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Any issues after a Multiple partion XP Home Sp3 fresh install?


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I am new to nLite and Widows Deployement Tool for Sp3. Please move this post to the approapriate forum if needed and direct to to the post if this has been already covered in details.

nLite is very well put together and I have been able to implement my setup for my scheduled Windows XP Home SP3 install.

I am planning a disk formatting (and zero filling) of my Hitashi hard drive using the manufacturer's tool. The partitioning of my physical drive will be carried out before the unattended install. The partions will be as follow:

C:\ for XP

D:\ for PageFile

E:\ for ProgramFiles

F:\ for data

The question is are they any issue with the use of ProgramFilesDir from Windows standard package or third partions?

For instance, with the Deploy tool for Sp3 from Microsoft the following entry are not documented for the [unattended] and in the [GuiUnattended] sections (see below). However, these are used.

[unattended]

ProgramFilesDir="D:\ProgramFiles"

CommonProgramFilesDir="D:\ProgramFiles\CommonFiles"

[GuiUnattended]

ProfilesDir="F:\Documents_and_Settings\"

I did not see how to make nLite add the ProfilesDir entry from the GUI, I edited directly the WINNT.SIF file instead. I did not find the relevant entry to set the pagefile size and location/distribution on partitions either.

I suspect I am asking very common and simple questions. I tried to find some answers on the web and this forum.

Is there a resource and userguide besides

http://unattended.msfn.org/unattended.xp/view/web/1/ I could refer to?

Also, are they any programs which might not look environment variable when installing? If there are, does mean I should keep a copy of the default/standard directory in C:\?

Finally will those entry using at the fresh install be enough or the registry need to be edited to customize Windows?

Here are some excerpt I found on a webpage discussing Windows setup and customization?

ECHO setting swap file

ECHO Y| REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory management" /v PagingFiles /t REG_MULTI_SZ /d "C:\pagefile.sys 256 256\0D:\pagefile.sys 1024 2048"

ECHO moving program files

ECHO Y| REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\" /v ProgramFilesDir /t REG_SZ /d "d:\programs"

XCOPY "c:\Program Files" d:\programs\ /E /C /H /O

ECHO moving user profiles

ECHO Y| REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList" /v ProfilesDirectory /t REG_EXPAND_SZ /d "d:\home"

XCOPY "c:\Documents And Settings" d:\home\ /E /C /H /O

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and replies,

Donat

Edited by dpluigi
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D:\ for PageFile

Did you know that putting the pagefile on a seperate partition actually slows down your system?

It needs to be on a fully seperate hard drive for the performance gain.

D:\pagefile.sys 1024 2048"

Also setting it to a static size i.e. the same min and max reduces fragmentation of it and helps performance too.

Edited by Kelsenellenelvian
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I was not aware that the page file on a separate partition would significantly slow down the system. My next computer will have several hard drive so I am kind of experimenting.

The main motivation for me to have a separate partition is to control the fragmentation issue which would slow down (pagefile.sys does not defrag easily, I think it needsa special application).

Those min max values were quoted from someone's post. I was planning 2046 4092MB. I have 2Gb ram installed and the recommended total page file is 2877Mb, and currently allocated displayed is 2046Mb. I was also going to have 256MB on C: for memory dump.

Do you suggest that I scrap the idea of a D: partition for the pagefile.sys and make it static instead on c: with the rest of the os?

Thanks for your reply,

Donat

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For the record, it does not "significantly" slow down the system as a whole.

With modern systems with lots of RAM, the pagefile is rarely used, so even if it would "significantly" slow down operation, it will do so in very rare occasions.

It makes actually no sense defragging the pagefile - unless, for any reason, you can NEVER reboot -: it is much easier, as I see it, boot to another instance of the OS - or to another OS capable of accessing the drive - and simply delete the pagefile file, it will be recreated, in pristine state, at next boot.

There are a lot of controversial opinions on how big a pagefile should be, and there are even people suggesting that it is not even needed at all, while others think that Windows is good enough to manage it internally.

Definitely avoiding the flip-flop to dinamycally resize is an advantage, so a fixed size is recommended. (at least by me ;))

I think that each user has it's own way to use the PC so there is not a "one-size-fits-all" solution, a good approach is actually check how the pagefile is used during your normal activity:

http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-...11-5073570.html

and size it accordingly.

