Sunday, November 16, 2008

ATI Drivers: The Never-Ending Battle

I really thought I had it hammered.

I removed "everything Apple" (iTunes, Bonjour, QuickTime, etc.) from my system and UT99 stopped crashing.

For about a week.

Then it started up again, so I gave in and downloaded the ATI Radeon Driver-of-the-Month (dated last Thursday) and installed it. Usually this is guaranteed to lose me forty five minutes of my life.

Not this time. It was more like three hours and a dozen or so reboots and fucking around with the Windows XP registry.

But it did work. UT stopped crashing. I played several rounds at BOT House and EXP3 and was very satisfied that the system was stable again. I might even put that Apple crap back on.

Then... I noticed something.

My CD and DVD drives had vanished. They had the "yellow piss stain of shame" in Device Manager and they didn't show up in Windows Explorer.


I did the usual: uninstall and let Windows rediscover them, reboot, and... nothing.

Same story over and over, "Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39)"

It was getting late, so I went to bed. After my first cup of coffee the next morning I had a moment of crystal clarity:
The first hit did the trick and I got my drives back.

Take this as a lesson: "Google first, fuck around second!"

It seems this is a very common problem although why a video driver update would affect IDE drives baffles me (although I am easily baffled these days... probably due to the early onset of Alzheimer's).

Then, while bitching and whining about this problem on a message board, someone pointed out there was an option: Omega Drivers. It turns out some clown with too much time on his hands has been tweaking the ATI reference drivers for a few years (he also does NVidia and 3dfx).

That was news to me.

I downloaded the "latest" (January '08) Omega driver, but decided against installing it because all the tweaks seem to be centered around the Catalyst interface, which I despise and never install (and yes I did install it as part of the troubleshooting process - it didn't help and only contributes to an extra long login process while it does... whatever it does).

I might be compelled to try it out if someone can give me a testamonial. The research I did indicates all the performance "enhancements" are subjective and anecdotal, but if they helped you out, let me know.


The ATI Driver-of-the-Month crashed, so I installed the Omega driver. It crashed too, but the system recovered with only a screwed-up desktop resolution (and brightness/contrast/gamma) when I quit UT.

Also, there is no Catalyst driver whatsoever, so it's not as bad as I thought.

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