Saturday, December 29, 2012

Windows 8 Laptop, Wired? Want Wireless!

After another battle to get Windows 8 to retain a wireless connection using the Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 wireless card in the laptop, Windows 8 shows a connection established with the wireless network, shows activity (based on looking at the Send / Receive in the network adapter properties), and no actual Internet access.  There is still LAN access on the network, just no Internet access.  The Network and Sharing settings show there is an Internet connection on the wireless, there is even an IP address from the network, and still cannot browse any web site.  When I open a command prompt window to use ping, there is no results back.

I bought a laptop to use wireless.  I use wireless on my other laptops that do not run Windows 8 and those laptops have no problems with wireless.  Seems like if I want to use wireless on this laptop, I need to change over to Windows 7 Professional on this laptop.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hyper-V or VirtualBox in Windows 8

In Windows 7 Professional, I used Windows XP Mode that Microsoft had available to allow you to run older programs in Windows XP that would not run in Windows 7.  Microsoft's obsoleted Virtual PC and did not make Windows XP Mode available for Windows 8.  The new method of running Windows XP is through a virtual session.  Using virtualization in the desktop environment is nothing new to me.  I previous used VMware Workstation for years to run other Windows versions for support reasons.  The same applies here, but there are some differences now.

Microsoft's Hyper-V does not support USB devices and there are other limitations that has been discussed in various news articles and blogs.  To run a guest operating system in a virtualized session, you cannot run the guest OS at the host OS screen size resolution.  For instance, on a laptop the guest OS will not adapt to the host OS video settings.  This feature is important to me as it affects how I work with and use the guest OS.  Hyper-V also seem to greatly slow down the computer when the guest OS ran.  I'm using a laptop with Windows 8 Pro x64, 8GB DDR-3 memory, and 750GB SATA hard drive.  I also have to uninstall and reinstall Hyper-V at times in Windows 8 whenever Hyper-V would stop running for no apparent reason.

I downloaded and installed Oracle's VirtualBox, free virtualization software,  to run Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 Professional.  The two main features that Hyper-V lacks, USB device detection and guest OS using host OS screen resolution, are available in VirtualBox in the guest OSes.  VirtualBox guest OSes seems to run faster on the same system where Hyper-V did not run them as fast and efficient.  The guest OSes in VirtualBox, based on what I am seeing on my system (as the results may vary per system and configuration) run fast for a virtualized operating system.

Since I do run Linux Mint 14.1 on a second laptop, I can install Oracle's VirtualBox in Linux and copy over the installed guest OS(es).  This saves time on re-installing, re-setting up, and re-updating all the guest OSes between the two host OSes.  This also provides a back up of the VirtualBox guest OSes in case I need to ever get them back, and also a way to always keep them up-to-date.  If one guest OSes gets updated on on one of the two host OSes, I can just copy the VirtualBox files between systems.  So far this method is working.  I do not know of any problems that may occur to break this backup method to keep the guest OSes running on both host OSes.

Based on my results between Microsoft's Hyper-V (built-in to Windows 8) and Oracle's VirtualBox, I may continue to use VirtualBox to keep the guest OSes running on both systems.  Especially when Hyper-V is not available in Linux.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another Windows 8 Reset...

After attempting to use Norton 360 and Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, where Norton 360 would not run in Windows (noted in an earlier blog) and Microsoft's tool would not even run in Windows 8 that it supports, I decided to run another Windows 8 Reset.  I figured when I ran the previous Windows 8 Refreshes where it will keep or not keep your personal data, I still needed to run a Windows 8 Reset, I figure just save some time initially.  Now I need to go through all the initial Windows 8 updates, set up, etc. again.

Windows 8 is just a broken operating system.  Hopefully Microsoft will fix Windows 8 eventually, or I (among all other Windows users experiencing problems with Windows 8) will go back to Windows 7.

I am still using my secondary laptop running Linux Mint 14.1 where it has not had any problems.  All the problems relating to the wireless network is definitely with Windows 8.  The other computers running Windows XP and Windows 7, including the Linux system, never has problems with the wireless connection.

