Monday 22 June 2009

[Fix] Ubuntu 9.04 Loading Error

Stock Animation Floppy Disk LoopWhile starting up a bootable USB drive for Ubuntu 9.04 I got the following error

end request: I/O error dev fd0 sector 0

After a bit of searching I found that the reason for the error was that Ubuntu 9.04 thought that there is a floppy drive installed on my system. I had to disable the floppy drive in the system bios. After this Ubuntu 9.04 booted through correctly.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Tip - Shutdown Windows from Remote Desktop session

6 May - Time to go..
By default windows xp only allows Remote Desktop session to 'Log off' or 'Disconnect'.

I normally remote desktop onto my main machine from a laptop and then do my work on my main machine. I often need to restart or shutdown my main machine. Being lazy, I always want to restart from my remote session rather than having to go upstairs just to shutdown the man computer.

I have found that I can close all my applications then then press ALT+F4 to bring up the shutdown prompt in order to shutdown or restart my computer.

The other way to shutdown or restart from a remote session is to right click on the taskbar and choose 'Task Manager' from the popup menu. Then choose Shutdown -> Shutdown or Shutdown -> Restart from the menu bar.

Hope this helps someone be lazy!

Walkthrough - Install Win XP by booting through PXE

My brother has an old Fujitsu Siemens b series lifebook (B2175). (Probably one of the first netbooks). It had Win 2000 on it initially then we installed Ubuntu on it. Now we wanted Win XP on it as we had increased the memory in it.


The B2175 doesn't boot to USB, it doesn't have a floppy drive and it doesn't have a CD drive.

The only way to install anything on it is through PXE.


  1. Download my custom zip file package. It contains everything required to install Win XP through PXE except for the Win XP installation files ;-)
  2. Unzip the file to C:\ drive. After unzipping you will have a folder called 'root' and a file called smartdrv.exe on the c drive.
  3. Copy the i386 folder from your windows xp cd to a folder that is shared on your local network. In my case I copied the i386 folder to \\xpcomputer\video .
  4. Copy the file smartdrv.exe from c:\ to your share folder i.e. \\xpcomputer\video
  5. In the root folder there will be a file called 'Tftpd32-3.33-setup.exe'. Run the file to install a TFTP server onto you computer.
  6. After installing the TFTP server. Start the TFTP server.
  7. Change current directory to 'c:\root' in the TFTP server program
  8. Under DHCP Server tab set the following (assuming your router's ip address is
    ip pool starting address to
    Size of pool 10
    Boot file pxelinux.0
    WINS/DNS Server
    Default router
  9. Click save and then choose the 'settings' button and make sure that 'PXE compatibility' is checked.
  10. Now boot the destination machine into PXE. After PXE boots up you should see the following screen. Choose 'network boot' and press enter.

  11. On the next screen choose option number 2 - boot with emm386 (max memory). (I tried option 1 but this caused the windows xp setup to fail with the message 'not enough memory' on my system).
  12. After some more loading text, you will get to the following screen. You must choose 'Config' before the 10 second countdown.

  13. On the next screen choose 'Global' from the list of choices. This will let you alter host settings that will be required later on.

  14. On the next screen choose 'Lmhosts'.
  15. Click 'Ok' on the warning message you receive as it is not applicable to our situation.
  16. In the next screen you can edit the systems host file. This is where you can define the ip address and the name of the server where the windows installation files are held. This is important as without these settings the system will not be able to see the server. Please note that in this example there is a [tab] between and xpcomputer.
  17. Save the file by typing ALT+X and click 'back' and then 'exit' on the next screens.
  18. Now we need to go back into the setup to allow the system to finish its network settings. This is done by typing in 'msnet' at the prompt as below and then clicking 'Ok' on the screen after
  19. You will now see 4 prompts which should disappear one by one with default settings. The last of the 4 prompts is titled 'Network Identification'. You will need to click 'Ok' to accept the default settings on this prompt. After this you will be prompted for a password. Just press [enter] for a blank password.

  20. Now type 'msnet' at the prompt and choose 'map' to go into the network drive mapping utility.
  21. In the 'Map drive' prompt type in a drive letter and type in the network path of where the windows i386 folder is located. Click 'Ok'
  22. Click on exit to go back to the command prompt. Make sure it says 'The command completed successfully' to confirm that the network drive was mapped correctly.
  23. Now run smartdrv.exe from the mapped drive by typing in z:\smartdrv.exe at the command prompt.
  24. Next start the windows xp installation process by typing in z:\i386\winnt.exe .
  25. On the first screen of the windows xp installer it will ask for the location of the installation files. Make sure that this shows z:\i386
  26. Now you can continue with the windows xp as normal.
Please note:

I have run this setup on a home network with normal settings. I wouldn't set this up on a corporate network unless you know what you are doing as the TFTP server may interfere with DHCP settings or other settings.

I referenced the following page in order to create this walk through.

If you have any comments about this walk through or are having problems then post a comment.

Sunday 7 June 2009

How Tetris makes you feel old

tetris is the world
I just read that Tetris is 25 years old this week. I thought I could share my first memories of Tetris.

It was circa 1987 and my cousins had just upgraded from their Commodore VIC 20 to a brand spanking new 286 IBM Compatible PC. I don't remember much about the machine except for the fact that it had Jimmy White's Snooker game on it and more importantly it had Tetris on it.

To be honest it wasn't love at first sight. I looked at it and used the simple control system to try it a few times. Then I went back to playing the snooker game. A few hours later I was bored of the snooker game and started to play Tetris again. That was when the addiction started whenever I went to my cousins house I would be straight on to the PC and playing Tetris.

