Friday, January 23, 2009

Win7 From the Trenches: Getting ITunes 8 to run on Windows 7 Beta 1

As I stated in my previous post on my first take on working with Windows 7 I am a IPod user and can not do without my IPod Touch thus I have an urgent need to have ITunes 8 working on my machine. First and for most let me state that if you are using ITunes 8 heavily you should probably consider not converting your primary box to running Windows 7 since the solution I am going to present is not for the faint of heart...

Actually it not a fix to get ITunes running on Win7 rather it is a workaround that involves a virtual machine running on your Win7 box so you'll have to do the following:

1, Install VirtualBox and create a virtual machine select Windows XP as the target OS and create a virtual hard drive that can fit both the OS as well as the size of your ITunes library.

You might be wondering why you have to use VirtualBox? Instead of VirtualPC, well the answer is simple. VirtualPC have no support for USB devices in the guest OS (VMWare does but that ain't free and VirtualBox is).

2, Boot your virtual machine and install Windows XP as your would do using any virtualization tool. Once your done patching install ITunes 8.

3, Time for some configuration of the virtual machine. Make sure you map the network correctly so that you can subscribe to podcasts and purchase new applications and songs. Set up a shared directory on the host machine where you can copy your ITunes library (or do it via usb or the network if you prefer). Finally plugin your IPod so it gets detected by the host and create a usb filter on your virtual machine for your IPod.

4, Boot up the virtual machine containing your ITunes installation and copy over your existing library to your virtual machine from whatever source you choosed in the previous step. Finally you'll need to authorize the virtual machine to get the syncronization to work (otherwise it will delete all your purchased stuff from your IPod) you can always deauthorize it later once ITunes starts working on Win7.

5, Make sure your virtual machine has focus (I usally put it in full screen mode when syncing) and plugin your IPod (most of the times it just works but from time to time it will not work then unplug it and try another usb port and it should work).

So there you have it, quite abit of work to get it to work. I didn't do any screendumps with detailed instructions since I don't know if there is an huge audience for this post but if that is the case leave a comment to let me know and I'll put together a details instruction. Also I will keep trying any new versions of ITunes on Win7 and let you know if I find a version that seems stable enough to use.

Update 2009-02-04: Please read my follow up post about performance as well which you can find here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm in beta heaven or is it hell? First impressions on Windows 7 Beta 1

A couple of weeks ago when Microsoft released the first public beta version of Windows 7, I kind of had a brain meltdown and decided it was fun to go all out with the beta testing and switch over my main development machine to Windows 7 :)

In retrospect I'm not sure it was a good investment timewise since I've been suffering abit with some application compalitbilities (I'll go into more details later) and thus I've been dedicating a considerable ammount of time to work around my problem areas.

First out I gotta say that I really enjoy the new taskbar (it grows on you quickly) and the overall stability and performance are really good for a beta 1, that stated lets have a quick look on my pain points.

First and foremost I'm an avid user of my IPod Touch and could not imagine life without it and alas it works crappy on Windows 7 (altough that was not all that suprisingly since it had it's fair share of problems on Vista as well). I simply can't get ITunes 8 to work properly (altough I have a work around in the works I'll post more on that later) it crashes my machine with an ugly BSOD or it simply hangs so bad that I have to power off to be able to shutdown the computer. Another really problematic issue with this is that most of the time it won't even start it just spawns up a process without any user interface (you'll see the process but you can't touch it). So if you really rely on your ITunes 8 to function properly you should probably consider testing Windows 7 on another machine.

Then it was time to install some virus protection and Norton AntiVirus 2009 didn't work properly I was unable to run any updates if just didn't work. However this seems to be a passing problem since after running windows update and rebooting a couple of this all of the sudden it started to work. But fourtenately there seems to be a quick uptake on the antivirus market to support Windows 7 read more in this post Anti-Virus Solutions for the Windows 7 Beta.

After a couple of weird crashes I started to snoop around the device manager and saw a few driver related problems but I managed to work them out by going to HP's homepage and download the Vista drivers and so far it seems to work properly (not so many crashes anymore). I still experience some problems when playing movies using Windows Media Player, from time to time it simply freezes and I have to reboot or it won't start playback of the movie at all (currently I don't know why and it is not that frequent so I'm not gonna dig to deep into that).

Another issue that bugged me (both very breifly since the problem solver in windows actually told med exactly what to do to solve the problem ... wooot that's not allways the case) but is has to do with running msi installations and you can read more about the problem is this post Delete regkey to fix msi installer bug in Windows 7 beta.

After awhile I started to turn my attention to the sidebar gadgets (Windows 7 has done away with the sidebar that was introduced in Vista, I'm still not totally comfy with that) which now can be place anywhere you like on the desktop. I quickly discovered that nothing happened when I tried to add a gadget, this turned out to be caused by the fact that I've disabled UAC and then you can't have gadgets :( I really hope they work this out in later versions. If you are really diehard about the sidebar you can still enable it just follw the instructions in this blog post Workaround to Run Windows Vista Bar Style Sidebar in Windows 7.

