Vista – rinse lather repeat

Oh happy day. After three years kicking around on the same development box I got a new machine (Dell 9200 loaded up nicely). I decided to explore using Vista for development so I wanted to chronicle my experiences installing Vista (twice) and getting it tooled for development usage.

Vista out of the box

The install went very smooth nothing of note no driver issues and Windows Update quickly brought vista up to speed with drivers that were missing. This went smoother than my install of Vista on an older home machine. I was/still am in driver hell.

After adding the machine to the domain I quickly realized that I should add my domain account as an administrator as every time I tried to install a piece of software I was asked for an admin password.  I likely could have invoked all the installers from an elevated command-line but I will rely on the annoying gray curtain of security that descends whenever you need to do something elevated via the GUI.

Yikes, unused Memory

My fancy new machine has 4GB of memory. After installing 32 bit Vista and quite a bit of software I noticed that 3GB was present. This appears to be a common problem with different PCs being unable to access 100% of their installed memory due to the limitation of 32bits to address only 4GB of memory. The Google showed that that turning on something called PAE and DAP would possibly fix the issue.

BCDEdit /set pae ForceEnable

MSDN has some nice details on the BCDEdit utility which seems to be a front-end for what used to be the boot.ini file in previous versions of Windows. Sadly this did not work for. So after a bit of contemplation about the pain that I would feel using a 64bit operating system with has an addressable space much bigger than a paltry 4GB. So it was, get out the 64-bit Vista disk and watch the freaking thing install all over again.

Installing Development Tools

I am work in a Microsoft shop doing .Net development so VS.Net is my development platform. There are a few tools I like to use along side. 

Development Tools

  • Install Daemon Tools – careful not to install the ad-ware.
  • VS.Net via ISO using daemon tools – Marvel at how fast these drives are.
    • When installing VS.Net 2005 you will get told that devenv.exe is know not to be compatibility with Vista. Just ignore it and say continue.
    • VS.Net 2005 SP1 – Marvel at how slow the SP installs.
    • Vista SP1 update for Vista – Wait again for a slow slow install.
  • TestDriven.Net – testing framework for VS.Net. Don’t do TDD with out it.
  • Subversion – source change control
    • Tortoise SVN – integration with windows explorer and Subversion
    • Visual SVN – integration between VS.Net and Subversion
  • WinRar – compression tool
  • SQL Server 2005 Developer – database engine
  • I probably need a notepad.exe replacement and I am sure I will need to add more seldom used tools down the road.

Productivity Tools


After adding the new machine to our Windows Domain I found that Windows Update no longer worked. It seems that when your Domain has a Group Policy for WSUS vista does not allow itself to be updated by anything but WSUS. Our IT guy is helping me out with this.