Tag Archives: windows

Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron – First impressions

I’ve been following Ubuntu since it’s inception in 2005 with Warty Warthog which was labelled 4.10. Each year since then they’ve released two versions a year – one in April and one in October – and this is where the version number comes from. For example, the 8 in 8.04 is from the year 2008, and the 04 is the fourth month of the year.

Each release has been getting better, and especially the last version (7.10) which I thought was a definite contender. So Ubuntu 8.04 was released today and I’ve just finished ‘installing’ it and giving it a very quick test.

I put ‘installing’ in quotes, because if you’re running Windows, Ubuntu have created an impressive installation called Wubi. This allows you to install it on your Windows computer without having to make any changes to the disk partitions. They do this by creating a folder called Ubuntu on either your C or D drive and install all the necessary files in this folder. Then, with a simple modification to your boot options, when you first turn on your computer you can choose between Windows or Ubuntu. Here’s a screenshot of the Wubi installation manager:

Wubi installation manager

Once Wubi finished installing, I rebooted choosing the newly added Ubuntu option. Ubuntu loaded up quickly and I was presented with a login box. I had already set up the first user account in the Wubi installation manager as you can see in the installation window above. After logging, I was impressed to see that my screen resolution was set to the correct size, sound was working, and a network icon in the top menu bar indicated that there were available wireless networks available. I selected my wireless network, enter the secure key and connected successfully.

Wow.

What just happened there isn’t possible with any other operating system on my notebook. Not Windows XP, Vista or any other flavour of Linux that I’ve tested. The key hardware was detected automatically and I didn’t have to install any additional drivers or software to get up and running. That’s impressive – and all that without needing to repartition or reformat my disks.

So once again I’ve been impressed with Ubuntu, but there was one major problem – and this was a show-stopper for me. Ubuntu have always prided themselves on providing the absolute latest software and sometimes on the bleeding edge too. So I wasn’t completely surprised that they included Firefox 3.0, but I also wasn’t happy as it’s still in beta and in my opinion still has a way to go before being complete. This becomes obvious when trying to install addons, even installing the Adobe Flash plugin through up an error after just browsing for a few minutes.

For me, my internet browser is the most important tool on my computer, and I absolutely need it to be as stable as possible. That’s why I never run beta versions of Firefox as my default browser. So I tried to install Firefox 2 by using the add/remove programs applet but I couldn’t find anything apart from the version that was installed.

I’m sure that I could have installed Firefox 2 by downloading it directly from Mozilla but it just annoyed me that they would think that a beta version of Firefox would be fine for the typical home user.

Windows Server 2008 RTM

Microsoft have just announced that Windows Server 2008 has been released to manufacturing. I’m really looking forward to this product becoming publicly available and my own testing has been very positive so far.

I have to correct one point made in Microsoft’s blog announcement, it was stated that Server Core doesn’t install a GUI which is incorrect:

With server core, you can even install a GUI-free server.

When you set up a Server Core box, you still get a GUI, but you don’t have a shell. This isn’t just semantics, it’s a fundamental difference. A Linux or Unix server can be installed without a GUI – all you get is a terminal screen. However the Server Core still presents a graphical interface, you get windowed command prompts and can run several graphical tools and utilities, but you don’t get the Explorer shell or associated components.

Site updates

Just a few site updates…

  1. I’ve started putting all my photos back on Flickr which has been made much easier due to Windows Live Photo Gallery providing support for publishing direct to Flickr, including sets, tags, and descriptions. So I’ve re-enabled the FAlbum plugin which displays all my Flickr photos on this site: http://stuart.amanzi.co.nz/photos
  2. I’ve updated my About page with all of the contact details and websites I could think of off the top of my head. I want to get this into a microformat at some point.
  3. I’ve implemented the AJAX version of Google’s Custom Search engine for this site which allows you to search the site from the widget in the top left corner of this page. This is all done using a nifty overlay so you don’t have to refresh the page to do the search.

64 Bit Rant

I’ve been persevering with Vista 64 bit over the last few weeks, but I’m failing to see any benefit in sticking with it. Very few applications are native 64 bit and some applications just do not run at all.

Microsoft is probably the worst culprit – last year they released Exchange 2007 and forced all customers that wanted to use it to upgrade to 64 bit hardware and software. At about the same time as Exchange was released, Office 2007 and Vista were released too.

MS made a big deal about Vista 64 bit – just read the blurb on this page and you’ll think that 64 bit is the only way to go: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/64bit.mspx. But there was no 64 bit version of Office 2007 released. Sure Office 2007 runs fine on 64 bit, but why wasn’t there a 64 bit edition?

And today Microsoft is making a big deal about the new upgrades to the Live suite of products, including a new unified installer that lets you install a bunch of Live applications at once, like the Google Pack. BUT NO 64 BIT SUPPORT! None of the applications will install if you’re stupid enough to be running a 64 bit operating system, you’re just greeted with a lovely error.

