Monday, January 3, 2011

Windows XP: Additional Tweaks

I had installed a tweaked version of Windows XP in a dual boot setup with Ubuntu 10.04, and also in a virtual machine in VMware Workstation 7.1 running on Ubuntu.  The processes of setting up and using those installations led to problems and adjustments that I had not described in my previous post.  This post describes those items.

In the native (as distinct from virtual) installation, I had some hardware issues.  I have addressed those in another post.  When those issues were resolved, I began by completing the Ubuntu part of this dual-boot system.  It would not have any impact upon the Windows installation per se, but it would provide some convenient tools in case of trouble.  For the Ubuntu portion, I followed the steps described in a separate post.

Another problem was that, when I selected File > Save within a program, I saw the files in a given folder presented in list view, whereas Windows Explorer was set to show things in detail view.  To present the items in the File Save dialog in detail view, I followed advice to change the dialog to the view I wanted and then hold Ctrl and click on Cancel.  This did not work.  Nor did it work to use Ctrl-Save or Shift-Save.  In lieu of buying File-Ex, which another person there recommended, I went with the majority and downloaded and ran FileOpenPatcher.  But after installing, it warned me that running System File Checker (SFC) would undo the changes made by the program.  I uninstalled it and tried another search.  In the meantime, I ran SFC just to be sure, and it was partly true:  the undesirably large size of the File Save dialog set by default in FileOpenPatcher was gone -- I was back to a normal-sized File Save dialog -- but now it was defaulting to details view.  So the problem appeared to be solved by a temporary installation of FileOpenPatcher.  Unfortunately, that fix did not last.  Doing a Ctrl-click on the detail view selection also failed to make a difference.  Open Wide looked like it would do the job; but that fix, too, did not persist.

Another problem:  I noticed that Windows Explorer was sometimes very slow to display the contents of folders.  A search for this led to a plethora of solutions, including a thread that itself contained a number of suggestions.  I considered the suggestion to disable thumbnail caching, but my system was already set that way:  Control Panel > Folder Options > View > Do not cache thumbnails.  Although the folders in question did not have many zip files, as a future precaution I also took the suggestion to do Start > Run > "regsvr32 /u zipfldr.dll."  As I played with it some more, I noticed that the problem occurred especially on the first use of Windows Explorer.  This raised a couple of possibilities.  One was that the virtual machine (VM) in which I was running Windows had not yet finished loading onto the host (Ubuntu) system.  Another was that, on this installation for some reason, Windows Explorer would not load or otherwise sort itself out until I actually used it.  A third possibility was that I had a program running in the background.  At this particular time, I did, in fact, have two different programs running in the background, and they raised two different kinds of concerns.  In the Ubuntu host, I was letting BOINC use my computer, when it was idle, for public service computing.  I went into BOINC and severely reduced the amount of swap space, memory, CPU time, and other resources available to that program.  I did not run a test to see whether that, by itself, solved the problem.  The other program running in the background, at this point, was Copernic Desktop Search.  I had just installed it, and it was doing its initial indexing of my drives.  It was supposed to do this when the computer was idle, and perhaps it was.  Whatever the culprit, ultimately it went away without my having to uninstall either of these programs.

I belatedly discovered Dial-a-Fix but did not try it.  Perhaps it would have contributed solutions to some problems I had encountered.  I found that Mozilla software -- especially Thunderbird and Firefox -- did not work consistently in the portable versions, so I wound up using installed versions of those programs.

To disable the question, "Do you want to allow this webpage to access your clipboard?", I followed the advice to go into Control Panel > Internet Options > Security tab > Custom Level > Scripting section > Allow programmatic clipboard access > Enable.

This was the end of this post.  Other tasks intervened.  By the time I returned to this, I had decided to upgrade to Windows 7.