Any way to apply windows user specific settings via script somehow without reboot?

Discussion in 'Operating Systems' started by Nazo, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. Nazo

    Nazo 2[H]4U

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    My school's computer administrators had the bright idea of making the systems forget all changes whatsoever whenever you log out or reboot to make it harder to mess up a system and to prevent people from moving things around/etc and making things a mess for others. Which is fine. Problem is, they just never get around to configuring quite a lot of things, such as MS Office, which creates a painful hassle every single time we use them, which is every class meeting in one of my classes.

    What I'm wondering is, is there maybe some sort of way you could create a script of some sort that would apply all of these little settings, everything from showing extentions of filenames and changing to list view with the status bar on in explorer to providing that first run setup stuff for things like office and opera (which has horrible defaults IMO)?

    I've tried talking to them, but, the only time I got anything through at all was when I finally managed to convince them to install video drivers instead of using only the built in XP crap (which, btw, is painfully slow even just raising/lowering a window) and this was because a software that was absolutely vital to one of the classes would not run at all due to requiring the specific OpenGL driver provided by nVidia (which btw, is stupid as it's a 2D java-based program utilizing exactly 0 acceleration, but, that's a matter to take up with Oracle, not the admins here...)

    Besides, quite frankly I think that some of the settings they will leave on there, such as the option to hide file extentions are just stupid. I just know that if I did somehow convince them finally to get around to things like setting up Opera/etc, they'll still leave some stupid things like that.

    Now, I know all of this can be done by watching the registry and applying appropriate changes (though this would be tougher due to the fact that I really need to not be installing software on their systems even if they do get cleaned up as it's not impossible for that to mess things up) the trick here is, that will require you to at the very least log out and at the most, in some cases may actually require a full reboot. Unfortunately, do either of those and the changes are gone. Maybe is there some sort of way to "refresh" the registry that wouldn't mess up running programs?

    And yes, I know they should use a system where each user is given a seperate account with access to appropriate things (like another school I briefly visited did) but, well, if it's this hard just to convince them to install video drivers, just imagine explaining why they should do a rather large system modification -- almost a whole new system even...
     
  2. AristonCC

    AristonCC [H]Lite

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    Sounds like your administrators have implemented Mandatory Profiles which means ANY changes you make to the system will be overwritten. Even if you decided to try to make changes to the registry, the only way to implement the changes is to logoff/logon again, which in turn will overwrite said changes. There's no way around Mandatory Profiles...hence the name.
     
  3. Komataguri

    Komataguri 2[H]4U

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    From what it sounds like, H e knows that.

    and he wants to create a script that he can run upon loging in that will set everything to how he likes it.


    Since they allow the changes anyway [ they just get nuked upon reboot/logout ], He wants to be able to to recreate his personal settings with clicking a single .bat file or something. instead of wasting time every time setting things back to a usable state
     
  4. SJConsultant

    SJConsultant 2[H]4U

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    Isn' t there a hardware based unit that can essentially track all changes made and reverse them at reboot?

    It'd be a alot simpler to manage systems where you just turn off the hardware key, make your permanent changes, then turn the unit back on for regular use. I know the local college uses such a device although I cannot remember the name of it.
     
  5. Nazo

    Nazo 2[H]4U

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    Yes, thank you. Thought I was clear about that....

    SJConsultant, I don't know the name of such devices, but, I can imagine many different ways such a thing could be reasonably implemented and it just makes sense. However, I'm 99% certain that this is a purely software solution. There are no devices sticking out or anything, and it's one of those stupid expensive gateway systems that are essentially a laptop made to sit on a desk (god I'm ticked off at them for wasting our money on such a thing... But, that's neither here nor there...) Any hardware solutions would be pretty minimalistic considering that you can't install much inside there and there's nothing obvious outside (most of the PCMCIA slots still even have the plastic holder in them...)

    Irregardless, back to the original subject, yes, you can make temporary changes that will hold until the next logoff. It doesn't immediately forget or anything. My presumption would be that whatever security software they use simply reverts to a backup of the registry and replaces key files in the same manner. The truth is, though, I haven't really asked them how they do it, all I know is it's loosing basically every setting every logoff but holds them the whole time until you do. Remember my mention of them having to install video drivers to run a particular software? When I tried manually doing it before contacting them to test if my theory that that was the problem, it wouldn't hold past the reboot, so I was unable to test since it was requiring one. I reported my suspicions and the next day it was working, though they didn't bother to change ANYTHING else, even the stupid MS office thing where it has to run through it's little setup process the first time you start it even though my teacher was finding it annoying even.

