ARGH! Microsoft, Windows Service Packs, and 12+ hours of my time...

I recently had to repair my installation of Windows XP Home for reasons I won’t get into here. Unfortunately, my installation disc that I used for the repair was from Service Pack 1, which meant I would have to reinstall Service Packs 2 & 3. I had no idea that this meant an odyssey through Windows Purgatory.

I first tried going through Windows Update’s site, and it was able to download the files, and start the Update program. However, it froze when it got to one of the Pre-Installation Processes called “Creating Cabinets”. I let the computer sit there for 4 hours while I left and did some errands, but it was stuck at this same step the entire time.

Hmm. OK. Whatever. Restart time.

Launched Explorer, Windows Update, stuck at Creating Cabinets again.

OK, so I searched various iterations and combinations of “Windows XP Service Pack 2 installation problems” in Windows Support forum and Google. There were many options bandied about, including making sure the computer was virus-free and the disk didn’t have any bad sectors. I decided to run Avira Anti-Virus full scan, then Trend Micro’s House Call, then Ad-Aware, then Windows’ built-in disk check thing. Some spyware from Ad-Aware, but otherwise no problems.

Decided to try again. I disabled as many start-up programs as I could, disabled the Anti-Virus (yes I did this last time as well), Explorer, Windows Update, stuck at Creating Cabinets again.

ARGH. Another option that was given was to download the SP2 installer program directly (it was under the heading “Service Pack 2 For IT Professionals” or something like that). I’d just like to mention here how crap the Livesearch engine is that Microsoft uses as the search feature for their support forums. It gives such horribly irrelevant links and the ranking seems almost random, whereas Google tended to have useful info for most of its first page, even though it searches the whole net, not just Microsoft’s support site! Swallow your pride and do a deal with Google already, Microsoft! Jesus, what a mess.

Downloaded the installer program directly, tried the install, and lo and behold, again stuck at Creating Cabinets.

Well fuck me, Mr. Tambourine Man. I poked around some more and discovered that some people had luck with installing the service pack under Safe Mode. OK.

Restarted in Safe Mode, tried the SP2 Installer Program, and weeeeeee, stuck at “Checking Disk Space” or something like that. Note that when I say stuck, it stays on that same step for at least an hour with no discernible hard drive activity, no hourglass that pops up, and no bar movement.

Back to the Support site. OK, a solution to a tangential problem seems to be doing command line hijinx to erase all trace of SP2 installation, in case my aborted installs had somehow screwed it up for the next install attempt. This involved using the Installation Disc again, but oh well, decided to try it.

With a supposedly clean, free-of-SP2-traces OS, I tried the Safe Mode/SP2 Installer Program combo again, but yet again was stymied by the “Checking Disk Space” step. At this point, I wished that Bill Gates was in my room so that I could stab him with dull pencils for a few hours.

After reading a bunch of random support articles that all suggested doing things I’d already tried, I finally had the idea of searching the Support site for where it’d gotten stuck originally “Creating Cabinets”. Of course, Microsoft’s site has nothing. I tried searching Google, and an interesting little tidbit came up on some random Xoxide forum:

I followed the advice. And 12+ hours of frustration (+ countless more of the steps that I just left the computer on over night) finally led to Service Pack 2 being on my computer. I did some research on fixccs.exe. Apparently, this little program actually comes with the SP2 install and is used to clear some shit up right before the install. The only problem is that under some circumstances (nobody knows exactly which), it will use up 100% of the resources allocated to the install program and just prevent further progress.

In true Pit fashion: FUCK YOU, MICROSOFT!! Not only does your own stupid install suite create this stupid problem (i.e. it’s not a conflict with some third-party software, which I would be a LOT more tolerant of), but you also don’t seem to have any documentation of this on your support site, which, by the way, is inferior to Google for finding relevant support for your own damned operating system! If it weren’t for all this Windows-only software I have, I would seriously consider getting a Mac for my next computer…

Were you on a naked internet connection? Then I’d check your PC for malware.

And you might consider making yourself a CD slipstreamed with SP2 and SP3.

Apparently this problem is big enough that several support forums mention it. It seems to occur (for some users) when you use an SP1 (or earlier) Windows XP disc to repair an updated installation, and then try to re-install SP2/3. SP2 Install’s own fixccs.exe is the culprit.

Also, as I said in the post, I checked for malware/grayware via three different programs and it only came up with a bit of spyware (diagnosed as not too serious).

I’d go with mozzies on that. Say, him and 20,000 of the little fiends inside a bug net. Stand by with a transfusion if he starts to prune up too bad.

Yes, I too have blown an entire Saturday doing a WinDuhOhz re install. Mercifully, the details have been wiped from my memory by the grim trauma. The man was hatched, I figure.

Fuck Microsoft and its fucking SP3, it now takes my computer longer to boot up than my IBM PC did in the 1980’s. And at least my old PC had the courtesy of actually looking like it was booting up; XP now loads up but is essentially frozen for the first 2-3 minutes after I log in. The only way I can tell that the computer is usable is when I hear the hard drive stop spinning.

25Mbit internet connections and a full computer shop make this so easy :smiley:

You mean you don’t have one handy…never mind…carry on.:stuck_out_tongue:

Slightly off-track – the latest update from windows was something like dot network 4.5 and family. 248 megs

Hey, some of us are still on dial up. It took over 15 HOURS just to dl that mf. :frowning:

Protip: usually you can find a stand alone installer for that stuff, and no library I’ve been to disallows flash drives on their computers. Maybe some do but check in to it. 5 minute download on the average library connection.

One that happened with me.

I had XP with SP1 on the install disc. When my system ran into problems I had to do a full reinstall.

I did all the update stuff, but SP2 would hang up on installation.

After many attempts, I turned out I had forgotten that the original XP SP1 disc had been replced, I had simply forgotten about it and what I now had was an XP SP2 disc.

What really nurks me off is that there was never any error message, or any other indication that I was trying to install an upadte that was already there, most times you get some sort of warning such as the files you are installing are older than the existing ones.

Yeah I know I shouldnt have forgotten that I had an SP2 disc, but fuck me, every other installation program gives you some fucking clue, all I got was a hard drive churning and a passive windows installaion screen.

I only noticed it by chance when looking up on properties when I was trying to see if there was some sort of driver issue.

Whoa. I didn’t know you could do that. I mean, access the file any way other than letting Windows Update prescribe it for you.

I will definitely hunt around the next time they hit me with a monster. Thanks!

NP:) I live in the hicks, my net ain’t much faster then dialup either.

Some search tips the update will usually have a name that starts with KB then has numbers, exceptions are add-ons like service packs, and things like direct x updates, .net framework updates, and maybe others.

Generally a google search of “<update name> offline installer” will lead you there. With a little digging this works for many other apps too. Such as Live messenger, yahoo messenger, ect.

Plus there’s usually lists of updates for various flavors of windows (2k,xp,2k3,vista, ect.) on the internet. People use them to get all the updates and slip stream them into custom installer cds that install windows with updates preinstalled. There’s quite a community of enthusiasts for this.

I used to be one of them. It taught me a lot about the guts of windows and the installer. I still have my custom windows 2003 install cd iso somewhere.

Anyway those lists are great. You can get a copy of portable getright. Put it on a flash drive. Build your update download list at home in get right. Go up to a high speed public computer (I usually use the library ones at college). Plug getright in, fire it up and get them all at once.

Take your flash drive home and update windows.