Why doesn’t \ autocomplete to all the computers on the network?


Wes Haggard wishes that \ would autocomplete to all the computers on the network. [Link fixed 10am.] An early beta of Windows 95 actually did something similar to this, showing all the computers on the network when you opened the Network Neighborhood folder. And the feature was quickly killed.

Why?

Corporations with large networks were having conniptions because needlessly enumerating all the machines on the network can bring a large network to its knees. Think about all the times you type "\\". Now imagine if every single time you did that, Explorer started enumerating all the machines on the network. And imagine how your network administrator would feel if their network traffic saturated with enumerations each time you did that.

Network administrators made it clear in no uncertain terms that having Windows casually enumerate all the machines on their LAN was totally unacceptable.

The needs of the corporate environment are very different from those of the home network, and Windows needs to operate in both worlds.

Comments (63)
  1. Joe says:

    The obvious next question would be: why doesn’t it make a best effort, by enumerating all the machines it knows about, from a local cache of names. Even if the cache wasn’t accurate, it could still be useful.

    Not that I really care about such a feature, I always react like this when someone says "No we can’t because…".

  2. Josh Koppang says:

    Then you will have people ask why Windows shows old computer names, you explain about the cache, and they ask "Well, why can’t you provide a way to validate or rebuild the cache." Then you are back at square one.

  3. Cooney says:

    why doesn’t it make a best effort, by enumerating all the machines it knows about, from a local cache of names. Even if the cache wasn’t accurate, it could still be useful.

    Because the cache would almost certainly be inaccurate and the resulting autocomplete would conflict with every other path autocomplete. People would probably assume that, since autocomplete was on, it was complete, and then wonder why <new machine> wasn’t showing up.

  4. I can answer that one. The problem is that the computer doesn’t have "a local cache of names". Instead, the browser works as a client/server application.

    There’s a master browser that collects and maintains the list of servers, and the clients enumerate that information from the master browser. The master browser is chosen randomly (it’s an election process) from the machines in the workgroup, any machine in the workgroup can be the master browser at any time.

    The problem here is that those clients would totally overload the master browser servers. And the master browser servers aren’t dedicated servers, they’re just random desktop machines. And as such, the poor sot that’s running the master browser machine will be quite upset at having 500 other machines hammering on his machine all the time.

  5. Pat Rice says:

    Ten years ago (more or less) CD-ROM changers were all the rage. I had one, which appeared to Windows as seven distinct CD-ROM drives.

    This was a good thing: I could keep seven different application CDs online at all times. Hard disks topped out at 300MB in those days, so there was no ‘install everything to disk’ option for things like Encarta and Cinemania.

    Then came a new version of Windows – it must have been NT 4.0, since I skipped the entire 9x series in favor of NT – that had an unfortunate enthusiasm for randomly enumerating all drives on the system. Explorer Windows, file-open dialogs – there was no telling when my system would freeze up, and the changer would go kaCHUNK kaCHUNK kaCHUNK kaCHUNK kaCHUNK kaCHUNK kaCHUNK as Windows verified that the seven CDs that had been there two minutes before were still there.

    This took a considerable amount of time, and was so annoying that I stopped using the changer.

    I always wondered why Windows needed to do this.

  6. mschaef says:

    On a whim, I bought a cheap-o little internal three disk changer. It never got used for just that reason.

  7. Ziv Caspi says:

    Raymond,

    Wes Haggard is only hosted on weblogs.asp.net, not on blogs.msdn.com. You might want to replace the first relative link with an absolute link to http://weblogs.asp.net/whaggard/archive/2004/08/30/222736.aspx, or people coming from blogs.msdn.com will meet with a .Text error.

  8. Nektar says:

    From my experience computer listings in My Network Places, especially for my home network, are unreliable. Sometimes you turn a computer on and it never appears in the list, at times you turn a computer off and it still appears in the list. I strongly, strongly, believe that Windows enumeration of network devices (computers, printers, etc) needs a serious redesign. It seems that the code responsible for it needs much rethinking. Perhaps caches should be used, but caches which are updated in a way that users will not notice. How come Internet proxies can do caching and not have reliability issues.

    I repeat that I believe that Windows networking needs much rethinking. It should be updated for the new century. And what about security? If you do not have a firewall anyone can remotely access your shares, on XP if you are using "simple file sharing". Anyone from the Internet!