Windows 8 ongoing repair process, Norton 360

After finally uninstalling Visual Studio 2012 along with SQL Server 2012 Express versions in Windows 8 Pro x64, the system continued to experience unusual slowness and locks ups.  I could be browsing a web site or opening a document in Microsoft Word 2010, for example, and the system would just lock up for about three minute.  The lock up time varies and then the system would run again.  Each time Windows 8 would lock up, I tried to open Task Manager and it would also not open right away until the system would start running again.

I updated Windows Defender in Windows 8 and ran a full scan.  No problems found based on Windows Defender.  I thought there may be a virus on the system or some type of malware program.  Some times I do not trust Windows Defender in Windows 8 results.  Windows Defender has never found any problems and that is unusual for Windows Defender.  In Windows 7, Microsoft Security Essentials would show some type of message that it scanned or caught something running, and the past two months Windows Defender has never shown anything.  This may be valid, but it is unusual for Windows.

I downloaded Norton 360 and installed it in Windows 8 Pro x64.  I ran LiveUpdate after installation to get all the updated product updates.  LiveUpdate ran about three different times to get all the updates.  The final set of updates from LiveUpdate prompted to restart Windows 8.  After restarting Windows 8, Norton 360 icon showed an icon in the Taskbar area while in Windows 8 Desktop mode.  I normally run everything in Windows 8 Desktop mode as I do not like the Modern UI interface.  Each time I would try to run a virus scan using Norton 360, the Symantec Framework would crash and Norton 360 would no longer be running.  When I try to run Norton 360 again, it would not run.  I then uninstalled and re-installed Norton 360, ran through all the updates via LiveUpdate, and this would result in the same problem.  The Symantec Framework would always crash causing Norton 360 to no longer run.

I posted about this problem in Norton Community.  Hopefully there is a workaround or solution to this problem.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Attempting to repair Windows 8...

This is a continuation of the Re-Enabled Windows Updates in Windows 8 blog posting from earlier today.

In attempt to get Windows 8 Pro x64 running less unstable than its current state, I decided to remove Visual Studio 2012 (Web and Desktop) along with SQL Server 2012 versions.  When attempting to uninstall the Visual Studio 2012 Web and Desktop versions, I hoped that they would just uninstall without any problems.  When Microsoft's uninstaller was removing each installation, there were prompts of missing files and Microsoft's Installer unable to access or read various files.  The process of removing the program would fail and I try again and again with the same results, different files.  I restarted Windows 8 each time these would fail to uninstall, and eventually Visual Studio 2012 (Web and Desktop) components eventually uninstalled from Windows 8 Pro x64.  Yes, this took several hours to accomplish.  I never had problem like this before uninstalling Visual Studio.  There were messages that I need to remove the program using an Administrator account.  Well, Windows 8 has only one account and the one account is an Administrator account.

After taking a break from this torturous task of removing Visual Studio 2012, I then selected to remove Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (64-bit).  Surprisingly this uninstalled without any problems from Windows 8 Pro x64.  The removal process took a while to accomplish, however, it seem to uninstall without all the difficulties, error messages, etc. like Visual Studio.

I kept uninstalling other programs that I had installed in Windows 8 just to see if Windows 8 would run better.  This comparison would be hard because Windows 8 has never ran good for me.  Windows 7 on my previous laptop ran great for years and I seldom, if ever, had a problem.  This is not the case for Windows 8.

This attempt to clean up Windows is taking a very long time.  This may eventually lead me in to running another Windows 8 Refresh or Reset on the system.

Re-Enabled Windows Updates in Windows 8...

In Windows 8 after running a Windows 8 Reset, where it puts the laptop back to factory installation on the system, I decided to disable (or turn off) automatic updates in Windows Update.

Windows 8 has been running somewhat stable with the ongoing wireless connectivity issues, frequent crashes where Windows 8 shows a message bar across the screen that a problem has been detected, and more annoying problems.  I never had these problems when I ran Windows 7 and Windows XP.  I avoided Windows Vista completely as it was an awful operating system.

