Windows: Password Recovery

Sometimes you run into the problem that someone has forgotten their password for their home PC. As a good friend you are going to help them recover their password. Preparation

  1. Go over to http://ophcrack.sourceforge.net/ and download a Live CD with tables  (either for XP or Vista/7)
  2. Burn the CD with imgburn or create a USB-Boot disk with Universal Usb Installer

Password Recovery

  1. Start the computer by booting from the USB-stick/CD
  2. Ophcrack will launch immediately and try to crack the password by brute force
  3. If it does not work, click on the button “tables”
  4. Now click on the button “Install” and navigate to the tables directory on the CD or USB-drive (something like /media/usb-drive/tables)
  5. Enable the tables, it is going to take a while to load them into RAM
  6. Retry to crack the password.

Finishing up

Write down the password, restart the computer and log in. Change the password to something that a human being can remember.

SteamOS: Beta

Valve has released a beta version of their OS. Hyped as the “killer app” for Linux and many hoped it will be the replacement for Windows. In reality, SteamOS is not going to be the Windows Desktop replacement OS. It is going to be an OS to be used with your TV and game-pad. Exactly like Valve has originally advertised the system, an OS for a “steam machine”; a computer controlled primarily by a game controller. The system is designed to compete with other consoles like the XBox or Playstation. The system is now in its beta state. Mostly Linux enthusiasts and hardware distributors are probably interested in the system. The OS will be delivered to the majority of users on a pre-installed “steam machine”. Most Users will never have to interact with the underlying Linux environment and the computer will only be used for gaming purposes. However, time will tell how this development will affect the overall perception and acceptance of the Linux platform. Hardware developers like Nvidia and AMD have already announced a better driver support for the Linux platform. Hopefully, major software developers will follow suit. System Requirements From the official site the hardware requirements are as follows:

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4GB or more memory
  • 500GB or larger disk
  • NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)
  • UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation

Oddly the requirements stated is the need for a 500GB disk. However, after installation the OS requires only around 2.7GB, making the installation on a smaller disk is technically possible. Valve has not yet said anything more specific why 500GB is needed. It looks like the requirements are more of a guideline for a suitable gaming system. Installation There are two ways of installing the OS either restoring an existing image or doing a clean install.  Many users were reporting issues with the restore method as well as the requirement of a 1TB disk to restore the image. Thus it is easier to do a clean install.

Clean Install

  1. Prepare a disk, the installation will automatically partition your drive, no matter what the previous system is installed. (= everything is going to be deleted)
  2. Download the installation files from http://repo.steampowered.com/download/SteamOSInstaller.zip
  3. Extract the zip file to an USB-disk (formatted as FAT32)
  4. Boot the system from the USB-disk and follow the automatic installation setup

First Start

  1. Select the Gnome Desktop
  2. Log on as user “steam”, password: “steam”
  3. Log on as user “desktop”, password: “desktop”

Initial Impression

Sadly the Steam Interface never loaded on my system. I did not spend a lot of time on tinkering around with it, as it is currently in the state of preview/beta software. I hope Valve gets a lot of feedback and can fix these issues. However most of the experience is positive, the install procedure was smooth and automated and you did not have to know anything about computers to get it running except how to “boot from USB-stick”. Mostly user-friendly, however, they currently have not put a lot of work into their installer and a couple of more options would be nice.

Conclusion

Sadly I can’t say a lot about the new OS – it is beta software and I could not get it to work with my PC – However, it is going to be an interesting development to watch in the next couple of years.

Official Links

Ubuntu 13.04: Post Install Setup

After the installation of Ubuntu, you want to start being productive as fast as possible. There are three things you need to do:

  1. Install the Programs you need
  2. Remove the unwanted pre-installed Programs (for example Amazon Integration, Rhythm box)
  3. Install all System Updates

While you could use the Ubuntu Store to install all programs by clicking through various screens. You will have a great performance gain by using the console and the “apt-get” package manager.

In the spirit of never having to repeat myself, I simply collected all the console commands I needed to complete the three steps.

Ubuntu 13.03 Post Install Script

Your personal setup will be slightly different to my setup, feel free to modify and adjust the script to suit your needs.

Windows 7: Quick and optimized install (Update)

Let’s speed up my original installation by using a powershell script instead of manually configuring windows.

