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QuickTip: Mapping your GAC folder in Windows with Subst

December 30th, 2010 1 comment

Here’s a quick tip if you want to browse the files in your GAC easily without messing about with commands all the time. Map the folder  containing the assemblies with the Subst command.

To do that, bring up a console window (Windows Key + R or Start > Run), then:

subst G: C:\windows\Assembly

This will map the Global Assembly Cache folder to your G drive in Windows Explorer. You can also peek around and see how the GAC works.

The folders you’ll find in the mapped drive include – on a 64bit system *:

  • GAC – Non-native assemblies used by .NET 1.x
  • GAC_32 – Non-native 32bit assemblies
  • *GAC_64 – Non-native 64bit assemblies visible only on 64bit Windows.
  • GAC_MSIL – Non-native MSIL (AnyCPU) assemblies.
  • NativeImages_v* – Native assemblies for the framework version and the architecture (Eg. NativeImages_v4.0.30319_64 is for the .NET 4.0 64bit native Assemblies)
  • temp / tmp – Temporary directories (duh!)

To remove the binding, use the Subst command with the -D option.

subst G: /D

That’s it! Have a safe & happy New Year!

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Beautiful wallpapers for you to relax with.

March 8th, 2010 No comments

Some really cool wallpapers from Windows 7 Technical Evangelist Mike Swanson.

I’ve got the new Audi RS5 wallpapers on my work and home PCs if cars are your thing 😉

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VirtualBox 3.1 released!

December 1st, 2009 No comments

Just when you thought you can start a new month without some new software, Sun has blessed the world with a ray of VirtualBox 3.1 goodness on us all! All hail the Sun. I’ve been using the Betas and trying out the spanking awesome Teleportation feature in VirtualBox 3.1. So lets take a bit of a look at the new grub.

Beam me up Scotty!

You know, people say the catch phrase thinking its from Star Trek, but did you know that it was never actually mentioned in any episode?

Teleportation or ‘Live Migration‘ in Xen/KVM  or vMotion in VMWare allows you to move a running virtual machine to another host without any downtime. Sun brings us this ‘Enterprise’ feature to VirtualBox. Whats even cooler, is that you can teleport your running VM on different host platforms (Windows -> OpenSolaris or Linux, vice versa) but not from one hardware set (Intel) to another (AMD) unless they both have the same instruction-sets. The transport layer for the teleportation is TCP/IP, so as long as the agreed port is open and accessible you can even teleport it through the tubes! (assuming you have a fast link like those pesky Dutch)

There are a few conditions and caveats as I’ve found. Firstly you must ensure (as you’d expect) the target VM has to have the exact same configuration as the source VM (same RAM, graphics memory, storage, CD/DVD images etc) the other thing is to be weary of the CPUs the host computer has. As long as its between the same generations (different clock speeds are OK) it should work (I tried between a QX6850 -> E6600 but QX6850->AMD X2 4600+ wasn’t so pretty!).

Once you’ve configured the target host to match the source host, time to ask VirtualBox to keep its eyes open for an incoming beam.

VBoxManage modifyvm [VirtualMachineName] --teleporter on --teleporterport [Port]

Then on the source host, send out the beams to initiate the teleportation:

VBoxManage controlvm [VirtualMachineName] teleport --host [TargetIP] --port [Port]

Give it some time to think and if you tried a localhost migration, it should migrate seamlessly 🙂

Scotty doesn’t know

Scotty doesn’t know about the other little changes, but you will. The new VirtualBox has lots of refinements in the UI. For one, new icons for all the Guest operating systems. The settings window has had a make over and includes ‘optimal settings’ detection.

Windows 2003 VM in VirtualBox 3.1

Windows 2003 VM in VirtualBox 3.1

Here its telling me my Windows 2003 VM should have atleast 20Mb Video Memory assigned to it to work well in full-screen mode. Heading over to the Display options in VirtualBox 3.1 we find that the Video Memory selectors have got little indicators now, as well as the inclusion of 2D Video Acceleration.

Windows 2003 VM - VirtualBox 3.1 Display Settings

Windows 2003 VM - VirtualBox 3.1 Display Settings

Depending how ever many cores you have, it will highlight what you should set as the maximum number of cores available for your VirtualMachine as well as the recommended RAM allocation. This is what I see in my Intel QX6850 development workstation.

