Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Third-party drivers

Let me preface this post with: I'm technical enough to understand that this problem is with a specific third-party driver. I get that. But one of the founding reasons behind the Linux in Exile blog was "I find it interesting when long-time Windows users experiment with Linux for the first time, I thought it might be equally interesting for this long-time Linux user to blog about my first experience running Windows in over 6 or 7 years." So I think it's fair to write this post with the view that "it doesn't do this under Linux."

A few weeks ago, I upgraded my smartphone from Android 2.1, to Android 2.2. Ever since, I've encountered this problem: When I boot Windows, the phone resets, and Windows stops working.

Maybe those don't seem connected. But this really does happen.

Need some more background information to debug this problem? Here you go: I have a USB-to-microUSB cable for my phone, which can let me transfer data, or just charge the phone via USB. Sometimes when I get to the office, I'll need to charge my phone, so I just connect the cable to the phone while I get my laptop set up.

For example: this morning, I plugged in my phone, and set up the laptop. I was going to attend a videoconference later that morning (which unfortunately requires Silverlight) so I booted into Windows. While Windows was coming up, my phone suddenly made a little chime, and reset. Windows froze up, and didn't finish booting. This happens all the time.

Whenever I've booted Linux with the phone connected via USB, everything works fine. This only breaks with Windows. What gives?

Here's what I think is happening: during the upgrade to Android 2.2, I had to install the phone's third-party software to let Windows directly update the phone's firmware. I suspect that when this driver gets initialized during boot, it probes the USB-connected devices, checking for the phone, which somehow causes the phone to reboot. Why Windows then hangs, I have no idea.

Yes, this is really a problem with third-party software running on Windows, but it's a problem that doesn't happen on Linux.

Windows users (who experiment with Linux) don't care that their scanner won't work because it's a "driver issue", or because "the hardware vendor doesn't want to be open." They just complain that their scanner doesn't work under Linux. In that mindset, I don't really care if this is a Windows driver issue, I only know that Windows doesn't boot (and "breaks" my phone.)


  1. I wish I had a suggestion for you. I, unfortunately, have another Windows issue with Android devices: no Android device is ever recognised on my 64 bit Windows installation. I've confirmed it's a 64 bit issue by temporarily installing 32 bit on the same machine, and I don't have this issue under 32 bit Windows 7, and obviously, not under Linux, 32 or 64 bit.

  2. What I find unusual about Google's service integration is that when I select Google Account, Blogspot uses my old Blogspot details, my username NoobixCube and my stolen-from-VG-Cats avatar, but when I +1 it, it shows me as Michael Vaughan on Google Plus...


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