    What about a better networking solution from Microsoft? Is it coming? A solution which will be convenient and seemless for all users to share their files, both from inside the network and securely from the Internet, (simpler than let’s say ftp), but also secure and secure by default. Because the current one is not of a high standard.

  9. Dennis Forbes says:

    Sure it’s resource intensive to list all of the computers, just as it’s resource intensive for Exchange to have a global address list — yet I have one that I can query upon.

    At the very list it sounds like it should be a feature that would be domain controllable – i.e. a small business with 50 PCs likely wouldn’t find the realistically infrequent use of this.

  10. This is sort of to the side, but if you have vs.net 2003 and try and step into native code from C#, your system hangs while the tool tries to enum every single machine in your domain. It is looking for a box called \CVPSBUILD.

    Why is this happening? Because the IDE is looking for the source for some DLL, a DLL which includes some metadata that says where the source could be.

    On a large domain, the delay before it gives up is about 30 minutes; on an undomained box the delay is 10s.

    This is an interesting bug; it mustn’t have shown up in MS internal testing because the boxes were domained, and it needs a really big (80K+ boxes) domain to really slow down. Which means that the number of test sites must be pretty small.

    We ended up creating a machine with that name on our network; it was easier than taking all test systems out of the domain.

  11. Ben Cooke says:

    An old computer of mine, which ran Win95 I think, had an annoying habit of occasionally trying to access the floppy disk drive for no apparent reason. It would also do it at shutdown every time without fail, going chicka… chicka-chicka-chicka-chicka…. chicka-chicka-chicka-chicka GRIND GRIND GRIND (with the drive empty). After a while, the drive just stopped working properly and would fail to read disks half the time because the constant accessing had worn it out.

    I never did find out why it did that, because I binned that machine shortly afterwards. (well, it’s sitting in my attic in case I need some parts from it, but given its age that’s pretty unlikely.)

    It’s possible that it was just a dodgy application, but there wasn’t a great deal installed on the machine, and I couldn’t find any wacky background processes that shouldn’t be there.

    On a more on-topic note, why not do IE-style "recent URL" autocomplete? It wouldn’t work too well for computers which roam between networks, but for a home user with only two or three machines the names would rarely change, and I would expect people to know when their computers are turned off. Having said all that, I’ve never missed auto-complete on UNC paths, perhaps because I only have a few Windows machines here and they all have sensible, short names.

  12. Anonymous Coward says:

    I have similar hanging issues with usage prevented CDs. For example the game Rise of Nations (by Microsoft) has what amounts to bad sectors. If the CD is in the drive then all sorts of programs hang a lot of the time. My event log fills up with "The device, DeviceCdRom1, has a bad block." once per second.

  13. Christian Aichinger says:

    Nice way of thinking:

    Feature X could be useful for many users.

    Admins of huge networks complain.

    Feature X gets killed.

    Why wasn’t it made an option?

  14. Raymond Chen says:

    Dennis: The difference is that your Exchange Server is dedicated to servicing GAL requests, and it can respond to those requests directly, without having to communicate with every other computer on the network. Compare this to the browse master, which is some poor guy’s machine – possibly yours! – suddenly being commandeered by everybody else on the network hammering him with machine queries.

    Christian: Interesting you should bring that up; I actually have an entry on this subject slated for June – if you can wait until then…

  15. I’m going to be ruthless and declare that the idea of a flat namespace for every single machine in a large company is broken anyway, and the sooner it is put to the death the better.

    If you have ever experienced the problem of two machines having the same name, both laptops, both intermittently on line, you will know what a dog it is to track down.

    Really enum/search should be local subnet only (a la apple rendezvous), unless you configure otherwise. Trying to enum every box in a global domain (which you can still do in explorer if you try hard) is an exercise in futility.

  16. Raymond Chen says:

    "I want to know why "My Network Places" still lists dozens of shares on machines that I connected to at the last LAN party I went to six weeks ago…"

    Because you might want to connect back to them at your next LAN party? It’s a history of places you’ve been. If you don’t like history you can delete it.

  17. Doug says:

    My most amusing experience with this was at the Novel test labs. The list of servers just went on and on and on…..

  18. Brian says:

    I wish it would even autocomplete share names. I mean that can’t be so hard. Can it?

    And why does it enumerating all the machines on the network have to happen every time you type "\"? Why not just have the OS maintain a list? Sure it might not have the machine you were after, big deal. Same as the address bar autocomplete.