VirtualBox 3.1 System Processor Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 System Processor Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 - Motherboard Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 - Motherboard Settings

VirtualBox now also has experimental support for Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) which will eventually replace the aging BIOS bootstrap (which is the default). Well known operating systems that boot via EFI include Windows Vista and Windows 7, Apple OS X and Fedora 11+.

The Storage controls in VirtualBox GUI has also had a bit of a make over. The options to select a disk and a controller have changed, CD/DVD drives can be attached to an arbitrary IDE controller too now!

VirtualBox 3.1 - Storage

VirtualBox 3.1 - Storage

The networking settings GUI in the new VirtualBox has change too, not only that but you can now configure the network interfaces whilst the guest is running – YAY!

VirtualBox 3.1 Network Settings

VirtualBox 3.1 Network Settings

Snapshots are a lot more flexible in this release (much like VMWare’s snapshot feature). Previously you can only restore from the last created snapshot, now any arbitrary snapshot can be restored too or branched off.

For those who use OpenSolaris (like yours truely!) the rewritten USB support (still experimental btw!) should mean we can interact with our USB devices in Solaris Nevada 124 or higher now – I’m running 127 and have USB devices appearing in my VMs.

If those don’t give you any indication on to the pure awesomeness of this release, there was a significant performance improvement for APE & AMD64 guests (VT-x/AMD-V) which will be quite noticeable from what I’ve been told by a college.

As Barack Obama said, tis time for a change..log.

He didn’t say that, I just reused 36 Mafia’s Lolli Lolli. The entire change log appears below from the website.

VirtualBox 3.1.0 (released 2009-11-30)

This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Teleportation (aka live migration); migrate a live VM session from one host to another (see the manual for more information)
  • VM states can now be restored from arbitrary snapshots instead of only the last one, and new snapshots can be taken from other snapshots as well (“branched snapshots”; see the manual for more information)
  • 2D video acceleration for Windows guests; use the host video hardware for overlay stretching and color conversion (see the manual for more information)
  • More flexible storage attachments: CD/DVD drives can be attached to an arbitrary IDE controller, and there can be more than one such drive (the manual for more information)
  • The network attachment type can be changed while a VM is running
  • Complete rewrite of experimental USB support for OpenSolaris hosts making use of the latest USB enhancements in Solaris Nevada 124 and higher
  • Significant performance improvements for PAE and AMD64 guests (VT-x and AMD-V only; normal (non-nested) paging)
  • Experimental support for EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface; see the manual for more information)
  • Support for paravirtualized network adapters (virtio-net; see the manual for more information)

In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:

  • VMM: guest SMP fixes for certain rare cases
  • GUI: snapshots include a screenshot
  • GUI: locked storage media can be unmounted by force
  • GUI: the a log window grabbed all key events from other GUI windows (bug #5291)
  • GUI: allow to disable USB filters (bug #5426)
  • GUI: improved memory slider in the VM settings
  • GUI: the VirtualBox website couldn’t be opened from the help menu (bug #4559)
  • 3D support: major performance improvement in VBO processing
  • 3D support: added GL_EXT_framebuffer_object, GL_EXT_compiled_vertex_array support
  • 3D support: fixed crashes in FarCry, SecondLife, Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, Eve Online (bugs #2801, #2791)
  • 3D support: fixed graphics corruption in World of Warcraft (#2816)
  • 3D support: fixed Final frame of Compiz animation not updated to the screen (#4653)
  • 3D support: fixed incorrect rendering of non ARGB textures under compiz
  • iSCSI: support iSCSI targets with more than 2TiB capacity
  • VRDP: fixed occasional VRDP server crash (bug #5424)
  • Network: fixed the E1000 emulation for QNX (and probably other) guests (bug #3206)
  • NAT: added host resolver DNS proxy (see the manual for more information)
  • VMDK: fixed incorrectly rejected big images split into 2G pieces (bug #5523, #2787)
  • VMDK: fixed compatibility issue with fixed or raw disk VMDK files (bug #2723)
  • VHD: fixed incompatibility with Hyper-V
  • Support for Parallels version 2 disk image (HDD) files; see the manual for more information
  • OVF: create manifest files on export and verify the content of an optional manifest file on import
  • OVF: fixed memory setting during import (bug #4188)
  • Mouse device: now five buttons are passed to the guest (bug #3773)
  • VBoxHeadless: fixed loss of saved state when VM fails to start
  • VBoxSDL: fixed crash during shutdown (Windows hosts only)
  • X11 based hosts: allow the user to specify their own scan code layout (bug #2302)
  • Mac OS X hosts: don’t auto show the menu and dock in fullscreen (bug #4866)
  • Mac OS X hosts (64 bit): don’t interpret mouse wheel events as left click (bug #5049)
  • Mac OS X hosts: fixed a VM abort during shutdown under certain conditions
  • Solaris hosts: combined the kernel interface package into the VirtualBox main package
  • Solaris hosts: support for OpenSolaris Boomer architecture (with OSS audio backend).
  • Shared folders: VBOXSVR is visible in Network folder (Windows guests, bug #4842)
  • Shared folders: performance improvements (Windows guests, bug #1728)
  • Windows, Linux and Solaris Additions: added balloon tip notifier if VirtualBox host version was updated and Additions are out of date
  • Solaris guests: fixed keyboard emulation (bug #1589)
  • Solaris Additions: fixed as_pagelock() failed errors affecting guest properties (bug #5337)
  • Windows Additions: added automatic logon support for Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Windows Additions: improved file version lookup for guest OS information
  • Windows Additions: fixed runtime OS detection on Windows 7 for session information
  • Windows Additions: fixed crash in seamless mode (contributed by Huihong Luo)
  • Linux Additions: added support for uninstalling the Linux Guest Additions (bug #4039)
  • Linux guest shared folders: allow mounting a shared folder if a file of the same name as the folder exists in the current directory (bug #928)
  • SDK: added object-oriented web service bindings for PHP5

Overall this is a solid new release from Sun – unsure about its stability as I’ve only been running a few VMs (Windows 2003, CentOS and Fedora 12) for about 10-12hrs. Nothing bad as yet.

Download from the VirtualBox site:

  • VirtualBox 3.1.0 for Windows hosts x86/amd64
  • VirtualBox 3.1.0 for Solaris and OpenSolaris hosts x86/amd64

Enjoy!

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Windows 7 NetBIOS Kernel Crash, 1997 all over again :(

November 12th, 2009 No comments

Looks like Windows 7 is vulnerable to an SMB remote exploit.

Unfortunatly this SMB2 security issue is specificaly due to a MS patch, for another SMB2.0 security issue:
KB942624 (MS07-063)
Installing only this specific update on Vista SP0 create the following issue:

SRV2.SYS fails to handle malformed SMB headers for the NEGOTIATE PROTOCOL REQUEST functionnality.
The NEGOTIATE PROTOCOL REQUEST is the first SMB query a client send to a SMB server, and it’s used to identify the SMB dialect that will be used for futher communication.

Reminds me of the days of WinNuke.

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Four new Windows 7 Ads

October 22nd, 2009 No comments

Here’s four new Microsoft Windows 7 commercials, 7 seconds to talk about Windows 7.  Short, sweet functionality and to the point. Oh  and look, they don’t seem to need to be bashing their competitors (awww!).

Having used Windows 7 now for close to 2 months I have to say its nothing but pure awesomeness. If you have MSDN there’s no excuse not to try it out. I’ve been too busy to even blog about it 🙁

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Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 is out!

October 21st, 2009 No comments

Microsoft has just released VisualStudio 2010 Beta 2 to MSDN Subscribers – aka Rosario.

msn_visual_studio_2010

I’m not sure why they’re going with the ULTIMATE moniker for Visual Studio, I still prefer the VS6 style Standard, Professional, Enterprise. Meh.

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN
    The comprehensive suite of application lifecycle management tools for software teams to ensure quality results from design to deployment.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN
    A complete toolset for developers to deliver scalable, high quality applications.
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN
    The essential tool for professional development tasks to assist developers in implementing their ideas easily. (Note: Visual Studio 2010 Professional will also be available without MSDN subscription)

Some of the more exciting things that are coming with Visual Studio 2010 are documented on MSDN or a better one would be Vikas Goyal’s post and also his .NET 4.0 coverage.. Personally the Parallel extensions are the most exciting bits for me. The new Java 7 work is concentrating heavily on concurrency and its good to see both camps pushing the boundaries.

