Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Moving Windows 7 from one computer to another

The aim here was to use my copy of Windows 7 on a different computer to the one it was installed on. I was aware that the Microsoft license agreement only allows one installation on one computer, so I was expecting a possible problem, but not the rigmarole I had to go through.

I thought I'd just try installing Windows 7 on the new computer and then, when it told me "you can't do this because you've already got an installation", I'd follow instructions to de-activate the existing installation. But there was nothing. So I successfully did my second installation, using the same product key as on the first machine and thought "oh well, perhaps Microsoft isn't bothered after all".

Of course, Microsoft WAS bothered and I was eventually told I had to "activate" Windows 7 or else it would gradually disintegrate. Following screen prompts, I was duly informed that I couldn't activate it on this machine.

Next the Windows Activation Wizard springs into action and gives you a phone number - 0800 018 8354 - and a series of numbers which I initially found incomprehensible. I phoned the Microsoft service centre - 0844 800 2400 - and was told by someone who spoke like a robot that I had to uninstall my original 7 before I could activate it on the new machine. Fair enough, but how would that enable me to activate it on the new one? He didn't know. I had to phone the activation number for that.

Anyway, this is the process you have to follow:

1. Uninstall Windows 7 on your first machine - wipe the partition in my case.
2. Ring 0800 018 8354 and start the activation wizard on your new installation. This is to be found in Control Panel under "System".
3. Follow the prompts on the automated phone system and key in the 8 groups of 6 numbers which you see on the screen.
4. When asked how many computers you have Windows 7 installed on, answer 1.
5. The automated phone lady will then give you 8 more groups of 6 numbers which you key in on your computer screen.
5. Bingo! You are activated!

A reasonably straightforward process when you understand how it works, though why Microsoft needs to use 48 character codes only they know!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Samsung NC10 memory upgrade

The NC10 comes with 1GB of RAM and since I'd seen a few people say that Windows 7 benefits from a bit more, I thought I'd try the upgrade to 2GB. Crucial provides a useful tool to make sure you get the right module, which costs about £20.

Opening up the access panel was slightly tricky I found. First there is the question of the screw which holds it in place. I was aware of stories of people shredding the screws on the base of the NC10, which are apparently not of the best quality. Apparently they are pozidrive (as opposed to Philips) and getting the correct screwdriver is important. I found a tip which came as part of an electric screwdriver set which seemed to fit OK. The screwdriver itself was much too large for this sort of job really, but it did have the benefit of being heavy and therefore I didn't need to exert much pressure and the screw came out without any problems.

Next, the door of the access panel is rather flimsy and feels as if it is going to break if you bend it too much. It is held in place with 2 flanges at the end opposite to the screw and 2 more half way along the long sides. Gentle pressure eventually worked.

Removing and replacing the DIMM is pretty straightforward. First earth yourself to prevent any static problems. I removed the battery as recommended in the Crucial guidelines, though I'm not sure if this is really necessary. Gently ease the 2 clips which hold the DIMM away and it pops up and can then be pulled out of its slot. Put the new one in (the same way around) at an angle and then press it down until the clips click back into place. Replace cover, screw and battery.

You can now check your 2GB are recognised by pressing F2 at startup to get to the BIOS, which should now show 2048 MB on the Main tab.

Just how much difference the upgrade makes to Windows 7 I'm still deciding. Some things do seem a bit snappier.

Windows 7 RC on the Samsung NC10

I've now been using this for a while and am really liking it. Look and feel is great and it seems to compliment the NC10 well. My only slight reservations are:

1. It's a bit sluggish at times, with long pauses before anything happens. You don't even get the swirly blue thing to show something is going on.

2. Some font sizes on the small screen are a bit small for someone with aging eyes like mine! This can be changed in Control Panel Display from 100% to 125% (and nothing else) but then things don't fit on the screen properly, so you are really stuck with the default 100%.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Ubuntu version 9.04

This is now available (System, Administration, Update Manager ) and the upgrade went smoothly for me, though took some time.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR)

This is a new version of Ubuntu designed especially for netbook small screens. You can download it and put it on a bootable USB stick to install (or try out without installing) or simply install it from Terminal by typing:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-netbook-remix

My experiments with UNR were a disaster. It just caused chaos with graphics doing most peculiar things and generally made using Ubuntu impossible. So I tried to uninstall it with:

sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-netbook-remix

but this, whilst it claimed to have done so, didn't, and I was left with an unusable system. I ended up reinstalling Ubuntu from scratch, so my conclusion at the moment is that UNR just doesn't work on the Samsung NC10. Please tell me if you know otherwise!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Windows 7 installation on the Samsung NC10 netbook

This is an account of my attempt to install Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC). We are starting from a dual boot system on the Samsung NC10, running Windows XP and Linux Ubuntu and need to create a bootable USB Windows 7 flash drive.

Stage 1
In Windows XP, download the appropriate Windows 7 RC ISO file and save it on the desktop.

