I installed a new machine this week. A nice little Shuttle box which
should be fairly quiet, except the heatsink on my graphics card need
replacing. I did the usual method of installing XP and then installed
Debian using a sid D-I business card CD. I must say D-I on i386 is
fantastic. I set it all up using a 2.6 kernel and configured LVM, which
while long winded, worked perfectly. Rebooted into Debian and had a
working machine. The installer detected my XP installation and
configured Grub accordingly. So far so good.

Then I rebooted into XP.

GRUB showed the commands it had executed but then it just hung. The
XP startup screen didn’t appear. Nothing. I could reboot into Debian
fine and could mount my NTFS partition and see all my data. Reboot. same
problem. Loaded the XP rescue tools from the CD and fixed the mbr. As
I’d over written grub, the machine just hung at boot.

I put this down to XP having issues with LVM and reinstalled both XP
and Debian on the machine, this time without LVM and putting grub on
/dev/hda2 rather than /dev/hda. It did the same thing. Argh.

After a bit of research, I discovered that problem was down to disk
geometry. A forum led me to a support
from SuSE about the exact same problem. Fortunately, setting
my bios to LBA rather than Auto fixed it. Further searching produced a
few more articles and reports of Mandrake suffering for the same
problem. It turns out that the problem only occurs iff you install using
a 2.6 kernel and your XP partition is not completely in the first 8.6GB
of the drive. In 2.6, the kernel developers decided that discovering the
correct disk geometry was a userspace task. When the drive is
partitioned the kernel reports the untranslated geometry, so an
incorrect partition table is written. When XP boots it uses BIOS calls
to find the geometry, which reports a translated geometry, which no
longer matches what is in the partition table, so it hangs. Changing the
BIOS is a workaround, but fixing the partition table is the correct

I’ll file a bug as soon as I work out where the correct place to file
it is. I’m currently thinking partman. Below is some further reading on
the problem.

I managed to pick up a copy of The Lost Riots on Friday and I’m in love.
This has to be one of the better albums I’ve bought recently. It has a
touch of The Verve about it, possibly due to the use of strings on quite
a few songs. Highly recommended.

The other CD I picked up was The Holiday Plan’s EP. I caught this band
up in Leeds, supporting Reuben, by chance, and having listened to the EP, they are as good
as I remember them. They are taking part in some competition on MTV2 to
win a recording contract. I hope they make it.

Talking of Reuben, I discovered the reason I couldn’t find their albums
was that it doesn’t come out until tomorrow. The bloke in Virgin
wouldn’t let me have a copy even though he said they had plenty in stock

Hopes Of The
   States - The Lost Riots
The Holiday Plan

Reuben was the other band I saw up in Leeds last month and managed to
pop in Virgin at TCR on Monday to get a copy. I really like this album.
They are sort of a heavier, but more playful, version of Hundred
Reasons. The highlight of the album is the current single, Freddy

Reuben -
   Racecar is Racecar Backwards

Last night I successfully managed to install Debian on my AlphaStation
255, after 5 attempts. d-i in sid is almost there. Had a couple of
niggles. It seems that something broke the code to detect if the drive
was using BSD disklabels. vorlon gave me points of where to look to fix
it and 30 minutes later I had a fix. Hacking d-i in d-i is cool. Having
stuff written in bash is very useful. Shame it doesn’t have a full vim
installation :). I need to check if the bug with the partitioner not
detecting that you have /boot on a separate partition is still there.

The only other issue I had was that you need to leave a small space at
the start of the drive for the bootloader. vorlon neglected to tell me
this until I tripped over it (grrr 🙂 ) but a quick repartition and a
(not so) quick base install later and it was up and running.

I celebrated with a beer and some chocolate.

Greens have kept their 2 MEPs[0], losing 0.1% of the vote, which is a
little disappointing. UKIP, on the other hand now have 12 MEPs. I’m not
convinced this is a good thing, even if they will vote against software
patents. The Liberal Democrats have one extra MEP too. Now if only can
trust them to vote for the party policy. This should give us somewhere
between 14 and 25 MEPs to vote against from UK.

BNP appear to have gained 4.1% of the vote to 5.2%, but thankfully no

[0] I think Scotland still hasn’t declared, so things may change.