SpinRite had been running over 330 hours (nearly 2 weeks) and said it needed another 7500+ hours (312+ days) to complete the job when I decided to, um, change course. As I mentioned earlier, the disk just contained a test Linux server. So, there wasn't anything critical on it and this exercise was one of curiosity. If you look at my screen shot from August 20 and then look at the screen shot from today above. You'll see that SpinRite has essentially not moved from the bad sector it has been working on for the last 10 days. So, I noted where it was, terminated the process (rebooted) and did the following: I changed the scan level from 2 to 1 (read scan only) and advanced the pointer to the 57% mark to get around the known bad area. An hour later, SpinRite had moved from that point to over 80% complete (with a lot of green R's noting more bad areas it found) and should be done within another hour or so.
If you use Microsoft Virtual PC or Virtual Server and have Red Hat, Fedora, or CentOS Linux guest OSes, you probably have clock problems. Clocks basically lose an alarming amount of time may be hours off within a day or two. You may also have repeating keys problems when typing. Microsoft's Ben Armstrong (Virtual PC Guy) posted a tip a while back...
...that pointed to a Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) article that recommends adding the clock=pit (programmable interruptible timer) option on the grub kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst. However, if you started using RHEL 5 (CentOS 5 in my case), take a look at your /var/log/messages file. You will probably find a warning that the clock= option has been deprecated. From what I can see, replacing it with...
...takes care of that warning. However, the RHEL 5 based Linux clock still runs a bit slowly. I ended up having the clock sync with a time source every hour to deal with it.
A small old Linux test PC starting generating hard disk sector error messages in its log files last week Thursday. So, I shut it down and booted it with a SpinRite CD (we have a site license, thank goodness). When the first two red U's indicating uncorrectable errors appeared, I wasn't surprised to see it estimate an additional 13 hours to scan the remainder of the disk. But, I was not prepared to see this when I came into the office Monday morning (more than 3 days later).
As you can see, it was only 56% of the way done (or so its current estimate reported) and lots of red U symbols indicating lots of hard disk problems. Fortunately, this is just a test system and nothing needs to be truly recovered. So, this is mostly an academic exercise since I've never seen this many problems on a disk. Actually, this is the first time I've seen SpinRite report problems at all. My gut estimate is that I will need to wait a few more days before I can reboot the system back into Linux and see exactly what is missing and how usable the system is in this semi-recovered state. The entire scanning and repair process may take a week. So, this is truly an exercise in patience. BTW, the PC is a Pentium III (remember those). Despite their age, they make great little Linux boxes to build custom gateways and other semi-appliance type functions.
I was very interested to find CNet's comparison of Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion...
Then, I read what they used for testing: An 8-core MacPro. Ok, everyone out there using an 8-core MacPro, raise your hand. Ok, now everyone else raise your hand. I'm guessing the "everyone else" outnumbered the 8-core users by about 10-to-1 (if not much much more). It would be more interesting and much more useful if CNet had used a more typical user setup like an iMac or MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo with 2GB RAM.
The results are interesting if unsurprising. VMware's ability to use multiple processors should outperform Parallels by what we see in CNet's tests. It was interesting to read that CNet could not run the Quake 4 test using Fusion while it did run under Parallels.
I'll try to provide a more realistic test scenario when I am able to unbury myself from writing projects (due at the end of August). I also have VMware Workstation 6 with ACE 2 for Windows. So, I may be able to test that and provide some comments (although not direct performance comparions) there too.
First PC Magazine's John Dvorak writes Me and My Mac. In it he talks about the Mac he got for his work for Podshow. He says he is not switching to a Mac for personal use, but uses it at that office and has been recommending Macs to friends.
The outgoing PC Magazine Editor in Chief Jim Louderback wrote in his final column Passing the Torch: I could go on and on about the lack of drivers, the bizarre wake-up rituals, the strange and nonreproducible system quirks, and more. But I won't bore you with the details. The upshot is that even after nine months, Vista just ain't cutting it. I definitely gave Microsoft too much of a free pass on this operating system: I expected it to get the kinks worked out more quickly. Boy, was I fooled! If Microsoft can't get Vista working, I might just do the unthinkable: I might move to Linux.
In a previous blog entry I cited a survey by Patchlink reporting that 87% of the businesses they surveyed said they would stay with Windows XP. I haven't experienced all the problems reported by Louderback and other people. But, I've seen a bunch including the nearly inaccessible network settings and printer driver problems in Vista.
