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Thread: Looking Through Windows

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    Post Looking Through Windows

    Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Under-The-Hood

    This collection of posts is an updated version of the previous version I wrote back in 2006, to provide a little more on the history of Windows and trim a little of the fluff.

    Foreword
    "NT" is the generic name for the family of Windows which stemmed from the original "Windows NT" operating system.
    Windows 95, 98 & ME are the other family of Windows which are in reality shells on top of MS-DOS (referred to as "Win9x").

    Windows 2000, XP & 2003 are later versions of the NT line, when Microsoft switched from a number-based versioning system for its product line.

    The articles that follow deal exclusively with the NT family, while there may be some similarities with the Win9x functionality, there are a huge number of differences.
    They are meant merely as an introduction to certain topics for those who might be interested, and as a kind of revision aid for me.

    The main sources of information are Windows Internals Fourth Edition (Russinovich & Solomon) and MSDN.
    The fifth edition of Windows Internals will cover Vista and Server 2008, but is not due for publication until next year.

    This is a whistle-stop tour of some Windows fundamentals, there's not a huge amount of real detail, just enough to whet your appetite if you feel so inclined to research further.

    History
    Windows 2000 was released in client (Workstation) and server versions simultaneously, built from the same source code.
    Now in extended support, the final service pack for this version was SP4.
    Windows 2000 == NT 5.0.

    Windows XP was the next version, it was ready before the server features were complete and was the first version to be given its own name.
    The most recent service pack for this version is SP3.
    Windows XP == NT 5.1.

    Windows Server 2003 came the following year, bringing with it kernel improvements, the next version of IIS, a tighter integration with DNS to name a few of the changes.
    The most recent service pack for this version is SP2.
    Windows Server 2003 == NT 5.2.

    When Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003 was released, a 64-bit version of the Workstation version was released at the same time, still branded "XP" to differentiate it from the Server line.

    This accounts for why the 64-bit client version:
    - has the NT kernel version 5.2 instead of 5.1
    - displayed its version as "Service Pack 1" at RTM
    - gets service packs in the same cycle as Windows Server 2003 rather than XP
    Chapters
    - Role of the BIOS
    - Boot process from a hard disk
    - Drivers
    - Services
    - Logon - processes that run automatically
    - Processes, threads and memory
    - Debugging
    - Hotfixes & service packs
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Role of the BIOS
    =====================================================================
    This section is actually not specific to any OS, the functionality described here is provided by the hardware.

    Powering on or waking the computer makes a transition in the power state from its current value directly to 0 (on, running).

    Cold boot (power state 5)
    The first thing that has to occur when you turn a computer on is the well-known "Power On Self Test" (POST), this function is provided by the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).
    The BIOS does not rely on a CPU, RAM or a hard disk - it remembers its settings through non-volatile EEPROM (Electronically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory).

    The BIOS is responsible for providing the details of the system hardware at the lowest level - it can interrogate all its known interfaces, find devices attached to them and "enumerate" them.
    Some of these settings are remembered between restarts, others are "plug and play" and are detected automatically every time you turn the computer on.

    In older machines, the BIOS was a very basic beast - everything had to be specified manually including providing information on the cylinder, head and sector count of your hard disk, and if you got this information wrong you could write garbage over your data.
    The hard disks and BIOSes we deal with today are a lot more flexible and self-governing to save us a lot of this kind of hassle.

    As well as configuring the BIOS manually, we had to concern ourselves with which slot we installed hardware and setting the "jumpers" correctly on the devices so they did not conflict with each other.
    We also had to remember the settings we assigned to the hardware so that we could tell the drivers for the operating system (such as interrupt, address and DMA channel).
    The introduction of "plug and play" made life a lot easier - plug a device in and turn the computer back on and the BIOS (or suitable operating system) would be able to "soft" set the values as required.
    Nowawdays the BIOS can have options for overclocking, RAID, alerts based on fan speed or temperatures, even built-in audio CD playing functionality.
    A huge number of motherboards are also coming with onboard sound and graphics chipsets, also controlled through the BIOS.

    So the BIOS enumerates the hardware, maybe tests the memory, but how does it know where the operating system (or systems) are in order to provide you with your interface?
    And how does it know whether it should try to boot from the floppy disk or CD you happen to have inserted?

    The BIOS is given a list of boot preferences - in what order it should check the different channels/devices to see who has "bootable" media installed.
    The "boot" process can occcur from floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, hard disks, USB devices and even the network.

    Starting at the top of the list, each device is checked for bootability (the actual process differs depending on the type of device) and once one is found the BIOS loads the necessary code and begins to execute it, ending its direct involvement in the startup process.

    Resume/wake from hibernation (power state 4)
    Hibernation is where the system state is stored on the hard disk in a file, and the system is effectively still powered off when hibernation is complete - however when bringing the computer back to life it does not go through such an intensive process, but loads the state back from a file on disk.

    If for some reason the file is missing or corrupt, a regular boot will occur.

    The full boot process does various system initialization routines and means the system starts with an empty cache.
    Numerous processes have to start up, some synchronously, some with self-test routines, which can lead to a queue of events waiting to happen.
    By contrast, resuming from hibernation "continues where you left off", bypassing all of this.

    Reference: Power States (MSDN)

    Dude, where's my RAM?
    One of the other things the BIOS can do is to block the use of a large portion of the 4GB address space, available when the CPU is running in 32-bit mode, and use it for I/O to hardware devices.
    What this means is that if 4GB of physical memory is installed then the BIOS can report less than that to the 32-bit operating system running (whatever it is - this is still not specific to Windows).

    This is not the first time hardware manufacturers have done this - many years ago MS-DOS would allow use of up to 640KB of physical memory when 1MB was installed.
    This was because parts of the "upper memory block" (UMB) - the 384KB region just before the 1MB ceiling - was used for virtual addresses for device I/O.

    Where does the value 4GB come from?
    Computers work with a binary (base 2) system, and the largest number that can be represented by 32 bits (when they are all set) is 4,294,967,295 (2^32 - 1).
    To address this issue there is a "memory remap" feature in some BIOSes to make push the hole over the 4GB threshold - which would require more than 32 bits to represent the higher addresses, so the OS has to also support the use of Physical Address Extension (PAE).

    PAE is therefore only applicable for 32-bit operating systems, and is used for both using the memory in the 3GB-4GB range and for physical memory >4GB by increasing the number of bits for virtual addresses from 32 to 36.
    The maximum addressable physical RAM now changes to: 2^36 = 68,719,476,736 = 64GB.

    Unfortunately, due to the number of 3rd party driver issues when PAE was enabled, it no longer enables memory remapping for the 32-bit versions of Windows XP or Vista - it is, however, still required for hardware Data Execution Prevention (DEP).
    32-bit versions of Windows Server still support and require it for accessing >4GB of physical memory.

    Reference: MSDN blog
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Boot process from a hard disk
    =====================================================================
    As the most common boot process takes place from a hard disk, this is what I shall focus on.

