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How to perform a clean installation of the operating system on a netbook

In my last blog, I reported on the new Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AO571h) I had just purchased. It came pre-loaded with Windows XP Home. Since I need to connect to a domain, I needed Windows XP Professional on the netbook.

Normally, I check the hardware manufacturers web site(s) for the latest drivers and download them. Then I just wipe the hard drive clean and boot to the installation media. Once it finished installation I immediately install the specific drivers for the hardware installed, starting with the chipset first.

But the netbook's hardware architecture is new and a standard OEM version of Windows XP does not recognize the hardware correctly. I contacted Acer and was told that they do not support the installation of any operating system other than what was shipped with the computer. But their web site had the drivers for all 32-bit versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista.

It became obvious that I had to add the chipset drivers to the Windows XP Pro cd. I extracted the chipset drivers and found the instructions for adding the drivers into the installation media. I then created an image file from the installation media and opened it up for editing. I added in the chipset drivers that I had downloaded and saved the file. I then burned it to a cd.

The netbook booted right up on the modified installation media and the setup went flawlessly. I installed the rest of the drivers I had downloaded and it's running beautifully on Windows XP Professional.

Till then,
Scott

Acer Aspire One Netbook hard drive issue

I recently worked on a Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AOD150). The netbook no longer was able to boot, as the system could not find an operating system. Booting the netbook up onto a USB drive I was able to see the problem. The hard drive had two partitions, one hidden recovery partition and one active system (C:\) partition, that had become corrupt.

The only solution was to use the recovery media. Only the owner did not have an external cd / dvd writer, so she was unable to create the recovery media. I contacted Acer and they sent out new media for free. I got the media and reloaded the netbook and all was well. I had a chance to work with it a little bit and really like the size, battery life and cost. So I decided to pick one up.

I purchased a Acer Aspire One Netbook (Model AO571h). On first boot, after allowing the system to restart a couple times for set up, it was ready to go. I proceeded to connect a dvd writer and created the recovery media. I then decided to take a look at the hard drive partitions, so I put a bootable cd in the external optical drive I just used to create the recovery media and rebooted.

Booted the netbook up on a PE (preinstall environment) cd and all looked fine. The netbook had two partitions, one hidden recovery partition at 8 gigabytes and one active system (C:\) partition at 141 gigabytes, for a rough total of 149 gigabytes. That was correct for a 160 gigabyte hard drive once formatted.

I turned off the netbook and external dvd drive, disconnected the dvd and restarted the netbook. What happened next was deja vu. The screen displayed cannot find operating system error. I turned it off, reconnected the external dvd drive and proceeded to reload the system with the disks I had just created.

I reloaded the netbook and then checked the hard drive. This time there was only one active system (C:\) partition at 149 gigabytes. The system works fine and have had no problems since.

Remember, if your new laptop, netbook or personal computer does not come with recovery media (disks), you probably have to make them yourself. This is the first thing that should be done. Lucky for me, that's just what I did.

Til then,
Scott

Beta testing Windows 7 - Part7 (Photoshop Benchmark)

With the Windows 7 test system running, it's time to see what it can do. Keep in mind that the total cost for just the hardware (less the Antec Skeleton case) was around $525. I went over to Adobe and downloaded the 64-bit trial version of Photoshop CS4. The following is an excerpt from Adobe's knowledge base article '64-bit Operating System benefits and limitations in Photoshop CS4 (Windows)'

Opening 32-bit and 64-bit versions

Photoshop installs a 32-bit and a 64-bit shortcut into the Start Menu. If you need to manually run the application, the 32-bit version is the photoshop.exe file, in the Program Files (x86)/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4 folder, and the 64-bit version is the photoshop.exe file in the Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS4 folder.

Third party plug-ins

Third party plug-ins written for 32-bit versions of Windows will not work when you run the 64-bit version of Photoshop. If you need to use plug-ins that haven't been updated, run the 32-bit version of Photoshop. When you are done using the plug-ins, close the 32-bit version, and run the 64-bit version. Contact the plug-in manufacturer for information about any updates.

