Windows Dev VM

(This is a guest post from Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

I have been living under a rock for several years now when it comes to Windows development. Recently wanting to do some maintenance on couple of my projects I needed to download Visual Studio and Windows SDK. Poking around the download page I have discovered that Microsoft now provides a fully pre-installed VMs with Visual Studio, SDK etc. for VMware, Hyper-V, VirtualBox and Parallels. That’s actually super cool and handy. Thank you Microsoft!

Looks like this has been available for 3 or 4 years now. Oh well.

Sandboxie went GPL3!

I’ve been using Sandboxie for a long while to run all those questionable downloads on Windows. It’s a great light weight sandbox (as the name implies) for running random downloads, or even going to questionable websites as Sandboxie does a great job of isolating processes, and their filesystem access.

It’s not been all that cheap, but I felt it was worth it. I went to check to see how much it is as the conversation had come up on discord, and it turns out that Sophos had bought Sandboxie, and opened up the source code!

The downside is that there will be no further official development of the product. So I guess at some point I’ll have to break down and get a signing cert and re-build it if I want to keep using it.

Last version is locally mirrored here, as I understand it’ll be deleted soon enough.

SandboxieInstall-533-3.exe

Living with ARM for a week

So after the crazed purchase I made a few weeks ago, I returned from Japan, and was able to unbox and use the machine I’d been wanting for a while, a non x86 Windows laptop!

The NovaGo has a Snapdragon 835, and my phone, the ASUS ROG phone has the 845. Yes for this week, my cellphone actually has the stronger processor than my computer. Honestly this is almost an unthinkable situation! Although I haven’t been using my phone as a desktop substitute this week. It’s amazing how MS screwed up 10 on the phones, and Continium.

By default it comes crippled with this ‘S’ mode Windows, which hearkens back to the Windows RT launch, with the difference that it’s a quick trip to the application store to unlock Windows 10 Professional. It’s a free download as it should be, and it doesn’t even require a reboot!

Build quality isn’t so bad, the screen folds all the way back to make the machine into a ‘tablet’ although I don’t like that mode so much, it just feels wrong to wrap a keyboard around a monitor. However if you have rambunctious young kids, it’s great as when someone went running by me flailing their arms around like a while animal, when they struck the laptop the screen could easily fold back 180 degrees. Yay.

My first thing to do after setting up Office and VMWare VDI was to install the Linux subsystem, and Ubuntu. it’s exactly the same as it is on x86_64, which is great. And this let’s me have the best of both worlds, just like x86_64. As much as I dislike stumbling around with that aborted child of Pascal & Fortran (Python) at least I can run it under (mostly) Linux to get something close to like the production environment.

The C/C++ compiler is actually all cross tools. I wanted CLI only stuff because I like torturing myself, and it required a few GB of downloads. The good news is that the latest Windows 10 SDK does support GDI/CLI apps, so no crazy SDK hacking required, unlike back in the Windows RT days. Oddly enough the Taskforce 87 interpreter runs fine, but nothing else does.

I did a horrible job at hacking up SDL 1.2 to at least run (kind of, the audio doesn’t work, and it’s all WinDB *EDIT I got it fixed!!!) I got a few things up and running, including DOSBox and FrontVM. One thing that greatly helps is that i386 binaries ‘just work’. Honestly you wouldn’t even know you are running them when you are. Which made hunting down the ARM64 version of Chromium Edge kind of difficult to find. There really needs to be a more apparent way to tell them apart, if anything for battery efficiency.

As pictured, SQL Server 4.21a runs just fine, again you wouldn’t even notice. Same for Visual C++ 1.0 & FORTRAN PowerStation 1.0.

Again the audio in my crap SDL build doesn’t work, so DOSBox is silent, and without Direct X, the text mode is tiny. Oh also, there is no OpenGL in this version of Windows dev kit for some reason. Running ssystem is ungodly slow. Also the default optimizations seems to be Os, optimize for space, and on this ASUS I have to say /Ox is way way faster. DooM is quite playable on DOSBox when build with /Ox, unlike /Os.

For me, I spend most of my day to day in Office, and VMWare VDI, connecting to secure networks. So I’m just one step above a terminal. Which I guess is kind of sad, but this machine more than fills that roll for me. The 120GB of storage is tight. This isn’t a development machine persay, nor is it something to download tonnes of data to, it’s a lightweight machine where it’s strength is the built in 4G modem, and when running ARM software the longer battery life. To me the biggest drawback is that the keyboard isn’t backlit. Even though I touch type, I didn’t realize how much I’d grown used to it for casual use.

I guess it’s a hard toss up from this and a PINEBOOK Pro, I think most readers here would prefer the Pinebook, for all it’s openness, although I still like the idea of being able to copy over the Win32s version of Lemmings, and it just running. For me I kind of like this thing, although once I switch back to an x86_64 with more memory, better GPU and disk options, maybe this just feels like some kids toy.

Neko98 ARM!

I don’t know how I didn’t think of this, but I also ported Neko98! Although the STL is having an issue with the ‘control panel’ so Neko is on autopilot.

This app can’t run on your PC

As for the emulation, it is 32bit only, so expect to see this stupid message quite a bit. The neckbeard is a nice touch though.

