I discovered something profound
If Windows doesn't want to be installed on your system, BE HAPPY! Don't push it to be somewhere it doesn't want to be.
Last night started out with a simple goal. Nuke the Windows XP partition on my dual boot Linux box (my main workstation), re-install Windows, and get to bed early. Little did I know that fate had it in for me. Well, first I run fsck.vfat forgetting that this was not what I wanted to do. No biggie though, no harm no foul. I then ran the correct command, mkfs.vfat. It seemed to work, but when I booted onto my Windows 98SE boot disk it had strange and unusual errors. "Ok, just nuke the 10G partition under Linux with fdisk, and then re-create it.... it'll be fresh, clean, and windows will install nicely onto it." Or so I though.
Destroying the partition and recreating it under Linux didn't do what I wanted it to do. One of the great things is that if you loose your partition table you just re-create it on the same boundaries and bingo, bango, bongo, partition table restored. I forgot this and ended up with my old DOS drive exactly as it was before. I should have given up at this point, but persisted. I nuked the partition again, mkfs'd it, several times, using both linux and Windows (booting from the bootable CD. Eventually it appeared to disappear properly. I booted up into Windows setup and started doing things. At one point I ran format on it (from a DOS prompt) and it told me it was formatting a 30G partition. Not quite right! I reboot back to Linux and make sure that everything is ok. It is, partitions all appear ok (cfdisk bitched about partition table not working properly, but normal fdisk showed everything was fine).
In retrospect, I should have started backing things up at this point.
At this point I booted back into the setup from the Windows 98SE CD and continued. After it had finished formatting, it said I had a 30 G drive. Not good. I booted back to linux to find...... "Invalid system disk...". ARGH! All is not lost though. Just boot up on a boot floppy, re-run LILO, or nuke and re-install the / partition. No harm no foul right? Wrong :( Booting up on a boot disk showed me my partition table was completely hosed, and of the original 7 (I think) there were 4, all showing errors, all with totally wacked out numbers. I quickly hopped over to another box, my MP3 server (not quite done yet) and started surfing to google to find how to fix this.
Most of the information I found related to simply re-creating the partition table under linux to match exactly what it was before. Of course, I didn't have a good idea of what that was. I popped the hard disk out of my workstation to throw in the MP3 system and of course, no Reiser FS support (which I have on all but / on the workstation. Even if the first couple of partitions were blown away I could survive, /home (where all my stuff is) is the 3rd of fourth one down, and even with 30 G formatted and fubared, it should be recoverable right? Right? please?
After much fighting I admitted defeat. I nuked all the partitions and created (once again) a nice big 10 G chunk for Windows, which I then installed Windows 98 and then, just because I was feeling like a masochist, Windows XP. Around 1am I started re-installing Linux, and once it started going I decided to leave it for this morning. This morning I got what I thought was a good setup going.... a base install of Debian, with ssh running so I could work on it in the background from work across the VPN. Well, it was a good plan in theory. Unfortunately when I got to work my workstation at home is not around, not even pingable. So much for getting a kernel compile and so on going huh? I forgot two important things before I left for work.... create a user account, or set sshd to allow root login (as at this point I only have root as the user], and to actually test that I could connect from work, before leaving for work.
So I get a fresh start. I didn't want one, and as I roll things that I lost around in my mind, it really sucks. Not all was lost, I have a very similar setup at work to home, so I can transfer my bookmarks, various xmms skins, fonts, and similar things over. A fair amount of old files were backed up a while ago onto CD, but that was over a year (though some of the important stuff hasn't changed since then, so that's not too terrible. Things that were lost were any mail since the backup, new wallpaper, the fact I spent a day organizing all my wallpaper neatly.... All my MP3s are ok though, safe on a separate drive :)
I guess I have a busy night ahead of me again tonight, getting everything back up and running.
Did I mention lately that I hate computers?