Driver update, no reboot!

My daily working setup includes two desktop PCs, both Dell quad-core systems. It’s not something I recommend that everyone do, but it’s useful to me as a way of testing software and hardware configurations without screwing up my main working system.

System #2 is a Dell XPS420 with an ATI Radeon HD2600XT video card. It’s set to dual-boot between x86 and x64 editions of Windows Vista Ultimate. In checking installed drivers today, I noticed that the installed ATI video drivers were several months old in each installation. So I downloaded the latest drivers (8.6, released June 2008) from ATI’s download site and ran the installer. The Catalyst Install Manager did its normal thing, but at the end of the process it didn’t ask me to reboot. That’s a refreshing change from the previous behavior, which required a reboot.

The Catalyst release notes indicate that this is indeed new behavior:

Catalyst Install Enhancement – No reboot required after Catalyst upgrade install

This release of Catalyst introduces an enhancement to the Catalyst installer. Users are no longer required to reboot their system after Catalyst has finished installing (as long as the installation is an upgrade from a previous Catalyst install).

Earlier this week I updated the Intel network drivers on another machine and noticed the same thing: no reboot required. It looks like the hardware vendors are finally getting over some old, outmoded habits.

Bonus factoid: Did you know that ATI updates its Catalyst drivers monthly? The numbering system corresponds to the year and month. So the package named 8-6_vista32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu_64789 is the June 2008 English-language release for Vista x86 editions.

14 thoughts on “Driver update, no reboot!

  1. I was thinking about this the other day when you mentioned you had to reboot for an upgrade. My laptop is currently popping up asking to reboot after a Windows Update. I don’t get it. I rebooted a linux server yesterday for a kernel upgrade, and discovered it hadn’t been rebooted in 210 days, and so wanted to run a disk check (which I have my own complaints about that – since it made the “quick reboot” where I didn’t think anyone would notice into a 15 minute downtime. Though I assume I can turn off the fsck somewhere).

    I am not sure why almost every update from Microsoft requires a reboot. (Maybe I should upgrade to Vista?? :))

  2. Vista still requires a reboot for just about every OS update which is quite annoying for a media server if you’re not paying attention or have auto updates set (which I understand the need for with most home users but still).

    I thought this era of reboot updates was supposed to be over. Frustrating

  3. I’ve tried the dual boot with X64 and X86 in the past and it was problematic. Did you do anything special?

    Also, do you have the same set of apps installed in both versions and are they installed in the same folders? That seemed to be a little problematic with updates and such.

  4. “do you have the same set of apps installed in both versions and are they installed in the same folders?”

    Absolutely not! That is a recipe for disaster. Each operating system AND all of its programs are on a separate partition. A third partition contains data files only and is available to both operating systems.

    Nothing special involved in the dual boot. I’ll do a post explaining how.

  5. Chris,

    “I thought this era of reboot updates was supposed to be over. Frustrating”

    It’s much better than it used to be, but still far from perfect. I have a media server here as well, and it reboots automatically at 3AM when patches are installed, unless it’s busy recording something. When it comes back up, everything is ready to go. I don’t even notice.

  6. “Nothing special involved in the dual boot. I’ll do a post explaining how.”

    That sounds interesting. My HP desktop came installed with a 64-bit processor but with x86 Windows Vista Home Premium. I’ve thought of upgrading to the 64 bit version of Vista.

  7. Read your post and decided to check my video card drivers (Nvidia Geforce 8600 GTS). New drivers, same old process. I guess Nvidia hasn’t figured out the no reboot process, yet.

  8. Isn’t this possible because of the LDDM? Since not all parts now reside in the kernel it’s possible to replace them “live” I’d guess…

  9. >Absolutely not! That is a recipe for disaster. Each >>operating system AND all of its programs are on a >>separate partition.

    Does that mean 2 licenses for applications that are installed under 64 and 32 bit?

  10. Fred, no it doesn’t. This is a test system, remember? So I am able to use my TechNet or MSDN copies.

    One can quibble over the legal terms of the license. However, in practical terms by definition only one OS can be running at a time, so I have no problem with installing the same application on each partition and using it when booted into that OS.

  11. Ed, your inability to use them at the same time is probably irrelevant.
    If you’re an astronaut with a computer on the moon and a computer on Earth, you’d still need 2 licenses to “legally” run XP or Vista on both machines.

    However, in this case, there’s only one machine that 2 versions of the same OS (Ultimate x32 and Ultimate x64). The license is married to your machine and both are running on your machine.

    Of course it’s debatable whether you’re legally required to buy a 2nd copy of Vista in the first case, but until the EULA is tried in court, we’ll never know.

  12. Kevin, go back and read what I wrote again. I’m using MSDN licenses for the OS. I have the right to do that under the terms of those licenses.

    The specific question I am discussing here is the licensing of applications. Each app is different. Some allow multiple copies to be installed on different machines, others don’t each has to be treated on a case by case basis from a purely legalistic point of view. From a practical point of view, the questions are much easier.

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