The Ur-Guru suggested I take a look into the BIOS (that stands for Basic Input/Output System) to see whether there was something in those settings. So I restarted the computer and made a quick stab for the F2 key, which happens to be the key that enables me to enter Setup on Astarte. (I think it was the DEL key on Keramat; each manufacturer seems to choose its own, though F1 is almost always reserved for Help.) In wandering through the several pages of Setup functions, I was able to switch the infrared port on, but I didn’t find anything that affected USB.
So the Ur-Guru came to my rescue and provided me with a special CD from which I could boot into a “preinstalled environment” (that is to say, a sort of scaled-down operating system) and run Ghost 8. This CD is not produced by Symantec, but was created by a Dutch systems administrator named Bart Lagerweij to make his own life easier. His Bart-PE (there’s that Preinstalled Environment again) is distributed free of charge from http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/. (It’s 2 MB download.) Bart is really providing a tremendous service, as the CD is useful for a whole lot of diagnostic and repair functions; Ghost 8 is almost an afterthought from Bart’s perspective.
Before you can create the CD itself and use it, you need to have your Windows XP CD on hand (preferably with Service Packs 1 and 2 integrated, unless you want to engage in a tricky process called slipstreaming, which I personally would rather not get into). If your storage device (CD-ROM, external hard drive, removable drive, or whatever) came with special drivers, you have to put those into the “drivers” subfolder in the directory where you installed the PE-builder. And in order to use the additional software (Symantec Ghost Corporate 8, Nero Burning ROM, Disk Commander and ERD Commander 2002 by Winternals) legally, you also have to buy that software if you don’t own it already.
Then you can start PE-Builder, insert your Windows XP CD, create your .iso file (that’s the extension used by the “image” used to make a CD, particularly a bootable CD), and burn it to a CD. And then you can insert the CD in your CD drive, restart, and see whether it works.
If your eyes are glazing, you’re not alone. Bart-PE was created as a way to make life easier for Bart’s fellow geeks, and while he has made the overall process fairly straightforward (despite the pages of descriptive details, legal disclaimers, and other technical information on the website), this may well not be something you want to do yourself. As I said before, the Ur-Guru created the one I used last week.
However, while I’ve been typing this, I downloaded PE-Builder, installed it, grabbed my XP CD, and created my own CD—admittedly without adding any extra drivers to it. Neither my CD/DVD-writer nor my external hard drive actually came with any additional drivers for Windows XP. (I suppose if I felt really adventurous I could try adding the Windows 98 drivers.) Unfortunately, I also forgot to add the “plugins” folder, so while I got a perfectly good bootable disk, it didn’t have Ghost 8 on it. I’m now trying it again, and the CD (now with rather more data on it) is burning merrily away. Testing this one will require another restart.
So, as you can see, this is a slow process, and for many people it’s not going to be worth it either to do it themselves or to have someone else do it. For those of us who think Ghost 8 is miles better than Ghost 9, it’s definitely worth it.
For the rest of the world, I’m going to report on my cross-comparison between Dantz Retrospect and Acronis TrueImage next week.