I ran Windows Update in the Control Panel where I downloaded all the available updates.  In a month's time I would not think that there would be so many updates, but there were many updates (over 300MB+ worth).  While the updates were installing, Windows 8 encountered a serious error where I had to restart Windows.  I guess Windows 8 did not restarting in the middle of installing updates.  This same gaudy bar of a Windows came up a few more times where Windows just restarted.  Eventually Windows 8 did start up to the Desktop, or Modern UI, where I ran Windows Update again.  When I tried to instal the remaining updates, Windows Update prompted to restart the system (AGAIN!).  This time Windows 8 went through a repair process and rolled back previously installed updates.  This ran for some time.

At this point Windows 8 had rolled back the previous updates and ran some type of repair on fixing the system.  Due to Microsoft's vague and plain windows of information, I had no idea what had been running on the system.  After several more restarts of Windows 8 throughout the repair and rollback process, I was able to get back in to Windows Update to install updates.  Now there was nearly 450MB of updates available.  While those updates were installing, Windows Update restarted Windows without any prompting of any sort.  When Windows 8 came up to the Desktop again, Windows Update automatically completing the installation of the updates.

Now various programs such as Microsoft Office 2010 (Word, Excel, OneNote), Adobe Reader 10.1.4, and a few other small utilities I had to reinstall.  Uninstalling and installing Adobe Reader and the small utilities were no problem.  Office 2010 went through a repair process, restarted Windows 8 several times, and now all my previous settings in Office 2010 are no longer available.

I also found that Visual Studio 2012, which I recently installed (see this LINK on my blog), will no longer run without crashing or showing a dialog window that Visual Studio 2012 is not compatible in Windows 8.

Furthermore, I noticed in the Modern UI that the Start menu Tiles are no longer showing.  When I press the Windows Key on the keyboard to toggle between the Modern UI and Desktop mode, the Tiles do briefly and quickly show, but do not remain showing when I go back to the Modern UI.  With all the restarts of Windows 8, I thought the Start menu in Modern UI interface would show, but they do not.  I tried clicking in the area where the Tiles show just in case they were still accessible, and there was no indication from the mouse pointer that any items where clickable, and I was unable to run any programs.  When I pressed the Windows Key again, the Desktop mode did appear where I could run the programs that were still running in Windows 8.

The past two months with Windows 8 has been awful where these multitude of problems just keep occurring.  I have already ran Windows 8 Resets many times where the operating system does not run any better.  Microsoft and ASUS Support always tells me to either run a Windows 8 Refresh or Reset when I call about any questions or problems.  I guess they know Windows 8 is so broken that there is no attempts to even fix a problem.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Windows 8 or Linux Mint 14.1

After installing Visual Studio 2012 and SQL Server 2012 Express version in Windows 8 Pro on my primary laptop, I copied over the backed up Visual Studio 2010 projects, and Visual Studio 2012 seems to have converted the projects fine.  These are very basic programs in C# and .NET ASP from my learning of how to program.  After running in to more problems along the way, I have been using Linux Mint 14.1 more on my secondary laptop.

Linux Mint 14.1 on my secondary laptops run better than Windows 8 on my secondary laptop.  Linux has had no wireless connectivity issues, unlike Windows 8 continues to have wireless connection problems.  I have also found using Linux for daily tasks (Facebook, LinkedIn, E-mail, etc.) seems more stable and better to do in Linux.

I will try to write more later on what I have been researching between Windows 8 and Linux Mint 14.1.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Visual Studio 2012 and SQL 2012 Express Versions

When I ran previous Visual Studio versions (2005 through 2010), I have always had problems installing Visual Studio (C# and Web).  After hearing all the hype of installing Visual Studio 2012 and SQL Server 2012 Express versions on how easy they install, I had hoped these would install correctly.

After installing Visual Studio 2012 Express versions for C# and Web, for desktop, this put Windows 8 in  a recovery mode where it had restarted the system numerous times.  After trying to get Visual Studio 2012 Express installed where it would run, I had to install SQL Server 2012 Express.  There are a few projects in C#/Web that I have that uses the SQL Server databases.