    And for the love of god, why does it have to hang the entire damn machine for minutes when its building the list? If it can’t get the first possible autocomplete suggestion within 0.5 seconds it should just beep and move on. (Which would handle the immense corporate network case too surely.)

    And don’t get me started on authentication. It’s been all downhill since Windows for Workgroups. Every time I try to copy a file from one home machine to another I have to jump through various idiotic hoops to enable it. Maybe it’s just me.

    Windows networking it just plain broken. It has been for years. I think it’s like the US tax system. It’s so hosed that all we can hope to do is find some way to replace it or migrate away from it.

  19. Kev says:

    Mat, you can stop Windows auto adding items to the My Network Places list (i really don’t need all the shares from Laptops connected to my Uni’s WiFi network listed) by unticking "Automatically Search for Network Folders and Printers" (My XP desktop at work is still listing a Netware Emulator/Samba share from a machine that was removed a year ago!)

    You will then need to use "Entire Network" to browse the entire network.

    But on the subject of that why, when you have Explorer in Explorer mode rather than My Computer mode, does clicking "My Network Places" in the tree not show "Entire Network", but rightclicking it and selecting "Explore" shows it?

    (Image Sample : http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v226/acerkev/Image1.jpg )

  20. Anonymous Coward says:

    There is a lack of understanding of the history behind all this. The relevant part of the networking was originally designed to make a collection of machines be self organising. (Contrast UNIX at the time which required configuring each machine with a static IP address, maintaining hosts files and/or setting up a DNS server)

    The machines could be using NetBEUI, IPX and later TCP/IP for communication. Rather than require an administrator to setup the network and have servers (as DNS requires), the machines simply use broadcasts to locate each other. In order to maintain a list of members of the workgroup, an election is held. The actual election algorithm is simple – shout out loud about how important you are and shut up if you hear someone more important. Last machine shouting wins.

    As TCP/IP started taking over, there was the need to scale this beyond the local subnet. There was also the need to have the more security oriented domains. Consequently there ended up being domain controllers, WINS and various other things, all the while retaining backwards compatibility.

    And we end up with the situation we have today. It can take a while to work out what machines are around. You may be using non-broadcast naming (WINS) and you may also have broadcast naming. Sometimes there are no master browsers, or they don’t respond. Sometimes an election has to be forced which can take up to 15 seconds to get things sorted. No machine maintains a master list of workgroups/domains.

    If Microsoft had known in the 1980s that TCP/IP would be the predominant protocol for their operating systems, they could have fixed this in advance. But they didn’t, and came up with a reasonable design for meeting the self organising goals. Later on it had scaling issues but they always do. It was all addressed with Active Directory, but many people choose to not run that.

    (And for anyone who claims Microsoft should have known TCP/IP would win, those same people should have known how successful Microsoft would be and would now be sitting on a pile of money so large they can’t see the screen :-)

    And XP does auto-complete share names for me.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It is obvious why \ does not auto complete, by why doesn’t \foo auto complete the shares?

    And a related question – why do you need a different syntax to enumerate the shares? Why doesn’t dir \foo list the shares?

  22. Anonymous: dir \foo was acutally a work item of mine for Windows NT 3.1, it was cut due to schedule pressures, and has never been added back.

    There are architectural reasons why it’s "hard" to solve though – in particular the \ namespace is owned by the MUP (the multiple UNC provider filesystem) which aggregates the UNC namespace across multiple network filesystems. Not all network filesystems allow for enumeration, so this is a REALLY hard problem. And it’s not clear how many customers would benefit from it.

  23. Alex says:

    Ok, I’m going to point here that the master browswer election process is biased heavily in favor of NT servers. A large corporate network would NOT pick some poor schmoes Win9x box to serve as the domain master because it always loses elections.

    Order is:

    Primary Domain Controller

    NT server

    NT workstation

    Windows 9x

    Windows for Workgroups

    This of course assumes the election process works propely. I had a Win9x box on a poor network connection stage a coup against the PDC. It took an hour for the browse lists to sort themselves out, and then I prevented the machines from becoming browse masters.

    But in short, if you’ve got a PDC, its the browse master, no ifs, ands, or buts.

  24. I have two comments…

    First, I wish it were easier to turn off all broadcast/browser style enumeration. In fact, I think that this should be the default if the machine is in a domain with AD and dynamic DNS registration.

