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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Mon, 06 May 2019

The problem with Windows 10, Conexant, Firefox and Flow.exe continues, and this is how I'm fixing it right now

tl;dr: Take care of Flow.exe problems, especially with Firefox, by renaming Flow.exe so Conexant can't find it.

I've been dealing with problems caused by the Conexant audio driver in Windows 10 while running Firefox for the entire year, and turning off services in the Windows configuration no longer works.

What happens, for those not following along, is that the Conexant "SmartAudio" driver has a program called Flow.exe that somehow helps it figure out what kind of audio you "need" at any given moment. It somehow can't figure out what to do with the Firefox web browser, and when you run that browser in Windows 10, Flow.exe runs all the time and take a substantial portion of available CPU, causing the fan to run high and the computer to work sluggishly.

Originally I was able to turn off whatever service was triggering Flow.exe. Recently that hasn't worked, so I turned to another solution I found on the internet: Renaming Flow.exe so the Conexant software can't find it and can't run it. By the way, doing this breaks nothing. Audio works fine.

To do this on your system, just change the name of Flow.exe. I changed mine to _Flow.exe. You can find Flow.exe here: C:\Program Files\CONEXANT\Flow\Flow.exe.

Before I did this, my Task Manager (which you can see with ctrl-shift-esc) output looked like this:

After renaming Flow.exe, I'm getting a message in the HP Support Assistant to update my Conexant driver, which I'm NOT doing and won't do until they get yet another new version. I also get this popup whenever I reboot:

Despite these two "nags," from Windows, everything is working.

Update on May 29, 2019: After continual nagging about the Conexant audio service not working, I finally relented and installed the latest version of the driver. My problems with Firefox and Conexant's Flow.exe returned immediately (super-high CPU all the time).

I decided to try a different hack from the HP forum: "Tricking" Flow.exe into ignoring Firefox by changing the reference to firefox to fyrefox in C:\Program Files\CONEXANT\Flow\data.sqlite, which is just a text file (that's the kind of database that SQLite is). I started PowerShell as an administrator, navigated to the file, opened it in Vim, searched for firefox and deliberately misspelled it.

I rebooted the laptop. I restarted Firefox. It DIDN'T work. I tried it so you don't have to.

This is a mess. Bang & Olfusen is the licensee for the sound on this laptop, and this association with such poor technology doesn't make me think fondly of B&O. Other companies that have failed users include HP and Conexant.

Here is yet another thing to try, courtesy of another frustrated user in the HP forum: Use PowerShell to kill Flow.exe dead.