XP – Missing User Profile

A rare fix for a problem on XP suffered by my father following a twofold issue of full C:/ drive and a powercut! When he restarted the PC it appeared that he had lost everything, and just booted up to a new plain and empty profile.

So first off I cleared out some cruft using C-cleaner and got 1GB of space back, then moved a load of installation files to some redundant space on the PC and got back another 500mb.

Then to restore his profile I headed into: My Computer (right click) > Properties > Advanced tab > User Settings. This brings up a dialog listing the user profiles available on the PC. I identified his original profile which had been labelled back up and the new profile that had been created when he restarted. Tried to delete this new profile but couldn’t. So into Control Panel > Users and created a new user with Admin rights. Logged out, logged into the new user and went to user profiles and deleted the new profile for his main system. Logged out and logged back into the main user and thankfully his profile returned. Then deleted the newly created user account.

All done 🙂

Fix Windows 7 when stuck at “Starting Windows”

OK, I dual boot W7 Home Premium and Xubuntu 10.04. I also like to try out various live cds, boot cds and so on.

Every now and then, when I boot to W7, it gets stuck at the “Starting Windows” splash screen, pretty glowing colours but thats it. If I start up in safe mode it gets as far as classpnp.sys and then just hangs.

So I boot back into Xubuntu and open up Gparted; to find that the W7 partition has become hidden (this is probably my fault for fiddling about :))

To fix, unmount W7 partition, and then Manage Flags and untick the “hidden” flag, then reboot into W7.

If you are not dual booting, you can use any Ubuntu Live CD or Parted-Magic Live CD, or there are paid for Live CDs that will do a similar thing.

There is another method if this doesn’t work (or “hidden”) isn’t the problem.

1. Boot windows but press F8 to get up the recovery menu, and choose “Repair Windows

2. Login in as an Administrator (your own account will do if that type of account)

3. You eventually get some menu choices, pick Command Prompt

4. Type dism /online/get-packages
(If that doesn’t work try dism image:c: /get-packages)

5. You should get a list of the updates installed. Find the most recent one and write down the full filename

Filenames look something like this:

6. Then run: dism /online/remove-package /PackageName:nameof package
(Again, if that doesn’t work, try dism /image:c:/remove-package /PackageName:name of package

7. Reboot PC

8. If you still have a problem, perform this procedure again, removing the latest package, until you find the one that causes the problem

Am I Open Source or What? (on a Windows 7 PC ?)

It’s list time again:

Because so much good open source software has been ported to Windows, its possible to do just about everything on Windows with the open source programs I use regularly on my main Xubuntu 9.10 system:

Open Source:

Open Office
Gnumeric (a bit buggy)
ProjectX (java)
HJSplit (java)
Frostwire (java)
FireFTP (firefox extension)
Firefox (of course!)
Mplayer & SMplayer

This list will grow. Keep up the good work guys 🙂

Plus, some notable “freeware” applications:

AVGFree 9
Shark007 Codecs Pack
Windows Movie Maker 2.6
JellyBean Key Finder
Google Chrome
DeFraggler (Piritin)
Free Screen To Video (Koyote Software)
Winamp (with iAmp skin)
WizMouse (scroll without focus)
Powerpoint Presentation Viewer
RocketDock (just like my wbar!)
Adobe Reader 9
Scanner Application that comes with my Brother Network Printer (Brother very good at drivers and support for Windows and Linux)

[EDIT 12/2010 add DVD Flick to your list of freewares, encodes / authors / burns ]

Shareware I just can’t live without:


[EDIT 12/2010 – now found I can, try Izarc, copes with just about everything ]


Also done a few registry hacks to sort out the awful unintuitive default behaviour of Windows Explorer. These are easily found on any Windows 7 sites.

