NT Secrets, last updated Monday, October 12, 1998.

System Secrets
User Interface Secrets
System Secrets
Easter Eggs!!!

System Secrets

  1. Question: How do I change the timeout when the system starts up?
    Answer: There are two ways, one is to go into the control panel, open the system icon, go to the Startup/Shutdown tab and change the timeout there, or edit the boot.ini file, but remember to change it from read only to writeable before you edit it, and change it back when you are done. 
  2. Question: How do I get a program to run, or a batch job to run automatically?
    Answer: Go in the control panel and open services, scroll down to the scheduler and set it to start automatically if it is not already, and also start it while you are there.  Next you can use the following tools to schedule an event:   at.exe (included with NT) command line scheduler, WinAT (included with the resource kit)  which is the windows interface version of at, or Scheduled Tasks, which is an option when you install Internet Explorer 4.0, you can add it after installing it, go to the Internet Explorer Home page.  This gives you the same one that will be included in NT 5.0.
  3. Question:  How do I start or stop a service without restarting NT?
    Answer:  Go to the control panel, open the services applet, and there you can start, stop or pause services.
  4. Question:  My machine crashes sometimes, and then it is REAL SLOW when it re-starts, what do I do?
    Answer:  Go to the system applet in the control panel, go to startup/shutdown, and check the following:  Disable write memory to a file, and I would also select automatically reboot.  NOTE:  Only server does this by default, this is not a problem with workstation.  Lastly, delete the memory.dmp file in your windows directory to free up disk space. 
  5. Question: Do I need to install ALL the service packs to get all the fixes? 
    Answer: NO.  The latest service pack includes all previous fixes, but does not include any of the "hotfixes" which are downloaded separately on the Microsoft site or here.
  6. Question: I installed NT over another version, how do I get rid of the old choices on the boot menu? 
    Answer: There are several secrets to the boot.ini file.  Basically, you can edit it directly with notepad.  First, right mouse click on it, choose properties, and there, remove the read only attribute to it so you can change it.   Then hit OK and double click on it to open it.  You can remove the bottom two lines for the old OS, they most likely are the same as the first two choices.  It is also possible to add another operating system if it is not in there.  You must have first installed NT on a drive with MS-DOS or Windows 95 and kept the file system as FAT, not NTFS.  If the following line was not added or removed for some reason, it is possible to add it back and have the OS boot again.  Add the following line at the bottom: 
        c:\ = "MS-DOS"  or   c:\ = "Windows 95" depending on what OS you want to add.  The text in the quotation marks is only the description seen on the menu.  If it does not work, then remove the text from the menu.  Remember to mark the file as read-only again when done editing it. 

  7. Question: I hate Dr. Watson.  I have a program that is buggy and it always pops up and takes forever to write it's log.  How do I get rid of him?
    Answer:  This is done by editing the registry.  You have several choices also.  Run regedit.exe and go to the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AeDebug.  In there, you have the following keys:
    Auto: REG_SZ: 1
    Debugger: REG_SZ: DRWTSN32 -p %ld -e %ld -g
    UserDebuggerHotkey: REG_DWORD: 0
    If you change Auto to 0 (zero) then it will prompt you with an "Ok" "Cancel" box (press OK to skip the debugger).  If you wipe out all the keys, then nothing happens and the app just crashes without any notice that something went wrong.  I would suggest changing auto to 0.  If you do remove all the keys and then decide you liked Dr. Watson, at a command prompt type:
    drwtsn32 -i
    to install it again.  A good article on the MS website about this is here.

User Interface Secrets

  1. Question: How do I do a screen shot without fancy third-party software?
    Answer:  Simple!  Just use ctrl-print screen for the entire screen, or alt-print screen for the current window in focus. Then paste it into an image editor, such as paint using ctrl - v.
  2. Question: What is the quickest way to edit my start menu?
    Answer:  Right mouse click on the start button, and select Explore, or Explore All Users.
  3. Question:  What is the quickest way to edit the display properties?
    Answer: Right mouse click on the desktop, and select Properties.
  4. Question:  What is the quickest way to change the system, or network properties?
    Answer:  Right mouse click on either the My computer icon or the Network Neighborhood Icon and select properties.



Setup Secrets

I don't have a CD-ROM, or the one I have is not supported. how do I install NT on a machine?? 

What you can do is the following:  Somehow copy the entire i386 directory from the CD to the hard drive.  It takes about 65 Mb of space, so take that into account when you install if your hard drive is not very large.  This can be done a number of different ways.  One easy way is to just use another machine that has a CD-ROM already installed.  As long as you can read the CD and have the new hard drive installed temporarily, you can copy.  You can also boot onto a network if you have all the correct drivers for doing that, such as a network boot disk that boots into DOS, then connect to a shared CD on another machine.  If there is no way to do any of these, then you are really stuck!  Then change to the directory you copied all the i386 files to and run "winnt /b" - the /b makes it a "diskless installation" so it will copy all the floppy files to the disk and boot using them instead of needing the boot disks.  Then the setup should go flawless. 

What if I have it on the hard disk and I can ONLY install it using the boot floppies.  What do I do to trick it? 

