Windows Vista Wow #2193481



  • The recent "Windows Vista Shutdown Crapfest" reminded me of this little "Wow" I had with Vista a few days ago:

    So I was using my laptop on batteries the other day.  Nothing wrong with that right?  I was listening to music and catching up on a little work, when all of a sudden the backlight on my LCD died.  It was on and working fine, then it faded to black over a period of about half a second, and now I can't see anything on my screen.  Great.  Now I have to call Dell, and get them to send a tech out to my remote jobsite in the middle of nowhere to fix it.  But wait - if my backlight died, why did my music stop playing?  WTF?  Also, I noticed my hard drive light was on solid, which was weird, since Windows Media Player doesn't use that much HDD.  Hmm... Maybe it's fallen asleep.  So I tried moving the mouse (touchpad).  Nothing.  Pressing random keys on the keyboard.  Nothing.  Pressing the power button.  Nothing.  Great.  My laptop's busted.

    So after pondering my problem for about 30 seconds, the power light on my laptop goes off, and the HDD spins down (you know that wonderful sound hard drives make when you pull the power while they're writing data?  The one that makes your skin crawl?  It made that sound.  Loudly.)  So now what?  Ok, let's try restarting again.  So I pressed the power button.  Up comes my BIOS, in beautiful backlit color!  Aha!  And then after getting part-way through the startup self-check, my laptop dies again.  Completely off.  Yup - it's definately time for a phonecall to Dell.

    Before I continue, give some thought to what you would try in my situation.  Everyone here is a super techy professional, and I kinda am too, so think about the above problem for a sec.

     

     


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    Done?  Good.  There's one thing I have left to try.  Remember how I said I was running on batteries?  Well, I flipped my laptop over, thanked God that new Dell batteries have builtin battery meters on them, and pressed the "show me the battery level" button.  Sure enough, it's 100% dead.  And yet Windows Vista had faked me (and probably you guys too) into thinking my computer was busted, and that I'd have to call Dell Tech Support and get the screen (and probably everything else) replaced!  WOW!

    So here's what really happened.  Some dumb user (me) decided to run his laptop down until his batteries were almost dead.  Since the computer was set to hibernate on low batteries, it decided to hibernate.  So it does the fancy Aero Vista Screen Fade(tm), then pretends it's turned off while it finishes actually hibernating.  And when it's all the way hibernated, it cuts the power, not realizing that the hard drive hadn't spun down yet.  Oh well.  So then the dumb user decides to turn the laptop back on.  The BIOS gets part way through the self-checks, realizes the battery is dead, and turns the computer back off.  Which would have been fine, if the user KNEW the battery was dead, which he DIDN'T, because the OS decided to SILENTLY FAIL!  And the worst part?  Is that Microsoft has the nerve to CALL THIS A FEATURE!  OMGSPLOSION!

    Anyway.  So I charged up my laptop, and it's been working (cough cough) ever since.

    Oh and I'm upgrading from Vista back to XP on Thursday.



  • So Vista isn't having any of that "popup a notification when the battery starts to get low" nonsense that XP has?  Wonderful.  Looks like the best you can do is have it display the battery properties in the notification area, or have they disabled that, too?



  • So the whole point was the battery died and you did not realize it.



  • Mmm.... reminds me... I had soft of the same, with windows, only difference, I took the laptop appart to see if anything was damaged. As the laptop didn't boot with an adapter applied. Ofcourse the silly laptop wouldn't boot with an empty battery even with an adapter attached.

     

    Good part was, not my laptop ;-) friends. 



  • So instead of losing all your data it decided to quickly hibernate so you could recharge and continue where you left.
    Damn that feature sucks.
     



  • No, no, no.  The point is that the computer hibernated when the battery died, but it wasn't even remotely obvious what it was doing.  It didn't tell me the battery had died, it didn't tell me it was hibernating, and it didn't tell me that this behaviour was to be expected.  Instead, my screen appeared to fail, and then my entire computer followed 30 seconds later, complete with the hard-drive-powerdown-death sound.  When I tried to reboot, my computer refused to do so, again with no warning or any kind of reason.  If I had not thought to check my battery level, or I had purchased a laptop which did not have a hardware battery meter, I would have been entirely unable to solve this problem without finding a 110v power source, which is kinda hard while in a moving vehicle.

