Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vista setup on an X41 Tablet

My wife pointed out that I was rapidly approaching the extremely low bar of one post per month I had set for myself, so I thought I'd jump the gun and blog about what I've been working on for the last few weeks. As I have blogged about ad infinitum, I have been running the full Office 2007 on my home PC since May, and Outlook and OneNote 2007 on my work tablet since early August. Since about November, I have seen my colleagues bite the bullet and load Vista on their primary work machines and complain about it. Then when we got RTM code back in mid-December the complaints started to turn to admiration, and people I worked with a lot started pressuring me.

"But I've got a shitty 4200RPM hard drive in my tablet," I said to myself. "Only 1GB of RAM is not enough for Vista." "My company is working on a standard Vista deployment, and then I will be able to take advantage of it and not have to set up my own laptop and lose a week's billable time." "Those bumbling idiots at Interwoven still haven't written any usable integration between Office 2007 and DeskSite."

(Can I take a moment to complain about this last one? How the hell can Interwoven not have any integration with Word and Excel 2007 two months after the RTM came out? What, exactly, have they been working on for the last 12 months? It's not just Interwoven -- Open Text (Hummingbird) and World Software (Worldox) won't have any integration for months, either. AND THIS IS THE MAJOR SOFTWARE THAT THEIR PRODUCTS SHOULD INTEGRATE WITH. The primary function of document management software is to, when you press File\Open in Microsoft Word or Excel, pop open a window that allows you to search the DMS repository and shows you recent documents you've opened from said repository. That this function does not work and is not expected to work for months, in any software from any law firm document management vendor, is a complete joke given the outlandish per seat and yearly maintenance that law firms pay. You know, a lot of law firms are considering throwing out their DMS vendor and just going with SharePoint due to their annoyance with substandard DMS products. That Office is going to be in retail stores on Tuesday, but DMS integration isn't going to be around until the 2nd quarter at least, just gives more credence that these vendors deserve to be thrown out on their asses.) (Caveat: Interwoven OffSite is a brilliant product and in general, DeskSite, Hummingbird DM, and Worldox have far more advanced functionality than SharePoint 2007 as a document management system. This, I suppose, is why we keep putting up with these delays from them.)

OK, totally out-of-the-blue rant over. After all that, why did I go Vista? Simple -- my hard drive died the morning after a flight back from Chicago. Using all the various safe modes all still refused to load the HKLM\Software hive from the registry. IBM Disk Diagnostics showed that I had a bunch of bad sectors. Faced with setting up everything all over again only to still be on XP Tablet Edition 2005 was just too depressing. So I loaded Vista. Here are some of my notes from the load in case you decide to do the same.

First off, Lenovo has added a ton of Vista drivers in the last week that weren't there when I set the laptop up. Go to the site if you are missing something. Almost all of it is there now. You can also try the Vista beta driver page for those things that aren't there yet. In some cases, XP drivers do work. (I warn you -- none of them change the fact that the X41 Tablet has a super-shitty 1.0 Vista Experience rating ;)

Now, in no particular order, are some challenges I faced in the install and my fixes. I hope it helps you if you are doing the same thing.

