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back to article Driver drama delays deep desert XP upgrade

“EJ”* is a God-fearing man. I know this because, at a tricky point in my attempt to upgrade some Windows XP computers, he asked me to write a letter explaining the Lord could vouch for his words. The letter-writing exercise was welcome because, at the time, I was tearing my hair out. The first step in my attempt to upgrade the …

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I once found myself trundling up the Stuart Highway about 200 miles from Alice at midnight.

As a break and to celebrate the vastness, we pulled over, cranked up the CD player and went dancing... in the middle of the road, in the middle of Australia, in the middle of the night.

Best part was the certainty that no-one would see my "dancing"...

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That's what YOU think. If you'd just like to head over to my YouTube channel ...

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jai
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200 miles from Alice at midnight

Sounds like the title of a post-rave ambient chill out track... :)

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Anonymous Coward

Stuart Highway at night

I have had to drive the Stuart highway from Alice to Darwin at night twice. The first time was during some very heavy rain. I hit a 200m long flooded stretch of the road at 100kmh. There were no warning signs and the water was invisible until I was almost on it. I almost aquaplaned off the highway and after pulling over found that I had ripped the back bumper off my car. Even more annoying was that I had passed several warning signs earlier where there wasn't any water.

The second time I had some very close encounters with a couple of cows that had wandered into the road.

Definately daytime only trips from now on.

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More XP stories eh?

After yesterday monumental doing rounds in Trevor Pott's article How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example I don't think I've the stamina to participate in another XP article quite so soon.

Nevertheless, reckon with XP's deadline looming, it's just the start of a whole raft of XP stuff.

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LDS
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Before re-installing an old machine, always check for new drivers before....

When reinstalling an old machine with a new operating system, is always better to check in the old OS which devices are installed and were drivers are from. Then download the drivers for the new OS before clearing the old one. Not every vendor submits its drivers to Windows Update, and many devices are rebranded ones, the only hope you have sometimes its to look for the OEM. Also, some Vista drivers may work in 7 too.

For the matter, I recently got an ASUS motherboard that didn't even boot with a newer Intel CPU until I updated the BIOS - luckily that board allows updating the BIOS even without a CPU.

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Anonymous Coward

Hardware ID ?

A quick Google of the hardware ID if it was showing an unknown device would surely have made driver ID easier ? If it didn't show in device manager then this is where a Linux stick (pretty good with old hardware) would have come in handy as you could have run that and got Linux to cough the ID and also a good cross check to see if it works..

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[W]Edimax wifi woes with Win7....[nod to Tweety Pie]

Had same problem with Edimax USB Wifi adapter - had to connect a Win7 pre-installed puchased PC to home network and and didn't want to use the wired port in the room because the linux Myth server lives on it normally. Nicked son's USB wifi dongle and Win7 found USB wifi - couldn't identify driver needed - despite wired port plugged in and connected to internet! Tried Troubleshooting wizard; tried looking for Edimax model in Win 7 properties pages and d**icked about in terminal to see if it would tell me model. Eventually gave up and looked at Edimax website - must have been at least a dozen models listed! As I wasn't going to try and install each one in turn - rebooted PC into linux LiveUSB** and found wifi name and manufacturer's USB id codes. Googling identified the model sufficient to download correct driver* from website.

PS - needed wireless as my statutory professional body's Contimual Professional Development page REQUIRES Flash to use and is not completely happy with Flash on Linux

* Actually the wireless configuration/utility GUI crap a la Edimax which then installed the driver. Win 7 stiil requested a reboot to make it work

** May be a reflection of my relative inexperience with Win 7 and use of linux [multiflavoured]/solaris since 1996

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Re: [W]Edimax wifi woes with Win7....[nod to Tweety Pie]

Windows will give you the same information without needing to boot into Linux.

Go to Control Panel --> Device Manager. Right-click your errant hardware and select Properties. On the Details Tab, select "Hardware IDs" from the drop-down list.

The bit you are looking for is, i.e. "VEN_10EC&DEV_8168" - Linux would list this hardware ID as "10EC:8168".

Googling can then begin!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: [W]Edimax wifi woes with Win7....[nod to Tweety Pie] @Hyphen

I've seen W7 fail to detect hardware on older systems due to BIOS weirdness (I'm looking at you Dell) and a 'nix stick come to the rescue. Also on certain Dell Optiplex's I seem to remember there was a bug in the BIOS that would hard crash the system with certain ATI cards during the catalyst driver detection routine.