    All Microsoft needed to do to solve this problem would be to display a message while the computer was hibernating.  Something like "Your battery level is very low, and your computer is now hibernating to prevent loss of data.  When this process is complete, you can switch to a spare battery, or connect an external power supply and continue using your computer".  Even just displaying "Hibernating" would have been enough to clue me in.  But no - the screen fades out and powers down, then the computer kills itsself 30 seconds later, with no warning or reason.  Which leaves me with no idea what happened, and a strong suspicion that my computer is broken.

     EDIT:  This is exactly the sort of behaviour that has caused me to decide to remove Vista from my computer and return to using XP.  All these little things have added up over the past few months, and I am now completely fed up with Vista.  In fact, I recommend against upgrading to everyone I know, and will not buy a new computer with Vista anytime in the near future.



  • So it doesn't have a little battery warning popup like XP does? That's kinda stupid...

    Remember how I said I was running on batteries? Well, I flipped my laptop over, thanked God that new Dell batteries have builtin battery meters on them, and pressed the "show me the battery level" button.

    OMG, I'm so stupid... I've had my Dell Inspiron 6400 (E1505 in the USA) since September last year, and I only just noticed this now :P.




  • @Albatross said:

    All Microsoft needed to do to solve this problem would be to display a message while the computer was hibernating.  Something like "Your battery level is very low, and your computer is now hibernating to prevent loss of data.  When this process is complete, you can switch to a spare battery, or connect an external power supply and continue using your computer".  Even just displaying "Hibernating" would have been enough to clue me in.  But no - the screen fades out and powers down, then the computer kills itsself 30 seconds later, with no warning or reason.  Which leaves me with no idea what happened, and a strong suspicion that my computer is broken.

    When a computer is running desperately low on power - low enough that an emergency hibernate is necessary - using up not-insignificant amounts of the remaining battery life to display a "Hibernating" message is not the best course of action. The defaults for power management on Vista are to display a notification of low battery life at 10%, and to go into hibernation at 5%. I don't know which model of Dell you have, but on all Dells I've seen so far, you also have the additional notification of a blinking orange "battery" light that comes on at 10%. So the real WTF here is wither that Dell broke the power management defaults (likely), or that you completely ignored the warnings about low battery power.



  • Actually, Daniel15, the 6400 is a "business" model (though it's near identical to the E1505).  I know, because I bought mine through Dell Small Business ;)

    All the power warnings and lights work fine for me - but then, I use XP.



  • My Vista tells me when power is running low and when it starts to shut down. Maybe you fiddled with the settings and disabled that?

    I still hate Vista because of other things, though.



  • @Fred Foobar said:

    @Albatross said:

    All Microsoft needed to do to solve this problem would be to display a message while the computer was hibernating.  Something like "Your battery level is very low, and your computer is now hibernating to prevent loss of data.  When this process is complete, you can switch to a spare battery, or connect an external power supply and continue using your computer".  Even just displaying "Hibernating" would have been enough to clue me in.  But no - the screen fades out and powers down, then the computer kills itsself 30 seconds later, with no warning or reason.  Which leaves me with no idea what happened, and a strong suspicion that my computer is broken.

    When a computer is running desperately low on power - low enough that an emergency hibernate is necessary - using up not-insignificant amounts of the remaining battery life to display a "Hibernating" message is not the best course of action. The defaults for power management on Vista are to display a notification of low battery life at 10%, and to go into hibernation at 5%. I don't know which model of Dell you have, but on all Dells I've seen so far, you also have the additional notification of a blinking orange "battery" light that comes on at 10%. So the real WTF here is wither that Dell broke the power management defaults (likely), or that you completely ignored the warnings about low battery power.

    But displaying a small window that says hibernating is probably more power conservative then trying to fade the entire screen.  Display the window for a second then blink out.  That what any sane OS should do.  Don't try mucking with power management to cause a cool fade effect.  Low power is no time to do cool stuff. 

    Of course the fade effect could have been the back light naturally fading down as power is cut.  I have no idea. 



  • Oh oh oh oh oh oh!! What do you hate about Vista? Tell us tell us!



