mdlbear: (borg)
[personal profile] mdlbear

A couple of fascinating (in the same way that horror movies and trainwrecks are fascinating) articles about Microsoft have come my way in the last couple of days.

First we have Windows Home Server corrupting files that are being edited and stored to the server when it's heavily loaded. There are stories on ZDNet, C|NET, and ComputerWorld among other places.

"The problem isn't 100% reproducible and depends on quite a few different factors," explained Todd Headrick, the product planning manager on the Windows Home Server (WHS) team. "Home Server has to be under an extreme load while doing a large file copy," he said, adding that the flaw comes into play only in instances when the file server's cache is full and the user is editing a file previously saved to a shared folder.

"But we thought it was important enough to generalize [the bug] so people would take it seriously, even though we took a [public relations] hit," Headrick added.

On Wednesday, Microsoft warned users in a tightly worded support document not to edit files stored on their servers with certain programs. "Files may become corrupted when you save them to the home server," the company said in advisory KB946676, which it published last week to its support site.

Saying that the bug was in the shared folders feature of WHS, the document urged users to stop using seven Microsoft applications, including Windows Vista Photo Gallery, Windows Live Photo Gallery, OneNote 2003, OneNote 2007, Outlook 2007, Microsoft Money 2007 and SyncToy 2.0 Beta under some conditions. "We recommend that do not use the programs to save or to edit program-specific files that are stored on a Windows Home Server-based system," the document read.

Folks, I've been using Unix- and Linux-based shared file servers for two decades now, at work and at home, often under loads that Windows Home Server is unlikely ever to encounter, including flinging large audio and video files around. Know how many times I've had files corrupted by anything but a hardware problem? Zero. Microsoft has a problem here.

Meanwhile [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman points us at a blog post about last night's fireworks show on Seattle's Space Needle. In his follow-up he points us to this story at seattlepi.com. Their front page has a followup. Guess what? File corruption on a Windows machine. Hmm.

Look, if you're going to have an expensive, high-visibility show controlled in real-time by a computer program, you start by simulating the heck out of it. Then you put the app, and enough of an OS to run it, on a flash drive, fsck(1) it, adjust /etc/fstab so that it's mounted read-only, and run a couple of tests with the fireworks replaced by dummy loads but everything else in place. After that, if it fails in the next decade or so, it's because you damaged the box.

[livejournal.com profile] technoshaman assures us that he could write the controller app from scratch in a couple of months; I'd be inclined to use a MIDI sequencer and a bunch of current-loop-controlled relay controllers. This isn't exactly rocket science. Mortar shells, maybe.

Meanwhile cheap, rugged, Linux-based diskless laptops are getting a lot of attention, and corporate IT departments are staying away from Vista in droves. Wonder why.

You can download Ubuntu Linux here for free.

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