    Oh, and AristonCC, don't be so quick to say it's impossible to do something. I know how to do a few basic things such as set the resolution via scripting (albiet by making a call to a really simple external program, though I think you can do it with the quickres dll if you knew how.) You can even write some registry things that will be accepted the next time something is run, but, firstly I need to do this all at once instead of having to manually go through steps (or it defeats the purpose obviously) and secondly, I'm not really sure what I can use to properly track registry changes that I won't have to install. Thing is, I know there's a lot of power hidden in the windows scripting system with a lot of commands that are next to undocumented or at least darned hard to track down, there may well be some that are capable of doing this, I just don't know them yet.
     
  6. SJConsultant

    SJConsultant 2[H]4U

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    The local college here has these hardware devices that are inside the computer inbetween the IDE cable and HDD so you wouldn't be able to tell if it is there or not. Essentially they track all changes, files, etc, and on reboot, "rollback" those changes when the system reboots.

    If this is the case, then all they need to do is configure the system before putting in the hardware device.

    I'll check with the admin at the college for the name of the device and let ya know.
     
  7. Nazo

    Nazo 2[H]4U

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    Don't go to any major lengths, it wouldn't really help me to know if it's hardware or software since I know at least the changes remain for one session. Anyway, my point earlier is that it's very hard for them to install anything on the inside. You see, these systems ARE laptops, just in an unusual case essentially (getting why I'm so upset over their purchase yet?) I suppose laptops actually do use an actual IDE, but, I imagine it would be a really big pain to try to squeeze such a device in there and may require an adaptor if it's actually a laptop interface to an HD designed to fit in a laptop instead. What's more, I don't know much about how gateway does such things, but, I imagine opening them up and installing some sort of device would qualify as a warantee violation, leaving them with no warantee at all. Surely gateway themselves won't do it -- assuming it even can be done... Anyway, I'm 99% sure it's a software based solution from what I've gathered. Irregardless, I can't modify these things in any permanent sort of way. I haven't been forced to sign some sort of rule agreement or anything like that other school, but, I'm willing to bet that they wouldn't appreciate it at all -- even if it is correcting what I consider to be a bad mistake (and even one teacher for certain agrees, quite possibly others as well.)
     
  8. feigned

    feigned [H]ard|Gawd

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    Device? On an IDE channel? You should know better. You're thinking of Deep Freeze if anything. They are probably use mandatory profiles or at the very least some stiff GPO's, but if you can get to the registry something is up.

    Tell me, is the machine you are thinking of messing around with bought and paid for by you or the school?

    If it's the school's then your best bet is to talk to the admins about the crap you have to deal with. If they have half a brain you could probably get some things changed. Technically they can do whatever the hell they want as long as it doesn't damage the machine or prevent you from doing your work, so you can be kind of screwed there. I'd bring up the fact that it takes you 10 minutes to get situated every time you use the machine. You might get lucky and get the gears turning in an admin's head. Not likely because we normally don't give a fuck. If you can do what you need to do then we have done our duties.
     
  9. Nazo

    Nazo 2[H]4U

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    I've already tried discussing things with them. For one thing, it's just really hard to reach them (my last thing was done via teacher and it was only because a teacher needing it for class said something that they seemed to respond,) for another, they just don't want to go through the effort of having to reconfigure that many machines. Frankly, I've tried contacting them several times about the fact that that god-awful webct just simply won't allow Opera, not due to the fact that opera won't work (thank god for UA.INI, it's saving my life) but just that no one bothered to support it, so when it sees the opera tag, it immediately tells the user that there is an error on the server and to try again later (yeah, that's right, it tells them the error is on the server not the client, which is confusing as heck!) Now, yes the school bought those machines but, that means, ultimately, it's students bought them (which is why I'm so ticked off that they didn't do such a great job of picking the right machines.)

    Anyway, clearly from what you said you're an admin, so I can see you don't like the idea of people putting their own settings on there, but, you do have to bear in mind that it is going to be done (even if not by me then by others) and, frankly, they didn't actually make me sign any agreement to not modify anything either, it's more a matter of the fact that I know that I shouldn't (not that signing anything will stop everyone anyway.) But, hey, since you're looking at this from an administrator's point of view instead of the person who has to spend a good 10+ minutes re-setting up the system each time he sits down in a new room and every other day, there are two things you should consider about my idea. One, a person who has to spend 10+ minutes setting stuff probably isn't going to spend the 10+ minutes reverting everything back -- if they even have time or think of it in time as the period comes close to an end and they are working on their work instead. Ok, ok, admitedly only a few things have to be set back since a lot of them need to be left "fixed," but, you get the idea. The second thing is that an idea like mine would also have the convenience of giving an administrator a handy little means of walking around and modifying a bunch of systems really quickly. (And, IMO, the problem with getting them to actually do anything lies in the fact that they have to get up and do it on every single pc in the building and they have to do it pretty late when there are no classes and they'd rather be going home.)
     
