Results tagged “Windows”

Yes, I know, Windows XP is already almost at the end of its life and there isn't much more to add to it. But since I got a new notebook at work to try out and I'm currently in the process of fitting it to my needs, which also involves installing an alternate shell, I'm writing down a small finding for which I found no additional information on the rest of the internet.

The behavior of the "/e" parameter for the Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) has changed between Service Pack 2 and Service Pack 3. This change only has an effect, if there is an alternate Windows shell active. Until SP2 if there is no explorer.exe process running, a call to "explorer.exe /e" starts the shell and tries to open the folder "/e" which obviously leads to an error (and a started Windows shell). If there IS a running "explorer.exe" process found, a call to "explorer.exe /e" opens the file manager window. With SP3 the "/e" is interpreted in a consistent manner and the explorer starts in the File Manager mode regardless if there is already an "explorer.exe" running or not.

So if you're running an alternate shell, want to wire the Windows+E keyboard shortcut to the file manager (or file explorer) using "explorer.exe /e" and experience the Windows Shell starting over your shell with an error, make sure that you install the Service Pack 3 (which you should anyway, regardless of your shell).

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There hasn't been much of change lately as I'm still busy with getting my ankle healed (it doesn't hurt anymore if I don't tilt the foot unnaturally) and trying to get the schedules and work done for university.

So as a small ping again I'd like to re-blog something which has improved the work with my laptop in the past few days. To be exact, this blog posting gave me the hint that almost all Synaptics-Touchpads used in laptops can be upgraded to recognize multitouch gestures. So it's possible now, as on Macs, to tap two fingers onto the touchpad and automatically engage scrolling mode.

Everything which is needed is to install this updated Synaptics driver for Windows XP (this one for Windows Vista/7) and enable the paging with two fingers in the driver settings.

If you want to know more about the possible actions with the new multitouch (like ChiralScroll), have a look at to the Synaptics gesture descriptions.

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Yesterday noon the girlfriend of my brother called me on my mobile phone telling me that her laptop computer died. At first I thought, it would be no big problem. Plug in a Windows CD and run a repair phase on the computer should be the last thing to do to bring it back to working condition. Oh boy, how I underestimated the problem...

Quite soon after I had my first looks into the issue, apparently some broken driver file which is loaded about two seconds after the Windows startup screen and caused the laptop to reboot over and over, the first signs of the complexity of the problem became visible. When all my previous tries failed and I wanted to start a Windows-CD repair it didn't find any harddisks to repair. It has never happened to me before that Windows was unable to locate the harddisks, so I've been very puzzled.

When I booted a Linux-Live-CD the harddisk was visible and the NTFS-filesystem was accessible, so there was no problem on this side of the issue. It took me several attempts and investigation on the internet to finally realize, that it was the SATA-controller of this laptop which is not supported by Windows versions until Vista. And without access to the disk from windows, I couldn't chkdsk it, install a new copy of windows or do something else from a Windows-like environment.

I tried a lot of different aproaches after this point. Loading additional drivers during Windows CD startup, live-CD with BartPE builder, live-CD with UBCD4CD, both with and without XP SP3 slipstreamed, with and without included SATA/RAID and network drivers... Without success, the disk refused to be accessible from Windows. It became quite late in the evening and I decided to continue today.

After some thinking and checking back with her brother I suggested to her this afternoon to try a switchover to Linux, where there were no problems with missing drivers for hardware components. I expected to have to do some convincing but to the contrary, she immediately agreed and wanted to switch over. She was already working with a lot of Linux-ready software (Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, ...) so a switchover would not be such a big change. She's been very curious of trying to work with Linux and this seemed to be an ideal opportunity.

Well. And that's what we did this evening. Following the backup of the data with a live-CD I installed an Ubuntu 9.04 linux. It went without any issues worth to mention and now the laptop is linuxified and ready again to be used. Setup of Printer and WLAN were the larger ones but these did not stay for long.

The next steps will be to install the remaining applications, copy over the individual settings (eg. Firefox favourites) from the backup and setting up Wine for those applications which have no linux-counterpart. I don't expect any serious obstacles there anymore.

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