Tag Archives: windows 8

Installing OS over PXE on machine without USB/optical drive

I got a little second-hand Dell D430 laptop to use for my upcoming polargraph show. I’m actually really impressed, it’s a dinky little thing.  No optical drive however, and installing an OS from a USB memory stick didn’t seem to work.  So I’ve done it over the network, and it even seems to work.

PXE (Pre execution environment) is the method, and this is a way of booting over LAN.  Hit F12 on the POST screen and then boot from NIC.  There needs to be a server on the network with TFTP running on it, to dish up the necessary files.  This is hard, but there is a nice little app called SERVA that handles the TFTP/DHCP stuff, because I don’t know how to.  Anyway, I followed the instructions on this site and windows 8 is winging it’s way onto my new old machine.


I initially tried putting the windows 8 disk in and symlinking to it instead of copying the files into the TFTP source folder.  That worked up to a point, but the installation failed.  I think it is because SERVA needs to add some files to the windows installation to customise it for this method, and obviously that can’t work if it’s read-only (on a CD).   So actually copy them over, or at least make sure they are somewhere that is writable.

Cheating on Windows 8

I really like Windows 8. I think it looks neat, and works well. And while the fullscreen/windowed duality often seems slightly embarrassing (control panel etc), I applaud Microsoft for being bold. And I love whizzing through the start page with my touchscreen laptop.

Trouble is, I’ve just realised that the start page is superfluous, and other than that, it’s entirely the same as Windows 7.

I missed jump lists from Windows 7 – these are the things in the start menu, where your applications have an arrow next to them, and that arrow expands to show recently used documents (for that application), as well as a particular pinned docs. I think these are really useful for documents that aren’t frequently used enough that they would stay top of my main “recent documents”, and because of not being frequently used, I can’t remember where they are, or which version I used last. An example is the designs for my Up To Much jewellery boxes. I don’t often print off a batch, but when I do I have to go into the main ring box folder and try and wade through the dozens of versions to remember which exact variation on the filename I used last. Not difficult, perhaps. But it’s easier to just choose it from a list without even opening the application.  Jump lists are a feature I didn’t even realise I wanted.

So anyway, to get jump lists on Windows 8, it is necessary to pin the application to the taskbar and then it pops up on a right-click. But I prefer to keep a pruned taskbar, particularly since I am now more used to using windows-key->start typing to launch apps and don’t need icons floating around everywhere. I really expected jump lists to be present on the start page, so a application tile would spawn some little tiles with it in.

So rambling on, I put StartIsBack on my machine, and instantly forgot I was even using Windows 8. It boots to the desktop, and gives me my jump lists. The start menu is a bit untidy, and not as beautiful as the start page. I haven’t even seen the start page for the last week. Which begs the question – why did I upgrade to Windows 8? And I don’t know either.