Bluetooth Revisited in WindowsNT (and Neko)

My father has an Ericsson T39m, and is currently looking at the same Plantronics M3000 headset I recently picked up. While my sister and I were home, I went about setting up Neko to be a similar system to what he was used to, his old laptop Delilah.

I've purchased several Bluetooth dongles over the last year. I have a Class B Belkin dongle, and two weaker dongles, one each from MicroSoft (the one provided with my mouse) and one from D-Link (DBT120). The latter two are both based on the CLR chipset, whereas the Belking dongle isn't.

I offered my father the choice of which one he preferred, and he chose wisely, going with the DBT120 (the other two were too big and bulky to work with Neko, a Fujitsu P-series sub-notebook -- the laptop wouldn't sit flat if they were in there, the MicroSoft one stuck out too far, and the Belkin's antenna bore the weight of the laptop).

Bluetooth and WindowsNT

Quick look at getting Bluetooth working on other systems

On a Macintosh system (OSX), bluetooth is a breeze to set up and use. Machiavelli has a built in car, although some older Macs usually used the DBT-120 dongle. Granted, MicroSoft based systems with built-in bluetooth usually works pretty well too. There was no set up required on a Mac -- everything works by default.

In a worse case situation -- i.e. a home made GNU/Linux system where you need to explicitly tell it what to include -- the following is necessary:

  1. Build a kernel, including BlueZ support
  2. Compile some user-land programs
  3. For some (such as the Belkin) devices, one needs to run an program to load the device's firmware. I believe the hotplug utility handles this automatically.

As I recall, those are the major steps in getting bluetooth working. Many distributions, including Morphix, will handle all of this transparently and everything again, "just works".

I generally use Gentoo though, without hotplug. I do this by hand every time I want to use bluetooth (every time I plug the dongle in, that is). Microsoft WindowsNT is even more irritating, however.

Past attempts with Bluetooth on WindowsNT

I have tried to get Bluetooth working on two different WindowsNT systems. My formerly Windows2000 machine, Nietzsche was the first. I tried shortly after getting my Belkin dongle figuring it would be quicker than GNU/Linux (considering it came with a CD and instructions for Microsoft systems). I gave up after a while. The software seemed to install correctly but nothing worked. A few weeks later, I tried again and this time got it to work. I have no idea what I did differently, so I will just say magic happened.

I tried previously on Neko, and met with the same experiences as the first Nietzsche attempt. I'm guessing both cases were due to not having everthing fully installed -- possibly the Linux equivalent of having the userland programs installed, and the kernel module not. Indeed, this was the case I will talk about later on Neko. Simply though, I grew frustrated that none of the software downloaded from the web sites seemed to work for any of the dongles.

Bluetooth again on WindowsNT

Let me first state that the Microsoft Dongle only supports Windows XP (with SP1 or higher I believe) officially. Unofficially it doesn't work on any other Microsoft operating system (actually, it might if you can install a generic CLR driver but when I tried it wouldn't let me do that). It also works fine on all non-Microsoft operatying systems that support bluetooth that just load a generic CLR driver. It was quite pleasent using it attached to my Linux desktop.

D-Link has lately grown irksome. They have a habit (like many consumer vendors) of calling cards the same, even when they are based on entirely different chipsets. I recently bought an 802.11b wireless card I expected to be based on the the Intersil Prism2 chipset, but in reality was based on a Realtek chipset which meant it was next to useless for me.

That said, two months before I bought that 802.11b card, I bought a D-Link bluetooth dongle. I downloaded the drivers from their web site and came upon executable programs called 'setup.exe' and various things that began with 'inst' including if I recall an 'install.msi'. I'm not sure why again this proliferation of programs that all mean the same thing is common in the MicroSoft world as it confuses the heck out of me. It made a little more sense when there were 'install.bat' which installed the program on DOS systems and 'setup.exe' that did the same when run in Microsoft Windows, but I just can't understand it in this day and age.

I was at one point prompted for a license code of some sort. This was much longer than the dongle's hardware address or its serial number -- or even the two combined. Downloading the install guid sent me to a website (by IP address) to get a key. It then asked for quite a bit of personal information which I found disturbing. When I provided it (or filled in every blank) it told me that the hardware address was unknown. It then politely told me that if I had purchased the dongle through Apple it was not 'upgradable' to work in WindowsNT. I had purchased it the night Panther was released from an Apple store in Albany.

Some ranting and raving later, the driver installed but no 'bluetooth module' installed, I ran the installer for the Belkin program. It installed everything missing, allowing me to finally use the dongle. The practical applications of which were quite limited though. Attempts to sync with the phone using the recently installed software failed. Initally because I did not realize you had to manually create a serial (rfcomm) connection first, but later because of the error 'No PIM installed.'

In OSX, the default PIM is the included Address Book which iSync easily found. In GNOME, GPilot and Evolution are happy together. The PIM of choice on Neko was Mozilla's address book, although even Outlook Express would have been acceptable considering we could then import those into Mozilla. But there was no PIM installed apparently -- not even the default application Outlook Express.

I then installed the Ericsson Connect software that came with the phone. It appeared to have support for Outlook propper, but not Outlook Express. It has a program that only synced with the phone, and no other apps as well. The app looked antiquated, to put it politely--and useless to put it actually. In the end, I'm not sure what, if anything, all this accomplished. I'm dissapointed however.

Other problems with Neko

Getting Neko running with a Microsoft system was a chore in and of itself, aside from any bluetooth devices.

It had temporarily been used as a development platform for FreeBSD. I had this time left the WindowsXP restore image intact on a second partition. Unfortunately, there was no way of booting this partition and nothing to run on it--there was just a drive image.

I opened all the CDs that came with it, and not a single one was bootable. Even the "restore" CD didn't contain the operating system. How people can accept this I don't understand. This has become one of my primary arguments for Macs right now--that restoring a Microsoft system is such a hassle, and you do not even get the software sometimes.

So I tried to install Windows2000 on it, hoping to then be able to run the restore program that was included with the laptop. The first time trying to install Windows2000 on it, I got a security violation or something and it asked me to reboot and enter safe mode. The second time, it installed, but the restore program (Powerquest Drive Image Special Edition, I believe is the full name) was unable to restore the 'factory default' image, giving an error when it tried to reboot to complete the order.

So it's now running Windows2000 as I can't figure out how to install WindowsXP on it. I almost burned a cracked version just so I could install a program that we're supposed to have a valid license for, but in the end it would have required me finding a CD and Windows2000 was already there, which was what my father had previously used, so we went on from there.

This now makes Neko the only WindowsNT system in our house. I feel sorry for it.

Off topic

Psyche boot's fine as long as its hard drive isn't plugged in. We'll probably get another drive so my mother can use it. Everyone wants to call it dead.