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Tag: Windows

Writing bootable disk images (.iso, .img, etc.) to a USB stick from Windows

Because Windows doesn’t have dd, and I want to write the latest Mint LTS release to a USB task, I had to face the unpleasant task of finding a Windows tool to perform what’s a basic Unix operation. The good news is that I found one, and it’s open source: Win32 Disk Imager. It even has a version ≥ 1, titled: “Holy cow, we made a 1.0 Release”.

A screenshot of Win32 Disk Imager at work, writing Linux Mint 18.3 MATE 64bit to my SanDisk USB stick.

Win32 Disk Imager at work, writing Linux Mint 18.3 MATE 64bit to my SanDisk USB stick.

I found another open source tool, UNetbootin, but that tool didn’t recognize my non-MS-format formatted USB stick (which already tauted the installer for a previous Mint release).

In the end, Win32 Disk Imager also choked on the funky partition table left by the previous boot image, so I had to find out how reset the USB disk’s partition table in Windows:


Microsoft DiskPart version 10.0.16299.15

Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: YTHINK

DISKPART> list disk

  Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
  --------  -------------  -------  -------  ---  ---
  Disk 0    Online          238 GB      0 B        *
  Disk 1    Online           29 GB    28 GB

DISKPART> select disk 1

Disk 1 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> list partition

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    Primary           1706 MB  1024 KB
  Partition 2    Primary           2368 KB  1707 MB

DISKPART> select partition 2

Partition 2 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> delete partition

DiskPart successfully deleted the selected partition.

DISKPART> select partition 0

The specified partition is not valid.
Please select a valid partition.

There is no partition selected.

DISKPART> select partition 1

Partition 1 is now the selected partition.

DISKPART> delete partition

DiskPart successfully deleted the selected partition.

DISKPART> create partition primary

DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.


Leaving DiskPart...


Fixing hanging and slow Windows Update on Windows 7

Windows 7 update service is slow to begin with, but trying it on a computer that has been off for a while is damn near impossible. This is a known issue, apparently.

You need KB3172605 to fix it.

Then supposedly, to make Windows Update faster, you can install KB2852386 to be able to remove old updates with the cleanup wizard. But, the option to remove unneeded Windows Update files never appeared for me.


Finding junction files in Windows 7 and exclude them with DeltaCopy

Windows 7 has a sort of hard link, a junction file, which it uses to link the old location “Documents and Settings” to /Users/. Because of all this junctioning, you can’t just copy files with a Cygwin program like Deltacopy, because it will hang in infinite loop and copy a whole lot of things twice.

To identify junction files, run:

dir /AL /s

Here is an example exclude list for deltacopy for a standard windows 7 machine. Path names are specified assuming every user dir is supplied as separate dir to copy (because there are references to root, like ‘/Mijn documenten’:

--delete-excluded --exclude "/Application Data" --exclude "**/Downloads" --exclude "**/AppData/Local/Application Data" --exclude "/Local Settings" --exclude "**/Temporary Internet Files" --exclude "**/Flash Player" --exclude "**/Temp" --exclude "**/VirtualStore" --exclude "NTUSER.DAT*" --exclude "UsrClass.dat*" --exclude "ntuser.dat*" --exclude "parent.lock" --exclude "/Mijn documenten"  --exclude "/Mijn afbeeldingen" --exclude "/Mijn muziek" --exclude "/Mijn video's"

The ‘Mijn Documenten’ and such is a link to other dirs, so it doesn’t skip them. Be sure not to use these statements when running this on Windows XP…

Making Windows RDP more secure

I don’t really trust the security of RDP, so therefore I’d like to take some extra security measures. I found this article explaining a lot.

First put users in the remote desktop group. You can do this by right clicking on my computer, or through the conventional manager.

Administrators are always allowed access and you may want to disable this. To do that, click Start – Programs – Administrative Tools (%SystemRoot%\system32\secpol.msc /s), then Local Security Policy. With “Allow logon through Terminal Services” you can define the groups that can logon with RDP. Remote Administrators if you want.

Now you want to have some kind of automatic block after a certain number of failed attempts. In the same policy editor, go to “Account Policies – Account Lockout Policy”. Set the threshold to something useful, with useful values. I prefer not to use indefinate timeouts, to avoid legitimate people from being blocked forever.

Next you want to change the encryption level. You can do this by running “%SystemRoot%\system32\gpedit.msc /s”, going to Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Terminal Services. From there it depends on the windows version, but look for security and change:

  • Set client connection encryption level. Enabled, to high.
  • Always prompt client for password upon connection. Enabled.
  • Require Secure RPC Communication. Enabled.

Unfortunately, forcing SSL is incompatible with the linux rdesktop client.

You may need to run gpupdate (source).

Adding a quick launch in Windows 7

Windows 7 doesn”t have a quicklaunch by default. Luckily, there is a fix. To enable it, add toolbar, other toolbar and include this as location:

%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

That site also states you have to save your theme, so do that, to be safe. Just do desktop right mouse, adjust to preference, rightmouse on unsaved theme, etc.

Installing Windows on Xen

Just a a kind of bookmark, I used this blog post as a base to find out how to install Windows as a DomU on Xen. I might at some point reconstruct my steps, but for now this link is all… (judging by the URL the blog won’t exist much longer, but oh well…)

Pazera Free MOV to AVI Converter 1.2

Ewald wants to be able to make video/photo montages of his life at la Boucoule. While there last month, I helped him along with Windows Movie Maker (WMM) a bit. WMM doesn’t like Quicktime video’s (as outputted by his camera), so I found a simple Windows program that wraps around ffmpeg to convert these movies to AVI format: Pazera Free MOV to AVI Converter 1.2.

Pazera Free MOV to AVI Converter 1.2

To make the generated AVI work in WMM, a few settings need to be changed away from the default. For this purpose I added a custom profile. Here’s the INI file, “00 - Geschikt voor Windows Movie Maker.ini”:

AppName=Pazera Free MOV to AVI Converter

Now, Ewald will only need to select the right profile if he wants to prepare his Quicktime movies for editing with Windows Movie Maker:

Profile selection in Pazera MOV to AVI Converter

Create DVDs from any random movie format on Windows

Ewald wanted to be able to create DVDs from the Quicktime movies exported by his digital camera. As a result of being away from my familiar Linux tools, I had to find something that´d work on Windows XP.

First, I tried MediaCoder, a Windows front-end (done in XUL) for mencoder, ffmpeg and more of these familiar tools. It was flexible enough, but quite awkward from an end-user perspective and also frustrating if you’re used to calling the supporting commands directly from the CLI.

Luckily, I stumbled upon ConvertXtoDVD, a commercial Windows-only program which proved to be very user-friendly and intuitive without requiring the user to understand the ins and outs of each an every supported media format.

At 40 euro it’s a bit expensive if, like me, you’re used to staying at the free software side of things, but I’d daresay it’s actually worth the money if you’re not an obsessive geek with obscene amounts of free time on his hands.

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