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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Hi,

The Sysinternals PageDefrag package will defrag the Pagefile, Hibernate file and various registry hive files at the next reboot after running, similar to the way that CHKDSK (or AUTOCHK) will run before Windows is loaded.

This tool will try to ensure that all parts of those file are contiguous, however it does not tackle the $MFT or other meta-files.

Kind Regards

Simon

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Thanks for all these clarification. Great link to making a page file monitor console Jaclaz, and on my current system so far it looks like my pagefile.sys file is too large and underused... Now the question to I need a partition with a pagefile.sys with variable or fixed size or leave in CD with a fixed size. Since it is created a boot up, if C: is not having enough contiguous pace wouldn't a pagefile be fragmented from start then even with a fixed size?

Anyhow the question of this thread was also about the multiple partitions approach and possible issued such as program files on a different drive. I read that so program may not use the environment variable for program files path and install and/or look in the standard location on c:.

If it were an issue would leaving a c:\program files be a way to circumvent such possibility?

Thanks,

Donat

Edited by dpluigi
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Anyhow the question of this thread was also about the multiple partitions approach and possible issued such as program files on a different drive. I read that so program may not use the environment variable for program files path and install and/or look in the standard location on c:.

If it were an issue would leaving a c:\program files be a way to circumvent such possibility?

A very small number of - generally badly programmed - apps do have hardcoded paths for install, but a great part of them will however prompt you for confirmation of the proposed path during install, so the problem may arise for just a handful of programs, most of which are worthless anyway, which leaves you with very few, small apps to deal with.

What I usually do is to have a single primary partition, usually FAT16, a little less than 2Gb, on which there is just the "base booting" files:

NTLDR

NTDETECT.COM

BOOT.INI

(NTBOOTDD.SYS) needed in some setups with SCSI disks

(BOOTFONT.BIN) needed in some not EN-US national versions

The "System" is in a Logical Volume inside Extended partition.

Another volume is for "Program Files".

Another volume (actually more than one) is for "Data"

On a single drive system I do use yet another separate volume (FAT32 formatted) for the pagefile.

I then use some 600 Mbytes of the Primary for a second ("light") version of the OS, for emergency/recovery/offline checks, etc.

This leaves about 1.3 Gbytes available for the very few programs that "like" C:\ as their "home" (which most of the time get anyway deleted after testing ;) ).

jaclaz

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Jaclaz,

This sounds like a good strategy, "grazie tante" for the suggestions.

Sorry if these are simple questions:

How do you handle the system/os in a logical volume (inside the extended partition along with programs and data volume partition) and a second ("light") version of the OS? Dual boot set-up?

By light os do you mean a duplicate of I386 folder for recovery or a stripped down to the minumum (removing all unecessary components, ...) of XP os?

ALso I noticed you recommended FAT16 for primary partition C: of emergency OS; FAT32 for the pagefile.sys partition and I suppose also for the System D: (i.e. active partition); and I assume NTFS for the other two logical volumes programs and data.

I am curious, what is the reason to use FAT16 for OS? Is is because it is more space efficient and those data are less conducive to fragmentation, which is more of an issue with FAT16? Why not FAT32?

Also for the partitioning is Acronis Disk Director fine or you would advice with another tool. I did found it a little quirky at first. A friend also has Partition Magic and could help me with if it is better and has more functionality and flexibility that the basic windows commands from boot-up.

Thank you in advance for clarifying all these points. I feel that I have been a lot in the last week or so but I suspect that my questions may sound a little trivial to some experts on the forum. SO thanks again for taking the time to answer.

Donat

Edited by dpluigi
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Hmmm, lots of questions. :blink:

Dual booting:

simply two lines in BOOT.INI:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\NTEXP="RecoveryOS" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(5)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

"light OS" is a extremely nlited version (and something else removed), no network, no nothing except disk drive access + a number of utilities, 200 Mb roughly.

(the "old" version I used, based on 2K was around 100 Mb)

FAT16 for the first partition is just because I also have on the same drive MS-DOS 6.22. the little less than 2 Gb is a "need" to have not a too big cluster size.

(the "old" version I used was "little less than 1 Gb", and had half the cluster size, extending it to 2 Gb is somewhat "stretching it")

Besides, FAT16 is the oldest and most compatible with everything filesystem, I can (if needed) hexedit/modify/fix it directly, it has just one bootsector.

