~Mail follows today’s post~
Last night, I sent myself hurtling 120 miles at 75 MPH to Columbia, Mo. My mom lives there, and my alma mater, the University of Missouri, is also there. Today, after morning services, I’m headed another 120 miles to Kansas City, where most of my mom’s family lives. I don’t get back there very often, so I’m looking forward to it.
I’ve got some stuff to write, but I’ll be late for services if I do, so it’ll have to wait.
From: “Lawrence Kim” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: A loyal reader w/a technical question
Dear Dave: I have a few questions, well, maybe just one, related to your book. When you do a clean install of W98SE on a partitioned drive, if you wipe C: (where W98 is), how do you get the other programs on the other drives to run again? Especially if you’ve wiped all the .dll files and other important stuff? Secondly, what’s a good and fast way not to have to reload all the programs again if you wipe & reinstall W98? If I used Drive Image 4.0 or a tool like that (or maybe even Norton Ghost), how do you copy images of your drive back onto your computer? Lastly, what’s the best way to optimize your ADSL/highspeed Internet connection? I’ve been using this program called NetSuperSonic which is supposed to adjust certain registry settings in Windows to optimize it for broadband use. It seems to work pretty good, but I was wondering if you would have some other suggestions. That’s pretty much everything. Oh yeah, are you going to come out with a new, updated book? I don’t know, just thought that I would ask. That’s for writing the book; it’s been extremely helpful.
I think that’s actually more than one question, but that’s ok of course.
The idea of a clean install is to start over, which of course means reinstalling everything. Reinstalling everything takes time, of course, but the benefit is that you’re rid of all those old, no-longer-in-use DLLs and other leftovers that hang around after you uninstall programs. You’ve also got fresh copies of everything and a brand-new registry, which is good because registries get corrupt and so can DLLs and even programs. The result is a faster, more stable system.
But if you’ve lost the installation files for some of your programs, you’ve got a problem. You can use CleanSweep or Uninstaller to package up the program, DLLs, and its registry entries for re-installation, but be sure to test the package on another PC before you wipe, because these don’t always work.
Ghost or Drive Image aren’t a clean install per se, because they preserve everything. Generally the way I save and restore images is to a network drive, or in the case of a standalone PC, to an extra partition or, better yet, a second hard drive. You can also span an image to multiple Zip, Jaz, or Orb disks but that’s slower and more cumbersome. These programs are absolutely invaluable for disaster recovery, but as optimization tools in their own right, their benefit is very limited.
If NetSupersonic checks your MTU and adjusts it properly (many of those utilities don’t), that’s a great start. You can measure your speed by going to http://www.pcpitstop.com/internetcenter.asp, and they have some suggestions on the site for fixing sub-optimal perfomance. Ad-blocking software will speed you up as much as anything else you can do, and FastNet99 (mentioned in the book) is also useful by reducing the number of DNS lookups you have to do (I accomplished the same thing by connecting my DSL modem to a Linux box running its own DNS, which I then used to share my DSL out to my Windows PCs).
As for an updated book, I imagine not doing one would probably kill me. But publishers are understandably hesitant to do one right now, since no one seems to know what Microsoft will do next. Is Windows Me really the end? Is Windows 2000’s successor really going to be suitable for home use? When will Microsoft manage to deliver another OS? No publisher wants to invest tens of thousands of dollars in producing a book only to find out they guessed wrong. Once there are answers to those questions, it’ll be time to write a new book. In the meantime, I’m writing magazine articles (there’s very little new in the article at www.computershopper.co.uk this month; there are a couple of new tricks in the article for February, and the article for March is almost entirely new stuff) and posting new tricks to my own site as I find them or think of them. So the answer to your question is, “probably,” but I can’t give you any kind of time frame.
Hopefully that answers your questions. If not, feel free to write back.
From: “Lawrence Kim” <email@example.com>
Subject: Drive Image Pt. 2
However, IF I were to reinstall everything, erase my game drive, utility drive, and C: drive, reinstall W98SE, all my programs, and THEN take an image of my C drive after my brand new clean install, theoretically I shouldn’t have to ever reinstall everything again (unless I add new programs or whatnot) because the image I have taken of my C drive will be a nice, squeaky clean one, right?
How do you spell “segway?” as in, linking two opposite ideas together?
Finally, do you think it’s worth picking up Norton Systemworks 2001 when I have 2000?
You are correct about imaging a fresh install. That’s the way we handle systems at work (my job would be impossible otherwise, as many systems and as few techs as we have). It’s nice to be able to restore to pristine condition in 15 minutes instead of 6 hours.
The word segue is pronounced “Segway.” I think that’s the word you’re looking for.
The biggest new feature of Systemworks 2001 is Windows 2000 and Windows Me compatibility. If neither of those matter to you, stick with what you have.
From: “John Doucette” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: windows memory use
We have several high end Pentiums at work running Windows 98. These PC’s have 512 MB of Ram and run what I am told is a very resource intensive C+ program. Now I have not myself touched these machines yet and likely won’t as what is not apparently broken they will not likely let me fix (some might say break).
Now no work was done to the best of my knowledge to try and tune these PC’s. They merely installed Ram and ran the program till performance seemed to hit the ceiling.
Now I have always thought that Windows 9x would not perform any better with more than 128 MB of Ram. I think that if given the opportunity I could down grade these PC’s to 128 MB of Ram, tune them and get the same performance.
I would then have Ram to use were it could be of value.
I am curious with all your Windows tuning experience and some programming knowledge if I am pissing in the wind, or if you think that the PC’s would likely run the C+ program well with less Ram.
