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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Windows 7 reaches Release to Manufacturer (RTM) status

Information coming from windowsteamblog.com, a site that  takes forever to load on my browser, has it that Windows 7 (Microsoft’s newest OS) has reached the release to manufacturing status. That said, this would mean that Windows 7 (build 7600) is close to reaching the shelves where it is expected to sell on the 22nd of October this year.

I don’t know if I can consider myself lucky for the chance to test drive Windows 7. The humble me tells that there is little to be excited about Windows 7 (that is my own opinion). I don’t find it revolutionary. I don’t also expect myself to rip off my Ubuntu Jaunty just for Windows 7. Besides Ubuntu is free. Pity the poor IT guy. Thanks Ubuntu for giving me the desktop version via download and for shipping me a copy of the Server Edition for free. And… thank you so much for continuously updating my Ubuntu without asking me a dime.

For a quick look on Windows 7 features check here. You have my word, this one loads faster than the windows team blog which takes 7 years to load on Firefox, haven’t tried Internet Explorer 8 though.

Many are calling Windows 7 as the real Service Pack of Vista, I seem to agree on this. Really, it does feel like you are on Vista when you are inside Windows 7. It had taken me long before I switched to Vista. I hanged on to old Windows XP for quite a long time. I was so pissed off with Vista before but with the release of Service Packs 1 and 2, I finally used it. That is where Microsoft is good, Service Packs. It’s has been always their natural trend. They release an OS that is buggy at first then they follow-up with Service Packs until it becomes stable. I assume the curve will be the same, hardware and third-party software vendors will catch up a bit later than Seven’s release, so if you buy the new OS immediately chances are some of your PC‘s hardware and your favorite software are not yet supported. The better way, if you want Seven like falling for your high school or college crush is to wait for it  to mature a little, that way you two can get together well. So, be patient and wait.

I am not a hater of Windows, not a lover either. As a matter of fact, it is the platform that I am using now while writing this article. I expect new PCs will ship with Seven, more so with Notebooks and signature desktops, some people are saying (mostly Microsoft folks) that Seven is also good for touch capable/enabled devices and netbooks. This, by the way, was the thing Vista was never able to make, penetrate the netbook class computer. Well, let us see, I have not tried Seven on a netbook but I am equally excited as you are to see Seven doing well on a netbook.

For my closure, I would like to quote  a portion of the announcement:

Of course, today’s release is also the result of the amazing amount of feedback we received from the millions of people who tested Windows 7 – from Beta to RC. We actually had over 10 million people opt-in to the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). That’s a lot of people opting in to help us make Windows 7 a solid release. Through CEIP, our engineers were guided by customer feedback all the way to RTM. We also have had a great group of beta testers who have dedicated a great deal of their time to testing Windows 7 too. A special thank you goes out to all the people who helped test Windows 7.

My response is, Duh?

Thanks.

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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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Firefox v3.5.1Pre – startup bug update

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

First, I would like it to be noted that this bug does not exist in Linux, particularly on Ubuntu 9.04-Jaunty Jackalope (as discussed with AY -see comments at sidebar). This bug appear to affect Windows Operating Systems only (Vista and XP, don’t know if the older Windows OSs also have this issue).  The tests I have made on my Ubuntu proves that its not affected with this bug. Start-up speed was fast, amazingly faster than on my Vista box.

Workarounds, temporary fixes are currently circulated online (here, here and here), just to ease this problem a bit.

The bug has already been reported and tracked at bugzilla.mozilla.com with Bug 501605 as code (see here). Patch is already underway posted on the same bug report (see comment 131 at bugzilla), where there is also a try-out version of the software containing the patch — this patch is deemed to produce Firefox 3.5.1. If you are bold and daring enough, you may download the Firefox v3.5.1Pre from the download links page of this blog. Be sure to back up your profile, just to make sure everything is safe.

My experience with Firefox 3.5.1Pre? After downloading the zip file and extracting, I removed my Firefox v3.0.11 on my Vista. The download seems to be a portable version, you just extract and click firefox.exe and you’re up and running. My early observation is — it’s fast. The lag seems to have been fixed. I also have noticed that this try-out version is codenamed: Shiretoko. Sounds good for a patched try-out version that also works good. As I have said, if you are brave enough, try it out and see the difference. I think you’ll like it.

Additionally, let me post a quote from blurnot.blogspot.com saying,

A quick google will reveal you are not alone, Mozilla has acknowledged the flaw and hoping that their developer will be able to fix it. Ambiguity is not something that the end-users are looking forward to hearing. With the launch of Internet Explorer 8 and newer versions of the Chrome, Mozilla has got to fix its slow startup speed in Firefox 3.5 lest they lose their lead in the browser war.

I really hope that people won’t ditch Firefox 3.5 only for this problem. If this problem is wrecking your nerves, reverting back to Firefox 3.0.11 would be a welcome, short-term, bail-out solution (link added at download links page).

Stay tuned for more updates.

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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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Straightforward, free and easy back-up solution? Try GFI Home Edition

Ever wanting a back-up solution that brings you straight to where and what you really want to do? Enter, GFI Backup 2009 Home Edition. Best of all, its free. All you have do you is register from their website and head right to your very own copy of the application. The catch? None. Sounds very sweet. I find it a good alternative for my backups in Windows Vista. Grab your copy here.

GFI has produced a lot of softwares in the past. Some made it big in the market, mostly complementing Microsoft enterprise products. GFI Web Monitor, Languard, etc… and now they’d like to pamper us.
Tell me what you think about this or maybe there is something you can suggest.
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