I like a lot of the features in Vista and still use it daily. But, I have to admit that my next "PC" will probably be a new Mac mini to replace my 1st generation PowerPC-based Mac mini running Mac OS X Leopard and either VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop for Mac for Windows compatibility.
Is Vista the end of the line for Windows as the dominant desktop OS? Will web-based applications and Mac OS X or Linux start getting more traction?
I noticed a bunch of Blu-ray DVD boxed sets at Costco yesterday. These were (if I recall correctly) 4 movies for around $80. I found it kind of odd since I seem to remember only seeing HD DVD players on the other side of the store. So, what does one do with this high-def format war? On one hand Blockbuster will only carry Blu-ray. On the other, HD DVD players are a lot cheaper (affordable). I'm not going to make a choice for the moment. But, my gut instinct is to look at Sony's (Blu-ray creator) history of format fiascoes and lean towards HD DVD. To recap Sony's failed storage format products...
- Mini Disc
- Memory stick
- ATRAC audio file format
- UMD (Playstation Portable disc format)
And, while the CD (Sony/Philips) has been a huge success, let's not forget who decided to put a root kit on music CDs. And, don't forget the exploding notebook batteries.
I'm hoping the HD picture becomes clearer (pun intended) by the 2007 holiday season so I can finally decide which one to swing towards.
Microsoft released a pre-built Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) of...Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 VHD (Full Installation)
...for download. The download consists of 5 files (CDs). Note that the requirements specifically say Virtual Server 2005 R2 with 1GB RAM allocated to the Guest OS. Unlike Windows Server 2003 R2 which can run reasonably well as a test environment with only 256MB RAM allocated to it, Server 2008 (Longhorn) really needs a lot of resources.
The PC World article...
...reports on surveys conducted by Patchlink that indicates that the number of businesses who said they were staying with Windows XP instead of upgrading to Vista went up from 53% in December 2006 (before Vista was released) 87% in July.
One of my blog items over on the O'Reilly Media WindowsDevCenter site...
...posted on May 1 continues to draw venomous comments about Windows Vista because of its software compatibility and lack of hardware driver support. Now, many of these comments are made without actually naming a single specific application. So, there may be a bit of anti-Microsoft trolling at work there. I've used Windows Vista for over two years now (Beta, Release Candidate, and production versions) and have run into only a handful of applications that didn't work. But, I've definitely run into a bunch of hardware driver issues. That said, I actually like Windows Vista and use it for a good chunk of the day on my notebook PC at work.
Given the general anti-Vista sentiment appears to be rising, I wonder if Windows Vista may be Microsoft's PlayStation 3. Sony's PS2 was the dominant game console for many years. Even the Xbox really didn't do much more than dent its dominance. But, the PS3 doesn't seem very popular except with hard core gamers. The Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360 seems to have over-taken the PS3.
I think Vista's problem is that it didn't go far enough. Its incompatibility and user experience issues (I hate those UAC pop-ups) stem from trying to bandaid over years of Windows code. Microsoft should have bitten the bullet the way Apple did when they moved from OS 9 to OS X. Microsoft could have dealt with compatibility issues by providing a big upgrade to their Virtual PC product (instead of the incremental one they produced). A Microsoft Virtual PC that had the features of VMware Workstation and bundled with a Windows XP SP2 license would have allowed Vista users to simply move their current environment to a virtual machine and then migrate to the real Vista Windows as applications and drivers arrived. Instead, Virtual PC is too weak in the USB support area to really do much good as a complete virtualized environment.
With good virtual machine support available for the Mac (Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion), I wonder if we might see the migration there instead of Vista. The big problem, of course, is that most people will have to buy an XP license which is hard to find these days and somewhat expensive to do if one is found (since their old PCs probably came with a non-transferable OEM Windows XP). But, still if one is going to have application and hardware compatibility issues, why not move to a modern Linux or Mac OS X operating system instead of sticking with the nearly six year old Windows XP?
So, does Windows XP == Sony PS2? And, does Windows Vista == Sony PS3? We'll should know within the next 12 months or so. I'm going to keep using Vista on my PCs (and just bought VMware Fusion to try to virtualize it on a Mac). But, I may be in the minority if the various published reports are true.