrading OSes. (Backups and restores become painless, as well.)

  6. What I would recommend is that you completely image your existing hard drive and put the copy away as insurance then you can go home.

    And the hot swap SATA drive tray is a great gizmo. Cheap at Amazon or Tiger. Get one with a drive light.

  7. I have enough disk space on my external hard drive to use XXCLONE to copy the entire contents. The problem is -- how do I restore that copy to my hard disk if Windows 7 does not work? I don't immediately know I can boot from the USB port or not.

    I still have the 100 GB drive that used to be in the PC, and I could reinstall that if need be, then reimage to the drive currently in the PC, and restore from the image on the external drive. All of this is a lot of time.