Thursday, October 3, 2013

Running a Matrox G450x4 MMS under Windows 7

I was recently tasked with a small challenge. Given that we have a fair amount of circa-2005, quad-screen workstations running Windows XP for which we know the clock is ticking, is it possible to upgrade them to Windows 7 even if they have ancient Matrox graphic cards?

The answer is, yes, with some limitations. Matrox doesn't have a clear stance on Win7 support for the G450 series. By downloading their latest driver which is supposed to support Win7 SP1, the installer fails without even a hint of what is going on.

By searching for and trying various older drivers, I found out that the WHQL drivers do not support the G450, but the non-WHQL do. To get these drivers, you have to go to the "archived support drivers" area and scroll down to the latest non-WHQL driver you can find for your platform. In my case, it was version 211_00_183. The driver installs and the graphic card works. Case closed.

Of course, by using non-WHQL drivers, you might be asked by Microsoft to remove these drivers if you run into problems and ask for support.

For the curious, these workstations have been limited to being quad-screen ICA clients a long time ago, so I don't expect any performance impact by moving them to Windows 7. If we move on with this scenario, we'll be saving the company some money by extending the life of this equipment for a few more years.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Launching the Performance Monitor from the command line or script

On a Windows 2008 R2 server, I needed to launch the Performance Monitor with a built-in live report. That is targeted to support personnel and I don't want them to have to start it an add counters manually each time.

Man, that task proved to be more complex than I expected.

Here is what I've found in the last few days:

Solution 1: use IE
From the performance manager, the only option offered to save a custom report is to save it to an .HTML file which can then be launched from IE. That is clunky, as it has some ActiveX code and you need to acknowledge running it. Furthermore, when you load up that HTML page, you first have to press on the "play" icon to start the data collection, which is another useless step that I don't want support guys to have to do.

Solution 2: use Typeperf
There is a nice utility named "typeperf.exe" that can be used to dump specific counters to the console. It works, but for an odd reason, it can ONLY output CSV output to the screen. If you specify another format, it insists on dumping in a file. In essence it is a good quick-and-dirty tool for the console but not a terrific all-around solution.

Solution 3: use Perfmon in standalone mode (WE HAVE A WINNER!)
You can launch a standalone Permon using "perfmon /sys". This lets you add counters and, look at the magic, the standalone panel offers the possibility of saving that report in a .PerfmonCfg file. To load the file, simply click on it (or use "start meh.PerfMonCfg" within a batch file) and it will bring up a good old Perfmon report on the screen. That, in my opinion, is the best way to achieve my goal.

Sorry for the lack of details, but that should give you an idea.