One thing I still haven't solve it the fact that I can't seem to get the Hyper-V Administration Console to work (I just can't find it! And yes I've downloaded and installed the update) when I get the time to work this out I'll post how I managed to do it.

Finally and equally bad as the ITunes problem is the fact that the Azure SDK CTP doesn't function properly on Windows 7 so I end up running my Azure labs in an virtual machine instead. I'm currently considering to try out the MED-V Beta 1 to get the development environment to run seamlessly in the host os but I'm not sure I'm that brave (MED-V is currently not supported on Windows 7). Anyway if you want more details on the Azure SDK issue go to this post Windows Azure SDK Jan 2009 CTP doesn’t work on Windows 7 Beta AzureJournal - Windows Azure Blog.

That's all folks :) I'm gonna keep posting on the topic whenever I bump into problems and solve them.

MED-V 1.0 available as Beta (finally a windows alternative to VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop)

I read about MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) a while back and was happy to see this addtion to the microsoft virtualization family.

The main goal with the product is to let you deal with noncompatile applications when upgrading your os, atleast that seems to be the major benefit altough if you read more about it on the official MED-V website it looks like there might be some intressting areas of application in the future.

You can go download the beta and start playing around with it but once it becomes final you will only be available through the "Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack" which you only get if you have purchased a "Windows Client Software Assurance" license.

You might wonder what my intrest in this product is since after all my main line of work is not dealing with the infrastructure (although I need to keep tabs on it)? The thing is that in dealing with architectural issues and process development I tend to work alot with products in beta of alot of virtual machines with different configurations to evaulate new ideas and technologies.

It mainly boils down to one thing that has bugged me alot since I saw such products as VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop on the Mac. I really missed the ability to run applications in a seamless fashion without having to dealing with switching between different virtual machine. It finally looks like I will be able to do this with MED-V, a little word of warning though beta 1 does not support Windows 7 as a host environment yet altough there are rumors that it will become available soon.

For more information read the following posts on the subject:

"Springboard Series - The Resource for Windows Desktop IT Professionals : Beta 1 for Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization 1.0 (MED-V) is now available".

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) Beta is publicly available

Monday, January 5, 2009

I've got an itch..... To code :)

I find myself suffering abit from lack of pet projects to code on and I thought I'd just ask you guys that read my blog if there are any particular needs that needs to be addressed when using TFS 2008?

Please post any ideas as comments in response to this post and maybe we can get something going for 2009 (kind of miss working on TFSBuildLab). So get those creative juices flowing so we can start building some usefull extensions to TFS 2008.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Geekonomics ... What does a bug really cost?

I recently finnished reading Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software which is a very well written analysis of the problems caused by insecure software (or poorly written software if you like). This is a book that should be read by preferably everyone invovled in the development process, but at the very least all you architects out there should consider it a must read.

It paints a pretty grim picture, but is in now way exaggerated. Technology is digging itself deeper and deeper into the very fabric of our socities which brings us great advantages but also presents some very dangerous scenarios. This is a subject that has been nagging in the back of my head for about a decade or so (about the time when my first son was born), mostly when you talk on a topic like this people tend to think you are exaggerating. However as the book clearly shows there are numerous of well documented cases where the shit really hit the fan.

One such case is the hacker attack on Estonia in 2007 that more or less shutdown the goverment in Estonia just because they decided to take down a russian war monumental. Another incident is in the epilogue of the book which is a little nugget about when when world war 3 almost started due to a a software glitch in the russian radar system.

So whats the deal why do we have all these problems with software? Well there are many factors but one prominent one is the fact that most software vendors are operating in a marketbased economy without any governmental regulations in place. The market is supposed to be selfregulatory, but when competition is driven by constantly creating new features and not necessarily by utility secure software is not allways on top of the list. Writing truely secure software is very hard and comes with a high monetary cost but little or no "bling bling". The whole software industry is operating in a "just ship it" mode or as Guy Kawasaki very eloquently put it:

“Don't worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test...”
The author concludes that the tipping point for when it is impossible to take back control over software is rapidly approaching. We need to put into place govermental regulations for markets that affect our infrastructure as a whole, licensing of software developers needs to be put into place and we need to take away the absolute immunity granted to the software manufactors by adhesion contracts.

He also proposes a intressting idea about vunerability taxes that would work similar to pollution taxes the more defects you unleash on the market the higher the taxation. This an intressting concept but it has some issues when applied in a competitive market.

Personally I think that we need to put all the above into place but we also need to apply the mentality of "act local, think global" and as software developers we need to take pride in what we do and consider our work more of a craftmanship.