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Wifi performance

Well, at least there can't be too many APs to interfere out there!

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I reiterate the point of Belarc advisor

works really quite well. From their own site and personal tests, the below is accurate, and insanely useful. If anyone else is likely to be in a pinch, get that information in advance.

No, I don't work for them. Just been very happy with it in many cases, and so happy to recommend it

from: http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server.

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It's the road trains you need to worry about too! We were driving the Bruce Highway (we were disappointed to find there's no Sheila Highway going the other way) when we saw the aftermath of an accident up ahead. Two enormous road trains were lying on their side, on a corner, having somehow fallen over. On reflection it may have been that the drivers had not been used to driving in daylight, but there you go..

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Meh

Had the same problem with my laptop...

Turned out that the mini PCI-Express wifi card wasn't using PCI-Express but USB...

Same goes for desktops... the PCI-Express connector also has a USB-port on it

so you should really check beforehand to see which bus the card is going to use...

(and probably install the motherboards chipset drivers first to enable USB...)

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Anonymous Coward

Windows 7 upgrade advisor anyone?

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20

In my experience, wireless network devices have been 50/50 OK/pain-in-the-butt on Vista & 7.

As commented above, get latest driver from manufacturer site (if one exisis) or chipset manufacturer.

Last one I remembered having problems with was a Windows 7 laptop with Atheros card.

User had got new WiFi ADSL router & card started dropping connections.

Laptop manufacturer driver downloads well out of date, Atheros had the driver (took a couple of attempts to get the correct one).

That's what us techies are here for I guess :-)

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Facepalm

Re: Windows 7 upgrade advisor anyone?

Atheros had the driver (took a couple of attempts to get the correct one).

'twould be nice...if every manufacturer took more than a passing interest in supplying working, bug-free, current rev drivers, for *ALL* their current and former products, clearly labelled as to which chips they are for, in an easily found location on their corporate website.

// I can dream, can't I?

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Re: Windows 7 upgrade advisor anyone?

One thing that constantly annoys me is that with windows, there does not appear to be anything like a generic driver for a particular device's chipset.

With Linux, as long as the identifier ID's are listed against the correct generic driver, there is a great chance that it will work. You end up with about a dozen drivers installed that will cope with 95% of all devices available.

With Windows, even though you may have a driver for the same chipset as that on the card you've got, you can't make it work without the specific driver from the card's manufacturer.

This was brought home to me years ago with Belkin CardBus WiFi devices, where v1, v2 and v2.1 versions of a particular numbered model of WiFi card needed different drivers, and it was very difficult identify at the time which driver was needed, because they were not well labelled (why could they not just change the model number?).

Putting any of the devices into my Linux instance on the same machine worked immediately, without further action.

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Unhappy

Had a similar problem a couple of months ago. Bought a PC to use when working from home so I went for some el-cheapo jobby on eBuyer, nothing fancy. Installed Windows. Launched Update only to be told that it couldn't contact the servers. Turns out my Win7 disc (freshly downloaded from MSDN) didn't support the mobo's Realtek network hardware.

What is this - the 1990s? Did I install Linux by mistake?

Coming to a new PC near you soon. Dip switches, jumpers and interrupt conflicts.

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Trollface

Did I install Linux by mistake?

Course not. Because

1) Installation cannot be done by mistake. You really would notice the absence of pain and feeling of being the butt of some sadistic joke of the Redmond QA team

2) It would have worked

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Roo
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"What is this - the 1990s? Did I install Linux by mistake?"

Clearly not, because Linux would have "just worked". :)

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"Clearly not, because Linux would have "just worked". :)"

You sure about that, I've tried half a dozen flavours of Linux and have yet to find one that will install the driver for the wi-fi card in my Dell netbook. This is really annoying because the netbook is dog slow with XP and Windows 7, but is quite nippy with the LXDE versions of Linux, but without a functioning wi-fi card it's useless

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Coat

Clearly not, because Linux would have "just worked". :)

Well, "just worked" after 3 hours of installing package A because package B depends on it, but finding that C only works with A version 3, which isn't compatible with the latest B so you have to download the beta B sources & recompile, except the compilation needs header X which uses a predefined keyword only present in a newer update to the compiler, which won't run on your kernel version until you update module Q and spend an hour googling how to configure it. Oh yes, and then there are the 27 Perl modules you need to get from CPAN so that the Makefile runs to completion.

