Linux – For all your hardware driver needs

I’ve recently bought myself a new desktop PC ( more of which in another post perhaps). The plan is to give my old desktop to my dad and he uses Windows rather than Linux. ( One day maybe I’ll convert him, I’m sure he’d be amenable to giving it a try).
I wiped the partitions on my old Desktop’s hard drive and booted from my XP install CD.
Unfortunately when it tried to install it said there were no hard drives detected. I thought maybe I needed to reset the SATA RAID JBOD but this made no difference.I booted from an Ubuntu live CD and the hard drive was detected no problem.It transpires that my ASUS motherboard with its Uli SATA RAID controller is not supported by the standard windows install CD. You have to get the drivers on a floppy disk and press F6 during the install to be able to include the drivers off the floppy.

Now, as is the way with a lot of desktops, there is no floppy drive fitted, however I managed to track down an old USB floppy drive. The next challenge was to find a floppy disk, this proved even harder but I found one in the back of the drawer. So I put the drivers on the disk and booted the Windows and duly pressed F6.

All to no avail as the USB floppy drive was not detected and a check of the Microsoft knowledge base confirmed only a couple are supported.

I thought this was game over at this point but I came across a product called nlite that enables you to roll your own Windows installations and customise them, including adding in additional drivers. You can then create an ISO that you can burn to disk.

This got be running and the tellytubby green hill is now showing nicely on my old PC.

Two things spring to mind about this.

Firstly nlite is a cool little programme and is at least free as in beer.

Secondly it shows the power of open source. Linux is able to detect my hardrive from the installation CD no problem presumably because the community decided this driver was important enough to be included or maybe because the way the kernel works the standard drivers just work better with a wider range of hardware.

Either way score another one for the penguin.

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