WinBuilder 073 - beta discussion

October 15th, 2007

A new WinBuilder binary is available for testing and review for everyone interested in joining our little discussion for what is important to be added or what needs to be improved.

The last wb version had several changes from it’s precendent version and I hope that this next version can match a satisfatory level of improvements that make our life easier.

So far, the new beta is able to open .script and .project file with a standalone editor. This allows to keep several windows to modify the script code or simply use as guide when writing new scripts.

Winbuilder will be default associate these extensions to use along with the internal editor.

I hope this somehows helps Peter keeping a track of the several files on the work desk.

The beta discussion topic can be found here.

Some other features include the update of the available web servers and some other UI modifications. Haven’t yet started to work much on the script engine - would prefer to keep as it is to avoid new bugs while adding new features.

By request of ozbob There is also a new object that can be used along with script - it’s a checklist and will allow to use a checklist of values that the end-user can change as he needs.

A screenshot and quick explanation of how this works can be found here.

—-

That’s it for now - lots of things to do and many new things that can be added, don’t be afraid to place your requests or say what needs to be changed - there’s nothing better than some feedback to know what can be improved.

- Nuno Brito

LiveXP updated

October 12th, 2007

A new liveXP project has been made available early this morning and it contains some important changes when compared to the previous versions. It is the first time that a substancial amount of applications is included inside the main project.

Following the latest discussions regarding the distribution of only freeware/shareware software we are moving on the right direction and follow these rules - finding free alternatives to otherwise commercial applications.

Nice features:

- This project has a very clean look&feel that I think will surprise most people testing it.
- Very few icons are displayed on the desktop
- Network availability comes only if the user authorizes it
- Windows are skinned and the wallpaper is “copied” from the host machine
- Added imgburn to create the ISO images (very stable app)
- Lots of app scripts come inside - and more to be added..
- PEtoUSB script included to create USB boot pendisks

In overall I think it will create the sort of ISO mostly used to repair or salvage a home/network computer.

Now I hope to have a bit more time to start working on the newer Winbuilder.. :)

- Nuno Brito

Powered by ScribeFire.

Legal software

October 10th, 2007

Ever since our first wb scripts were ever made available - most developers were already including the software created by other people inside the scripts making everything packed in a nice and clean way to be used by everyone.

Time has passed and the list of available scripts here on boot land has also kept getting extended to include more features and more programs.

A year ago everything was fairly easier to check - only a handfull of scripts were made available using a specific download location that only a person or two kept a close eye to keep things in order. Now we have a public download section were everyone can upload their work and this system is used by hundreds - while doing this - people can quickly share scripts to support all sort of apps inside their boot disks and really made life much simpler, but how do we guarantee that no illegal software is added to this download section?

After inumerous talks in which several perspectives were discussed, I think we’ve finally reached a common ground were everyone involved agrees in how we should effectively deal with the cases were software can and cannot be made available for sharing with others.

The initial discussion with the proposed change on the forum rules was made by Jaclaz here.

Many people spoke their opinion and the finish touch was given by Phox on his post:

“1. Include files in script (preferable in 7zip form to reduce size)
only if you are author and willing to publish them for free use.

2. I other cases and special for applications, provide in scripts, beside essentials,
everything additional (DLLs, REG settings, ect) for correct functioning.

3. Specify in the script list of necessary files, where and how to get them
and how to prepare them (should application be installed on processing
system or just unzipped in specific folder).

4. Don’t use scripts to show your technical excellence, but make them
as simple as possible, to provide users opportunity to learn how
scripts are functioning.

5. Core builds (Minimal) should organized for one click successful processing
(Download and press “Play”), but afterwards user would like (and should)
participate more in tailoring and preparing specific builds.

In this way Scripts will be small, Projects fast to download and legality
exposure minimal. “

This reply can be found in it’s original context here.

It was a very intensive discussion - were it was very good to see how different opinions clashed and exchanged the best possible arguments to defend their point of view about this matter.

In conclusion, the process to keep this site and respective projects here developed safe from harm that comes from allowing the distribution of non-licensed or non-authorized programs seems quite simple.

Instead of pointing the finger and banning members that eventually cross the line - we should indeed make an effort to teach and show how things should be done and why it is important to get permission from the respective software author.

This way the respective software author will know how his program is treasured and that someone has the opinion that it deservs to be ported into an app script, having spent a substancial amount of time to make it work under a Windows PE environment even when sometimes it may take days to include all needed registry keys, services, dependencies and iron out any bugs before a script can be called ready.

And some members already took into practise this spirit and began extending contacts to publish his work in a completely fair and legal way. The member known as “Online” has recently sent a message to the developers of FoxIt to let them see how their software was being used and asking for their proper permission to include it as a script - if wether they will allow or not - the important thing is the mutual respect by properly giving credits to whom deserved and “Online” undoubtly deserves my respect. This topic can be found here.

I have the opinion that our community has grown considerably in terms of self-awareness and responsability.

Congratulations to all boot land members!

VistaPE 010

October 8th, 2007

Nightman has just released VistaPE version 10 - a project that includes some excellent modifications making this a very complete boot disk. For the moment there is still a bit of bug tracking which is common when a new version is fresh out of the box, let’s hope that it only gets better and better as it deserves - thumbs up for NightMan!

On the winbuilder side - a new release is in order to update the download servers for VistaPE’s new location and correct the posted bugs along with requested features. So far this week has been quite busy, let’s yet see how things work out over the next days to focus on solving the previously proposed features.

For now, enjoy this new VistaPE which brings a good promise of results for the Vista platform - it also seems that Microsoft has included a Windows RE (Recovery Environment) version inside their yet to be released SP1 (Service Pack 1). Will this mean a new source for VistaPE in the future? Where people only need to download the project and press the play button without any extra configurations?

