Windows XP on the Gateway P-6860FX

A month or so ago, I sold my Sony laptop to replace it with a gaming laptop; I finally settled on the Gateway P-6860FX.  The Gateway comes pre-installed with Windows Vista Premium x64- and this seemed to work pretty well. 

After a month of use (and the install of SP1) I seem to be having some strange issues; the HD is hitting pretty hard (which slows down everything else) and I am seeing CPU usage- so either I had a piece of virus/malware/spyware or Windows Vista exhibits some of the same traits as XP (i.e. it eventually self-destructs).

Either way, I decided to try to install Windows XP again.  My last attempt was deterred by the lack of driver support for the GeForce Go 8800GTS; nVidia referred me back to Gateway and they provide Vista drivers only!

I found some video driver info on   and a good XP install guide for the P-6831FX on NeonPulse

I followed their instructions pretty close, but I did not install the .NET software or the High Definition Audio Driver Package; I just loaded the audio drivers.

So far it is running pretty smooth.  There are three unknown devices in device manager, but these don't seem to be anything overly important (most likely the SD Card reader and a few other items).

On a side note, I seem to be getting over 2 hours of battery life now! (for normal use- not playing games)

Faulting application explorer.exe, faulting module xvid.ax

I have had issues with explorer.exe faulting when I open a folder with a video file several times in the past; all of aggravated me enough that I eventually formatted and re-installed XP or Vista.  I am sure that this is a codec issue, but no combination of uninstalling/reinstalling seems to resolve this.

I am starting to see a pattern- it seems to occur after I allow Windows Media player to download a codec; perhaps it doesn't play nice with XViD/DivX?

Oddly enough, the movie will still play- it is just Windows explorer's ability to generate thumbnails that seems to cause the issue.

I did a search and found a work-around to re-formatting.  From a command line, enter the following:

regsvr32 /u shmedia.dll

This disables thumbnails- and stops the Explorer faults.


NS4300N Revisited

I purchased a NS4300N several months ago and returned it a few days later; it was too slow, buggy and wasn't worth the $400 I had paid for it.  Recently I found the device on sale at Fry's for $350 and (also influenced suggestions of others) I decided to give it another go.

This time I started off with 1TB drives- three so far, but expanding to a fourth this weekend (final goal is 3TB in RAID5).  It was configured and went about its drive RAIDing way.

Coincidentally, Promise released SR4 update for the NS4300N a few days after I purchased it; this was a roll-up patch that addressed several issues.  One ironic thing that I discovered was that the final release limited the (GB) Ethernet port to 100Mbps- perhaps the CPU of the NS4300N cannot keep up with 1Gbps of data?

Whatever the reasons, the unit seems to function much better than my prior unit- so either the patch fixed issues I was having or I had a defective unit in my prior purchase. Speed indicated in the unit was in the 80Mbps-90Mpbs range- which is very good on a 100Mbps port- and my copying computer giving random total copy times (thank you Windows).

There are now several plug-ins (with no instructions on how to use), including:

  • iTunes Server
  • DNLA Plug-in
  • BitTorrent/eBondkey/HTTP/FTP plugin

The DNLA plugin was there with the prior version, and it allows the unit to share out folders for use with DNLA players- such as the PS3.  I assume iTunes makes the unit act as a sever or AppleTVs or other iTunes clients.  The BitTorrent was the one I have the most questions about but have been unable to find answers (I am assuming I drop the '.torrent' file somewhere and the NS4300N does the rest!)

Luckily the decision to purchase the NS4300N came at a very good time; I do normal backups, but I have over 2TB of data on my Windows Home Server (WHS) system and I do not have the space to back all of it up.  I setup the NS4300N and immediately started coping over items that I had not been backing up to other locations- such as movies, videos, HD videos, etc.  Shortly after setting up a weekly scheduled backup via 'Handy Backup' my WHS had a drive fail and dumped most of these files into oblivion.

WHS has a 'duplicate folder' option that was turned on for most of the folders- but I still was getting 'file does not exist at specified location' errors when I tried to open files.  It is also somewhat possible that installing WHS PowerPack1 slightly after the crash (to see if it would recover the missing files) was not a good idea.  For what-ever reason, several hundred GB of my 2TB were corrupted- and it was randomly spread over the volume set.  I eventually verified everything I wanted was on the NS4300N and deleted all the drives in the WHS (to re-arrange and re-create a more stable volume set).  This took about 4 days but worked out pretty well.

My WHS is now up and running and the NS4300N servers as a network backup device that I use in conjunction with Handy Backup to keep the system backed up- I will not trust the 'folder duplication' feature of the WHS again.

So, for my second go-round, I will have to say that the NS4300N seems much more stable than prior.  It still does not do the transfer speeds that I can get PC to PC, but that can be overlooked when it is being used to a NAS backup device (where backups occur in the background). 

Optimally I would like to see the new backup feature of WHS be able to backup directly to NAS- and make my life one program less complicated...



I purchased a GP2X-F200 a few days ago and had it delivered 2nd day FedEx.  Delivery was right on time so I can take it with me on a short vacation to New Orleans (close to my hometown of Covington).

So far I am not overly impressed with it, but I will have to play with it for a while to figure it out. My initial impressions are:


  • Large Screen
  • Comfortable size
  • SHDC comparability (with 4.0 firmware) 


  • Screen quality (horizontal banding in movies- but may need to be re-encoded)
  • Button quality; d-pad is 'mushy' and my B button sticks quite often
  • Overall build quality (for example, the A and Y buttons are reversed on the unit I have- and the rubber port covers are cheap).
  • Non-rechargeable battery/short battery life
  • Game Configuration; not all emulators work correctly- I cannot even get MAME4ALL to start! (but I may need to install another library?)
  • Spotty manual; the manual I have is for both units- the F100 and F200- and apparently there is a 'USB' feature in the F100 that does not exist in the F200!


