Vista Networking – Hell on Earth

As I have a perfectly functioning set of computers at home (running XP, Ubuntu, SuSE and PCLinuxOS) who all network quite nicely and share files as you would expect. This meant, I had thought the move to Vista was in the dim and distant future.

However, a few weeks ago my laptop underwent some toddler-inspired “maintenance” and I was forced to buy a new one. All the available laptops came with Vista pre-installed so my choices were limited.

Now, over all the laptop is fantastic – new technology items are always nice to play with. It is fast (an order of magnitude faster than the 3 year old one it replaced!), it is user friendly and, for most tasks, Vista is quite usable.

I say most tasks.

One of the critical things this laptop is required to do is to be able to access the network where the rest of the PCs share files. Without this it is, largely, pointless. Sadly, vista stubbornly refuses to connect to any other computer on the network and refuses to share its own files. The hand-holding interface of vista makes trying to trouble shoot interminably difficult (I have the Windows Vista Home Premium version), and it manages to hide pretty much all the functions underneath many, many layers of “wizard” interfaces. It is, in short, a nightmare.

After a week of trying, I can now get the Vista laptop to “see” the XP machines when it draws the network map (although this involved finding and installing updates on the XP machines) but every time I try to map a network drive or connect to the networked printer, Vista decides it can no longer see any other machines on the network. It is hellish. Without being able to access the shares, the Vista laptop is largely pointless. It may end up getting hit with a sledge hammer simply to relieve frustration.

I am somewhat bemused by the way the new OS from MS is so incompatible with previous ones that you need to add a hotfix to the older machines to let Vista talk to them, but I suspect MS has its reasons.

If you are thinking of “upgrading” your MS Windows XP (or older) machines, then I STRONGLY suggest you upgrade to a better OS like Linux or even (shock, horror) Mac OS X. If you want to go for Linux, then certainly consider PCLinuxOS as it is very easy to use, offers all the benefits of Vista with none of the problems. If you go for Vista then it will cost you money and you will need to learn a new user interface – if you want to do that, go the whole hog and Linux yourself. (Hell, I’d even say go for Solaris and I’ve had many a problem with that in the past)

I really, really hate vista. [tags]Technology, Windows, Vista, XP, Operating Systems, OS, Linux, Mac, PCLinuxOS, Networking, Protocols, Microsoft, MS, Ubuntu, SuSE, Solaris, Rant[/tags]

Interesting Links

It has been a while since I posted some interesting links, so here goes: – visual representation of how the size of the Earth relates to other structures in the universe. The last image shows just how small the things we think are large, really are. – summary of why Linux is better than windows, as if people needed telling 🙂 – how to boot and run linux from a USB drive. – from “Appeals Court Rules Cops Can Steal Cars and Lie to Victims To Conduct a Warrantless Search” – image of the M42 Nebula in Orion. – information about the worlds religions, surprisingly detailed from what I have read so far and (also so far) does not call Atheism a religion 😀 . – “Banned and Challenged Books” – while interesting in that it shows what books have been “challenged” in the past, it also shows what wingnuts think they can get away with. Is 1984 pro-communist for example? – “How to Detect Lies,” another one of those sites which have a little knowledge on a subject. This is one of the better ones, but it is still for entertainment purposes only. Do not rely on any conclusions you draw using the information here.

[tags]Science, Astronomy, Cosmology, Linux, Windows, Technology, Links,Law, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Orion, Nebula, Religion, Books, Body Language, Interrogation, Interview, Philosophy, Culture, Beliefs[/tags]

Themes and Upgrades

Well, it seems my hopes that the last theme I tried out would be the “be all and end all” theme for the blog were dashed against the rocks of reality.

It seems that something on the theme “Cleaker 2.1” was quite badly broken when viewed in IE6. This is a big shame because I really did like that theme. However, more than 35% of the hits this site gets are from IE6 (with almost another 5% coming from IE versions older than 6), so this is not a problem we can ignore.