If the program really needs that kind of memory, they have no business running it on 98. They should be running on NT. Win98 definitely gives diminishing returns after 128MB; you see some improvement but not much. I don’t remember what the maximum memory for 9x is; it may be 512 or it may be 768, but you’ll get to a point where if you don’t specify a limit in the vcache section of system.ini, Windows won’t boot because the disk cache can’t handle that much memory and will crash. That may be the ceiling they hit.
I seriously doubt that program runs demonstrably better in 512MB than it would in 128 with some optimization. I’d set some parameters on the disk cache, optimize the hard disk(s), cut everything possible out of startup, kill anything cutesie the PCs are running, and add the line ConservativeSwapFileUsage=1 to the [386Enh] section of system.ini. I’d also use 98lite’s IEradicator to pull IE if they don’t need a Web browser–that increases system performance across the board by a good 15-30 percent. If the program’s really a resource hog, I could justify 256, but really I’ve yet to see a Win9x PC that truly benefitted from having more than 96 MB of RAM. It just makes more sense to by a 128MB stick than a 64 and a 32.
I’d say take one of the PCs, make a Ghost image of it so you can bring it back to the original, then pull 384 megs and optimize the sucker. I’m betting it’d make a huge difference. (And I’d love to hear the results.)
From: Edwards, Bruce
Subject: Internet Connection Sharing
Good morning Dave:
I posted this over on the hardwareguys.com forum about internet conneciton sharing, where you kindly gave me a suggestion that helped a lot. 🙂
Hi Dave and other interested persons/Linux gurus:
Your suggestion about the gateway was part of what I needed, thank you. In addition to not having the gateway defined on my internal Windows 98 client, I also needed to put the DNS server IP addresses on the clients in the TCP/IP configuration. I was assuming it would get the DNS info from the Sharethe net gateway, where the DNS server is also defined. Silly me! There looks like there is both good news and bad news. First the good news:
Once I was able to get it working, on the same hardware as the Wingate solution, my aDSL performance doubled!
From the DSLReport.com scan I received this:
TCP port 53 is OPEN
GRC.com reported all ports (scanned for) were closed.
With port 53 open, I will be running the Wingate solution until I get some feedback or more info about what to do. There is probably some bad vulnerability somewhere. I still have not looked through the SharetheNet information I have enough to know if I can turn that port off easily (easily for a Linux newbie that is). I seem to remember that there probably is an init file with all the services defined which would probably be easy to turn this port off. Since this whole thing runs from a floppy, the files are actually active on a ram disk.
Here is some SharetheNet Linux configuration information specific to my current gatewayPC, in case any of you Linux gurus out there would be willing to point out what I need to do:
I’ve probably put enough info there to make hackers very happy. Oh well, I won’t be running SharetheNet in that configuration and will not run it at all unless I can determine that it is safe. Any comments appreciated.
Port 53 is DNS. I wouldn’t be too worried about it. The critical ports are blocked, and even if someone does somehow manage to get into your system, since the configuration is on a write-protected floppy all you have to do is reboot. And they won’t be able to do much on your internal network since you’re running Windows, and your Linux box doesn’t have Samba installed.
That information you posted is mostly hardware configuration data; I don’t think there’s anything useful there unless some exploit happens to be discovered for a particular driver (possible but not worth worrying about).
I thought I knew once how to block specific ports, but that’ll have to wait until tonight for me to dig.
From: “J H RICKETSON” <email@example.com>
Where did you get an FDISK that asks you if you want to do big partitions? Mine (DOS 6.22) thinks an 8+ gig disk is plenty big enough for anyone and refuses to even consider anything larger – and a ~2 gig partition is all anyone will ever need. I need a more user-tolerant FDISK!
Windows 95B, Windows 98, and Windows Me’s FDISKs all handle larger than 8 GB drives. Partition size is a function of filesystem. FAT16 is limited to 2 gigs, period. FAT32 can be several terabytes.
From: “Lawrence Kim” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Recycle Bins and Boxers
Is there any way that one can make one recycle bin in only one partitioned drive, and have all the junk from all the other drives go to that one recycle bin instead of having recycle bins for each and every drive? And what do you think about one of your ministers of the House of Common wanting to pass a law that would indict a boxer if he inflicts serious injury on another boxer, or kills him? I personally think that should be out of the hands of lawmakers, as both boxers realize the risk that they are taking when stepping into the ring. The only exception that I can think of is if a boxer continues to pummel away at his opponent after the bell has rung, and he’s straddling his opponent’s waist, hammering away at his face. Okay, that can be prosecuted, but not if everything else is completely fair. Anyway, enough of that. Thanx again.
I wish it were possible to consolidate the recycle bins, but I don’t believe it is. I’ve never seen any trick to do that. The Mac does that, so I guess I could say get a Mac, but that feature isn’t worth the trouble and expense of switching platforms.
I’m not British, so I haven’t heard of that proposed law, but that’s ridiculous. When you’re playing sports, you’re at constant risk of injury. It’s a risk you take. And with what professional athletes make (at least in the States), that’s fair. Most professional athletes in the States should be set for life after just a five-year career, if they handle their money wisely (most don’t).
Baseball’s considered one of the safer sports, but there’s been one instance of a player killed when he was hit by a pitch (Carl Mays, sometime in the 1920s, I think). There’ve been countless career-ending injuries due to being hit by a pitch or a line drive. It’s up to the officials of the sport to ensure that players are sportsmanlike and don’t take cheap shots, not the government.
Then again, the United States has a much more laissez-faire government than most countries, and I’ve always tended to flutter between the libertarian and conservative points of view so I’m even more laissez-faire than the average U.S. lawmaker.