Troubleshooting the MySQL Server 5.1 service on Windows Vista

Although some users have reported success, most installations I've tried of MySQL 5.1 on Vista have failed, even on fresh Vista installs. The first problem appears at the end of the service instance configuration. All appears to be well, however the server refuses to start with Could not start MySQL service or Could not start the service MySQL. Error: 0.

The trick is to start MySQL from the console so that you are able to see the error message (you can access the command console by typing cmd into the Run dialog):

cd "C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.1\bin"
mysqld -nt --defaults-file="C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.1\my.ini" --standalone --console

In my case, MySQL always returned the same error message:

Plugin 'InnoDB' init function returned error.
Plugin 'InnoDB' registration as a STORAGE ENGINE failed.
Unknown/unsupported table type: INNODB
Aborting
Forcing shutdown of 1 plugins

This message is a symptom of the log file size problem (just google InnoDB: Error: log file .\ib_logfile0 is of different size for more information). All you need to do is to clear the following files from the folder C:\ProgramData\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.1\data:

ib_logfile0
ib_logfile1
ibdata1
$YOUR_HOSTNAME$.err

Restart the MySQL server and all should be well. Note that the C:\ProgramData\ folder is hidden, so unless you have enabled hidden folders from the Folder Options dialog, you will need to copy/paste that folder path directly into the address bar in order to access the folder.

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Vista + Loose SATA cable = Bad news

So... Here's what I have been doing during the past 5 hours:

I was noticing some odd behavior from my PC, which runs Fedora Linux as its primary OS but it also has Windows Vista installed for gaming. The machine would boot without any indication of trouble, but once it had been up & running for about 5 minutes, the system would hang and the hard disk activity light on the case would stay permanently on. A soft reboot wouldn't fix the problem either - a complete shutdown was required. At first I thought it was an OS problem, so I rebooted into Vista but found it was affected too. I immediately thought, "hardware". I tried leaving the computer alone for an hour to see if it it would eventually come out of the freeze, but it clearly wasn't doing anything with the disk because the system remained frozen and I could not hear the disk heads moving (and on a 10K RPM drive, those are pretty loud). I ran memtest86+ and did a 3 minute S.M.A.R.T self-test on /dev/sda in Fedora, but oddly enough both came up clean.

Since my hardware seemed OK, I powered down the PC, opened the case and made sure there were no loose cables. Sure enough, the problem was the SATA cable which connected my motherboard to my hard disk. After disconnecting it, blowing off some excess dust and reconnecting it, everything was fine. But that's not where the story ends.

By the time I had reproduced the problem, tested the RAM & hard disk and reconnected the SATA cable, I had done about 15 power cycles. Linux handled the whole situation pretty gracefully - it logged the specific SATA errors (Result: hostbyte=DID_BAD_TARGET driverbyte=DRIVER_OK,SUGGEST_OK) and put the root filesystem into read-only mode. After reconnecting the cable, Fedora was up and running as if nothing had happened (it did do an automatic fsck upon booting, but the check came up clean). Vista, on the other hand, didn't take it so well - it informed me that I need to run CHKDISK upon starting up, so I let it repair C:\ and it orphans thousands and thousands of files... After CHKDISK completed I was (surprisingly) able to boot up, but many programs - including explorer.exe - were crashing. Judging by the amount of orphaned files, I'm guessing that quite a few system files were missing or corrupted.

So, long story short, if you have any SATA problems and Vista starts orphaning a tons of files during CHKDISK, save yourself some time by canceling the CHKDISK and make sure you have your Vista installation DVD handy.

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Coming soon...

Well, it's exam time so it's been a while since I last posted. Only 4 days left though! I'll be back with more stuff to post soon...

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The infamous PNG gamma/color correction problem

PNG images are great for Web work, but there's one problem that was really getting on my nerves: the color correction problem. PNG images, like many other formats, support embedded ICC profiles for color management. For websites this feature can become a big hassle since some Internet browsers (namely, Safari 3.x and up) will adjust the gamma and colors of images according to their embedded profiles, but the colors defined in CSS stylesheets are viewed with the native color profile. So if an image with an embedded ICC profile is used in combination with "background: " rules defined in a CSS stylesheet, the image will not match the background color of the page!

Fortunately, GIMP is capable of converting an image's embedded profile into the sRGB profile which was designed for use on the Internet.

First, GIMP requires a bit of setup:

  1. Select the color profile for your display by selecting Edit > Preferences from the menu and clicking on the Color Management section
  2. Set Mode of Operation to Color managed display
  3. From the Monitor Profile drop-down box, choose Select color profile from disk... and select the ICC profile which is you are currently using (tip: On OS X, ICC profiles are stored in /Library/ColorSync)

Once GIMP has been informed about which ICC profile your display is using, it can convert embedded profiles to the sRGB workspace:

  1. Open the image you want to convert
  2. Select Image > Mode > Assign from the menu and ensure that the sRGB profile is currently assigned
  3. Select Image > Mode > Convert from the menu and select the ICC profile that your display is using (the same one you chose in the setup sets)
  4. Save the image and if applicable, pass it through pngcrush to make it smaller
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Conficker

I have to admit, I'm pretty curious about what the giant botnet of Conficker-infected computers is going to start doing tomorrow. A large-scale denial of service attack is my first guess, but my instinct tells me there's something bigger in store... Either way, my clock currently reads 11:53PM so we're about to find out!

Edit: Did some quick research and it looks like the media hype got me. The only thing that's changing is the method which one variant (and not even the most popular one) receives new instructions.

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