Screenshot Showing the Site ThemeThere is now a new theme (minor additional changes may have taken place) and the image you see here shows how it is expected to look. If you are seeing something radically different from this can you please let us know?

Although I am not as enamoured with this theme as I was the previous one, it appears to work even in old versions of IE so it may be kept for a while.

This leads me on to another, important (to me) issue. If you are using IE 6 or older – UPGRADE! Please, for the love of Tim Berners Lee get a more modern browser. I am loathe to say IE7, but it is better than IE6. For the 0.4% of you who insist on using IE 4 or older, you really are missing out a lot of what the internet has to offer. I mean, people talk about Web 2.0 and there are still around 5 people a day who come here using Web 0.1beta browsers…

Download FireFox, Opera, Mozilla, SeaMonkey or even (gasp) IE7. They are all free!

Well, at least I have got that of my chest.

(p.s. before any Apple / Linux / BSD etc people pipe up – Windows accounts for over 75% of the traffic to this site)

Linux Annoyances

Not much online time today, sorry. I am fighting a (losing) battle with my technology.

I have spent most of today trying to set up my main PC as a dual boot Linux/windows box using openSUSE 10.2 (64 bit) and Windows XPSP2.

Sadly, I have been far from successful.

The problems began with Partition Magic. The PC I have came with WinXP installed on its 180gb HDD. As I had around 100gb free space, I thought putting 20 gig aside for Linux would be next to no problems. I ran diskeeper and checkdisk to make sure everything was fine (it was) then I rank Partition Magic to resize the disk – I planned to make a 1gig swap file and about 14 gig for the linux install.

Sadly, each and every time Partition Magic rebooted (claiming it was going to resize the partitions) it came up with “Error 1513 Bad Attribute Position in File Record” and suggested I looked at the help files. I honestly spent over an hour doing this (reboot, choose partition sizes, restart, get error message, check help files, find nothing, reboot, choose partition sizes…. etc). Nothing I could find in the help files was any use.

Eventually I cracked and went to a web search engine (why didn’t I do this the first time!) and found out my Partition Magic 8 needed an upgrade to 8.01 and then a patch applied. Isn’t software great?

This done, everything went fine. The install interface for openSUSE is easy to use and easy to understand. I did spend about an hour choosing which packages I wanted but that was just because I’d become a kid in a sweet shop at that point. In the end I settled for Gnome and about 4gb of software. Linux is fantastic.

The install went smoothly…right up to the point at which it needed to connect to the Internet. It found my Belkin USB WLAN adaptor and identified it perfectly. It even found the SSID of the network. When trying to connect it (as it should) asked for the WEP key, so I entered it. After what felt like a week, it came up asking for the key again, so I entered it again. This happened five times before the computer gave up and I had to restart the network connection.

After two hours of trying different things (converting the key from HEX to ASCII etc), I had pretty much exhausted everything I could think off. I have been back to windows to check the settings (they are fine) and I have tried the USB device on other linux machines (although it was an Ubuntu machine) and it works fine. Nothing I seem to be able to do will make my openSUSE installation connect to the wireless router. I have hit a complete brick wall now and I am fed up of entering 26 hex characters every ten minutes so I have given up and come back to windows (yes, sad, I know).

I will try a brief google search to see if I can find the answer, but to be honest I dont know if I can be bothered any more. There is more to life than spending almost an entire working day trying to make software do what I want it to do. The idea is that computers (etc) make our lives easier and less stressfull. If people are writing such bad code that I have to give up all my spare time to get their software to work, I am not really interested. The same applies to Symantec and their fundamentally broken Partition Magic.

I love linux. I have two linux machines running fine here (one openSUSE 10.1 [32bit] and one Ubuntu). I used to love openSUSE and hate Ubuntu. Times may be changing.

If any one has had similar problems, or knows and answer, please let me know!

[tags]Technology, Linux, Windows, Software, Operating System, Wireless, Networking, Rants, openSUSE, Ubuntu, Belkin, Netgear, Partition Magic, Error Messages, Symantec[/tags]