In an effort to disable Windows Media Player from “sharing” on our home network I delved into the murky world of Windows Services



as an admin opens up a whole new world of potential improvements and costly mistakes. Playing it safe I googled a few things I was not sure about.

I stopped and disabled (on startup) both Window Media Player Network Sharing Service and Bonjour. I find the very presence of Bonjour on my system an insult and would consider a swift kick in someone’s balls worthy of the price of a ticket to Cupertino. After a quick check I also disabled the NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Driver. I would imagine almost no-one needs that.

Apart from that I switched a few applications from Automatic to Automatic (Delayed) Startup, these were mostly updaters. I absolutely want these to run but I don’t need them urgently enough to start them all at the same time. For example, I don’t need Secunia checking my programs are up to date the very instant I log in but I don’t want to have to remember to do it myself.

Skype Updater
Secunia PSI Agent
Adobe Acrobat Update Service
Google Updater Service

I am surprised that these services don’t use this setting by default as many similar services do. I was pleased to see that, for example, the No-IP DUC does. At least “small” companies can get it right.

It’s something I have been planning to do for a very long time but this weekend I finally got round to a little electonic house-keeping. As a hoarder I have a modest collection of old components that “might come in handy.” I’ve got two 56.6k PCMCIA cards. Top that.

Inevitably some of this junk is hard drives and, obviously, I have no idea what is on them, so they had to be wiped before disposal. That’s one thing I did. One of them made a noise like a dentist drill. It was not pretty.

Also, I have an old Dell laptop that served me well for many years until it was laid low by a broken hinge. To my surprise it still boots and I was somewhat delighted to discovered it was like an Arch Linux time capsule. Last login? Circa 2007. I’ve got a lot of photos which I’ll post later.

Needless to say the drive on this old favourite is partitioned to within an inch of its life. I think it might even be triple boot. So, i had to have a hunt through there for anything that could be move to our NAS or just deleted.

Generally that meant scouring some FAT32 partitions for media files but my /home directory is a gold mine. I don’t want to do just back that up in bulk, I’d rather pick through and move things I want to keep over to my desktop. The best way to do that is scp but some home network “restrictions” meant that was going to be a headache.

We live in a town house, which is lovely, but the router is on the ground floor so wireless signal in the top floor office is poor. It shouldn’t be that bad but it is. As a result I have my desktop connected directly to the router via some “ethernet over AC” adapters, which works quite nicely. However, for some time I have wanted to add an extra box upstairs and boost the wireless for (what is becoming) my wife’s laptop.

While I am certain I had a Netgear wireless router laying around I have not been able to find it since we moved house. That router would solve all my problems, including transfering my old home dir from the old laptop to the desktop. So, what to do? Dive on eBay and try and find one?

Well, I decided to give freecycle a go and quickly found a brand new boxed Netgear 15 minutes up the road. Since we were heading that way yesterday anyway I arranged to pick it up and spent a few hours setting it up last night.

Now I am all set to finish cleaning up and retire that laptop for good. I’ll also be able to give my occasional server box a permenant home.

Arch Linux has had some major changes recently and this has made updating a neglected installation a bit tricky.

However, I managed a flawless update on a system that hasn’t been touched since May.

Before you do anything, go to the Arch Linux news page and read everything since your last update. If a package needs manual intervention make sure you add it to –ignore list when the time comes.

Firstly, you want to get setup for the new /lib symlink. There is a guide here – however, you will need to ignore some other packages as well. The main goal here is to stop pacman from breaking:

pacman -Ud
pacman -Syu --ignore glibc,curl,libarchive,bash,gpgme,filesystem,fontconfig

So, we’ve installed Allan’s special glibc version and we’ve updated the whole system while ignoring all of pacman’s dependencies. I also ignored filesystem and fontconfig as they need intervention. You will almost definitely be asked to upgrade pacman first and foremost. Do that when offered.

Next I updated the filesystem package:

pacman -S filesystem --force

Then I updated all of pacman’s deps:

pacman -S glibc curl libarchive bash gpgme

Lastly, I fixed the conflicts for the fontconfig package and did another system update.

find /etc/fonts/conf.d -type l -exec rm {} ;
pacman -Su

Word of caution – once your system is up to date and make sure you update the initramfs, just in case.

mkinitcpio -p linux

You will also have to upgrade to systemd compatible settings. Next post is about how I handled that.