  • I had an error "No sound device installed" but installed the Audio Driver for W2K/XP. This install threw its own error ("This operating system is not supported by this software"), so I tried to "reinstall using recommended settings" which applied XP compatibility and made it work. On login, I got an error "No ADI codec driver is installed" but audio is working. I went into Device Manager, opened up the SoundMax Integrated Audio device and let Windows search for an updated driver online; it installed something and suggested I reboot. On restart, the error was gone.
  • I had one Unknown Device listed, but extensive Googling showed that it was the "ThinkPad PM Device". Installing the Modem driver (Conexant AC97) got rid of the Unknown Device.
  • Only recently did I get screen rotation working properly. It had always worked through the Windows Mobility Manager (right-click the battery icon) but you will want to check out the Tablet Shortcut Menu, and click Settings to get it to change orientation automatically. I originally thought that "Active Rotate" was kind of cool but eventually got rid of it because it took a long time to rotate the screen and sometimes did so unnecessarily.
  • I read somewhere that having the round Vista start button peeking out over a single-height taskbar caused some sort of moderately expensive graphics operation to occur when different windows came up and when orientation was switched. That sort of sounded like bullshit but I did give up a precious few dozen pixels at the bottom of my screen to try it out and I have to say, things seem slightly faster with the taskbar at double-height. (And, I have room for all 12 Quick Launch icons.)
  • I am using ReadyBoost with a 1GB Kingston DataTraveler U3. I can't really tell what all I get out of it but I do think Vista in general, with the USB stick, is faster than XP Tablet was on this PC. My coworkers swear that ReadyBoost works really well for them.
  • Fingerprint reader:
    • I installed Trusted Platform Module, it didn't require a restart required, but I wasn't sure what that got me -- I still had a "Biometric Coprocessor" showing as an unknown device.
    • Still no login with fingerprints, so I gave Fingerprint Driver and Software a try -- no love.
    • Then, I found a link to the beta ThinkVantage Fingerprint Software 5.6… it works like a dream, and is much better than the previous version. It's just more reliable to see your finger swipes, and also always passes through the fingerprint from BIOS to login screen, whereas the older software I used was pretty hap-hazard about it.
    • The real test will come in a few days when my password expires. In the old software, that would mean I'd have to delete all my fingerprints and recreate them because it didn't handle the password change well.
  • Hotkeys (mute, volume, etc.)
    • Found the beta page and downloaded the Hotkey Features Driver, it didn't seem to do anything
    • Strange, they do work, but are not integrated with the Vista volume. So when I unmuted in Vista, it didn't work, but when I pressed the hardware volume key above the keyboard, it did work. So it's working, I guess.
    • Update: one of the latest batch of installs (Vista System Interface Driver and the Tablet buttons) seems to have restored the on screen display and tied the buttons to the Vista speaker systray icon. So everything is cool now.
  • Wireless
  • Power Manager
    • The 1/22 update is Vista-aware now, and it's pretty cool -- all the settings are in the Power Plan now. I tried to dial some stuff back when on battery and jack everything up when on AC. Originally I was on High Performance with some tweaks to conserve battery, and I have to say that my battery life was not very good -- well under 3 hours whereas I could get close to 5 with XP Tablet. Now that there's a new ThinkPad Power Management Driver and some sort of new Vista System Interface thing, I will see how it goes.
  • You can install the Active Protection Center if you like. I did. The Vista version works fine. The XP version worked OK also except the system tray icon would not appear.
  • Getting the tablet buttons (rotate, Ctrl-Alt-Del, etc.) to work was a bit of a struggle:
  • I installed the BIOS Update but can so far report no differences, good or bad
  • I had a problem with my VPN disconnecting as soon as I attempted to send data over it; I unchecked "use remote gateway" and things started working again. This is OK for us since we are a small shop and devote 20 or so IPs from the server IP block to VPN clients, but I suppose you would have to troubleshoot further if you were more properly set up subnet-wise.

So what's left and what doesn't work?

