Programs I always install on my work PC.

Back in February 2009, I wrote the “21 programs I always install on my work PC” post.

It’s time to revisit that, as I’m supporting Windows 7 & Windows XP environments these days.

Application WinXP Win7 Reason
Adobe Flash X X Everything on the web seems to be Flash based now.
AWE Sync   X Syncs my Lotus Notes calendar entries to my Google Calendar
CD Burner XP   X A freeware CD/DVD burner which is really good.
Firefox Browser   X Website testing
Google Chrome  / Enterprise version   X Website testing
Group Policy Management Console X   Group Policy Management
HTTPS Everywhere plugin   X  
ImgBurn   X Lightweight CD/DVD image burning application.
IZarc X   For creation of self extracting archives.
KB SSL Enforcer X X  
Paint.Net X X A free image and photo editor for Windows.
Password Manager XP     It’s the password manager I use for work related passwords.
Process Explorer X X Troubleshooting
Process Monitor X X Troubleshooting
PrimalScript 2007 X X The best VBscript editor and debugger I have ever used.
SCCM Client Center X X SMS/SCCM Management
Systems Management Server 2003 Toolkit 2 X   I work with SMS servers …
SyncBackSE   X It’s backup software. I use it to keep my portable hard drive synced my work computer.
Sun Java X X Like Adobe Flash, everything seems Java based as well.
TrueCrypt   X TrueCrypt is a disk encryption program, which I use to secure USB memory sticks , and my portable hard disk, with.
Windows Grep X X A text file search tool. Very handy for searching log files quickly.
W2K3 SP2 Admin Tools X   Active Directory tools


Only installed when I need it.

Beyond Compare
Used for comparing files and directories to see what is different.

Cool Timer
A countdown timer program which I use to remind me to check things at intervals.

File and disk deleting software.  I talked about it in Deleting files so they can’t be recovered

Takes a screenshot of your screen every x seconds.  As I have to fill in a timesheet, it helps me to remember what things I’ve done during the day.  The product itself can do a bundle more than what I use it for.

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Text mode drivers and Sysprep (on Windows XP)

I’m so glad we’ve moved away from needing to use Sysprep on Windows Vista / 7.

But since I still support Windows XP and needed to add a Intel AHCI (SATA) to our Windows XP image, I have to deal with it still.

This weeks problem was that Sysprep wasn’t injecting the AHCI driver, even though it was in the [SysPrepMassStorage] section of Sysprep.inf.

Result: Blue screen of death with a Stop 0x0000007B error.

I wasted more time than I’m proud to admit here.  I know the driver was good, as I created an Nlite WinXP image, and it worked.  As an aside, if I was building a WinXP image for home, I’d use Nlite.

Anyway, so out of desperation, I asked the rest of the team.

Adrian commented he’d seen a case of where Sysprep hadn’t updated the CriticalDeviceDatabase registry keys.

So I updated the CriticalDeviceDatabase registry key and it all worked.

“You Bastard image!  That’s an embarrassing amount of time I’ll never get back again.”

Some instructions that Adrian and myself wrote up, follows below the read more.

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Another downside of upgrading a Windows 2000 to Windows XP

Windows XP LogoEach Microsoft operating system installation allows you to do an “in-place” upgrade.  aka, The “Do you wish to upgrade this computer to Windows xyz” prompt when you insert a Microsoft OS CD/DVD.

The Windows 2000 –> Windows XP upgrade had a small problem.  When you tried to remote access the registry, the now Windows XP would tell you “Permission Denied”.

Microsoft documented the fix in KB892192.

By default, Windows 2000 does not have a built-in user account named Local Service. Instead, the Remote Registry Service is logged on as Local System. In Windows XP, the Remote Registry Service is logged on as Local Service.

One way to fix it, is to use the REGPERM utility, with a command line like this:
c:\winnt\system32\regperm.exe /k "hkey_local_machine\SYSTEM CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurePipeServers\winreg"" /E /a:"Local Service":R /I

Saving space in a VM with MaxPatchCacheSize

I first read about MaxPatchCacheSize, and how to use it to save space in Virtual Machines, over at Jeremy Jameson’s blog.

From the Microsoft MSDN Library entry for MaxPatchCacheSize:

“The value of the MaxPatchCacheSize policy is the maximum percentage of disk space that the installer can use for the cache of old files. For example, a value of 20 specifies no more than 20% be used. If the total size of the cache reaches the specified percentage of disk space, no additional files are saved to the cache. The policy does not affect files that have already been saved.

If the value of the MaxPatchCacheSize policy is set to 0, no additional files are saved.”

But how much can it save really??? Well there is only one way to know how much it will save, and that is to test it, and measure the savings.

The Tests.
1. Office 2010 upgrade
2.Windows XP Windows Update.

I set the MaxPatchCacheSize entry to 0 by doing the following on a command line:
reg add HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer /v MaxPatchCacheSize /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

I setup a Virtual Machine with no MaxPatchCacheSize, ran the test, then reset the PC back to it’s unpatched state (aka reverted a snapshot).  Then ran the test again with MaxPatchCacheSize set to 0.

Office 2010 Upgrade
I upgraded Office 2007 to Office 2010, by accepting the default Upgrade option.
The result was disappointing, only 20 megabytes was saved.
So that’s a FAIL for MaxPatchCacheSize.

Windows XP Windows Update
I took a Windows XP SP3 PC, with no additional post SP3 security patches, and visited WindowsUpdate.  90 minutes later, I had a fully patched machine.
And a far better result for MaxPatchCacheSize.  448 megabytes.
On a 16GB hard disk, 448 megabytes is a worthwhile saving.
That’s a SUCCESS for MaxPatchCacheSize.