Also built into the thing is a cell modem. I guess it’s really not a surprise as the 835 really is a cellphone SOC. I have a ‘wifi egg’ as they are called here, a WiFi hotspot with unlimited internet from CLS, which is on the old 4G network. I popped the SIM in, and it picked up the APN settings on it’s own and I was connected in under a minute. I have to say that it’s about time that SIM cards have this stuff programmed into them for a plug & play experience. And thankfully the ASUS is unlocked, although from what I understand these were sold in the USA bundled with some cell service plans.

For anyone with one of these rare machines that cares to play along you can find my built stuff on my ‘vpsland’ archive:

https://vpsland.superglobalmegacorp.com/install/Windows10-ARM/

And the f2c/dungeon build along with the C/C++ compiler is in the aptly named dungeon-2.5.6-ARM(32bit)-win32.zip file.

Just made a drunk purchase… Not too mad

NovaGo!!

I’ve been a hidden long time fan of non x86 NT, I’ve owned Alphas and PowerPC (still sadly no MIPS), and when it came to the arm platform, ive since picked up the Surface RT and the Surface 2 RT. YouTube works fine on both, although the 2 is far faster and overall nicer user experience. I use the 1st Gen as a winamp player as it’s easier to jailbreak and cross compile to and mess with. But locked down Windows 8.0 for arm is insanely limited.

Enter Windows 10 and another botched shot at Windows on ARM for the general consumer. These ship with a S limited version of windows, which apparently can be easily unlocked to full 10 pro. I chose the Asus as it’s a laptop, and has more ram than the HP. Both however should be enough for casual day to day usage of office and edge chromium. I’ll have to see how it goes for either cross or native compiling.

Although the arm in these machines is 64bit, is there 32bit user land at all? Is it still possible to maintain a 32bit userland of gcc 1/2 and binutils for legacy compiles? How terrible is x86 qemu on arm emulation? DOSBox native? I guess SDL should be a simple rebuild like NT MIPS?

I’m also curious about WineVDM and MS-DOS player.

Oh well, I’m just waiting for a flight in the airport, going slowly insane.

UPDATE on the ASUS here:

My conclusion is really that the biggest problems with the physical machine is the lack of a backlit keyboard, and the tiny storage. Windows on ARM feels like a solution looking for a problem, but the obtuse problem is non x86 diversity. And in those regards it’s pretty much working fine.

But looking forward to a non x86 usable machine. I even have an unlimited chip for Hong Kong. It’ll be interesting if it can keep up for me, and if I’ve finally hit Ted Smith FORTRAN Maximum usage. Although this has no floppy drives.

WDF_VIOLATION on Apple Macintosh

So I bit the bullet and updated to Windows 10 build 1903. And then the fun started on my glorious 2006 MacPro. It finished the update, and on reboot I get the login screen, and then almost immediately a blue screen.

Naturally the QR code is useless as it doesn’t specify any stop codes, and the minidump… Well that requires gigabytes and gigabytes of crap to download to get a tool to read it. (I still haven’t finished that rabbit hole, like COME ON! why isn’t it included?!).

However after hitting F8 a million times, I found that safe mode & networking work just great. Searching online was basically useless as there was no specific stop code to go with this WDF_VIOLATION. Further looking around I did notice one thing, and that it was all Macintosh machines that crash out to this WDF_VIOLATION error. It must be something specific to the Apple hardware running Windows 10!?

Armed with this (dis)information, I went ahead and disabled all the Apple specific drivers & startup items.

From msconfig.exe:

From MSCONFIG.EXE I disabled the following services:

  • Apple OS Switch Manager
  • Apple Time Service

And in the task manager, I disabled the following startup items:

  • Realtek HD Audio Manager
  • Boot Camp Manager

I had the other VMWare serial & USB hook previously disabled, as I just don’t want them at all on my setup. The big upshot is that after rebooting out of safe mode, I’m now up and running on Windows build 1903.

Considering the BootCamp stuff was so woefully out of date, don’t expect Apple to fix this anytime soon. And since I’m on a MacPro 2006, I certainly won’t be getting any updates from Apple. But at least I can struggle to keep this thing up to date otherwise.

Now I can enjoy that ‘new command prompt’ everyone keeps telling me about.

***UPDATE***

I went through this on another Bootcamp Mac, and what I had to do was uninstall the “Boot Camp Services”. It’s startup component triggers the bluescreen as it’s doing some nonsensical inventory, banging around on the drivers in a not friendly way. I had version 4.0.4033 of the Boot Camp Services installed.

Uninstall Boot Camp Services version 4.0.4033

Removing this kept all the old drivers, which continue to work just fine.

VC6 Ultimate updates

I’ve been trading emails with various people from the project after I had made my post, and helping them integrate more of Visual Studio 2003 into the project and working through a few issues to bring far better compatibility to VS 2003.

And the best part is being able to build projects in parallel!

10.2 seconds in parallel!

I haven’t ordered new processors, so the 2.1Ghz parts are… lacking. However being able to use all available cores makes building DOSBox pretty fast.

