Posts Tagged ‘Windows 7’
7Customizer is a tool that, with the help of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), provides a nice graphical user interface for customizing your Windows 7 installation disk.
To start, insert your disk into the disk drive and copy all of its contents to a folder on your hard drive (this should not contain any space characters in its name and entire path – just call it something like InstallCD and place it directly on the C:\ drive). Next, download and install 7Customizer and the WAIK (see download links below). Run 7Customizer and direct it to the necessary paths:
WAIK usually is installed in the C:\Program Files\Windows AIK directory. The three services that are needed here are located (depending on your architecture – for 32 bit systems it’s x86, for 64 bit systems it’s amd64) in C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64 and C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64\Servicing. The fourth line needs to be directed to the folder you put your installation disk’s files into. Afterwards select the Windows version and proceed with customizing your disk:
You may insert language packs, Windows Updates, drivers of any kind, remove parts of the original installation, create an Unattended Script that covers everything but the partitioning (the unattended file can also be created manually with the help of WAIK to automate everything including partitioning, it is up to you which is more suited for your plans) or apply any kind of tweak to your registry or your interface such as customizing your wallpaper, taskbar, etc. etc. To get a burnable image out of the process, check the option to create an ISO-file – these can be made bootable and written on a DVD. Finish your doings on the Apply tab and prepare for a bit of waiting.
The .iso file that is produced is an image of the installation disk. Write it to a DVD and make it bootable.
Download WAIK here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=10333
Download 7Customizer here: http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/139077-7customizer-a-windows-7-customization-and-deployment-tool/
After critical Updates, Windows often needs to restart the computer to apply all changes, which however might not be in the interest of the user. To prevent Windows from auto-restarting (may it be to reduce annoyance or to prevent Windows from stopping unattended running applications), you can use a simple but effective registry entry. To apply it, open the Windows registry by entering regedit into a Run… prompt. On the left column navigate to the Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU key (you might have to create some of the keys if they have not been automatically created yet (right-click the key-tree for that)).
On the right panel, right-click to create a new DWORD-Value (32-bit) and call it NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. Assign it the value 1 (which is the same in decimal and hexadecimal). key (you might have to create some of the keys if they have not been automatically created yet (right-click the key-tree for that)).
To reverse the effect, browse the same value again and change it to 0
As you can edit the time for the thumbnail preview to be shown from the taskbar, you can also edit the time for it to expand from hovering the cursor over it with the Windows 7 registry editor. To accomplish that enter regedit into a Run… prompt and browse for the Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced key on the left column of the editor. On the right panel, right-click to create a new DWORD-Value (32-bit) and call it ThumbnailLivePreviewHoverTime.
Assign it a decimal number that represents the time to expand in milliseconds (1000 units=1second) – I chose 100 here, so thats the tenth part of a second.
The taskbar preview time is the time interval that it takes to show the window previews upon hovering the cursor over taskbar items:
This interval is a bit too long in my opinion and so I will shorten it by the means of the registry editor. Open it by typing regedit into a Run… prompt and in the left column, browse to the Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced key and right-click the right panel to create a new DWORD-Value (32-bit). Name it ExtendedUIHoverTime and assign it a Decimal number in milliseconds that represents the interval (I’ll take 250 here, which is a quarter of a second).
I’ve experienced that Thunderbird has gotten slower and slower on my Laptop, at last it was nearly unusable. Sometimes I could see the chars appearing slowly on the screen while I typed the email or it was impossible to drag & drop a email to a different folder because Thunderbird was stalled for 10-15 seconds. No other applications on my System were slow and the notebook has afast harddisk and SSD, so this was not the problem. The following steps helped me to speedup Thunderbird so that it got usable again.
Set some interface options
Edit Thunderbird options under Preferences → Advanced → General tab, click on “Advanced options” button and set these values:
layers.acceleration.disabled = true
gfx.direct2d.disabled = false
and restart Thunderbird. If it is still slow, try the next options:
Disabling the AeroGlass interface makes the interface reacting much faster. Install the “NoGlass” Addon which is available in the Thunderbird addon repository.
Disable Folder Indexing
If you have folders with many emails inside, Indexing can slow down Thunderbird. Go To Preferences → Advanced → General tab and disable the Global search.
Antivirus scanning of the Email folders in the filesystem
A antivirus scanner can slow down Thunderbird as well. Configure your antivirus program to exclude the Thunderbird Mail folders from being scanned. Warning: this option should only be used when the email is scanned by a smtp proxy of the antivirus program for viruses before it is handed to Thunderbird.
