How do you know the type and version of the major hardware components you have in your PC / laptop? Thats easy, run PC Wizard and hope their database is up to date enough for your purposes. (Note that this tool does other cool stuff too like running Benchmarks, getting all sorts of other system related information)

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I had the same dire necessity today, having junked the default Vista installation in a laptop, without checking the hardware, drivers and other requirements.  I had been told all the required CD’s are available and when i checked, (after re-install i have to admit), the CD that was referred to turned out to be a rescue CD.  The laptop manual did not care to list even the basic facts about which LAN / sound card it carried. (An acer 4620 if you are wondering)

Isnt Rescue CD enough ?

In the olden days, buying hardware gave you bits and pieces of drivers and other software in multiple CD’s and this was what i had in mind when i asked if the CD’s where available. But nowadays, machines come with a pre-installed OS partition, containing a valid image with everything pre-installed. So, all that you need in case things go wrong, is a single rescue CD to copy  this image onto your hard disk and get a brand new validated and optimized image running.

Whats wrong with Rescue CD’s ?

Rescue CD’s are an excellent solution, in most casual user cases. I remember originally encountering this concept in a Solaris server. I came away impressed with the solution. However in case of personal computers (or latpops) i feel someone ought to have thought of the possibility that a different OS or power user initiated custom installation might be required, in which case this partition idea becomes nothing but a waste of space. After all we are talking about hardware bought for personal use here and its a good idea not to restrict the owners conceptual freedom in trying to use it for whatever purposes they see fit.

The olden days

The olden days of individual driver CD’s, ensured that I had a valid driver for my hardware for all the OS’es i required. This was because the individual driver CD would come with drivers required for all the different version of OSes it supported (windows 3.1/95/98/Me/2k etc). This also meant that the different components of my machine was tested for the different OSes i required and it was easy to know which ones had the support by looking at the driver CD.  In fact i remember favouring devices that shipped with Linux drivers since i wanted to use Linux on my PC. However with the new fangled image idea, i’m not sure if my new box would run another OS or not.

I wish the hardware folks are listening and copied a folder of all required drivers and hardware documentation, into the image itself, which i can then copy out for my new OS, before trashing the old stuff. That way, i would have the best of both worlds, unless of-course i deleted the orignal rescue image partition too, which goes to show that a hard copy CD image of the rescue partition, with all the different OS driver folders in it of-course, would still be of some use.

Happy installations !!

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