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Anonymous Coward

2) It would have worked

Can you please explain that point to my 4 year old Dell laptop: it's had first Vista, then Windows 7, and finally Windows 8 all installed without issue. It currently has a stalled installation of Mint due to that OS not having drivers for either the built-in wifi card, or a generic USB one I have lying around :-(

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Windows

lspci?

Boot off a USB stick and post output of lspci | grep WiFi and we can start warning people to avoid the Dell model!

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"Well, "just worked" after 3 hours of installing package A because package B depends on it, but finding that C only works with A version 3, which isn't compatible with the latest B so you have to download the beta B sources & recompil..."

After years of installing Linux on all sorts of hardware I've never had any problems such as you describe - just install a mainstream distro.!

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"After years of installing Linux on all sorts of hardware I've never had any problems such as you describe - just install a mainstream distro.!"

mmm, Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, OpenSuSE, Red Hat, Puppy - many of those are mainstream, and not one of them would allow the install of the Broadcom driver for the WiFi card in my netbook. OpenSuSE and Debian wouldn't even find the driver, that's probably because it's not open source, but I thought the open source community was the answer to all our problems and stuff would "Just Work"...

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After years of installing Linux on all sorts of hardware I've never had any problems such as you describe - just install a mainstream distro.!

You mean a stable Debian release isn't mainstream? I've spent 30-odd years working with various Unix flavours, and Linux is by far the worst for "dependency hell".

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"but without a functioning wi-fi card it's useless"

you do realise wifi cards can be had for next to nothing these days - even tiny usb ones that barely protrude from the port work quite well (at least, a lot better than a card with no driver ).

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Anonymous Coward

you do realise wifi cards can be had for next to nothing these days

I wouldn't consider a need to install new hardware as compatible with the concept of "just works".

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mmm, Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, OpenSuSE, Red Hat, Puppy - many of those are mainstream, and not one of them would allow the install of the Broadcom driver for the WiFi card in my netbook.

And if you want somewhere to point the finger of blame there, its Broadcom.

Broadcom for ages, officially refused to produce any kind of Linux driver, but instead insisted on people using NDISWrapper to load the Windows NDIS drivers in Linux. The only exception to this was the mipsel binaries for their SoCs used in many wireless routers.

Eventually a team did a clean-room reverse-engineer of the Broadcom driver, that's how we got the b43 driver. BUT, it needs the firmware loaded by the proprietary driver so it can squirt that into the wireless chip to make it work.

The Intel cards need this too, and Intel make the firmware available on their site under a license that permits redistribution. Thus if you've got an Intel wifi card, most LiveCDs already have the firmware and driver, and will JustWork™.

Not Broadcom. Instead, they make it neigh on impossible to get the firmware directly, so one must get a copy of the mipsel driver from a third-party site, and use a firmware extraction tool (b43-fwcutter) to extract it for the b43 kernel driver.

The good news is that some of the newer Broadcom chips, do have a GPLed driver, and Broadcom themselves are the ones pushing it, rather than pushing their own silly STA driver which is proprietary. The bad news is they haven't bothered to make right, the poor situation on their previous chips even though the open-source people have done 90% of the work already. So those of us who have older kit with the older chips, are left high-and-dry.

It was for this reason, I decided to not buy another MacBook. I'm using a late 2008-model MacBook which uses a BCM4322. After all the pain I had enduring the above, I decided my first laptop with a Broadcom WIFI chip would also be my last laptop with a Broadcom WIFI chip.

I bought a new laptop for work about 5 months ago, a Panasonic which had Intel WIFI, and now enjoy largely issue-free networking. The flakey Broadcom-based machine now lives at home where I can put up with flakiness.

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Linux

Actually...

...these comments of windows driver problems DOES remind me of Linux in the '90's... just not NOW!

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Thumb Up

Donkeys wander around Willowra with impunity, unless they're taken down by packs of semi-wild dogs looking for a meal.

WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY!

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It is a great country, although not for the reason you think it is.

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Pint

You're doing good work

Good on ya, for going out there and giving them some tech support. I imagine that hardware seldom gets upgraded and techs are few and very far between.

// I'd buy you a real one if I wasn't on the other side of the world from you

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Linux

Hand back the geek ID card, return the butter knife and leave

All hardware upgrades should include a test of network connectivity with a Live USB or Live CD. True IT pros never leave home without such a bootable medium for roadside emergencies, much as ambulance men carry an Ambi bag with them wherever they go.. Modern OSes need network connectivity to complete installation, driver support, registration. Any reader without a puppy on a stick deserves nothing but a long (but not lonely) walk of shame.

