TWEAK: AHCI Plugin for BartPE

I was back to playing around with BartPE in order to sysprep-clone laptop drives with Windows 7. At first, I got stuck with the BOOTMGR is missing error but I knew I got stuck in this before and got to recall the solution I did.

The next error I faced was the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD) with stop code 0x0000007B. I knew this was because of the AHCI mode of the SATA drives on the new generation intel chipsets on the laptop. I didn't want to go to WinPE 2.x or the Windows 7 based PE since it is difficult to dissect the innards of the .wim files, and I have working plugins for BartPE.

So I decided to create my own AHCI plugin. I downloaded the floppy image of the drivers from the intel download page. NOTE: Make sure to download the floppy image (filename starts with: f6flpy).

Extract the files inside the floppy image. Only two (2) files are required, namely iastor.inf and iastor.sys. Create a directory named iaahci inside the PEbuilder plug-in directory and copy the files there under directory files. Rename them to iaAHCI.inf and iaAHCI.sys respectively so they will not conflict with other intel RAID drivers.

If your PEBuilder directory is C:\PEBuilder, you should have the files iaahci.inf and iaahci.sys under C:\PEBuilder\plugin\iaahci\files. Open a command prompt (as Administrator) and compress iaAHCI.sys via makecab.

AHCI Plugin for BartPE

Copy the code below and save as a .inf file under C:\PEBuilder\plugin\iaahci directory. If copy-paste doesn't work for you, you can try to copy the code here: http://pastie.org/3437076.

; PE Builder v3 plug-in INF file
; - plugin for intel mobile ahci drivers
; - by tox (http://www.pimp-my-rig.com)
;

[Version]
Signature="$Windows NT$"

[PEBuilder]
Name="Intel (Mobile) AHCI Drivers"
Enable=1

[SourceDisksFiles]
files\iaAHCI.sy_=4
files\iaAHCI.inf=20

[SetValue]
"txtsetup.sif","SourceDisksFiles","iaAHCI.SY_", "1,,,,,,4_,4,1,,,1,4"
"txtsetup.sif","SourceDisksFiles","iaAHCI.inf", "1,,,,,,,20,0,0"
;(format)HardwareIdsDatabase -- "txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","SCSI\NVIDIA__Raid_Disk_20_____", """nvrd327r"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_27C1&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_27C5&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2922&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2929&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_3A02&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_3A22&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_3B29&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_3B2F&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_3B22&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_1C02&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
"txtsetup.sif","HardWareIdsDatabase","PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_1C03&CC_0106", """iaAHCI"""
;(format)SCSI.Load -- "txtsetup.sif","SCSI.Load","ql2200", "ql2200.SY_,4"
"txtsetup.sif","SCSI.Load","iaAHCI", "iaAHCI.SY_,4"
;(format)SCSI -- "txtsetup.sif","SCSI","rr2644", """HighPoint RocketRAID 2644x4 SAS"""
"txtsetup.sif","SCSI","iaAHCI", """Intel(R) Mobile Express Chipset SATA AHCI Controller"""

Now try rebuilding BartPE and use it on the laptop of your choice to sysprep the image. You can also use the built BartPE to rescue broken systems.

AHCI was the culprit of my BSOD and having the plugin above I was able to boot into a Windows XP based PE environment to do the cloning.

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FAQ: Error Rebuilding sendmail.cf

"There’s No Such Thing As A Silly Question" -- does the cliche sound familiar? In this part of pimp-my-rig reloaded, technical questions are answered. Mail them to me and I will post the answers here. If you have a better answer, by all means share it with us.

Guides on the net suggest that you do not edit sendmail.cf by hand. First, make changes to sendmail.mc then rebuild sendmail.cf using the command: "m4 sendmail.mc > sendmail.cf". However, this command sometimes fails and before you know it you have unknowingly made changes to sendmail.cf -- the file is now 0 bytes. The error message is below:

[[email protected] mail]# m4 sendmail.mc > sendmail.cf
sendmail.mc:10: m4: cannot open `/usr/share/sendmail-cf/m4/cf.m4': No such file or directory

Things are pretty simple if you look at the error.. but it is very deceiving. Take a look at your sendmail.cf.

[[email protected] mail]# ls -la sendmail.cf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Feb 18 10:02 sendmail.cf
Ooppss.. sendmail.cf is now zero bytes. You can rebuild sendmail.cf from sendmail.mc using m4, but you just executed the exact command to re-generate sendmail.cf ending in errors. Re-starting sendmail will make things worse. Sendmail will still work as it read sendmail.cf before the error. Restarting it will re-read the zeroed out sendmail.cf file.

I got stuck in this error before. And a colleague got stuck in it just recently.

The guides either forgot to mention that or assumed that it is installed and you will need to have installed the sendmail-cf rpm. How do you know that sendmail-cf is the required rpm? Take a closer look at the first few lines of sendmail.mc.

[[email protected] mail]# head sendmail.mc
divert(-1)dnl
dnl #
dnl # This is the sendmail macro config file for m4. If you make changes to
dnl # /etc/mail/sendmail.mc, you will need to regenerate the
dnl # /etc/mail/sendmail.cf file by confirming that the sendmail-cf package is
dnl # installed and then performing a
dnl #
dnl #     make -C /etc/mail
dnl #

So what you can do now is install sendmail-cf rpm.