FAT32 is allright, and better (as it is MORE efficient) as long as you don't use anything "older" than Win9x/DOS 7.x.

Since you have a presumably smallish separate partition for the pagefile.sys (typically fixed size, in my case, 1024 Mb) and of course you do not need any of the advanced features of NTFS, FAT32 is (slightly) faster:

http://www.ntfs.com/ntfs_vs_fat.htm

On the other hand, for all the other partitions, much bigger, NTFS has several advantages:

1) it is inherently more efficient (no problems of "slack space" due to fixed big sized clusters)

2) allows restricting access on a per-user basis

3) tends to fragment far less than any FAT

4) it is much more secure in case of filesystem corruption

5) allows for "sparse" files, mount points and hard links

6) allows for files bigger than 4 Gb (important for the "Data" partition)

7) it is faster on big sized partitions

About partitioning, I use NONE of the two.

In my opinion and experience, ALL this kinds of programs have a basic "dangerous" design.

Basic assumption:

Kids should not play with matches.

This kind of apps make any newbie feel like he is a "master" in managing drives, creating partitions, resizing them, converting from Logical Volume to Primary, changing filesystems at will, etc.

Since Murphy's Laws ALWAYS apply and expecially to this delicate matter, if you fiddle long enough with these apps something is going to happen, and often the result of this is an unbootable/hard to recover system. :ph34r:

By allowing to easily do whatever one fancies this kind of utilities remove any need for the most important part:

preventive, accurate, exhaustive thinking about planning of the partitioning scheme

A bit of (personal) history:

Partition Magic up to version 3 (limited to 8 Gb, so not much useful nowadays) worked like a charm.

I passed on 4 and 5.

Version 6 was a disaster.

Version 7 was slightly better (hearsay only).

Version 8 should be again reliable, but still I see a number of posts around of people crying about the damage it did on their drives, it is very possible that they are actually cases of PBCAK ;):

http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/PBCAK

but you never know. :rolleyes:

After the "professional" PC technician in the firm I used to work for wiped flat a couple of hard disks with version 6, after having recovered the data (and sent the guy

to a forced perennial vacation :whistle: ) I "banned" PM, and got Acronis, if I remember right version 7 or 8.

While being in my opinion more dependable, the versions I tried still did in some cases "strange" things to drives, like using a non-standard MBR, writing some data in the hidden sectors, etc.

My advice is:

1) PLAN before

2) use standard tools (Disk Manager works perfectly, unless you need to resize partitions)

3) if really, really needed, be very, very, very careful when using this kind of tools, and in any case, backup before

4) use gparted, part of many Linux distro's partedmagic:

http://partedmagic.com/

http://downloads.partedmagic.com/

is a live CD/USB stick that I have used with success

(right now the actual site has been hacked, it should get back soon for docs and the forum)

5) whatever tool you use think BEFORE doing anything, don't be fooled by the apparent easyness with which very complex operations can be carried on.

In other words:

  • if you have to perform common, simple operations, use standard, common, simple tools.
  • if you have to perform advanced, complex operations, the tool you use is anyway a tool, what is important (and that can may make the difference between a success and a failure) is your brain and your knowledge
  • whatever you are doing, assume that something may go wrong and be prepared for it (backup, save MBR's and bootsectors, etc.)

Finally, on the same "better be safe than sorry" trend:

unless it is a portable (with an efficient battery) don't even think of resizing partitions, changing filesystems, etc. with the PC not connected to a working UPS.

jaclaz

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Wow,

thanks a lot of Jaclaz. What a primer. Between the reading I did on FAT and NTFS and partitioning and your last reply I am stoked. Your recommendations makes a lot of sense and I can relate to your philosphy.

If I understand correctly how the partitioning tool used at/by XP install, once the first partition has been created, e.g. C:, subsequent partitions created will be (automatically/by default) placed within an Extended partition and created as Logical drives. Such approach would automatically built the lay-out you suggested, isn't it?

If this is correct this would be the simplest closest to "a standard" (Windows) approach - I should probably stick to it.

I have used a virtual machine to practice the partitioning with both Disk Director and XP install (aborting before XP install by pressing F3). Another common tool I haven't used in many years is fdisk from a boot disk. I'll try it later on with my vm. It might be more explicit than the implied and simplistic Windows XP install approach to partitioning.