The future looks bright in possibilities since the Windows RE license seems even less prohibitive than the former license designated to Windows PE 2.0 as it is primarily meant as a tool to “recover” windows. There is also the new KDE4 platform with native windows support and so many new interesting ideas that’s it’s quite hard to just pick one to start from.

The next months sure promisse some rumble on boot land..

- Nuno Brito

PHP coding

October 6th, 2007

Just started learning the basic way arounds with php codings. So far it’s being fun althought there are still some rough edges that make my progress a bit slow.

After being so tied up to delphi IDE, it’s a bit difficult to move on to a platform where you need nothing more than notepad and a host with php support.

I think the biggest difficulty has been learning the new functions and syntax - there are plenty of them and most are quite featured - but it’s not easy to know how each one works nor it is easy to write them in the correct manner. In the delphi world one only needed to press F9 to compile the code and check for any syntax errors or see how the app behaves - in php this means saving the text file and pressing the reload on a web browser.

One thing I miss the most is the help system - on delphi I’d just press F1 to view all documentation regarding the keyword where the cursor was selected, how can we achieve the same effect on php?

Well.. google and php.net have been my friends on these initial steps where I’ve found so far a lot of snippets to help getting into the mood of php syntax.

Why php?

Well, the reason is mostly because I wanted to generate updates.ini files directly from the web - this would allow to upload via ftp newer scripts and files. After this operation was completed, one only needed to run the php file to create a brand new updates.ini that could be used by wb to get all updated files instead of manually creating a new file.

So far, md5 calculations are easy to get, reading and writing ini files also seems fairly easy - the only complication so far is getting the output of text to be displayed as needed - lots of rules to display strings and things yet to learn.

Maybe this way we can all end having more standalone web servers - where people can submit their files or updates and make this step simpler/customizable.

It’s also good to learn a new coding style, wish me luck.. :)

- Nuno Brito

One step further at my workplace..

October 2nd, 2007

Yesterday was a very happy day for me.

It was the day when I finally reached the first class of sargeants - a promotion which I’ve been waiting since the last seven years back when I’ve first started a career in the army.

I wouldn’t say that time has passed quickly nor that things haven’t changed much since my teenager days but when I try to remember all the things that were done over these short 3 years I’ve been away from home it just feels like somehow 20 years have passed let alone remember anything before 2000 when I started working here.

These last years that passed since I first finished my studies and went to the azorean islands to help other people have surely changed my perspective of the world and in return helped me understand that this globe is so great and that any distance from one place to another is something that can only be measured with the time it takes you to travel it.

It is indeed a great distance/time that can be measured when I compare my initial dreams against my present goals for the next years - which tend to be both more realistic and over-optimistic to say the least.

My family still advices me to follow a career as an officer  and follow the example of my older brother because of the payroll and quicker promotions but this would surely keep me far away from working intensively with computers and start dedicating more time to human resources and such - which I would likely regreat. There’s still nothing better than making a fresh boot disk in the morning… ;)

I’m happy and now I’m also one step further in my life as well.

-Nuno Brito

Mixing XP PE with XP install?

September 30th, 2007

Following the latest works to update the liveXP project with the changes introduced by Peter on NativeEx and PedroLe15 on api.script I’ve also took some time out to try something fun..

How about having an ISO which boots into a live CD environment and that we can still use to install windows on disk?

I know it’s possible modifying the NT loader and using other techniques - but how about mixing all files inside the same I386 folder?

So I’ve began testing - first results proven what appeared to be a sucessful marriage.

First created a regular liveXP with some bells&whistles like MMC and a few other apps. Then I’ve moved the target folder files and placed all files from my windows source.

Second - I’ve overwritten all files placed on the target folder with the ones that came from liveXP

Results: The liveXP environment is perfectly bootable without changes.

——————-

For this “marriage” have a meaning - the second step was missing - Install windows on disk from a PE environment

Start up with the regular method calling setup.exe found on the root of CD - the application seemed to work flawlessly asking for the serial key just like a regular install.

In the meanwhile I had already partitioned the disk and formated it with NTFS and marked the partition as active (I know this can be improved but this was just in testing phase)

However - setup didn’t work as expect as very few files were copied over to hardisk and the system complained about a few missing files when booting from disk - install is no go.

——-

Suspecting that the lack of files came from the customized txtsetup.sif created by nativeEx - I’ve decided to merge the contents of the target windows onto the source windows txtsetup.sif - creating this way a much bigger txtsetup.sif file which hopefully contained all data needed to install windows on disk.

Combining INI file values wasn’t an easy task to acomplish by hand so I’ve created a small app to combine these values - you can find it here

——-

Recreated a new ISO and tried it out - failed to boot again complaining about missing drivers.. :(

——-

Looking with more detail into txtsetup.sif I’ve decided to start off from a fresh txtsetup.sif from the source folder and remove the sections which contained the .load extension and replace these sections with the ones provided on nativeEx.

First - these two txtsetup.sif were added on a new text file. On top was txtsetup.sif from liveXP and bottom filled with the txtsetup.sif from Source CD.

On the source CD portion these sections were removed:

[Version]
[Setupdata]
[BootBusExtenders.Load]
[BusExtenders.Load]
[InputDevicesSupport.Load]
[SCSI.Load]

On the liveXP portion these section were removed:

[WinntDirectories]
[SourceDisksNames.x86]
[SourceDisksFiles]

All editing was made with notepad++ - which let us to interpret a file as having .ini language and allow colapsing sections to ease navigation (really great for handling large sized ini files)

——————————

As a result: this modded txtsetup.sif contained the boot information to start LiveXP and the install data to proceed with the correct installation of XP on disk.