Remove Libraries from Explorer
Remove Favourites from Explorer
Remove HomeGroups from Explorer
Adding Directories “I want” to the SendTo drop down
Removing “Drives” from SendTo
Adding Copy To folder and Move To Folder to Right Click
Adding Open Command Prompt to Right Click

Nearly got my Windows PC behaving and looking just like “Linux”  😀

Windows 7 & Xubuntu (Dual Boot) & Samba File Server: Do’s and Dont’s

Been dual booting W7 and Ubuntu for some time using the RC version, but upon purchasing an Asus EB1012, which is now proudly bolted out of sight to the back of my 24″ Hanns.G screen, I found I had a proper licensed copy of W7 Home Premium to look after, alongside side my 9.10 Xubuntu install. With a linux samba server also on the Lan I needed everything to run smoothly, and after fiddling about for a few weeks, I believe I am finally there.


1. Dual boot W7 with Linux. It makes so much sense, as what you can do in Linux is what you can’t do in W7, and vice versa (although the latter has now almost dimished to zero :))

Setting Up for Samba Server File Access

2. The following to get your samba server working with W7 to stop it BSODing:

edit your /etc/samba/smb.conf on the server and ensure that:

  • Your workgroup name is listed
  • Your netbios name is listed, and is the same as your workgroup (OK, this means you can only have one samba server, but it helps
  • Ensure that your security entry is set to user

So in the [global] section of smb.conf you should have these entries (assumes workgroup of MYHOME)

workgroup = MYHOME
netbios name = MYHOME
security = user

3. Follow all the steps in this howto by stormbringer on ubuntuforums to setup your samba server and shares.

4. Follow all the steps for W7 in this howto by dmizer on ubuntuforums to setup W7 for samba access

5. Add a registry key to W7 for LmCompatibilityLevel=2 – see here

6. Make sure your W7 workgroup matches the one in your smb.conf file

7. Have a look at your Antivirus program. Crashes have bee experienced when using free versions of Avast, Avira and AVG. I have AVG 9 Free installed and have disabled the Resident Shield and Link Scanner (the latter of these is apparently the root cause). If this doesn’t fix things, uninstall your AV all together.

8. Add your linux file server to your lmhosts.sam file in Windows 7. You will need to open notepad as administrator to do this. Simply add the ip, followed by a space or tab, followed by the netbios name you chose:   MYHOME

Save and reboot to get it to take effect.

Sharing Files on the Dual Boot

9. Create an NTFS shared partition separate from Ubuntu or Windows. If you don’t have the space, keep your files on the windows partition somewhere. ntfs file access is facile under ubuntu and you can automount through fstab with a simple line like this:

UUID=05AAD3F54R0B9BDA                           /media/DATA     ntfs-3g defaults 0 0

And of course you would use a similar line for accessing the windows partition.

At the moment, you won’t easily be able to access your Ubuntu partition from windows, well, not with read/write access, but to get at least read access, you would need to do some work prior to installation. I’m not going to recommend this route, as I believe it leads to instability. So you will need to be strong, and always copy or move files to your shared partition when in ubuntu. If you really must have read access, look here


1. Try to use Ext2ifs or Ext2fsd to access your ext4 partition. It doesn’t work, (bar the workaround above) and can cause your W7 to crash.

2. Don’t use EXT3 as your file system for a shared partition. Although it “works”, its just asking for trouble, because you will need to run one of the two programs in 1. above, which can increase instability.

3. Use Samba as your file server when on the ubuntu side of the dual boot. Setup NFS on the server for linux file access. Much better.

As you can probably see, I have set out to keep things as native as possible; give W7 what it expects to find and it will work well, give Ubuntu what it expects to find and the same applies….

Observation, after a recent Windows update, or due to something unrelated to all the above, my Server disappeared from the Network section, so have found the need to create a persistent mapped network drive. Wonder if it will ever come back….? [EDIT] it did, following a cold reboot the next day.

Run “wubi” from usb stick

As we move away from “burnable” media to solid state, then need to be able to use distros on usb sticks becomes more important. I have never yet tried wubi, but with a new PC on the way (with no optical drive) and Windows 7 pre-installed, I am tempted to try wubi as my installation method (even if only for a while! :))

So using unetbootin I setup a 1GB usb stick with Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10, booted up into Windows 7 and put in the stick.

