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Configuring System and User Environment Variables

from Chapter 2, Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek.

System and user environment variables are configured by means of the Environment Variables dialog box, shown in Figure 2-8. To access this dialog box, start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel; then click the Advanced tab and choose Environment Variables.

Creating an Environment Variable

You can create environment variables by completing the following steps:

  1. Click the New button under System Variables or User Variables, whichever is appropriate for the type of environment variable you want to create. This opens the New System Variable dialog box or the New User Variable dialog box, respectively.

    Figure 2-8: The Environment Variables dialog box lets you configure system and user environment variables.

    Figure 2-8: The Environment Variables dialog box lets you configure system and user environment variables.
  2. In the Variable Name field, type the variable name. Then in the Variable Value field type the variable value.

  3. Choose OK.

Editing an Environment Variable

You can edit an existing environment variable by completing the following steps:

  1. Select the variable in the System Variables or User Variables list box.

  2. Click the Edit button under System Variables or User Variables, whichever is appropriate for the type of environment variable you're modifying. This opens the Edit System Variable dialog box or the Edit User Variable dialog box, respectively.

  3. Enter a new value in the Variable Value field.

  4. Choose OK.

Deleting an Environment Variable

You can delete an environment variable by selecting the variable and then clicking the Delete button.

Note: When you create or modify system environment variables, the changes take effect when you restart the computer. When you create or modify user environment variables, the changes take effect the next time the user logs on to the system.

Configuring System Startup and Recovery

System startup and recovery properties are configured by means of the Startup And Recovery dialog box, shown in Figure 2-9. To access this dialog box, start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel. Then click the Advanced tab and click the Startup And Recovery button.

Setting Startup Options

The System Startup area of the Startup And Recovery dialog box controls system startup. To set the default operating system, select one of the operating systems listed in the Default Operating System field. These options are obtained from the operating system section of the system's BOOT.INI file.

At startup, Windows 2000 displays the startup configuration menu for 30 seconds by default. You can

  • Boot immediately to the default operating system by clearing the Display List Of Operating Systems For check box.

  • Display the available options for a specific amount of time by selecting the Display List Of Operating Systems For check box and then setting a time delay in seconds.

    Figure 2-9: The Startup And Recovery dialog box lets you configure system startup and recovery procedures.

    Figure 2-9: The Startup And Recovery dialog box lets you configure system startup and recovery procedures.

Generally, on most systems you'll want to use a value of 3–5 seconds. This is long enough to be able to make a selection, yet short enough to expedite the system startup process.

Setting Recovery Options

Recovery options allow administrators to control precisely what happens when the system encounters a fatal system error (also known as a STOP error). You can set these options using the System utility's Startup/Shutdown tab. The available options include

  • Write an event to the system log Logs the error in the system log, which allows administrators to review the error later using the Event Viewer.

  • Send an administrative alert Sends an alert to the recipients specified in the Alert dialog box.

  • Write debugging information Select a dump option other than (none) to instruct the system to write debugging information to a dump file, which can be used to diagnose the problem. If you set this option, you must specify a file name.

  • Overwrite any existing file Ensures that any existing dump files are overwritten if a new STOP error occurs. Generally, it's a good idea to select this option, especially if you have limited drive space.

    Best Practice A complete memory dump can only be created if the system is properly configured. The system drive must have a sufficiently large memory paging file (as set for virtual memory with the Advanced tab), and the drive where the dump file is written must have free space of equal size. For example, my server has 128 MB of RAM and requires a paging file on the system drive of the same size—128 MB. Since the same drive is used for the dump file, the drive must have at least 256 MB of free space to create the debugging information correctly (that's 128 MB for the paging file and 128 MB for the dump file).

  • Automatically reboot Check this option to have the system attempt to reboot when a fatal system error occurs.

Note: Configuring automatic reboots isn't always a good thing. Sometimes you may want the system to halt rather than reboot, which should ensure that the system gets proper attention. Otherwise, you can only know that the system rebooted when you view the System logs or if you happen to be in front of the system's monitor when it reboots.

