This year, our clusters are going to be moved over to Vista, so I’ve decided to downgrade my windows box from XP to vista. It’s been an inevitable fun-filled afternoon as a result.

Tried a remote installation to save the effort of finding disks. Unfortunately, we tried an installation which booted into Windows 7, and then allowed you to install vista from there; this results in a mysterious 100M partition for use with bitlocker; vista doesn’t know about this, so mounted it as D drive and, as it’s marked as a system partition, you can’t change this. Three installations later, it was gone, and Vista is installed.

Next up, install synergy. Turns out that this is hosed because of UAC — the Vista access control. How to Geek was very helpful, although their technique doesn’t completely work. I have some ideas, but basically, had to turn off all UAC elevation dialogs (as synergy doesn’t work then, which rather defeats the point), and I have to start it by hand every login. At this juncture, a hardware KVM seems an option, but it’s clunky in comparison to synergy.

Cygwin installation has been okay, except for some mysterious “Program Compatibility” dialog which tells me that I have done things wrong and offers to make my life better. Next up is the problem of getting security permissions on my files on D, which think that they are owned by another user (from my old OS). Normal Windows problem I can’t get the permissions set up, or percolating downward whatever I do.

(At this point, a friend popped in and said, “Why don’t you install Windows 7 instead”. Not the first to ask).

Think I now have the security permissions set, although it’s going to take about 2 hours to find out for sure, as it traverses my file system. Cygwin appears to have another strange problem where a bash window doesn’t respond to a click—​if you want to move it from the front, you have to use the taskbar.

Emacs, skype, miktex all seem to have installed okay; neither webcam nor sound drivers worked in the default installation, but vista did manage to find them, so no complaints there really. I’ve also found one major advantage; when you switch the irritating desktop sounds off, windows no longer asks you whether you want to save the old scheme (yes, being the default); well worth the billions of dollars spent on vista. The machine balked after all these installs, with explorer up to 100% CPU. Restart has solved.

Installing cygwin sshd was a bit hard; the trick is to run ssh-host-config in a cygwin.bat run as administrator. It all works fine then, except for the bit where you try to ssh in to the machine. Then you always get Connection Closed. Giving up for now.

How would I have got this far out with the wonderous Gerry Tomlinson to help me out? No idea.

On the flip side, thought, I was interested to see one of my own great ideas, first expounded in my work on Generating Sewage Systems has been taken up the Institute of Mechanical Engineering, in a report which has even got as far as the BBC. Yep, algae reactors down the side of buildings. It’s the way forward.