Sponsored by..

Showing posts with label Windows. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windows. Show all posts

Thursday 2 January 2014

Windows.old, and the Windows XP to Windows 8.1 gotcha

So I finally got around to the long over-due task of migrating my main system off Windows XP 32-bit (because it is going out of support soon) to Windows 8.1 64-bit because.. well, it's cheaper to go the Windows 8.x route than Windows 7 and 8 does have some interesting features.

You can't really upgrade Windows XP to Windows 8.1 in the traditional sense, it is basically a completely new installation but it does retain your original Windows XP data so you can get to it later. But there's a gotcha here.

Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to Windows 8, and I already had a Windows 8 upgrade disk that I bought a few months back. Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8 does create a set of backup files in a folder called windows.old so you can recover your data, including what was in the C:\Documents and Settings folder. So, in theory you just copy the old data from that folder into your new Documents folder.

Here's the gotcha. If you're like me, you've probably been putting off the Windows 8 upgrade until you can have Windows 8.1 which brings back the Start button. So the obvious next step is to do that (although you need to install KB2871389 to show Windows 8.1 in the app store). You can then do the 3GB+ download to install Windows 8.1 over Windows 8 which runs pretty smoothly. But before you do that.. remember to take your data out of the windows.old folder!

The trap here is that when you upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, the contents of the windows.old folder are deleted and overwritten again, destroying the backup data from Windows XP. 

Uh-oh. It's a good job that I'm paranoid about backups, so nothing was lost. But it's easy to see that people could lose data if they don't recover it from windows.old  before they did the Windows 8.1 upgrade.

It really, really is worth investing in some offline storage or other backup medium before you do this. I took the opportunity to clone Windows XP to a new SSD drive before doing the upgrade and I disconnected the original hard disk, and I also made an offline backup to be on the safe side. But if I had just ploughed on and done the deed then I would have lost irreplaceable data. 

Windows 8.1 is.. well, weird. But it does run very quickly on my four-year-old Dell Precision workstation with the SSD drive and a memory upgrade. Apart from the vanishing data it all went remarkably smoothly (if you are knowledgeable about Windows systems) and it didn't require any unpleasantness such as driver disks. The application troubleshooting is pretty awesome for apps that don't run properly under the new OS, and there are only a few really ancient 16-bit apps that I can't get to work that need recoding. Ah well, it should keep the computer up-to-date with security updates until 2023 which should easily be longer than the expected lifespan of the machine..

Wednesday 9 January 2008

eTrust ITM 8.1 fails to update

I've been grappling with a strange problem with eTrust ITM 8.1 for a couple of weeks - the software installs just fine, but the signature updates never apply. The problem occurs on a whole batch of machines that aren't exactly related, but which were all bought in early 2005.

The eTrust Distribution log shows the following:
Completed Time Type Code Description
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 1) Selected component "eTrust Antivirus Arclib Archive Libra...
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 2) Selected component "eTrust Antivirus Base"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 3) Selected component "eTrust Antivirus Realtime Drivers"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 4) Selected component "iGateway"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 5) Selected component "eTrust ITM Common"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 6) Selected component "eTrust ITM Agent GUI"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 7) Selected component "CAUpdate"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 8) Selected component "eTrust PestPatrol Base"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 9) Selected component "eTrust PestPatrol Clean"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 10) Selected component "eTrust PestPatrol Engine"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 11) Selected component "eTrust PestPatrol Realtime"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 12) Selected component "eTrust PestPatrol Signatures"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 13) Selected component "eTrust Vet Engine"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 Checking updates for "eTrust Antivirus Arclib Archive Librar...
09-Jan-2008 08:46:11 Information 0 Downloading from "SERVERNAME:42511"
09-Jan-2008 08:46:09 Information 0 The distribution program started the download process.
Show 10 Show 25 Show 50 Show All Page 1 « ‹ 1-16 of 16 › »
Note that there are always 16 lines in the log.. the update process starts but never completes, and there's no error message.

After working with our reseller we discovered the problem - it's not a problem with eTrust, but instead a very strange permissions issue that has happened with those PCs. What has happened is that the computer's SYSTEM account (which the eTrust services run under) doesn't have access to write to that part of the disk, despite having permissions explicitly set.

In the case of eTrust, the fix is to open up the Services control panel (Start.. Run.. services.msc), and then.

  • Double-click on the eTrust ITM Job Service
  • Click the Log On tab
  • Change the credentials from the "Local System account" to the local Administrator account on the PC (i.e. username Administrator, password to whatever you set it to).
  • Restart the service
  • Either reboot the machine, or terminate the ITMDist service
  • Tell the machine to download updates again.
In the cases I have seen, the update works correctly after the Administrator account has been specified. There does seem to be some problem with the SYSTEM service not working properly.

Of course, you can also do this all remotely with the Computer Management tool and something like PSKILL (from PSTools), so you don't have to be sitting at the machine to do it.

As I said, I don't believe that this is an eTrust problem, it looks as though Windows is borked somehow, possibly an issue with SIDs or something. I have a feeling that other software misbehaves, possibly including Active Directory policies. I have no solution other than a complete rebuild, but if you're struggling to get eTrust updating properly, then I would definitely look at the user rights for the service.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

"The system is not fully installed": Windows XP, WMP 11 and Sysprep

Kudos to lizardking009 for this post at the 2cpu.com forums.

After using Sysprep to prepare a new Windows XP build for distribution to some Dell laptops, I got the a message saying The system is not fully installed when trying to restart the machine.

It turns out that this is due to the presence of Windows Media Player 11 which screws up the Sysprep process somehow. I can't say that I'm a big fan of this DRM-laded stuff, but generally speaking you always load the latest version of everything before resealing the machine to take an image from it.

Microsoft have this knowledgebase article showing how to recover from the problem, although I discovered that this does not work very well on machines that have already been built from a Sysprep (such as Dells). If you're working in a reasonably well equipped environment with another XP machine and a suitable external USB drive enclosure then it's probably easier to edit the registry on the affected PC's hard disk by plugging it into the USB port of another machine, i.e.:

  • Load REGEDIT
  • Select HKEY_USERS
  • Go into File.. Load Hive..
  • Browse to the \WINDOWS\System32\Config\System file on the USB connected drive
  • Name the hive "system" or whatever you like
  • Find the Setup key on the newly loaded hive and locate SystemSetupInProgress.
  • Change the data from 1 to 0.
  • Unload the Hive
Then, once the hard disk is reinserted into the original machine, bring it up in Safe Mode, deinstall Windows Media Player 11 and reboot. This should start the setup process (you can choose to take an image at this point, if you wish).