As I talked about in today’s earlier post, one of the things I’ve been doing with my time is trying to figure out why in the nine hells I can’t get a Second Life viewer to work under Windows 7 – when I haven’t been chucking wood into the basement, of course.

After four hours of tossing wood around (I got a helluva lot into the basement, just in case you were wondering), I came back in and  [after warming up] I sat back down at my computer to see if I couldn’t figure out this problem… I had to log in, because apparently windows updates had installed while I was outside, and first thing I noticed was that my Bluetooth drivers were screwed – reinstalled those, then reinstalled my favorite Alternate Viewer (from the Third Party Viewers directory on the Second Life wiki), Phoenix Viewer… I also installed Imprudence Viewer, Ascent Viewer, and downloaded a couple others, just in case. In this particular case, I chose the Phoenix Viewer with SEE2 support (taking into consideration that I’m running an Intel Core 2 Duo, and my chipset supports SEE2), and made sure I grabbed the Large Address Aware (LAA) version, since I’m running a 64-bit operating system, and plan on expanding over 2gb of RAM in the future.

Backtracking a little bit, the problem I was having with SL viewers (any SL viewer) is the program itself was slow – and by slow, I mean it took forever to load, and once it finally HAD loaded, it’s response time was almost zero. I could barely get into preferences to see if I could change anything in there to fix this problem. After a while of running, the program would crash, USUALLY bringing Windows (or at least Explorer) down with it. Over all, not a good experience.

So back to our little story here, I installed the Phoenix Viewer SEE2 LAA version, and just to be safe, I rebooted Windows. Logged back in, started the client, and…. it promptly did the same damned thing. I was stymied. Finally I went out on a limb and opened up the properties of the program. For those of you that may not be aware, Windows 7 (and Vista, for that matter, but Vista’s version was shite) has this wonderful little thing called “Compatibility Mode”. The way a person accesses this wonderful little invention, is by right clicking on your program’s shortcut (or directly on the program executable), choosing “Properties” from the context menu, and then clicking on the “Compatibility” tab.

There’s a ton of handy little features on this tab, mostly that deal with making older software work well under Windows 7. The “Run this program in compatibility mode for” option, gives you a fairly decent virtualization option, that tricks the running program into thinking it’s running on an earlier version of Windows. In my case, I chose “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” from the drop down box. Below the virtualization, is a whole bunch of settings, that I really don’t understand, so I won’t attempt to explain them all to you. Some of them are self-explanatory, so I won’t explain those to you either.

The last option in the tab, is “Run this program as an administrator”. In case you don’t know, most applications that get installed on Windows 7, are prevented by default from performing actions that could harm your system (aka: administrative actions). For basic users that don’t do the level of things I do, usually when stuff like this happens you’ll see your UAC (User Access Control) box pop up, asking if you want to allow the application to perform whatever action it’s trying to perform… For people like me, the UAC just gets in the way – a lot – so I tend to disable it immediately after installing Windows (did it with Vista, and I do it with 7 – I’ll probably do it with the next version of Windows as well, if it has something similar). Anyhow, checking this “Run as administrator” box, allows you to bypass all that (to the best of my understanding – I’ve never actually tested it). I checked this too in my case, just to make sure.

Clicked “Apply” then “Ok” (just “Ok” would have worked, but I tend to take the extra step as a precautionary measure), tried to start Phoenix, and BOOM! It worked BEAUTIFULLY! Moral of the story? If you’re running Windows 7, and your SL client of choice is being extremely slow, make sure you turn on compatibility for at least Vista, if not XP. I’ll bet that will fix you problem right there.


Gawyn Pendragon