Killing Microsoft System Configuration Utility (msconfig)

MSConfig
Image via Wikipedia

As I was fixing a computer lately, I was reminded of how other IT folks just love disabling msconfig in windows.

msconfig is a simple utility on our Windows OS that takes care of the startup process, available on Windows Xp and Vista (just type msconfig on run command bar in Xp or at Start Search box at the orb on Windows Vista). It’s part of Windows installation, no need to download or install it.

The power of msconfig lies on its capability to aid us in troubleshooting start-up issues and allow us to handle what applications should run and should not at boot time.

msconfig screenshot
Image by reyescarl via Flickr

The general tab (msconfig in Vista) gives us three options:

1. Normal Startup – all drivers and services are loaded, microsoft services and third-party services. This is the default.

2. Diagnostic Startup – load basic devices, drivers and services only. usually, those that are only needed to fire up your PC. Used when troubleshooting start-up issues.

3. Selective Startup – more specific choices what to load on boot up, you can load system services only, startup items only (those that you allow from the startup tab on msconfig), original boot configuration only, or all of three. also used when troubleshooting issues on boot up.

At this point, you might be starting to wonder, and may be asking, what about msconfig? why the hell should I care?

For one, there are lots of IT guys out there who love to disable this permanently as part of their fix. That is want I rant about. Some people love to disable msconfig to make the system run and feel faster, but that is thwarted, that is faking. When our OS lags, this might be a result of many reasons. One could be lack of resources, i.e. memory, disk space, processor, etc. Second reason could be you overstuffed your system with applications some of it you don’t even use. Why fake speed by disabling msconfig, just to let people believe the system is running faster.

Over the years of my IT experience, I had a lot about this scenario, end-users complaining because their software or Operating Systems are not running as it should only to find out that the technician they hired disabled msconfig. How amateur that is.

My opinion is, if you do want your OS to run smooth, pack in more hardware resources, increase the memory, if you have 512mb why not get 2gb, why not upgrade the processor? or the buy a faster running hard drive. or remove the softwares that you don’t use, I bet in every PC, there will be one or two softwares installed that are not in use.

The honest me tells that msconfig has many things to do and disabling it would cause more problems than solutions. In fact, it’s not a sound solution at all. I might accept the idea if you are troubleshooting or isolating startup problem, but you have to return it to its Normal state afterwards. Don’t disable it forever. If softwares are getting in the way during boot ups remove it or at least google your way to find a solution for the problem. Check for updates, find permanent solutions rather than kill msconfig. I am sure we can do better than killing the little app and consider the issue fixed. No. Unacceptable.

Want to figure out msconfig? check here.

Ciao!

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Sun Virtualbox – Commercial grade virtualization for free!

VMware Workstation  running Ubuntu, on Windows...
Image via Wikipedia

Virtualization, according to Wikipedia, is the abstraction of computer resources…

Okay cut it. Let us make it simple. Virtualization in simple terms is running another Operating System (OS) on top of your current OS. For an example, if you have Windows Vista, a virtualization software like Sun’s Virtualbox will allow another OS, say Ubuntu Linux to co-exist using resources such as disk space, memory, video as you like. Woot? How is that possible? Sun Virtualbox, Amigo. Of course, there is also wubi for Ubuntu or LiveCd but these are beyond our topic. For this article’s purpose we will only discuss Sun’s Virtualbox.

I find virtualization a clever idea. Who could have thought that we could run two Operating Systems (i.e. Vista and Ubuntu Linux) using the same resource, running at the same time! There are a lot of software packages out there that can do virtualization, most famous among which is VMware, but we will take up here Sun’s package, Virtualbox, Sun’s very own hypervisor, since we only like freeware. Why? It’s free, enough said (laughs). Virtualbox is a serious product, it sure does mean business. Coming from Sun Microsystem’s mouth, it is the only virtualization product that is at the same time professional, commercial-grade and open-source. On this, I couldn’t agree more, they’re right.