Managing Hardware Devices and Drivers

Windows 2000 provides three key tools for managing hardware devices and drivers. These tools are

  • Device Manager

  • Add/Remove Hardware Wizard

  • Hardware Troubleshooter

You'll use these tools whenever you install, uninstall, or troubleshoot hardware devices and drivers.

Viewing and Managing Hardware Devices

You can view a detailed list of all the hardware devices installed on a system by completing the following steps:

  1. Choose Start, Programs, then Administrative Tools, and then Computer Management.

  2. In the Computer Management console, click the plus sign (+) next to the System Tools node. This expands the node to display its tools.

  3. Select Device Manager. You should now see a complete list of devices installed on the system. By default, this list is organized by device type.

  4. Click the plus sign (+) next to a device type to see a list of the specific instances of that device type.

  5. If you right-click the device entry, you can manage the device using the shortcut menu. Which options are available depends on the type of device, but they include

    • Properties Displays the Properties dialog box for the device.

    • Uninstall Uninstalls the device and its drivers.

    • Disable Disables the device but doesn't uninstall it.

    • Enable Enables a device if it's disabled.

Tip The device list shows warning symbols if there are problems with a device. A yellow warning symbol with an exclamation point indicates a problem with a device. A red X indicates a device that's improperly installed or has been disabled by the user or administrator for some reason.

You can use the options on the View menu in the Computer Management console to change the defaults for what types of devices are displayed and how the devices are listed. The options are

  • Devices by type Displays devices by the type of device installed, such as Disk Drive or Printer. The connection name is listed below the type. This is the default view.

  • Devices by connection Displays devices by connection type, such as System Board or Logical Disk Manager.

  • Resources by type Displays the status of allocated resources by type of device using the resource. Resource types are direct memory access (DMA) channels, input/output (I/O) ports, interrupt request (IRQ), and memory addresses.

  • Resources by connection Displays the status of all allocated resources by connection type rather than device type.

  • Show hidden devices Displays non-Plug and Play devices as well as devices that have been physically removed from the computer but haven't had their drivers uninstalled.

Installing and Uninstalling Device Drivers

To keep devices operating smoothly, it's essential that you keep the device drivers current. You can install device drivers by completing the following steps:

  1. In the Computer Management console, access Device Manager.

  2. Devices may be listed by type, resource, or connection. Right-click the connection for the device you want to manage and then choose Properties from the shortcut menu. This opens the Properties dialog box for the device.

  3. To uninstall a device driver (and the related device), select the Driver tab and then click the Uninstall button. When prompted to confirm the deletion, choose OK.

  4. To install or reinstall device drivers, choose the Driver tab and click Update Driver to start the Upgrade Device Driver Wizard. Read the Welcome dialog box and then click Next to continue.

    Best Practice Updated drivers can add functionality to a device, improve performance, and resolve device problems. However, you should rarely install the latest drivers on a deployment server without first testing the drivers in a test environment. Test first, then install.

  5. As shown in Figure 2-10, you can determine whether you want to search for the drivers or select drivers from a list of known drivers.

  6. If you choose to select drivers, you'll need to specify the device type, such as Modem or Network Adapter. Then the wizard displays a selection dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 2-11. Scroll through the list of manufacturers to find the manufacturer of the device, then choose the appropriate device in the Models panel.

Figure 2-10: Specify whether to search for the necessary drivers or select the drivers from a list of known drivers.

Figure 2-10: Specify whether to search for the necessary drivers or select the drivers from a list of known drivers.

If you search for drivers, the wizard checks the driver database on the system for drivers and any of the optional locations you specify, such as a floppy disk or CD-ROM. Any matching drivers found are displayed, and you can select a driver.

Figure 2-11: Select the device driver by manufacturer and type.

Figure 2-11: Select the device driver by manufacturer and type.

Note: If the manufacturer or device you want to use isn't listed, insert your device driver disk into the floppy drive and then click on the Have Disk button. Follow the prompts. Afterward, select the appropriate device.

