The world’s most useless “recovery” CD

At first sight you might think that the Windows XP installation CD might contain an operating system, but more importantly, some sort of tool that could prove useful if your computer should ever run into trouble. The CD has a nice, blue, cloudy watermark on it and the interior rim has a shiny hologram. Clearly, there must be some goodness locked inside – it just oozes quality.

Wrong! Today, I backed up everything and erased my hard drive (including Kubuntu which I installed a few days ago) so that I could reduce the number of primary partitions and install PCLinuxOS in a logical drive. I also put the swap partition at the beginning of the disk (for speed of access) and restored my Acronis image of C: drive into the second partition which meant that it couldn’t find “\WINDOWS\system32\hal.dll”. No problem, I’ll just boot off the Windows CD, enter the recovery console, and change “partition(1)” to “partition(2)” in “C:\boot.ini”. A simple task.

When the recovery console finally loads, I change to the root of the C: drive and type “edit boot.ini”. Error: “Command not found, type HELP for a list of commands”. So I do that and see a very paltry list of options, none of which includes a basic text editor. So I navigate to “C:\WINDOWS\system32” and see a file called “”, so I try to run edit in there. No luck. Not even if I type “C:\WINDOWS\system32\ C:\boot.ini” will it let me edit the file!

I boot into Linux and try to change it there, but PCLinuxOS seems to think the file system is read-only, even though it says “rw” next to that partition when I type “mount” (even as root). So I copy “boot.ini” to my Linux desktop, make the changes, and copy it back to my FAT32 recovery partition (full of Acronis images), boot back into XP’s so-called “recovery console” and copy it from the FAT32 partition into the root of C: drive. Lo and behold, Windows XP now boots fine! Hallelujah!

After I had it working it occured to me that I could try booting off the Kubuntu live CD since I was able to read and write to NTFS partitions under Kubuntu (one of the things it does well in comparison to PCLinuxOS, I guess) but that’s beside the point. The point is that the XP recovery console doesn’t even include a simple DOS editor. You know, the kind we used to get with rescue floppies? Just another reason to ditch Windows altogether and switch to an operating system that isn’t wholly retarded from its very foundation.

5 thoughts on “The world’s most useless “recovery” CD

  1. Everytime you type in a command in R.C. it steadfastly refuses to comply it makes you wanna scream.

  2. In hindsight perhaps I should have tried “bootcfg” but I knew what the problem was and the lack of a simple text editor is shameful. I was avoiding any built-in utilities to carry out repairs because Windows XP is so fond of blowing away anything it doesn’t like and I didn’t really feel like rescuing my boot sector. The inclusion of a simple text editor would have allowed me to fix the problem, and only the problem, without having XP’s filthy utilities doing more than I wanted them to.

  3. So you’re in the recovery console and you’ve typed help. Which part of the clue in the word “bootcfg” did you miss? The bit where you were looking for a text editor instead of trying to fix your XP boot configuration methinks. Never mind, it made me laugh, although it does rather mess up the moral of the story.

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