  • My last HP came with the "Warn" and "Hibernate" thresholds both set to 10%.  So I never saw the low battery warning until after I came back from hibernation.  Not sure if that was HP's fault, or a stupid default on microsoft's part.

     At any rate, is it possible that the same error has been made here?
     



  • @KattMan said:

    @Fred Foobar said:
    @Albatross said:

    All Microsoft needed to do to solve this problem would be to display a message while the computer was hibernating.  Something like "Your battery level is very low, and your computer is now hibernating to prevent loss of data.  When this process is complete, you can switch to a spare battery, or connect an external power supply and continue using your computer".  Even just displaying "Hibernating" would have been enough to clue me in.  But no - the screen fades out and powers down, then the computer kills itsself 30 seconds later, with no warning or reason.  Which leaves me with no idea what happened, and a strong suspicion that my computer is broken.

    When a computer is running desperately low on power - low enough that an emergency hibernate is necessary - using up not-insignificant amounts of the remaining battery life to display a "Hibernating" message is not the best course of action. The defaults for power management on Vista are to display a notification of low battery life at 10%, and to go into hibernation at 5%. I don't know which model of Dell you have, but on all Dells I've seen so far, you also have the additional notification of a blinking orange "battery" light that comes on at 10%. So the real WTF here is wither that Dell broke the power management defaults (likely), or that you completely ignored the warnings about low battery power.

    But displaying a small window that says hibernating is probably more power conservative then trying to fade the entire screen.  Display the window for a second then blink out.  That what any sane OS should do.  Don't try mucking with power management to cause a cool fade effect.  Low power is no time to do cool stuff. 

    Of course the fade effect could have been the back light naturally fading down as power is cut.  I have no idea. 

    No operating system should ever permit the energy level to get so bad that any of this is a concern. It should begin the emergency shutdown/hibernate with at least ten minutes of battery life remaining. Anything else is just retarded.



  • @asuffield said:

    No operating system should ever permit the energy level to get so bad that any of this is a concern. It should begin the emergency shutdown/hibernate with at least ten minutes of battery life remaining. Anything else is just retarded.

    It's configurable (though probably by battery percentage not estimated time). As someone said before, the OEM probably set the warning and shutdown levels to the same value, and that's why he didn't see a message.

    It was configurable in XP too, and is even present in the desktop version of XP. Most of the power-related things are hidden if they're irrelevant, eg in the desktop version the battery stuff shows up if you plug in a UPS. A classic problem with this "hidden until relevant" idea was that you could set what the power button does, but if you have a standby button you can't set what IT does until windows knows you have a standby button, and the only way to tell it was to press it once. Pressing it will make windows try to standby, and if that failed, windows wouldn't save the fact that you had a standby button, so you couldn't disable it (or change it to hibernate or prompt).



  • @poochner said:

    So Vista isn't having any of that "popup a notification when the battery starts to get low" nonsense that XP has?  Wonderful.  Looks like the best you can do is have it display the battery properties in the notification area, or have they disabled that, too?

    I can confirm that this feature is still perfectly functional in Vista. I have a retail (MSDN) copy running on my laptop, and get the low power warning before hibernation starts.

    If people aren't getting the warning, I'd suggest they check their power settings and make sure that the warning level is set to about 5% higher than the hibernation level.

    @Albatross said:

    Which would have been fine, if the user KNEW the battery was dead, which he DIDN'T, because the OS decided to SILENTLY FAIL!  And the worst part?  Is that Microsoft has the nerve to CALL THIS A FEATURE!

    As another poster mentioned, I'd rather have Vista turn the screen off and use the remaining battery power to hibernate, than to keep going and potentially lose all my data. Vista has no way of knowing if you're close to your AC adapter or not, so takes the safest route.

    If you were responsible for designing the power features, would you have done anything differently?



  • Yep, there is no good reason to keep going if Vista KNOWS it's going to die. You may unnecessarily lose some time if you are near a socket, which is better than the laptop dying and losing unsaved files, on top of possibly corrupting some data on your hard disk. Think about it, which is faster: hibernating, or manually saving everything you may be working on?

    Unless your computer is like mine and never wakes up from hibernation. Thanks, Nvidia.
     