    Second, and more importantly, I have to agree that Explorer’s synchronous enumeration of network resources and/or drives is completely brain dead. This stuff should absolutely be happening in a diffferent thread from the UI, perhaps with a progress bar and stop button a’la web browsers. This brokenness is made far worse by the fact that the default Explorer process is also the entire shell, meaning a slow CD-ROM drive can block your entire session.

    I’ve never understood why that second point wasn’t fixed years ago. It seems to be one of Windows’ biggest sources of perceived instability.

  25. Christian says:

    Please, Larry or someone else, answer this (quite related) question:

    How can I turn it off? My XP-Laptop has the SP2-firewall enabled with no exceptions ALL THE TIME. It should not receive any broadcast or SMB-traffic or whatever (or?)

    I only ACCESS shares (from the company and my home computer). All these computers can be found with DNS and often I bypass that (and the browser) by simply using IP-adresses. The notebook is not part of any domain.

    How can I shut off the server-service (no need to offer fileshares. Shutting it completely off would be more secure) and the browser and: How can I avoid that my notebooks makes any broadcasts? I want it to be a silent, quite, nice citizen of a TCP/IP-network: Do nothing until asked and then do your DNS-lookup and open a 445-tcp-connection to the fileshare, get your files and be quite.

    No broadcasts! Don’t listen, don’t send.

    And most important: The laptop should never ever wait exspect for DNS. If DNS says "not found", then don’t hang, don’t try, don’t broadcast.

    Is there a solution for this problem? It can of course be unsupported!

    Stopping services? deleting device-drivers? Anything?

    (BTW: Disabling server-service and browser-service doesn’t stop broadcasts send from me :-( )

    BTW: DCOM should still be working, but only locally!!

    Many thanks in advance!

    Christian

  26. Alex, that was by very careful design – we wanted to move the master browser OFF of people’s machines because when the master browser was on random office machines (often running NT stress) the performance of the browse sucked for EVERYONE on the domain.

    The browser service should be disabled in XP SP2.

  27. Nektar says:

    The browser should be disabled in XP SP2.

    So if I create a home network with no server and no domain, then I have to go and manually enable it?

  28. Mat Hall says:

    "why do you need a different syntax to enumerate the shares? Why doesn’t dir \foo list the shares?" … "it was cut due to schedule pressures, and has never been added back."

    I just checked the 3.0 Monad beta (build 6.0.4093.0), and it doesn’t work there either. Still, it’s just a beta so who knows what the future holds…

  29. Mike Weiss says:

    A little bit off topic but does anyone know why a path like:

    \LOCALHOST<share><my file>

    fails to work without the network adapter plugged into a hub/switch?

    Yet I can ping LOCALHOST.

  30. Wes Haggard says:

    Raymond – thanks for the explanation. I can understand why it is a problem on large networks but I agree with a couple of the commenters that maybe it could be an option and I think that shares could still be listed.

    Anyways I just wanted a way to list the computers and the shares easier. That is why it is one of the features I added to by custom run command Run++ (http://weblogs.asp.net/whaggard/archive/2004/09/19/231576.aspx) or (http://puzzleware.net/runpp/).

  31. What I’d like to know is why, if it’s not going to allow me to autocomplete network addresses, does the command line hang when I hit tab on a network address?

    It just sits there for a very long time before it comes back and gives up. Doesn’t respond to anything – even a CTRL-Break

  32. Jon Potter says:

    "Second, and more importantly, I have to agree that Explorer’s synchronous enumeration of network resources and/or drives is completely brain dead. This stuff should absolutely be happening in a diffferent thread from the UI, perhaps with a progress bar and stop button a’la web browsers"

    That bugs the hell out of me too, it (async enumeration/path completion) was one of the first things we added to Directory Opus.

  33. russ says:

    Another vote against explorer stupidity; every time I browse for a file I have to wait 30 sec for the damn cd-rom to spin up because explorer/common controls can’t seem to figure out how to handle it async.

    But then again this is most likely why when I posted on an MS NG back before XP was released asking for a continue/cancel dialog to popup when doing large file copies (instead of getting the error message then the whole copy/move fails, leaving things in disarray.) The "owner" of that code responded to my message and his answer was that it was "too much work" to design a new dialog for file copying and put it through QA so he was just gonna leave it as-is. Seems that attitude is prevelant these days…

  34. Steve Loughran says:

    yes, down with explorer pauses!