When I opened Visual Studio 2012 to open a project that I had worked on in Visual Studio 2010 while using Windows 7, I had to install the SQL stand-alone version.  I downloaded the SQL Server 2012 stand-alone version.  This did not install without any problems.  The first time and subsequent times that I tried to install this small SQL Server 2012 Express version, the installer would stop in the middle of installing, stall there for a while, and then eventually close.  Seconds later a windows will show that the installation successfully completed.  Well, when I try to open the Visual Studio (VS) project, I kept getting the message that the stand-along SQL version is not installed.  After uninstalling and re-installing, including attempting several repairs, I finally got SQL Server 2012 Express version to install in Windows 8 Pro.  When I opened my project in VS 2012, it finally recognized that I had the stand-along SQL server installed.  However, when I opened my other project that has a SQL database just like my other project, the SQL Server stand-along message came back.

When I looked at the Event Viewer - Application logs, I noticed a message that the SQL Server 2012 Express stand-alone version is NOT compatible with Windows 8.  I find that message strange due to this is the version for Windows 8, according to Microsoft.

I finally downloaded the SQL Server Express 2012 version, the full version with Tools, and installed this in Windows 8 Pro.  Now after installing the full version of SQL Server 2012 Express version, which took a few attempts to install, the VS 2012 projects finally recognize the SQL database server.

Seems like Microsoft's own software does not install correctly in its own operating system.  How are they expecting other software vendors to get their software to install after once they spend countless hours upgrading or updating their software to Windows 8.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ongoing Windows 8 Wireless issues

After continued and further research on the wireless issues in Windows 8, the Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 (and others) network cards are not the problem.  The wireless problems in Windows 8 is a Microsoft problem.  There are other network card manufacturers (brands and models) that are also experiencing same type of problems in Windows 8.  When there are other computers (desktops and laptops) connecting to and using the wireless connection without any problems, including the same type of or similar network cards, the problem is in Windows 8.

Based on my research and findings with trying to keep wireless connection on the Windows 8 laptop, the problem is not with the wireless card driver, it is in Windows 8.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Continuing Windows 8 Wireless problems

I use a LinkSys E1200 Wireless-N router with my 10MB Internet connection and there has been no wireless connection issues.  I ran Windows 7 and Windows XP on different laptops using wireless connections without ever having problems.  Based on the wireless usage history, wireless connections were flawless.

On my primary laptop that has Windows 8 Pro x64, wireless connections have continuously experience connection problems and unable to connect back to wireless network(s) if Windows 8 has been in stand-by (or sleep) mode.  I found only a restart of Windows 8 allows the wireless connection to get established again.

While the Windows 8 Pro x64 system currently cannot to the wireless network, I found lifting up the lid on the secondary laptop running Linux Mint 14.1 re-established the wireless connection to the network.  When comparing Internet connections, mostly wireless, between Windows 8 Pro and Linux Mint 14.1, Mint seems to work better.

According to Windows 8, the wireless network is not available and it shows full strength wireless connection for the network.  How can Windows 8 indicate that the wireless network is not available when it shows it in the available list of networks.  This is showing how buggy and flawed Windows 8 is on wireless connections.  Microsoft does not care to address or fix this issue.  When I talked to Microsoft Support about this issue, they said that it is the hardware and I may need to replace it.  Well, the hardware (router) is good as other laptops connect just fine and use the wireless Internet connection.  Then they told me to run a Windows 8 Reset, which completely reloads Windows 8 back to factory on the system.  Possibly the wireless network card driver may not have loaded correctly.  After doing a Windows 8 Reset once, this did not correct the problem.  Microsoft and ASUS Support teams had no clue what could be wrong.

You have to restart Windows 8 whenever the wireless connections get disconnected in Windows while other devices work fine on the wireless connection.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Using Linux Mint 14

I am continuing the use of Linux Mint 14 on the secondary laptop where the usual tasks that I do in Windows are now accomplished in Linux.  Mint seems more user friendly where possibly some average computer users would be able to get Mint installed and some devices configured, such as printers or scanners.