  • Hm, I am truly surprised how many people – even given this site's bad reputation for stupidity – conceive it too hard to slap up a "Hibernating" message. What does Vista do when you ask it to hibernate manually? See, 2k and XP display graphical hibernation progress, but I wonder if Vista replaced that with a simple fade. If you ask for hibernation, and the screen fades out smoothly, that might make everyone go "oooo!". Of course, when it happens without warning, it will look rather weird.

    Far too little consideration is ever paid to visual concerns. I found that if I asked to print from Access, there would be a fraction of a second between one dialog closing and another opening that I would try to continue using the app. Of course, the program was not responding because it was going about printing. But why close the parent dialog first? Open the child and then close the parent so you never mistake the app for having completed the spooling process.

    I've had very limited Vista xperience -- so far, I've just been helping my neighbour migrate his and his wife's old XP PCs over to two new Vista ones. Vista seems pretty nice to use, but the one thing that keeps troubling me are the security mode switches. Vista is meant to dim the screen and pop up one of those bloody annoying "Is it really you there?" windows. The snag is, it tends to hit too many page faults on the way down, so the screen goes blank for half a second or more. Long enough in suspended perceptual time that I think I've just crashed Vista. But no. Then when you acknowledge the window, the whole screen gets redrawn from scratch which is not wrong but aesthetically most displeasing and certainly something that shows up Vista in comparison to Mac OS X :)

    Sadly, there are too many ways in which Vista looks like the OS that Mac OS X was meant to be. That is a depressing thought. I guess I need to spend more time around it so I can develop a suitably deep hatred for it. But then again, I cannot stick to Mac OS 9 and Windows 2000 forever.



  • @eimaj2nz said:

    @poochner said:

    So Vista isn't having any of that "popup a notification when the battery starts to get low" nonsense that XP has?  Wonderful.  Looks like the best you can do is have it display the battery properties in the notification area, or have they disabled that, too?

    I can confirm that this feature is still perfectly functional in Vista. I have a retail (MSDN) copy running on my laptop, and get the low power warning before hibernation starts.

    If people aren't getting the warning, I'd suggest they check their power settings and make sure that the warning level is set to about 5% higher than the hibernation level.

    If you disable popups from the tray (notification window if you want to get pedantic) then, surprise, you don't get the warnings. Why do I suspect the OP did that? That or there's something wrong the the battery; a faulty battery can signal 20% juice left when it actually has none, suddenly drop voltage, and trigger a bios event that triggers a critical immediate hibernate. That's quite a bit rarer though. Other possibilities: Riding a Lion battery to the end will permanently deplete it, in a way that might not be picked up by the bios. Or system power management was just completely shut off, at least until it recieved the critical "out of power brb" from the battery.

    I have RMclock set to show the icon when in battery mode, so I can see whether I have 5 or 50 minutes left at a glance. Good habit to get into when you're on the road.

    I do like how the explanation sounds like the average TDWTF fluff for a non-story, though. I guess you have to pad it with a lot of emotion when you don't really have anything entertaining or enlightening to say.



  • @Heron said:

    Actually, Daniel15, the 6400 is a "business" model (though it's near identical to the E1505).  I know, because I bought mine through Dell Small Business ;)


    Here in Australia, we've got no E1505s... They're all 6400s (I bought mine through Dell Home & Home Office) :)



  • @Albatross said:

    Before I continue, give some thought to what you would try in my situation.  Everyone here is a super techy professional, and I kinda am too, so think about the above problem for a sec.

    Easy. I thought about it for about a tenth of a second, and decided that the first thing I would do is plug the laptop into AC power and try turning it on. 

    @Albatross said:

    Oh and I'm upgrading from Vista back to XP on Thursday.

    Yep. That's the solution for a so-called IT professional. Instead of acknowledging your own lack of abilities to a) configure power management on your laptop, and b) diagnose problems on your computer, you install a different OS. Yep. That's it.

    Are you currently looking for work? I might know of someone looking for an outstanding computer specialist with your amazing skills. ;-)



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    Sadly, there are too many ways in which Vista looks like the OS that Mac OS X was meant to be. That is a depressing thought. I guess I need to spend more time around it so I can develop a suitably deep hatred for it. But then again, I cannot stick to Mac OS 9 and Windows 2000 forever.

    You mean, "Vista is trying to be the OS that OSX quite successfully already is".