    Turn on, tune in, boot up
    A hard disk has a Master Boot Record (MBR) stored on its first sector, the master boot code examines the master partition table for an extended partition, and if it finds one it begins to recursively examine the extended partition table to find all logical partitions (they are chained, so the chain must be followed to its end).

    Once all of the extended partition information is resolved, the master boot code attempts to load the partition boot sector of the primary partition that is marked as "active" (there can be only one marked active at any time) - if there are no such partitions (and no further bootable devices are found) then an error is presented indicating that the system is not bootable.

    The active primary partition will have a pointer to NTLDR (the NT Loader) which is the first tangible thing a user can see if they were to browse the disk.

    Up until now the only disk services available have been provided by the "INT 13" BIOS interface, just enough to be able to locate, load and execute the boot sector, which has the ability to understand the Windows file systems on the partitions on the system just enough to load NTLDR.
    Also, the system has been running in "real mode", which means no virtual-to-phyiscal memory addressing can take place, and only the first 1MB of memory is addressable.

    NTLDR switches to "protected mode" (allows all physical memory to be addressed), enables paging (virtualisation of memory addresses) and opens C:\BOOT.INI (this file cannot reside elsewhere) to find a list of operating system options.

    Protected mode with paging enabled is the mode in which Windows executes normal operation.

    If there is just one operating system and one entry in BOOT.INI, no menu is presented by default.
    In the event of a dual-boot (or even multi-boot) setup there will be more than one entry in BOOT.INI, each entry points to a disk/partition/folder where the operating system resides, with one is marked as default.

    An example BOOT.INI entry:
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows XP Professional x64 Edition" /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptOut

    In the event that a legacy (Win9x) Windows operating system is selected from NTDLR, BOOTSECT.DOS is loaded which contains the original boot sector for Windows 95/98/ME.

    There are many documented switches available for boot options in BOOT.INI - the most common are probably /3GB and /DEBUG (I will touch on these later)
    There can only be 1 "non NT" operating system in the boot loader menu, and there is a limit of 10 options in total.

    If a version of Windows is already installed on a system and a Windows installation is started again then this second version can be installed to any partition with room - BOOT.INI will get amended automatically to add this new boot option to the list.

    Another key file on the system partition is NTDETECT.COM which collects system information during the boot, and some systems using SCSI devices may have NTBOOTDD.SYS which contains a SCSI driver.

    Notes on 64-bit Windows
    Some versions of Windows are 64-bit and as such require a more recent version of NTLDR (to allow 64-bit protected mode), so if you install Windows XP x64 Edition first and follow it with an installation of Windows XP (32-bit) then the first installation will not be bootable as the NTLDR will be regressed to the version which only understands 32-bit versions of the kernel.

    The 64-bit NTLDR & NTDETECT are backwardsly-compatible so are able to boot either a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows and it is safe to install a 64-bit version after a 32-bit version.

    In the event where a system becomes unbootable, it could be:
    - BOOT.INI needs fixing to remove invalid entries (maybe a second Windows installation was removed by just formatting its partition)
    - the MBR needs repairing (see the above note, or a legacy or non-Windows OS overwrote it)
    - essential boot files are missing or corrupt (disk corruption, virus or other OS possibly to blame)

    To recover a system that has lost its boot options but the Windows folders appear to be present, the best option is to boot from the Windows installation CD/DVD - from there you can choose a repair installation, or go into the Recovery Console and run one or more of the repair tools FIXBOOT, FIXMBR or BOOTCFG.
    Based on the outcome of processing BOOT.INI, NTLDR then performs the following actions:
    - loads HAL.DLL (the kernel-mode DLL which interfaces NTOSKRNL and drivers with the hardware: HAL = "Hardware Abstraction Layer")
    - loads BOOTVID.DLL
    - loads boot-start device drivers
    - loads NTOSKRNL.EXE (the kernel - initializes the executive subsystems and boot and system-start drivers, and runs SMSS.EXE)

    NTOSKRNL.EXE also contains the Windows loading splash screen which some people like to hack to change but can be a risky business.

    Opening Windows
    SMSS.EXE is the Session Manager SubSystem, it is the first Win32 process to exist, and it loads the Windows subsystem including WIN32K.SYS and CSRSS.EXE and starts WINLOGON.EXE
    - WIN32K.SYS is the kernel mode part of the Windows subsystem
    - CSRSS is the "Client Server Runtime Subsystem Service", the user-mode part of the Windows subsystem
    - WINLOGON starts the Service Control Manager (SCM), Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) and presents the authentication prompt

    SMSS, CSRSS and WINLOGON can be seen as running processes in Task Manager - if the "session 0" instance of any of these processes is terminated, Windows will reboot as they are absolutely vital.

    WINLOGON is what intercepts the "Secure Attention Sequence" (SAS) - you know this as "CTRL ALT DELETE".
    If there is no user logged on currently then the logon prompt is presented.
    If there is a user logged and the Welcome Screen is used then the Task Manager appears
    If there is a user logged and the "classic logon" method is used then "Windows Security" appears, with options such as changing the password and locking the workstation.

    It is a security feature to ensure that no other process can ever intercept that key combination, and you are really authenticating to Windows and not a keylogging program written by someone else.

    If a system is configured in the BIOS to boot from a CD/DVD drive before a hard disk, and you happen to have a Windows NT 4.0 CD in the drive, then Windows Setup will launch from there rather than your Windows installation booting as normal.
    This has caused me many "what the hell?!?" moments after reconfiguring the OS by installing something from the CD that requires a restart.

    But how can this be prevented?
    If the BIOS checks the CD and sees it is bootable, it will boot off it.

    With Windows 2000 onwards the CD/DVD still gets booted, however the bootstrap now checks the hard disks for bootable primary partitions and if it finds one it presents the message "Press any key to boot from CD...".
    If the user does not press a key within a few seconds, then the boot loader loads the boot code from the hard disk, rather than continuing to boot from the CD.

    Of course, if there is no bootable primary partition then the CD will control the entire boot sequence.
    If the computer is a member of a domain, then the client now checks for group policies with computer configuration settings applicable to it and any scripts under the following location are executed (even if a user does not log on):
    Computer Configuration / Windows Settings / Scripts / Startup

    Once the computer configuration scripts are executed synchronously users are able to authenticate to log on.
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Drivers
    =====================================================================
    A driver is something that resides in kernel mode, and as such has to be very carefully written to ensure it does not misbehave, have unhandled exceptions or perform badly.

    They can be loaded automatically on startup or loaded and unloaded dynamically, depending on their type and nature.

    Windows has a number of drivers available to it natively, but if a new model of device or an entirely new class of device appears after it is released, there is no reasonable way to expect it to be able to communicate with that device.
    The manufacturers of the hardware are the origin for the drivers to communicate with their products - if your particular operating system does not have a driver for a device you have installed, then the manufacturer is who you need to contact.
    This is why the "F6" method of loading drivers at setup time has been required, especially when installing to SATA or RAID disks.