    I got a new laptop last week and it doesnt matter how fast it is, there are still these Sleep(60*1000) bits in the UI. What is the point of getting a faster box if the delays are built in to the OS? And please, do we really have to wait for longhorn to have this bug fixed -or at least moved?

  35. foxyshadis says:

    Simon – I/O waits in general don’t respond to ctrl-break. Most apparent on floppies, CDs, and networks, of course.

    Windows fixed the problem once with WINS and fixed it in a more scalable way with DNS. What more do some of you want? If you want the functionality of a server, buy a server OS or find open source alternatives. The old-style browsing hasn’t been updated in a decade and likely never will, so there’s not much point in griping about limitations of the long outdated technology that you’re sticking with.

  36. G. Man says:

    Come on Larry or Raymond, respond to these complaints because I don’t understand it either. WHY does a scratched disc HANG YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM (yes I know the OS is not hung, but for the average user explorer IS the OS). WHY!!!!

  37. dakirw says:

    Mike:

    Regarding the behavior you mentioned, it should work if you have a modified lmhosts file.

    Put something like the following line in:

    127.0.0.1 localhost #PRE

    It’s a bit of a hack though. Probably has something to do with the fact that the the shares system depends on WINS and not the DNS.

    Alternately, you configure your system to allow lmhosts lookup for all TCP/IP based lookups.

  38. Aaargh! says:

    The windows network protocol and explorer’s handling of it is braindead anyway.

    Ever tried browsing to a computer that doesn’t respond ? It *hangs* explorer, the UI doesn’t even update anymore, if you move another window over it you end up with a completely white explorer window, why isn’t this handled in a separate thread ?

    This ‘undocumented feature’ has been in windows since Win95 and it’s still in Win2k and XP afaik.

    Browsing a windows network neighbourhood actually works better in Linux with Konqueror (no hangs) than it does in Windows itself.

    Also, the transfer speeds are horrible, and who decided that using broadcasts for name-resolution were a good idea should be hung from a very high tree, my computer gets aprox. 1 GB of SMB broadcasts on a daily basis (running 24/7 on a network with aprox. 2000 machines).

  39. Mat Hall says:

    "Sometimes you turn a computer on and it never appears in the list, at times you turn a computer off and it still appears in the list."

    I run a LAN party every 6 or so weeks, and there’s ALWAYS this problem. \SomeMachine can’t see \AnotherMachine but everyone else can, \AnotherMachine can see \SomeMachine and nothing else, etc. (By "can’t see" I mean "doesn’t show up in Network Neighborhood". More often than not you can get to it by typing in the path.) Drives me potty, and as yet I’ve not been able to isolate the problem…

    "Then you will have people ask why Windows shows old computer names…"

    I want to know why "My Network Places" still lists dozens of shares on machines that I connected to at the last LAN party I went to six weeks ago…

    "On a more on-topic note, why not do IE-style "recent URL" autocomplete?"

    As far as I can tell it *DOES* — whenever I open a file from my server, typing \PVR drops down a list of the most recently accessed directories.

  40. Edward says:

    Could someone tell us more about "Castle",

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/3/8/1/38198a72-294d-46c3-93ba-faee5cf85d00/ARC343.ppt

    will it still exist without WinFS?

    This seems like the replacement for open shares and workgroups in Longhorn for the home network, but theres so little detail available.

    It was one of my favourite Longhorn features, I’d hate to hear it has been cut. The concept of Information cards has is already starting to be introduced through MSN Messenger 7, so it must be going somewhere.

  41. Brian says:

    "And XP does auto-complete share names for me."

    I think some of us are talking about Explorer and some are talking about CMD.EXE. Explorer auto-completes share names but CMD.EXE doesn’t. (At least it didn’t when I tried it right now.)

    Also the thing about making dir \server list shares – why not just have dir call "net view \server" when it sees the "\"?

  42. I have always thought that developers of explore.exe/shell/common controls should be forced to run a special build that breaks into debugger whenever message pump has been stuck for more than 500 ms (250 ms for dev leads).

  43. Jeremy Morton [MSFT] says:

    Steve Loughran, the \CPVSBuild issue was probably not noticed at Microsoft because that server exists here. Thanks for the head’s up, it’s the first I’ve heard of it and it may be something that can get fixed.

