February 2002 Reader Challenge

Congratulations to Ilia Alexandrov of Russia, who wins first prize, a copy of "Admin911: Windows 2000 Registry." Second prize, a copy of "Admin911: Windows 2000 DNS & WINS" by Dustin Sauter, goes to Renatas Lauzadis of Vilnius, Lithuania (home of my own ancestors). Incidentally, many readers sent correct answers but failed to make the winners' pool because they didn't include their name, address, and telephone number. If we can't send you a prize, you can't be a winner.

Laptop computers are growing in popularity, so this month's Reader Challenge relates to maintaining mobile users. Here’s a short quiz about some important startup functions for laptops.

Question 1:
A laptop computer has a corrupted video driver, and won’t boot properly. The original drivers are on a company server, so you attach the PC Card network adapter to a hub, press F8 when you see the Windows is Starting message, and choose Safe Mode with Networking. The laptop doesn’t see the network. Assuming the PC Card, the cable, and the hub port are good, why can’t the laptop access the network?

Question 2:
The laptop computer the lab staff uses for testing frequently has trouble booting Windows properly. Booting into Safe Mode often takes several tries because the testers forget to watch the screen during bootup, and they miss the short period during which they can press F8 to display the Advanced menu. One tester suggested they install the Safe Mode option in the Windows startup menu, but another tester claims that task is impossible. Who’s right? If the tester who wants to install the Safe Mode menu choice is right, tell me how to accomplish the task. If the tester who says it can’t be done is right, tell me why Windows won’t let a user make this change.

Answer 1:
Booting into Safe Mode loads only the basic drivers, and Windows doesn't have a basic driver for a PC Card. You must boot into Safe Mode and install the video driver from a 3.5" disk. Then restart the computer.

Answer 2:
You can easily add the Safe Mode choice to the startup menu. by editing boot.ini.

To edit boot.ini in Windows 2000, change the attributes so the file isn't read-only (remember to change it back after you've completed the edit). Open the file in Notepad.

To edit boot.ini in Windows XP Pro, follow these steps:

1. Right-click My Computer on the Start menu, and choose Properties.
2. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in Startup and Recovery Section of the dialog box.
3. Click the Edit button to open boot.ini in Notepad.

The boot.ini file should contain lines similar to the following:

\[boot loader\]
\[operating systems\]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

Adding any additional choices to boot.ini automatically invokes the Windows Startup menu during bootup. To add Safe Mode, select the line under \[operating systems\] that describes the default OS, and copy it to the last line (in this example, there is only one OS, but your system might be dual-booting). The contents should now look like this:

\[boot loader\]
\[operating systems\]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

Replace the /fastdetect switch in the last line with the following text: /safeboot:minimal. Then change the text within the quotes to “Windows 2000 Pro Safe Mode” or something similar. The text within quotes is the text of the menu item you see on the Startup menu. Now your boot.ini contents should read:

\[boot loader\]
\[operating systems\]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT=" Windows 2000 Pro Safe Mode" /safeboot:minimal.

You're not limited to Safe Mode; you can add the following Advanced menu options to your Windows Startup menu, by using the following switches:

- Safe Mode with Networking: /safeboot:network
- Safe Mode with Command Prompt: /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell)
- Enable Boot Logging: /bootlog
- Enable VGA Mode: /basevideo
- Directory Services Restore Mode (Domain Controllers Only): /safeboot:dsrepair /sos
- Debugging Mode: /debug

You can add /sos /bootlog /noguiboot to any of the switches (they exist in the commands available in the Advanced menu that appears when you press F8). These switches are useful to help with troubleshooting. They work as follows:

- /SOS forces the loader to display the names of modules that are loaded instead of displaying dots.

- /BOOTLOG writes a log of the boot process to %SystemRoot%\Ntbtlog.txt. The log file contains a list of drivers that load or don't load during boot.

- /NOGUIBOOT suppresses initialization of the VGA video driver responsible for presenting bit-mapped graphics during Win2K's boot process. This driver is required to display boot progress information, and also prints the Blue crash screen in case of a BSOD, so disabling the driver disables Win2K's ability to perform those tasks.

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