    As mentioned in the "boot from a hard disk" section, drivers can be flagged as "boot" which means they must successfully load as they are critical to the operation of the system.
    Having a disk controller driver so you can read the disk you are booting from is kind of important, for example.

    Hint:
    If you run msinfo32.exe and drill down to Software Environment / System Drivers you can see the list of all drivers present on the system and see their description and start mode.
    Often, the built-in drivers the manufacturers provide to Microsoft to bundle with the operating system do not contain a lot of the performance-enhancing features that the dedicated (or later versions) of the drivers do.
    For this reason you should always ensure you have the latest stable release (ideally WHQL) drivers from the manufacturer for all your hardware.

    In some cases manufacturers will use a common chipset, so while Windows does not have a specific driver for a device it might have one that is compatible that works (or at least provides basic functionality).

    How does Windows know what a device is?
    This is the "plug and play" concept - the devices are enumerated by the BIOS and the OS builds a device tree based on the buses to which they are connected.
    The devices are queried and a hardware ID is acquired - it contains the manufacturer's code plus a code for the device, prefixed with the type of bus the device is on.

    e.g. A device on my system has the following hardware ID:
    PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0092&SUBSYS_060110B0&REV_A1\...

    PCI means this is connected to the PCI bus.
    VEN_10DE means this is nVidia.
    DEV_0092 when used in combination with the vendor ID means this is a 7800GT graphics card.

    The device ID is not necessarily unique, this is similar to the fact that a house number is not unique - only when used in combination with the rest of your address, and in this case the bus provides the concept of the "street".
    This allows multiple instances of the same device to co-exist without any conflict.

    "Compatible" drivers can sometimes be used for devices for which an explicit driver does not exist - there is a list of compatible IDs in addition to the hardware IDs for each device presented in Device Manager, this can allow at least the basic functionality of the device to work, if not the extended features.
    (e.g. an ACME network adapter driver uses a GENERIC LTD chipset - the driver written by ACME may have support for jumbo frames and TCP checksum offloading which the GENERIC LTD one does not, but either will "work".)

    Hint:
    If you get an "unknown device" reported in Device Manager, try using search engines to look for the VEN & DEV strings as a pair.
    e.g.
    Windows 2000 would probably detected my graphics card as a "Standard VGA Compatible" adapter, as it can determine the class to provide basic functionality, but the 7800GT came out way after SP4 was released.
    So if I searched the Internet for "PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0092" and "2000" and "driver", I could probably look at the results summary to see what they have in common.
    The above describes device drivers - software that handles how the OS can communicate with a physical device inside or attached to the system.
    But there is another type of driver, called a filter driver.

    A filter driver gets involved in I/O requests to modify or add functionality of another driver - the most common filter drivers are backup agents, anti-virus applications and software firewalls.
    When you consider the function of anti-virus products, they have to involve themselves with verifying data in memory, on disk or that is transferred across any bus - including the network.
    It is actually quite a feat that these products do not have a significant impact on system performance, yet greatly enhance security.

    Every filter driver inserts itself into the I/O operation inline, so if you install 4 AV products you will have every operation scanned 4 times and it can have a serious impact on performance (and possibly system stability).
    Running more than 1 "real time monitoring" AV product at the same time is not recommended, and can lead to an unbootable system if the products do not live well together.

    Note:
    Disabling anti-virus is not the same as uninstalling it - the filter driver will still be loaded and operational, just the user mode component is not active - if you are having bugchecks and suspect AV then it should be updated, reinstalled or removed to verify.
    A huge percentage of bugchecks in Windows are caused by 3rd party drivers.
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Services
    =====================================================================
    A service is identical to a normal user mode application, with the exception that it can be launched and running without a user being logged on.
    (Services also rarely have interfaces, but an application without a user interface is not necessarily a service.)

    Services are listed in the registry along with their startup type and dependencies, and they still run in user mode just like any other application.
    Each service must run in the context of a user or a built-in security account such as System - the permissions and privileges held by that user must be sufficient for the service to perform its tasks (but ideally have no more than are required).

    It is the job of the Service Control Manager (SCM) to start and stop the services (either automatically or on demand) and to take recovery actions specified if a service crashes.

    As they are identical to regular user mode applications in other aspects, they have their own protected memory space and sandbox to play in - however, because of dependencies you may find that a service which crashes or fails to start can impact other services.

    Through the Control Panel (under Administrative Tools/Services) you can see the services registered, their startup type and current status (started or stopped).
    If you view the properties of a service and go to the Dependencies tab you can see the services or system components upon which this service relies, and also the other services which rely on this one.

    There are various guides around the Internet describing how to disable "unnecessary" services, but what is correct for one user might be disastrous for another so I dislike explicit "you should stop this service" remarks generally.
    View the properties of the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service and see how many system components rely on it - then decide if it is worth potentially breaking your anti-virus, Windows Update, wireless configuration, etc. services by disabling this one service.

    Hint:
    It is possible to convert practically any executable into a service using the Resource Kit tools instsrv and srvany, as described in KB137890
    One process which confuses a lot of people is "svchost.exe" - yes there are meant to be multiple instances of this process.
    Its purpose is to collect together a numbers of related and "not so critical" services to run within 1 process, and the reason for this is to conserve resources.
    More critical system services are either independent or run under services.exe ("Services and Controller app").

    svchost.exe has the description "Generic Host Proces for Win32 Services".

    How does svchost know which services are running in each instance?
    Task Manager only shows you "svchost.exe" listed a number of times.

    If you run a tool such as Process Explorer you can see a great deal more information on running processes, and if you add the detail column "command line" to the view then you will see each instance of svchost.exe has a unqiue switch after it.
    e.g.
    C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k DcomLaunch
    C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k rpcss
    C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k netsvcs
    C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k NetworkService


    A quick note on naming conventions regarding the registry:
    A key (or subkey) is synonymous with a folder in a file system.
    A value (or "leaf node") is synonymous with a file in a file system.

    A key has only a name - no data - it is just a container for further (sub)keys or values.
    A value has a type (e.g. REG_SZ) and associated data (e.g. "this is a string").

    People often incorrectly talk about modifying registry keys when editing values.
    So how do you know which instance is running which service(s)?
    The services are listed as keys under the registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services

    If we take the Alerter service and view the data for the value "ImagePath" we can see it is:
    "%SystemRoot%\system32\svchost.exe -k LocalService"

    Now if we look at the WebClient service further down the list, we can see its command line is identical.
    So when Windows comes to start one of these services, how does it know which service is starting, and not affect the other?

    If we look in the registry under the following key, there are a number of values whose names match the command line arguments of svchost.exe instances:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SvcHost

    In the data for each of these values you will see a list of services that all share the same process space.
    e.g.
    LocalService = Alerter WebClient LmHosts W32Time RemoteRegistry upnphost SSDPSRV WinHttpAutoProxySvc

    So here is a list of potential services which would all share the same process, started or stopped individually with what appears to be the same command line.

