Installing Vista Service Pack 1 on Gateway cx210x Convertible Laptop With Upgraded Hard Drive, Linux, and Error 0x800F0826
When I first tried to install Vista Service Pack 1 almost a year ago, it failed with error code 0x800F0826 - I was not sure whether this was because my laptop had an upgraded hard-drive (160gb instead of the OEM 80gb), or because of my linux first partition with grub boot loader, or because of any of the multiple reasons that people had identified in association with that error code on the internet.
I tried all the obvious, simple fixes (checking the disk, freeing more space, etc, and some slightly more complicated experiments modifyng registry entries, as had helped some other people on the internet) - but there was no simple fix that worked. So I waited to see whether microsoft would eventually come out with another version of the service pack that worked out of the box for me.
Finally I gave up and decided to try the free technical support offered for the SP1 upgrade. I went to http://support.microsoft.com/ and found the chat request page. There was no wait time: I was promptly connected with the first of a series of four Indian-sounding men who I assume work for Microsoft subcontractors. The first one ran through the basic steps with me: rechecking the disk for errors, and checkings certain system files; ultimately we couldn't solve the problem because I didn't have my OEM Vista install disk handy. So, a few weeks later when I finally located the OEM Vista install disk, I tried again. My next tech support expert had a few suggestions we tried using the OEM disk (startup repair was what he wanted to try for starters) but the OEM disk was unable to read my hard disk (it gave the error "hard disk does not have 400MB free that are required" although I had 15GB free) Ultimately the suggestion was made to delete my linux partition, to which I took slight offense, and so he scheduled me another session with an upgraded tech support from the research department.
The first session with the research department we tried a few new tricks, like disabling a few services, trying the installation of the service pack in safe mode - none of which works, and resulting in an offer of another meeting with another "research department" worker the next day (which was today).
I took the liberty to use Acronis True Image to copy my 160GB drive onto the 80GB one (I had to transfer all my data to yet another spare drive in order to do this), but I didn't have time to try the SP1 install on that drive before the phone meeting with the research support.
So we tried yet another few tricks (still with the 160GB drive) - the main one being the installation of the Windows Vista Readiness Tool - followed by yet another attempt to install the service pack - which failed. So the technician agreed to call back later.
Meanwhile I tried to install the SP1 on the 80GB drive (literally identical to the 160GB drive in its contents because I'd just cloned it). I did this beginning in safe mode.
When I talked to the tech rep afterwards, he was very apologetic about the whole process. I said I was still concerned that if I cloned the 80GB back to the 160GB drive, that I risked losing the working vista installation on the 160GB drive because the cloning might not properly set up the boot system and the OEM disk might have problems with the 160GB drive. He said that if there were problems, he or his manager would help me solve them.
So I did the cloning (which takes 3 hours - using Acronis and a USB external laptop drive enclosure, by the way) - and the Acronis did a perfect job. Both linux and the SP1 vista booted perfectly with Grub without having to do any further modifications whatsoever.
Now I'm copying back all the data that I had transferred to different extra small hard drives (70GB of music, movies, photographs, etc - mostly personal stuff).
So it seems that, at least in my situation, the key problem was that the 160gb drive wasn't able to accept the SP1 upgrade, either due to an intentional or unintentional aspect of SP1. But it runs fine, now that the SP1 system is on there.