Saturday, March 21, 2009

Removing recovery partition on ASUS R2H

Looking at the partitions trying to fix the bootloader problem I have lately I noticed the hidden 4 GB ASUS recovery partition I completely forgot about. That partitions has been there for a while and to be honest I’m not even thinking to go back to Windows XP Tablet so I might just as well use that space – Windows Vista SP2 release candidate said “no” without another 3 GB of free disk space, so I might just as well reallocate some of that space.

Note of advice: Do BACKUP YOUR IMPORTANT FILES to DVDs, external drives or even other computers before you start, otherwise you will kick yourself later on if something goes wrong. You could also use a disk imaging software to backup the recovery partition if you think you might need it back someday.

R2H remove recovery partition (1)

Reading a few articles on the web and playing with the Vista Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc), I noticed the new Extend / Shrink menu entries and I thought I might get away with deleting the recovery partition, extending the next one (D), maybe shrinking it a bit leaving some unallocated space to the right and extending the next one (C) to include it. Well, that was the plan anyways, so the first step is to delete recovery partition…

R2H remove recovery partition (2)

Next step, enlarging the next partition… What? Extend volume entry is not enabled? Like a proper computer user, I always hope for the best and read the manual only when having a problem “Extends the volume with focus into next contiguous unallocated space. For basic volumes, the unallocated space must be on the same disk as, and must follow (be of higher sector offset than) the partition with focus”… b#*!0&$()s, I was just hoping to get this done quickly! Never surrender, we just need a bigger hammer…

R2H remove recovery partition (3) Next on the menu, Gparted Live CD – I read this article on The How-to Geek blog a while ago and looks like the proper tool for the job, let’s give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen, I backed-up my data, right? right…

Download the bootable ISO image from the Gparted project website, the latest stable version as of now is 0.4.3-2. Before writing that on a CD/DWD verify the checksums, otherwise it won’t boot and you will have to do it all over again. Then write that onto a CD/DVD-RW and boot the R2H from it.

Unfortunately the bad news here is that Linuxes don’t like ASUS R2H that much and as I remember I tried not too long ago to install Ubuntu and I had the same problem, the video won’t initialize correctly in X-Window (gradually goes to a bright white full screen) without a few configuration changes. While I tried to get it working for a couple of hours with no luck, too tired and disappointed to continue, it struck me! hey, how about using that VGA dongle to connect to a monitor / TV set, maybe when it boots up it will switch to using it and everything will work fine. And it does!!! :-) 3 hours later, but it does.

Booting up the Gparted Live CD there is a menu with a few choices, the first one (default) works just fine - GParted Live (default settings), wait for Linux to loading all it’s stuff for about a minute, then in the keymap configuration menu choose the default option - Don’t touch keymap, language (default 33 = US English), Video mode, 0 (default) – that should work fine, now that we’re using the external monitor and voila, GParted loads up in X-Window, finally.


Reading this comment on the HowToGeek post on how leaving the Round to cylinders unchecked might speed up the process, I tried it once, as well as doing all the resizes in one go but it failed the checks when it started to resize/move the first partition, something about Can’t have the end before the start, which should probably read can’t have the new start before the old end?!… Anyways, I started again this time applying the changes one at a time WITH the cylinder aligning feature on. (note: I think the cause of the problem was not selecting the round to cylinders feature, and still could’ve done all the steps in one go, but hey maybe next time…)

First selected the /dev/dha1 partition (C:), right click and chose Resize/Move, then in the dialog window drag the side left arrow margin or simply type in 0 in the Free Space Preceding. I only wanted to round the C: partition to 10 GB and transfer the rest to D: partition, so I left the 3.4 GB of free space to the right.


Click Resize/Move button and then the Apply button in the main toolbar to start making the changes. It will take some time to move the data, ~15 minutes - this is how it looks after.


Same process for the second partition, select the /dev/hda2, right click and choose  Resize/Move. I wanted to resize this one to 15 GB (15 * 1024 MB) and leave the rest of 415 MB for the third partition.

gparted13 Same as before, click Resize/Move and then the Apply button to make the changes. This will take a little longer, ~20-25 minutes and here is the after look.

gparted14Now, my third partition is an extended one and I need first to resize the extended partition first  and then the internal logical partition. Same as before, select the extended, Resize/Move, drag the slider, leaving no space before or after, then the same treatment for the internal logical partition, then Apply. I ran the two operations together, it doesn’t make it faster, but it gives you a chance for a longer break, maybe even dinner :-)



And we’re done, resizing and moving anyways…

gparted17 … because the system is not booting anymore – in my case a blank screen. We’ll have to use the Windows Vista Recovery DVD to repair the Vista bootmanager. If that doesn’t bring back the boot menu back, we need to do the work ourselves if Vista can’t recover itself, following the steps in Neosmart’s excellent Vista recovery guide.