1. Install


1.1 Win 7 SP1 integrated

So for WinXP, you would have slipstreamed the Service Packs. But screw that we got broadband. Download an integrated Iso from: http://www.mydigitallife.info/official-windows-7-sp1-iso-from-digital-river/

1.2 USB Install

Installing from USB is usually faster than installing from a DVD.

  1. Copy all the contents of the Win7 ISO to an USB-Drive (3GB free space required).
  2. Right-click on “Computer” – > Manage and navigate to Disk Management
  3. Right-click on the Partition you copied the Win7 Files to and select “Mark Partition as Active”
  4. Plug the USB-Drive in the PC to be set up and boot from the USB-Drive.
  5. Install

Note: If you have a USB3-Port you may need additional drivers to install via USB.

1.3 Partitions

The sole purpose of Partitions is organization. However, you want to organize your files you create any number of partitions accordingly. Best Practice is to have at least 100GB of space for the Operating Install Partition so you have plenty of space to install more Programs. Note: To gain a speed advantage one must use multiple physical Hard drives and then configure the Swap Files. However, placing the Swap-file on the same physical disk will is not give any performance boost.

2. Initial Settings via Powershell


  • Open Powershell as Administrator
  • type  Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
  • Copy (and modify)  following Code into a new textfile

#Enable Windows Classic Theme
Write-Host "Enabling Classic Theme" & $env:Systemroot'\\Resources\\Ease of Access Themes\\classic.theme'
#Set Explorer Settings
Write-Host "Configuring Explorer-Settings"
$explorerKey = 'HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced'
Set-ItemProperty $explorerKey NavPaneShowAllFolders 1
Set-ItemProperty $explorerKey NavPaneExpandToCurrentFolder 1
Set-ItemProperty $explorerKey Hidden 1
Set-ItemProperty $explorerKey HideFileExt 0

#Set Taskbar Settings
Write-Host "Taskbar Settings"
Set-ItemProperty $explorerKey TaskbarSmallIcons 1
Set-ItemProperty $explorerKey TaskbarGlomLevel 1

#Disable Customer Experience Improvement Program
Set-ItemProperty 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SQMClient\Windows' CEIPEnable 0

#Desktop Items
Write-Host "Display Icons"
$desktopKey = 'HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\HideDesktopIcons'
new-item -path $desktopKey
new-item -path $desktopKey\ClassicStartMenu
new-item -path $desktopKey\NewStartPanel
new-ItemProperty -path $desktopKey\ClassicStartMenu -name '{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}' -value 0
new-ItemProperty -path $desktopKey\ClassicStartMenu -name '{59031a47-3f72-44a7-89c5-5595fe6b30ee}' -value 0
new-ItemProperty -path $desktopKey\ClassicStartMenu -name '{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}' -value 0

new-ItemProperty -path $desktopKey\NewStartPanel -name '{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}' -value 0
new-ItemProperty -path $desktopKey\NewStartPanel -name '{59031a47-3f72-44a7-89c5-5595fe6b30ee}' -value 0
new-ItemProperty -path $desktopKey\NewStartPanel -name '{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}' -value 0

#Disable Remote Assistance
Set-ItemProperty 'HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Remote Assistance' fAllowToGetHelp 0

#Restart Explorer
Stop-Process -processname explorer

#Disable UAC
Write-Host "Disabling User Account Control (UAC)"
Set-ItemProperty 'HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System' EnableLUA 0
Write-Host "System needs to be rebooted"
#Disable Services
#Windows Search
(gwmi win32_service -filter "name='WSearch'").ChangeStartMode("Disabled")

#Windows Features
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:WindowsGadgetPlatform
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:TabletPCOC /NoRestart
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:Printing-XPSServices-Features /NoRestart
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:Xps-Foundation-Xps-Viewer /NoRestart
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:Printing-Foundation-InternetPrinting-Client /NoRestart
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:MediaCenter /NoRestart
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:OpticalMediaDisc /NoRestart
DISM /Online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:WindowsMediaPlayer /NoRestart
  • Save as “windowsConfig.ps1” at C:\
  • In Powershell execute C:\windowsConfig.ps1 (works only with full path)
  • Useful Services Configuration Black Vipers Guide

3. Applications


3.1 Internet Explorer 9

To prevent downloads of unneeded updates, install IE9 prior to running windows update. IE9 Download

3.1 Ninite

Visit www.ninite.com you can choose from a selection of free programs and then download an automatic installer.