    The slight drawback with this approach is that software firewalls will govern access based on the command line and CRC check of the executable, so any service running under svchost.exe is tarred with the same brush.
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  7. #6
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Logon - processes that run automatically
    =====================================================================
    Whether you hit CTRL-ALT-DEL or click on your icon and optionally enter your password, the user logon process is the same.

    Windows calls the GINA (Graphical Identification and Authentication) to obtain the username and password, WINLOGON also generates a unique local logon SID (Security ID) for this user session which is passes to LSASS (Local Security Authentority Subsystem Service).
    LSASS does the actual authentication and builds the user "logon process token" - if the authentication is successful then the SID from WINLOGON is put into the token.
    Once the user's permission to log onto the machine has been verified, the group memberships that the user has are also logged in this token.

    The token is used so that every time access is requested to an object, the user's group membership and permissions list does not have to be re-enumerated, wasting lots of time.

    If the user account is local then the authentication is done against the local SAM (Security Account Manager) database.

    If the user account is in a domain then the authentication is done securely against a domain controller (if no domain controller is present but the user has logged on successfully recently then cached credentials are used to authenticate the user).
    WINLOGON then checks the following value and executes the program(s) found there:
    HKLM / SOFTWARE / Microsoft / Windows NT / CurrentVersion / Winlogon / Userinit
    The default is "userinit.exe".

    Userinit.exe checks this registry key to see which shell (desktop) to launch:
    HKLM / SOFTWARE / Microsoft / Windows NT / CurrentVersion / Winlogon / Shell
    This key does not exist by default, and it defaults "explorer.exe".

    Once the shell is launched, userinit exits - which is why explorer.exe appears to have no parent process in a session.

    Next, the scripts from the following 3 locations are executed concurrently:

    i. HKLM / Software / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / RunOnceEx
    The keys exist under this location and have string values under them which are executed – the names of the values themselves are irrelevant, but the keys are processed synchronously in alphabetical order.
    The values are removed from the registry immediately on being executed.

    ii. User Properties / Profile / Logon Script
    In the Profile tab of the properties of the user object in AD, the script referenced in the “Logon script” field is executed.
    The default location is %systemroot%\sysvol\sysvol\{domain name}\scripts for any script not explicitly given a path.

    iii. Group policy/policies – user configuration
    The group policies applicable to the user logging on are evaluated and any scripts under User Configuration / Windows Settings / Scripts / Logon are executed.

    It is possible that these 3 steps can start before any computer configuration scripts through group policy, if the user logs on as soon as the CTRL-ALT-DEL window appears – this can be prevented by enabling the following local/group policy option:
    Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Logon: Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon
    Processes that are to run just once and then be deleted (e.g. installation completion routines) are governed by the registry key:
    HKLM / Software / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / RunOnce
    The values under this location are executed synchronously in the order in which they were created.
    The values are also removed from the registry immediately on being executed, unless the name begins with a “!” in which case it is removed once the process has completed.


    Processes that are common for all users who log onto the local machine are governed by the registry key:
    HKLM / Software / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / Run
    The values under this location are executed synchronously in the order in which they were created.
    Entries that begin with a “*” are executed even when the machine starts in Safe Mode.


    Processes that are specific to the user currently logging on are governed by the registry key:
    HKCU / Software / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / Run
    The values under this location are executed synchronously in the order in which they were created.
    Entries that begin with a “*” are executed even when the machine starts in Safe Mode.

    Quick clarification & hint: "synchronously in the order in which [the values] were created" means they are executed one after another in "natural order" and not how they are displayed through Registry Editor (alphabetically).
    The natural order can be determined by exporting the key to a text file and viewing it in Notepad.
    Finally we get to the Startup folder - the shortcuts in the “All Users” and current user profiles are executed concurrently (Start Menu\Programs\Startup).
    “All Users” profile is always on the local machine, but the user profile location can be on a network resource (defined in the user properties) or the local machine.

    A quick note on "sessions":
    Session 0 is both the session used to identify processes running as "the system" and also the one used by the user logged on at the console (or remotely via Terminal Services with the "/console" switch).
    Every user session on a machine has a unique session ID, and its own instance of CSRSS (Client Server Runtime Subsystem Service) and WINLOGON.
    If either of these 2 processes is killed, then the entire user session is killed.
    If the "session 0" instance of either of these processes terminates, Windows will reboot - they are essential.
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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  8. #7
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Processes, threads and memory
    =====================================================================
    Processors, rather quizically, do not execute processes - they execute threads.
    A process can be considered to be a container for a number of threads, so it needs at least 1 thread to actually do anything.

    Simple processes can exist with just 1 thread as they do not need any more, more complex applications may create and destroy threads all the time, and run threads on many CPUs at the same time.

    A thread is a piece of code with its own "stack" which is a list to indicate which functions in which processes were called so that it can keep a track of where to return to once a call is complete.

    A stack follows the principle of "LIFO" (Last In, First Out).
    The typical analogy for a stack is to imagine a stack of plates - the plate currently at the top of the stack must be removed first, so the most recently added plate is always the first to come off.

    All threads in a process share the same memory space and priority, so a thread that misbehaves could start screwing up life for its sibling threads.

    "Multi-tasking" is the ability for an operating system to run threads psuedo-concurrently.
    I use the word "pseudo" as for a single core, non-hypthreading processor there can only be 1 active thread at any given time - what the operating system does is to have multiple threads which it switches between, and each gets a little bit of time to run before switching to the next thread.
    Every time the processor stops execution of one thread and starts running another, this is called a "context switch".

    A running thread may either use its allotted time slice, put itself into a "waiting" state when an I/O operation is pending, or be "pre-emptively" forced back onto the waiting queue by an interrupt.

    With a multi-CPU (or multi-core) system there is more than one logical (or physical) processor, so true concurrent processing can take place - 2 distinct threads can be running at the same time.
    An application can written to be multi-threaded so that it can take advantage of multiple processors, and Windows itself is a Symmetric Multi-Processor (SMP) operating system which means that it can run its threads on any processor with equal priority.
    (The alternative to this is to have the OS run on 1 CPU while its applications run on the others.)

    A 32-bit process running on Windows sees a 4GB virtual memory space (for reasons mentioned in chapter 1).

    The lower memory addresses (0x00000000-0x7FFFFFFF) are for the application itself and represent "user mode" (2GB).
    The upper memory addresses (0x80000000-0xFFFFFFFF) are for private Windows processes & drivers and represent "kernel mode" (2GB).

    Debugging tip:
    If tracing a process crash you can spot if a call in the stack or memory access is in user mode or kernel mode by seeing between which of the above boundaries the address falls.
    Kernel mode is shared between all user mode applications, because there only needs to be ever 1 copy of it - whereas you could run 1,000 copies of Notepad all with their own unique areas of memory.
    If one of those 1,000 instance of Notepad hangs or is terminated, the other 999 remain unaffected.
    If there is a problem detected in kernel mode, every single application is affected and so system stability is at risk so Windows takes measures to prevent possible data corruption or loss - you may know this as a bugcheck or "blue screen (of death)".

