Thursday, June 22, 2006

Repartitioning a Windows server

My test machine is running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise R2, and I wanted to repartition the 30 GB hard disk, to create a 10 GB D: drive for SQL Server files, but discovered that my edition of Partition Magic stated that it was not compatible with the server OS and/or NTFS. In either event, I was stuck...

Open source to the rescue! I located the free Linux utility GParted which handles virtually any type of disk partitioning - it handled the job without first needing a defrag, and I dare say it worked faster than Partition Magic does on a Win 2K or XP machine. It comes as a 30 Meg ISO image, so after download you just burn it to a CD and reboot with the disk in place. Simple, yet quite effective. The hallmark of today's open source software.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dual-Booting Windows

This week I decided to attempt an update for my "personal" PC which was still running Windows 98 because (so I thought) my antique peripherals were not compatible with a more "modern" OS.

Another down side was that my 1998-era PC has only a 6.4 GB hard disk, with 2-1/2 free. So I pulled out my Special Edition Using Windows 2000 Professional and found a section about dual-booting Windows 98 and 2000 from the same disk partition. And how it was not recommended. But it works - !

Interestingly enough, I had forgotten that the PC had originally come with Norton AntiVirus, running in the background, whose subscription virus updates are long-expired but when the Windows 2000 installer tried to write to the boot record - wham! - it popped up a warning that a program was trying to write to the MBR. Coolio.

My intention is to gradually port all of my applications over from the 98 side to the 2000 side.

I could not believe how many reboots were required - during installation & initial config; first to Windows Update to update Update with BITS and Windows Installer 3.1; back to update to Microsoft Update; back for for SP4; back again for twenty-six (26) critical updates; with reboots for NIC driver install, scanner driver, printer driver, yada yada yada.

Surprisingly, the same USB scanner that didn't work with XP, did work with an updated driver that I found online. The Zip 100 USB was recognized right after applying SP4 (go figure).

When I first launched WinZip on the 2000 side, it acted like I had just installed it (asking for config details etc.) but it remembered that it is a registered copy. I am expecting the same behavior from the Office apps - stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Farewell to Adobe

At the same time that PC World magazine has named Adobe the "Software Company of the Year", I have finished removing the company's bloated software from my computers. Instead of the endless online updates and so forth, I've settled into a 2-part solution.

Several years ago, one of my customers wanted to create PDF's from Access but they didn't want to spend $$$ on the licensing for the full Adobe Acrobat, so I researched what was available at the time & selected pdf995 which cost $9.95 per user. This is a very nice product to use, almost transparent; the file size is slightly larger than those created by "real" Acrobat.

Since then, Adobe's free reader has swelled from version 5 to 6 to 7, with the accompanying pains of large update files. Sure, it's free, but how do you value your time?

I recently discovered the Foxit Reader while researching free and open-source resources on the web. It loads really really fast, and compatibility is excellent - whether the PDF was created with Distiller on a Mac, or pdf995 on a PC, the appearance is excellent & printing doesn't take forever. The only downside seems to be that it forgets your toolbar settings from one session to the next; oh well.