New test installing windows - setup seemed to take much longer copying the needed files (now it really seemed to be installing something)

But when rebooting from disk - the same results - missing xxxx file from minint

————-

MiniNT is something related to the PE environment available from regular XP WinPE when running on a file system different from CDFS.

Would this mean that the txtsetup.sif on disk is trying to start liveXP instead of going to the installation procedure?

—————

Oh well.. Time for another field investigation - this time repeating the same procedure, installing the OS on the machine and then overwriting the txtsetup.sif on disk with the one that originally came from the install CD and see where this can take us next.

Any suggestions to solve this challenge?

- Nuno Brito

The magic of Grub4dos

September 22nd, 2007

Grub is a popular boot manager in the linux world, mostly used a method to conveniently switch between several OS’s when the machine first boots up and what is the difference when compared to grub4dos?

Well, from my point of view - grub4dos is almost like a red pill that we can take at any moment after booting up in DOS and simply jump into another dimension where another completely different OS can take over our machine.

Of course that in nowadays much fewer people know how to “play” with DOS, but still it is such a powerful tool that being DOS powered only makes it even more incredibly flexible than most people would ever expect.

In replacement of MSDOS it’s more than possible and even recomended to use an open source development such as FreeDos. And from this open alternative we can control each aspect of our machine prior to booting a more “advanced” operative system.

One other advantage is that the boot menus from grub4dos can be customized. We can run custom GUI apps in DOS mode (yes, DOS isn’t just about small text mode apps - did you knew that?).

Better yet knowing that we can directly start grub4dos from a windows boot select menu. It requires a bit more of knowledge, but yet - it’s so powerful that sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and try to include as many images as possible inside a single media.

Well.. better yet if you try for yourselves - just google on grub4dos and read more about it, hope you like it..

:)

Finder rank?

September 20th, 2007

It’s not very often that someone shows desire to become “labeled” as Finder on their public profile. At first I admit that such humble request sounded little for someone so devoted to effectively retrieve and post solutions which sometimes seem so far out from human reach.

Jaclaz has kept writing and writing, often replying with very sober and knowledgeable solutions to seamingly “crazy” requests made by other members and bring the discussion to different levels.

From my personal perspective - I first started to see the internet as a gateway to find and exchange informations - a place where a few words were typed inside a search engine in the hope of getting the results that brought solutions to any question posed. In an almost mechanical movement, several pages and keywords are crossed and gathered until these answers surface.

Unfortunately not all answers seem so easy to retrieve and when this occurs we can only try to place a question on the forums, crossing the fingers and hoping that “on the other side” someone knows the correct procedure or actions to get things solved and helps us by explaining how it can be done.

Imagining a worldwide scale of internauts that are measured in billions and a significant amount of them searching for answers to their own problems - it’s a noble action that drives someone to spend so much of his own personal time “finding” quality answers that sometimes unlock the barrier between our imagination and computer reality and are offered with such simplicity that helps and motivates to keep learning more and more.

So I think that a “Finder” has a very hard life indeed - and this is truly rare to “find” on these modern days..

- Nuno Brito

New .script developers

September 18th, 2007

It’s been a while since the last time that new members joined this small family group and I guess this happens mostly because all of them surely deserve the title.

Congratulations are due to Areyu_Moritii for the interesting research and commitment to good scripts that keep surprising me and the overall help debugging and learning how things work.

To booty#1 for an outstanding following of all our works with wb betas, delphi coding, .script development and vistaPE improvements - an all-in-one talented person with very ingenious solutions.

And last but not least a big thanks to Max_Real_Qnx for all the contributions since the begining of vistaPE which still keep surprising a lot of people for their complexity and struggle to make so many programs work under so limited conditions.

Also been really happy to follow the latest talks with more detail and - wow - so many talented and efficient ideas that it gets harder to catch up and keep the pace with this sort of quality coding/discussing.

Keep bringing up more challenges!!

-Nuno Brito

Back to work!

September 18th, 2007

Holidays are oficially over and I’m moving back to my favourite winter city in the azores. Unfortunately I thought there were still a few more days missing but it turns out that I was already expected at work yesterday. To avoid further delays I’m doing some night travel and hope to soon arrive on my destination and get my hands back to work.

The next months promisse to be quite overwhelming - a lot of new challenges and ideas to apply on real life work, university studies and the development of online projects which are are extremely addictive - but I guess that a few priorities need to be properly scheduled and planned in the future instead of trying to do everything at the same time.

Yep, these vacations showed me how timelines and goals should be discussed, proposed and developed with a clear mind in what can effectively be done. During this time-out I was still a bit sad because Peter, MedEvil and Jaclaz have kindly asked me for some assistance and their requests weren’t anywhere completed in time before vacations - I’m really, really sorry - but I also hope that over the next weeks these requests can be sucessfully completed.

After these earlier tasks are concluded - it’s back to mayhem with some fresh ideas and interesting projects - also hope to help around other members as much as possible - there are a lot of new apps and developments that are really great to read and learn.

Have a nice week!! :)

- Nuno Brito

If at first you don’t succeed..

August 31st, 2007

Try and try again until it’s done right!

At least this idea applied perfectly for my previous half-mountain climbing so I’ve woke up early a few mornings ago, quickly got into a taxi cab and headed straight out to face the big mountain again. This time I went alone - my wife was still in recovery from the sun burns and opted to rest a while longer until I came back so that we could still have lunch together.

This time I went with a reasonable amount of water and a few energetic candy bars. Since I was alone it was possible to mark my own pace and starting by running off to the top of this mountain. At first it worked out ok and I was going up at a very good rate, but then the altitude started to stroke a few nasty effects as it made rather dificult moving quickly - even breathing needed to be done in a calmer rithim to bring a few more moderated heart rates.