    This addressing system is true regardless of how much memory the system really has - it is what allows Windows programmers to not deal with the trivialities of memory management or system requirements - as far as they are concerned their portion of memory is 2GB large.
    Of course, loading a copy of Notepad does not make Windows try to allocate 2GB of memory (physical or virtual) - the program can indicate its "working set" preferences, or Windows will just assign pages of memory as the program requires them.

    Some applications may want more than 2GB of memory, and this is where the "/3GB" switch in BOOT.INI comes into play - this moves the split in virtual memory space from 2+2 to 3+1.
    User mode gets 3GB and kernel mode gets just 1GB - this affects ALL applications, so Windows now has 50% of the memory it had to play with that it had before.
    If an application is not written to require or use more than 2GB then it will get no advantage from this switch (but Windows itself could get a major disadvantage).

    To recap, to ensure this point is clear:
    An error occurring in user mode is only critical to that application, it cannot crash Windows.
    An error occurring in
    kernel mode is fatal and will cause a bugcheck.


    Note: An "error" in this context really means "unhandled exception" - an illegal operation, such as an attempt to read memory outside of the process's owned space.
    It is possible that data in memory can get corrupted through "errors", but have non-fatal results such as corrupted graphics or sound.

    The kernel, besides Windows itself, includes hardware drivers such as disk, graphics and sound, and "filter" drivers such as open file backup agents and anti-virus.
    These all share memory and have the potential to corrupt each other which is why great care should be taken when writing code for execution in kernel mode - this is why the most common bugchecks are driver-related and updating drivers can sometimes have a crippling effect.
    Debugging tip:
    Trying to nail down the cause of bugcheck error codes can be tricky, even if the problem is reproducable (it most often is not).
    If the bugcheck is related to memory corruption or leaking ("!analyze -v" in windbg can give you a hint) then you can either:
    - use the tool "verifier" to put a watch on all 3rd party drivers
    - enable "special pool"

    These options will instruct Windows to pay a lot more attention to the drivers or all access to paged and non-paged pool, the bugcheck may change (and become more frequent) as you are now picking up when the corruption occurs rather than when it is detected - so you get a more meaningful memory dump.
    Windows has this concept of "virtual memory", where disk space can be used to "page" data or code out of physical memory as needed - this is where PAGEFILE.SYS comes into play.
    While some people recommend turning off all swap files on systems with lots of memory, there are a couple of things to take into account:
    - some applications will check for a swap file of a certain minimum size, and may refuse to run
    - memory dumps when Windows encounters bugchecks require the swap file to be as large as physical memory "plus a bit more" to store the dump temporarily

    The working set of a process is the amount of physical memory it is currently using.
    Windows can choose to page to disk some or all of the working set of a process if:
    - it runs short on free/zeroed pages (empty physical memory)
    - the process has been idle for a period of time and the memory manager does some housekeeping to maximise available memory
    - the process is minimised and housekeeping kicks in

    If a process requests some data which is not in physical memory but has been paged to disk, then a "page fault" is incurred - the system has to temporarily switch to another process to locate and retrieve the data so the original thread can continue.
    Despite its name, a page fault is not an error, it is a normal, expected operation.

    The amount of virtual memory requested by a process does not necessarily indicate how much it has actually committed, just how much is reserved.
    A process which appears to have 200MB of virtual memory might have nowhere near that much physical or virtual memory used at all, it could be just an estimate based on what the programmer thought it might want to use at peak.

    There are also 2 "pools" of memory which are shared across all processes for dynamic use - paged and non-paged.
    Paged pool memory can be paged to disk if required, and has an absolute maximum size of 492MB on Windows 2000, or 650MB on XP/2003 (the current maximum is calculated at boot time based on the physical memory in the system).
    Non-paged pool memory is never paged to disk, so is most commonly used by drivers that cannot incur a page fault during interrupt to request data not in memory - the absolute maximum here is 256MB.
    (The maximums quoted here are based on 32-bit Windows without the /3GB or /USERVA switches used.)

    Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) are collections of functions which can be called from applications and actually "memory mapped".
    If 2 programs refer to the same DLL then they actually use the same instance, it is not loaded twice in memory (unless one of them happens to perform a write operation, in which case a "copy on write" takes place and the DLL is duplicated in read/write mode for this application alone).
    One thing to be aware of is that Windows memory management still counts the size of the DLL against every process which refers to it - so in the case of Internet Explorer, for example, the reported memory usage for iexplore.exe is actually less than Task Manager claims as it uses a number of already-loaded system libraries.
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  9. #8
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    =====================================================================
    Debugging
    =====================================================================
    Debugging is a generic term for the art of finding problems in code, or validating that code is working correctly.

    Programmers debug their code while developing applications - they might do this by inserting additional "debug code" to log or display internal actions and data so that what the process is doing can be verified.

    Another way to locate bugs is to use a debugger.
    Despite the implciation of its name, a debugger does not actually do any kind of bug removal - that's still your job - but what it can be used for is to "wrap" a process so that at any point you can pause it and browse the data, stacks, threads and handles the process might have at a given point in time.

    You can also use breakpoints to mark a section of code and let the process run normally until it hits this point, and then pauses it and passes control to the debugger - useful if you know which function is last called when an error occurs but it is difficult or a lengthy process to reproduce.

    When a process in Windows tries to do something it should not (most often access memory it does not own or free memory twice), a "first chance" exception is raised.
    This is where the OS checks to see if there is any debugger attached to the process - if there is then it is given control and details of the exception.
    If there is no debugger attached, or the debugger tells the OS to let the exception pass, then control is passed back to the process to see how it behaves.

    If the application is well written, it will have an exception handling routine and can either gracefully deal with it if it is not critical (possibly make an entry in a log ready to send back to the author) or close down in a more friendly manner than crashing.

    A lot of applications are not capable of handling exceptions they raise (complexity of code, size of program, time to develop, etc.) and so the exception remains "unhandled".
    Windows then checks to see (again) if there is a debugger attached to the process and pass it the "second chance" exception.

    If there is no debugger present then the default "post-mortem" debugger kicks in - Dr Watson.

    Dr Watson adds an entry to its log and, if the settings are configured so, creates a dump of the process memory space.
    The settings for Dr Watson can be seen and changed by running drwtsn32.exe
    The information you can see is:
    Log file path
    Crash dump path and filename
    Sound effect to play
    Number of instructions to put in the log from the crashed process
    Number of crashes to record
    Crash dump type (full, mini, "NT compatible")

    There are also a number of options to toggle (including whether application crashes create dump files at all) and a summary of the most recent log entries.
    So user mode applications can be "live debugged" or have a crash dump analysed to find the root cause - but what about kernel mode exceptions?


    We know that exceptions in kernel mode cause bugchecks to protect the integrity of data, but the kernel consists of many processes, threads, handles, objects, memory pools, stacks and they can corrupt each other - so how to "debug" the entire kernel?

    If we run a debugger as a user mode process and try to freeze the kernel, we have just frozen the entire OS - so the debugger would freeze too...

