Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2 Reviewed

Alright, I finished my testing of Windows Vista Beta a few days ago, and I can summerize the newest version of Vista in one word, “HORRIBLE!” And for those who like the gory details, the review the Windows Beta here.

Well, I’m gonna review step by step.


Well, I liked that the GUI installation system was restored, but I do not like that there are no choices on what to install. And, this system was a clean one, it became slower than Windows 98SE during installation routine of Vista! Why does it need all the special stuff during install? I would settle for Winodws 2000 backend during the installation process, since that is more efficient. Also, Windows Vista installation was rather skimpy on the details, even in expert mode. And the installation totally destroyed the LVM used to maintain my Linux OS, Fedora Core. Fortunately, I repaired it and imaged the bootloader from Vista into GRUB to chainload. Also, it should definitely recognize at least ext3 and LVMs, since they are talking about interoperability, it should have basic Linux FS support. Pretty much the rest of it was fine.

First Boot

The first loading of Windows Vista was pretty good, although why have all the special effects ENABLED during this period? I would think that it should be enabled after that, since typically the first boot is the slowest period that the OS is ever in.

Normal Operation

I like the new style, and I have to admit, I was getting sick of the Start button. I like that its simpler and uses the Windows Logo only on the app menu button. The search feature is good, but i would like a XP mode available as well for the start menu, simply because i install LOTS of programs, and it would take a while to search through all of it. It is snappy in Aero Basic, but Aero Glass is pathetic. Microsoft, the system’s WVDDM was introduced FOR THIS?!?!? This is crap compared to compiz on AIGLX in Fedora Core! And Fedora Core does not even require much modification to the drivers to work! Also, it is too slow to be useful, unlike compiz, which utilizes mesa’s 3D pretty efficiently. Aero Basic is UGLY! I switched to it for a bit, just to see if it was any good, and boy was it UGLY! I cannot describe how UGLY it is. Even Clearlooks1 on FC4 looks better than this! And that is saying something! Microsoft, you need to learn from the Fedora Project. They do a lot of things the RIGHT WAY.

Driver Installation

Of course, there is the sound driver bit. For some reason, it refuses to autodetect my extremely common Intel i945 sound chip. Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Red Hat Linux 8 have all identified it, but for some reason, Vista refuses to. I had to go through a lot of work to override the PnP system and force it to let me define driver settings manually. I even grabbed the NT4 services control panel and used it to temporarily shut down the PnP system, because I could not find it in Vista Services Manager. After that, it was a piece of cake to set up sound and various other devices. However, PnP does not go down without a fight. As soon as I restarted, my settings were ignored, and all of a sudden, sound did not work again! It activated PnP on all configured devices and requested the drivers. I had to “reinstall” my drivers, and then it rebooted once for each device! Ugh, that was painfully slow experience.

Program Installation

Most of my applications that I used in Windows are DVD burning, OpenOffice, etc. Well, software for hardware obviously did not work. However, software that links into the system to do stuff such as play DVDs, movies, mp3s, TV, etc. will be getting the “unDRMed” monitor problem. The video quality is horrible on my monitor, simply because of the DRM in the video machanisms… However, I borrowed a monitor from a friend that has an identical monitor except for the DRM, and it played very well. Digital Restrictions Management in MONITORS is rediculous. And DRM is starting to hurt the customer’s pockets too… Since these monitors with DRM in them are very expensive, this is more like a global scandal. And one of my favorite apps, Cygwin, does not seem to work on it, which is a shame. Cygwin is much better than Services for UNIX in Vista Ultimate, and it is opensource.

Tweaking and Extra stuff

I guess because it is beta, virtually no tweaking tools exist yet, so that is a good (bad?) thing. Ultimate Extras is missing though, and I think it is stupid that it was not included in the beta. Perhaps the release candidate….