Regarding the "set active" option in Disk director and fdisk, it should assigned automatically left as-is to partition 1, the primary partition with the emergency OS, isn't it?

Regarding the light OS for recovery in the Primary partition should be installed 1st or after the OS XP Home system in the extended partition?

Also I am assuming that the boot.ini would need to be edit when both are installed.

Last question... :thumbup

I will format all the drives after partitioning, although I could let xp install do it on the partition 2 (i.e. 1s logical drive in extended partition according to your scheme). Regarding the "base booting" files on the first partition (primary, C:), should they be copied by hand or when running format C: /s?

I think I am feeling better prepared and informed for the partitioning of my 60Gb laptop hard drive. Now I only need to get my mind around the best route to "integrate" my laptop specific drivers (and hotfixes) into my custom XP Home install, which I posted on another thread but did not get any reply yet. (Remember that I am trying to work around and control the OEM recovery install from manufactuer's to factory defaults with bloatware - it is looking good os far).

Anyhow, equipped with all the good suggestions and explanations from this thread and the 160Gb Maxtor external back-up drive with an image back up of my current system, I hope I won't be another case of PBCAK. ;)

Many thanks again Jaclaz for taking to read my lengthy post and for such a detailed reply.

Donat

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You are welcome. :)

Maybe I scared you a bit too much ;), actually most of your concerns are not justified.

XP install will put the (few) needed files on the primary partition and all the rest on the one you choose allright.

It doesn't matter which of the "two versions" you install first or second, boot.ini will be updated correctly by the second install, the only problem might come if the two versions include different Service Packs, in this case, AS ALWAYS, rule of the thumb is to install all OS in the same order of the dates when they were released.

Yes, by default - and I recommend it as being the most compatible setup - out of the 4 entries in partition table of the MBR only two should be occupied:

1 with 1 Active Primary Partition

2 with 1 Extended Partition

(this way you will have two "free" for experiments or whatever future needs)

And as well, if there is only one Primary partition, it will be set Active automatically.

However, as said, I normally use a "pre-boot" to partition the hard disk, and create the primary partition and Logical Volumes.

FDISK is pretty much unuseful as it's a bit "dated", the Freedos version is better, though cannot say if it has any size limit. :unsure:

jaclaz

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Thanks for the clarification.

Better safe than sorry. You did not scare me but maybe invited me to over think the partitioning and the XP install, which is not a bad thing.

I like very much the idea of an extra nlited XP Home which means that I'll have two shots at experimenting - one more reason to cater for such recovery OS. Actually once this extremely nlited XP (for recovery) is installed first, I could then use Disk Management from that XP to partition and format the remaining logical volumes in the extended partition before installing the second XP Home OS and the programs and user data...

On a different note, it would also allow me to test the integration into my custom made XP install CD my Toshiba manufacturer specific drivers (and hot fixes) install (See post http://www.msfn.org/board/understanding-Dr...-i-t126223.html for which I had received no replies).

I am researching on this forum about guidelines for an extremely nlited XP OS slimmed down to about 200Mb as you suggested. It does not seem trivial but you seem to have something specific in mind. If you have any good thread to get started for me to read or an nlite session.ini I could start from, I'd appreciate.

At any rate, I'll start with what you suggested in "very general terms" (i.e. no network, ..., just disk drive + utilities) and see how it reads on a VM first. But this is going beyond the scope of the thread.

Note that I did compile an Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows with Bart PE and application for my system already, using the same I386 folder as a starting point since I only have an OEM recovery system CD. It's been useful for maintenance like XP repair install which was not possible from my Laptop recovery CD I am also wondering if a virtual Machine, e.g. using VMWare, could be used from usb similarily for maintenance on physical system.

Regarding fdisk, actually I was thinking along the line of of Super Fdisk or SPecial Fdisk SPFDISK partition tool... which might be what you refereed to as FreeDOS Fdisk. I also heard of another reputable freeware Ranish Partition Manager, a boot manager and hard disk partitioner.

Again, thanks for the clear and to the point answers - kudos. It was helpful and full of very useful informations. I hope it will help other "newbie" like me to read this. :thumbup

Donat

Edited by dpluigi
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