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[Discuss] restoring Windows on different hardware

Rich Pieri wrote:
> Mark Woodward wrote:
>> If you are replacing a hard disk, you may need to get one with the
>> same disk layout.
> This is not necessarily true. Clonezilla can restore NTFS images to
> non-identical geometries...

Mark might have been referring to:

  For reasons we don't understand, Windows memorizes which IDE/ATA
  controller it was installed on and fails to boot in case the
  controller changes. ... The solution here is to perform several
  modifications to the Windows registry. This can be done while the
  installation is still running on the original system because all it
  does is relax the IDE checks.

Technically, that's about the controller, rather than the drive
geometry. Generally you can resize the file system on Windows with the
right tools, but you can run into problems there, too, particularly with
older versions of Widows. I remember having a Windows NT system that
couldn't handle the kernel being located more than 10 GB away from the
boot sector, which necessitated creating a 10 GB OS partition to prevent
updates from moving the kernel to an unreachable location.

I recently moved an old Windows XP drive to new hardware. After the move
the OS crashed on boot. I figured maybe it needed a different HAL
installed. I booted the installer CD, which crashed at the drive setup
screen. Turns out I had to disable "native SATA support" in the BIOS. No
clear explanation as to what that means, but it did permit the OS to
fully boot. (I then had to spend 2 or 3 hours tracking down and
installing drivers.)

>> Windows probably won't run, without difficulty, on a new system after
>> a restore.
> This is just as true for Linux as it is for Windows. If the hardware is
> different, or if the BIOS/EFI is configured differently, then the initrd
> won't be right, the device IDs won't be right, and there may be other
> issues including network and X server configurations.

I've generally found Linux to be *far* more resilient to hardware
changes than Windows is. This makes sense if you consider Linux's
"underdog" heritage - the way the burden of compatibility was thrust on
the Linux kernel developers instead of the hardware vendors - and the
way that the Linux kernel itself is used to install Linux, and thus has
a ton of hardware detection code built-in to the kernel, instead of some
separate installer.

Consider all the Linux live CDs that boot on just about anything. I'm
willing to bet they more closely resemble your installed Linux than a
Windows install CD environment matches your installed Windows OS.

Certainly there are situations that are beyond what the kernel can
automatically adjust for, but they're less often encountered.

One thing you definitely wont see after booting up a Linux system after
the drive is moved to new hardware is a message that your system needs
to be activated. :-)

(I recently ran into this after moving a Windows installation to new
hardware. No grace period or even enough OS access to setup wireless was
allowed, even though you use a net connection (or telephone) to
activate. Basically you could activate or reboot. That's it. Gotta love


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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