Finished up climbing up to the top in two hours - people say it’s possible to simultaneously view around 5 islands nearby but there were so many clouds that it wasn’t possible to view the way back to the base let alone view anything else on the horizon. (this time was also carrying a small garmin gps and was quite easy to find the route back)

Going down-hill was also fast and took around an hour to complete, the problem of running on a mountain is that the floor is often slipery with the ammount of little loose rocks that may cause you to trip and fall down to the ground. Better do things with calm - but I was a bit worried for leaving my wife alone on the base camp so I wanted to get back really quickly too.

This race brought a few more injuries to heal as I’ve fell quite a few times but luckily nothing serious.

It was fun and I really recommend people to at least take a hike and enjoy a bit of nature once in while. One thing that I’ve learnt from this experience is that even high mountains can be climbed if we take one step at a time.

-Nuno Brito

Climbed half-way the tallest mountain in Portugal..

August 24th, 2007

Hi everyone!

Still on vacations until the 20th of September and taking some time to travel and do the sort of things you only find time to do when you’re away from work.

This time the challenge was to climb the tallest mountain available on Portugal - it’s not far from where I work and it looked fun to try.

Me and my wife decided to board on the first ship headed this direction and on monday we left home to take the boat trip - which took nearly 12 hours from S.Miguel island to Faial island where we’ve spent the night.

On the second day we’ve stumbled on this island with a couple of friendly faces from work and we’ve all headed up to the Pico island (Pico is portuguese for Peak) which was a short 15Km boat trip.

We’ve settled our tent on a nearby camping site near the port and decided to challenge the Peak on the next day.

After lunch of the next day our friend came along with her younger brother and we’ve all went to climb up the big mountain - it surely looked much bigger as we got closer to it. Our trek started at 14h00 and we quickly moved upwards as time flew by - but unfortunately a couple of issues started to arise: we were 4 people and I was the only person with water on the back pack (a small 50 Cl bottle) and this wasn’t clearly enough water as it didn’t lasted for an hour (and we would need another hour to finish and twice this time to return) - last but not least the younger brother of our friend had already reached the extent of his strength and we’ve decided to go back to avoid spliting our group.

It was getting late and clouds we’re already hiding our path back (I forgot the GPS back on the camp site) so it was the wiser decision even though we hadn’t reached the peak at 2360 meters.

Maybe better luck and preparation next time - as this experience sure helps to learn and will be good lesson for the next mountain hikes.

My wife got some bruces when she felt a few times and we’ve both got a few not so funny sun burns after neglecting much needed sun protection - so we’ll both be healing back to health here in azores until the end of August and then travel back to Coimbra.

btw: I’m already planning the next mountain hike, it’s really fun - I really recommend it if you have some time.. :)

More info on Pico Island

- Nuno Brito

Softpedia certification..

August 13th, 2007

WinBuilder has been reviewed by Softpedia and marked the program as 100% clean of any malware. It will also be available to download from their site and this new recomendation was added inside the download page for wb.

This review can be found here and the download page from Softpedia is here.

:)

- Nuno Brito

More scripts uploaded..

August 9th, 2007

While on vacations I’ve also had enough time to make a few new scripts, they include mostly support for recovering files along with some security (spybot S&D) and partition recovery software.

The vast majority of these applications are freeware and come included inside the scripts. Only two cases use trial which contains the limited version but I’ve found them still valuable to diagnostic the HDD even thought the recovery function is disabled.

There are many more programs available for free out there - feel free to use the ones available on the site as example and submit your scripts here as well..

These uploaded scripts are also available from recently created liveXP server - just select the complete download option from the Download Center on wb and get them all at once.

All scripts were written using the new API template - and are very simple to understand - you only need to place them on folder anywhere inside your project (under livexp this could be LiveXP\Apps)

And nothing more is needed to do here - when the script is run while you build your project it will unpack all files on the program directory and create a shortcut automatically.

This is all for now - back to vacations..

Have fun! :)

- Nuno Brito

New LiveXP, NativeEx, PicoXP servers

August 9th, 2007

Newer locations for these projects have been created.

Hopefully this way we’ll be able to better coordinate our efforts to make things simpler and easier to maintain. So far results are looking good as people can click and select the projects they wish to try out from the download center.

I personally recommend everyone to get a new WinBuilder.exe from the default download page which was updated with these new locations.

This might cause some confusion on people who went on vacances and think that the previous webserver no longer contains the files as before.

Only ReactOS was left inside the main web server. Since it is the only one which is completely free and redistributable - it was left as an example, also helps because this projects is very small sized.

When download a fresh set of files from the download center, you might notice that there is a new help tab inside wb - it isn’t exactly new - but it means that you’ve downloaded the help documentation from the webserver and it was placed inside your Tools\Help folder.

Hope this addon helps people to have proper documentation available even when working offline.

Last but not least - the liveXP project has been restructured, very heavy changes = very simple & clean results, meaning that this project was intentionally modified to have simpler scripts so that people can understand them without complications. Guess we’ve all learned a lot since this last year and we now that it is possible to pack all beyond imagination features and now the challenge should be presenting these scripts to other people so that they can also join us and help things go forward..

If anyone finds any bugs, please do let me know! :)

- Nuno Brito

Back to school..

August 9th, 2007

Just received some good news this week - my math exam results were published and I can go to university this year and restart studying..

I’m really, really happy!

To enter the computer technology classes it was needed to pass a math equivalence test. My first math exam was very much a disaster - barely practised or studied and finished up the exam in less than 30 minutes (with most answers incomplete or simply wrong answers). This second exam was taken with a more serious commitment and results were very satisfatory.

