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Sun, Aug 16, 2015 11:00 pm

Obtaining BIOS information in Microsoft Windows

If you need to obtain information regarding the BIOS in a system running a Microsoft Windows operating system (OS), you can do so from a command prompt using the wmic command. E.g. to obtain the BIOS version, you can use wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion. You can also use the wmic bios get biosversion command, which may also show the BIOS date, depending on the BIOS manufacturer. Other commands that you can run are systeminfo | find "BIOS" and msinfo32. The latter command will open a window showing BIOS information along with a plethora of other information.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 5:53 pm

Unattended Install for Debugging Tools for Windows

I wanted to install Debugging Tools for Windows on several systems. I wanted to do an "unattended", aka "silent", installation where the installation would occur automatically without any user intervention, except perhaps at most a command being issued at a command prompt. The Debugging Tools for Windows comes as an .msi file, which is a Microsoft Windows installation file.

At Forcing MSI Installation Into a Specific Directory, I found a suggestion to put TARGETDIR on the command line when using the msiexec command. E.g. to specify the directory where an application should be installed when the installation file for that application is an .msi file, the author of that page suggested that you can use a command similar to the following:

msiexec TARGETDIR="C:\MyTargetDirectory" /i MyProject.msi

You can use the /q option to specify that the installation does not present a GUI installer window or prompt the user - see Command-Line Options for other command line options.

That did not work in this case, however. So, I decided to try the webpage author's suggestion to turn on logging during an installation of the software where I performed the install normally from the GUI installation method. I turned on verbose logging using the command msiexec /i dbg_x86_6.11.1.404.msi /l*v c:\windbg.log, which created a log file c:\windbg.log.

During the installation process, I chose a "custom" install and specified the installation directory be C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\ rather than the default installation directory of C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\. When the installation was completed, I saw the following when I opened the log file with Notepad:

MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:12:281]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\'. Its new value: 'C:\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:13:291]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:16:866]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:18:062]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:24:941]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying INSTDIR property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\'.
MSI (c) (44:D8) [16:44:25:095]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying _1394 property. Its current value is 'C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\1394\'. Its new value: 'C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\1394\'.

I could see that the property being modified was INSTDIR rather than TARGETDIR, so I then tried the following command at the command line:

msiexec INSTDIR="C:\Program Files\Utilities\SysMgmt\Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)\" /i dbg_x86_6.11.1.404.msi /q

That put the software in the directory where I wanted it installed and did not display a GUI window or any prompts.

To uninstall software installed through an MSI file, you can use msiexec /x Package|ProductCode. In this case, after the installation, I ran regedit and checked the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall. I could see that the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\{300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD} registry key was the appropriate one, since within it I saw the following:

NameTypeSize
DisplayNameREG_SZ Debugging Tools for Windows (x86)
DisplayVersionREG_SZ 6.11.1.404
UninstallStringREG_EXPAND_SZ MsiExec.exe /I{300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD}

That told me that the ProductCode for Debugging Tools for Windows is {300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD}. However, if I used MsiExec.exe /I{300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD} to uninstall the software, I would get a GUI uninstall window where I would have to select the "remove" option. For a silent uninstall from the command line, I can use msiexec /x {300A2961-B2B5-4889-9CB9-5C2A570D08AD} /q. The /x option indicates that you want to remove the software. The /q option indicates you want a silent uninstall. Without the /q option, you would be prompted to confirm the removal of the software.

The DisplayName registry entry is what you will see under "Uninstall or change a program" or "Add or Remove Programs" under the Windows Control Panel. E.g., in this case, I would see Debugging Tools for Windows (x86) there.

References:

  1. Debugging Tools for Windows
    WHDC - Windows Hardware Developer Central
  2. File Extension .MSI Details
    FILExt - The File Extension Source
  3. Windows Installer
    Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Forcing MSI Installation Into a Specific Directory
    Arthur Zubarev
  5. Command-Line Options
    MSDN: Microsoft Development, MSDN Subscriptions, Resources, and More
  6. Unattended/Silent Installation Switches for Windows Apps
    Unattended, A Windows deployment system

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Sun, Feb 15, 2009 9:21 pm

BIOS Info Using VBScript

Microsoft has a webpage on Microsoft TechNet titled Retrieving Information About the BIOS, which provides details on how to retrieve information for the BIOS, such as a description and version number for the BIOS, using VBScript.

I created a script, bios-info.vbs from the code provided on Microsoft's webpage that will retrieve the information from the BIOS.

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Sun, Feb 15, 2009 8:37 pm

Laptop Battery Power Monitor 2006

Laptop Battery Power Monitor allows you to track the battery charge for your laptop's battery. A battery widget appears on your desktop when the program is installed, which can be dragged across your desktop and placed over any window. To make it less intrusive, you can adjust the transparency of the battery. In addition, the battery can be resized to 33%, 50%, or 75% of its original size. If you place your mouse over the battery, your battery's charge status, total hours remaining, and percentage of battery life remaining will be displayed.

When you run the downloaded file, setup.exe, by default, it will attempt to extract the files stored within itself to c:\Temp\BatteryMonitor2006. If there is no c:\Temp directory, you will receive the message below:

WinZip Self-Extractor

White X in red circleCould not create "c:\Temp\BatteryMonitor2006" - unzip operation cancelled.