  • Presentation Director is not Vista-compatible and doesn't run. Right now, the Fn-F7 key combination is not doing what I want it to and I would very much like to get this resolved. (It switches from LCD-only to VGA-only to LCD-in-800x600-and-VGA and then back to LCD-only. All of those options are shit. I want LCD-in-1024x768-and-VGA-in-the-same like I always had before.)
  • I can't get the hard drive firmware update to work -- it fails logged in as me, and it froze the whole machine when I was logged in as my local admin user
  • I would like to load the IBM stuff on the 5GB partition, but there appears to be no way to do this. Partly this is my fault because I greedily ripped open the replacement hard drive and started loading Vista (after creating a 5GB partition) before my recovery CDs showed up. But I had hoped that an option existed to load just the partition, and that's not the case. I'll have to Ghost the partition from one of my colleagues with an X41.
  • I don't see a version of PDAnet for Vista and the Treo 700p out yet. I will try it but I suspect it will not be easy. This is a bit of a bummer as I've got a long business trip to Chicago coming up at the end of this week.
  • I would like to get Vista to show underlined letters for keyboard shortcuts. It is inconsistent in doing so.
  • I would like to have pressing the power button prompt me what I would like to do, instead of immediately doing one of sleep, hibernate, or shut down. This was an option in XP which I miss. Between meetings, I will stand by; when I leave the office or client site, I hibernate; and when I install things or have problems, I restart or shut down. All initiated by pressing the power button and choosing S, H, R, etc. No more.
  • For all my complaints, I do have limited Interwoven DeskSite (and OffSite) integration working. I still cannot get File\Open to work, but if I launch all documents from DeskSite, they will open in the appropriate application and are saved and checked back in when closed. New versions have to be instantiated from DeskSite. I am told that FileSite does not work with Outlook 2007 but I am not fond of FileSite -- as a traveler who uses Outlook with RPC over HTTPS, I find FileSite is too stupid to understand that I can be online and switch to offline, or that I can be online but it cannot contact its DMS server. I sort of miss FileSite (its primary advantages were that the integrated apps launched super fast because it told them whether they were online or offline, and also you could insert documents or document links from within a message you were replying to) but its confusion when you hibernate online and then resume offline made it too difficult to use. And now it doesn't work, anyway.
  • I can't get Juniper Network Connect to work, and Juniper's site does not easily let me find updated versions if there are any. (In the transition from Neoteris to Netscreen to Juniper, my partner registration got lost.) Secure Application Manager does work (so I can use DeskSite and DTE) but Network Connect is good to use to sync up my offline files (and some OneNote files) at the client before heading to the airport. Since our PPTP VPN doesn't work through most client firewalls, Network Connect is important, particularly now that I've had a hard drive crash and almost lost notes from a meeting (fortunately you can copy over a .onecache file from one machine to another and it will sync up cached changes perfectly, even if you've already been using another cache file). I will always sync everything before moving my laptop from one building to another from now on.
  • Outlook is flaky in switching orientation -- sometimes it knows to move the reading pane from right to bottom, sometimes not.

Other than that, I'm actually pretty happy with Vista. It seems faster to log in and run, and the tablet features seem to be a bit more stable (e.g. TIP popping up and staying up, handwriting recognition), I already prefer the new start menu search function, the look is slicker (even without Aero which I am too underpowered to run), and I am of course liking full Office. It took a long time for all the drivers to come out but now that they are, most of the machine-specific features are working for me now. I will update this post or post links to an updated post if I can get some of the outstanding issues working. Please feel free to comment if you have questions, and I will try and help you if I can. If you have suggestions, I would really appreciate them as I've not exhaustively searched these (except the PDAnet and Juniper Network Connect issues).

Hope this helps you,

--sbreck

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Hi,

I cannot seem to get Audio working either with the error message "No ADI codec driver is installed" on Toshiba portege M500.

Same card as yours.

No luck yet but mixers output shows bars etc meaning its playing music :/

Very wierd.
 
My drive seems to keep flashing ever since I installed Vista. Even when I don't do anything. Is it normal? Does it do the same for you?

I found out it keeps working on the "System Volume Information" directory.
 
sorry for the late reply, I was out of town, had surgery, and then been buried in work for the last two weeks.

@ vikram: if it shows that the OS thinks audio is working, I can't help but wonder if your hardware buttons are enabled and you have it on hardware mute, but Vista is not in mute. that was my problem -- I had unmuted it from the system tray icon (in software), but had to press the ThinkPad volume up button to "turn on" the speaker in hardware. also don't forget my advice in the post, which is just to let Windows search for the SoundMax driver.