Stage 2
Download and install HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool:
and run it with a USB flash drive plugged in.

Select the USB stick in the Device box, choose NTFS File System and give it a Volume Label name, eg Windows 7. Check the Quick Format box. This will prepare the USB stick to be a Win7 installation drive; it needs to be at least 4GB and obviously have nothing on it that you need.

Stage 3
Download and install MagicDisc - MagicISO Virtual CD/DVD ROM:

This enables you to mount the Windows 7 ISO as a virtual DVD. It installs an icon on the right of the task bar, from where you can assign the CD image to a virtual drive by right clicking and selecting your ISO file. This actually seemed to happen automatically somehow – got a bit confused here. You should end up with a virtual drive in Windows Explorer.

Stage 4
Download and install MBRWizard:
This enables you to make the flash drive bootable. Go to a command line and navigate (cd\) to the directory where you have saved MBRWiz.exe. Type: MBRWiz /list which displays a list of drives, enabling you to identify the number of your flash drive.

Then type MBRWiz /disk=# /active=1 where # is the number of your flash drive.

Next copy the Windows 7 bootable properties to the flash drive with Y:\boot\bootsect /nt60 X: where Y is the drive letter for your virtual Windows 7 DVD and X is the drive letter for your flash drive.

Finally copy all the Windows 7 files from the virtual DVD to the flash drive with a simple copy / paste.

Stage 5
You now need to create a partition for Windows 7, assuming you want to leave the Windows XP installation intact. Download and install Easus Partition Manager 3.0 Home Edition, or some other similar software. This makes it fairly easy to firstly resize your existing Windows partition to make space and then create a new partition from the free space.

Unfortunately this is where things went horribly wrong, since the new partition meant that the Grub bootloader was looking on the wrong partition for the files it needed and on restarting the NC10 I got a Grub Error 17 and an otherwise dead machine.

Fixing the Grub bootloader

You need to tell Grub that the root partition has changed.

1. Boot from the live Ubuntu USB drive (which you should have from your original Ubuntu installation).
2. Open Terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal)
3. sudo grub (to get a Grub command line)
4. find /boot/grub/stage1 (to find which partition contains Linux boot information. It should return something like (hd0,5)
5. root (hd0,X) (where X is the partition number returned above)
6. setup (hd0)
7. quit

Reboot and you should get the old familiar Grub menu. Sigh of relief!

Notes on disc partitions:

Linux calls first disc drive DEV/SDA (the second DEV/SDB etc)
Partitions are counted from 1, so DEV/SDA1 is the first partition on the first disc etc.

Grub uses the following system:
(hd0) is the first disc drive
(hd0,0) is the first partition on the first drive
(hd0,1) is the 2nd partition on the first drive, etc.

To check partitions:
Boot from the live Ubuntu USB drive
From Terminal:
sudo fdisk -l (small L)

To edit menu.lst (Grub's menu list file):
Boot from the live Ubuntu USB drive
From Terminal:
mkdir ubuntu
sudo mount -t ext3 /dev/sda6 ubuntu (assuming Ubuntu is on partition 6)
gksudo gedit ubuntu/boot/grub/menu.lst

Back to the Windows 7 installation:

Stage 6
With primary boot set in the BIOS to USB, restart with your Windows 7 USB stick plugged in and follow the instructions to install 7. When the first restart happens, unplug the USB stick and you should go back into 7 to continue the installation.

Stage 7
Windows naturally assumes that it is the only Operating System in existence, so kindly wipes out your Grub bootloader. When you restart, you will see just a choice between Windows 7 and an “earlier version of Windows”. To fix this, it's back to booting from the Ubuntu Live USB stick and going to the Terminal. Then:

sudo grub (to get a Grub prompt)
root (hd0,5) (assuming Ubuntu is on partition 6)
setup (hd0)

Now your Grub menu will be back and choosing the Windows option will bring up another menu where you can choose XP or 7.


Note: you may find the brightness control doesn't work in Windows 7. This can be fixed by installing the Samsung Easy Display Manager (XP version) from their site.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Windows too big to fit on the screen

This was another "left over" problem from my Ubuntu installation on the Samsung NC10. I first came across it when trying to set up Evolution Mail. The first screen said "Click Forward to continue", but the Forward button was no-where to be seen. In fact it was off bottom of of the screen and therefore invisible. I've since seen the same thing occasionally in other situations. This appears to be a "fact of life" with Ubuntu on a small screen netbook.

Anyway, the "fix" is to be able to drag the window above the top of the screen by holding down the Alt key and this can be done once you have entered the following in Terminal:

gconftool-2 --set /apps/compiz/plugins/move/allscreens/options/constrain_y --type bool 0

By the way, I can recommend the "Ubuntu on the Samsung NC10" forum here:


which does not have a huge amount of activity but certainly has some knowledgeable contrubutors who have been very helpful.