[[email protected] mail]# yum -y install sendmail-cf
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * base: mirror.web.com.ph
 * extras: mirror.web.com.ph
 * updates: mirror.web.com.ph
Setting up Install Process
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package sendmail-cf.x86_64 0:8.13.8-8.1.el5_7 set to be updated
--> Finished Dependency Resolution

Dependencies Resolved

================================================================================
 Package            Arch          Version                  Repository      Size
================================================================================
Installing:
 sendmail-cf        x86_64        8.13.8-8.1.el5_7         updates        306 k

Transaction Summary
================================================================================
Install       1 Package(s)
Upgrade       0 Package(s)

Total download size: 306 k
Downloading Packages:
sendmail-cf-8.13.8-8.1.el5_7.x86_64.rpm                  | 306 kB     00:00
Running rpm_check_debug
Running Transaction Test
Finished Transaction Test
Transaction Test Succeeded
Running Transaction
  Installing     : sendmail-cf                                              1/1

Installed:
  sendmail-cf.x86_64 0:8.13.8-8.1.el5_7

Complete!

Now re-run "m4 sendmail.mc > sendmail.cf" and it will be error free. You can safely make changes to sendmail.mc and generate sendmail.cf from that.

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TIP: Firefox Speed Boost via Vacuum Places Improved Add-on

Firefox 10 was recently released to the public and Firefox continues its rapid release process.. And soon before we know it version 11 will be out. This trend will continue for as long as development goes. Firefox's market share is being taken away by Chrome mainly due to its faster startup and faster page rendering. While page render speed is subject to a lot of debates and discussions, there is significant improvements over Firefox's memory management and rendering speeds over previous versions.

For a few tweaks and features, pimp-my-rig has published quite a bit of them -- including but not limited to plugin checker, tuning and configuration, and forcing add-on compatibility. We also did a guide on getting a larger active tab.

Our primary reason for sticking it out with Firefox is the download them all plug-in. This add-on is not available for Chrome, and will likely stay the same in the long term. So it is of good reasoning for us to continue using Firefox, keeping it up to date, and secure. And also, tweaking it to get the most in terms of performance.

Lately, we found another tweak to make Firefox faster. If you have been a firefox user ever since, you will notice that Firefox would get hogged and slow down unlike when you first installed it. This is because its history, cache and data stores gets fragmented over time.

But there is an add-on that can solve this -- vacuum places improved. You can add the same on your Firefox and see it speed up.

Firefox Speed Boost via Vacuum Places Improved

For you to get a comparison of the before and after of this add-on, locate your profile and check the size of the file places.sqlite. To execute the vacuum, go to Tools -> Vacuum places.sqlite. You will be notified of a successful operation by a notification box on the system tray.

After doing the initial vacuuming, check places.sqlite it should have decreased in space. You will also notice that Firefox is also more responsive. For a regular everyday Firefox user, this improvement is very evident.

You can set Firefox to automagically do this for you after every X number of startups. It can be set in the add-on options. Our VPI is set to run every 30 startups.

Firefox Speed Boost via Vacuum Places Improved

Vacuum places improved is one very useful, pimp-my-rig recommended add-on to Firefox.

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S/W: Mozilla Firefox 10 Released

Firefox is the award winning next generation browser from Mozilla. Firefox empowers you to browse faster, more safely, and more efficiently than with any other browser. Make the switch today - Firefox imports your Favorites, settings and other information, so you have nothing to lose. Stop annoying popup ads in their tracks with Firefox's built in popup blocker. View more than one web page in a single window with this time saving feature. Open links in the background so that they're ready for viewing when you're ready to read them. Built with your security in mind, Firefox keeps your computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls. A comprehensive set of privacy tools keep your online activity your business.

Following its rapid release process, Firefox version 10 is out. This major release includes and features security fixes. So if you don't want to lag behind and maintain an insecure browser, you would have to upgrade.

Mozilla Firefox 5

(Logos are copyrights of their respective owners.)

Seamless Experience. The enhancements to Firefox provide the best possible browsing experience on the Web. The new Firefox smart location bar, affectionately known as the "Awesome Bar," learns as people use it, adapting to user preferences and offering better fitting matches over time.

Better Performance. Firefox is built on top of the powerful new Gecko platform, resulting in a safer, easier to use and more personal product.

Better Security. Firefox raises the bar for security. The new malware and phishing protection helps protect from viruses, worms, trojans and spyware to keep people safe on the Web.

Download from www.mozilla.com/firefox. For a complete list of fixes and release notes, check this link.

One very nice feature with Firefox that we like is the plugin checker. It is nice to see the feature was not removed in this verison.

Of course this upgrade comes with sacrifices -- your add-ons will no longer be compatible. So while waiting for the add-ons to catch up with Firefox version 6.0 or higher, you can tweak them to be compatible. Chances are they will still work even with the newer versions of Mozilla Firefox.

If you are using DivX HiQ to play high definition video on Firefox, our feature outlining compatibility of Firefox with DivX web plug-ins still works on Firefox 6.0.

You will notice better memory usage from version 9, including this version. Firefox is faster and better but it is being overtaken by Google's Chrome browser. This release might change things.

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