In the Forums...
Posted: June 21, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Is This a Kick in the Pants or What?!?
Okay, you've gone through the advantages and disadvantages of attempting to run a game on Win2k and have decided to go for it. Maybe you are running a server at a LAN party, perhaps you just don't feel like rebooting to play your favorite games, or maybe you've just got big balls. Whatever it is, you're going to go for it. So you pop in a CD and try to install a game. Maybe you get it installed and you just can't seem to get it running, or maybe your system halts during the installation - whatever it is, the game just won't run. Here, proscribed by the doctor himself, are the antibiotics to kick that little sucker into submission -- or decide when to give up.
Drivers, drivers, drivers. I know -- this is mentioned in more tweak guides than why Dan is really called the Tweak Monkey -- but it's really important. And, believe it or not, it is even more important in Win2k than it ever was before. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, of course, is because the default drivers are incredibly immature and, while stable, are slower than a doped up snail -- and some of them even create hallucinogenic effects that remind me of the days when LSD was in the middle of its tour de force.
But that isn't the only reason for new drivers in Win2k. Your computer has two software modes (actually there are four but only two are used): User mode and Kernel mode. User mode is the portion of the software your computer is running that is open to be played around with by anything, and Kernel mode is highly protected and can only be modified by other Kernel mode pieces of software. The problem is in that drivers are run in Kernel mode -- and if there is some kind of bug in them, it could take down the whole system (user mode applications can only take down themselves and possibly other user mode apps). And since Microsoft decided it was going to change the driver model for Win2k to make it easier to develop for, driver writers are having to learn a whole new set of rules, and any mistakes can have dire consequences. But with each driver revision, things get better. So keep up to date with them!
Where does the aforementioned HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) fit into that? If my understanding is correct, it is run in user mode and is the last layer that a piece of data has to go through before it starts dealing with code that is in Kernel Mode. So if there is some kind of problem in the Kernel Mode driver for your video card, a bottleneck can occur between the HAL and the video card driver - bad mojo.
You've installed the new drivers and things still freeze up like a rubber ball dropped in a vat of liquid hydrogen. What else can you do? Well, if you could get the game to install but it just won't run, you might want to try installing whatever patches they have lying around. Beyond that, you probably won't be able to go very far unless they have some information about the subject on their website. However, if you couldn't get the game to install, you have quite a few options including a forced setup and the Ali Fakir method.