I didn’t followed the university when I was 17 mostly because I wanted to start working right away and get my own independence from my family house which had a quite heavy load of finantial expenses - at the time this decision was a life saver as it allowed me to help my family and have a job that met my expectatives.

It’s been 8 years and a lot of things changed in the meanwhile, my family is doing very well on their own in finantial terms and I’m reaching the top of my army carreer for the next years (getting promoted within two months), but all of this sounds too much as stagnation which is something I would really wish to keep away from myself, reason I wanted to go back university and keep on moving forward to learn more.

Funny enough, my younger brother (17 yo) is also going to a similar computer technology class in Coimbra this year. Ovidiu Radoi (Ove) itself has also applied with one of the top grades in his class.

Guess it’s a lot of people studying at the same time, let’s hope things go well..

:)

- Nuno Brito

Scripting evolved..

July 29th, 2007

As time passes the new way of writing scripts also moves forward. So far most dificult goals have already been reached and we’re mostly missing to start porting the same functions to other projects like VistaPE.

So far things are looking bright and these functions are getting a good state of functionality along with simplicity - so necessary to make things easier to understand and share.

Pedrole15 has also joined this development and managed to improve some of the presented functions either making them work much faster or adding some new nifty features.

Was also added a new option inside unpack - it can now directly call an executable that is attached inside the script.

How is this useful?

Imagine that you want to add all files inside single self extracting 7zip file - this way you can use 7z compression at it’s best.

After running this exe file, it will be deleted from the folder to where it was first extracted.

As you can see this function was added having in mind this particular sort of use.

It was also added since there is an important feature lacking on WinBuilder ever since the beginning - the support of multiple subfolders inside attached files, meaning that you can only add folders on the root of the script itself. The initial goal for having attached files only planned very simple files mainly used to keep small tools that would complement a script.

With time we’ve began using these scripts to hold bigger files and now it’s evolving to a point where we can use these app scripts to literally install a program on any given target regardless of the used project as long as some common rules are followed (mostly of them defined inside api.script)

This means of course that the complexity of programs to be supported also tends to increase as things move on - but luckily that both Peter and MedEvil have come to the rescue and began doing a really important research that will hopefully bring the final touch to our goals and result in a truly efficient method to quickly add programs to any target windows.

:)

- Nuno Brito

Redirecting the registry changes to a target windows?

July 26th, 2007

MedEvil posted a question if there was an alternative to make applications that depend on registered DLL’s and OCX files work without having to be registered with RegSVR32.

This might seem a question of little interest - but I think that this is a fulcral point where we can finally start having a good way to directly intercept the way how the registration is done and be able to redirect to a target windows hive.

Why does this matters?

Because most times we’d just declare these OCX files to become registered when the boot disk started up and now we will probably be able to inject all needed changes to automatically register files inside these external hives giving a lot more control on how things can be done (remarkable!)

Also found some records of this matter being discussed on 911cd.net by paraglider and troglodyte as early as 2004 which later produced a new tool to allow adaware be run from PE environment and clean target hives on disk - only now I’ve fully understood how important this tool really is.

The secret behind this story lies behind a registry function which allows to redirect all write operations being done under a specific registry location (more details inside the discussion post) but the bottom line is that we can indeed record and even redirect all the writing to a target hive or even export the results to use as script commands if required and this way having a simple yet flexible combination of instant portable apps.

However, I wonder if this is the secret method also used by thininstall to make their portable office 2003 application.. Not planning to run office 2003, but how far can this method be extended? It would be good to have these portable apps running or being installed and uninstalled without leaving any visible traces on the registry and system folders.

A really interesting discussion - teached me a lot of registry handling - would this be solution to avoid newer UAC restrictions under Vista that limit WinBuilder (and all other apps that load external hives into the local registry) to run as administrator with UAC disabled?

Maybe it’s worth checking it out too..  :)

- Nuno Brito

“universal” scripts?

July 25th, 2007

Last night I’ve finished some of harsher code sections from the new functions that come included inside api.script which are meant to replace the current scripting found inside nativeEx compatible projects.

This means that using these functions we are creating scripts that can be also applied on other projects like VistaPE and vice-versa for example.

While adding this “portability” we also make them easier to write. Just define three variables (exe file, shortcut title and folder name) and we’ll be able to call these functions without needing to specify location for registry hives, to care where the program files folder is placed or even if there exists a system32 folder to where system files can be copied.

Last night the code that implemented file associations was also concluded sucessfully. In overall it’s quite complete and will allow all sort of operations making this association task quite easy. Here are the possible usage that one can give to this newer command:

[variables]
%ProgramTitle%=Start my program
%ProgramEXE%=myProgram.exe
%ProgramFolder%=MyProgramFolder

[process]

associate_file,html
associate_file,html,open,c:\test.exe
associate_file,html,open,c:\test.exe,/run=%2
associate_file,html,edit
associate_file,html,icon,c:\test.exe
associate_file,html,icon,%systemroot%\System32\Shell32.dll,-153

These are all the possible uses - in most cases the only needed command is the first one and nothing more.

The first command will associate myProgram.exe with .html files

associate_file,html,open,c:\test.exe Will associate c:\test.exe to open up .html files

associate_file,html,edit Adds the option to edit a file using myProgram.exe whenever you use right click from explorer on html files.

associate_file,html,icon,c:\test.exe will modify the display icon of the .html filetype (by default the icon of myProgram.exe is used) - this helps to define another file to use as icon (this command won’t associate any action, just modify the default icon)

associate_file,html,icon,%systemroot%\System32\Shell32.dll,-153 - Almost the same as above but let’s you also add a parameter whenever you need to use a file that includes several icons packed inside like shell32.dll for example.