[couple of hours later…] Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to recover the Vista bootloader, tried a few things even the Windows 7 repair menu, with no luck - I went on eventually and re-installed Windows 7 on the same partition as before. Obviously this might not suite everyone, so I would recommend doing all the above when you are prepared to reinstall the OS as well…

Friday, March 20, 2009

Network Monitor v0.7

Network Monitor, 0.7 - 19 March 2009

[download: binaries | sources]

  • various small visual changes: new menu (view log & about), new “Started at” field, program icon, about dialog etc;
  • show only connected wireless and Ethernet network adapters;

Network Monitor v7.0

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Windows Vista bootloader repair

As per previous post, I had Windows Vista on C: partition and installed Windows 7 beta build 7057 on a D: partition, upon next boot my Vista boot entry was gone.


I managed to restore Vista boot entry using Windows Vista Recovery Disk from – kudos to them for making it available as a torrent download – wrote it on a disc and went a couple of time through the automated repair process (see more details here on how to use the recovery disk) and managed to recover both Vista and Windows 7 boot entries, but only Vista is bootable now. I had Vista’s tcpip.sys “fixed” to allow for more half-open connections, and I eventually had to use the console from the recovery options, go into your \Windows\system32\drivers, delete / rename tcpip.sys and copy tcpip.copy (that’s how my backup file was named) as tcpip.sys, as Vista was complaining that tcpip.sys was corrupt.

Trouble is that now with Vista boot entry restored, I cannot boot into Windows 7, the Windows Boot Manager complains with error 0xc0000428, file: \Windows\system32\winload.exe, “Windows cannot very the digital signature for this file”. Now, if I understand correctly from reading this article, it seems that as part of the security checks the Vista Boot Manager is checking various boot files, one of them being winload.exe, which leads me to the conclusion that Vista Boot Manager doesn’t approve of Windows 7 boot files, and same goes the other way around (don’t actually recall the other boot message last night, it was late it could’ve been the same as about on tcpip.sys or this new winload.exe signature thing).

Reading A few more changes from Beta to RC I noticed this change:

25. Dual Boot partition drive letter assignment

For a dual boot configuration for the Beta, the other Windows OS wouldn’t get a drive letter and therefore wouldn’t show up in explorer.  We heard overwhelmingly from Beta customers that the lack of a drive letter was confusing and even caused some to believe that their secondary OS was lost. Assigning the drive letter makes it visible in explorer and aids in navigation across OS installations.

While I’ve noticed in W7 beta the Vista partition was not showing up in Explorer and now in build 7057 was back in, I wonder if this change might have something to do with my issue here… Must be something to do with both Vista and W7 naming C: the partition was being installed on and renaming the other ones – anyways, after lots and lots of googling for Vista and W7 dual-booting and bcdedit command parameters, I’m even more confused and couldn’t find much relevant info, so I’ll give up for now…

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Windows 7 beta build 7057 on ASUS R2H

Warning: You should consider making a note / saving the BCD settings with EasyBCD or similar before installing this build, as it lost my Vista boot entry, although I installed Windows 7 on a separate partition, no upgrade.

* * *

Following Rudi's comments that some things have been fixed in build 7057, I gave it a try myself and here are my notes.

Same as before, I installed it from a DVD-RW disc and into a 9.5 GB disk partition, with about 2 GB free left. The wireless adapter is not detected automatically, you will need to connect your tablet through the wired (ethernet). The first Windows Update run installs an update for Intel 915 Express chipset, Atheros ASUS USB Wireless, ATK0100 and Realtek RTL8101E Ethernet. Rebooting...

Rebooting brings only good news - I see now the Intel Graphics Media icon in tray area, things like rotation seems to work fine, going into graphics Properties, doesn't seem to know about the 800x480 screen resolution, but it still looks fine on screen - again this is the default Windows driver, not ASUS driver version

Screen calibration works fine now, you can use the pen close in the corners now, kudos to Windows 7 developers, seems they listened to all that feedback we all sent.

A new wireless driver was installed and it seems to work fine, detected my wireless network no problems - btw, I like the new popup window that shows the wireless connections... I might install the ASUS Wireless Console, it seemed to me it saves a bit more battery when I disable it using the console, as opposed to using the Windows Mobility Center.

More good news, now we have a Windows Experience Index of 1.0, not too bad considering the last time it was freezing half way through the rating process – again, good job MS.

