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Windows Vista Ultimate 32
Tried but not True
This machine was ordered with Vista Ultimate installed with XP Pro factory media included as a downgrade option. My idea was to experiment with Vista but have XP available in case Vista didn't work out. It didn't. XP didn't either. The combination of switchable graphics' high RAM and address space requirements and Microsoft's decision to reserve the top 1 GB of the 4GB 32 bit address space meant that Vista 32 could only make use of 2.5GB of RAM. 32 bit XP Pro wasn't much better, and there was no driver available for switchable graphics. In the end I went with Vista Business 64 bit so I could use switchable graphics and (almost) all of my installed RAM. It has its own issues, but that's for another page. Here are a few notes and comments from my brief time with Vista Ultimate 32 bit.
Product Recovery Media
First thing out of the box, MAKE YOUR RECOVERY MEDIA! These things don't come from the factory with CD/DVD sets to re-install the system already on the hard drive. They may come with the "other" OS if you ordered with the optional XP Pro downgrade, but you have to make your own set for the OS on your machine.
"Start" -> ThinkVantage -> Create Product Recovery Media
On my machine this produced a bootable CD (containing the rescue and recovery utility) and two 4.7G DVDs containing the actual install image. You get to do this once per some license agreement with Microsoft. DO IT!
This is a different procedure from the one used to make ongoing recovery images of your configured system. See below.
Rescue and Recovery
I make occasional full recovery images and save them on a bootable external hard drive. In addition to its backup value, a full image can also be used to migrate to a new hard drive. See "Partitioning and Drive Upgrade" in the Partitioning page.
The installed Rescue and Recovery software seems to come set to make regular backups to an invisible folder on the hard drive. This gradually eats hard drive space, and while it can provide some backup in the case where Windows soils itsself, it isn't much good when the hard drive dies. I turn off auto backups to the local hard drive and do manual backups to the external drive.
To turn off auto backups:
Start -> Rescue and Recovery -> Launch Advanced Rescue and Recovery -> Set Schedue and Preferences
Some blog posts about how to regain lost drive space if auto backups have already been run:
I like to make my external drive bootable and install the R&R software utility on it before saving backup images. This utility can also make a bootable recovery CD (containing the utility, not the recovery image):
"Start" -> ThinkVantage -> Create Recovery Media
To actually create the ongoing backup images, select the external drive and do the backup:
Start -> Rescue and Recovery -> Launch Advanced Rescue and Recovery -> Set Schedue and Preferences (select USB drive)
Start -> Rescue and Recovery -> Launch Advanced Rescue and Recovery -> Back Up Your Hard Drive
I generally de-select the USB drive after making the backup image. I have seen cases where the software tries to access the external drive (for some unknown reason) and ties up the machine until it finds it. I don't leave it connected - it is a laptop after all - so I just avoid the situation.
Shadow Copies and Restore Points
These "features" also take up a lot of disk space without asking. The simple "fix" is to just do drive cleanup from time to time and delete shadow copies and all but the most recent restore point.
Here is where Vista Ultimate 32 bit and I finally parted ways. Vista is a memory hog, but I expected that. The real problem is caused in part by Microsoft's decision to limit available memory address space to 3G in its 32 bit operating systems. As I understand it, the upper 1G of the 4G address space is reserved for mapping in attached devices. The other part of the problem is switchable graphics. The integrated graphics consumes system RAM for graphics memory whether it is in use or not, and the discrete graphics consumes address space for its own on-board graphics memory, and system RAM for additional graphics memory. The upshot is that with switchable graphics enabled, there is only around 2.5G of ram available for operating system and applications. Nasty.
Disabling switchable graphics can free some RAM. Swapping out a 1G stick for a 2G stick - giving 4G total - doesn't really help. Observed available RAM in various configurations:
Switchable graphics enabled, 3G or 4G of RAM installed: 2517MB available
Switchable graphics disabled, 3G of RAM installed
Integrated graphics: 2517MB available
Discrete graphics: 2553MB available
Switchable graphics disabled, 4G of RAM installed
Integrated graphics: 3029MB available
Discrete graphics: 3064MB available
Giving up on Vista 32 bit and going to Vista Business 64 bit (donated by Lenovo when I got on their case about selling me RAM I couldn't use) gave me almost all 4G available (task manager shows 3989 total). That was my eventual solution, and what I'm running now. Notes on VB 64 here.
I didn't spend enough time with Vista Ultimate 32 to find out if it has the same issues with wifi that Vista Business 64 does. I rather suspect that it does. More info here: T400 Vista Business 64.
Nero Burning ROM
Nero 6 won't even install. Vista just says no, there are known issues. Installed Nero 8. That works.
WordPerfect Office 12
Initial install and updates went OK. Works fine.
Corel Draw 12
(Warning, nasty hack ahead...) Installs OK, but the installer for the update wouldn't run. Unfortunately, CD 12 isn't usable without the 1st update. My temporary solution was to do the initial install, then overlay the CD12 program files with files copied from a running XP installation that had been updated. I'm amazed that my machine didn't go down in flames. It seems to work. Kids, don't try this at home.
Server (my preferred free tool) installs runs - sort of. The first time I launch a VM client in server it ties up the entire machine for several minutes! Eventually it sorts itself out and after that runs OK. I suspect some issue related to memory allocation or initialization in Vista.
I'm told Workstation works but it isn't free :( In both flavors of Vista I ended up using the free VMWare Player (which runs fine but can't build VMs) with the free VMX Builder (which can build VMs). It isn't as slick and integrated as Workstation or Player but it works.
Zone Alarm and Fingerprint Reader
After an update of Lenovo software and a reboot it took a very long time to get to the login screen. There was a message "Fingerprint Reader Unavailable". I think that what happened was that Zone Alarm saw the fingerprint software as "changed" and wanted to ask me (the user) for permission to let it run (or access the trusted zone, or whatever it does) but couldn't pop up the "changed program" window since I wasn't yet logged in.
I logged in via password and set Zone Alarm to allow "Windows Logon User" and "Windows Logon Application" to be both clients and servers. That fixed it. It may also be necessary to allow "CSS Authorization" and some Lenovo stuff in some cases. These were already allowed in my setup and I didn't turn them off to test...
Usually quite fast. Sometimes very slow, like "I'm going to miss the ferry" slow. I suspect it has just decided to create a restore point or something. Just a WAG. It seems like this very long shudown happens if I have just booted up. If it has been on for a while shutdown is usually quick.
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