Tag Archives: drivers

Installed Vista SP1 – no problems

I installed Windows Vista Service Pack 1 this morning. It took about 45 minutes, two reboots, and afterward I had no problems. It never showed up in Windows Update for me so I used the standalone installer (linked to above), fully prepared to reinstall some drivers. But afterwards, no drivers seemed to have any problems–Device Manager didn’t show any issues. So all is well and good.

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How to solve severe driver problems in Windows

A colleague at work recently got a second video card–a bottom of the barrel (or close to it) nVidia MX 4000 (PCI). He had an existing AGP nVidia Vanta. Well…the installation did not go well. It did something to Windows so that it consistently blue-screened during the driver load process (the progress bar moving in the startup splash screen).

Windows would start in safe mode, but removing the non-working drivers for the new card did not work. Removing both drivers did not work. Choosing last-known good configuration got us up and running in Windows (finally), but with only the bare VGA driver. Installing a driver from either CD or nVidia’s site ended in the strange error “Access Denied.”

Then I remembered what I had read in Windows Internals about the location of driver configuration information in the registry.  Driver info is stored with service configuration in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services.

First we removed all hints of nVidia apps and videos drivers using Add/Remove Programs. Then we went into regedit, into the above key and deleted the keys “nv”, “nv4”, and “nvsvc” (I think they were those, but looking on my own machine at home, they’re a bit different, so I’m half-guessing). I’m sure there are similar keys for ATI chips.

In the meantime, we had found an unused AGP version of the MX 4000 just lying around (no joke), and replaced the Vanta with this. We reinstalled the drivers and everything worked great.


Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Linux Reality Check

Over at Slashdot, Fedora Project Leader Max Spevack responds to some frank question about the Fedora project.

He talks about a number of topics:

  1. Unified package managers across distros
  2. Propritetary drivers
  3. Differences in Linux over time
  4. Fedora’s biggest weakness
  5. Threat of Vista
  6. inclusion of NTFS driver in kernel
  7. Wacky package dependencies
  8. a few others…

What his article demontrates to me is that Linux is going through some growing pains and that the community is realizing the difficulties that Apple and Microsoft have already dealt with in their own ways.

For example,

I guess the “problem” with package managers is that they are so integral to the rest of a distro that it’s a major endeavor to switch them. One reason is that a switch of that kind would break the upgrade chain.

Welcome to the real world of computing. Upgrading, advancing, improving are all important issues for real users using their computers. The only reason we still use the x86 architecture is backward compatibility. The only reason Windows has universal marketshare is that it works with basically everything ever written.

Another fundamental issue:

In terms of getting people to use Linux instead of proprietary operating systems — I think that battle is best fought in the world of people who are new to computers. People will tend to be loyal to the first thing that *just works* and doesn’t cause them pain. Making that first experience for people a Linux one as opposed to a proprietary one — that’s the challenge.

How true. It’s been a while since I’ve installed Linux, but my memories of it were not all that pleasant. It worked well enough, I suppose, but it certainly isn’t as polished or streamlined as it should be. MS and Apple are still years ahead of Linux in this regard.


Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order: