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Win2k "NT4-ified"

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#1
BogdanV

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I've seen others managing to make NT4's Explorer run under XP or Vista, but as much as I struggled with Dependency Walker and RegEdit, I didn't manage to do much.
So I thought on doing a radical action: completely replace Win2k's Explorer (together with its dependencies - Shell/32.dll,Comctl,Comdlg, etc) with NT4s (no SP) Explorer and dependencies.
In my experiments, I realised that Winlogon depended on 2k's shell32.dll and because of it being replaced, the Logon procedure BSOD-ed.
At first, I tried to also replace Winlogon, msgina and everything that was related to accounts management and login/out.
The best result I obtained here was to bring to life NT4's "Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to log-in" messagebox. After that, it blabbered something about missing user account information and BSOD at the end.

I also thought that instead of trying to replace the entire login mechanism, which would lead to a entire chain of broken dependencies, I thought of trying to find a way to bypass the Logon procedure and sign-in automatically as System (I'm not worried about the potential security risks. I know the risks involved, but I'm not interested in that).
And so, I found XP Embedded's Minlogon which due to the fact that it throws down the garbage the entire accounts system and logs you in as System, it fitted the job perfectly. Plus it seems that it is more memory-friendly than the normal Winlogon.exe

After nailing the "Logon Procedure terminated unexpectedly" BSOD, I went on to implanting NT4's shell. To my surprise, it worked !

And here is the result of my labour :

Posted Image

As you can see, the System Applet clearly shows its NT5, not 4, in the background, you can see NT4's IE-free Explorer and also Taskmanager showing the very low memory usage of the system.

I had to change all the cpl's with the NT4 versions and I also had to expand NT4's sndvol32.exe because the 2k one failed to load (vanished from start-bar).

Known bugs : -keyboard dead when trying to write text and when typing a file's name for quick jump in explorer (short-keys work though -ie. CTRL+C/V/X, WinLogo+E, etc)
-My Computer desktop icon links not to Explorer.exe but to NT4's Find
-clicking on a folder in the right-hand window of Explorer will also open Find instead of the folder (although Find does open pointing at the folder that you tried to access)
-double-click doesn't work on opening stuff, instead pops-up the context menu with "Copy files Here/Create Shortcuts Here"
-deselecting a file from a selection group will paste all items selected in the current folder.
-default-installed Microsoft games (minesweeper, solitaire, etc.) and Outlook are erased. Other programs are missing short-cuts on the startbar (kinda expected that to happen)
-NT4 Explorer doesn't seem to use its default icons (probably it accesses a 2k-version library which contains newer icons and not the default NT4 set)

Other than that, everything works perfectly fine ! (Oh, and no IE whatsoever)
Comments, suggestions are welcome.


EDIT: Please excuse me! I put the image without the Task Manager. Fixed.

Edited by BogdanV, 08 July 2009 - 08:49 AM.



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#2
BogdanV

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I found out why double-clicking folders and My Computer opens Find. Its because of a registry screw-up that configures the default double-click action as "Search..." and not "Open". (when right-clicking, "Search..." was highlighted and not "Open".

Does anyone know, by chance what is the name of the reg key that configures the default action on double-clicking, for folders and My Computer ?

#3
Colonel O'Neill

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Microsoft has an article for XP, don't know if it's applicable in this instance: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/320036
T400: 7x86
X100e: 7x86, 2008R2 (in progress), 2000 (in progress).

#4
BogdanV

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Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm afraid that the KB's solution is only for "normal" files, while Folders and My Computer are a different story (no extension and you'll never get to choose with what to open them, unless changing the registry).
Well, maybe in the registry, they are treated the same as any other file, but still, I don't think I'd find folders in the File Associations tab.

#5
jaclaz

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Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm afraid that the KB's solution is only for "normal" files, while Folders and My Computer are a different story (no extension and you'll never get to choose with what to open them, unless changing the registry).
Well, maybe in the registry, they are treated the same as any other file, but still, I don't think I'd find folders in the File Associations tab.


See if either of these help ;):
http://www.felgall.com/doswin58.htm

http://social.msdn.m...e2-3c8b50ac550b

jaclaz

#6
BogdanV

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Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm afraid that the KB's solution is only for "normal" files, while Folders and My Computer are a different story (no extension and you'll never get to choose with what to open them, unless changing the registry).
Well, maybe in the registry, they are treated the same as any other file, but still, I don't think I'd find folders in the File Associations tab.


See if either of these help ;):
http://www.felgall.com/doswin58.htm

http://social.msdn.m...e2-3c8b50ac550b

jaclaz


Thanks for the links!
Mea culpa, it seems that indeed, Folder Options covers the problem for this one. Thanks Colonel O'Neill and jaclaz for your help on this one!

EDIT: Tried integrating Minlogon and the NT4 shell within 2K's Setup. Even with the .reg file included, it still BSODs at the Logon Procedure. It seems that Minlogon has to be applied manually, which also forces you to modify the shell manually, after Setup. An inconvenience, but nothing "mission-critical".

Edited by BogdanV, 08 July 2009 - 01:46 PM.


#7
jaclaz

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EDIT: Tried integrating Minlogon and the NT4 shell within 2K's Setup. Even with the .reg file included, it still BSODs at the Logon Procedure. It seems that Minlogon has to be applied manually, which also forces you to modify the shell manually, after Setup. An inconvenience, but nothing "mission-critical".


I know that it may make you "deviate" from your original goal :unsure:, but maybe, just maybe, you can find in this thread something that could be of use:
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=3717

In any case, these could give you some hints on how to perrform the integration:
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=72864
http://www.mp3car.co...lite-image.html

jaclaz

#8
BogdanV

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The minimal XP project is pretty cool. I might be tempted into doing something similar for 2K, but the abomination that is the Registry really frightens me (to be more precise, the gory task of trimming tons of reg keys really keeps me away).
If I'd have a bare-bones template of the Registry containing just enough to get you past the loading screen and dump you on the empty background, or at least infos on what major branches to keep in the Registry, that would be excellent. (I presume that from a certain "level", Windows is smart enough to generate its own keys).

Anyway, I'll be checking the NT4 "implant" for incompatibilities with games & stuff. I hope that programs, who don't depend on the Windows GUI stuff won't have problems running.

#9
jaclaz

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The minimal XP project is pretty cool. I might be tempted into doing something similar for 2K, but the abomination that is the Registry really frightens me (to be more precise, the gory task of trimming tons of reg keys really keeps me away).
If I'd have a bare-bones template of the Registry containing just enough to get you past the loading screen and dump you on the empty background, or at least infos on what major branches to keep in the Registry, that would be excellent. (I presume that from a certain "level", Windows is smart enough to generate its own keys).


That projects does exactly that, though for XP.

I don't think the changes between 2K and XP are that much.

If you are interested I do have somewhere (it may take some time to find it) a Win2K SP0 build fitting in 80 Mb with a greatly (though not at the same "essential" level of the referenced XP one) reduced Registry and still using the "full" Winlogon.

References here:
http://www.msfn.org/...showtopic=41208
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=5679

One of the missing steps (largely due to the complete lack of interested members) of the referenced project is the ability to switch form the current "only minlogon" status (which might be one of the reasons of the scarce interest in it) to a "switchable minlogon/winlogon" status, that should enlarge the intended "audience".

jaclaz

#10
fdv

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The minimal XP project is pretty cool. I might be tempted into doing something similar for 2K, but the abomination that is the Registry really frightens me (to be more precise, the gory task of trimming tons of reg keys really keeps me away).


You might look into this to help you get a head start on what to rip from 2k. The INF files I make available help as far as removing IE is concerned. A key to minimizing the registry is preventing certain DLLs from registering (keeping them from copying is of course the right way to go.) You might find this easier than parsing the work of nLite, which doesn't really "show" you what it's doing.

#11
jaclaz

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You might find this easier than parsing the work of nLite, which doesn't really "show" you what it's doing.


I don't think nlite was ever mentioned until you did. :whistle:

;)

jaclaz

#12
fdv

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I don't think nlite was ever mentioned until you did.


I believe in full disclosure, I guess? Just bein' fair :angel ;)

#13
jaclaz

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I believe in full disclosure, I guess? Just bein' fair :angel ;)

Full disclosure about "lacking of disclosure", if I get it right.
:P

jaclaz

#14
BogdanV

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A key to minimizing the registry is preventing certain DLLs from registering


Indeed. I've read that dlls "puke" a lot of stuff into the registry, but by physically removing them from a running installation, wouldn't that lead to the child keys becoming "dead links", thus ending as targets of any reg-cleaning program ?

Oh and thanks jaclaz for the "cleaning methodology" from one of your links.