Processor speed and Photoshop operations

Although the 64-bit version of Photoshop will speed up some operations, it won't speed all of them, nor will it speed the operation equally. Generally, operations will run approximately 8-12% faster. Overall, processor speed is not the main advantage of using the 64-bit version.

RAM use

The primary advantage of using the 64-bit version is to access amounts of RAM beyond what Photoshop can access when the 32-bit version is run. You can take advantage of more than 4 GB of RAM only when you are on 64-bit Windows, using 64-bit Photoshop. If you use files large enough to need more than 4 GB of RAM, and you have enough RAM, all the processing you perform on your large images can be done in RAM, instead of swapping out to the hard disk.

This table lists the amount of RAM available to Photoshop with the different versions of Windows:


Photoshop Version

Windows Version

Maximum amount of RAM Photoshop can use

32-bit

32-bit

1.7 GB

32-bit

32-bit

3.2 GB

64-bit

64-bit

as much RAM as you can fit into your computer

Now with the two different versions of Adobe Photoshop installed (32-bit & 64-bit) it was time to find a benchmark test. I found DriverHeaven Photoshop Bench V3. I ran the tests as instructed and here's the results:


DriverHeaven Photoshop Bench V3

Intel Core2 Quad 8400

Intel Core2 Quad 8400

64 bit

32 bit

Texturiser

1.5

1.8

CMYK

1.2

1.3

RGB

1.4

1.5

Ink Outlines

20.4

21.0

Dust & Stratches

2.0

2.0

Watercolor

20.3

21.0

Texturiser

1.6

1.6

Stained Glass

13.3

12.6

Lighting

1.8

2.0

Mosiac

9.5

13.0

Extrude

83.4

98.4

Smart Blur

58.9

58.1

Underpainting

21.7

24.1

Palette

17.2

18.4

Sponge

28.3

28.4

Total

282.5

305.2

As you can see, the 64-bit version was, on average, 7% faster than the 32-bit version.

I have now shown you the pros and cons of 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Adobe Photoshop CS4 running on Windows 7. Which version would you choose?

Till then,
Scott


Monitor your computer's performance, programs and processes with Task Manager in Windows (Video)

Task Manager provides information about programs and processes running on your computer. It also displays the most commonly used performance measures for processes.

You can use Task Manager to monitor key indicators of your computer's performance. You can see the status of the programs that are running and end programs that have stopped responding. You can also assess the activity of running processes using as many as fifteen parameters.

In addition, if you are connected to a network, you can view network status and see how your network is functioning.

If you have more than one user connected to your computer, you can see who is connected, what they are working on, and you can send them a message.

Open Task Manager:

  • To open Windows Task Manager, right-click an empty space on the taskbar, and then click Task Manager or by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC.

Note:
You might need to be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to perform some tasks.

Programs that are running

The Applications tab shows the status of the programs running on your computer.

On this tab, you can end, switch to, or start a program.

Processes that are running

The Processes tab shows information about the processes running on your computer.

For example, you can display information on CPU and memory usage, page faults, handle count, and a number of other parameters.

Performance measures

The Performance tab displays a dynamic overview of your computer's performance, including:

  • Graphs for CPU and memory usage.
  • Totals for the number of handles, thread, and processes running on your computer.
  • Totals, in kilobytes, for physical, kernel, and commit memory.

Viewing Network performance

The Networking tab displays a graphical representation of network performance. It provides a simple, qualitative indicator that shows the status of the network(s) that are running on your computer. The Networking tab is displayed only if a network card is present.

On this tab, you can view the quality and availability of your network connection, whether you are connected to one or more than one network.

Monitoring Sessions

The Users tab displays users who can access this computer, and session status and names. Client Name specifies the name of the client computer using the session, if applicable. Session provides a name for you to use to perform such tasks as sending another user a message or connecting to another user’s session.

The Users tab is displayed only if the computer you are working on has Fast User Switching enabled, and is a member of a workgroup or is a standalone computer. The Users tab is unavailable on computers that are members of a network domain.

Beta testing Windows 7 - Part6 (software overview)(Video)

In this video, I give an overview of the key features that I built the Windows 7 test system to evaluate, Quad-cores, 64-bit operating systems / applications and Virtualization Technology (Virtual Machines).

Till then,
Scott

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