Software dev, tech, mind hacks and the occasional personal bit

Category: Windows

Windows / .NET Dev Tools

Recently I visited a .NET dev team to take a look at design, code and processes with a view to making recommendations to improve delivery speed. One of the more minor, but easily generalisable areas is around tooling. I often find that the little extra tools you pick up can make your work significantly more efficient. Here are a few free ones I use:

A brilliant merge tool that plugs nicely into TFS or SVN. SVN integration is automatic from the Kdiff3 installer. TFS integration is manual, but quite easy.

A tabbed console which works well with classic windows shell and powershell. Good support for resizing, copy paste, etc.

.NET Reflector
.NET decompiler for those dlls that don’t have source. There is also a great plugin that lets you decompile entire assemblies to files on disk.

When you’re debugging SOAP or RESTful web services, Fiddler is great. It lets you see the messages sent / received and even change and impersonate them.

If you’ve got SQLExpress or just no tools installed, QueryExpress is a tiny (~100K) and quick query analyser style application for all breeds of MS SQLServer. Download in a few seconds, and be running queries before a minute is up.

Don’t you hate it when Windows gets its locks in a mess and you can’t delete/rename files? Unlocker will automatically pop up, show you which applications are holding file locks and let you release the locks.

Process Explorer
A more powerful and accurate Task Manager application which allows you to see file locks and many other types of information.

Linux VirtualBox vs Windows for Rails Dev

So yes, everyone has heard that Mac OS X and TextMate is the epitome of Rails development, and that it is so awesome that it brings tears of joy to developers eyes, &c. However, for those of us who either don’t have a Mac, or get to work on client provided hardware (often running Windows), there are a few options available.

Developing on Windows XP, with InstantRails is workable. It is easy to get everything you need and have your apps up and running quickly. However, performance is, well, quite frankly, terrible for anything you do on the command line. Mainly, this bites when running tests, doing migrations, generating files etc. Performance running Mongrel is good enough for development.

What about Cygwin? Subjectively, I found it provided similar speed to Windows Ruby/Rails.

So this brings us to virtualisation. Recently, I’ve been testing out VirtualBox running Ubuntu on top of Windows XP. This has had surprisingly good results. On the same machine, the virtual Ubuntu running Rails tasks has about 4 times (!!!) faster performance, even though it has less memory and system resources!

Here are some stats to give you and idea of the advantage.

Machine is a 2.4ghz quad core, 4gig of memory running Windows XP. Using VirtualBox 2.1.4 for virtualized Ubuntu Intrepid 64 bit, with 1.5gig of memory allocated. Figures are in seconds and approximate (taken with a wrist watch).

  generate scaffold db:migrate with no changes run tests for medium sized rails app
Windows XP & Instant Rails 7 7 25
VirtualBox Ubuntu on same Windows XP 1.5 1.5 6

Some of these commands / tests rely on hitting a MySQL database. However, I’m interested in overall development speed for both platforms, not in Ruby speed in particular, so I think it is fair game to include these in the results.

So if you want to do Rails Dev on Windows, I highly recommend trying a virtual machine running Linux!

Windows Crash: multiple_irp_complete_requests Stop: 0x00000044

Thought I’d do a bit of a defrag on my old Windows 2000 box. A few minutes in, I got a blue screen:

stop: 0x00000044 (0x852CCE68, 0x00000D39, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)

Tried a chkdsk but got the same error, even when running it on boot in console mode.

After some web trawling, found this google answer, which suggested that the problem was caused by ‘Intel Application Accelerator’ conflicting with recent service packs.

After uninstalling the ‘Intel Application Accelerator’ my chkdsk finished successfully and defrag seems to be going fine.

Thank goodness for the internet and its wealth of technical solutions!

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