Restricting the build to a single process takes 1:13 while the full parallel build on this machine takes a mere 10 seconds!

So absolutely check out VC6Ultimate!

Visual Studio .net Enterprise Architect

I uh, also saw this on archive.org, which may help people looking for this stuff from the future as old tools get harder and harder to find. Especially bigger editions like the Enterprise Architect version.

So I was building a Windows 2019 server

As I got a ‘totally legit’ serial code in my box of cereal.

After the install I thought it’d be fun to install the Linux Subsystem.

While following the powershell instructions here, I thought the list of quick links of distros to download was interesting:

That’s right ARM Linux userland! I still have high hopes for Windows on ARM (I have 2 Windows RT devices now!!) although I’m not holding my breath.

Maybe there will be some ARM boards that are suitable for the desktop that aren’t over 1k USD.. That’d be nice.

Interesting trivia is that the Linux Subsystem started it’s life on ARM as a way to run Android binaries on Windows Phone. And true to everything Microsoft does, it got to the point where it could start to run things (albeit poorly) and was summarily killed. Although it’s found life despite the original false start as a general ‘text mode’ subsystem for Windows.

However running Linux binaries on Windows currently just shows that NTOS isn’t as efficient as the Linux kernel when it comes to emulating the Linux ABI. Although this was the original ‘dream’ of the microkernel, and a POSIX subsystem for NT was always part of the original design, although it really was more of a checkbox for GSA contracts, and outside of being able to use pax & vi it really was handicapped by not having BSD extensions, and especially by not having any access to the TCP/IP stack.

EDIT*

I should add these notes from the future past for the future me, when messing around with Windows Server 2019 build 1809 when they finally brought the Linux Subsystem into the fold. Unpacking the distribution and running the ‘setup’ sets it up DIRECTLY into that directory. So put it where you want it.

When you mess that up, you have to use the wslconfig program!

Of note is:

wslconfig /list /all
Lists all distributions, including ones that aren’t currently usable. They may be in the process of installing, uninstalling, or are in a broken state.

wslconfig /unregister <DistributionName>
Unregisters the distribution from WSL so it can be reinstalled or cleaned up.

This way you can now clean up your mess, and get Linux installed right.

VC6 Ultimate


I saw this the other day, VC6 Ultimate. It’s an interesting ‘update’ on the old Visual C++ 6.0 product with an improved UI, along with updated compiler toolchain taken from later versions of Visual C++. Naturally something like this is 1000000% unofficial.

Features include:

  • Portable and compatible with Win7 / Win10
    bye bye regedit, hello .hjson setting file !
    also meaning it should not mess with your current install
  • More compatible compiler
    multicore version of VC7.1 compiler (It’s fast)
    you can compile with other compilers (64bit), but not debug yet
  • Real-time highlighting and diagnostics
    based on libclang 6.0 and compatible with VisualAssistX
  • Real multicursor editing
    search, sort, number, evaluate, etc. while in multicursor mode
  • Improved UX and UI
    32bit icons, dark skin, lot of visual hints
    multi-monitor friendly
    revamped dialogs (project settings, threads, breakpoints, …)
    searchable command palette
  • It’s free (as in free beer)
    ever had to pay for a birthday present ? 😉
  • Every change has a toggle
    only take what you like, but we can not check each combination
  • It’s an internal spare time project
    don’t expect everything to work in every setup, but feel free to reach out

Included in the bundle is the following compilers:

  • clang version 3.8.0 (branches/release_38)
    Target: i686-pc-windows-msvc
  • Microsoft (R) 32-bit C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 13.10.6030 for 80×86
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1984-2002. All rights reserved.
  • Microsoft (R) C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 14.00.40310.41 for AMD64
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

It’s an interesting project, although I tried to re-build some Visual C++ 2003 projects and it bombed out. Maybe it’s just more geared towards VC 6 as indicated.

You can download it here

https://gitlab.com/VC6Ultimate/VC6Ultimate

Installing Windows 10 pro onto an older Mac Pro

So I have this 2006 Mac Pro 1,1 that I’ve had laying around and I wanted to put my old Nvidia 1030 into it, along with Windows 10 for a newer (stronger?) home machine.

So I burnt the downloadable ISO from Microsoft onto a DVD, tried to boot it up and got this:

Ignore the microwave…

I got stuck at this “Select CD-ROM Boot Type : ” prompt, which you can’t type anything into. Apparently it’s a common and known issue with 64bit boot code, as the older Intel Apple Mac’s are of course 32bit only. So there is a fix, you have to use something called “oscdimg” to rebuild the ISO with a 32bit friendly loader.

So first I just used 7zip to extract the downloaded ISO, and then create the new 32bit ISO with the following:

oscdimg -n -m -bc:\temp\Windows10\boot\etfsboot.com c:\temp\Windows10 c:\temp\LegacyBootWindows10dvd.iso

And yes, it boots!

Brigadier

Now what about those special ‘bootcamp’ drivers? Obviously under Windows 10 there is no nice way to get the ones you want. And what about which model/download package to get?

Then I found Brigadier!

It’ll probe your hardware type and grab the drivers for you!

https://github.com/timsutton/brigadier/releases