    Can you even still have OS9 on modern mac hardware?

    If not, can I assume you use your computer for office stuff, website broswing, email etc only?



  • @dhromed said:

    You mean, "Vista is trying to be the OS that OSX quite successfully already is".

    I am not sure whether I wish that were true, or not, for several reasons. In an ideal world, I would have Linux be worth using or Cy/VOS take over the world, and scrap all this proprietary nonsense. Right now, I don't know. I was a Mac switcher years ago, and a complete nutjob Mac devotee. I do now have an iMac running Mac OS X Tiger and despite having spent hours around it I can't come to terms with Apple's butchery. I find the Windows windowing system ultimately superior, and even if I had to go Linux, many common Linux desktops work the same way. Most of my time now is spent in Windows 2000.

    I would prefer Vista to be good, because Vista continues all the things I love about Windows, including a highly customisable file manager with proper tree view, a taskbar and swift, easy windowing. If I wanted to use OS X for real, I'd have to customise it a lot. The Finder is worthless crap. It was never that good before X but Apple trashed it. Even column view, imported from NeXTSTEP, is tragically broken. I can't resize the final column as all it does is push the window border off the side of the screen, and it mis-remembers all my custom column sizes so they're never the right size for the column's contents. The Dock is useless and would have to go, except you can't. Minimise would have to go too, as would cmd-tab, except you can't. Apple outright ban the replacement of the Dock (e.g. by A-Dock X) and cmd-tab window switching (e.g. by Peter Maurer's Witch), so I'd have to learn a secnd switch key combo and have the real Dock keep popping up unexpectedly. Minimised windows would vanish without trace.

    I like Mac OS 9, although 9's windowing model was itself tragically primitive. But it was self-consistent. Mac OS X in effect breaks the self-consistency of the design. Hidden apps and minimised windows are not accessible by Exposé and cmd-` omits minimised windows. OS X took on board ownerless windows (e.g. Spotlight as a top-level window) that can't be reached by keyboard or Exposé (since it's not attached to an application); even in Windows, these monstrosities show up in alt-tab. The pure simplicity of OS 9 was torn apart into something that no longer makes any sense.

    There are several things people need when they have to stare at a screen all day. Something attractive is one. Another is something consistent. OS X is pretty, but it's also a nightmare. I also find it hard to configure all sorts of things that Windows and 9 made easy, like printing and system extension.

    @dhromed said:

    Can you even still have OS9 on modern mac hardware?

    If not, can I assume you use your computer for office stuff, website broswing, email etc only?

    Um ... Define "modern"? You can run OS 9 on some pretty sweet hardware like earlier PowerBook G4s, a machine far more powerful than my desktop computer here. But brand new Macs cannot run OS 9 apps simply because Apple didn't extend PPC emulation out to Classic.

    I use my OS 9 machine -- a 604e 200 MHz Starmax -- for maintaining my website (in BBEdit 7), graphic work (Photoshop 5, GraphicConverter 5) and Mac OS 9/X/Win32 software development in some pathetically lame cross-platform package. It was run 24/7 for a few years as a Web server too (while still being used for all my work) and it still works perfectly at about 10 years old. (Except the floppy drive went.) Bless that machine.



  • I thought you could replace the dock by dropping the replacement binary in place of the existing one (and then, you know, not doing any updates), same as for replacing the finder back in the old days.



  • @Random832 said:

    I thought you could replace the dock by dropping the replacement binary in place of the existing one (and then, you know, not doing any updates), same as for replacing the finder back in the old days.

    Oh, probably. If you want to take risks you could dismantle the whole system and rebuild it, but I don't really want to go wreck the OS. OS X has an inner complexity level approaching Windows ;)



  • I find the Windows windowing system ultimately superior,


    YES.
    That green pill just does. not. work. I want real maximizations! And the "menubar rollup" pill is... pointless. Hey, if you click this, a tiny, tiny part of your window will disappear!

    The Finder is worthless crap.


    I too find it too simple.
    Photoshop's native file opener has a file-tree, which is perfect. Files+folders in a single detail-view. Hooray! I am glad that the Gnome explorer has the same system -- though keyboard interaction is a bit worse than Explorer's. I like Finder's column view, but it seems to have stagnated and goes untweaked.

