New processor + old OS = woes

The intersection of computer hardware and software can often introduce thorny compatibility problems. Sometimes they’re unforeseen. But sometimes they’re intentionally created by Microsoft. Intel have introduced a new range of processors based on the Kaby Lake architecture. They’re collectively referred to as “7th Generation” and they have a 4 digit model number starting with a 7 – i7-7700 or i3-7300 for example. And a newly invigorated AMD have introduced a range of processors, known as Ryzen or Bristol Ridge, which they’re hoping will compete with the Intel juggernaut. The Kaby Lake processors are already appearing in products – in laptops from Dell, Asus, and Lenovo for example – and AMD obviously hope their Ryzen processors will be popular too. Now, all those laptops come with Windows 10 installed. But there are often reasons why somebody (or some organisation) would want to install an older operating system instead – Windows 8.1 or even Windows 7. And that’s where the problem will arise. Beyond the technical challenges of installing an older OS on a new chip (such as getting Windows 7 to understand just what USB3 is when it’s been assured that USB only goes up to 2), Microsoft have thrown a new spanner in the retro-computing works. Microsoft’s Knowledge Base article 4012982 describes a situation where a device with a 7th Generation processor will be blocked from downloading Windows Updates for any OS other than Windows 10. So because Microsoft are not planning to test Windows 8.1 (a supported operating system) […]

Virtualbox – VT-x/AMD-v acceleration not available

I updated Virtualbox on an Intel-based tablet and tried to boot a copy of an Ubuntu virtual machine. I got the message: VT-x/AMD-v hardware acceleration is not available on your system. Your 64-bit guest will fail to detect a 64-bit CPU and will not be able to boot. I’ve run Virtualbox on the tablet before but in the interim it’s been updated to Windows 10 and has had some compatibility BIOS and chipset updates. So I checked the BIOS to make sure Intel Virtualisation support was turned on – it was. A forum post suggested that enabling the Hyper-V feature within Windows will by default disable VT-x for everything else. I checked in Programs and Features and the Hyper-V Windows feature was indeed enabled – I vaguely recall enabling it for a lab exercise. I disabled it and rebooted – the virtual machine now boots.

Virtualbox – FATAL: Could not read from the boot medium!

I use the very handy free virtualisation software Virtualbox and usually it’s very well behaved. However, when I tried to start a Windows 8.1 virtual machine this evening, I immediately got the message: FATAL: Could not read from the boot medium! System halted. The memory and CPU settings for the VM also seemed to be wrong so I was guessing some kind of corruption. Not the end of the world in this particular case but still a pain. If you Google that message, you mostly find forum posts from people who’ve just started using Virtualbox and don’t know you need to mount an ISO in order to boot a brand new VM and install the operating system. But it’s also what you get if Virtualbox looks at your VM’s virtual disk and sees nothing that looks like an OS. I had a recent backup of the VM but mounting that got the same result. But I did notice that as well as the normal Virtualbox configuration file my-vm.vbox, there was a second one dated slightly earlier called my-vm-1.14-windows.vbox. I tried mounting that instead and it worked! The memory and CPU settings were also back to the expected values. I’m guessing that if I looked more closely, the hard disk settings in the apparently corrupt config file were also wrong and that’s why it couldn’t boot.

Quickbooks can’t read qbregistration.dat

I had a problem today with our installation of Quickbooks – specifically 2010 Pro although I think this problem can occur on pretty much any version. When opening Quickbooks, you almost immediately get the following message and then the program closes: Quickbooks has problem in reading this registration file. You need to ask you system administrator to REMOVE this file and re-install Quickbooks. C:\ProgramData\Common Files\Intuit\QuickBooks\qbregistration.dat Googling turned up this Quickbooks support article which suggests first trying to change the UAC settings from On to Off … or vice versa. That ‘have you tried turning it off and on again’ approach didn’t give me a lot of confidence in the article (especially as it made no difference) so I was sceptical about suggestion 2, a repair installation of MSXML 4.0. Sure, qbregistration.dat is an XML file but wouldn’t other things be having problems if that was broken and not just Quickbooks? Then I ran across a post on Microsoft Community support which said they’d solved the problem by following that step. So I downloaded MSXML 4.0 SP3 and did a repair install with the suggested options: msiexec /fvaum msxml.msi My qbregistration.dat file looked OK so I left that as it was. I then re-registered the DLLs (on Windows 7 64 bit, I had to be in C:\Windows\SYSWOW64 to get the registration of MSXML4.DLL to work, that directory is not on the path I guess) and rebooted. It worked! I had messed around with the UAC settings but they’ve ended up as […]