Despite my preference for non-Windows operating systems, I do keep some Windows versions and at least one Windows machine in my arsenal. Here in my home office I have a desktop running Mandriva (I’ll get into that at another time) with a laptop next to it running Vista. I know, I know…. “bad Dan.” Save it. I already know.
Anyway, in the last week or ten days, Vista locked up on me. It would slug itself along as if a process was using up 100% of the available CPU and memory. It’s not a top-shelf machine, it’s just a Dell Inspiron 6400 w/ Core2Duo CPU and 2GB RAM – my wife, Debs, and I have similar systems.
Vista would hang, nearly unresponsive, and 15 minutes or so after I hit CTRL+ALT+DEL (nearly immediately, due to my severe lack of patience with personal computers), I finally had a response, though still no task manager. Less helpful than most BSOD‘s, the dialog stated simply:
Logon process has failed to create the security options dialog
Failure – Security options
After poking around the Windows internals as best I could, while still being a good boy and not violating any possible terms of my license (yes, it’s a Genuine copy), I confirmed my suspicions: Vista still sucks.
However, after working around a few things, it was actually Microsoft’s “Safe” Mode (sic) bootup that helped me out. By trimming down the processes, I was able to debug the issue and narrowed-down the culprit: AcroRd32Info.exe. In fact, the whole Adobe Acrobat Reader installation was crapped-up. It turned out, every time I would load a multilayer PDF, it was causing a serious buffer overflow issue that was spiking CPU usage as high as 100%, memory usage to 99.6% of available RAM (spilling over into virtual memory) and maintain those levels until I hard-booted the machine. All total, between the three screwups, I lost about 3.5 full weeks of research for an AI neural network application I’ve been building, but nothing permanent. It’ll be like a drunken bender to the brain. It will survive.
Anyway, the lock-ups were primarily my fault, as should be expected. I was using an outdated version; I was using 8.1, whereas 9.x is the current version as of this writing. I installed the latest version and tried to reproduce the overflows — nothing. Keeping my fingers crossed, I think I can mark this as solved.