After selecting a device driver through a search or a manual selection, continue through the installation process by clicking Next. Click Finish when the driver installation is completed.

Installing, Uninstalling, and Troubleshooting Hardware

You can install or uninstall hardware devices on a system through the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard. You can also use this wizard to troubleshoot problems with existing hardware. To start and use the wizard, complete the following steps:

  1. Start the System utility by double-clicking the System icon in the Control Panel. Click the Hardware tab, and then choose Hardware Wizard.

  2. To add new hardware or troubleshoot existing hardware, select Add/Troubleshoot A Device. See Figure 2-12.

  3. To uninstall hardware, select Uninstall/Unplug A Device.

  4. Installing, uninstalling, and troubleshooting procedures are examined in the sections that follow.

    Figure 2-12: Use the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard to install, uninstall, or troubleshoot hardware devices.

    Figure 2-12: Use the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard to install, uninstall, or troubleshoot hardware devices.

Installing Hardware

The Windows 2000 Plug and Play technology does a good job of detecting and automatically configuring new hardware. However, if the hardware doesn't support Plug and Play or isn't automatically detected, you'll need to tell Windows 2000 about the new hardware. You do this by installing the hardware device and its related drivers on the system using the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard. You use the wizard to install hardware by completing the following steps:

  1. Start the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard as explained previously, and then select Add/Troubleshoot A Device.

  2. Click Next. Windows 2000 searches for new hardware to install as well as currently installed hardware. If new hardware isn't detected automatically, select Add A New Device and click Next.

  3. In the Find New Hardware dialog box determine whether the wizard should search for new hardware or whether you want to select the hardware from a list.

  4. If you choose Yes, the wizard will perform a thorough device search and automatically detect new hardware. The process takes a few minutes to go through all the device types and options. When the search is completed, any new devices found are displayed, and you can select a device.

  5. If you choose No, or if no new devices are found in the automatic search, you'll have to select the hardware type yourself. Select the type of hardware, such as Modem or Network Adapter, and then click Next. Scroll through the list of manufacturers to find the manufacturer of the device, and then choose the appropriate device in the Models panel.

  6. The remaining steps of the installation process depend on the type of device you're installing. Follow the prompts and then complete the installation by clicking Finish.

Uninstalling Hardware

You can use the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard to uninstall or unplug hardware devices by completing the following steps:

  1. Start the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard as explained previously and then select Uninstall/Unplug A Device.

  2. In the Choose A Removal Task dialog box, specify whether you're uninstalling or unplugging a device. When you uninstall a device, you permanently remove a device and its drivers. When you unplug a device, you temporarily disable or eject it.

  3. Select the device you want to uninstall or unplug.

  4. Confirm that you want to uninstall or unplug the device by choosing Yes, I Want To Uninstall This Device or Yes, I Want To Unplug This Device.

  5. When you click Next, the device is uninstalled or unplugged, as appropriate. Click Finish to complete the process.

Troubleshooting Hardware and Device Problems

You can also use the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard to troubleshoot hardware problems. To do this, complete the following steps:

  1. Start the Add/Remove Hardware Wizard as explained previously, and then select Add/Troubleshoot A Device.

  2. In the Choose A Hardware Device dialog box, select the device you want to troubleshoot. Click Next to continue.

  3. The final wizard dialog box provides a device status. When you click Finish, the wizard does one of two things. If an error code is shown with the device status, the wizard accesses the error code in the online help documentation—if it's available and installed. Otherwise, the wizard starts the Hardware Troubleshooter, which attempts to solve the hardware problem using your responses to the questions that it asks.

You can also access the Hardware Troubleshooter directly. To do that, complete the following steps:

  1. In the Computer Management console, access Device Manager.

  2. Devices may be listed by type, resource, or connection. Right-click the connection for the device you want to troubleshoot and then choose Properties on the shortcut menu. This opens the Properties dialog box for the device.

  3. In the General tab, start the Hardware Troubleshooter by clicking on the Troubleshooter button.

from Microsoft Windows 2000 Administrator's Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek. Copyright © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

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