PDC – Preconf Day 1

Posted in General at 11:31 pm by jw

The PDC itself is pretty amazing.  It’s only the first day of pre-conference and there must be over 2000 developers there already.  They have a huge hall set up just to feed us all, and it’s also shared with a whole bunch (like 200 or more) of desktops running Vista and XP just so we can all connect to the internet at once if we want to.  The entire place is wired with WiFi so getting online with our own laptops is also a snap.  I just couldn’t really write up a good summary as the sessions were going on even though the internet worked fine – the stuff was just too interesting (for me).

If today was any indication, this is going to be an awesome conference.  Today was a 6 hour session with David Solomon and Mark Russinovich on Windows Internals – it really was a great look into how the Windows kernel works and what developers should and shouldn’t do to take advantage of it.  They also went into some detail on what’s new “under the hood” in Vista which looks interesting, but I’m not sure it’s particularly compelling yet.

Couple of interesting tidbits I learned (and probably will forget all too soon):

  • Vista is collapsing everything back into a single (multiprocessor) kernel executable.
  • XP-64 is really the same kernel as Windows 2003, not XP.
  • 64 bit Windows does funky stuff with directories and the registry when running 32 bit programs
  • Vista gets rid of the kernel memory limits (aside from the standard 2G limit) – there’s no more fixed sizes for stuff.
  • Vista uses the 2003 model for having independant run queues for each CPU.
  • The default login session is no longer ‘0’ – might make some apps that assume that break.
  • People still remember Mark from when he figured how to turn Workstation into Server, and he got Dave into trouble even though Dave did nothing and didn’t even know Mark at that stage.
  • You can DoS windows by creating a whole bunch of kernel objects.
  • userinit.exe is the process that does all the group policy assignments.  This gives me evil ideas.
  • Vista will have fast user switching on domain accounts.

There’s a bunch more stuff I have in notes, but to go into all that would take forever.

I noticed a room full of 64 bit Alienware PCs (looked like 64 of them) playing the 64 bit Far Cry on the way out.  Was pretty interesting and running very, very smoothly even at high resolution.  Looks like they were all networked together though I’m not sure if it was all playing the same networked game.  AMD is definitely getting good traction on their 64 bit CPUs in the dev community.

More tomorrow…


  1. Dorick Said:

    September 12, 2005 at 2:04 pm

    It sounds like you’re having a great time, lots of food and plenty of geeky entertainment.

    So XP 64 is a dumbed down version of Win2003? I guess that’s better than a reworked 32 bit XP. Either way this OS is a huge step into the world of 64bit mainstream PC computing. I’m excited with anticipation to see 64 bit software (games!) coming out.

    In other news: I setup m0n0wall and turned on Traffic Shaper. Wow. I used a pre configured rule set. It’s an amazing difference! Now I can get my money’s worth from my bandwidth. Us none linux gurus can figure this one out pretty easy. Check out http://www.m0n0.ch/wall/. It runs from a CD rom and a floppy. If you think your firewall has been compromized you reboot. It’s all remotely PHP driven too.


  2. jw Said:

    September 12, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    The only real difference between XP-64 and 2k3server-64 are the apps that ship with the system. They run the same kernel version (5.2), which had some interesting SMP improvements over the 5.1 (XP-32) kernel.

    And yeah – having a good time here. Wish I could go every 2 years but I just don’t see that happening.

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