I guess that a first goal would be to compile a list with the vital system files and their dependencies.
After that, make a list with the rest of the dlls and sort-out those that I'd like to keep based on the functionality they provide.
Check the dependency chain for the dlls that I want to keep.
And finally, wipe-out what's left.

#15
fdv

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A key to minimizing the registry is preventing certain DLLs from registering

Indeed. I've read that dlls "puke" a lot of stuff into the registry, but by physically removing them from a running installation, wouldn't that lead to the child keys becoming "dead links", thus ending as targets of any reg-cleaning program ?


I don't think that a regclean program necessarily "knows" that any given key is "owned" by any given DLL. It's probably just a risk you take whenever running regclean software.

Another key is to rip out whatever junk is in the HIVE*.INF files.

Unregistering a dll will sometimes take some reg entries IIRC.
As an aside, in 2k, there is no functionality that requires a dll to be registered and then doesn't care if the dll is deleted. This is the pivotal argument of a fellow who claims that letting DLLs install in the OS, registering them, and then deleting them in that order is really, really important for XP. Not only is this not the case in 2k, but it's easy to mod an install to copy a file over, reg it, then delete it before first bootup (my fileset has that functionality, though no one will ever use it, it's there.)

Deleting from a running install? I can't explain why it is, but if you install Win2k (or XP for that matter) intact and then delete stuff, you can end up very quickly with a nonfunctioning system. For example, SHDOCLC is part of IE. In an intact install, deleting it creates problems that you don't get when you don't install it (and other IE dlls) in the first place.

I like your idea of tracing functionality and dependencies. Although I recognize that you're doing your own thing here and have no intention of stepping on toes, I do hope that you'll have a peek at my files so that you can save yourself a little work and time.

Now if I could just find a way to fiddle with files so that 2k would boot from CD... (yeah, I know, I know, but one can dream)

#16
BogdanV

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Well, patience and will are key.
I'll be sure to check your fileset as its indeed better to prevent than to mop-up the mess, but firstly, I'll try to compile a 2k setup as in Vorck's tutorial and then check the files. Tidying-up the registry with a modded setup will come probably at a later stage (after I decide on what to throw-away).

#17
jaclaz

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Now if I could just find a way to fiddle with files so that 2k would boot from CD... (yeah, I know, I know, but one can dream)


There is a way, though cannot say if it will be of your liking. :unsure:
It involves the use of a special (was Commercial) driver, of which I have a copy of the Demo, which will work allright, but will reboot in 20 minutes (if I recall correctly).
The old page was here:
http://www.msfn.org/...opic=35703&st=3

Via Wayback Machine:
http://web.archive.o...roducts/AB.php3

Maybe it is possible to use anyway some of the newish findings and "backport" something like ETBOOT:
http://www.boot-land...?showtopic=3890
or Diskless Angel (free version limited to 640 Mb) or even the 2003 SP1 Ramdisk.

@BogdanV
I'll see if I can find the copies of the "stripped down" Registry, that you may use as a quick reference.

jaclaz

#18
BogdanV

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Thanks jaclaz.
As for the "Windows 2000 total slipstream " tutorial from vorck.com, the SOURCESS folder was created with no problem, only the iso wasn't generated.
Copied the folder in a virtual machine and triggered Setup from WINNT32.EXE (I386 folder). When copying files, it complained about a missing wm_setup.exe, which I expected as it was said that wmp9 won't be installed with 2K.
Rebooted and at the file copying process, it started warning about missing files :

-acgenral.dll
-layers.dll
-specf.dll
-beartown.bmp (WTF?! Couldn't find the file anywhere on Google)
-cmnquery.dll
-dsquerry.dll
-dssenh.dll
-extenum.ldf
-final1.inf
-final2.inf
-fips.sys
-tltlib.inf
-tltmc.inf
-tltmgr.exe
-irenum.inf
-ldap.inf
...

The Setup Error Log :
Error:
Setup could not register the OLE Control C:\WINNT\system32\rsaenh.dll because of the following error:
LoadLibrary returned error 126 (7e).

***

Error:
Setup could not register the OLE Control C:\WINNT\system32\dssenh.dll because of the following error:
LoadLibrary returned error 126 (7e).

***

Error:

The signature for C:\$WIN_NT$.~LS\I386\NT5.CAT is invalid.  The error code is 8009200d.

Not a cryptographic message or the cryptographic message is not formatted correctly.

