Category Archives: windows

Windows 7 – Unable to start or stop services

If you’ve read past posts, you know that I run Synergy to connect my Windows 7 desktop to my Linux desktop, with the Windows box being the Synergy server. Although previously I found a way to not make my entire game minimize when my mouse crosses systems, I still need to disable it from time to time, because especially in some FPS games, moving the mouse to the right will cause the cursor to move to my Linux system and then in the game I’m playing, my character freezes until I move it back. Effectively I’m unable to turn or sometimes look to the right.  To prevent this, I disable Synergy.  After a recent fresh reload of Windows 7, I attempted to disable or enable Synergy, and received the following message:


Now the first obvious question was “Is my account an Administrator?” and yes, it certainly was. After some unfruitful searching, I noticed another uncommon sight. On the “Processes” tab, the button that says “Show processes from all users” was available:


The shield icon told me that Administrator privileges were required. I clicked the button, which of course showed all processes, and then tried to disable Synergy again — and this time it worked! It turns out that clicking that button somehow authenticated my ID within the Task Manager application, so now I had enough access to start and stop all the services I want. For some reason, every time I open the Task Manager, I’m still presented with that button, and it must be clicked in order to accomplish my goals — why it doesn’t persist between invocations is still a mystery — that’s how my previous Windows 7 installation performed. Either way, it’s a quick fix to a big issue.



Using Full Screen Applications with Synergy in Windows

I’ve been a big fan of the Synergy Project for quite some time. I use it for my main desktop (dual boot Windows 7 and Linux) and another Linux system that I use for IRC, Crashplan Backup, and a few other household apps.

One of the things I struggled with for literally years is when I’m running a fullscreen program in Windows, and unless I’ve disabled Synergy, if I move my mouse too far to the right, my fullscreen program will minimize to the task bar. Sometimes this is a big deal to me (mainly multiplayer gaming). I tried Googling for how to disable Synergy for use with fullscreen programs because certain ways I stop it (stopping the service, killing the process) sometimes causes Synergy to never start again correctly, and I wanted to see if there was a best practice. What I found was even better: an option within Synergy that will allow me to use the Synergy functionality (ie switching to my Linux machine to the right) without minimizing my fullscreen program. That option is called:

“Don’t take foreground window on Windows servers”

Once I selected this option, I loaded up one of my favorite fullscreen games, Spelunky, and tried to move the cursor to the right to get to my Linux IRC window, and viola! The foreground stayed there while I was able to type into a Linux terminal. Once I moved the mouse back into the Windows screen, I could again play the game.

The only thing left to test is for first-person games where you use the mouse to look around. I suspect the turning to the right will be affected, but we’ll see about that!

Thanks to the people over at Next of Windows for the link!


Who uses Caps Lock anymore? More Control!

When I started using emacs again some time ago, I noticed quickly that it was very uncomfortable to move my little finger down to the left control key in order to do the many emacs control sequences. I wanted something much easier to use, or else emacs likely wouldn’t last. I recalled a while back remapping my caps lock key to another control key, so I looked into it. Not only is this good in Linux, but I was able to do it in Windows 7 as well, with a registry entry.

Here is a link to my github page with the required Windows registry update. Note that this has been tested on Windows 7 only. If you try it out with other versions, let me know if it works so I can update the post!

For Linux, three lines added to ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc would do the trick:

xmodmap -e 'keycode 66 = Control_L'
xmodmap -e 'clear Lock'
xmodmap -e 'add Control = Control_L’

Once that file was sourced or you relog, it takes effect and you have a much more comfortable control key on your hands!

Update 10/15/2014:

You can also achieve the same results with a single command:

setxkbmap -option ctrl:nocaps

This of course uses a different command, so you have another option if you prefer to not use xmodmap, or if it’s not available for some reason.