Hmmm… no autorun of wubi.exe?

So opt to open folder and double clicked on wubi.exe. Accept the UAT control dialog and the wubi menu pops up. But with one problem. No “Install inside Windows” option. Not much good then.

Google away and find out its a bug. How to fix is quite easy and just takes one more step.

Open up a command window (or go Start > Run)

Type:    X:wubi.exe force-wubi

(where X is the drive letter of your usb stick)

and pass the UAT again and lo and behold,

your “Install inside Windows” option is there.

HOWEVER, wubi still seems to insist on downloading the distro from a torrent, as opposed to using the one you have on a stick. To overcome this, and if you have a big enough stick (!) copy the whole *.iso from your HDD onto the stick, into the same directory as wubi.exe. This will ensure you still have a bootable stick. Alternately, extract the wubi.exe from the iso, then with a blank formatted stick simply copy wubi.exe and *.iso onto the stick. Insert to a booted up Windows and go. You may nned to follow the initial instructions to get an install button, but I found with Xubuntu.9.10 I didn’t have too.

Grub Menu not Visible after attaching new widescreen Monitor! Solved!

Was time to treat myself to an early Christmas present, so splashed out on the ridiculously cheap HannsG HH241 24″, 1980×1080 WUXGA monitor @ £140. Comes with a VGA-VGAcable abd a DVI-HDMI cable (monitor has an HDMI port)

Plugged it in, powered up.

Nvidia Geoforce 6200 Graphics card with DVI/VGA output
HannsG HH241 24″ widescreen 1980×1080 WUXGA, HDMI 1.3 compatible
Multibooting @ 5 OS’s

PC booted up fine with post/bios screen viewable, then a blank screen for a few seconds (where grub menu usually is, then usual starting up for Xubuntu 9.04 (the default OS in my grub menu (grub legacy)

Once X was running everything fine.

Tried all sorts, reinstalling grub to mbr, reconfiguring X, checked for settings in bios (none obvious), but nothing changed.

So switched to VGA-VGA cable, and grub menu was back. So I am kind of sorted, but wavy lines and distorted image during post and splash, and was getting a better picture and all round performance using the hdmi connection.

Previous monitor, an Iiyama 17″ LCD worked fine on a DVI-DVI cable.

Also, Xubuntu Progess screen during boot up was not centred, off to the right a bit.

After hours and hours and hours of googling, finally found a post about toshiba laptop owners not getting grub on a cold reboot. The recommendation was to install grub2
To install grub2 on Jaunty or below

sudo apt-get install grub2

Test it by loading grub2 as chainloader (this option is offered on installation)
You’ll need to “e” “e” and change root to uuid to get the chainloader to work

If you are happy run

sudo upgrade-from-grub-legacy

and grub2 will take over, And lo and behold, the grub menu is back! New things to learn in order to customise grub2 menu, and set up a splash image for it.  Xubuntu progress splash also nicely centred.

Best place to go for just about everything grub2 is here

Reveal That Password!

Not a big problem with Firefox, but if you forget the password you used to access a web page or site in IE, it can be a right pain to retrieve it.

Found this little script that runs as a bookmark: Reveal Password

Simply right click on the link above and add it to your bookmarks – sorry, favourites.

Next time you come up against a site you have the password “dotted” out, simply go to your favourites and choose this link. A small popup will appear showing the password in plain text.

This also works for Firefox, and is the lazy mans way of discovering the password.

All credits to originator.

Enjoy 🙂

Surely Not? Linux User Moves to Windows 7?

Windows 7 to replace Xubuntu?

Whenever a new version of Windows comes out, I am normally one of the first to go grab a copy. Think into “grab” what you like, from the past, but with the arrival of Windows 7 I went for the RC which was on off for free to use until June 2010.

