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June 6, 2002—In this issue:
- Tricks of the Trade: Editing and Managing System Startup Files
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Itanium 2 Gets Huge Performance Boost
- Get Valuable Info for Free with IT Consultant Newsletter
- Tip: Installing Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 on Windows NT 4.0
- Featured Thread: Registry/Auto Logon
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- New Book for XP Power Users
- Find and Start Programs Without a Mouse
- Submit Top Product Ideas
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(David Chernicoff, News Editor, [email protected])
Most longtime Windows systems administrators (i.e., those who've been around since the Windows 9x days) have probably used the old System Configuration Editor. This tool, which you launch by typing "sysedit" (don't type the quotation marks) at the Run command prompt, has been around since the early versions of Win9x and brings up a text editor similar to Notepad with the win.ini, system.ini, autoexec.bat, and config.sys files already open. The config.sys and autoexec.bat files for users of Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT 4.0 don't have any content because Microsoft provides these files only for Win9x compatibility. However, many systems administrators still use System Configuration Editor to take a quick look at the win.ini file because XP, Win2K, and NT use this file, and some third-party applications will make entries in this file when they install. Often, systems administrators use System Configuration Editor during the diagnostic process when they attempt to determine whether a new application has damaged their system configuration.
Administrators who have experience with the basic OS files are likely familiar with the many tricks for editing the system startup files. For example, Microsoft provides numerous diagnostic configuration options that you can add to the OS boot definition in the boot.ini file. Administrators often use the Control Panel Services applet to disable services that they believe might be causing system problems or that they need to stop for some other system maintenance activity. And by now, of course, almost every Windows user is familiar with the safe boot menu that appears after an unexpected shutdown in later versions of Win9x or when you use the F8 key during the Windows system boot process. One of the options on this menu lets you watch the system files load; if your computer is hanging or crashing during the boot sequence, by watching the files as they load, you can note which one is loading when the system crashes, reboots, or hangs. Various registry keys control which applications load at start-up. (See the Tip, "Applications Launching Themselves at Start-Up," in the RESOURCES section of the May 2, 2002, Windows Client UPDATE for details about these keys.)
To simplify editing and managing startup options and system diagnostics, XP includes a new application, the System Configuration Utility, which you launch by entering "MSCONFIG" (don't type the quotation marks) at the Run command prompt. The System Configuration Utility lets you permanently edit the system.ini, win.ini, and boot.ini files or disable individual lines in those files. You can also change the order in which the entries execute; doing so can often solve system problems.
In addition, the System Configuration Utility lets you individually disable individual services that execute at start-up, and XP gives you the option to hide the services that Microsoft provides with the base OS, so you don't have to worry about those services in your diagnostic process (not that a corrupted file in one of these services can't occasionally cause system problems). The System Configuration Utility also lets you examine, modify, and disable the registry keys that the startup process uses. Furthermore, you have the option to determine how the system boots up--by choosing between Normal Startup, which loads all devices and services; Diagnostic Startup, which loads basic devices and services only; and Selective Startup, which lets you choose whether to load system.ini files, win.ini files, services, or startup items.
The System Configuration Utility is very easy to use and to understand; it certainly beats trying to play around with individual files and services and the various applications that let you modify them, which makes me wonder why Microsoft hasn't publicized it more. Check out this versatile tool, and let me know what you think.
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Intel has released preliminary performance figures for its upcoming family of 64-bit Itanium 2 processors (code-named McKinley), and the company says that the products should experience one and a half to two times the performance of existing Itanium products. Intel's Itanium line processes data in 64-bit chunks instead of the 32 bits that today's Pentium-based processors use. But many people regard the original Itanium, which debuted with 700MHz and 800MHz models, as a performance laggard compared with the Pentium and the 64-bit competition from Sun Microsystems and other companies. Intel says the new generation of microprocessors will address this concern.
Interestingly, Intel's solution doesn't rely on core processing speeds. The Itanium 2 will debut at just 1GHz, less than half the nominal speed of a high-end Pentium 4 processor, but it will offer 3MB of Level 3 cache and other on-chip performance tweaks. Intel says that these tweaks provide as much as two times the processing speed of the original Itanium and a 50 percent advantage in processing speed over Sun's fastest processor.
But in its Itanium 2 performance figures, Intel doesn't address the question of how well the chip stacks up against the Pentium 4 processor. "Megahertz-myth" talk notwithstanding, Intel's most recent Pentium 4 processor, which runs at speeds faster than 2.5GHz, recently set a performance record in the industry-standard Linpack Benchmark. This feat represents the first time a mainstream, off-the-shelf processor has topped this benchmark, which historically has been the domain of costly specialty processors from Cray, Hitachi, NEC, and other companies.
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(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])
I hear from many users who run Windows NT 4.0. These users tend to feel a little left out with all the coverage of Windows XP and Windows 2000. Because NT users have pretty stable systems by now, they rarely ask me direct questions—mostly, they ask me to remember that they're out there. This week, I have a tip just for them.
A Win2K user who needed to set up some NT systems for a specific application found that he couldn't install Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 5.5 on the computers; he kept getting a "Setup was unable to download the required components" error message. The problem is that his computer setup involved moving the Program Files folder from the system drive, which confuses the Microsoft Installer. To fix this problem so that the IE installation will run, you need to perform the following steps:
- Launch regedt32.
- Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion.
- Open ProgramFilesDir (of type REG_SZ), and change the data value to your system drive (e.g, if your system drive is the C:/ drive, enter C:\Program Files).
- Click OK and exit.
A reader wants to know how to use a script to make a registry entry on a client Windows NT 4.0 workstation after the policy editor has been used to disable registry editing. He has several NT 4.0 workstations that need auto logon. To read more about the problem or to help, join the discussion at the following URL:
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Judy Drennen, [email protected])
"Windows XP in a Nutshell," by David Karp, Tim O'Reilly, and Troy Mott, systematically documents everything the reader needs to know about both Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional. The book is for serious power users who want more from their systems than the surface documentation that accompanies XP. Excerpts from the book are available free online at the publisher's Web site. The book (ISBN 0-596-00249-1) costs $29.95 and is published by O'Reilly & Associates. Contact O'Reilly & Associates at 800-998-9938 or go to the Web site.
Software Designs Development announced KbStart, a full-featured, keyboard-driven program and document launcher for Windows. With KbStart, you can find and run programs, open documents and Web pages, and initiate email messages with only a few quick keystrokes. You can purchase the standard license for $12.95, which gives you unlimited usage. Contact Software Designs Development at 630-655-2428 or purchase KbStart online at the Web site.
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to
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