So, to recap…

Touch Screen

Calibration works fine now, you can access the screen right close into the corners.


Windows Update will install a new Intel graphics driver, but oddly enough this is version, older than the ASUS Intel Graphics driver for Vista v6.14.10.4764. You need the latter to change the resolutions through the ASUS Settings Center. Same as before, you have to install it in Windows Vista compatibility mode, otherwise the installer will complain.


The default driver works with a few problems, I’ve noticed sound corruption (pops) on high volume on headphones and no speaker output when you unplug the headphones. You have to go to Control Panel > Troubleshooting > Troubleshoot Audio playback wizard to change the speakers to the default device, and then the same back to headphones if you want to switch. None of these if you install the ASUS Audio driver for Vista v6.10.1.6030.

WebCam (Bison)

Not installed by default, detected as USB2.0 Camera, works fine with ASUS drivers for Vista v6. Tested with Live Messenger, which works fine now, btw, good job MS.


Same as before, you have to install the ASUS Touchpad driver for Vista v9.1.5.0 to get better sensitivity and click on push.


Works out of the box, newer driver installed with first Windows Update.


Works fine after first Windows Update. The ASUS Wireless Console for Vista v2.0.8 work fine as well, with the note that you need to install the ASUS Hotkey Utility v1.00.0012 not only to get the hardware button to work, but apparently even to be able to disable the device from it.


Works fine. I used the Device Switch utility for Vista v1.0.0.1 to enable the device and tested with Microsoft AutoRoute 2007.

Fingerprint sensor

It is detected as an unknown Fingerprint Sensor and then I went straight on to install the AuthenTec update Windows 7 beta suggested the last time. And wow, it actually works now! Go into Control Panel > Biometric Devices, choose to use the AuthenTec AES1610A device to logon in Windows and enroll your fingers and that’s pretty much it, nice and easy. I understand Windows 7 introduces a new Windows Biometric Framework to provide a common API and tighter Windows integration, where before each manufacturer had to come up with their own set of apps and solutions.

ASUS Settings Center

Install ASUS Hotkey Utility v1.00.0012 then install ASUS Settings Center v1.6.7.115, then reboot or at least logoff and then log back in.
You can control brightness and volume, bad news on changing the resolution, but if you miss it badly I’d say you can install the ASUS Intel Graphics driver for Vista v6.14.10.4764.


While I cannot judge whether going into Hibernation is faster, resuming is noticeably faster!

Performance Tips

Not going to go through that again, see the previous post on how to disable certain services and features if you are not happy with the performance.

Final thoughts

I don’t know if I missed anything, feel free to remind me if I did. Except for the Vista boot issue, Windows 7 build 7057 looks pretty good, lot of things were fixed and it looks as promising as the beta version.

Here’s my 1.2 GB RAM system looking with swap disabled and bare minimum running.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pydev - Eclipse plugin for Python development

What is Pydev?

Pydev is a plugin that enables users to use Eclipse for Python and Jython development -- making Eclipse a first class Python IDE -- It comes with many goodies such as code completion, syntax highlighting, syntax analysis, refactor, debug and many others. If you want more details on the provided features, you can check here.

Pydev and Pydev Extensions are now products of Aptana, makers of the popular Aptana Studio, Eclipse-based IDE for Ajax, Jaxer, Ruby on Rails, and PHP. You can plug Pydev into Aptana Studio or both into Eclipse and use them side by side. Aptana plans deeper integrations in the future.

* * *
As I was writing the post on Notepad++ the other day it just stroke me - there must be a plugin that allows all the Eclipse goodness for Python coding. A nice editor with highlighting, auto-completion, navigation to methods / variables would be very hand especially to Python newbies like myself. Having all the tools at hand, the project explorer, the editor windows, the team / SVN synchronisation, hey I should've thought about that while ago - I guess I was doing alright with Notepad++ and RapidSVN, but now this should be even better.

The installation was quite a breeze, the Pydev Getting Started section is very helpful with plenty of details and screenshots. They also have a couple of video tutorials, that should help getting started, especially if you are not the usual Eclipse user.

I managed to install the plugin in both Eclipse 3.4.1 and 3.5 M5, the other thing I had to do was to get the Subversive plugin and connectors from Polarion. My Eclipse 3.4.1 was installed from the Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers 3.4.1 bundle (hmmm, I see there is 3.4.2 bundle out now...) so I didn't have to install anything to get the XML editing; for Eclipse 3.5 M5 I installed the Web Tools Platform 3.1 integration – that is probably a bit too much if you are only going to use it for Python, but it doesn't hurt if you use the same Eclipse for Java as well.

Here are some screenshots: