Diagnostic boot on Windows

On a normal Windows boot the operating system loads all the programs and services that are configured to run on system startup. If your machine is haunted by a worm though it might be helpful to boot it with only the basic Windows services running - that is called a Diagnostic boot.

To get going, open a Run prompt by searching for run in the main menu. Enter msconfig. The following window should pop up:


Selective startup should be the one that's ticked. Check Diagnostic startup instead and confirm by clicking OKTo undo the changes, just repeat the steps and check the item that was selected in the beginning.

Deactivate Lock screen on startup in Windows 8

One of the most unnecessary things that Windows 8 brings to desktop computers might be the lock screen you need to wipe away every time you start your machine - luckily it's also one of the things you can disable.

To do so, open the Local Group Policy Editor (as shown here).

Browse the left pane for Computer Configuration > Administrative Tools > Control Panel > Personalization and double-click Do not display the lock screen on the right pane. Enable the setting and confirm by clicking Ok!

Run programs on system startup on Linux Ubuntu/Mint

The programs that are run on system startup are managed in a special application on Linux. Open Startup Applications from the distribution's main menu to find a list of programs already being run everytime you log in - you have the option to enable or disable existing entries, edit or delete them and to create new ones - click on Add to do so.
A new window with three text fields will open:

Name: Enter the name of the entry that will be shown in the previous menu.
Command: Enter the terminal command that launches the program you want to start - to see if you got the correct one, test it in a terminal (e.g. firefox, nautilus). If you want to start a program with root privileges, append the gksu string before the program's name (e.g. gksu nautilus).
Comment: Enter the comment that will be shown below the name in the previous menu.

Click on Add afterwards and close the startup applications window. Reboot your machine to test the configuration.

Windows 8 Task Manager Improvements (Consumer Preview)

Along with all the other changes that Windows 8 introduces to the operating systems' family, the ones made to the Task Manager will likely be welcomed by most users. Along with a revamped interface it brings along an enhanced pool of functionalities.

Opening the Task Manager is still done in the old way: you can either right-click the taskbar on the classic desktop and choose the appropriate action or press Ctrl + Alt + Del. As before, it is also available from the applciation menu which however is now part of the Metro menu.

Upon opening you will only be presented with a small window offering you to handle running application, which might be a good way to bringing the manager closer to unexperienced users. By clicking on More details, you will get to the new detailed Task Manager view, having all the options you had in earlier versions, plus, a few new ones.

You will notice a few more tabs in the new manager - the Details, Users and Services tabs are basically what you will be used to from previous versions. The performance tab has visually been enhanced and now features Disk and Network usage. The Startup tab gives you the option to edit the applications that are run on system startup just like msconfig did - this function has now moved to Task Manager. App history gives you an overview of your App usage (CPU, Network, Tile Updates). The Processes tab however is the big deal.

It lists all the running processes, divided into categories (Apps, Background processes, Windows processes) and furthermore shows all their resource usage. Heavy resource users are displayed on a dark yellow to orange background - the color gets lighter the less resources the process uses.
Notice that the Apps you do not use at the moment do not drain any CPU resources - they are put to "sleep" if running in the background.

Change System Sounds on Windows 7 (Including Startup)

This article will deal with two aspects: handling the regular sounds which are accessible in Control Panel as well as changing the system startup sound, which is hidden inside a .dll file and quite tricky to get at.
The regular sounds can be accessed by entering the Control Panel and browsing to Control Panel\Hardware and Sound\Sounds\Change system sounds. A window with selectible sound schemes will open where you can either select a premade scheme or browse your files to choose other .wav files and save a custom scheme. The checkbox below the list already indicates that you will not find the Startup sound in it - you will need third party software for that.

The reason for this requirement is that the startup sound isn't configurable by "normal" means - it is hidden inside a .dll file, C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll. Before you make any changes to it, make a backup-copy of it to some safe place and also one on your desktop to work with. Afterwards, download a resource hacker - these tools are used to access the data inside .dll files which can be sound files as well as icons and other things. I prefer ResEdit since it does not need an installation. You can download it here:


In ResEdit, open the copy of imageres.dll you saved to your desktop.

On the left Resources column, find the "WAVE" entry - there is exactly one file in there, which has different names depending on your system language - I'm using American English, which is why it's called 5080 here (replace any occurance of that number here with the one you have for your language). To be able to import your own sound, it also must be in the .wav format and must be called the same as the file you just found.
Now delete the 5080 entry in ResEdit - right-click it and choose Remove from project. Then right-click on some empty space in the Resource column and select Add Resource... > User Definded. A window pops up - select Name identifier and type in WAVE. Now browse the sound file you want to configure as startup sound and hit Open (I don't know the maximum size of the file you can use, you might try to keep it as small as possible - it worked for me with a file size of ~90kb, others have reported more). It will have the wrong name and language defined after you import it, so you have to change that: Right-click the entry and select Rename. Leave the Ordinal identifier checked and enter 5080 into the identifier box, then select the correct language for you (Englisch (United States) if you had 5080) and hit OK. Afterwards save the file in ResEdit.

Now comes the tricky bit which is replacing the imageres.dll in your System32 folder with the one you edited. If you try to just do it, Windows will most likely hit you with the Permission-Denied-club, no matter how many administrative rights you have got. People have reported that it worked for them in save mode. A save option however is to boot off a Linux Live CD (I used Linux Mint 12 Lisa) and replace the file in the Live environment.

Therefore, just download a CD image file from here or any other Linux distribution's homepage, burn it onto a bootable CD and boot from it.

You will boot into the Live environment, from which you can test and install Linux or if you need, fix stuff on your Windows installation. I will go on with the instructions assuming you chose Linux Mint 12 from the link I provided, if you chose differently you will likely know how to accomplish the next steps on your system.
To replace the file, hover your cursor to the top left corner of the screen - an overlay will pop up. Type in terminal and open the first object of the list appearing:

This is the command line and will be needed in a few moments. Hover to the top left corner again and click on the nautilus icon on the left to open a new file manager window:

On the appearing window, have a look at the left column - there are different (or only one) drives listed, you should be able to determine your Windows system drive by its size or contents. Click on it once to show them. What is important now is the value that is shown on the window decoration on top of the window, circled in red here:

You basically need only the first few characters. Now go back to the terminal you opened and enter

sudo su -

to grant yourself administrative rights. Next, you do the copying. For that, use the following command. You can use the tab-key to autocomplete the path segments, so you don't have to write out the whole value from above. Replace my username with yours and weirdvalue with the drive's value:

cp -f /media/weirdvalue/Users/howtoforge/Desktop/imageres.dll /media/weirdvalue/Windows/System32

The file is now replaced and you can reboot, removing the CD when told to. If you encounter problems with the new imageres.dll, just repeat the process and copy the backup you made to the System32 folder instead.

Set a custom boot message on Windows 7

On Windows 7 there is an option that displays a text message to the user of the computer on system start-up. This message is configurable in the Local Security Policy which you can access over the start menu's program search bar. Once in there, expand Local Policies on the left frame of the window and select Security Options. There, find the two entries named message title for users attempting to log on and message text for users attempting to log on.

As the names say, the value of the title message is later displayed as the title, same goes for the text. The text can hold an infinite amount of lines and approximately 94 characters in one line. Close the window after you have specified your desired entries.

Both of these settings are also available in the Windows Registry. To find them, open the registry by typing regedit into the Run... prompt and browse the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Policies\System key. There, the legalnoticecaption and the legalnoticetext values are stored. These are the registry storages for the values you entered in the Local Security Policy window.