@ anonymous this morning: OK, I have an admission to make -- I am no longer using the X41 with Vista. just when I got it working, my colleague finagled me an X60. the person who was supposed to get the X60 but instead got my hand-me-down (only 10 months old, cry me a river) X41 just got it cleaned off and in his hands today, so I could take a look if I find an excuse to visit him. if I was to guess at the problem, I would suggest a Gadget that monitors something. I take it that, because you know what directory is being accessed, you found this out through FileMon? if so, what process is accessing it? if not, get FileMon and see what's doing it. I know there is a ProcMon utility built into Vista but I found that to be like a firehose of confusing information so I reverted back to filemon. anyway, sorry if the filemon suggestion is obvious but that's how I figure things out, and since you didn't say what process was accessing the System Volume Info directory I didn't know if you had it or not. let me know and I will try to respond... well... this weekend after my report is complete :)

regards to both and thanks for reading,
--sbreck
 
I'm an x41 owner and I'm thinking about going the Vista way. I have a few quick questions though.
What version of Vista did you install?
What became of the IBM parition, did you forgo the space or leave it as is?
 
@ Gaston: I installed Vista Business, because that's what my company owns and will eventually install for my colleagues. Would have been nice to get Media Center content from my home machine and take it with me, but not nice enough to warrant paying for Ultimate myself.

I left 5GB free for the IBM partition but have still not figured out how to load the data onto that partition.
 
Grrr! I just finished installing all Vista (Business) and cannot seem to get Cisco VPN or The Juniper Newtowrk connect to work. Some companies are truly slow out of the blocks. Any one any idea if and when any of these two will work???
 
Network Connect update to add Vista support is due to be released by Juniper on April 16th - your admin will have to update their SA appliance to deploy the newer client version (not sure if its a increment of 5.4 or a new 5.5 release).
 
Thanks for the posts. I've been able to get Vista business running smoothly on the X41. The only thing left is the auto-rotate feature. One tip that other X41 users may want to try is turning on windows disk compression on their system drive. This should effectively increase disk speed at the cost of a little cpu usage. My boot times are currently at 1.5min after cleaning up alot of the services I don't need. Again.. thanks for the tips!
 
i take it you may not be able to answer, but maybe somebody else will run into this. anything new happening with presentation? the director doesn't work still. my main gripe is the powerpoint presentation. i want to have presentation view on one screen and my laptop monitor with all the stuff. i used to be able to do that under xp. now it doesn't work. any ideas anybody? thanks, e
 
@anonymous 3/28 & 3/31: looks like April 16th came and went, and I can't figure out if Juniper has released a new Network Connect or SAM. if I find a link, I'll post it, and hopefully someone else who finds it first will do the same...

@sean: I couldn't stand the auto-rotate feature that was based on orientation, because it was way too sensitive and also tried to rotate the screens in weird ways that didn't work, so it would throw a "This orientation is unsupported" or something and refuse to switch to other orientations until you clicked OK. in general, I find Lenovo's driver (or maybe this is a Vista native driver) to be sort of flaky.

@e: I never had the opportunity to give a presentation on an X41 so I cannot speak to that, but on my X60 I had a ton of trouble connecting to a projector until my colleagues told me to go into Mobility Center (easiest way: right-click the battery icon) and then click Connect Display. then you can use native Windows tools to extend your desktop to the projector (shortcut: the monitor once connected in Mobility Center becomes a button that launches display.cpl). for my colleagues, this setting "sticks" so that when they connect the projector from then on, the desktop extension setting is remembered and it automagically sets it up. because I have some weird problems in which my settings aren't sticking that's not the case for me. I also once had to click Connect Display like a dozen times before it connected. fortunately it was an internal rather than a client presentation so it wasn't as embarrassing as it could have been. in general, though, I don't think Presentation Director can do anything until you Connect Display in Mobility Center.
 
thank you so much for all the links! you've been far more helpful than all the driver pages. (=
 
Hello,

Your comments were very useful when I decided to upgrade my X41T to Vista. All drivers now available. Verdict: system not faster, but much more stable.

Windows XP Tablet now looks like an unpolished afterthought by MS. Vista operation way smoother. At least 1GB RAm recommended, though.
 
Nice post. Thanks for sharing.
 
Congratulation for the great post. Those who come to read your article will find lots of helpful and informative tips.

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