Vista sucks as a development platform, and for a end-user platform, it will reduce productivity with how slow it is. Even MESA with an graphics card with little 3D support performs better than Vista with full 3D support in hardware. I think I will stick to Windows XP for my site development for IIS. And I definitely use Fedora Core for my 3D accelerated user platform most of the time. When Microsoft gets the picture and actually does some interoperability stuff, I may consider it….

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Busy with Betas!

Still not updating as frequently as I would like to, but I have been extremely busy!

I downloaded the Microsoft Office System 2007 Professional Plus and I plan to try it out along with my copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Beta 2! I haven’t been working on the Code::Blocks installer anymore, since the script is finished and I am just waiting for Code::Blocks 1.0rc3 to come out. Since it is the summer, I have plenty of time! I also ordered a lot of Ubuntu Dapper Drake CDs. I expect them to arrive in July though… I have also tried the “beta-quality” AIGLX in Fedora Core 5, which isn’t too bad, but still needs more special effects… I also noticed that after I installed AIGLX, the custom Fedora Core 5 splash locked login screen is gone, and in its place is the standard GNOME locked login screen.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Missing me?

I know that I have not been updating this blog in a while, but I have been REALLY busy lately... I have also done some other work in my free time... I have developed an NSIS replacement to the Opera classic installer, but I gave up on developing that since I figured that Opera Desktop Team will not accept it now... I created a new NSIS installer for the Code::Blocks project, but it is still under HEAVY debugging and development! I hope for people to test it out, so that I can get feedback to fix problems with new prototype script I am using... When my script is fully finalized and as bugfree as I can get it, I will submit my script to the Code::Blocks project and hope it gets accepted! The nice thing about this script is that it is modular, and allows it to easily add webdownload features such as automatically updating MinGW! I plan on improving my NSIS scripting skills and build new, more complex scripts for more Open Source projects... 

EDIT: script was never accepted, C::B installer script development dead

I also helped someone develop a website... It is called RGW-Net... It has a small forum for Red Hat Linux 7.x, 8.0, and 9 releases... I hope to make some ISO files containing repository metadata for yum and apt for Red Hat Linux 9 so that older systems can be kept "up2date" without that nasty RHN system... I hope to post more later!

EDIT: RGW-Net has been dead for a year now.....

Monday, February 27, 2006

Google Got Me!

I just did my weekly check of Google search to see if I have been indexed by Google, and it turns out that this week is the week that Google has indexed my site! Now I will get lots of visitors! Hopefully this blog will continue for a while.... I hope to review Vista Feb. 2006 CTP if I would get an invite from Microsoft.... I already submitted to Microsoft's Betaplace, and I wish they would tell me if I am rejected or accepted.... I like doing all sorts of stuff with Windows, and hopefully Sonic the Hedgehog CD (one of my favorite games) will work on Windows Vista... I know that it is not very likely.... But let me dream....

Monday, February 20, 2006

Feeds are up!

I have made my feeds available to everyone! For those unfortunate enough to use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and below, my web-based feed is sufficient unless you have a feed reader... If you have a feed reader, then you can use my new feeds... Firefox shows a feed icon in the browser, IE7 displays it in the bottom left corner.... The icon for my feed is this:
This icon is noticable and shows people that my feed is available (for those who do not see their respective notifications) and is usable in any form, as long as the reader is Atom XML compliant....
To have your choice of news readers, click on my web based feed link, which will show you some readers compatible with my feed.. I highly suggest you look there before trying to use it with your reader, unless you are using Mozilla Firefox, which works perfectly with the feed.... Just click on the feed icon in the address bar to add a Live Bookmark in Mozilla Firefox...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Making Installation Programs in Windows

Many of you know that Windows Installer is the preferred method of distributing software, according to Microsoft. However, Windows Installer has the serious flaw of requiring the OS to support the Windows Installer Runtime. This can be a problem on older operating systems, such as Windows 95 Gold and Windows NT SP0-SP3. Making new versions of Windows Installer has caused a bigger problem. Windows Installer 2.0 runs only on Windows 98, Windows NT SP6a, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Windows Installer 3.1 only runs on Windows XP SP2. Windows Installer 4.0 is currently planned to only be released to Vista because it has Vista-specific features in it, however all packages written for 4.0 automatically backport to 2.0 and 3.1.

