Monday, May 26, 2008

Four Important Bits for Windows: Almost as good as Brisket!

Important for Sysadmins: Sysprep Updated and Changed for XP SP3!

This is critical info for all you system administrators who use Microsoft Sysprep to prepare a system before imaging and deployment.

Back Room Tech guru Julie points us to a post by David Remy in which he provides the following summary:

...the issue deals with the default profile and it no longer being copied when running sysprep. Before SP3 and without the patch the default profile was copied from the administrator account during the sysprep process, this behavior however changed in SP3 or when you installed the hotfix 887816. In SP3 the default setting is to not copy the default profile, thus a new key was added to sysprep.inf to allow for this functionality. The UpdateServerProfileDirectory=1 setting tells SP3 to copy the administrator profile to the default profile during the sysprep process.

He also has updated his great sample sysprep.inf file to incorporate the changes in sysprep in it.

See also:

KB 302577 - "How to use the Sysprep tool to automate successful deployment of Windows XP"

Download details: Windows XP Service Pack 3 Deployment Tools - The new Sysprep tool for XP SP3 systems.

Windows 7 Native VHD Support?

Long Zheng points out that it is very likey (at this early stage) that Windows 7 will support Microsoft's Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) formats for mounting.

While this may not be exciting to everyone, for system administrators and virtualization geeks it is pretty neat with possibilities.

Long also has a screen capture purporting to show a Microsoft VHD HBA storage controller in action.

Related: If you use Microsoft's ImageX for drive imaging, with a bit of work you can configure your XP or Vista system to mount them for exploration and file copying via Windows Explorer. I've done the registry trick and life is great with it as I work a bit with WIM files.

Of course, that assumes you have already installed the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) on your host system.

Note: there is also a newer version of the WAIK out as well that has Vista SP1 bundled in it - Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008.  Be sure you know which one you want before you download.

Ghost of the (Windows) Shell

Daily Cup of Tech shared a little trick that might let you restart a Windows interface and run as the LOCAL SYSTEM account.

Why?  It has lots of handy and powerful privileges that come along with it.

There has been a way do so via some cmd prompt kung-fu. (DCOT shows you how.)

But for folks who don't want to do that, he has also created a little "GetSystemAccess" exe file (also downloadable from that post) to one-click auto-it.

Warning...not for the feint of hart of those who worry about possibly tanking their system.

To get back to "normal" just log out and log back in as yourself.  Or reboot.

Read the comments as well regarding discussion on Vista and other Windows builds.

Might be handy to know for sysadmins.


Like how to start a fire in the grill at the park, with all the family waiting, only you don't have any lighter-fluid as it evaporated because someone didn't pop the top down good enough.  So you use some spare paper plates as kindling--scout style--while your brother drives off to look for some at a nearby store..only by the time he finally gets back you have it going perfectly and the briquettes are nicely ashed over? 

Yeah. Something like that.

Service Please! To Muck or Not to Muck...That is the Question!

Ed Bott's on a tear with his great looks into Vista:

Now we are at Part 4: Fixing Windows Vista, Part 4: Get smart about services - RE: Services

Long story short. Leave them alone. Yes you can muck around with a few, but the performance gains really are negligible.

So, it's up to you.

Muck around a lot with Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Service Configurations (via BlackViper) or not.  Just be a bit informed before you start.

I personally haven't made many service changes except for some very specific third-party services (HP) but that will be another GSD post. Oh yeah, I also turned off Windows Defender on our Vista laptop.

Otherwise, all my Vista services are running as they were set by default for Vista.


Before I reloaded XP on my desktop a while back I had also done some service mucking using a BlackViper guide. Now everything is at defaults.

Did it make a difference? Maybe. Hard to tell.  I don't think I actually "hurt" anything, but I really can't really say I personally noticed much of a performance gain either.

I really wouldn't recommend service tweaking for most any XP/Vista user except hard-core tweakers and gamers who must eke out every last bit of performance from their systems.


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