    Recall I mentioned the "/DEBUG" BOOT.INI switch earlier - with this option enabled (along with a DEBUGPORT to use), we can attach an external debugger running on another machine to the system and debug Windows itself.

    Now you can manually break into a running system, freeze it and analyse all the kernel mode data structures, currently running process and threads, memory limits and use - and the system to be debugged does not even have any screen updates and the mouse does not even move.

    If you want, at any time you can tell the debugger to release and let the debugged system continue on its way - other than a clock change it won't notice any difference.

    If you have a debugger attached when kernel mode execption occurs, the debugger is notified and given the opportunity to see the system in its broken state without (or before) creating a memory dump file.

    This is a live kernel debug, and we have the same post-mortem debug option by loading the memory.dmp file created when Windows bugchecks into the debugger.
    However, if the dump options have been disabled then there is nothing to analyse.

    If the dump option is set to "mini dump" then a very tiny amount of data is stored.

    If a "kernel mode dump" is selected, then the code and data stored in physical memory for the kernel is dumped to a file - this is the most common dump file that actually contains useful data, but the size of the dump cannot be known beforehand as the amount of physical memory used by kernels will vary.
    For a kernel dump file to be created a swap file is required, and there are minimum page file sizes dependent on the amount of physical memory installed:
    <128MB RAM = 50MB swap file
    128MB RAM = 4GB -> 200MB swap file
    4GB-8GB RAM = 400MB swap file
    8GB+ RAM = 800MB swap file
    The only way to guarantee a kernel dump can be stored would be to set the page file size at 2GB+1MB, as on a 32-bit system the kernel cannot be larger than 2GB (and there is a little overhead for the dump file header).
    There must also be at enough free disk space equal to the size of the dump created on the system volume and the volume where memory.dmp is specified.

    If a "complete memory dump" is selected, then all physical memory is dumped to a file, and the swap file and free disk space on the system volume must be at least as big as physical memory plus 1MB each to guarantee a working dump.

    The reason for the swap file being required for kernel or complete memory dumps is that this is where the memory is dumped to initially, and the reason for the free disk space requirement is that this dump is then copied to memory.dmp before the swap file is cleared and the system restarted.

    A complete dump is not often necessary as bugchecks cannot be caused by user mode processes.


    A bugcheck can also be instigated manually by setting the registry value CrashOnCtrlScroll to 1 and using a key combination on a (non-USB) locally-connected keyboard.

    Why would you want to bluescreen your machine on purpose?
    In the event where you have a memory leak in kernel mode, most likely.
    Memory leaks do not generate bugchecks - a poorly written kernel mode process might just consume and consume and consume until there is nothing left for other Windows processes and no new processes can spawn, deadlocking the system but not actually causing an exception.

    In this situation (where you most likely have event IDs 2019 and 2020 logged), you could manually crash the system to produce a memory dump, and then analyse it to see which process consumed all the memory.


    User mode application crashes are the responsibility of the vendor (remember that due to the "extension" model of Explorer and Internet Explorer, 3rd party plugins can be the cause of crashes in core components).

    Kernel mode exceptions are invariably the result of a problem with a 3rd party driver (device or filter).

    In either case, the first check would be to ensure the latest version of the software is installed (the likely faulting component being identified by analysing the dump).
    If the software is up to date, or the problem persists, then remove the software entirely and see if it still occurs (not always practical in the case of storage or display drivers).
    If all the software is up to date and no individual piece of software can be identified as the cause, then a live debug may be required.

    Reference:
    Debugging Tools for Windows overview
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  10. #9
    Ex-MSFT Paul Adams's Avatar
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    ====================================================================
    Hotfixes & service packs
    =====================================================================
    Each build of Windows is made from a different source code branch, it "forks" when a service pack is released and when a new version starts development.
    This is why some hotfixes have pre-requisites of certain service pack levels, and why typically "n and n-1 versions" are only focused on for hotfix development.
    i.e. with the release of a second service pack for an OS, the RTM version is no longer supported.

    "Hotfix" in this context is actually delivery of replacement binaries, rather than modifying the existing ones with a "patch".

    Microsoft have left room for "hot patching" of its own modules in the future - the file on disk is still replaced, but any instances loaded in memory can have a modified piece of the module inserted and patched while running to use it.
    This is achieved by adding the new code into the the memory space of the affected process(es) and then adding a "far jump" instruction to point to the start of it, and finally replacing a dummy instruction (mov edi,edi) at the function entry point with a "short jump" pointing to the far jump.
    The technique is similar to "hooking" - replacing standard functionality with custom functionality.
    A hotfix package is also known by the terms QFE (Quick Fix Engineering) and LDR (Limited Distribution Release).
    The (security) updates released through Windows Update are known as GDRs (General Distribution Release) - as everyone should/will get these same updates.

    Hotfix packages contain both QFE/LDR and GDR versions of the binaries to replace - if you have only ever installed updates from Windows Update (or via WSUS) then all your binaries should be GDR.
    If you install a hotfix package from a KB article then the binaries affected are replaced with the QFE/LDR version, and in the future hotfixes which affect those binaries will apply the QFE/LDR versions too, even if downloaded via Windows Update.
    When a service pack is installed the binaries will revert to the GDR branch (except those that may have been patched post-service pack).

    Example:
    A.SYS and B.DLL are at version 1.0.0 [we are currently GDR]
    Security update S1 is released that updates the files to version 1.0.1 [we remain GDR]
    Hotfix H1 is applied to address a non-security bug in the 2 files, version 1.0.2 [we are now QFE/LDR]
    Security update S2 is released that updates the files to version 1.0.3 [we remain QFE/LDR]
    Service pack 1 is installed which updates the files to version 1.1.0 [we revert to GDR]
    Security update S3 is released that updates the files to version 1.1.1 [we remain GDR]
    "So why do we have QFE/LDR and GDR branches?"
    GDR versions of files only contain security-related fixes, where QFE/LDR versions contain both security and non-security hotfixes.
    In the above example the GDR version of security update Y contains fixes in security update X, while the QFE/LDR version in the same package contains fixes in security update X and hotfix H.

    "So... why do we have QFE/LDR and GDR branches?"
    To reduce the number of changes to customer environments.
    Change control is something that is important for maintaining the stability of a system - the more changes that occur in an environment, the more difficult testing and troubleshooting becomes.
    GDRs go through a lot more extensive testing than QFEs/LDRs.

    Imagine if before security update S3 there were 5 individual QFE/LDR hotfixes to address specific non-security issues, and S3 contained all of those changes - as soon as everyone does a Windows Update they get not only the security update but the functional changes included in the 5 hotfixes.
    While this might not sound "bad", there may be environments that were set up with the original functionality in mind - and applying one of the non-security hotfixes may change the behaviour of some system component, possibly breaking it.

    Also, a QFE/LDR might update more than 2 binaries where a GDR later only touches 1 of them - so if the system is still on the GDR branch there is a smaller change and hence possible impact.

