Brien Posey's Windows Blog


May 7, 2009  3:31 AM

Installing EBS with Hyper-V



Posted by: Brien Posey
EBS, Essential Business Server, Hyper-V

For about the last week I have been ripping my hair out trying to install Essential Business Server for a project that I am working on. Every time that I have attempted the installation, I would get to the third server (the messaging server) and get an error that Setup failed because it was not able to extend the Active Directory schema.

 

I have gone over the Microsoft documentation numerous times, and it seems as though I am doing everything correctly. Tonight I stumbled onto an interesting Web page though (http://connect.microsoft.com/EBS08/community/discussion/richui/default.aspx?NewsgroupID=2554&RootArticleID=317560). Although Microsoft says that EBS will run on top of Hyper-V, there have apparently been a lot of problems with doing so.  Although some people claim to have been able to pull off a full EBS deployment using Hyper-V, I am running out of time in getting this deployment done. Tomorrow I am going to try using physical hardware.

May 6, 2009  3:21 AM

Redirecting the Offline File Cache in Vista



Posted by: Brien Posey
offline file cache, offline files, Windows Vista

A while back I had configured my laptop to cache my offline files to a secondary hard drive instead of using up space on my primary drive. When I had performed the initial setup, I wrote an article on how it’s done. That’s been a while though, and I can’t really remember who I wrote the article for, or even the exact registry key that I had to use to redirect the offline cache.

Over the weekend the hard drive in my laptop died, and I had to set up offline caching from scratch. I couldn’t find the article that I wrote on how to redirect the cache, but I did find a Microsoft Knowledgebase article on the subject at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/937475

One thing that I will tell you about the technique that is outlined in the article is that you really do have to follow the steps in order. Offline caching is enabled by default in Vista, and you absolutely have to disable it and reboot the machine before you begin, or the technique in the KB article won’t work. After you reboot the system, it’s time to make the registry modification listed in the article. After doing so, you have to reboot again. Next, go ahead and enable offline caching, and reboot one more time.  Rebooting after each step is essential to the technique’s success.

When you are done, you can set Windows to show hidden files and folders. When you do, you should see a folder named CSC in the root directory of the designated hard drive. I recommend checking for the existence of this folder before you actually begin synchronizing your offline files, because if Windows has not created the folder, it means that you have done something wrong and the offline files are going to be cached onto your system drive.


April 28, 2009  3:28 AM

Talking About Windows



Posted by: Brien Posey
Talking About Windows, Video Blog, Windows 7

Microsoft has just created a new Windows 7 video blog called Talking About Windows. This blog is geared toward IT professionals. It features videos from the engineers who built Windows 7 providing their insight into the operating system. It will also feature commentary from some IT professionals.

This new blog won’t officially debut until sometime in May, but you can access it today at: www.talkingaboutwindows.com  


April 27, 2009  3:53 AM

Is there still a shortage of 64-bit drivers?



Posted by: Brien Posey
64-bit, 64-bit drivers, drivers, Windows XP

When it comes to technology, I’m almost always an early adopter. When you adopt a technology before it becomes mainstream, you expect to have to deal with some quirks, and you expect to pay premium price for that technology. As the technology matures though, you expect the quirks to go away, and for the price of the technology to drop.

With that in mind, I had a situation this week that I just have to vent about. In November of 2006 I was out of the country for an extended period of time. I had some articles that were going to be due while I was gone, and I knew that I was going to have to be able to write them while I was abroad. I also knew that I was going to have to run server software on my laptop so that I could experiment with the techniques that I was going to be writing about. I ended up buying the biggest, baddest, most powerful laptop that I could find.

My laptop of choice was an HP. I forget the exact model number, but it was in the Pavilon DV8000 line. HP considered this particular laptop to be a Windows Media center laptop. It had a 17” screen, a gig of RAM, and a 64-bit CPU, all of which were considered high end features at the time.

Even though the laptop had 64-bit hardware, I needed to run Virtual PC, and that required a 32-bit version of Windows (remember, this was two and a half years ago). Needless to say, I never bothered to install a 64-bit version of Windows.

Well, a lot of time has passed, and I have bought a couple more laptops since then. Even so, the laptop that I just described was far from being obsolete, so I gave it to my wife to use. I knew that she wouldn’t know what to do with most of the stuff that I had installed, so I blanked the hard drive and installed the 64-bit version of Windows XP.

Windows installed just fine, but I had a couple of rude surprises once I was done. First, I found out that even though the laptop has the Designed for Windows XP sticker on it, HP does not offer many 64-bit drivers for Windows XP. Windows provided some of the drivers, but so far I have yet to be able to locate a functional sound card driver.

I also discovered that Microsoft never made a 64-bit version of SP3 for Windows XP. I’m sure that this is common knowledge, but I stopped using Windows XP a year ago, so this little detail had slipped by me. The only reason I was installing Windows XP on the laptop was because my wife asked me to.

To make a long story short, I just can’t believe that even after two and a half years that there is a shortage of 64-bit Windows XP drivers for some hardware. 64-bit operating systems are the norm today, and a large percentage of people still use Windows XP. Asking for 64-bit drivers for Windows XP doesn’t seem like such an unreasonable request.

I have spent quite a few hours looking for drivers and attempting various work arounds that I have been reading about on the Internet, with no luck. It looks like I am going to have to format the hard drive and install a 32-bit OS.


April 25, 2009  2:51 AM

Windows XP Compatibility for Windows 7



Posted by: Brien Posey
Windows 7, Windows XP, WIndows XP compatibility

Yesterday I was reading everyone’s opinions of Windows 7 on various technology related blogs. Some of the blogs predict that Windows 7 is going to be the final nail in the coffin for Microsoft. Other blogs predict that Windows 7 is going to be the best selling operating system of all times.

I thought about writing about the reasoning behind these speculations in yesterday’s blog post, but ultimately I decided not to. I’m really glad that I waited, because today something was announced that could change everything. Windows 7 is going to come with a Windows XP compatibility mode that is based on virtualization technology. This new feature hasn’t made it into any of the betas yet, but it will be included in the RC build that is scheduled for public release on May 5th. Right now there aren’t a lot of details available regarding this feature, but I will definitely write more about it as details become available.


April 24, 2009  2:00 AM

Vista and malicious software



Posted by: Brien Posey
Malware, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Although most people seem to think of Vista as being one of the worst mistakes that Microsoft has ever made, I have never made a secret of the fact that I prefer Vista over XP. My main reason for this is that Vista is a lot less suseptible to malware infections than XP is. I have lost count of the number of times that I have had to manually disinfect a particularly nasty malware infection on a Windows XP machine for friends, family, and clients. I’m not going to say that Vista is immune to malware infections, but to date, nobody has ever asked me to help them to disinfect their Vista machine. I know that the nay sayers will probably say that this is because more people run XP than Vista, but there is finally some hard data to back up what I have been saying all along.

The article at: http://blogs.pcmag.com/securitywatch/2009/04/malware_on_vista_rare_accordin.php shows the number of infections per 1000 machines that are running various operating systems. The rate of infection is far lower for Vista than it is for XP.


April 23, 2009  2:14 AM

Windows 7 Starter Edition



Posted by: Brien Posey
netbook, Windows 7, Windows 7 starter edition

In a slow economy, it is no surprise that netbooks are really starting to become popular. These low end laptops are small in size, and typically sell for around $300.

One of the problems with first generation netbooks though, was that they usually came with a Linux operating system. Manufacturers did this as a way of keeping netbook prices low, and also because first generation netbooks lacked the power to run Windows Vista.

Since Microsoft didn’t want to lose out on the entire netbook market, they have licensed Windows XP for use on netbooks. Using Vista still wasn’t an option, but because of improvements in the hardware and more efficient software, netbook users will be able to run Windows 7 when it is released.

Microsoft has created a low budget version of Windows 7 that they are calling Windows 7 Starter Edition. Netbook manufacturers can license this version of Windows 7 for about fifteen bucks. So what’s the catch? Windows 7 Starter Edition can only open three applications at once, regardless of what the hardware is actually capable of.

At first this probably sounds like a deal breaker. I sure wouldn’t buy a copy of Windows that only allowed me to run three applications at a time. Things are not as bad as they seem though. Just because you can only run three applications at a time doesn’t mean that you can only open three windows at a time. Microsoft also has a very easy going definition of what constitutes an application.

What this means is that things like control panel applets, anti virus software, system services, and Windows Explorer are not usually considered to be applications, and hence do not count against the number of applications that you have open. Furthermore, you are allowed to open multiple instances of an application. There is nothing stopping you for example, from opening a bunch of different copies of Internet Explorer all at the same time.


April 21, 2009  10:04 PM

Gigabit Ethernet and Network Cabling



Posted by: Brien Posey

Several years ago I wrote an article series on making the transition to gigabit Ethernet. Even though that series is several years old, I still get a lot of e-mail in regard to the series. One question that I have been asked twice this week already is whether the network cabling has to be upgraded, or if CAT 5 cable can safely carry gigabit traffic.

The best way that I know to explain things is that even though there is intelligence in the switch and in your network cards, the switch and the cards have no way of knowing what type of cabling you are using. If you have a gigabit switch and gigabit NICs, then the computers are going to try to talk to each other at gigabit speeds.

 

Now here is the tricky part… Cat 5 cable is not rated for gigabit communications. Only Cat 5E and cat 6 are certified for gigabit speeds. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that Cat 5 can’t carry a gigabit signal, only that gigabit speeds cannot be guaranteed up to a distance of 100 meters. A short span of Cat 5 cable may very well be able to support gigabit speeds, but as the length of the cable increases, the reliability decreases. Long spans of Cat 5 cable carrying gigabit traffic may suffer from attenuation or cross talk. Having said that though, there are an awful lot of articles on the Internet posted by people who have successfully used their existing CAT5 cable for gigabit Ethernet.


April 19, 2009  4:10 AM

A Site for Sore Eyes



Posted by: Brien Posey
clear type, display calibration, fonts, Windows 7

As someone who writes an astronomical amount of content each week, my eyes tend to get fatigued from staring at my monitors all the time.  Making the transition from CRT monitors to LCD monitors a few years ago really helped out a lot, but I always wished that there was an easy way to reduce eye strain even more.

Fortunately, I just stumbled on to a new feature in Windows 7 that helps you to calibrate your display for the optimal level of contrast. The calibration wizard also comes with a mechanism for tuning clear type fonts so that you can use the fonts that are the easiest to read. You can access the calibration wizard by going to the Control Panel and double clicking on the Calibrate Display Color icon.


April 16, 2009  3:21 AM

Windows 7 Editions



Posted by: Brien Posey
Windows 7, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Home Premium

A while back I recall seeing a list of all of the different versions of Windows 7 that Microsoft was planning to offer. At the time I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the list, but I do remember wondering how on earth the average person was supposed to choose.

I recently stumbled onto a news story in which stated that Microsoft will only be releasing three versions of Windows 7. There will be a Home Premium, a Professional, and an ultimate version. There are actually going to be some other versions too, but those are supposedly going to be used solely in other markets.

The Home Premium version is going to be the Windows 7 equivalent of Vista Home Premium. The Professional version will have all of the same features as the Home Premium version, but will also include the ability to attach to a domain, and will offer enterprise oriented management tools such as the group policy editor and remote desktop hosting capabilities.

The ultimate edition will have all of the same features as the professional version, but will also include BitLocker and the ability to boot from virtual hard drive files.


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