Other functions are also equally usefull and should be published soon enough..

- Nuno Brito

Wicked OS’s..

July 23rd, 2007

Windrv has placed a request proposing to drop Windows PE environments and adopt installed windows to solve all the limitations imposed to our work under PE.

The idea itself is really tempting mostly because it’s probably much harder to make PE boot disks the way how they are available at this moment than creating a XP install anywhere needed. As Oleg_II mentioned, the only obstacle at this precise moment would be the registry hive creation - but looking with attention to Peter’s work - this has already been solved some months ago with the introduction of nativeEx.

So far the future for a project of this sort looks very bright - meaning that we can likely create a full XP running under 50Mb (as it was already demonstrated possible some time ago with the microwinx project) - we already have the gathered know-how from PE environments so this would become a most welcome improvement.

It makes life much simpler since we’d be able to install complex programs with ease and also make by default our installed windows run completely portable and capable of working from ISO/USB and regular HDD drives under much slimmer sizes with an excellent overall speed optimization.

Previous attempts depended on nlite and a lot of experience and manual steps to get this sort of results - however, why do we need them if we already know how to add back each of the most important windows components?

Also means more freedom to install Windows from whatever source location needed - no more time wasted with text mode setup or the need to make a copy of any Windows Install files to temporary folder locations - with some luck this would almost surely mean a perfectly working windows install under 10 minutes.

It’s not just a portable full featured windows project (compared to PE boot disks) - it would also mean complete freedom from any windows setup limitations and a way to modify and obviously improve things as needed - huge step in the evolution of the way how these OS’s work by default.

Would be great if we could all gather our heads to bring this project to reality.

It will be a truly happy day whenever I see it working for the first time, the possibilities are simply too amazing to describe.. :)

- Nuno Brito

Post your YouTube clips!

July 22nd, 2007

As we all know - an image is worth more than 1000 words - but how many images take to explain a video clip?

With free services like YouTube - everyone can quickly create new clips and post them here in the forums so that everyone else can get a better idea of why things are going wrong - or better yet - show others how things can get done.

Well.. As example of usage imagine when any friend of yours at work asks for help to install something on the computer - would you write him 3 or 4 pages or would you prefer to show him yourself how to do it?

Obviously not necessay for each case - but imagine the possibilities of actually showing how simple some things can be and even repeat following your clip example.

A quick tutorial was written here and will show the basic steps to create your very own clips. My own experience on this video arena is also very little but if we have the conditions both from the youtube hosting and here in the forums - then why not using them?

I’ve been having quite some fun playing around with CamStudio - an open source application that does it’s work as expected without any fuzz. Uploading the clips takes a bit longer since my own web connection is very sluggish but it is definitively a much better way to share information and saves a lot of time too.

Some clips were already uploaded and are available across a few tutorials and the download page of WinBuilder. One other advantage is that we can use tags to group related winbuilder clips. This way makes it much easier to browse on clips made by others since they are all displayed after running clip - a very positive source of information indeed.

Please do post these clips more often - especially when trying to debug/solve some strange behavior - nothing better than one of these videos to help everyone else understand what you mean or need to see fixed - thanks! :)

- Nuno Brito

ViStumbler

July 22nd, 2007

This is a newer program that is similar in concept to the very well known NetStumbler - the author himself was kind enought to present his tool on the VistaPE forum, so I also took some time to view and test it. Surprisingly enough that it worked quite well and the source code is also available on autoIt so that people willing to make aditional changes can apply them right away.

Looking better on the author’s site also found a couple of interesting apps that will sure keep an eye for future use. He seems a very talented person, maybe we can also make some requests in the future to make our builds more interesting.

You can visit the author site here

And read the presentation topic of Vistumbler here

- Nuno Brito

Unattended XP Installs

July 21st, 2007

A new project has been published that will allow you to customize a Windows XP Install CD.

This comes in a time when most machines already come with SATA disks where it is needed to slipstream the missing SATA drivers onto these install disks. For this task, there’s already NLite and DriverPacks amongst many other applications, but since we’re using winbuilder - why not making these things automated too?

This project starts by creating a liveXP project in unattended mode and will place it on the target directory. Then it will copy all files from the XP install CD onto another folder on the same target directory - it would be much quickier to just modify the source as nlite does - but at least this way we don’t need to copy and copy again by ourselves to make further testings.

It’s not specifically fixed to work just with LiveXP (50~100Mb) - you can also use nativeEx for example to get a slimmer build (31~50Mb), of course that the included project comes as default and has some changes to make it work along with this project without needing to apply any changes.

On LiveXP you find MMC, XPSetupLauncher and a very complete set of tools like spybot S&D - this makes the install CD also revert back as a rescue platform (something in which we surely have much more experience ourselves..;) )

After this copy part is completed, comes the unattended mode - a script adds the details you specify for License Key, username, workgroup, etc - this avoids that we have to enter the same license key over and over again as well.

DriverPacks is next in line: by default only mass storage, LAN and WLAN driverpacks are selected - since they are not found for the first time when the project is running - it will download them from the web (there is a progress indicator to show how things advance), after this completes - all selected driverpacks are automatically slipstreamed to the XP install Folder inside the target directory. This is usually a quick process - but some packs like graphics and sound are very big sized and take a good while to finish.

An ISO is created with mkisofs and to test the results comes QEMU - which should also be automatically launched to view how things look like when booting on a real machine. Too bad I had no real hardware where I could effectively test things..

When adding full driverpacks - I’ve also noticed that the size of the ISO quickly raised to above 1Gb, so using a DVD is mostly recommended - there’s also a USB boot disc included to help creating a bootable pendisk with all these files.

