Booting to SOLID and STABLE mode for live performance?
April 8, 2007 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Looking to do live music performance with my laptop, how can I make sure it's rock solid and stable during performance sessions?

This laptop is also my general-use everyday PC with lots of software and accessories running. I would like to boot to a "performance mode" which automatically disables all but essential software, drivers, and processes. I'd also be interested in considering:

-A solid, STABLE shell replacement that requires bare minimum resources
-Dual booting options? (how?)
-Any other suggestions

I'd like to do this all in a simple, 1-step way if possible, so that I can switch between "general" and "performance" modes with a few clicks and a reboot. Any tips?

(I already use Startup Cop Pro but am interested in considering alternatives)


P.S. I have invested a few thousands of dollars worth of professional music software and am NOT looking to switch to linux at this point.
posted by Alabaster to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend LiteShell, it's been a while since the last time I used it but from what I remember it was very stable (and obviously very, very light). It doesn't have a built in file manager, though, so if you'll need a file manager for whatever reason then you'll want a stand alone. (Alternatively, you can use Explorer as your file manager, but with a separate process per window in order to minimize damage from crashes.)

Msconfig is your friend, especially since stuff which you will normally want running (antivirus, etc.) gets very irritable when you try and stop it from running for a single profile.
posted by anaelith at 3:29 PM on April 8, 2007

This is an 'illicit' way, but out on the torrent sites you can find Tiny XP, an XP with barely any of the crap that normally comes with a vanilla install. I used it to play games (higher framerate!), beware though, have all your drivers downloaded before hand. I don't remember it ever crashing,
posted by Mach5 at 7:02 PM on April 8, 2007

Actually, Mach5, if you own XP, it's probably not illegal at all...
/opens up bittorrent client
posted by fvox13 at 8:11 PM on April 8, 2007

You might consider installing Windows twice: once for everyday use, and one install that you'd tweak for performance uses. Then, use the built-in boot menu to switch. As far as what to disable, This Article might help.

FWIW, though, I use my laptop for performance (actually to run DJ software, although occasionally to record on-site with Samplitude), and I've never had any problems with stability (running XP with all the latest service packs, and with Symantec Corporate running).
posted by fvox13 at 8:16 PM on April 8, 2007

Not sure about a shell replacement, but nLite will help you remove any unnecessary components from Windows XP when you install it.
posted by kableh at 6:56 AM on April 9, 2007

IMHO big xp modifications would just add more variables to diagnosing any crash you might run into, especially when dealing with resource intensive audio applications. Especially if you pay for your software and might end up contacting their support. just stick with the setup you are used to and feel comfortable with, it sounds like your really doing all you can to keep xp running smooth.

you've probably already done most of the stuff listed in places like these:

you dont mention what audio apps you are running, i've personally found they are the usual culprit in crashes, and each plugin or vst you run can add exponential problems. i know some musicians use audio apps 1 or 2 versions behind, for stability reasons.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:12 AM on April 9, 2007

Response by poster: Original Poster here --

Thanks for the suggestions so far.

I generally don't have problems with stability in XP, I just want to be safe. I'm not just looking at stability, but also maximizing system resources. I run a lot of sample libraries which load into RAM. I have 2gb RAM (maxed out) but even a minimal startup leaves me only 1.5gb or so. I tried LiteShell (thanks to anaelith) and it seems to free up some RAM for me. No simple "shell chooser" is included though - is there a simple way to switch back and forth between shells?

Also, will running separate user profiles do me any good? I've never really messed with Windows profiles so I don't know what all can be configured/enabled/disabled through them.

Thanks again
posted by Alabaster at 7:45 AM on April 9, 2007

This explains (roughly) how to change the shell manually, just replace litestep with liteshell and you should be able to set up a batch file to do it easily (you will still need to reboot, though).
The last time I used LiteShell on a daily basis was when Windows 98 was still popular, and folks at M$ hadn't really perceived the possible hugegreatness of the katamariregistry. At that point in time, you just edited system.ini and rebooted. Those were the days...
posted by anaelith at 8:39 AM on April 9, 2007

If your looking for shells I strongly recommend blackbox for windows. I use bblean 1.16z, a mod of bblean that includes icons in your bbmenu, and I'll never go back to the start menu. It also runs a lot smaller then explorer and uses less resources. linky
posted by Mach5 at 8:16 PM on April 9, 2007

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