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Tricks & Traps: Ask Dr. Bob Your Windows NT Questions

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Bob Chronister

Windows NT Magazine, August 1999

Q: My system has a Mylex DAC960 PCI RAID controller. With this controller, I can extend a RAID volume's size. Unfortunately, Windows NT doesn't recognize this size increase. No matter what I try, Disk Administrator registers only the original RAID size. How do I fix this problem?

A: You need to delete an HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE Registry subkey. Remember to always save a current version of the Registry before you alter it.

Open your favorite Registry editor (i.e., regedit or regedt32), and select the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\DISK key. Delete the DISK subkey, then close the Registry and reopen Disk Administrator. NT informs you that Disk Administrator is running for the first time, as Screen 1 shows. After you press OK, you'll see the extended partition size, and NT will update the DISK subkey.

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Screen 1: Viewing the Disk Administrator pop-up screen

Q: We're attempting an unattended Microsoft Message Queue Server (MSMQ) installation. Can you define the command-line parameters for this installation?

A: The command-line switches available for MSMQ's setup.exe program are /q (or /qt), /b#, /u, and /r. The /q or /qt parameter specifies quiet mode (requiring minimal user input) or totally quiet mode (requiring no input). When you specify /q or /qt, MSMQ Setup runs in unattended mode. Unless Setup indicates otherwise, use the /qt switch.

The /b# switch corresponds to the option buttons in the Setup Installation Type dialog box. The number of available options (/b1, /b2, or /b3) depend on whether you're installing a dependent client, independent client, or server.

If you're using an unattended setup to install MSMQ dependent-client software, the /b1 parameter is the only option. If you're installing an independent client, your setup options also depend on your platform. Therefore, if you're using an unattended setup to install MSMQ independent-client software, the /b# parameter refers to the Independent Client and Development Environment options. Finally, if you're using an unattended setup to install, for example, an MSMQ routing server, the /b# parameter specifies Server, Installation Server, or Custom in the following manner:

  • Use /b1 (Server) to install the MSMQ server software and administration tools.

  • Use /b2 (Installation Server) to install the server software, administration tools, the MSMQ software development kit (SDK), and an MSMQ installation folder for computers running Windows 95 and Intel-compatible computers running Windows NT.

  • Use /b3 (Custom) to install the server software, administration tools, SDK, and an MSMQ installation folder for Win95 computers and all supported NT platforms, including the alpha and Power PC.

If you don't specify a /b# parameter, Setup assigns /b1 as the default.

The /u parameter runs an unattended uninstall and the /r parameter runs an unattended reinstall. An unattended uninstall automatically removes your MSMQ data files.

You can place the commands in batch files pointing to the appropriate directories or network shares and place the batch files or command lines in cmdlines.txt. Or, you can have the command run as a run-once command (i.e., the command won't run again during subsequent boots). The following commands are examples of MSMQ unattended installation command lines:

  • setup /qt /b1

  • setup /qt /u

  • setup /qt /r

For more information about MSMQ, go to http://www.microsoft.com/ ntserver/appservice/exec/overview/msmq_overview.asp.

Q: Unattended installations typically install on the C drive. How can we install onto a different drive and place our temporary files on that drive?

A: To copy files to a drive other than the C drive, you need to create a special folder in the i386\$oem$ directory. If you want to copy files to the D drive, for example, you need to create a folder in the $oem$ directory with the exact syntax i386\$oem$\D, which copies files temporarily to C, then moves them to D later in setup.

If you're booting to a network installation, setup's text-mode portion copies the files in the i386\$oem$\drive letter directory to the C:\$\drive letter directory, in which $ represents a temporary location for files. You can change the location of the $ directory by using the /t: option in your unattended reference. For example, /t:D tells winnt.exe to place the $WIN_NT$.~LS directory (i.e., temporary files) and the $ directory on D. This switch also places the OS on D.

All file copying occurs during the GUI stage. If sufficient space isn't available, no files will copy and the installation will fail.

Q: I want to use Windows NT in my environment. I've been in the network support business for 20 years, and I know that I can achieve optimal setups on systems by removing components such as POSIX and OS2. What's the best way to remove these components from a normal server installation?

A: You need to remove OS2 and POSIX to make NT fully compliant with C2 security. You can use the Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit C2Config utility to do the job.

When the utility opens, you'll see lines for both OS2 and POSIX. Click the OS2 line, and the utility gives you the option to remove the OS2 subsystem. You use the same process to remove the POSIX subsystem.

You might ask, Why should I use this security applet to remove subsystems? Because C2Config's automatic application removal sweeps away all DLLs and files related to POSIX and OS2. You'll no longer have to worry about NT greeting you with error messages after you perform your subsystem removal, and you'll enjoy resource savings.

Q: I'm running a standard mixture of Windows NT and Windows 95 clients in an NT Server-based network. We have no problems with the NT clients, but the Win95 clients can't print to our network computers without supplying a username and password. How can we fix this problem?