    This is why hotfix KB articles typically state that you should only request/apply the hotfix if you are experiencing the symptoms described - you would move the affected binaries from the GDR branch over to the QFE/LDR branch and have all other non-security changes at the same time.

    It is also why a service pack should always be tested in a test environment before going anywhere near production.

    The updates have to contain both the QFE/LDR and GDR versions of the binaries for every affected branch within a product, which goes to explain their size.
    e.g.
    A security update is released for Windows, affecting 2000, XP and 2003 and updating 1 binary.
    There will be 4 different packages:
    - x86 Windows 2000
    - x86 Windows XP
    - x86 Windows Server 2003
    - x64 Windows XP & Server 2003

    In the first package there are 2 files - the QFE/LFR and GDR versions for SP4.
    The second package there are 4 files - the QFE/LDR and GDR versions for SP2 and SP3.
    The third package there are 4 files - the QFE/LDR and GDR versions for SP1 and SP2.
    The fourth package there are 4 files - the QFE/LDR and GDR versions for SP1 and SP2.

    A single binary replaced on a single branch of one product will require significant testing to ensure it has no visible side effects or introduces regressions (breaking a previous fix).
    Due to the interdependency or importance of some binaries, this testing can become more and more complex.

    The binaries themselves contain a version string to indicate which branch they are currently on, so the updater knows which version to use from the hotfix/update package being applied.
    The version on the hotfix will contain the next service pack in which they will (or would have been, in the case of Windows 2000) included - so Windows Server 2003 hotfixes started to be labelled SP3 as soon as SP2 was finalized.


    Some like it hot
    A recommendation I would make is to reboot a machine before applying a hotfix, possibly in addition to the reboot the hotfix may require afterwards.
    The reason for this is to ensure that any pending changes, or changes made to any configurations have chance to take effect first and problems be resolved first - I see a lot of cases where customers report "after installation of hotfix KBxxxxxx, service S fails to start" or similar, and it turns out that someone had made changes to the configuration of service S but not restarted it (or the server) beofre the hotfix was installed.
    (Again, an issue of change control.)
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    Windows Vista Under-The-Hood

    To bring the Under-The-Hood series up to date, rather than write new content I found it easier to reference articles over at TechNet and have bullet points to give an indication of the topics covered.

    Foreword
    The Vista kernel is "NT 6.0", and is a significant change from XP both visually, on the disk and in the kernel.

    Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 1
    - CPU Cycle Counting
    - Multimedia Class Scheduler Service
    - File-Based Symbolic Links
    - I/O Completion and Cancellation
    - I/O Priority

    Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 2
    - Dynamic Kernel Address Space
    - Memory Priorities
    - SuperFetch
    - ReadyBoost
    - ReadyBoot
    - ReadyDrive
    - Boot Configuration Database
    - Startup Processes
    - Credential Providers
    - Delayed-Autostart Services
    - Shutdown
    - Power Management

    Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 3
    - Kernel Transaction Manager
    - Enhanced Crash Support
    - Volume Shadow Copy
    - BitLocker
    - Code Integrity Verification
    - Protected Processes
    - Address Space Load Randomization
    - Service Security Improvements

    Inside Windows Vista User Account Control
    - UAC’s Goal
    - Running as Standard User
    - Administrator Approval Mode
    - Conveniently Accessing Administrative Rights
    - Isolating Elevated Processes
    - Elevations and Security Boundaries

    Dig into New Group Policy Templates in Windows Vista
    - ADMX Differences
    - Inside the ADMX
    - ADMX Storage

    Deploying Windows Vista with BDD 2007
    - How do I learn the new process and tools?
    - What files do I need?
    - What is done with these drivers? Do I inject them into the operating system image I imported earlier?
    - Am I ready to deploy yet?
    - OK, now are we ready to deploy?
    - Are we ready to deploy yet?
    - So that's everything I need to know?

    Changes to Offline Files in Windows Vista
    - Caching Is the Answer
    - When Automatic Caching Beats Manual Caching
    - Available—or Not
    - Preventing Too Much Caching
    - Offline Files with Group Policy
    - Synchronization Conflicts
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    Post Re: Looking Through Windows

    Windows Vista SP1 / Server 2008 Under-The-Hood

    Again, more references to TechNet for interesting reading.

    Foreword
    Windows Server 2008 RTM'd over a year later than Windows Vista, but it is built from the same source branch as Vista SP1.
    This is why Windows Server 2008 "RTM" appears as "SP1" in system properties (similar to XP x64 being built from the Windows Server 2003 SP1 source).

    Inside Windows Server 2008 Kernel Changes
    - Memory Management
    - SMB 2.0
    - Reliability with NTFS Self-Healing
    - WHEA Infrastructure
    - Driver Verifier
    - Scalability
    - Improved I/O Completion Port Handling
    - More Efficient Thread Pools
    - NUMA Optimizations
    - Dynamic Partitioning
    - Machine Virtualization

    What's New in Active Directory Domain Services
    - Server Manager in Windows Server 2008
    - Windows Server 2008 Server Core
    - DCPROMO Changes
    - Read-Only Domain Controllers
    - DC Gone AWOL
    - Barbarians inside the Gate
    - Administrative Role Separation on RODCs
    - RODC Oddities
    - Fine-Grained Password Policies
    - Restartable Active Directory Service
    - Backup and Recovery
    - SYSVOL Replication with DFS-R
    - Auditing Improvements
    - UI Improvements

    Getting Started with IIS 7.0
    - New Architecture
    - Integrated Request Pipeline
    - Default Installation
    - New Configuration Store
    - Managing Your Web Server
    - Other Ways to Manage
    - Remote Management and Delegated Administration
    - Moving Forward to IIS 7.0
    - Troubleshooting and Diagnostics

    Policy-Driven Network Access with Windows Server 2008
    - A Policy-Driven Network Access Approach
    - Next-Generation Networking
    - Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
    - Server and Domain Isolation
    - Network Access Protection

    Configuring Roles with Server Manager
    - Roles and Features
    - Server Manager
    - Role Information
    - Working with Wizards
    - The Command Line

    Auditing and Compliance in Windows Server 2008
    - Auditing Challenges
    - Auditing Security Events
    - Windows Eventing 6.0
    - Audit Collection Services
    - Developing an Audit Plan

    Active Directory Backup and Restore in Windows Server 2008
    - NTBACKUP vs. Windows Server Backup
    - Installing Windows Server Backup
    - The Windows Server Backup Components
    - Volume Shadow Copy Service
    - Backing Up to Network Shares
    - Backing Up to Recordable DVDs
    - System State Backups and Restores
    - Backing Up a Server with the MMC
    - Backing Up a Server from the Command Line
    - Scheduling Backups with the MMC
    - Scheduling Backups from the Command Line
    - Bare-Metal Recovery of a Domain Controller
    - System State Recovery of a Domain Controller
    - Taking Active Directory Snapshots
    - Mounting Active Directory Snapshots
    - Recovering Data from Active Directory Snapshots
    - A Sound Backup and Recovery Strategy for Active Directory