Windows Home Server Crash

I had one 500GB in my storage pool fail in my 5.7TB of drives (One 1TB, Three 750GB and five 500GB drives)- which shouldn't be a major concern.  However, it appears that this has affected almost ALL of my shared folders- including the ones that were set to have 'duplicates' of the data.

After the drive failed, I tried to recover it with a program called SpinRite- but to no avail.  I logged into the home server and removed the drive from the storage group.  After WHS did it's prompting the drive was removed and I was back to 'network at risk' status.

My client backups database was corrupted so I had to delete all backups and start again; no problem.

There are 'file conflicts' in the folders that did not have duplication enabled (ISOs, Downloads, DVDs, Public, etc); also no problem.

However, in several folders that had duplication enabled (Music, Movies, Videos and Photos!) there are also similar conflicts.

For the conflicts WHS indicates that 'The system cannot find the drive specified' I receive a 'Cannot copy filename: The device is not connected' error. 

A full chkdsk with scan and repair options enabled seems to have resolved SOME of the the issues for the folders that had duplication enabled, but the warnings still persist in WHS notifications.   From the looks of the damage and the way it is intertwined with every folder the system I may need to delete ALL data and start over creating a new volume set...

Perhaps I will buy some more 1TB drives and do a 1TB RAID5- saving 25%+ disk space over the 'duplicates' folder (which is a silly idea for redundancy any way).

Luckily I was in the process of backing up all of my data to a Promise NS4300N so my losses were somewhat minimized- save for the fondlers that I did not feel needed to be duplicated!

I have also just installed WHS PowerPack 1 beta (could this be contributing to my problems?) and I will post info about it later.


Laptop Replacement

I sold my Sony laptop (and my EEE PC) as it just wasn't enough of what I wanted in a laptop. I found a replacement with the Gateway P6860FX laptop- with an integrated GeForceGo 8800GTS with 512MB of dedicated GPU RAM!

So far it is an excellent upgrade; I am getting 20-30fps with high settings for Age of Conan. The battery time is a little better than I expected (about 2 hours under normal non-gaming use) and the 2nd SATA hard drive bay provides ample storage when utilized.

I have already replaced the T5550 CPU (1.83Ghz Core2 Duo) with a T7700 CPU (2.4Ghz Core2 Duo) and it is running even better!

The P6860FX ships with Vista Home Premium 64b- and I will have to use Vista for the time being.

One caveat to the GeForceGo 8800GTS is that nVidia does not directly support it- the drivers are maintained by the vendor (in this case gateway) and there is not an XP version of the driver available!

One bug I have found with Vista x64 w/SP1 is that it does not allow me to change the computer or workgroup name; I receive an error message in event viewer that the current version of NetBIOS.sys is not compatible with the current version of windows...

EDIT: I have gotten a few requests to see if I found a solution to this issue. Ultimately it tuns out that the NETBIOS.SYS on the Gateway restore CD is from Vista pre-SP1 and everything else is Vista SP1. To confirm, you can check the version of your NETBIOS.SYS by looking at the details under the properties page:

The above images indicates version 6.0.6001.18000; this is the correct version for Vista service pack 1 (SP1). The Gateway restore CD installs v6.0.5840.16384 (the pre-SP1 version).

I contacted Microsoft as it seemed I needed the correct file and all would be good (I guess I could have contacted Gateway as well). After explaining (via email) it was conformed that this was the issue. The Microsoft tech attempted to send me the correct file, but ran into issues getting the file to me- I eventually installed Vista x64 on another PC, installed SP1 and copied the file to a USB drive.

For any other that are experiencing this issue, I have uploaded the Windows Vista x64 SP1 NETBIOS.SYS file to a free file hosting provider. (I do not know the exact legality of doing this, so if Microsoft gets irate it may go away). This is the correct NETBIOS.SYS file for the 64bit version of Windows Vista with service pack 1 installed; it will not work with the x86 version or the pre-SP1 version of Windows Vista.

Instructions (safe way) for fixing this:

  • download the above netbios.zip file and extract it somewhere on your PC that is having this problem; I would use some place that is easy to remember along the lines of c:\netbios\netbios.sys.
  • Once the netbios.sys file has been extracted from the netbios.zip you will need to reboot your system in safe mode. I believe hitting the space bar during Vista startup (when the moving bar is on the black screen) will bring up a 'startup mode' screen. Select safe mode and wait a bit for it to startup.
  • Navigate to c:\windows\system32\drivers\ and find the old netbios.sys (v6.0.5840.16384) file; rename this to 'netbios.old'
  • Copy the new netbios.sys (v6.0.6001.18000) into the c:\windows\system32\drivers\ folder. You should now have both a 'netbios.old' and a 'netbios.sys' file in this folder.
  • Reboot; if everything works you are done
  • If there are strange issues, reboot into safe mode again, return to c:\windows\system32\drivers\, delete the new netbios.sys (v6.0.6001.18000) and rename 'netbios.old' back to netbios.sys (undoing the changes made).

The above was the 'safe way'; I just copied the new netbios.sys over the old one and rebooted- problem solved. :o)

Disclaimer: I highly recommend that you contact either Gateway or Microsoft to resolve this issue- i.e. go through the proper channels to ensure your system remains under warranty. The above details methods I would use to fix my personal PC; it is provided solely for informative purposes. If you decide to do this yourself I will not be held liable for any issues or breaches of warranty that could occur as a result.

Truthfully, this is a simple omission in the Gateway CD build and is an easy fix- finding the correct file was the hard part!