  10. JL_Audio_User

    JL_Audio_User Gawd

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    Why dont you go buy your own computer :rolleyes: Instead of trying to undo things nobody asked you to?
     
  11. Talon Blackrazor

    Talon Blackrazor 2[H]4U

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    Did you even read the majority of the thread?
     
  12. JL_Audio_User

    JL_Audio_User Gawd

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    Yeah, Did you? They are not his computers, He has already conveyed his thoughts and opinions to the Admins. You see, his BIG problem doesnt seem to be THEIR big problem. Are you following me :rolleyes: Now he is on an open public forum soliciting help to circumvent something the Admins seem comfortable leaving in place.

    Is the system stupid an unneccesary? probably but its their comps so they can do whatever the fuck they want ( a.k.a.> welcome to the real world)

    You guys giving him advise trip me out. Tell him to save his money and buy his own computer, then, he can do "whatever the fuck he wants" And when he does, see if he would appreciate someone else coming along and fucking-up his prefferences on HIS computer.
     
  13. SJConsultant

    SJConsultant 2[H]4U

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    Know better than what? Perhaps that I know something that you don't?

    There is a device called Centurion Guard the local college here uses on their PCs to keep thngs consistant.

    Centurion is hardware based and plugs into the IDE channel just as I had stated, Watch the video and learn something.
     
  14. SJConsultant

    SJConsultant 2[H]4U

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    I don't see where the OP is requesting to make the changes permanent. I tend to believe he simply wants to automate configuring the settings to his preferences by running a script or batch file which is not unreasonable or bypassing any security the admins set since the next reboot or login will reset anything he has done.
     
  15. JL_Audio_User

    JL_Audio_User Gawd

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    Look, if thats the case and the admins dont mind. Then they oughta be helping him instead of forcing him to solicit info online.

    My point was about going around them because they did'nt see it his way. If they are just lazy, then they should get fired for being useless.
     
  16. Talon Blackrazor

    Talon Blackrazor 2[H]4U

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    What does creating a script to make temporary changes allowed by the administrators have to do with "fucking-up their preferences?" He's trying to automate 10 minutes worth of clicking, not circumvent some sort of protection. :rolleyes:

    I am also pretty sure (read certain) that he has his own computer; a point not particularly relevant while working in a school computer lab.
     
  17. Nazo

    Nazo 2[H]4U

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    Turn your signature viewing on, it's actually rather useful and the admins require it to be no larger than 10 lines, so ithey won't usually get in your way. I'll admit mine is big, but, after you do turn it back on, you will very quickly and easily see that not only do I have my own computer, but, it beats the living daylights out of those horrible things which are 2.4GHz P4s (the slow kind) with only 128MB of memory running an OS that needs 256MB minimum to run decently with an onboard (eg shared memory!) FX5200 video... I'm not using their computers because I WANT to, I'm using them because mine is far too heavy and inconvenient to be carrying around and I'm not rich enough to afford a decent laptop. TRUST ME, if I could carry my computer as it is around without messing it up and just set it up where I liked, I'd be using it all the time as I'm extremely happy with my current system (never underestimate the mobile barton! It may not be A64, but, it's one sweet cpu nonetheless.)

    Now, maybe the admins should be fired, that's kind of not up to me. Unfortunately, you see, even though this is a college which means in the end the students pay, it's a state college, so, it's run at least in part by the government. Aka, automatic inefficiencies. Those same computers I'm so annoyed about are in the local libraries and all as well, only, it's in the college that tuition goes up, the libraries just get the taxpayer's money.


    What I'm saying I'd like to do is simply fix a few little annoying settings, many of which they wouldn't even think of (such as that god-awful option to hide file extentions which drives me insane and I swear I want to beat up someone at microsoft for making it default -- someone please tell me why microsoft's line of thinking is it's better to hide EVERYTHING from the user, even stuff they need in the long run... Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to help people who ask "how do I run this file someone else just sent me? It has a little picture of some blue squiggly thing.") I'm not talking about stealing their software or installing virii or something like that. Anyway, such a thing has it's uses beyond such things such as setting up a bunch of systems in minor ways like that in a hurry. In fact, currently the admins have to go through and manually do all that stuff to every single pc, so they have something of an excuse for not exactly falling over themselves in their rush to do all that work (and do you have any idea how almost painful it gets doing the same repetitive stuff over and over on > 100 systems can get?) But, if I tell them of a nice little scripting system, all they have to do is plug in a thumdrive, execute the script, apply changes, and move to the next system. That takes something that takes a good 10-15 minutes on each system that they'll end up forgetting this or that on a few and turns it into a good 1-2 minutes on each system with no mistakes...
     
  18. JL_Audio_User

    JL_Audio_User Gawd

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    Man...
    I did'nt even look at your sig :confused: my bad. I gotta take a breath next time before I post something stupid



    **lesson learned**
     
  19. Havs

    Havs n00bie

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    OK, I'll actually try to help on this one instead of criticizing. There are programs out there called registry trackers. What they do is take an initial snapshot of the registry (and all text based and ini files on the better ones). Then, you make all your changes and take ANOTHER snapshot. It then compares the differences and gives them to you in a nice list. The better ones will even create a nice .reg file for you that includes all the changes.

    I used to do reverse engineering of install programs. We'd analyze everything the program did, and then repackage the install to conform to company standards. I used these type of utilities every day and they work flawlessly. Sadly, its been 6 years since I did it, so I couldn't give you specific programs. I'd start out by doing a search on google suggest for "registry tracker" or "track registry changes" for starters.

    Now the major question is, will these machines allow you to run a .reg file. Since it reverses all of the changes you've made after every reboot, there's a good chance it will. On setups like this, they usually leave em moderately open so you can install programs and make changes, because they know you can't really do any damage, since the system will be rolled back.

    My advice would be to download and install a registry tracker on another machine which you have admin rights on. Put everything to the state in which it exists on your lab machine and invoke a snapshot. Make the changes back how you want them and take another snapshot and compare. Since they're universal operating system changes, as long as its the same os (most commands between w2k and xp even work) you can transplant those changes easily. Make a .reg file, stick it on your pen drive, and invoke it every time you sit down at your machine. Refresh your desktop and you should be all set.
     
  20. Havs

    Havs n00bie

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    for configuring msoffice for the first time, make a batch file that includes these lines...

    note: this is for office xp, you need to find the proper extension if you're using something else

    start c:\"program files"\"microsoft office"\office10\powerpnt.exe
    start c:\"program files"\"microsoft office"\office10\excel.exe
    start c:\"program files"\"microsoft office"\office10\winword.exe
    start c:\"program files"\"microsoft office"\office10\outlook.exe

    do something similar for opera as well and include it in this batch file. what this does is invokes each program individually. All you have to do then is close each window and its configured. its not perfect, but it saves you a couple minutes.
     
  21. Nazo

    Nazo 2[H]4U

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    It has admin priveledges. As a matter of fact, all those systems run XP Home, not Pro... Thing is, I can't just use a .reg file as it will be lost when I logoff to apply the changes... Also, I am kind of hoping to find an installation tracker that doesn't have to install or at least installs minimally because, while, like I said, they didn't make me sign some thing saying I wouldn't install or change anything, it would still surely be considered my fault if ANYTHING went wrong due to it obviously. I've found a surprising amount of software will actually work without being installed, so I can run it off of my jumpdrive, but, I have some rather limited space (though I am going to buy a 1GB MP3 player/jumpdrive soon, I won't have it for a bit, and, besides, not all problems are solved simply by increasing space as by the time I'm done putting the stuff I HAVE to have on there, I won't have much space left...) I've actually been running Opera off of it with the only problem being the fact that it just completely halts and stops responding for large periods of time rather often I guess while loading from the drive, which is kind of annoying when trying to browse.

    And Havs, I already know how to run programs from a batch file. Thing is, first of all, that would really slow things down as the system is slow enough and running each at once like that won't help, and, second of all, it's not true that all I have to do is simply close the window. They have some kind of adobe plugin that wants to run scripts every time which you have to tell it to trust or disable to get it to stop pestering each time you run it and, it hasn't been configured fully, so asks for the name and initials every time as well. Actually, I suspect office is one of the things I could solve simply with a registry entry as it theoretically gets that stuff from the registry when it runs -- though they do have that annoying office startup which sits in the bar and chooses to pop up a note pestering you to take a survey or that updates or something are available when one is in the middle of an assignment... Besides which, powerpoint and word are the only two I need, and you couldn't PAY me to use outlook. d-: Anyway, the time that saves wouldn't be in the minitues, it would be in the seconds as I'm a keyboard navigator, not a mouse navigator until things like those pop up that require the mouse to navigate appropriately (yes, you can tab through, but, that's still just as graphical as you have to stop and look and all, so the mouse is actually faster at this point.)