On the first boot disk there is a file called txtsetup.sif.  Edit the file on another machine with dos edit or notepad.  Then search for "SetupSource" and it should jump to the following section:

; SetupSourceDevice is optional and specifies the nt device path
; of the device to be used as the setup source. This overrides
; the CD-ROM or winnt local source.
; SetupSourceDevice = \device\harddisk1\partition1
; SetupSourcePath specifies the path relative to the source device
; where the setup source tree is to be found.
; All media descriptors are relative to this.
SetupSourcePath = \

In this section, you can set where the source files are located.  Remove the ; from the front of the setupSourceDevice line and it will take effect, it defaults to disk 1 (C:) but you can change that.  The SetupSourcePath referrers to if you have the files located in anything other than c:\i386. If they are in c:\NTCD\i386,change it to read \NTCD.  You should have the files located under a i386 directory, or you will have to change the settings at the top of the txtsetup.sif file.  You will know if it works if   during setup it is able to read the EULA (End User License Agreement) which is the first file it looks for on the CD.  


Regular system maintenance is extremely important!  I can not stress this more.  Here are a few helpful tips to keep your system "clean:"

Check the event log EVERY DAY!  Put a damn shortcut on your desktop to remind yourself to look in it as often as possible.  It can tell you that something is wrong before it gets out of hand.  For example, if your disk suddenly becomes corrupted, it will tell you there, along with a pop-up message.  Check both the system and application logs, and if you have the security auditing enabled, the security also. 

Disk Maintenance:  Run chkdsk /f on all your volumes.  If the volume is in use, it will tell you and it will ask you if you want to have it checked when the system restarts, click yes.  Next time the system restarts, when it is at the blue screen, it will run autochk, and check/fix the volume.  Another important tip is to defragment the volume as often as possible.  NT has no built-in defrag utility until NT 5.0, so get the shareware version of Diskeeper™ and run it manually.

Now check the temp directory for old temp files.  It sometimes fills up with files like ~tmp0012.tmp.  These files are safe to delete.  If they are still in use, you will just get a sharing violation.  They will either go away on their own or when the machine restarts, you can delete them.  This is more of a problem only if you are running applications on the machine, file servers alone do not have these problems.  Check the memory usage by right-mouse clicking on the taskbar and opening the task manager.  Click on the performance tab to see your total commit charge in kilobytes.  It should be less then your physical memory size, for example, if you have 64 Mb of RAM, and it is at 76 Mb, you should try to see what is using so much memory.   Click on the processes tab and look to see what is taking up so much memory.   If everything seems almost normal, try restarting the machine, the second it is done, check the memory again and hopefully it is much less.  If not, you will need more memory. 

RDISK - Your only hope!  A regular run of rdisk can save your system.  Rdisk is a utility used to make a backup of the registry hives and also write them to a floppy disk.  There are a few things to know before you rely on it to save you. 
    Rdisk puts the backups of the registry hives along with the setup.log and autoexec.nt and config.nt in the \winnt\repair directory.  When you boot with the three boot disks and choose repair, you have the option for it to search for these files on the hard disk.  But if the hard disk has failed or become corrupted, you can't read these files.  That is why it is important to have the floppy disk. 
    Another extremely important thing to know is the command line options, mainly rdisk /s.  By default rdisk does NOT backup the Security database, that includes the domain servers and user accounts.  Losing this can be a huge problem!!  Rdisk /s- (with the dash) will make it run without taking any input from the user.  This is good for running in a batch job, you can make a task to have it run every week and automatically backup everything to the hard drive.  What I do is then when I run the weekly backup, I have the c:\winnt\repair directory backed up also.  I can then put the files on a disk and be all set.  I have a unique problem I am sure other people have experienced:  My software hive is larger than 1.4 Mb, so it will not even fit on the repair disk.  I don't know any workaround. 

Easter Eggs

I recently found several NT "Easter Eggs" on the internet.  Give them a try!

All of the following have been verified to work with NT 4.0 Service Pack 3 (English) x86 platform.

Title:  List development team

1) Right mouse-click on the desktop and select properties.
2) Go to the screen savers tab.
3) Select the 3D Text (OpenGL) screensaver.
4) Select "Settings"
5) In the settings, put in "not evil" as the text and hit OK.
6) Hit the preview button and a list of the NT development team is displayed.
         Hint:  Set the speed to slow, the text large and rotation style to none to see the names best.

Title:  Sarcastic message

1) Right mouse-click on the desktop and select properties.
2) Go to the screen savers tab.
3) Select the 3D Text (OpenGL) screensaver.
4) Select "Settings"
5) In the settings, put in "I LOVE NT" as the text and hit OK.
6) Hit the preview button and "good?" will appear!
          Note:  This apparently had been used to list the development team members (above) pre SP3.

Title:  List Volcanoes

1) Right mouse-click on the desktop and select properties.
2) Go to the screen savers tab.
3) Select the 3D Text (OpenGL) screensaver.
4) Select "Settings"
5) In the settings, put in "volcano" as the text and hit OK.
6) Hit the preview button and a list of volcanoes will appear. 
          Hint:  Set the speed to slow, the text large and rotation style to none to see the names best.

The following Easter eggs work only prior to NT 4.0 SP3.  The also work on NT 3.51.

Title:  Screensaver will list different things.

1) Right mouse-click on the desktop and select properties.
2) Go to the screen savers tab.
3) Select the 3D Text (OpenGL) screensaver.
4) Select "Settings"
5) In the settings, try one of the the following:  I LOVE NT, ROCK, BEER.
6) Hit the preview button and for I LOVE NT, the NT development team will be listed.   For ROCK, different rock bands will appear.  For BEER, different beers will be displayed. 
          Note: on NT 3.51, access the screen saver via the control panel under the desktop icon.
          Hint:  Set the speed to slow, the text large and rotation style to none to see the names best.

Most of these "Easter eggs" can be found on the internet, just search for NT Easter eggs, or I LOVE NT usually finds other sites with these.  I found most of these from a site located at Windows NT EggsEnjoy!