A: This type of authentication problem is common. You need to explicitly add the Win95 username and password to the domain and make certain that you add the user to the printer share. Many Win95 problems will disappear after you perform this easy solution.

Q: How can I keep track of APIs and DLLs that applications use? Several applications are giving me trouble, and I'd like to determine which APIs and DLLs are involved.

A: The Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit ApiMon utility monitors running applications for API calls. Open ApiMon, then click File, Open to access the application you want to investigate (I opened the screen-capture utility clip.exe). Under Tools, click Start Monitor. A list of DLLs and APIs appears, as Screen 2 shows.

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Screen 2: Using ApiMon to view DLLs and APIs

Q: Windows NT displays a warning message that reminds users to change their password before the password expires. Can I change the number of days that NT displays this message?

A: Before NT 4.0, you couldn't alter the display message's 14-day schedule. However, you can use a Registry editor to add a Registry entry that adjusts this value. Go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon key. Add the value PasswordExpiryWarning of data type REG_DWORD. The range for this value is in number of days, and the default value is 14.

Q: Now that 56Kbps modems are available, what will happen to ISDN devices, which are expensive and often difficult to configure?

A: ISDN still offers several advantages over other connection methods. ISDN provides rapid logon times (i.e., a few seconds) and guaranteed bandwidth (i.e., you get nothing less than 64Kbps or 128Kbps connections). You can use a router with your ISDN connection to easily provide a networkwide connection and conceal your company's internal IP systems. Finally, because you can switch ISDN on and off, you can ask for ISDN on demand (dial-up like a conventional modem).

Additionally, 56Kbps modems are typically limited to one device and almost never get a true bandwidth of 56Kbps. The best you can reasonably hope for is 33Kbps, and you usually get less. ISDN's place in the industry will remain stable for a while longer.

Q:We have several systems running mirror sets and one system running a large volume set. We need to be able to recreate the sets if necessary. Can the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) accomplish this recreation?

A: Whenever you use NT to create a volume set, RAID 5 volumes, or mirror sets, you need to save the disk configuration information to your ERD. Running the ERD without updated disk configuration information can make some partitions inaccessible or make your system impossible to start.

NT installation creates an ERD that includes the SYSTEM Registry hive. This ERD contains a DISK subkey that stores information about disk partitions as they existed during setup. However, as NT creates new disk partitions and deletes existing partitions, the system updates the DISK subkey. Therefore, you need to update the DISK subkey on your ERD.

Information that NT stores in the DISK subkey includes each disk's number of partitions, the disk's signature number, and additional information about each disk partition such as

  • the type of fault-tolerant volume to which each partition belongs

  • the current fault-tolerant state (e.g., healthy)

  • the relationship of the partition in the fault-tolerant volume (e.g., in a mirror set, the primary partition is logical partition number one and the mirror partition is logical partition number two)

If you save the disk configuration information in Disk Administrator, that information will be available to you if you need to restore the information later or use it with the ERD to repair a damaged NT system. In Disk Administrator, go to Partition, Configuration, and click Save. The system prompts you for a 3.5" disk on which to save the information. If possible, save the information to your ERD. If you don't have updated disk configuration information, any attempt to restore NT with the ERD will fail, and NT will consider the volume sets or stripe sets as unknown file system types.

When the boot and system partitions are mirrored, running the ERD without the updated disk configuration information might result in the following error message at the autocheck screen when you try to start NT:

autocheck program not found - skipping autocheck

STOP: 0xc000021a {Fatal System Error}: The Session Manager Initialization system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc000003a. The system has been shut down.

This message appears because the system can't read the NT directory. Plan ahead and update your disk configuration information.

Q: Can I remove default Windows NT icons such as the Recycle Bin from the desktop?

A: Removing icons is easy but requires Registry editing. Start your Registry editor (i.e., regedit or regedt32), and drill down to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace key. You'll see several hexadecimal strings called CLSIDs. Select each one in turn, and the right pane will display the name of the icon that string represents, as Screen 3 shows.

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Screen 3: Selecting CLSIDs in your Registry editor

When you've selected the icon you want to remove from the desktop, use the Registry menu's Export Registry File command to export the key. You need to choose a path and filename to which you want to save the file. (Exporting the file lets you restore the icon at a later date.) After you export the key, you can delete the icon's Registry entry to remove it from the desktop. Click Yes in the confirmation box to complete the icon-deletion process.

Quit the Registry editor and log off. When you log on again, the icon will no longer appear on your desktop.

About the Author

Bob Chronister is a contributing editor for Windows NT Magazine and president of Chronister Consultants in Mobile, Alabama. He is coauthor of Windows NT Backup and Recovery (Osborne/McGraw-Hill). You can reach him at bob@winntmag.com.

Send your tips and questions to Windows NT Magazine. You can also visit Bob Chronister's online Tricks & Traps at http://www.winntmag.com/forums/index.html.

The above article is courtesy of Windows NT Magazine. Click here to subscribe to Windows NT Magazine.

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