    Hidden apps and minimised windows are not accessible by Exposé and cmd-` omits minimised windows.


    Aye. Window management in OSX is not really great.
    - apps don't close when you close their window: that's crap
    - Expose is a friggin toy (I'm wondering about the "stacks" in Leopard -- but I'll probably never get that. Windows user, me.)
    - resize can only happen in the bottom right corner: that's crap



  • @dhromed said:

    That green pill just does. not. work. I want real maximizations!

    Does anyone know what it's supposed to do? Before OS X, it resized the window to best fit its contents or, if that wasn't possible, enlarged it to cover just enough of the screen to violate Fitt's law. Now it seems to be decoration to make the red/yellow/green thing work.

    @dhromed said:

    And the "menubar rollup" pill is... pointless.

    The toolbar toggle one? I suppose I'm worried that people need a dedicated control to toggle toolbars. Actually, Mac users were up in arms that OS X would use toolbars, but it seems everyone's got over themselves on that one now :)

    @dhromed said:

    apps don't close when you close their window: that's crap

    Hm ... that depends on perspective. I don't like quitting apps on the Mac, I leave them all open to save load time. But that just rids me of screen clutter. It's not a whole lot of use in Windows of course because the taskbar has limited useful space. (Oddly, no-one seems to mind having a single-row taskbar where only 25% of the space is actually left for applications. I tend to have at mine on two rows, or three back before I got into tabbed browsing).

    I'm OK with apps remaining open -- it's what the Mac has always done. If you want to quit the app, use File > Quit or cmd-Q. Overloading close window to quit the app as well would be a mess on the Mac, as you'd close a document and the whole program would shut down before you could start a new one. Closing a window would suddenly lose its clarity -- you'd have to go around checking whether you have any minimised (or in pre-X, windowshaded) windows to make sure the app would quit, or not quit, depending what you want. It can be confusing in Windows too -- there's a great bug in Firefox where closing the main window, with some pop-up or utility window left open -- will lose your browser session. Firefox has no idea you wanted to exit the app: it just assumed you were bored of that window now. Photoshop in Windows remains MDI so close document and close application are not overloaded.

    But I'm with you on limiting resize to one corner. It would be nice if OS X had a switchable GUI and we could turn on Power User X and get all the enhancements that moderately intelligent people have no problems coping with :)



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    I also find it hard to configure all sorts of things that Windows and 9 made easy, like printing and system extension.

    While I have never tried to do it on macos9, I can swear to the fact that Windows does not make printer administration easy, and it is particularly insane for network printers. There are three different versions of the printer settings dialog, all of which look identical, and all of which do different things. The driver model was designed by a sociopath, and Windows forgets its printer settings every chance it gets. 



  • @asuffield said:

    While I have never tried to do it on macos9, I can swear to the fact that Windows does not make printer administration easy, and it is particularly insane for network printers. There are three different versions of the printer settings dialog, all of which look identical, and all of which do different things. The driver model was designed by a sociopath, and Windows forgets its printer settings every chance it gets.

    Printing universally sucks. I'm still at a loss how something so trivial is such a pain in the arse.

    I tried using SMB printing recently, from a Tiger iMac to an XP PC with an hp PSC colour inkjet. Since Tiger comes with tons of printer drivers, I decided I'd just see if OS X would dig some out for me instead of having to install all of hp's crapware off the CD-ROM. First task: trying to find where to actually add shared printers. Second task: SMB share names with spaces in are not supported in OS X, which you learn about in a somewhat oblique way. So, go downstairs to the PC and rename the share to one that X can stomach. Eventually, I can actually get the iMac to talk to the printer, but it just prints blank pages with bits of gibberish on. I can only assume that Mac OS X hasn't figured out that it doesn't have the right drivers. None of Tiger, XP or the printer care.

    I had some fun with Vista, too. Seems that Norton Internet Security (bundled with the brand new Vista PC) doesn't know how Vista printer sharing works. When I try to print from my neighbour's wife's Vista PCs to his PC (with the printer), Norton blocks the hosting PC for port scanning. For some reason, printer sharing in Vista triggers port scanning detection. Short of turning off protection against port scanning, I can see no workaround, as defence against port scanning is a higher priority than granting access permissions to the LAN. The weird thing is, the firewall also blocks all access from that PC for half an hour. Which seemed to knock the other PC off the LAN entirely for that duration -- no LAN, no Internet, nothing, everything just timed out. Despite both machines independently reaching the Net via a router. Try to print and it kills the other machine's networking outright.

