Install WICD network manager on Linux Ubuntu/Mint

It may occur that by default your computer won't connect to wireless networks after starting up the system. A way to solve this might be to install the WICD network manager which is available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Just fire up Synaptic Package Manager and search for WICD.
During installation, you will be asked to add system users to the netdev group - check the users that you would like to use WICD with:

Proceed with the installation and launch WICD through Ubuntu's/Mint's main menu. In the program's interface, check the network that you would like to connect with on system startup and try it out by rebooting your machine.

A connection should now automatically be build with the chosen wireless network.

Automated Windows 7 Installation with an Autounattend.xml File

There is a possibility to create a Windows 7 installation DVD that runs fully automated without any user interaction - this is done by placing a file called autounattend.xml into the image's root directory. In this file you specify all the keywords that will be read into the fields of the installation process.
To create such a file, you best use Microsoft's Windows Automated Installation Tools. These include the System Image Manager, which provides a graphical user interface for our purposes. You can download the WAIK here:

Afterwards, copy your regular installation disk's files onto a folder on your hard drive - those will later be edited to fit your likings. Type Windows System Image Manager into the Windows 7 menu search bar and open it.

In the bottom left Windows Image panel, right-click and insert the install.wim that is located in the sources subdirectory of the installation disk's root directory. Then right-click the central panel and create a new answer-file. The graphical interface divides the answer-file into Components and Packages, of which the interesting section is Components for us. To add answers to the answer file, you need to choose components from the image by right-clicking them and add them to the answer file, where you can specify what it will respond. The components I am going to add to get a fully automated installation up to the login will be (there are two kinds of components, the ones introduced with amd64 and the ones with x86 - these determine the architecture and each component exists for both, so pick the one according to your architecture):

  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE_neutral -->windowsPE
  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup_neutral -->windowsPE
  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP_neutral -->generalize
  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Deployment_neutral -->specialize
  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP-UX_neutral -->specialize
  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup_neutral -->specialize
  • amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup_neutral -->oobeSystem

If you click on one of the components or expand it, you will see the values it has on the right Properties panel, which is where you will enter yours as well. The first component is amd64_Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE_neutral, the interface-language and locale settings are stored here. On most DVDs, there is only one setting available (you can see which are by booting from your original DVD and trying to install from it - this can be easily reproduced in a virtual machine). If you speak English, then chances are good that you have en-US on your disk, so enter it into InputLocale, SystemLocale, UILanguage, UILanguageFallback and UserLocale. Also, expand the component and enter it into UILanguage of SetupUILanguage.

Afterwards, expand amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup_neutral under WindowsPE. Right-click DiskConfiguration and choose Add new disk. Set its values DiskID=0, WillWipeDisk=true and right-click the CreatePartitions component to choose Add new partition. This will be your primary partition, you can add more if you like, but I will keep only this one. I set its values to Extend=true, Order=1, Size=20000 and Type=Primary (extend means that this partition will take up all free space left). Next right-click ModifyPartitions and choose Add ModifyPartition - this will prepare your partition for install. Set its values to Active=true, Format=NTFS, Label=Choose_a_name_here, Letter=Choose_a_letter_here, Order=1 and PartitionID=1.
Afterwards right-click ImageInstall to AddDataImage - extend the OSImage, click InstallTo and set its values to DiskID=0 and PartitionID=1.
Next select the UserData, set the value of AcceptEula=true and enter your FullName and Organization.

If you are running a non-registered version of Windows 7 you might be interested in the amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP_neutral component of generalize. Set the SkipRearm=1 to enable more rearms.

Afterwards extend amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Deployment_neutral and right-click RunSynchronous to Add RunSynchronousCommand. Set the new command's values to Order=1, Path=Net user administrator / active:yes, and WillReboot=Never.
Click amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP-UX_neutral and set SkipAutoActivation=true.
Then click amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup_neutral and choose a ComputerName. Set CopyProfile=true and add the information you want. The TimeZone is necessary for automation, you can find the correct formatting on the Microsoft page (for Western Europe, it's W. Europe Standard Time).

Afterwards click amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup_neutral in oobeSystem and again enter the TimeZone. Then expand the component and select OOBE to change its values to HideEULAPage=true, NetworkLocation=Work(for example) and ProtectYourPC=1. Then right-click the LocalAccounts component and Add new LocalAccount. Change its values so that they fit your choice of account-name etc.

You should be done now and the changes you made should enable a completely automated installation. Now save the file into the root directory of your copied Installer DVD files as autounattend.xml. Make a bootable DVD-image out of the files again (use a burning software such as the free ImgBurn) and test it in a virtual machine.

Timed Shutdown on Windows

You can time a shutdown on your computer easily by creating a short vbscript that contains either only the shutdown command, or a shutdown command with an integrated second timer. If you do not add a timer, you can also use Windows' Schedule Tasks function to have the computer shutdown at a specific time. The vbscript to shutdown looks like this:

Set objShell = wscript.CreateObject("wscript.Shell")"shutdown /s")

If you want a timer, add

/t xxx

to the quoted expression in the second line, where x is the number of seconds to count down. Enter this code into a notepad and save the file as .vbs. Do not save it as text file.

Send Mails Via Remote Server With VBScript (Windows)

You can use MS Windows' VBScript to write a script that is able to log into a remote mail server such as googlemail or any other with your account data and send mails from that server. This can be used to retrieve logs via attachments or to just automate mail processes. The bare script to send a mail looks as follows (the apostrophe after a line signals a comment to the lines content, it does not belong to the script. The data all go inside the doublequotes if there are any):

Set objMessage = CreateObject("CDO.Message")

objMessage.Subject = "Type in the mail's subject here"

objMessage.From = " <the sender mail goes here, you need the login data for it>"
'The mail address goes inside the tags

objMessage.To = "the receiver mail goes here"

objMessage.TextBody = "Here goes the actual mail message"

objMessage.Addattachment "Fill in the complete path to your attachment, otherwise leave complete line"

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = 2
determines whether you use local smtp (1) or network (2)

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = "
Fill in your smtp (outgoing) server"
You can find your provider's server address somewhere on the homepage or by googling for smtp server lists

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = 1
Determines the authentication mode. 0 for none, 1 for basic (clear text), 2 for NTLM

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = "
should be the same as the sender mail - login data for your server"

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = "
your email's password - login data for your server"

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = 25
This is the default port used by most servers. Find out if yours is using a different one if there are problems

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = False
Use SSL? True or False

objMessage.Configuration.Fields.Item _
("") = 60

'Maximum time connection is tried to be established



It is recommended not to use this script on a computer you are not the only user of, since your email and its password are openly visible. However you can just create a new one for that purpose. You can easily embed this script into any other VBScript, schedule it or do whatever you want with it.

Disable Automatic Window Arrangement (Aero Snap, Windows 7)

The window arrangement feature in Windows 7 (the one that maximises windows to full- or half-screen when you drag them to the screen's border) might appeal to many users, I however find it rather annoying than helpful.

Therefore I will show an option here that enables you to turn window arrangement off. Open the Windows Registry by entering regedit into a Run... prompt. On the left frame, browse the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop key and left-click it once. On the right frame, look for the WindowArrangementActive value - double-click it and change it from 1 to 0.

You may have to reboot your system, but afterwards window arrangement should be disabled.

Disable Updates on Shutdown in Windows

To disable Windows from installing updates when you were about to shut down your computer and have some tea there are two options available in your Local Group Policy Editor. Access it by entering gpedit.msc into a Run... prompt. On the left side you will have a large directory listing where you have to browse Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update.

The two top options are the ones you have to enable by double-clicking, enabling and applying. Windows will then no longer pester you with updates on shutdown.