VirtualBox
Image via Wikipedia

Now let us get off the hook of being wordy, right away let us discuss the features:

  • Modularity. Natively Virtualbox dons a software design that is modular. If you are a developer that wants to tinker the software this one is for you. With the Software Development Kit that comes with the software, there is no need to hack the system, you can write your own interface on the fly. This feature also allows ease of control, you can start your virtual machine by Graphical User Interface (GUI) mode  or via Command-Line Interface (CLI), locally or remotely. Seems fun, right?
  • Virtual Machine descriptions via XML. Settings, configurations are stored on XML, independently. Ergo, we can port our XML configurations to new virtual machines, also… on the fly. Now this is getting more fun.
  • Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. Guest Additions is a special software that can be installed on the virtual machine to accommodate seamless integration with the host OS which includes mouse pointer and arbitrary screen resolutions. I told you, this is good.
  • Shared Folders. Additionally, hosts and guest may share directories as “shared folders”. Sharing can be accessed from the virtual machines.

More perks:

  • Virtual USB controllers/USB over RDP. Connect usb devices on the host and make it available to guest virtual machines.
  • Remote Desktop Protocol. As a Network Administrator, I like this feature so much. Ease of administration, I guess. Virtualbox sports the RDP feature, remote access is like heaven if you are an IT admin. This means that you don’t have to go physically to where your server or workstation is. Stay where you are, connect to the network and click your way to your virtual machine, simple and easy.

One real-life use of Virtualbox is optimization of servers. Gone are the days that you dedicate one service to one server, like running Active Directory (alone) on one server. Nowadays, where servers have become monster computers running one service would certainly mean that you are underestimating your machine. Try to optimize by using Virtualbox and adding more services. Server consolidation is one great thing Virtualbox can offer.

And, there you have it, Sun Virtualbox, commercial-grade, full-featured and free hypervisor solution. Honestly, there is no reason really why you should not try this software, after all it is free. If you want to know more about virtualization, head your way to this info at wikipedia.com.

As usual, thanks for reading.

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Microsoft VP fires back at Google on Chrome OS

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

While scavenging for some fresh information at Gizmodo.com (gadget blog), I found one very interesting post. It’s about Microsoft’s VP throwing out a statement over Google‘s recent announcement on Google Chrome OS Project.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Information coming from Gizmodo says:

Microsoft‘s Vice President of Developer and Platform Evangelism, Walid Abu-Hadba, explained in an interview what he thinks Google’s real motivation for creating the Chrome OS might be, and according to him, it’s not out of love for the consumer.Abu-Hadba’s statement that “Most of what Google does is defensive” isn’t actually the tech world’s most hypocritical statement (when was the last time Microsoft created something that wasn’t a version of an already-successful product?). He means that everything Google does is designed to keep their core business, search and advertising, growing and dominant. The impetus behind Chrome OS, according to him, isn’t to encourage simpler and easier computing, but weirdly enough, to distract other companies from attacking its own cash cow.

This is an interesting conversation because Microsoft has been doing just that, attacking Google’s core, with Bing—yet Abu-Habda doesn’t see Bing as a similar distraction to stop others from attacking Microsoft’s core business, Windows. So why is Microsoft allowed to venture into new-for-them waters with projects like Xbox, Zune, Silverlight, Bing and more, while Google is an inherently defensive company for announcing a ballsy new project of their own?

Microsoft might just be a bit nervous about Chrome OS, which we don’t think is really warranted at this point. Microsoft’s got an outrageously dominant OS marketshare, and seeing as how we know just about nothing about Chrome OS, it’s quite a bit soon to be launching attacks at a product that may well not be a competitor at all.

— material by Dan Nozowitz

Image representing Gizmodo as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

The battle is becoming more and more interesting. I am getting excited on what the future will bring. Keep posted.

– for this post, I would like to invoke the “Creative Commons License“. Direct link to the article is here.

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Boot loaders and EasyBCD v1.7.2

Tweaking boot loaders on our PCs is a real rare venture, really. Tinkering your boot loader is not a good idea, unless, however required you don’t have to do it. What I am after here is merely informational and to flash before you some ideas that we can use when confronted with unexpected events such as managing boot loaders. As always, I recommend twiddling PCs be done by those who know what they are doing (experts in computers, of course, not Love Gurus) and if you are planning to do the twiddling, then this would mean that you should start learning and become an expert yourself — with the twiddling or fiddling thing. As a descendant of the old-fashioned IT guys that came from Cybertron, I am a firm believer of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” idea. Just a little caveat there.