I thought, we’ll have a look, but I can’t see how they will have learnt any lessons after the resource hog they created with Vista. How wrong, install was under half an hour on my Shuttle SN41, boot up time from cold was under a minute to usable desktop, and ram usage was around 380mb, down by 200 mb on Vista, whilst CPU activity was next to nothing. No drag, no delays, no problems…. hang on, all I have done in the last three years is use linux, and found the need to move towards lighter and lighter systems to maintain speed and productivity. Yep, but W7 seems to be a real contender, until June 2010 comes round!

OK, its one thing to get the OS up and running, can I “do” everything I can do on Xubuntu 9.04, and access my linux server (that one won’t be changing!). This is a work in progress, but here we go so far:

  1. Remove the watermark about evaluation. easily found on the net
  2. ExtFsd – provides access to ext3 partitions on the HDD
  3. Ensure samba server up and running on the linux server (it is, for my kids and their windows PCs)
  4. Install Winrar – I know I will have to download some rar files to get up to speed
  5. Firefox – IE8 shoved politely to one side, all required extensions installed nicely
  6. Putty – now able to ssh into server
  7. UltraVNC – now able to vnc to server and other boxes
  8. Geany – helps to overcome linux text files, and mirrors usage on Xubuntu. No need for any other text editor.
  9. VLC – mplayer won’t do dvb on Windows yet, so VLC for viewing and recording dvb streams. Will have to spend some time writing batch files to ease planned recordings and viewings, but had to do this on Linux.
  10. Brother MFP drivers – original CD no good for W7, but Vista drivers on the Brother site did the job.
  11. Gwhere – yes there is a Windows version – for cataloging DVDs
  12. Skype – and the Eyetoy webcam experience is here at last 🙂
  13. CDBurnerXP – on trial as I write. My trusty Nero OEM CD proved to be no good for W7

To come:

  • pdf access and creation
  • image editing (this will probably be photofiltre)
  • video encoding will get shunted off to the server for mencoder to deal with, don’t do video editing as a rule

Note: All mail is up on Google, so no need for a mail client, as with Calendar & To Do, and Google Docs will do if I do not install OO.  For work I have to use Windows, and need access to full Acrobat, Illustrator, IE6+ for Management
systems, and Sage for accounting. I try to emulate this at home, so do need Windows in some form.


  1. a. Several little crashes of programs, and on one occasion the vlc.exe file disappeared, requiring a reinstall
  2. Tried, but could not get NFS Services to work, so gave up and used samba instead
  3. vlc is a swine to use for dvb but I’ll get there
  4. mplayer / smplayer crashed and burned when trying to play video over smb shares and killed the Aero effect until I rebooted.
  5. WMP OK for occasional mp3 play, but never saves playlist automatically. Failed to play most of the videos I threw at it
  6. Windows Media Center just so unintuitive, and bring machine to its knees. such a shame, it looks great. Has been “dumbed down” so little chance to configure precisely
  7. Navigating the file system, and the layout of Windows Explorer is quite alien (might seek out something more simple!)
  8. Perhaps most worrying was the dirth of useful information on the net about how to get setup, in particular with regard to dvb and vlc.  (A new user coming from Linux would struggle!!! 🙂
  9. Seems to grind to a halt after a while, needing a reboot to get back to normal

It scares me just how much I have forgotten about Windows and how it works, but for an underlying OS, it seems pretty  stable and responsive, and very usable on my oldish hardware.

Watch this space for more adventures from a linux user on Windows 🙂

How to Share from Linux using SSHFS on Windows with Dokan

Dokan, (meaning clay pipe) providing sshfs access to linux file shares (server) from Windows systems (client)

I am always looking for good ways of accessing linux file system shares from windows boxes, as I have to help my less technical windows users on my LAN gain access to everything being served up from my linux servers. If samba doesn’t float your boat, and getting nfs to work on Windows is just too hard, there is another way; dokan, which runs as an executable on Windows systems (W2K,XP, Vista) to provide mounted network style shares via ssh. Here’s how.

This howto is aimed at an internal LAN, so low security measures are followed. I am sure there are ways to lock things down as tight as you want (probably from the linux end), but this is beyond the scope of this howto, I just want to get you up and running! Continue reading