So in conclusion.
MaxPatchCacheSize is useful for Windows Installer based patches.  Not so much for a product upgrade such as Office 2010.

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Windows 2000 had Active Directory folders.

In Windows 2000 you could create a shortcut to an Active Directory resource, and turn it into an Windows Explorer view.  One of my (now long gone) predecessors worked out it would make life easier for end users.

“Oh, you just want to see the security groups you have delegation rights too?  No problems.  I’ll create you a shortcut.”

The AD Folder shortcut would look like this on a Windows 2000 system:
This is an Active Directory folder

The user reported that since a Windows XP upgrade, the icon looked like this:
This is an Broken Active Directory folder
(and the shortcut no longer worked.)

You can tell the Windows 2000 shortcut looks like a Folder shortcut.  The Windows XP shortcut, just looks broken.

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What? WindowsUpdate doesn’t work with a non-activated Windows XP?

And I only just realised it now. *
Windows Activation Required Now I’m not going to complain about Microsoft.  If you have a valid license key, you should activate it. 

But I don’t want to activate Windows as I’m just doing some tests, part of the Undelete series of posts.  And before someone says “Dude, you should activate it.”.  Well, in future,  I don’t want to go though the re-activation hell process, with some worker based offshore.

Automatic updatesBut Microsoft does offer a work-around, Automatic Updates, but I just don’t care for it.

Perhaps the fact that AU has rebooted my PC in a middle of a 4GB download has soured my experience.

So what to do instead?  Not patch?  No, you have to patch, it’s the prudent thing to do.

No, instead, I grabbed a copy of AutoPatcher.  I wrote about AutoPatcher here.  To recap, I like it because it works, and it’s free.  And 66 updates later, Windows XP will be a little bit more secure.
AutoPatcher - showing only 66 updates to apply.

* most of the Windows XP installs I work with have a Corporate license which is already activated. (a VLK.  In Microsoft Vista/Windows 7 licensing speak, it’s a MAK type key)

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How to fix the “Cannot attach the virtual hard disk …”

… to the virtual machine.  Check the values provided and try again.” error
Windows Virtual PC: Cannot attach the virtual hard disk to the virtual machine.  Check the values provided and try again.

It sucks as an error message.  Would it take too much programming effort to make it more meaningful Virtual PC team?

What does it mean?

It means you have a Virtual Hard Disk file larger than 127.5GB.  Which Virtual PC does not support.
You might have created this with the Microsoft Disk2VHD tool.
To confirm the “disk is too big” problem, open the Settings on an existing Virtual PC, and try to attach the drive:
The virtual hard disk image ... is too large for the IDE bus.  Make sure that all virtual had disk images connected to the IDE bus are not greater than 127.5GB

In other words, we’ve captured a 160GB hard disk, and Virtual PC won’t let us use it.

But we can fix it, it’s a two step process

First we use DiskPart, and then we use VHD Resizer.

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So you can’t boot from your CD/DVD drive?

SATA motherboard portsI was watching someone install Windows XP on a system with SATA drives the other day.

The PC would power up, look briefly at the CD/DVD drive, and then carry onto the hard disk.

The problem was that the SATA option in the BIOS, was set to AHCI.  To boot from a CD/DVD, you need to be in IDE Emulation mode.

Once the setting was changed to IDE emulation, Windows XP installed just fine.

Post install, you can set the BIOS SATA mode back to IDE.

Ed Bott, of Windows 7 Inside Out fame, amongst other things, was kind enough to call past.
Ed doesn’t see the issue I have.  After some Googling, I do believe it’s a Gigabyte motherboard/CD Bootloader issue.  Heck, I can duplicate the issue with Linux (Ubuntu 9.04), so I know it’s not just Windows.
Computers, you’ve got to love ’em!.

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There was no TIFF viewer in Windows XP

imaging for windows Which we found out when we were piloting a Windows XP SOE release.  It was a serious “show stopper” for the rollout of Windows XP at this customer.  We’re talking 20,000+ desktops here.

Prior to Windows XP, going all the way back to Windows 95, there was the “Kodak Imaging for Windows” product.

It worked well.  In Microsoft Excel, a customer would click on the embedded TIF image, and Kodak Imaging for Windows would display the TIF.  It was missing in Windows XP.

We saw the Microsoft article, Kodak imaging for Windows is not included with Windows XP, and looked around for a solution.

There were four available to us:

  1. Buy the replacement product, eiStream Global360 Imaging for Windows.
    There was a cost involved, which the customer didn’t want to pay.
    Looking at today’s cost, $250 for a single license!, I don’t blame the customer.
  2. Write a customer solution based around Microsoft’s Windows® Image Acquisition Automation Library v2.0 Tool.
    Integrating it into the customer third-party business application, which generated the TIFF embedded Excel spreadsheet, looked difficult.
  3. Implement the Windows 2000 Kodak Imaging controls in Windows XP.
    This is really easy to do.  Essentially you take your Windows 2000 CD, copy some files off it, and install them into the Windows SYSTEM32 directory.
    Then regsvr32 the OCX files.  A piece of cake.
    Whether it is legal or not to do so, is debatable.
    Global 360 Inc. does seem to take a dim viewBut if you go here, you can see how it’s done.
  4. Obtain a copy of the “Windows XP Professional Direct CD Imaging Control” from Microsoft.

We were able to go with option 4 for our 20,000+ desktop customer.

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