Last but not least - imgburn is launched to help burning the image onto a DVD - I gave preference to imgburn which is bit bigger than previously used image burners mostly because in real testings the other burners would most time fail to effectively create a bootable CD/DVD - this comes because of the poor support to overcome non-ideal situations and the lack of a good cache. ImgBurn is sized in 1Mb and works like a charm.. :)

All these steps are done when running the project from top to bottom - you can also run each script individually and apply your custom modified changes.

To test - just run the create ISO script again and then run qemu to see how it looks under the emulator.

This is a lenghty process taking around 15 minutes on my dual core 1,6Ghz laptop machine with 1Gb RAM - but if you consider the amount of steps automated it sures feel good to just press the play button and let it roll with our changes and definitions..

Using wb means that more tools and feature can quickly be added, I’ve been trying to catch up on this area reading as much as possible from good resources like msfn, driverpacks.net and neowin forums - so all suggestions and help on this matter are most surely welcome.

Let’s now see if this project is considered worthy of future developments.. :)

- Nuno Brito

Finding dependencies..

July 21st, 2007

It’s been a fun few days tracking down the needed dependencies to make some of my favourite programs work under PE environments - hadn’t been doing it probably since 2005 back when I finished up my set of bartPE plugins and moved on to slimmer builds. But after this time it was really good to look back and learn the basic steps to make some program work as expected.

Along the way I’ve also created a small tutorial with video clips so that others can also understand how this can be done.

You also find inside this guide a very handy tool that can display which dll’s from system32 are not present on your PE build when you run a program from your own computer - it was a very good tool to save some time manually comparing each dll to see if it was there or not.

Of course that dependency walker, filemon, regmon and regshot are also very good help to you retrace the program steps.

Guess this has all been discussed and improved for almost 4 years ago - but I thought it would be nice to remind people of what can be done. If anyone has any requests for programs - do post them in the forums, it’s always good to add more tools..

:)

- Nuno Brito

In the mood for detective work?

July 19th, 2007

Some unfinished scripts were posted here and were meant to add some extra tools inside XP based projects, unfortunately they seem a bit more dificult to get working off the box inside PE environments..

If anyone has some time to spare and do some detective work to figure out the reasons why they don’t like to run from a boot disks - you’re already invited to get your hands on it and start debugging..

Thanks!!

- Nuno Brito

Customizing WinBuilder

July 17th, 2007

Ever wanted to customize wb your own way?

Now it’s quite possible - some developers requested custom wb binaries for releasing with specific projects and recently some changes were made so that everyone can customize the default logo and title or replace the standard ones with anything else that crosses their mind.

You can add a customized image on the main window, you can change the title of your app and you can also avoid the help pages and jump right away to the download window which can also be using your own custom download servers.

No more excuses for confusions when having to download something - include the binary along with winbuilder.ini and people can use customized definitions right away.

Details can be found on the respective discussion topic here.

Hope this also brings some fresh alternatives and fun to start tweaking wb to best suit your taste - let’s start to see some how people use this feature and I hope everyone can have fun!! :)

- Nuno Brito

Cool Projects!

July 17th, 2007

MedEvil has questioned if anyone had any good ideas to apply as wb projects - this sounds like a very good start point to get some fresh ideas mentioned and proposed, so everyone is invited to drop by and speak your mind.

All topics are valid, either customizations, special builds, whatever - let your voice be heard and we’ll discuss it..

You can visit this discussion topic here

- Nuno Brito

New slogan for winbuilder

July 17th, 2007

There’s a new voting to choose the next slogan for winbuilder, everyone is invited to visit the poll and place your votes - you can select not just a single one - but rather choose the ones you like best.

The overall idea is to select a new phrase that can better describe our feeling our community and perspective of the world.

Don’t forget to place your votings here.

:)

- Nuno Brito

New scripts uploaded..

July 16th, 2007

I’ve spent some time creating a few scripts to add some applications which I hope to help other members. There were still some other programs that were left out - mostly because I didn’t managed to solve all needed dependencies inside the LiveXP project. Guess it’s time to go back to detective times and try to figure out which files are needed to make things work as expected.

In the meanwhile, please do write your requests in the forums and I will try to make them possible if you like (or teach anyone else interested in learning how to do them).

- Nuno Brito

WinBuilder 072

July 14th, 2007

wb 072 has been uploaded and made available for everyone. It had been quite a while since a stable release, and this new binary has surely bring a lot of new features and bugfixes comparing the the previous edition. Still - a lot of work is still left to get done and prepared for the next months. Even thought this new version already accomplishes most goals discussed an year ago - much more that appeared along the road is still in need to be completed.

You can get the latest version here and the release topic with full details of changes were posted here and here

For the moment I will spend some time getting my hands back into scripting and having some fun with boot disks - since Vista and some newer tools it has been really good and interesting to learn and try out new things.

Don’t leave out any ideas about new projects - I’m all eyes and hears for new ideas that can either improve the existent projects or bring new solutions where we’ve never focused before.

Let the games begin! :)

- Nuno Brito

BartPE Core

July 12th, 2007

How would a wb project look like if it was mixed with bartPE? To answer this question, Thuun has just released a project that will create a vanilla bartPE in unattended mode and then apply some of concepts already applied for nativeEx based projects. I think the mix is an overall winner for both sides. wb users can recycle their bartPE plugins while bartPE users can enjoy some of the things we’ve doing around here. Fun to see the term wrapper applied to winbuilder since it reminded me the time when batcher was being developed and it was indeed meant to be used as wrapper to bartPE - a year ago very little was know about these miniPE’s - there were rumours of people achieving 21Mb while some others custom crafted these boot disks to become smaller and smaller. It’s good to see that today this is no longer a black magic art and that people can get all these results in a completely automated fashion. We’ve reached 14Mb with picoXP and 31Mb with the explorer shell - later came nativeEx giving completely localized hives and we’ve wrapped the year with VistaPE and a bit of mobileOS (still under work). Good to see solutions that finaly evolve from the dummy mkisofs method used for so long. Let’s see how far these new developments can go and what else we can still learn with them.