VirtualBox 4.3.14 and Antivirus Programs

This evening I wanted to delve into some different distributions of Linux that I’ve never really given much time. The first one that came to mine was Gentoo. I’ve read that “If you use any Linux distro, you learn that distro, but if you use Gentoo, you learn Linux.”  It’s quite a bold statement, and quite frankly I wanted to see for myself. Another popular one I heard great things about is Arch. I wanted to give both of them a try tonight.

I downloaded the most recent basic images of both, and realized that since my latest PC reload, I never reinstalled VirtualBox — an important tool for testing out various operating systems. It seems foolish to destroy a working system to test something out that you may absolutely hate, so VirtualBox has always been my first step in trying a new one. The latest version of VirtualBox as of this post is 4.3.14. I installed it, rebooted just in case (since it adds a network device and likely loads some kernel modules), and attached my Gentoo ISO to the virtual cdrom, and clicked ‘Start’. This was the lovely message I received: (Note, this is from my Arch attempt, but the message was the same)

VirtualBox Error

Having never seen this before for any thing, I quickly hit Google, only to find a few others have had this in the past, and nobody was quite sure what the fix was. Some were searching and deleting Windows registry keys (which I had none that matched), and various other things. Wanting to quickly see if it was the ISO or my VirtualBox installation, I tried Arch, and got the same message.

I did a bit more searching, and found that people were having moderate success in removing their “Avast” anti-virus, so I thought I’d give that a try. Rather than remove it, my AVG installation has an option to “Temporarily Disable AVG Protection”. I checked the “10 minutes” option, and viola! The ISO booted just fine. Once it was running, I’m sure the 10 minutes expired, and the guest is still up and running, but I suspect any time I want to boot this (until the bug in VirtualBox is resolved) I’ll need to temporarily turn off the anti-virus.

Slow Network Connection in Linux

I have a Windows 7 machine. It’s mainly used for gaming and for photography work (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop). I’m trying, however, to spend more time in Linux instead of Windows. I dual-boot between the Windows 7 disk and Fedora 20.

In addition, some time ago I switched from Chrome to the Mozilla Firefox browser for two main reasons. First, it’s free and open source, which I strongly believe in, but secondly because Chrome was consuming an inordinate amount of ram on my system for barely having 6-7 tabs open (none of which were doing anything dynamic). After switching to Firefox, I’ve been very pleased with it. I have it installed everywhere, even on my Android phone, and like Chrome, it effortlessly shares all my bookmarks and bookmark toolbars among all of the devices. On a side note, LastPass is a great tool for cross-device management of web passwords.

Anyway, after being in Linux for some time today, messing around with this and that, I noticed that it was taking much longer for web pages to load in Firefox than it ever did in Windows. Even low-content pages like were taking 20-30 seconds, when usually it’s just a few. I did a bit of research, and found that one possible cause of the issue is Firefox’s default behavior of using ipv6 (which I have not configured), as can be found by typing “about:config” in the URL address bar of the browser. If you filter on “ipv6”, you can find the offending entry and double-click the “false” to make it “true” to disable ipv6:


While I noticed that the load times for webpages isn’t still quite what it was in Windows, I did notice a drastic improvement. It was definitely worth the effort!

Windows 7 – User Account Control settings

After several years of a single installation, I was having some issues with my Windows 7 desktop computer at home. I decided to offload all of my important files and perform a fresh reinstallation. After getting the base OS loaded, I started the tedious process of reinstalling my applications, starting with an antivirus program. Shortly followed by Synergy, so I can access my Fedora Linux box that is next to my Windows PC. Synergy installed fine, but when the computer said the service was started, I continued to get “Service not available” messages. In trying to stop the services through the task manager, I received a “Access denied” message. I don’t recall having this issue in the past, but it was years ago that I first installed…

After some quick Google-fu, I came across a similar issue and found that the “User Account Control” settings restricts what you can do, even if your ID was set to be an administrator (which mine was). After changing this setting to the minimal setting (basically disabling it), I was again able to start and stop any services on the computer. Way to go Microsoft — nothing like making an administrator bend over backwards to be able to manage the system.