    I also discovered once that if you go into Printers and Faxes, and rename a printer, you change the printer's share name on the spooler PC even if you have no rights to do so directly. This then blocks access to the printer in the whole office -- no-one else can reach it (since the name changed) and you can't rename it back as you, too, have just lost access to it.

    I wish I could live without ever using a printer again in my whole life.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    I tried using SMB printing recently, from a Tiger iMac to an XP PC with an hp PSC colour inkjet. Since Tiger comes with tons of printer drivers, I decided I'd just see if OS X would dig some out for me instead of having to install all of hp's crapware off the CD-ROM.

    ... 

    Eventually, I can actually get the iMac to talk to the printer, but it just prints blank pages with bits of gibberish on. I can only assume that Mac OS X hasn't figured out that it doesn't have the right drivers. None of Tiger, XP or the printer care.

    You have just run afoul of the aforementioned sociopathic driver model that Windows uses. I never remember what the trick is to work around this - I religiously avoid ever letting a Windows host act as a printer server for precisely this reason. The problem is that Windows expects a different kind of data to what everybody else uses, and wants to send a Windows executable to the client to do part of the work (which is entirely useless when the client doesn't run Windows, and frequently breaks when the client runs the wrong version of Windows).

    I believe macosx uses cups these days, which follows the unix driver model - "everything is postscript, and I'll render it on the spooler if the printer is too crap to include a postscript interpreter". Pure-unix printing is actually surprisingly easy, particularly when cups is involved and correctly configured. For example, I recently set up a new desktop here, and today I needed to print something from it for the first time. So, I installed cups on the desktop, and hit the print button, and the job landed in the printer's output tray. I have never seen this fail when the print server is correctly configured and the printer itself is not broken (yes, no client configuration - it's delivered via dhcp and/or cups browse announcements). I have spent many long hours wishing that Windows worked this way, while attempting to persuade recalcitrant Windows clients to print.



  • Windows wants to forward you the driver DLLs for the printer. I was playing around with my new laptop the other day and received this dialog box:

    Windows warning me that printer drivers can contain viruses or harmful scripts

    Not paranoid, are we? At least this laptop doesn't show all my fellow SMB boxes as being on the "Internet" and only itself as being a LAN box. (If I remember, I'll check that PC's subnet mask just in case.)

    I'm not defending the Windows printer sharing and driver model, but, you'd think that Apple would have spent a few minutes checking that their printer sharing stuff works? :) I suppose not, since sharing of any kind has sucked rocks since OS X. The classic Mac OS file sharing system -- on which Microsoft's is most likely modelled -- with UNIX-style permissions and arbitrary shares, was pretty sweet. Apple have disavowed that system and Microsoft's Simple File Sharing pretends it doesn't exist either.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    I'm not defending the Windows printer sharing and driver model, but, you'd think that Apple would have spent a few minutes checking that their printer sharing stuff works? :)

    There is basically no solution to accessing printers that are served from a Windows host, except for running that exact same version of Windows on the client. Anything else is hopelessly broken and will only work some of the time, if you're lucky and know what you're doing. Don't use Windows hosts as print servers.

     

    The classic Mac OS file sharing system -- on which Microsoft's is most likely modelled

    Actually, Microsoft's system is modelled on IBM's old Lan Server/Lan Requester system for OS/2, which in turn has its roots in IBM's S/360 mainframe platforms (pre-dating Apple by several decades). It is utterly absurd, much like everything else involved with S/3x0 software.



  • @asuffield said:

    @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    I'm not defending the Windows printer sharing and driver model, but, you'd think that Apple would have spent a few minutes checking that their printer sharing stuff works? :)

    There is basically no solution to accessing printers that are served from a Windows host, except for running that exact same version of Windows on the client. Anything else is hopelessly broken and will only work some of the time, if you're lucky and know what you're doing. Don't use Windows hosts as print servers.

