Laptop installation - Windows Wouldn't Work

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In the continued saga, this week I got Windows 2000 Professional on and then after some hair pulling reformatted the drive. Why, you may ask? Drivers.

The laptop in question was build around the time that Windows 98 was coming out, before Windows 2000 Professional was released, and it was never officially supported under the latter. Despite that, after installing Windows 2000 Pro every minute piece of hardware was correctly identified, I didn't have to install any extra drivers to get it that far. There were, however, three problems remaining: the built-in video card wasn't working correctly (it defaulted to generic VGA) and the two PCMCIA/PC-Card slots refused to work - with my intentions of using a PCMCIA ethernet card, this was going to pose problems.

Long story short, it completely stumped me. Each device was giving a similar error in Device Manager that there were insufficient resources, but none of them gave detailed enough of an answer to pinpoint what was insufficient - IRQs, memory, etc. I suspect it may have been a memory issue, but it was kind of silly of them to write drivers that were hardcoded to memory above the 64mb limit for laptops that were released back when 32mb was a large amount. After several hours of searching for alternative drivers, disabling other devices to see if it was a problem of something else conflicting, it was just going utterly nowhere.

So last night I took my HD platters in my hand and wiped the drive. Then the real fun began, but that's for another time.

Fedora Core (Linux) tip: manually installing RPMs using Yum

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Here's a little tip I came across today while attempting to manually install software using Yum.

One of the the really cool things in Yum is that it can not only install software for you from online repositories but it can also take care of all of the inter-file dependency hell associated with installing a 3rd party RPM file. To do this simply run the command

yum install yourarchive.rpm

and it will check all of the dependencies for you and automatically queue up the files it needs to install, just like it was getting the file from a repository in the first place. Very handy when you're beta testing software.

Another tip is related to this. When I did the above it queued up all of the extra files I needed, then complained that it couldn't recognize the electronic signature attached to the new program I was installing, specifically it said:

Public key for <filename> is not installed

A quick google later and I discovered there's a little trick you can do but are generally advised not to. You see when you're updating software using Yum it verifies that all of the software is coming from somewhere reputable, so it keeps track of the signatures for each repository it knows about. The obvious problem then is that if you're installing a once-off file there's no server to have a signature from, so it shrugs its shoulders and gives up. The temporary fix for this is to change a line in the file /etc/yum.conf that says

gpgcheck=1

Simply change that to =0 and you're away with it! Do make sure to change it back afterwards, though, you want to keep this security precaution in place for normal use.

I hope these can help others who get stuck.

IIS6 and Quicktime 7 files

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At work we're going to be making some videos available on our website in WMV and Quicktime 7 formats. Simple enough. Well, it turns out that if you save your Quicktime file as a "M4V" file (h.264 codec I believe) that IIS6 throws a 404 File Not Found error when its requested. You can search your log files until you're blue in the face but it doesn't make sense.

Until you Google the problem, that is, when you discover that its a mimetypes problem. Yep, IIS6 handles unknown (unwanted?) mimetypes with revulsion and simply blocks the file rather than falling back to something like simply downloading the file.

So to fix it you have to load up the IIS Manager, go to the properties on your website (or the master websites properties), go to the HTTP Headers tab, click MIME Types, click New, type "m4v" as the file extension and "video/x-m4v" as the MIME type, then click OK twice then Apply and you're done.

Bit of a pain if you ask me, but at least now I know to manually configure each media filetype I intend using.

Software for our old laptop

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After some testing a few nights ago with a few different Linux distribution so-called live CDs (CDs you can boot straight up into Linux, no install needed) I figured I'd try out Windows 2000 Professional on the laptop, and if we have problems with it I'll put on Fedora Core. This testing period also gives the Fedora folks more time to finish the new Fedora Core 5, which is due for launch in March.

I've made another decision regarding the software to be installed. With the major rewritten version 2 due very shortly, I've decided to go with Gaim for instant messaging. I tried out the current release (beta 2) at home and it works very well while still being a pretty small program. If it does end up being too much for the wee beastie I'll revert to GTalk but for the moment I'm aiming for Gaim.

As I write this I'm actually installing Windows 2000 Pro on the laptop and its going smoothly so far. Several years ago I attempted to install it for its then owner, only to have it constantly throw up on me. As it turned out the machine's hard drive was failing so it never completed the task. With a replaced drive it has been flying along so far, but it isn't finished yet so I'd best not jinx things.

More later.

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