Blog entries tagged with "upgrade"

Don’t run SATA optical drives under AHCI

Sunday, July 6th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

One of the first things I did when building my new computer was to switch the SATA controller to AHCI. You know, because it is supposed to be better than the IDE emulation mode.

It wasn’t, at least for me…

Shortly after getting it all up and running I found that the system would regularily lock up. But only when burning a DVD which led to a lot of coasters. Thinking it was a driver problem I made sure I was running the latest ones, which partially fixed the problem. Now the burn would still fail, but the system wouldn’t lock up. Instead the drive would just disconnect.

Now I thought it was a hardware problem so I tried different cables, different power connectors and even a different drive (but still a Pioneer). The problem didn’t go away.

At first I researched problems with SATA and optical drives. Many pages ended up pointing to fix (KB928253) that seemed promising. But the fix for that was included in SP1, which I was already running, so I turned to another possibility that involved deleting the UpperFilter and LowerFilter registry entries (KB314060). This seemed like it might be relevant as I had had problems with installing burning software. But continuing the trend, this also didn’t work.

Last weekend I decided to do a fresh install. Partly to see if that would fix the problem, but mostly so I could start with a good install that I hadn’t experimented with. At first I thought this worked. Until the second DVD I tried to burn.

Which brought me to a solution I had discounted. During my research I had found pages talking about how SATA optical drives don’t behave properly under AHCI and the fix was to run them under IDE emulation. I couldn’t see why a recent SATA optical drive wouldn’t work properly under the native SATA mode, haven’t they bothered to implement the spec properly? Or maybe the controller doesn’t?

It has now been a week since I changed back to IDE emulation mode and it as been stable. I haven’t noticed any difference in performance so I’m not really sure what the fuss about AHCI being better is all about.

Aparrently there are motherboards that let you run part of the SATA controller in AHCI and part in IDE emulation. My board, an ASUS P5K Pro, does not support that. But I don’t think that would have affected my choice.

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Returning to Intel (and trying Vista)

Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Yesterday I upgraded my Windows desktop with a new processor (a shiny Core 2 Duo, motherboard, RAM, hard drive, DVD burner and power supply (actually swapping around the one I got for my linux box). What didn’t change was the case, the second hard drive and the TV tuner card.

The first significant thing about this is that I have been running the previous processor and motherboard, an AMD Athlon XP 2600+, for almost five years (23 July 2003 to be precise). I can remember a time when computers moved so fast that they were pretty much unworkable after a few years. This shows that to actually do things (except the latest games) you do not need the latest and greatest hardware.

The second significant thing is that I also made the jump up to Vista. After I turned off some of the bigger annoyances (google is your friend for this) it appears to be quite workable. On the old system this would have been a nightmare.

When I stopped to think about it I realised that while my linux boxes have all had Intel processors (Pentium 90, Pentium 233 MMX, Pentium 3 667, Celeron 1.7, and the current Pentium 4 2.4) this is the first Intel processor in my Windows desktop since the first computer I bought on my own, a Pentium 133 in 1996. After that I had a single Cyrix processor (166) followed by a series of AMD processors (K6-2 300, K6-2 250, Duron 650, Athlon XP 1800+, to the Athlon XP 2600+).

I also have to decide what to do with the old components which are enough to make a perfectly workable system. My previous method of using them to upgrade my parents computer doesn’t work since I made their computer an ex-lease small form factor desktop.

I am also now thinking about whether to upgrade Preston, my linux server, as well. In addition to the performace increase, properly supported SATA ports will be a necessity the next time I get around to upgrading the storage.

Meanwhile I will return to installing programs, but only as I need to use them.

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Upgrading to WordPress 2.5.1

Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

For quite some time my preference has been to wait until the first maintenance release of something before using it. I have found that being an early adopter for something that I just want to use can be extra work, even if it is just having to upgrade again the to maintenance release.

Once I heard that there would be native tag support in WordPress 2.3 I wanted to upgrade to that, but the talk of what would be available in WordPress 2.5 made me want to wait for that. Two weeks ago when 2.5.1 came out I knew it was time to start looking into upgrading.

Last weekend I jumped in and upgraded ride-extravaganza.com, where I am using WordPress as a publishing system, to 2.5.1. This was reasonably straightforward as I, when setting it up at the start of the year, kept my customisations within the theme and plugins. As with all changes I tested it out first on my local server before performing the change on the live sites.

Based on this success I started looking into upgrading this site. Because I was using the now redundant Ultimate Tag Warrior and had made some non standard customisations I expected it to be more work.

And it was.

After some research and experimentation during the week I was ready to upgrade the live site this afternoon. Which, as you are reading this, was successful.

So what did I do?

  • Update the WordPress files (and remove ones that are no longer needed).
  • Update FeedSmith, Markdown, Subscribe to Comments and WP-Cache to the latest versions.
  • Clean up my own plugin to link to other posts (heavily based on Easy Post-to-Post Links).
  • Export live database and import into local server (changing two options to have local hostname).
  • Run the upgrade script.
  • Import the tags from UltimateTagWarrior through admin interface.
  • Replace UTW_* calls in my theme to equivalent core functions. (I did briefly try out the UTW Theme Compatibility Thing plugin but decided against it)
  • Double check all settings
  • Test.
  • Test.
  • Upload files to live server.
  • Run the upgrade script.
  • Import the tags from UltimateTagWarrior through admin interface.
  • Double check all settings
  • Test.

Which brings us to now and I am happy with the upgrade and can move onto something else in my long list. One of which is running more of this site through WordPress instead of the current mix of WordPress, static files and the custom code for my computer collection.

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