Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Installing Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop   4 comments

My earlier post on how to roll-back-a-Dell-Inspiron-518-to-XP gets quite a few hits, so I’m adding this one for a different model.  Unlike the previous post, this one concerns a laptop, and requires a few additional steps.

To perform this install, you will need:

  • a USB floppy drive
  • a USB flash drive
  • an XP installation CD
  • a working network connection
  • patience

Boot your laptop into Vista, then launch the Control Panel, and make a note of the following devices if they’re different from what I have listed here:

  • Video Device (in my case, this is an Intel Mobile 965, XP driver available here, file name R181739.exe)
  • Intel Mobile Chipset (XP driver available here, file name R153997.exe)
  • Ricoh Chipset – media card (XP driver available here, file name R141246.exe)
  • Modem (in my case, this is a Conextant HDA D330 MDC V.92 Modem, XP driver available here, file name R167368.exe)
  • Modem Utility – optional (XP version of the utility available here, for that Conextant modem, file name R148605.exe)
  • Network Devices (in my case, this is a Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet, XP driver available here, file name R155246.exe)
  • WIreless Devices (in my case, this is a Dell Wireless 1395 WLAN Mini-Card, XP driver available here, file name Dell_multi-device_A17_R174291.exe)
  • Bluetooth Devices (in my case, this is a Dell Truemobile 355 Bluetooth, XP driver available here, file name R127314.exe) – this one is tricky, there’s no link to it on the Inspiron 1420 page.
  • Audio Devices (in my case, a Sigmatel 92xx, XP driver available here, file name R171789.exe)
  • Dell Touchpad (the default XP driver will work, but there is added functionality you can get with the Dell driver, XP driver available here, file name R165804.exe)

Then connect your laptop to the internet, and download all of those files, saving them to your USB flash drive.  You’ll need those later.  If you have devices other than these (there are a lot of different configurations for the 1420), you may need to find the XP drivers for those devices on the Dell Support website for the Inspiron 1420.  Note, however, that if you miss something this is not a terribly big deal, as long as you get the wireless or wired network drivers correct, you can always connect to the Dell Support website at that link *after* you’ve installed XP and find the driver for your mystery device.

Then you connect your USB floppy drive (you’ll also need a floppy, btw), and download the XP mass storage driver for your laptop from the Dell Support website.  Run the executable, and unpack the driver files to c:\temp\intel, and then copy the contents of that directory onto your floppy drive (, iaahci.inf,, iastor.sys, you don’t need the text files).  Then open your CD tray and insert your Windows XP installation CD.  Close the CD tray, and reboot your laptop.

At the BIOS loading screen, hit “F12” to pull up the boot order – the default is to boot from the hard drive.  Boot from the CD drive.  In a few seconds you’ll see “Hit any key to boot from CD…”, hit the keyboard (not too hard), and then the XP installation will begin.  At the bottom of the screen you’ll see “hit F6 to add a storage driver”, HIT F6.  The XP installation will load a few drivers, and then ask you if you want to add a storage driver.  Hit “S” to load the mass storage driver.  This will read the iastor file(s) off of the floppy drive, and prompt you with four options for mass storage drivers, two desktop drivers and two mobile ones.  Unless you’ve chosen two hard drives as an opion, you want the Mobile AHCI driver, not the RAID driver (you’ll get an error if you choose the RAID driver and you’ll need to start over).

Assuming you’ve gotten this far (it could fail if the floppy drive or disk is broken, and you’ll have to create a new floppy from inside Vista and start over), you’ll move on to the next step of the installation.  Blow away all of the existing partitions, unless you want to keep the Dell Diagnostic partition (it’s the smallest Fat32 one).  Then install XP following your normal XP installation guide (there’s a ton available on the Internet, I’m not going to write up a specific one here today).  After the installation is complete boot into XP, connect your flash drive, and install the XP drivers for all the devices that you downloaded above… then enable the firewall (if your XP installation disk is pre-SP2), connect the XP laptop to the Internet, and download the four gajillion XP patches and update your laptop.

Posted October 24, 2008 by padraic2112 in hardware, OS, tech, Windows

Windows Update Breaking?   1 comment

Let’s say you just decided to reinstall your machine.  You pull out your Windows XP installation disk, install Windows XP, Service Pack 2 from disk.  Then you connect to WIndows update to install updates.

You’re about to break your machine, but only a little.