It wasn't long until I had my own version of Tetris. This was a time when the world had gone Tetris crazy. I remember Tetris t-shirts, a pop song and numerous clones on various platforms.

That was my memory of Tetris. What are your memories of Tetris?

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Out of system resources in Citrix Environment [Fix]

Oil Reserves in DoubtOver the past few months we have been struggling with a problem that was affecting users who were running a particular application on our Citrix servers.

The symptoms were a message saying 'out of system resources' in the application and general slowness of the session. Users couldn't save their work in the application until we reset their session although sometime the application would come back to life if we closed all other applications in the users session.

We never saw the error on Windows XP systems when user were not on Citrix.

When we asked the 3rd party developers about the issue, they said that they had never seen the error but it looked like a memory issue.

All the Citrix server are 64bit servers with atleast 16GB of memory. When monitoring the system we found that the maximum memory usage throughout the day was around 10GB.

We finally narrowed the problem to the allocation of memory per session and started to research this area. Finally we found a registry setting called SessionPoolSize under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management. This setting was initially set to 32Mb on all our Citrix servers all the literature on the web stated that 64Bit servers should have a value of atleast 64Mb by default.

We increase the value of SessionPoolSize to 64Mb and noticed that there was a reduction in helpdesk calls relating to the dreaded 'out of system resources' error. We increased the value to 128Mb and then 256Mb. Since the change we have had no 'out of system resources' and things look promising. We will probably see how it goes for the next week just to make sure that everything is ok.

The webpage that helped us find the solution is

It seems that applications that have a large graphical foot print are most likely to affect the session pool size. Some examples are powerpoint and image manipulation programs. In our case it wasn't a graphical programs but a large database application with many complicated forms with numerous text boxes and dropdown boxes.

I really hope that this post helps someone as this problem was a major headache for us.

Monday 1 June 2009

Slow Network File Access [Fix]

Tortoise crossing

At work we suddenly started to get complaints of slow network access to files on our windows.

The symptoms were documents taking about 1 minute to open when double clicked and slow displaying of properties when right clicking and chosing properties.

One strange thing was that if you opened the same documents from inside the application itself then the documents opened as quickly as normal. Also it didn't matter whether the network location was a mapped drive or if the user browsed to a network location. Both ways were slow.

We finally found the solution when we came across a post here

So on the computer that was having issues we ran

netstat -a

in a command window.

Then we quickly double click a document on a network share that was opening slowly.

We then waited for the command window to finish running the command. Once finished we looked for SYN_SENT at the end of a line.

When we found the entry we looked for the network computer name in the entry. When we pinged the name of the computer we found that it wasn't responding.

Next we looked through the registry for the offending name and found that it was being referred to a few times.

There were multiple references to the computer in the location of an illustrator executable but I'm not sure this is relevent

When the entries were deleted all documents that were double clicked opened up straight away.

Thanks to HowToTroubleshoot

Motivate Me - Free Application

Download Motivate Me

The free application 'Motivate Me' has been updated to version 1.1 with the following changes

Ability to delete a phrase
Ability to delete all phrases
Standardised buttons
Now can fully exit from properties form menu
Randomise optional

What is it?

Motivate Me
is a FREE application that sits in you notification bar and periodically pops up with configurable random phrases or messages to keep you motivated. Motivate Me can also be used to aid revision for students, a timed question and answer system or any other situation where you need to remember facts or phrases.

Reason for creating the application?

I felt motivated to create Motivate Me application because of an article I read on The article showed how a person had created a wallpaper with messages on it used to motivate people. The problem I saw with the wallpaper method was that the average computer wallpaper is cover up with programs most of the time so a user would not get the full benefit of the messages.

In order to combat this shortcoming I thought it would be useful to create an application that would take the motivational messages and show them periodically on a pop up box. I tried to make the pop up box similar to an outlook 2003 new mail notification box.

As I was developing Motivate Me I realised that the premise of periodically notifications could be applied to a number of situations.

Some examples I thought of were:

  • Revision aid for students who must remember facts.
  • A daily reminder system.
  • A timed question and answer system.

How to install?

Download the zip file. The zip file contains 3 files. Extract all files to a location on your computer.

Once extracted double click on MotivateMe.exe to run the application. You will notice a red and white star icon appear in the notification area ( near the clock on you taskbar).

How to setup?

In order to setup Motivate Me to your liking right-click on the Motivate Me icon in the notification area. Then click on 'Properties'. The window below will appear.

In this window you can do the following:

  • Change the title of the popup notification box.
  • Change the interval between messages in minutes.
  • Change the number of second the message will stay on screen in seconds.
  • setup all the phrases that you want to appear in the notification area by adding to the phrases grid.
  • At the top of the window there are a series of buttons.
  • The save button (tick icon) saves any changes you make to the properties of Motivate Me.
  • The pause / resume button (double vertical line icon) toggles between stopping and starting the notifications.
  • New to version 1.1
  • The ability to delete phrases has been added. This is achieved by selecting the phrases you want to delete and then clicking on the Delete Phrases button (red circle icon).
  • All phrases can be deleted by clicking on Edit -> Delete All Phrases in the menubar.
  • In version 1.0 phrases were chosen at random from the list. Now you can optionally change the behaviour so that phrases are shown in the order you enter them on the properties page. Randomise behaviour is toggle by clicking the Randomise button (lightening icon)
Motivate Me will continue to run in the notification area until you right-click on the Motivate Me icon and choose 'Exit'.

What does the notification look like?

Here is an example of a notification

Comments / Suggestions

If you have any comments or suggestions then please leave a comment. I will try to respond as soon as possible.