***

Fatal Error:

Setup failed to install the product catalogs. This is a fatal error. The setup log files should contain more information.

***

Error:
Setup could not register the OLE Control C:\WINNT\system32\rsaenh.dll because of the following error:
LoadLibrary returned error 126 (7e).

***

Error:
Setup could not register the OLE Control C:\WINNT\system32\dssenh.dll because of the following error:
LoadLibrary returned error 126 (7e).

***

Error:

The signature for C:\$WIN_NT$.~LS\I386\NT5.CAT is invalid.  The error code is 8009200d.

Not a cryptographic message or the cryptographic message is not formatted correctly.

***

Fatal Error:

Setup failed to install the product catalogs. This is a fatal error. The setup log files should contain more information.

***
I've checked DRIVER.CAB and its OK (both SOURCE/SS).
In regards to the FDV files, I haven't changed anything in them.
I checked the KBs & Co from HF against the list of KBs that shouldn't be used with the FDV files; they were all OK.

What did I miss/What could have went wrong ?
Is there any more information I can provide ?

PS. I ran HFSLIP on Windows 7 (with Administrator privileges).

#19
fdv

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created with no problem, only the iso wasn't generated.

You might be missing the needed files in HFTOOLS. The files you need are at a minimum mkisofs.exe and boot.bin, a 2000 boot sector.

triggered Setup from WINNT32.EXE (I386 folder)

Not supported :whistle:

That's why the missing files. I'd have to gut the DOSNET file and I never wanted to tackle a character mode setup. CD booting is the only supported method.

-beartown.bmp (WTF?! Couldn't find the file anywhere on Google)

You'll want to smack me when I tell you: it's simply included wallpaper. Sorry you went looking :blushing:

What did I miss/What could have went wrong ?

Retry with an ISO of course, as noted above, and you'll be okay, but normally this is a topic for the HFSLIP forum, and they'd ask you to post HFSLIP.LOG. But this happens to be an easy fix. I wouldn't be surprised if this thread got moved, but I can also see its relevance here in this forum too.

Edited by fdv, 10 July 2009 - 09:05 AM.


#20
awergh

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-NT4 Explorer doesn't seem to use its default icons (probably it accesses a 2k-version library which contains newer icons and not the default NT4 set)

Although not really relevant now, those icons are actually default in NT4 its just they are only used if the Shell Icon BPP is set to 16 instead of the default. Theres an option in the Plus! tab in the NT4 Display Properties to show icons using all possible colours.

Attached File  nt4screen.png   28.06KB   71 downloads
(Usually I dont post full images directly into a thread but at 28K I didn't think anyone would mind.)

#21
Ambassador

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Are you still working on this? I got this cherry from the free section of my local public library (:P) and I wanted to give this shell swap a try:

Posted Image Posted Image

Edited by Ambassador, 28 August 2009 - 01:04 PM.


#22
WordlessNotepad

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Placing NT4 Explorer on XP still looks like a buggy method. Meanwhile, I was thinking more from the aspect of using XP Explorer and modify it until the desired NT4 look is there.

Here`s some steps in (almost) achieving an NT4 look:

- A while ago I stumbled upon a small tool that helps bringing back a more Windows 98/2000 style to XP Inexperience Patcher.

-The next step is hiding the Windows flag throbber thing in the upper right corner that was implemented in Windows 98/2000. Remove Throbber

-Last part, which is actually the most difficult to alter are the toolbar buttons used in Explorer. You know, the types that colour up whenever you hover your mouse over them. Now my question is:

Can this toolbar be modified so that it shows the exact same button style as Winnt4? I often hear of programming codes that lets a toolbar button be "standard, with the ld border style" or "flat".

This is what I mean

So did Microsoft use a same sort of alteration during the creation of Windows98/2000/IE4Desktopupdate? And can this still be modified with a hidden setting or hex editing? I already tried looking into Explorer.exe/comctl32.dll/user32.dll to find references to this part but couldn`t find anything to return them from "flat" to "standard(bordered)"

#23
jaclaz

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Placing NT4 Explorer on XP still looks like a buggy method. Meanwhile, I was thinking more from the aspect of using XP Explorer and modify it until the desired NT4 look is there.


I guess there is a misunderstanding. :ph34r:
The original thread is not much about "looks" but more about "substance", the idea being to have (as it should be) a more modern NT based system NOT linked in any way to Internet Explorer and all the related nonsense.

jaclaz




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