Cleanup Thunderbird index files
Thunderbird creates a lot of index files. A cleanup of these files can speedup Thunderbird as well, especially if some of them are broken. There is a handy tool called ThunderFix to do that.
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: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/de-de/details.aspx?FamilyID=696dd665-9f76-4177-a811-39c26d3b3b34
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.
On Windows 7 it may happen that you are denied access to files that you regularly own and have permission to write to, even if you are logged in as administrator, perform the action as administrator or from an elevated command prompt or try to access it in safe mode.
If this happens to you and you have already tried all usual means, as changing ownership or use Unlocker on it, there is a fix for you that circumvents NTFS security to access the files called AccessGain Tool.
Download it from here: http://www.hobeanu.com/blog/accessgain-tool/
Before you follow the installation guide in the readme-file, reboot your computer and choose the advanced boot options on F8. Select Disable Driver Signature Enforcement there to be able to use the tool properly.
Be careful: This tool grants you access to any files stored on your file system – do not delete any files that you do not know the purpose of!
There are more than one way to slipstream (include) Service Pack 1 into your Windows 7 installation disk – this guide describes the manual way without third party software. What you need is your Windows 7 installation disk, the Service Pack (download it from here, one of the files titled windows6.1-KB97693 depending on your architecture – save it directly to your C: drive (if you don’t, you have to adjust the paths used later to your chosen directories)), and the Windows Automated Installation Kit, available here.
To edit the files of your installation disk, copy all of its content to your hard drive (best create a folder InstallCD on your C: drive). Afterwards open a command line window (enter CMD into the search bar) with administrative rights by right-clicking it and selecting the appropriate option (a command line window with administrative rights is also called elevated). Now you need to extract the contents of the Service Pack – therefore, create a folder called SP1content on your C: drive. Then go to the command line and enter:
The SP1content folder contains an item called windows6.1-KB976932-X64.cab or similar, depending on your architecture (there will be two similarly named files, pick the large one) – extract this file into the same folder. After the extraction has finished, there will be the file NestedMPPContent and seven language files called KB976933-LangsCab 0-6. Extract all of them to the same folder.
Now you have to edit three files via Editor – the first one is Windows7SP1-KB976933~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~188.8.131.5214 (the name might slightly differ from the file in your folder). Open it and scroll down to the last but one line. Change the “false” in allowedOffline=”false” to “true“, save and quit the document.
Next, open update.mum and do the exact same thing as before.
Afterwards, open update.ses. Look for the last two lines reading targetState=”Absent” and change “Absent” to “Installed“.
To integrate the Service Pack to your CD, you have to know the index number of your version of Windows. To do that, you need to use one of the Windows Automated Installer Kit tools called Dism. The correct tool is located in the WAIK folders, so direct your elevated command line to it first (adjust the path to your architecture):
cd C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64\Servicing
From here, you can use the dism command. To find out your version’s index, you need to execute it on your Installer CD’s install.wim file:
dism /get-wiminfo /wimfile:C:\InstallCD\sources\install.wim
My index for the Enterprise Edition is 1. This information is needed for the next step, which is to mount the install.wim file. Create a folder to mount in (mine is called mnt) and enter following into the elevated command prompt (replace my index with yours):
dism /mount-wim /wimfile:C:\InstallCD\sources\install.wim /index:1 /mountdir:C:\mnt
Next, we add the Service Pack’s files to it (this might take a lot of time):
dism /image:C:\mnt /add-package /packagepath:C:\SP1content
Finally we unmount the image. Make sure you still use the dism.exe used before – there is another one in C:\Windows\System32 which will give you an error after the next command has run. This command might take really long:
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:C:\mnt /commit
Afterwards you will find a new install.wim inside the SP1content directory. Pick that one and replace the original, located in C:\InstallCD\sources, with it (the new one should be a few hundred MB larger).
Now you can use a tool like ImgBurn to make a new .iso-image out of the InstallCD directory and burn it onto a DVD (you need to make it bootable – see other guides here).
While you needed third-party software on Windows XP to change nearly everything but your wallpaper, Windows 7 has made things quite a lot easier. To change your login screen, just create the following two folders:
Then open the Windows registry by typing regedit into a Run… prompt and browse the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background key on the left panel. Click it once and change the value of OEMBackground on the right panel to 1 (if the value is not already present, right-click the right panel and select New > DWORD-Value (32 bit)).
Afterwards choose a picture you want to have as your new login screen. It must be in the .jpg format and its size must be under 256 KB. Copy the picture into the created backgrounds folder and rename it to backgroundDefault.jpg.
Your login screen will now have changed upon your next log-off.