Touching the boot loader is not like installing Winrar or Winzip. The boot  loader is in charge of loading your operating system and at that it is very much critical to the operation of your PC. Before our favorite OSs can be loaded, it is the bootloader that does its job first so the OS can step in. Boot loaders are sometimes referred to as boot strap loader or bootstrap. This small program is most of the time unheard, meek and silent despite its huge importance. There are a lot of boot loaders that are on our PCs today.  There is GNU GRUB (i.e. Ubuntu), BOOTMGR, LILO and NTLDR (i.e. Windows Xp/Server 2003). If you have a dual-boot system (like Ubuntu and Windows Vista together) you will see the boot loader in action when you start-up your computer. Usually, when you arrive at the screen where options on what OS to load, Ubuntu or Vista  for example, are posted. You can expect boot loader tweaking if you are dual-booting, making some OS tests or debugging your OS kernel.

So why we need EasyBCD and what is it for? Allow me to show you why and for what.

Reason 1:  Just the simple task of displaying the content of your boot loader.

Reason 2: If you want to change your boot settings.

Reason 3: Add/Remove entries from your existing boot loader.

Reason 4:  Manage your boot loader with user selectable options.

Reason 5: In-buit boot loader diagnostics and boot loader recovery.

Reason 6: GUI-drivenboot loader management (Microsoft only provides the command-line bcdedit.exe tool only for bootloader management)

I have used EasyBCD on rare occasions, usually when I turn a little crazy and mess much around on my dual-boot PC configuration. Honestly, I was contented with what the software have allowed me see and do. I use a dual-boot WindowsVista Business and Ubuntu Jaunty on my Intel Centrino Vpro notebook. They seem to go together well. I am just starting to use Linux, a friend of mine tossed the idea to me. When I miss my next, next, finish life in Windows, I just switch right back. That is the beauty of dual-booting, like having two wives, one being virus-free but harder to handle, while other one beautiful and nice but faints in blue most of the time, bug-ridden and loves viruses more than me.

Try to read more on boot loaders, Wikipedia is one hot resource, actually you can go directly here.

EasyBCD comes from NeoSmart Technologies, they have been quite around for sometime and has been offering the software for free. I have added a download link of EasyBCD at the download page, if you want to try it, but please, be extra careful.

Thanks for reading. Your comments are most welcome.

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Google’s gonna make their own OS – Google Chrome OS

So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Announcement released last July 7, 2009 by the Official Google Blog Team

Yipee, we are about to see one of big Google’s project again, the Google Chrome OS. As mentioned by the team it’ll be an open-sauce, lightweight and targeted at netbooks. Well, my notebook can transform into a netbook anytime.

Google Chrome
Image via Wikipedia

My humble opinion really is, I am more into admiring Google on their adventures not because the company can be a daredevil at times but its relentless pursuit of squezzing out good products for free. Hell, that is very enticing for a poor IT guy like me. I will make a tail on this project. Slated for release on the second half of 2010, a lot of folks including me are eager to see what this project will produce. Keep it up Google.

Check the official announcement here.

—- info from The Official Google Blog

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VLC Media Player 1.0.0 released!

VLC media player
Image via Wikipedia

The venerable VLC Media Player finally reaches version 1.0.0.  VideoLAN is a free and open source multimedia player capable to crunch almost any media type, at the cost of nothing. It is a totally free software. The new version is also capable of acting as a server to stream media in unicast and multicast IPv4 and Ipv6 high-speed/hi-bandwith networks.

Its features, really, is a long list. Most notable among which is its wide support for video/audio formats and can also double as a media converter. The application also supports a lot of operating systems, from Windows, Linux, BeOS and a lot more. If you are looking for a multimedia player that can do many stunts, sure VLC is for you. Playing your CDs, DVDs and other media will be a breeze with VLC so grab your copy at their website after all it’s free. Just the way we like it.

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Firefox 3.5 glitch, slow at start-up.

Mozilla Firefox
Image via Wikipedia

If you installed the latest Firefox 3.5, you’ll notice that it’s consistently slow at start-up taking at least 10-15 seconds. I have looked for some solutions but I think I only have found what we call a  temporary fix. This issue has already been addressed by the Firefox team. As for myself, I have just reverted back to 3.11 both in Windows Vista and Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. I don’t want any of the hassle.

If you want to sneak into the current discussion about this issue, have a look at this link.

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