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Re: Hand back the geek ID card, return the butter knife and leave

When faced with a sick Windows box, my steps are:

1) Open it and hoover out dust & crap, then check for Bulging Capacitors Of Death on the motherboard.

2) Boot a Linux CD/USB (old PCs often wont boot from USB happily so CD/DVD needed) and run the memory tester.

3) Check the HDD SMART status to see if its dying.

4) Boot a BitDefender or Kaspersky "rescue CD" and check for root kits and lesser malware.

If all of the above pass, then you know its 'just' a simple problem. But for most PCs not looked after by a competent Windows admin, you know its going to have so much crap installed and partly uninstalled that saving the data and nuking from orbit is the best solution.

That is, assuming they have the original Windows disk / rescue disk they were told to make when the PC was new...

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Looking for a driver?

Just grab the pnpid of the device that isn't known and look it up here to get an idea of what it is and who is likely to have drivers for it

http://www.pcidatabase.com/

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anti-virus update

" three machines all trying to do an anti-virus update at the same time the network slowed to a silly speed."

You need one machine to do the update and distribute it locally at a convenient or random time. This is how it was done in the times of lower bandwidth and still is done for sure when loads of PC's on a LAN are trying to update daily or even more while the files being nowadays rather chunky.

Not sure if non-enterprise clients or free versions have this option always. Otherwise it's scripting time!

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Re: anti-virus update

My thoughts exactly.

Maybe they could get Trend or one of the other corporate AV companies to sponsor the initiative and offer free or heavily subsidised licences?

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Compulsory voting

> ** Yes, compulsory voting is an oddity. Let's move on, shall we?

Not nearly as odd as the UK where voting is NOT compulsory but filling in the form stating who in the household is eligle to vote IS compulsory.

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Re: Compulsory voting

I don't follow you.

Having an up to date list of who can vote seems like a very important step in making sure those who can't, don't.

Otherwise you end up turning into a corrupt 3rd world banana republic of dead people casting ballots at multiple polling stations...like the US for example.

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Re: Compulsory voting

> Having an up to date list of who can vote seems like a very important step in making sure those who can't, don't.

Sure, and those who want to vote can come forward and register themselves voluntarily whenever a new list is generated. Anyone who doesn't (because they have died, for example) is not put on the list. Simples.

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No matter the OS

When installing either Windows or OpenSuse, if at any point you find yourself looking on the realtek website for drivers you need to

1-Stop

2-Admit failure

3-Buy a different wireless adapter

Those 3 little rules have saved me from repeating so much annoyance

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Re: No matter the OS

My 'go bag' includes a USB wifi stick that has yet to give me driver problems on anything I've plugged it into (and a USB-ethernet, just in case). So if I run into driver problems, and I've not thought to pre-download the drivers, I can still hopefully get a network connection.

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Brings back memories of confusion when I built my current desktop. Fired up, installed W7, no ethernet.

WTF? Mid-range Gigabyte gaming board - nothing especially exotic and it can't find the ethernet?

Remind me how many Mobos come without an ethernet port? I'd foolishly assumed that sort of thing would be fairly standardised...

Have to say I've always been reasonably impressed with edimax kit - cheap and feature rich, although their product numbering conventions are fairly horrific. Sure there's a system in there somewhere but blow me if I can figure it out although something along the lines off "bigger = better" seems to predominate - doesn't tell you anything about the kit though.

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Linux

Time Warp

Reminds me of all the reasons why I stopped using Windows.

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No screwdriver?

Not even a stamped keyring tool, that's a bottle opener as well as a screwdriver? Forget the computers, without one of those you could die of thirst!

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Re: No screwdriver?

I can see you not wanting a screwdriver in your hand-luggage, but didn't you have some hold luggage as well?

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Re: No screwdriver?

Well he *did* say in the article that he likes to travel carryon only. A lot of us do. A couple of days in Brissy for a business trip or a conference, you can get an overnight change in your cabin luggage no problem. It means you don't have to hang around at the carousel while your hold luggage makes its way to Singapore and you can get to the taxis before the queue builds up.

And our security monkeys can get very soggy and difficult to light if they find a screwdriver in your carryon bag, trust me, I've seen it happen.

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IT Angle

Compulsory voting in Australia

I think Australian voting forms have a "None of the above" option on them. This makes compulsory voting rather a good thing imo. It can only be a good thing for politicians to see "None of the above" get more votes than they do.

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