  44. Raymond Chen says:

    G. Man: I don’t know. I can guess but I’m pretty sure you want the "real answer" and not my guesses so I won’t bother guessing.

    This is another example of what I alluded to earlier: http://weblogs.asp.net/oldnewthing/archive/2005/01/10/349894.aspx#350338 People are *demanding* answers from me, like I have some obligation to respond to every single question.

  45. Larry:

    I get why CTRL+C/CTRL+BREAK might not break into it… what I don’t understand is why – if cmd.exe doesn’t autocomplete network addresses – does it get hung up when I type dir "\machinename<TAB>

    ?

    It just seems to sit there forever.

  46. Anonymous Coward says:

    Don’t you all know, Longhorn will fix all of these problems!!

    Seriously though, soccer mom’s just trying to share photos on the home media center PC (which is on the home network workgroup) with her work laptop (which is on the corporate domain) and can’t figure it out. You start talking about master browsers and NetBEUI, and she starts thinking "I bet this is easier on the Macintosh…"

  47. Mat Hall says:

    "The old-style browsing hasn’t been updated in a decade and likely never will, so there’s not much point in griping about limitations of the long outdated technology that you’re sticking with."

    Well I’m only "sticking with it" in the sense that I have some machines at home running on a LAN, and that’s how Windows does it. The average home user isn’t going to fork out for a server-grade OS (although see below) and go through all the pain of setting up DCs and the like; they just want the damned thing to work! (And that still won’t fix the "I just put in a CD, and now Explorer seems to have ground to a halt" problem.)

    "I bet this is easier on the Macintosh…"

    Now it’s also affordable, and comes with that elusive server-grade OS. :) http://www.apple.com/macmini/

  48. G. Man says:

    "she starts thinking "I bet this is easier on the Macintosh…"

    This blog is not for your grandmother, it’s for us geeks. And just for the record, I dont have any problems reading shares on my home workgroup shares from my corporate domained laptop.

  49. mschaef says:

    I don’t really think the Mac Mini made the Macintosh any more affordable. You still have to buy (or re-task) keyboard/mointor/mouse and once you’ve done that, you’re up at the price of an eMac, except you’ve had to buy from multiple vendors, etc…

    Another clue: what’s the cheapest fully functional Mac Mini system you can buy on Apple.com? When I checked, it was $1,600, thanks to the smallest display being a 20 inch LCD.

  50. Huh? says:

    What’s "mini" about a 20" display?

  51. Gordon says:

    mschaef: Here’s the first clue, since you seem to have missed it: you’re not the target market.

    Maybe, just maybe, Apple’s a little smarter than you give them credit for being. Maybe Apple’s going after the soccer moms who are thinking "I bet this would be easier on a Macintosh" and who already have a keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

    I’m guessing there’ll be a new ad campaign, much like the old Switch ads, that’ll go something like "I had this crappy Windows PC. I got sick of fighting with the computer whenever I wanted to get something done. So when Apple came out with the Mac Mini, I was thrilled. I could get a new computer without getting rid of my old monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I’ll never go back to the old way."

    Hurrah Apple. Do not go gentle into that good night.

  52. Simon: Because it’s still trying to contact \server. The thing is that everything under \ is owned by the MUP. And the MUP doesn’t know if there’s a filesystem on the machine that CAN complete \server. So it tries. And the network filesystem dutifly tries to contact the server, and hangs.

  53. Aaargh! says:

    "You still have to buy (or re-task) keyboard/mointor/mouse and once you’ve done that, you’re up at the price of an eMac"

    The biggest problem I had with the eMac was that it had an integrated monitor, adding to the price, while I already have a great 19" Iiyama and I really don’t want to go back to a crappy 17" screen. And I certainly do not want to use another keyboard (Using an old IBM Model-M a.t.m. and it’s still the best keyboard there is)

    At the moment my home machine is a Duron 700 MHz running on Debian with KDE, and this mini-mac would be a nice upgrade (I only use it to browse/mail/listen to music) except for the fact that it doesn’t have an SP/DIF output.

  54. Jeremy says:

    Don’t you love how quickly a personal blog becomes a public q&a forum for anything

    remotely related to the topic posted?

    Nektar:

    "And what about security? If you do not have a firewall anyone can remotely access your shares, on XP if you are using "simple file sharing". Anyone from the Internet!"