    I'm pretty sure it works if the windows host is up-to-date enough to know about the version of windows the client is using. I've successfully shared a printer pretty much effortlessly from an XP (NT5.1) machine to a Win98SE pc, a XP x64 (NT5.2) pc and a Win2k (NT5.0) pc. Either installing the driver manually on the client or installing it on the host and having it send the driver to the client, both work.

    As for Windows sharing to other OSs....
     



  • Well, like I said, I've not installed drivers for the printer under OS X yet. Apple would realise that connecting to a Windows printer drivers, and in the Windows world requires downloading drivers from the host PC. I guess what asuffield is saying is that there is no way for Mac OS X to ask what kind of printer it is and select the appropriate drivers, and tell me if they're installed already or not. But were that the case, then installing the drivers manually would never work on any OS, Windows or OS X, since the client PC would never know which drivers to use.

    Seems to me that it would be pretty trivial for Apple to check what printer it is and tell me to get some damn drivers first. (Like how Winamp tells you to "buy a sound card first" if you try playing music without one =)



  • @asuffield said:

    Actually, Microsoft's [file sharing] system is modelled on IBM's old Lan Server/Lan Requester system for OS/2 ...

    Heh. The Windows version is, the addition of ACLs aside, extremely similar to the Mac system. Just much more efficient and stable, but a whole lot less reliable. I guess Apple copied IBM's too :)



  • @asuffield said:

    There is basically no solution to accessing printers that are served from a Windows host, except for running that exact same version of Windows on the client. Anything else is hopelessly broken and will only work some of the time, if you're lucky and know what you're doing. Don't use Windows hosts as print servers.
    We used to have some printers shared on a Windows NT 4 Server and a few on random XP machines, while the clients ranged from Windows 98 to 2000 and XP. There never were any problems. Later, when the server was replaced with 2003 SBS, the printers were moved to the Linux samba server, because the print spooler on 2003 would occassionally start consuming 50% CPU (on dual-core), and that caused slowdowns on SQL.

    As for sharing and printer drivers, Windows expects the clients to send raw data to the printer, and it doesn't (and can't) care if the data it's receiving is actually valid.



  • @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    Well, like I said, I've not installed drivers for the printer under OS X yet. Apple would realise that connecting to a Windows printer drivers, and in the Windows world requires downloading drivers from the host PC. I guess what asuffield is saying is that there is no way for Mac OS X to ask what kind of printer it is and select the appropriate drivers, and tell me if they're installed already or not. But were that the case, then installing the drivers manually would never work on any OS, Windows or OS X, since the client PC would never know which drivers to use.

    Seems to me that it would be pretty trivial for Apple to check what printer it is and tell me to get some damn drivers first. (Like how Winamp tells you to "buy a sound card first" if you try playing music without one =)

    It DOESN'T require the host to send the drivers, it's just a convenience thing. If the client has them and the host doesn't it's fine with it.



  • I meant, as opposed to providing distributed GDI -- you have to put the drivers for the printer on your own machine. You can't make use of the drivers on the host PC in any way.



  • @Thief^ said:

    @asuffield said:
    @Daniel Beardsmore said:

    I'm not defending the Windows printer sharing and driver model, but, you'd think that Apple would have spent a few minutes checking that their printer sharing stuff works? :)

    There is basically no solution to accessing printers that are served from a Windows host, except for running that exact same version of Windows on the client. Anything else is hopelessly broken and will only work some of the time, if you're lucky and know what you're doing. Don't use Windows hosts as print servers.

    I'm pretty sure it works if the windows host is up-to-date enough to know about the version of windows the client is using. I've successfully shared a printer pretty much effortlessly from an XP (NT5.1) machine to a Win98SE pc, a XP x64 (NT5.2) pc and a Win2k (NT5.0) pc.

    The cross-version problems are related to retention of printer settings on the server, such as paper sizes and output resolutions. Helpfully, almost every version of Windows changes the format slightly, so you get the same kind of problems that you do when mixing roaming profiles between client versions. 



  • Oh, now, that reminds me of an even worse problem. There seems to be no consensus on whether print settings should be kept in the OS, the application or the document.

    (The paper size thing is cute, too ... It's fun trying to convince a shared printer that it really does want to print in A4. First thing you have to do when installing a new printer in Europe: verify the paper size is set to A4 and not a US size (Letter or Legal, whichever).)


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