Nothing Ever Stays the Same

We hate when people change things without telling us. But Microsoft saw fit to alter some functions in Windows NT 4.0 without asking our permission. So, after a new NT 4.0 Server installation refused to work, we had to figure out what was going on.

From NT 3.51 to 4.0, lots of things moved, and many default settings shifted. We can understand why just about everything in the interface moved around because the arrangement makes more sense now. But security defaults, domain relationships, and user rights have changed, too. Some things have changed for the better, some (in our opinion) for the worse. But we suppose your feelings depend on how you look at it.

Domains vs. User Rights
In NT 3.51, the default is that the Everyone group has permission to log on locally to a system. Because all users in a domain and on a local system are members of the Everyone group by default, anyone can use any system (workstation or server) to log on to a domain. In NT 3.51, this permission was a security hole. Not so in NT 4.0.

When I (Joel) set up my new NT 4.0 Server and tried to log on to another corporate domain where I had an account, I got the message Local policy of this system does not allow you to log in interactively, and the system denied me access. Very annoying, compared with what I was used to.

In NT 4.0, you have to explicitly grant the Log on locally user right to specific users by changing the local Security Accounts Manager (SAM) database on that system. So, for all users of your local domain--or users of any other networked domain--you have to either go to the system they want to use and add their logons to the Log on locally user right, or make the users members of a group and assign that group to the Log on locally permission. You have to change the SAM for every user and for every system that people use as a shared workstation. Specifically administering the local accounts database on every workstation in your enterprise is a pain, but it is another level of security--or rather, it plugs a hole. One other change you will notice is that NT 4.0 disables the Guest account by default, whereas NT 3.51 enables it.

Windows 95 on NT
I (Dean) received a Timex Datalink watch for Christmas 1995. I used Windows 95 and Schedule+ to enter appointments and phone numbers into the watch. When I upgraded my system to NT, I found that the version of Schedule+ for NT could no longer program my watch. Also, none of the network games I like to play over lunch worked.

I decided to install Win95 on my NT system as a secondary OS and use it when I want to program my watch or play games. But I figured that installing Win95 while keeping my NT system intact would be like pulling the rug out from under me while I'm standing on it.

When I originally installed NT, I wiped out the hard disk and set up a 512MB FAT partition as drive C. Then I set up the rest of the hard disk as an NTFS partition.

The first thing I did for the Win95 installation was back up the NT files I would need if the hard drive got hosed. Second, I created an Emergency Repair Disk with the RDISK utility. Next, I found a system running Win95 and formatted a floppy using the Make a system disk option. I then copied the file from the \windows\command directory to the disk.

I took the disk back to my system, put it in the drive, booted, and pressed Enter at the time and date prompts. At the A:\> prompt, I typed SYS C: and pressed Enter. This action overwrote the boot sector on the C drive and installed the Win95 DOS files. To install the rest of Win95, I needed to access my CD-ROM drive. I rebooted my system and then installed the DOS CD-ROM drivers. I rebooted again, and at the C:\> prompt, I ran Setup from the Win95 CD-ROM.

Now I had a fully functioning Win95 system, but I couldn't access my NT stuff. Now, how could I get NT back without wiping out the work I had just done and without wiping out my NT setup? I dug out my NT CD-ROM and the three boot floppies. I booted to the first floppy and went through the setup process to the point where the prompt asked me whether to repair the system or install NT. I chose the Repair option and said to repair everything.

I answered all the prompts and rebooted. My reward was the familiar NT boot menu with a new Microsoft Windows option at the bottom. I selected the first boot option (NT) to make sure everything was OK with my NT setup (it was) and rebooted, selecting the Microsoft Windows option. This option booted Win95, and everything was good! I ran Schedule+ and told it to use the same directory I was using under NT to access my schedule information.

Putting Win95 back on my system was quite easy. I can now program my watch and play network games by simply rebooting my system to Win95. Doing these things under NT would be nice, but at least I can live with this setup for now.

Smart I/O
Tired of slow I/O? Well, a consortium of vendors (hardware and software) has developed a new standard called I2O (intelligent I/O) that breaks new ground in functionality and cross-compatibility.

I2O is a set of specifications for network, disk, and other I/O devices that transfers I/O processing from your main CPU to specialized I/O processors on the controller cards. These processors and new software components (in the OS) dramatically reduce the effects of I/O requests on system performance. Now data can go directly from one device to another (say, from disk directly to a LAN card) without involving the CPU, and involving the OS only to maintain security and other administrative information. Products that implement this new technology will ship this spring.

CD AutoPlay
Are you annoyed by the Windows NT CD-ROM applet that plays that tired old sound each time you insert a recent CD-ROM into your drive? Well, you can disable CD AutoPlay (also known as AutoRun or Auto Insert Notification) with a minor change to your Registry (use regedt32.exe):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom\AutoRun:0 = OFF

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom\AutoRun:1 = ON

As always, use extreme care when you change your Registry.

Cool Uses for NT
Hey out there--what are you using NT for? In the Windows NT Magazine Lab, we are always trying to find novel tasks that NT is good for. If you are implementing NT in a cool new way or putting together an intense NT environment--such as a render farm, multimedia development studio, or a high-end database installation with a specific new product--write to us at [email protected] and tell us about it. If we base a product review on your situation, we'll send you some cool Windows NT Magazine stuff (T-shirts, coffee mugs,...).

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