    The point is with XP SP2 the firewall is on and not having it on is a bad decision. In Windows Firewall there are places to setup the subnet which is much more effective than an "allow all" approach. I believe "File and Print sharing" is set to the local subnet by default in Windows Firewall but I could be wrong. The problem with this is subnets and networking are something beyond the casual "grandma" user. They just want to be protected and do whatever they bought the computer for. Firewalls and security are usually last on their minds yet we live in a world where it should be first on everyone’s (even Mac and Linux eventually).

    Mat:

    ""On a more on-topic note, why not do IE-style "recent URL" autocomplete?"

    As far as I can tell it *DOES* — whenever I open a file from my server, typing \PVR drops down a list of the most recently accessed directories."

    In XP when I type the list, it enumerates the shares on our computers. This is not a "recent" list, it’s a "as of right this second I see everything that is shared, no caches". There are times when a "recent" autocomplete come into things but that isn’t usual in an AD domain.

    For the record, the IE recent URL lists are stored in registry keys. Quite possible to do this for computers but like IE it’d need to be cleared often. Since network shares/computers change more often than websites, the logic for not including it is pretty valid.

    Lastly,

    Larry:

    "The browser service should be disabled in XP SP2"

    Funny thing about services and XP SP2 is that if it was turned on and you upgraded to SP2 from say, SP1 or XP unpatched, it stays on. I believe turning them on when they were off wasn’t an issue (as the firewall service turned itself on) but the off switch didn’t quite work too well (at least on the 10 or so machines I upgraded personally). Not a huge issue but knowing which Services are safe to disable is a very good thing.

  55. Matt says:

    Your still out of luck my friend. Mini Mac only supports USB keyboards, and your old PS2 IBM keyboard won’t cut it. You’ll have to decide which you prefer, your fantastic keyboard or a pretty little box you have next to no chance expanding.

    The same may very well apply to your mouse if it’s PS2 only.

  56. Gordon says:

    Or he could drop $20 on one of these, and keep using the Model M. Let me tell you, the Model M is worth it.

    http://www.pcmall.com/pcmall/shop/detail.asp?dpno=242124

  57. Matt says:

    The Model M may be worth it, but waving goodbye to any chance of Apple support might not be. Apple Support can get awful cranky if you plug something in without their logo on it.

  58. cthrall says:

    I kinda like the way Run… works in XP. It displays recently visited machine names in the drop down, and once I get past the machine name it will display share names.

    On Unix, try NTFS mounting a dir in your PATH…then drop the connection to that machine and see what happens when you tab complete.

  59. BlackTigerX says:

    Brian-

    "And don’t get me started on authentication. It’s been all downhill since Windows for Workgroups. Every time I try to copy a file from one home machine to another I have to jump through various idiotic hoops to enable it. Maybe it’s just me."

    …maybe it is… maybe you need some network basics

  60. me says:

    Cthrall:

    You get something back though, it’s reliable. If you start editing a file on that mount and the server reboots, the system will keep trying until it finds the server again and then save your file. You can actually have the pagefile on an nfs share and it will work, even if there are network disruptions or server reboots (useful for diskless clients).

    On windows the programs just crash, loosing your work. Try it with Word if you like.

  61. Raymond Chen says:

    I don’t know which is worse when a server goes down. Return an error to the program (where it crashes if it doesn’t know what to do with that error) or lock up the computer until the server comes back up (if it ever does).

  62. Mark Kalmes says:

    I don’t believe autocompleting on \ was really the problem. With hundreds of computers, asking the master browser for a current list of names shouldn’t be a big deal. If you are worried about the size of the list, don’t ask for IP’s until you need them. Even rickety old Pentium/66’s can queue up a 10k response packet without disturbing the user – that should be a thousand computers. Why was this a performance issue for the slave or master browser? What was complicated about a list of computers names that had registered?

    The real problem was the master/slave browsing system for Win 95 was ill-conceived. The system would perform broadcasts extremely often and soak up a lot of network bandwith. I seem to remember the system constantly running ‘elections’. At the time, a lot of sys admins were configuring switches to throw away this traffic – they ended up in a bandwith turf war with Windows. I can certainly imagine that \ completion was igniting more traffic – but I don’t believe that it was reasonable.

    Each version of Windows keeps getting incrementally better at dealing with the browsing system. I don’t know what the current state is. I know that large businesses are told to use a domain – that system probably works.

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