That’s all folks!!!

Speed Up Windows 7 How to Tweaking Windows 7 for Maximum Performance The Ultimate Guide to Speed up Windows 7

Windows 7: Quick and Optimized Install

Here are my notes on how I would set up Windows 7 as quickly as possible.

You can download the original Windows 7 Iso files from here Of course this guide is based on my personal biases and is only minimally optimized but should still help you to speed up a manual install and automate the configuration of Windows 7.

1. Install

1.1 USB Install

Installing from USB is usually faster than installing from a DVD.

  1. Copy all the contents of the Win7 ISO to an USB-Drive (3GB free space required).
  2. Right-click on Computer” – > Manage and navigate to Disk Management
  3. Right-click on the Partition you copied the Win7 Files to and select Mark Partition as Active
  4. Plug the USB-Drive in the PC to be set up and boot from the USB-Drive.
  5. Install

Note: If you have a USB3-Port you may need additional drivers to install via USB.

1.2 Partitions

The sole purpose of Partitions is organization. However, you want to organize your files you create any number of partitions accordingly. Best Practice is to have at least 100GB of space for the Operating Install Partition so you have plenty of space to install more Programs. Note: To gain a speed advantage one must use multiple physical Hard drives and then configure the Swap Files. However, placing the Swap-file on the same physical disk will is not give any performance boost.

2. Initial Settings

2.1 GodMode

To gain access to all configuration panels create a folder and rename it to:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Open the Folder and you have Quick Access to all Panels currently available

ItemAction
Action Center
Change Customer Experience Improvement Program settingsDisable
Change User Account Control SettingsNever
Administrative Tools
View local servicesWindows Search (Disable)Read: Useful Services Configuration Black Vipers Guide
Folder Options
Show or hide file extensionsShow extensions
Personalization
Enable or disable transparent glass on windowsDeactivate
Show or hide common icons on the desktopShow User Files, Show Computer
Programs and Features
Turn Windows features on or offTablet PC Components (off)Windows Gadget Platform (off)(Restart Required)
System
Activate WindowsInsert Key – Activate Windows
Adjust the appearance and performance of WindowsMostly Personal Preferences for max Performance disable all
Allow remote access to your computerDeactivate Allow Remote Assistance connections
Taskbar and Start Menu
Customize the Start menu(Personal Preference) Small Icons enables “old Windows” look and feel

2.2 Drivers

Most devices get a significant performance boost when the newest drivers are installed. The newest drivers usually can be downloaded from the hardware vendors support websites. For tweaked graphics drivers for Nvidia and ATI, you can visit Omega drivers (Not officially supported by Nvidia or ATI) Further manual tweaking can be done with RivaTuner

3. Applications

3.1 Internet Explorer 9

To prevent downloads of unneeded updates, install IE9 prior to running windows update. IE9 Download

3.1 Ninite

Visit www.ninite.com you can choose from a selection of free programs and then download an automatic installer. The free to use section only downloads the 32bit version of the programs. In some cases e.g 7-zip it is better just to download the proper version and install it manually. Current Favorite Selection

Application
Web browsersChrome
MessagingSkype Thunderbird
MediaiTunes VLC Winamp Quicktime
RuntimesFlash Flash (IE) Java
SecurityAvast Spybot
OtherDropbox Steam
UtilitiesTeamViewer ImgBurn CCleaner TeraCopy
Compression7zip
Developer ToolsPhyton FileZilla Notepad++ Eclipse

4. Clean Up

4.1 Windows Update

Run Windows Update several times to get the newest updates If Service Pack 1 was installed run in the Command Prompt:

dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded

to remove unneeded backup files.

That’s all folks!!!

Speed Up Windows 7 How to Tweaking Windows 7 for Maximum Performance The Ultimate Guide to Speed up Windows 7

Windows: Remove Security Warning Message from Downloaded Files

You know what you are doing and have antivirus installed, are not downloading crap and hate useless security warnings nobody reads?

Single File

Well, no there is no easy way. Windows marks the Files with “Zone”-Information.

For every single file in the “Properties-Menu”, one must select Unblock.

Permanently Disable

To prevent the Zone Information to be added to future Downloads – Open gpedit.msc (Run as Admin) Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Attachment Manager Enable “Do not preserve zone information in file attachments”

In CMD execute gpupdate /force or restart Computer.