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Lets Get The Party Started: Windows 7 House Party!

September 3rd, 2009 No comments

Excited about Windows 7 launch to the public in October? Organise a party and get some swagger!

Choose a day from October 22-29 and if you’re selected, you’ll not only receive a special Signature Edition of Windows® 7 Ultimate but your very own Windows® 7 Party Pack.

Windows 7 Partaye!

Countries allowed to partaye!

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • HongKong
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • UK
  • USA

Get the details and lets get this party started. (Did I mention I don’t like Pink?)

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Ars Technica reviews Mac OS X 10.6 Leopard

September 2nd, 2009 No comments

The only review you’ll ever need to read for the newly released Apple OS X 10.6 Leopard from Ars.

Having used 10.6 for a few days now (yes believe it or not I do have a couple of Macs at home!) I’ve felt it to be snappier than the original Leopard the Macbook and iMac shipped with. Still my main box is a Windows 7 machine 🙂 But I’d highly recommend installing 10.6 if you’re running 10.5 *after* you’ve made sure all your software is compatible, unfortunately Adobe CS3 is not supported in 10.6 (I mean not working in Snow Leopard), so I went out and got CS4 for Mac.

[Update: No one said anything about CS3 being “not supported” on Snow Leopard. The plan, however, is not to take resources away from other efforts (e.g. porting Photoshop to Cocoa) in order to modify 2.5-year-old software in response to changes Apple makes in the OS foundation.]

Lovely.

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Windows 7 available for MSDN and Technet subscribers!

August 8th, 2009 1 comment

A bit late on this one, Windows 7 has finally hit MSDN and Technet subscribers, go grab your product key and ISO.

Windows 7 MSDN

As posted earlier the Windows 7 hashes remain the same. Dont forget to grab the latest Windows 7 SDK and the RTM version of the Windows API Code Pack for .NET Framework.

From Channel 9:

Enjoy, I’m house hunting this weekend!

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Apple Security: I’m in yo keeboards hax0ring yo porn sitez.

August 2nd, 2009 No comments

I’ll let you decide if this is LOL worthy.

APPLE KEYBOARDS ARE vulnerable to a hack that puts keyloggers and malware directly into the keyboard. This could be a serious problem, and now that the presentation and code is out there, the bad guys will surely be exploiting it.

The vulnerability was discovered by K. Chen, and he gave a talk on it at Blackhat this year. The concept is simple, a modern Apple keyboard has about 8K of flash memory, and 256 bytes of working ram. For the intelligent, this is more than enough space to have a field day.

Nothing is encrypted, decrypted, and the process is simple. You then resume HIDFirmwareUpdaterTool, and in a few seconds, your keyboard is compromised. Formatting the OS won’t do you any good, the code is in keyboard flash. There are no batteries to pull, no nothing, the keyboard is simply compromised.

Then from the proof of concept document:

The application checks a number of properties of the keyboard and checks the validity of the ?rmware image ?le kbd 0x0069 0x0220.irrxfw in the bundle. The ?rmware validity checking routine is called CRC32: and is the 75 byte routine starting at 0x00003005. Despite the name, this routine does not do CRC32 at all and in fact, it simply just adds up the bytes of the ?rmware image ?le and the application veri?es that the sum is 0x252ed7.

EPIC FAIL. While the rest of the world has been working hard on securing the fabrics of their kernel, Apple have concentrated on painting the Lepoard with new stripes. Before you fall into a trap thinking this isn’t as big as they make it out to be – because you need physical (and root) access to update firmware (and the user would have to approve), think of malware or a Safari related exploit. How many security conscience Mac users are there do you think? Wasn’t the original deal move to Mac and forget all your troubles?

Surely Apple can’t be the only keyboard at fault, I’m sure my Razer Tarrantula (with a few modifications) can fall into the same trap – atleast you’d hope so, for Apple’s sake (or not!).

Anyway, woo WINdows 7 to Technet/MSDN guys this week!

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