See, there’s an update to Windows Update that has to be installed before you do anything else.  However, after you apply this update, the next thing Windows Update is going to do is download and install Windows XP Service Pack 3.  If you didn’t perform a reboot in there (and why should you, it didn’t ask you to), installing Windows XP SP3 breaks your ability to automatically update.  The reason:

The latest version of Windows Update includes a file that was not available in the release version of Windows XP. This file is named Wups2.dll. Therefore, after the repair operation (or reinstall) is complete, the following situation exists:

The Wups2.dll file remains on the computer.
The registry entries that correspond to this file are missing.

Because the registry files that correspond to the Wups2.dll file are missing, update installations are unsuccessful.

Microsoft hasn’t messed up something like this in a while, tisk tisk.

Here’s the fix:

Method 1: Register the Wups2.dll file in Windows

To register the Wups2.dll file in Windows, follow these steps:

1. Stop the Automatic Updates service. To do this, follow these steps:

a. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK.
b. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

net stop wuauserv
2. Register the Wups2.dll file. To do this, follow these steps:

a. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll

Note For a computer that is running Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

regsvr32 %windir%\syswow64\wups2.dll
b. Click OK on each verification message that you receive.
3. Start the Automatic Updates service. To do this, type the following command at the command prompt, and then press ENTER:

net start wuauserv
4. Exit the command prompt. To do this type exit, and then press ENTER.

Back to the top

Posted August 19, 2008 by padraic2112 in OS, registry, software, Windows

He’s dead, Jim   Leave a comment

I bought a tablet PC (a Fujitsu) almost a year ago.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been meaning to blog about it a bit more thoroughly and just haven’t gotten around to it.

Switching over to a tablet is foundationally a major change in how you use your computer.  Normally, when I buy a new machine, I spend a considerable amount of time getting it tweaked *just the way I like it*.  Flip this dial, turn that switch, install this widget, etc.  I didn’t do that with this computer.  Why?  Because I wanted to use it for a while to find out how it was different, so that I could at some point in the future blow it away and reinstall it clean to *just the way I like it*.  I knew that when it came to the tablet, *just the way I like it* was something that was going to be different from non-tablet computing, and I wanted to play with it for a while to find out what those differences were.  More on that in my next post.

Well, I played with it for a year.  I learned a lot of things about my interface with the computer.  I installed a lot of software (some of which I’ll install again, some of which I decided was horrible).  I hooked it up to a number of different peripherals, installed drivers, uninstalled drivers, messed with the registry, etc.  I’ve hacked this thing pretty hard in the last 12 months.

I’ve killed it, finally.  This was expected, so it’s no big deal.  But today I plugged it into my docking station here at work and it’s decided that it can’t recognize my external display’s native resolution (I’ll post about that too, someone else has had this problem).  The difference between 1600 x 1200 and 1650 x 1280 doesn’t seem like a lot, but looking at any display in a non-native resolution is like listening to a symphony with the strings section muted 50%… it drives me nuts.  I reapplied the fix that made this problem go away 8 months ago, no dice.  One of the other devices I’ve installed (the webcam, the wireless mouse, the printer, some native fujitsu driver, whatever) is futzing something up.  That’s more or less normal for a Windows box that’s about a year old, anyway.

So, I have to take off an nuke the entire site from orbit.  It’s long overdue.  It’s going to drive me to make a couple of changes in how I use my computer on a daily basis, instead of doing things halfway between how I used to do them and how I do them now.  I’ll finally be using 80% of the tablet’s functionality.  I’ll actually post a bit about the machine, in hopes that any gentle readers might learn something interesting.

Now if I can just find the installation disk…

Posted July 24, 2008 by padraic2112 in hardware, software, tech, Windows, work

Let there be music, Part I   Leave a comment

Busy copying my 700ish albums’ worth of music files from a portable drive to the new desktop, and since I haven’t posted in a while, I thought I’d take inspiration from this activity to write a bit.  The fun part will be part II.  Here’s the boring part:

I loathe almost every popular music player available for the Windows operating system.  Windows Media Player and iTunes both suffer from gargantuan bloat, due to the DRM underpinnings that Microsoft and Apple have shoved into the software so that large media corporations will feel comfortable about distributing their content digitally.

WinAmp used to be my player of choice; they’ve added video file playback since its inception and also glogged a chunk of additional unwanted unnecessary services into the player, most of which are intended to provide some sort of revenue stream to the project.

By itself, I can’t argue so much with that.  I like to see community developers get some sort of reward for their work, and it’s certainly not a zero-cost operation to develop and distribute a media player.  On the other hand, I just want to play some music, damn it.

Currently, I’ve settled on FooBar as a recommended player.  It’s on my laptop.  It’s lightweight, and does a particular job (play music) pretty well.  It doesn’t do much else, but for the time being I’m content.  Jack still likes the visualizations from WinAmp, so it’s on the desktop machine for when he’s sitting in the office.

Posted April 19, 2008 by padraic2112 in software, Windows

Wow, that’s one big honkin’ drive   1 comment

Someone came to visit this post on the blog yesterday from a search result.  By itself, that’s no surprise, that post represents about 57% of my visits.  What’s astounding to me is the terms used in the search:

 12 tb partition for vista

A 12 terabyte partition?  For a Vista machine?  Good God, my worst imaginings are coming true quicker than I realized.  To whoever you are, should you come to visit the blog again, I plead to you, as a IT professional and geek, don’t put a 12 TB partition on a workstation operating system.

Posted November 19, 2007 by padraic2112 in hardware, software, tech, Windows

Random Googling   3 comments

My wife was recently googling people near and dear and found out that apparently I’m quotable.  Dig me, I’m a source!  Speaking out against the Collective, no less.

Posted November 14, 2007 by padraic2112 in noise, OS, tech, web sites, Windows

X on Windows   Leave a comment

Found this via CD-Man’s blog.

One of my complaints about Cygwin (alluded to earlier) is that their X-windowing system is rather… ugh, and old. I’ve been using X-win (campus site license) on my own machine, but Xming is free and open source and tied closely to Xorg. Their development lifecycle appears to be maintaining well.

Posted October 19, 2007 by padraic2112 in software, tech, Windows

Bad Security 201 – Dual Boot   Leave a comment

Dual Booting is bad. If you do it on the public internet, you’re a bad sysadmin. No biscuit. No excuses.

I get a lot of traffic (almost 2/3 of the visits to the site) on my post about Fat and Vista. Most of these visitors are looking to hook up some ginormous external hard drive to their Xbox and their PC, but some significant portion of those people who are visiting are looking for file systems that can work with any OS. They want to run Windows and Linux, or Mac OSX and Windows, or they’re straight crazy and they want to run FreeBSD, Windows, and Mac OSX (you know who you are).

Don’t dual boot. Really. Don’t do it. It’s just a bad idea.

Yes, I know. You’re a Linux user, but one of your favorite games doesn’t run under WINE. Or you’re a Windows user, but at heart you’re a command-line junkie. You’re just so used to some tool or set of tools that works much better under Xorg than under the Windows GUI. You don’t like Cygwin (I don’t blame you, I think Cygwin is horrid too, but that’s a topic for another day).

Here’s the thing: if you’re running the Windows operating system, and you’re connecting to the Internet, you either observe Patch Tuesday or you are going to be excommunicated. And by excommunicated, I mean your machine is going to become one of the zombie hordes, and when you die and go to the Pearly Gates, St. Peter is going to hand you a print copy of every spam your machine ever sent out and make you eat it before you get through the doors.

Dual boot machines don’t get patched. You can promise yourself that you’ll be good, and that you won’t click on “install later”. You can promise yourself that you’ll *always* patch your machine before you do anything with it. You’re kidding yourself.

If you’re stuck with one set of hardware and an absolute need to run more than one operating system*,you need to virtualize. Virtual machines (whether they be VMware or Parallels) run inside your parent OS. They’re not immediately exposed to the big bad Internet. Plus, they force you to have some sort of data discipline. You can keep a virgin copy of your VM around and throw away your working copy if it gets hacked. Not too much fuss, very little muss.

* Come on, you can buy a decent computer for $400 nowadays. Are you *really* stuck with one set of hardware?

Posted October 16, 2007 by padraic2112 in freebsd, linux, mac osX, OS, security, software, tech, Windows

All Your Updates Are Belong to Us   Leave a comment

This story has some pretty scary implications given the trusted insider problem.

From the InformationWeek post:

Windows Update does not automatically update itself if automatic updates are turned off, according to Microsoft’s Clinton. However, Windows Secrets reports that it found the updates downloaded and installed even under those circumstances. Even Microsoft’s own reports appear to be inconsistent: Windows program manager Nick White writes on his blog that “self-updating is done regardless of whether the user has enabled automatic checking, download and/or installation of updates.”

I can verify that these updates are installed automatically, and silently, if you have automatic updates enabled.

Aside from the obvious ethical implications here, this is a potentially heart-stopping nightmare of a back door.