OK

 

In that case, choose another directory into which the files will be extracted. The software requires 6,992 KB of free space on the disk on which it will be installed.

The installation process creates a program group named Duomart.com. Within it you will find a Laptop Battery Power Monitor group. When you run the progam it will place a battery widget on your desktop showing the battery charge level.

DuoMart battery charge widget

That widget will remain over top of windows that you open. Moving the mouse pointer over it will display information about the state of the battery. If you right-click on it, you can change the size of the battery displayed. You also have the option to adjust its transparency or close the program.

The software can be downloaded from the developer website, which is a source for purchasing computer accessories, bluetooth devices, or laptop batteries. Other sources for the software are listed below.

Download Sites

DuoMart
MoonPoint Support
FileBuzz

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Fri, Feb 06, 2009 1:42 pm

SpeedFan

The Toshiba M35X-S109 laptop I've been using is periodically powering itself off. Sometimes, when I power it back on, I notice that the battery charge is listed as being very low when I check it with the Toshiba Power Management utility in the Control Panel, though the utility shows the system is on AC power and charging. Though I have that utility configured to warn me when the battery charge is low and to hibernate when the battery charge is about 5%, that doesn't happen. At other times, when I immediately power it back on, I see that the charge level is high, e.g. 85% and it is shown as being on AC power.

Because I also hear the fan making a fair amount of noise at times, I thought I would install a utility to monitor the fan speed and CPU temperature. I used SpeedFan 4.37, but found that the laptop's motherboard doesn't support such monitoring. The temperature of the hard drive in the laptop can be monitored, though. I see it varies between 34 and 37 degrees Celsius.

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Tue, Dec 04, 2007 10:48 pm

Resetting Password with Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

The date on a repaired laptop I had returned to me, after a motherboard problem was fixed, was January 28, 2150. The laptop is running Windows XP Professional. I knew the password for my normal user account on the laptop, but couldn't remember the password for my administrator account on the system. I downloaded Offline NT Password & Registry Editor in ISO format. After extracting the .iso file from the .zip file I downloaded, I created a bootable CD from the ISO file. I booted from the boot CD and saw the following.
Disks:
Disk /dev/sda: 80.0 GB, 80026361856 bytes

Candidate Windows partitions found:
 1 :            /dev/sda1   76316MB BOOT

Please select partition by number or
 q = quit
 d = automatically start disk drivers
 m = manually select disk drivers to load
 f = fetch additional drivers from floppy / usb
 a = show all partitions found
 l = show propbable Windows (NTFS) partitions only
Select: [1] _
I hit Enter to take the default option of one for /dev/sda1. I then saw the following.
Selected 1
Mounting from /dev/sda1, with filesystem type NTFS

NTFS volume version 3.1.

=========================================================
   Step TWO: Select PATH and registry files
=========================================================
What is the path to the registry directory? (relative to windows disk)
[WINDOWS/system32/config] : _
Since WINDOWS/system32/config was the correct location, I hit Enter and had the opportunity to select the password reset option by hitting Enter again.
Select which part of registry to load, use predefined choices
1 - Password reset [sam system security]
2 - RecoveryConsile parameters [software]
q - quit - return to previous
[1] : _
For step 3, "Password or registry edit", I had the option to "edit user data and passwords", which I chose by hitting Enter.
<>========<> chntpw Main Interactive Menu <>========<>

Loaded hives: <sam> <system> <security>

  1 - Edit user data and passwords
  2 - Syskey status & change
  3 - RecoveryConsole settings

  9 - Registry editor, now with full write support!
  q - Quit (you will be asked if there is something to save)

What to do? [1] -> _
I was then presented with a list of the local accounts on the system. Those that were disabled or locked were marked as "dis/lock". I chose the administrator account for which I wished to reset the password and was presented with information on the account and the opportunity to blank the password, which is the option I chose.
Failed login count: 1, while max tries is: 5
Total  login count: 68

- - - - User Edit Menu:
 1 - Clear (blank) user password
 2 - Edit (set new) user password (careful with this on XP or Vista)
 3 - Promote user (Make user an administrator)
(4 - Unlock and enable user account) [seems unlocked already]
 q - Quit editing user, back to user select
Select: [q] > _
I then saw "Password cleared!". I then hit "!" to quit modifying accounts and then "q" to quit. At the next step, step 4, you will be asked to confirm whether to actually write the changes to disk. The default response is "n", so you need to hit "y" to actually apply the changes you've requested. You will then see "***** EDIT COMPLETE *****". Hitting Enter will give you a Linux shell prompt of "$". You can then reboot the system; remove the CD so the system won't attempt to boot from it again.

When the system booted into Windows XP, I tried logging into the administrator account. I saw the message "Your password has expired and must be changed." I entered a new password and was able to login to the administrator's account.

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Sun, Mar 20, 2005 10:07 pm

Hotfix Utility

Microsoft offers a utility, hotfix.exe, to aid in managing hotfixes, i.e. patch files that correct security vulnerabilities or bugs in the operating system.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

Sun, Mar 20, 2005 8:47 pm

Freeing Disk Space on a Windows System

Microsoft provides the Disk Cleanup tool for freeing disk space on a Windows system. You can also delete the uninstall directories for patches to free additional space.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/utilities/sysmgmt] permanent link

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