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Random Rants and Brain Droppings
Be careful with memtest86 and live CDs.
I have had (transient) issues on this machine after running memtest86 and Live Linux/Solaris CDs.
I booted my Beezix (custom Knoppix) live CD and ran memtest86 to test my RAM upgrade. Memtest86 behaved strangely, and reported transient errors. Booting the service partition and running the resident memory test utility showed no errors. After running memtest86, attempting to boot Vista failed. Resetting BIOS to factory defaults fixed that.
After running a series of Live CDs (Linux and Solaris) rebooting to Vista failed and instead brought up the Rescue and Recovery (service) partition, which offered to fix Vista (declined) or test my hardware (it went ahead even though I declined). No errors found, and Vista booted OK after that.
My suspicion is that there are things mapped into the address space (graphics, BIOS tables) that memtest86 does not know to avoid during RAM testing. Perhaps this is also true with some live CDs - but I need to do more testing to isolate which one(s)
Linux can brick your box.
There is a very nasty bug in the 2.6.27 kernel that can brick a machine that has Intel e1000 NIC hardware. It was hard to find a concise description of the bug, but here is a link to the some of the discussion, and here is a link to the "final" explanation and resolution.
DO NOT attempt a bare-metal install of any distribution using this kernel or run a live CD with this kernel.
Acronis vs Lenovo Rescue and Recovery
I've used both for backup and when migrating to a new hard drive. Acronis can have trouble restoring the "ThinkVantage" button's ability to boot the service partition. I have had mixed results, and can't really pinpoint what dictates success or failure. Rescue and Recovery usually works fine, but seems to be fragile. Anything that touches the MBR or track 0 can break the service partition. I have seen cases where an updated R&R installation on Vista would create backups that the Rescue CD would refuse to load. Be very careful to create new rescue media and new restore image after updating R&R.
I usually pull R&R and Acronis images when doing full drive backups. Drives are cheap, so why not.
Preserving ThinkVantage button boot function
Don't touch the MBR. Be very careful when building multi-boot machines. Some notes here: T61 Partitioning.
Repair Windows and/or service partition bootability
So far, the Lenovo boot repair diskette has never worked for me. It is supposed to restore the "ThinkVantage" button's ability to boot the service partition. What it usually does is make Windows unbootable, along with the service partition.
There is a CD out there that can restore Vista bootability in some cases. I have used it to fix Vista after doing a mixed restore - Lenovo factory restore to get the service partition and Think button back, and then a Vista-only restore from an Acronis image. That left Vista broken but fixable: Windows Vista Recovery Disc Download. It worked for me. YMMV, and I can't guarantee it isn't full of malware.
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