Posted September 19, 2007 by padraic2112 in OS, security, software, tech, Windows

Windows Vista Fat16/32 Support   40 comments

(edited 07-Sep-2007)

This post needs a cleanup, as I’ve committed the journalism sin of burying the lede.

For those new arrivals, here is a summary:

If you are attempting to format (either an internal or external device) with a fat32 or fat16 partition using Windows Vista, the built-in tools limit you to partitions <= 32 GB in size.

If you have a device that is bigger than 32GB, you have the following options:

  • Using the Logical Disk Manager, break the device into several different partitions < 32GB in size and format them independently (obviously suboptimal)
  • Download a copy of Fat32Format, which will replace the existing format utility built-in to Windows Vista.  Disclaimer -> I know nothing about the author of this software, and therefore cannot vouch for it, but many visitors to the blog have reported success.
  • Purchase and install Acronis Disk Doctor, which works in Vista.  This is not free, but has some nice additional functionality.
  • Download a Knoppix ISO image, burn it to CD, and boot into the Linux OS.  Linux file manager tools will enable you to format any disk <8 TB with Fat32.  I don’t recommend this either, unless you know what you’re doing.

To make a long story short, if you want a free solution and you’re not a power user, try the Fat32Format solution.  If you want a free solution and you’re already familiar with Linux, use the Knoppix solution.  If you don’t mind spending  a little money, buy Acronis.

— original post —

If you’re using Vista, here’s a gotcha.

In spite of this knowledge base article, and contrary to what it says on this Vista page, it appears impossible to format a Fat16/32 partition using Vista native GUI tools.

EDIT (25-Apr-07) : This applies to partitions larger than 32 GB in size. The GUI tools will support formatting partitions smaller than 32 GB in size. This is apparently by design. Although the maximum size of a Fat32 partition is ~8 TB, Windows formatting tools will not format large partitions.

The “right-click and choose format” instructions only give the option to format with NTFS, in spite of that second page.

Fdisk is no longer included in the OS. Format is still included, but you cannot run the format <drive> /fs:fat32 command at the command line using an account with Administrator privileges, you need to run it in elevated mode. More on that in at the bottom. Trying to format the disk using the Computer Management MMC doesn’t provide you with the option to choose anything but NTFS.

This workaround (which was required on the XP 64bit Itanium) doesn’t work, either.

People with dual boot machines, or people who use flash memory cards (say, for a digital camera?) are going to have problems. If I connect my digital camera via USB, it shows up as a drive. If I’m thinking about cleaning out all the pictures on my camera, I may choose to format the card, instead of deleting all the files. Well, your digital camera won’t read an NTFS partition, so if you format your card… you’re going to have to refer to my last post, or buy partition magic, or re-enable the Administrator account (which is disabled by default during the installation process, or run the command prompt in elevated mode.

** Update 09-Apr-2007 **

Apparently now that Vista is getting some penetration into the marketplace, some people are noticing this. From my stats page today, people have found this post by the following searches:

  • format FAT32 in windows vista
  • format to fat16 in vista
  • vista format drive fat32
  • fat16 formatter windows

Welcome, gentle reader(s)!

** Update 11-Apr-2007 **

5 more visits (10 & 11 Apr 2007) to the blog from searches containing FAT, Vista, and format. Looks like more and more people are starting to experience this problem…

** Update 16-Apr-2007 **

14 more visits in the last two days (15 & 16 Apr 2007).

** Update 16-Apr-2007 **Comments report Partition Magic 5 doesn’t run on Vista, which isn’t much of a suprise, as the current edition of Partition Magic is 8.0. However, Norton’s web site reports that PM 8 supports XP, 98, etc., but Vista is not listed.

** Update 25-Apr-2007 **

Still getting between 4-6 hits a day on this post. It’s currently the #1 response to a Google Blog Search for “format vista fat 16”.

According to their web site, Acronis Disk Director will run on Vista. I’ve just acquired a copy of Partition Magic 8, I’ll post results here when I get a chance.

** Running the Command Line in Elevated Mode **

See this blog page for a screen-shot description of running the command prompt as Administrator. When at the command prompt, in elevated mode, you can format using

format <drive>: /fs:fat32

Note, this limits you to a partition of 32 GB in size, for no real reason.

If you want to format a fat32 partition > 32GB, you need to use Ubuntu, Acronis, etc.

Posted April 5, 2007 by padraic2112 in OS, software, tech, Windows