This system is similar to the .NET framework, but that is in reverse. Anything written for .NET Framework 1.0 works on all versions, while those written for .NET Framework 1.1 only work on 1.1 and 2.0, and finally, those written for 2.0 work only on 2.0. For .NET Framework, nothing is wrong, because most libraries needed to allow programs to function can be redistributed individually, without failure or royalties. But, Windows Installer is a more difficult problem. If your program is designed to work on all Win32 systems, then you cannot use Windows Installer. You could use something such as Inno Setup or Nullsoft Scriptable Install System. Both are very good, but I believe that NSIS is much more versatile and expandable, due to its widespread support and many various plugins to make it more professional. The only thing NSIS is missing is Visual Studio plugins. 

At least for VS6 it would be good, since the InstallShield for VC++6 is very bad. Also, many installers that I built with that version of InstallShield do not work on XP due to the old structure of the installer. If you do not want to shell out $300+ for a good installer with universal support and still have a professional look, I recommend three things in combination: NSIS, HM NIS Edit, and ExperienceUI SDK. All three together allow you to build installers that look as good as the latest InstallShield installers, but with smaller overhead and much more flexibility. I see more good coming from open-source each day. NSIS is currently at 2.14 release, HM NIS Edit is at 2.0.3, and ExperienceUI SDK is at 1.1 release. The major advances in all three make things easier for the lower budgeted programmers to make nice installers for their projects. 

I think that Inno Setup should get its fair end of praise. Inno Setup is designed to be very similar in style to InstallShield, and does a good job of it. I am not sure if NSIS has a silent mode, but Inno Setup's ability to go silent install is very useful for automated runtime installs, making it as good as an automated Windows Installer installation. Inno Setup already has 64-bit installations, while most others do not yet have this capability. 

InstallShield has one advantage that would make someone who needs this feature to shell out for it: The ability to make cross-platform installers. InstallShield can make RPMs for Linux apps and binary installers for Windows, MSI files for Windows Installer, and more. That would be the only reason I would shell out for it, if I had a program developed cross platform and need easy installer development. However, recently I came across another installer: InstallerBuilder Enterprise... This version does the one thing that would have tied me to InstallShield, albeit I really do not have anything of the sort...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview

Most of you are aware that Internet Explorer, the world's most popular and insecure browser is getting a huge makeover with IE7. Also, you may know that IE7 was only available to developers with TechNet or MSDN subscriptions, along with Microsoft Windows Vista CTPs. Well, that changed on January 31, when the IE Team decided to release the Internet Explorer Beta 2 Preview. Well, I tested the program and I am happy to say that the program has finally been separated from the OS, however, the engine is not. What this means is that the program has no access to local hard drive, but through some strange DLL file coding, it is still the explorer shell by means of a "classic mode" that keeps the exact look and styles of the older IE6. It also means the older engine is most likely used. Of course, to most people, it looks as if the program was not separated from the shell at all.... It is kind of true, yet it is not. But, it is as close as you will get to splitting IE from Windows until someone comes up with something for Vista, which from what I have seen requires IE for much more than any other OS I have seen, of course, that is M$ trend...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Beginning Blog o' Tech

I finally decided to join the blogging world and just talk about various tidbits on technology. As everyone knows, Weblogs (blogs) are places where people freely discuss ideas, thoughts, news, etc. and see how people respond... Blogs can be made by anyone and commented on by anyone... It is another form of free expression on the internet... I believe blogs are a great way to allow the freedom of expression to spread! What do you think?

P.S. This is why Google.CN does not have a blogsearch