No 64 bit support

So I’m running an operating system which Microsoft says, “… deliver premier performance, reliability, and security,providing you access to the next generation of PC innovations.” but I can’t install the latest updates to Microsoft’s own software. (end of rant)

Windows Server 2008 64 bit Notebook

Now that I have a 64 bit notebook, I get to do fun stuff like install the 64 bit version of Windows Server 2008 (beta 3). I wasn’t too sure how well the experiment would go, but so far it’s been pretty successful.

Drivers weren’t such an issue as most of the Vista x64 drivers worked flawlessly. I still have 3 unknown devices in the device manager and I haven’t yet tried to configure the finger print scanner, but everything else is good.

Obviously the first thing I did once the graphics drivers were installed, was to make it look like Vista with all the eye-candy. You need to install the “Desktop Experience” option from the “Add Features” section of “Server Manager”. Once that’s installed and you’ve rebooted, you need to enable the “Themes” service and enable all the performance options by going in to the “Advanced System Settings” and turning on all the visual stuff. Then reboot again and you can select the “Windows Vista” theme and the “Windows Aero” appearance settings. As you can see from the screenshot below, it’s all working well.

Windows Server 2008 running Aero

I also needed to configure wireless networking which isn’t installed by default (this is a good thing!) Just get back to the “Add Features” section and you can install the wireless networking option from there.

I have my key apps installed (Firefox, Live Messenger, Live Writer) and it all feels quite solid so far. Now to get some real server stuff running…

When does my evaluation copy of Windows Server expire?

I’ve been using a lot of evaluation software at home recently to build up a virtual lab that I’ll use for testing and demos. I needed to know when my eval copies of Windows Server 2003 were due to expire but couldn’t figure it out without having to trawl through Google Groups first.

Turns out it was fairly simple, just run “winver” and it tells you the exact date and time that the copy is due to expire.

winver

Books I’m reading

While the NZ dollar has been so strong over the last few weeks, it was a great opportunity to do some shopping online on Amazon. Here are the books I’ve bought recently:

amazon-books

Geek books:

  • Active Directory, 3rd Edition by by Joe Richards, Robbie Allen, Alistair Lowe-Norris
    This is the Active Directory bible as far as I’m concerned and the 3rd edition was updated to include ADFS and ADAM as well as the AD-related changes in Windows 2003 SP1 and SP2. I’m not even close to finishing this but it’s also useful as a reference guide so I don’t feel pressured to get through it soon.
  • Microsoft Windows PowerShell Step By Step by Ed Wilson
    I haven’t started this one yet, but getting some in-depth knowledge on PowerShell is way up on my priority list.

Productivity/Life/Business books:

  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
    If you haven’t heard of this book then you haven’t been reading enough blogs. GTD is considered to be a life changing book that teaches you how to organize, process and do all the stuff that comes your way. I’m hoping that this leads to a more stress free personal and business life – I’m only a few chapters into this and can already see the light!
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
    This is another book that I first heard about through the blogosphere but to tell the truth I don’t know too much about it. Nic Wise pointed me to an interview that Robert Scoble did with the author Tim Ferris but I haven’t had time to watch it all yet. From what I understand it’s all about getting a good balance between work and home life which is something I definitely need at the moment.
  • The Dip by Seth Godin
    I love reading Seth’s blog and I learn something new every day reading about his business and marketing advice. This book takes an interesting twist on business advice by teaching you when to quit. The idea is that the top business people in the world quit before it’s too late and focus their energies on their project. I’m looking forward to reading this and hope that if I do have to quit my business venture, I don’t do it too late.

Google Indexing Speed

I’ve been noticing this a lot more recently – Google seems to be indexing web pages in near-realtime. I posted a blog entry at about quarter past two on Windows Script Host 5.7, and less than 45 minutes later that post showed in Google’s results for “Windows Script Host 5.7” This is impressive when you consider that in the “old days” Google and other search engines used to index once a month or longer.

And if you’re wondering how I noticed that it had turned up in Google’s index so quick… I have to confess – I’m an Egosurfer and have set up alerts on Google so that I know when my name is mentioned!

Windows Script Host 5.7

Windows Script Host 5.7 has just been released for Windows 2000, XP and 2003. WSH 5.6 shipped with Windows XP and version 5.7 shipped with Windows Vista so this is the first that 5.7 is available for the other operating systems. I’m not sure how many changes and incompatibilities there are between versions as there is very little documentation available at the moment.

Download links for WSH 5.7:

Windows XP Service Pack 3

As far as I’m aware, Microsoft have been keeping very quiet about Service Pack 3 for Windows XP. Paul Thurrott even theorised that Microsoft may never release a SP3 for XP.

So it was interesting to read two posts on the TechNet Blogs site, mentioning the “forthcoming XP Service Pack 3.” This is the first official mention of it in a while, so perhaps we may see a beta of it sooner rather than later.

[tags]windows,windows xp,service pack 3,sp3,paul thurrott,msdn,technet,blogs,news[/tags]

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