    Advances in BitLocker Drive Encryption
    - Data Volumes
    - TPM+USB+PIN
    - UEFI Support
    - Increased Protection
    - Broader TPM Usage
    - BitLocker in Windows Server 2008
    - Getting and Installing BitLocker
    - Server Scenarios
    - Recent News

    Introducing Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering
    - New Management Interface
    - Improved Configuration Processes
    - Embedded Validation Procedure
    - New Quorum Model
    - Enhanced Security Features
    - Expanded Networking Functionality
    - Increased Reliability When Interacting with Storage
    - Built-In Recovery Processes
    - New Backup and Restore Functionality
    - Migrating from Windows Server 2003 Server Clusters

    What's New in Terminal Services for Windows Server 2008
    - Terminal Services Core Functionality
    - Remote Desktop Connection Display
    - Plug and Play Device Redirection for Media Players and Digital Cameras
    - Microsoft Point of Service for .NET Device Redirection
    - Single Sign-On for Terminal Services
    - Terminal Server Installation
    - Terminal Services Printing
    - Terminal Services RemoteApp (TS RemoteApp)
    - Terminal Services Web Access (TS Web Access)
    - Terminal Services Licensing (TS Licensing)
    - Terminal Services Gateway (TS Gateway)
    - Terminal Services Session Broker (TS Session Broker)
    - Terminal Services and Windows System Resource Manager

    Terminal Services Overview
    - What is Terminal Services?
    - Why use Terminal Services?
    - Terminal Services role services
    - What is a terminal server?
    - Terminal Services RemoteApp (TS RemoteApp)
    - Why use TS RemoteApp?
    - What is TS Web Access?
    - What is TS Licensing?
    - What is TS Gateway?
    - Why use TS Gateway?
    - What is TS Session Broker?
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    Re: Looking Through Windows

    Absolute gold mate
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    Re: Looking Through Windows

    Miscellaneous bits on Vista/Windows Server 2008

    GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks
    GPT disks are not new exactly, they have been available since SP1 for the NT 5.2 kernel which means that you may have used them on the following versions:
    - Windows Server 2003 x86 SP1
    - Windows Server 2003 x64
    - Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

    The principal difference for users between MBR and GPT disk formats is the ability to have more than 4 primary partitions on a disk without having to resort to an extended partition with multiple logical partitions.
    Limitations/issues with the MBR model:
    1. An extended partition cannot be resized while it contains logical partitions

    2. Drive letter assignments change when multiple disks are present and logical partitions are used on the first
    e.g. A system starts with 1 physical disk, partitioned like so:
    PRIMARY PARTITION
    EXTENDED PARTITION
    - LOGICAL PARTITION 1
    - LOGICAL PARTITION 2

    The partitions are enumerated so that the letters assigned are:
    C: PRIMARY PARTITION
    D: LOGICAL PARTITION 1
    E: LOGICAL PARTITION 2


    Later, a second physical disk is added which has 2 primary partitions and an extended partition with 3 logical partitions - now the drive letters are assigned like this:
    C: PRIMARY PARTITION (disk 1)
    D: PRIMARY PARTITION (disk 2)
    E: PRIMARY PARTITION (disk 2)

    F: LOGICAL PARTITION 1 (disk 1)
    G: LOGICAL PARTITION 2 (disk 1)

    H: LOGICAL PARTITION 1 (disk 2)
    I: LOGICAL PARTITION 2 (disk 2)
    J: LOGICAL PARTITION 3 (disk 2)
    I don't use multiple drive letters for local disk storage any more, but this screenshot shows the difference between and MBR and GPT disk (the volume mount points are used to physically separate the data to prevent fragmentation):


    References:
    Windows and GPT FAQ
    How Basic Disks and Volumes Work

    -----

    Task Manager
    Task Manager launches as a user-privilege process by default, so you only see the processes running in your own session - to view all processes on the system you need to click the administrative button "Show processes from all users" to re-launch the process using an administrative token.

    Acquiring "hang mode dumps" of processes used to involve installing the Debugging Tools for Windows and then using ADPlus.vbs after identifying the process ID of the process of interest - now you can right-click any process and selecte "Create Dump File" to generate a dump of that process without crashing it.

    Virtualization is the method by which legacy applications can continue to work when they believe they are writing files into protected areas of the system, such as %systemroot% - I/O requests to these areas are redirected to a location in the user profile.
    By default this location is C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\VirtualStore
    If this did not happen, the application would have to be run as an Administrator or would get "access denied" every time it tried to write to those protected areas.
    Virtualized processes can be seen in Task Manager by adding the column through View/Select Columns or right-clicking a particular process to see if the option is ticked.

    If Task Manager is launched as an elevated process, right-clicking a service process and clicking "Go to Service(s)" will switch focus to the Services tab with the service(s) highlighted that are in that process.
    Standard services are a 1:1 relationship, if you view a service host process (svchost.exe) then it will highlight all of the running services inside that process.

    On the Performance and Networking tabs you can see real-time CPU and network activity (per-core and per-adapter respectively), a more detailed view of all system resource usage is available through the Resource Monitor button at the bottom.

    -----

    Reliability and Performance Monitor
    This feature is available through either of the following methods:
    - Control Panel / System and Maintenance / ADministrative Tools / Reliability and Performance Monitor
    - Windows+R / perfmon

    The default view is the one available through Task Manager - Resource Overview - where you can see real-time load on CPU, disk, network and memory resources in graphs at the top.
    There are also sections for each which can be expanded to show more detailed information on recent activity, this can be useful for seeing which files are being accessed by which process when there is a lot of disk activity - such as identifying when SuperFetch or the Windows Search may be using idle time to do some work (they use lower priority I/O requests so will be pre-empted by any other activity you or a service generates).

    Reliability Monitor is a high-level overview of how stable, over time, your applications and OS are.
    Starting at a score of 10, every time an application has a problem, or the OS bugchecks, the score is decremented - as time passes the score gradually rises again, to a maximum of 10.
    Events that affect the reliability score are recorded here so you can see if it is a particular application that constantly falls over, or if there was a problem (un)installing something so you can spot patterns.

    -----

    Windows Error Reporting (WER)
    Where most tools are there to be used interactively to see how healthy a system is, in the event of a crashing application or OS, the WER service takes over gathering information relating to the problem.

    Periodically WER will check its log and prompt if the user wants to send an anonymous report to the Online Crash Analysis (OCA) service hosted at Microsoft - if the problem being reported has a known solution then WER can present this information to the user, and if it is not a known issue then WER will keep track of the event and periodically check for any new information.

    As time goes by the database of reported issues with their solutions grows, and users are notified automatically when a solution has been found - be it either a Windows fix or a known issue for a 3rd party with a URL to their home page.
    ~ I have CDO. It's like OCD except the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be. ~
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    Re: Looking Through Windows

    thanks your post...I like it....up up up....

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    Re: Looking Through Windows

    Any reviews on Win8!

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    Re: Looking Through Windows

    changing the window providing the new opportunity and updates every time. window 7 then 8 now 10 maybe many more comes. so kepp updated.

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