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Windows 7 Driver Conflicts Drove Me To Distraction

29 February 2012 Comments off

4 minutes


I have an older now Dell Inspiron M1530 XPS laptop, which I upgraded to Windows 7 in 2010. I found it incredibly brain-dead that we as engineer, let alone an end-user consumer, are suffering from driver conflicts. 

HV40 Camcorder

The first discovery of this mundanity was a simple firewire port IEEE 1394 with Windows 7 no longer works, and it was not just my laptop, but other people discovered this issue. For many video editing such as trips to conferences like the Java Posse Round-Up, Devoxx and JavaOne I use my trusty HDV Canon HV40 camcorder, which is one of the last pieces of kit that supports Mini-DV tapes. I had no problems connecting it to computer using a firewire cable several months ago, then a few nights ago, whilst here snowboardng in Austria, I wanted to do some editing and then I found connectivity problems! 
I was astounded and slightly surprised. After connecting and reconnecting the firewire cable, I found that Windows 7 failed to recognise the camcorder. I did a windows update, search Canon HV sites for a driver, and trawled through the Internet. I found other people who also discover the issue here, here and here. Actually Adobe had the best information on their troubleshooting site, I suspected that there was driver issue. The best advice was to update the 1394 to the legacy driver. Really? At this point, I voted with my feet. 
Luckily I traveled with a Linux Format magazine Ubuntu 11.10 DVD as a potential life-saver. (I once lost the ability to boot in my machine whilst I was abroad in foreign lands, long distance from home, and a Linux live-boot disk got me out of the woods. I subsequently repaired the master boot record and the active partition!) I booted Ubuntu Live and plugged in the HV40. Lo and behold it was recognised by firewire IEEE1394. I was a able to capture using Kino.  I was able to control and capture footage using this simple program. I only wished it could capture and output MPEG2 as well. The only two capture options are Raw DV and Quicktime Movie  files.

iPhone 4S

After the debacle with the HV40, I next plugged in my iPhone 4S. You could now hit me in the face with a salmon. I discovered driver problems with Windows 7 and the iPhone 4S. Was this not working at Devoxx 2011? Of course it was. It turns out there is conflict between iTunes 10.5.3, Apple Mobile Device Drivers and a Samsung Mobile MTP driver. The problem is that the phone is no longer recognised as a legitimate DCIM and USB Storage Media device. Therefore, it was impossible to transfer some of the wonderful Austrian mountain footage directly to the PC. I removed all the Samsung programs and features. Again lots of other people have found this issue with Windows 7 drivers here, here and here.
Rather than waste time, in configuration, trial and error, I voted with my feet. I went straight to the Ubuntu Live partition and then decided to install Ubuntu over the old LTS 8.3 partition that I used to have in the Windows Vista. I had used Linux alot in 2008 to develop and test Java server side code. After booting in to Ubtuntu 11.10, I also found driver errors [1], but the different is that I found solution that actually worked eventually [2].
> sudo apt-get install libimobiledevice2-dbg libimobiledevice-dev libimobiledevice-doc libimobiledevice2
> idevicepair unpair && idevicepair pair

Benefits of Alternative Operating Systems

Don’t get me wrong, just like some many other developers, I also thought that Windows 7 was a huge improvement over Windows Vista and was the proper advancement from Windows XP Service Pack 3. It worked in 2010 and now these failures have shown that you cannot trust yourself with only one egg in the basket in terms of operating systems. It is really good to have alternatives!  It is also impressive to see how much open source development, the engineers have solved some of these proprietary connectivity problems. Linux got me out of hole. Twice! Competition is good, even if some of the competitors are free. 
Going forward with any new machine, I personally buy, I will always reserve a partition or two for Linux, because you never know what Windows driver is going fail on. It is pity because I use the Adobe software for editing content and therefore need to have Windows around.
In a way, I always hope there will be general purpose operating systems out there, even if the rest of the human race is moving to tablet and embedded consumer devices. For content producers, software engineers, and architects, we must always have, in my belief, the possibility of choice. If the manufacturers take away our choice or freedom to solve issues, and/or work around them then we will be in trouble.
By the way I wrote this entire piece in Blogilo [3].
[2] Ubuntu Forums : unable to mount ipod (QueryType failed, error code: -256)
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