I used Mint's Package Manager and Software Manager to install various programs that I use or other packages needed.  I used both to get the feel of both programs, however, you could use either one.  I also open Terminal to use the apt-get and other command-line utilities and commands.  Using Terminal command line commands is nothing like the old DOS days.  You can actually accomplish various tasks through Terminal.

Although I did not initially like MATE's Menu layout, I am getting used to the bulky wide Menu when compared to Windows 7 or Windows XP Start menu layout.  I may install another Desktop, such as XFCE, later.  One advantage of Linux, you can always change to another Desktop environment if the default install environment is not right for you.  This is not possible in Windows.

I will try to write more later about Linux Mint 14.  I still use Windows 8 on my primary laptop, however, I may try to dual boot Linux Mint 14 and Windows 8 on my primary laptop.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Linux Mint 14.1, fast and not bad...

Since I have installed Linux Mint 14.1 on the secondary laptop (Intel i3, 2.3GHz, 8GB DDR3 memory, 500GB SATA hard drive), I am starting to like Mint.  I still have Windows 8 Pro running on the primary laptop, however, it seems my usage of Mint on the secondary laptop increased.  Although I am still installing and setting up programs that I currently run in Windows (7 and 8) to what is available in Mint.  This also accounts for features for playing videos, accessing various network shares and the printer.

In Mint I installed WINE 1.4.1, which installed without any problems, and was able to install a game that I play in Windows.  I was able to install Bejewel 3 in WINE and the game runs, so far, without any problems.  I thought I would get WINE installed in case I need to install other Windows programs.  I do have Microsoft Office 2010 installed in Windows, including LibreOffice 3.6.3 in Windows.  Mint has LibreOffice 3.6.2.2 installed for the Office suite.  I know I can use Microsoft created documents in LibreOffice in both Windows and Linux versions.

I started to think about the Windows based programs I use that may not be available in Linux, and so far I have not found any.  I know there are business programs are not available, and I do not have any business programs installed in Windows (such as QuickBooks, Quicken, etc.).  There are alternatives available in Linux.  Those alternatives may not be sufficient enough for you to use in Linux compared to the Windows version.

I came across a ZDNet article where someone bought a good HP laptop that has Windows 8 pre-installed and decided to install Linux (Fedora, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu).  There are more of these types of news stories showing up on the Internet.  You should not get overly energized from the drop Windows 8 hype.  Make sure you read the article where they make a true comparison between Windows 8 and Linux on what they do on both systems.

Once Fedora 18 (final) comes out, I may switch back to Fedora as I have used this Linux flavour for many years.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Windows 8 to Linux Mint 14...

After continuing having problems with compatibility issues in Windows 8, I decided to try installing Linux on the secondary laptop.  The primary laptop still runs Windows 8 Pro x64 where I continue to have problems.  I just decided to either give up on trying to fix the problem(s) or find other way of accomplish the tasks I want/need to do.  I removed the original hard drive on the secondary laptop to preserve Windows 8, just in case I want to return to the operating system.

I downloaded Linux Mint 14.1 MATE 64-bit version from the web site.  I extracted the ISO image to an USB flash drive and installed from the flash drive.  Linux Mint 14.1 did install from the USB flash drive, where Linux Mint 14 would not install.  When Linux Mint 14 install, towards the end of the installation process it would crash and hang the system.  After successfully installing Linux Mint 14.1 from the USB flash drive, I have been installing other programs in Mint and it runs much faster than Windows 8.

I do play a Windows based game, Bejeweled 3.  In Mint I installed WINE and was able to install Bejeweled 3 without any errors or problems.  When I played Bejeweled, the same ran smooth and the graphics looks good in Mint.  I ran the game in full screen mode and regular window mode where the game played smoothly.  When I tried to play this game in WINE within other Linux distributions, the game did not run or the graphics were lagging (or jerky) so bad that it was not worth attempting to play.

Linux Mint 14.1 seems to run good on the secondary laptop.  I do not need to worry about Windows 8 product activation and all the other hide-n-seek issues of where did Microsoft put that feature or program.  So far Mint is good, however, Linux in general is not up to par with Windows in usability and ease of use.