WinXP MCE Credential Manager…

Continuing the tale of BartPE…

So, I’ve been using WinXP Pro for quite some time. The wife’s new computer and the new laptop both came with WinXP MCE 2005 edition loaded on them, however. Seemed pretty nice… the laptop looks beautiful when I go to play a DVD and browse through pics/videos/etc. Really happy with that.

But what is this crap with having to type my username and password to access a network share every time? Sure, it’s not an issue if I’m accessing a share on my XP Pro box, but if I’m accessing a Samba share on my fileserver, or the print server, I have to type the password every time? Because somehow being able to save a password is considered a professional feature and not a consumer feature?

Yeah, right.

I did some googling around. Apparently it’s because the password saving is tied into the credential manager, which is tied into joining a domain. Now, I don’t bother with a domain– a regular workgroup is just fine as far as I’m concerned. But further googling lead to some even more interesting notes: not only did previous versions of MCE allow you to do this, but the support was still built into MCE, just disabled. All you have to do is enable a registry key and you’re set.

The one problem? XP won’t let you change that registry key. Now, you can go about this the long way… or dig out that BartPE disk and do things quickly.

  1. Shut system down and boot from BartPE
  2. Open a command prompt (Go > Run > cmd)
  3. copy system32\config\system c:\system
  4. Open the Registry editor (Go > Run > regedit)
  5. Click on ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE’.
  6. File > Load Hive…
  7. Browse and select C:\SYSTEM
  8. Specify key name ‘BANANA’ and click OK
  9. Expand: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > BANANA > WPA > MedCtrUpg
  10. On the right-hand side, double-click IsLegacyMCE value
  11. Change selected value to 1 and click Ok. (THAT IS NOT AN L!)
  12. Click on BANANA subkey (under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE).
  13. File > Unload Hive. Confirm.
  14. Close the Registry Editor and go back to the Command Prompt.
  15. copy c:\system system32\config\system (say yes to overwrite it)
  16. Reboot from your main hard drive and you’re done.

I’m not sure what Microsoft was thinking, but I hope this level of brain-deadness doesn’t continue into Vista (though I’ll not be surprised if it does).

BartPE saves the day…

A while back we got a laptop, which has since become my primary station. It was a cheap Gateway MX6958 that we got with some money that my in-laws gave us as a wedding present.

Imagine my confusion when after getting it home and setting it up that I found that on the 120gb hard drive, there was an empty 60gb partition. The first partition, mind you, not the second. Foolishly, I decided to just format it and skip mucking with things… all was good until I shut the computer down and it did not want to boot… since the boot loader was on the 2nd partition.

Cue a large d’oh sound.

I did some research and ultimately said “screw this”, popped in the rescue cd and reinstalled. I was hoping that the XP cd would give me some options, but the rescue CD is exactly that… no ifs ands or buts. It did let me save the existing files and only overwrote the Windows installation, which was nice, but that’s the only choice I got.

So, then afterwards, I cleaned things up and moved the files over to the primary partition. Looking around, I found that there was a command to resize a parition but you could not do it on the primary parition while Windows was running.

Insert BartPE. BartPE is a Windows version of Linux LiveCDs. It’s meant as a rescue disk that you build yourself (I’m assuming to avoid legal issues with redistributing Microsoft’s files) and burn to a CD. Took me a bit to get my ISO right– after a coaster or two I dug out my one CD-RW– as the MX has an internal SATA drive and the XP CD I was using to build the PE disk didn’t have the SATA driver (I ran into an issue building it from the Gateway rescue disk and just grabbed my other XP cd to save time). But once I got that up and running, I was able to boot from BartPE and resize the partition easily.

I recommend BartPE to any sysadmin who might end up tinkering with their Windows box at some point. You never know when a rescue disk will come in handy, and it’s a lot easier to deal with than trying to work with the Recovery Console on the XP cd… assuming your XP CD even has that.