- Nuno Brito

ImgBurn available as script

July 9th, 2007

A new script has been uploaded called ImgBurn. This little tool (around 1Mb) is a very good and free way to burn images to CD and DVD’s. I’ve been looking for some while for a tool capable of working on my home DVD-RW and most of them failed for some apparent reason. Only Nero and Alcohol seemed to be able to burn images without errors or failing the burn operation.

While writing this script I’ve also noticed that a command - ExtractAndRun - was not working as expected. I guess very few people give any good use to this command and this could be reason why it escaped for so long to be fixed.

How does this command work? Very simple - you have your script with files inside and imagine you just need to run or open a file inside, you use this command for these situations.

It will extract the file, run it (with parameters if mentioned) and then delete it from the temporary folder - all this in a single line of script code - maybe that’s why I like it so much, the simpler the better..

There is a bug that I couldn’t properly solve - you can only open a single file at each time with this command. Try pressing the License view button inside this script to see what I mean - I’ve tried a lot of different things (creating random folders to avoid overwriting the same file, using different handles, trying to supress error messages and etc, but it still raises an error box for some strange reason). At least it will always delete all temporary files regardless the exceptions raised on this unfortunate case, maybe soon I get some more time to dig deeper and see why it happens. I also think this only occurs on the interface and not while the script is running inside a project.

In the meanwhile, enjoy this script and this good program - a real life saver when you need a good free solution to burn an image.

- Nuno Brito

Near the stable release..

July 8th, 2007

A new wb is very close to be released. Still some details to be added or corrected but most work as been done for this version to be considered completed. A lot of ideas and things needed to do are already planned for the next version - they won’t be started now because it has been a long while since a stable wb has been released and we’ve already added much more features and bugfixes that would be quite welcome to a stable edition. Hopefully within days this will be possible to be published.

Stay tuned..

- Nuno Brito

Help documentation

July 6th, 2007

The new help documentation is finally done and this is a good way for people to see and understand how to use wb and respective projects.

Most commands were described with details and examples on how to be used, projects were also mentioned to help understanding the needed requirements and features - still missing some of the newer commands added on these last beta binaries.

Easy to follow guides are also present so that new users can quickly know how to start their projects and get them working fast with enough ground information to know what to do.

We still have the wiki documentation available, but the idea is to make this sort of documentation reachable whenever people start wb - even when it is offline. To make this possible, the help system will be placed under the tools folder of the main server and this ensure that everyone downloads these help pages, these files weight ~350Kb (including images) but I’m sure most users will find them very valuable.You can also print the pages if needed.

You can view this help manual here

Wasn’t yet placed on the Downloads Center since I’m quite sure that others will find a lot of things needed to correct or add and way it’s much easier to just upload fresh files instead of uploading a new download server (maybe an ftp upload synchronize tool for binary files in wb is a worthy feature to be added?)

All comments are welcome to make the pages more complete for everyone starting fresh.

Hope they can help! :)

- Nuno Brito

MedEvil and Ove are back..

July 5th, 2007

This sounds promissing! In overall this is very good to hear because both have really great ideas and very different perspectives and methods. I’m quite happy to see them back into our community - most of the “old” gang is grouped again.. ;)

Just hope the next beta is good enough for the newer testings - a lot of recent changes improved performance but have also made some nasty bugs appear and these can also be fixed, but slow the overall improvements progress and take more time to get completed. On a bright note - most of these bugs were already solved this week, only missing to correct the behavior of wb whenever it doesn’t download the updates.ini from the web server (we can’t ping to check if the server exists) and this still needs some work. And then up to finish up to add support for language translations.

Would be really good to extend the ability to extend language support to the scripting language itself and be able to use local terms for common actions (like “Copying..”, “Creating folders..”, “Extracting..”) but now it’s time to get a new stable version available, let’s how this can be done.

:)

- Nuno Brito

Renaming API scripts to Application scripts

July 5th, 2007

After some messages exchanged with thuun and MedEvil we’ve come to the conclusion that a more user friendly name should be used since API denotes to inner functions from wb itself or even confusions with win32 API and would likely scare most people when starting fresh to use it.

The new name for scripts using this coding technique should soon become known as “application scripts” which seems to best describe their task - add applications on projects.

For all other specific tasks it’s still recommended to use project specific scripts but the goal here is to be able to provide a work platform that can be shared by more projects.

So far we can use these scripts to create the folder on the programs location, extract all files from the script and add a shortcut on desktop/start menu or even autostart.

Still some more functions needed to add:  Add dependencies from a source, write/read from the registry and the ability to associate file or start services.

A long way to go, but work is being done..

- Nuno Brito

Back to XP on my work laptop

July 4th, 2007

I like Vista and it sure has a lot of good reasons to why I like to use it - but I want to go back to my testings and reinstalled XP back on my work laptop last night (a fujitsu-siemens, dual core CPU with 1Gb RAM) and the difference was surely surprising - everything works faster…. ;)

Had some troubles because this laptop had a sata drive which my Windows XP install Disc didn’t recognized, so I recreated a new image with slipstreamed drivers for mass storage devices.

I used the DriverPacks tool and the new image worked really great, installing the “new” OS on this laptop quite well.

Only missing to add more drivers for Wifi and Graphic card support, but this is something that I will keep testing and will be posting my experiences soon. This could even be applied as wb scripts to help automate the whole process of adding drivers from BTS and recreating an image.

The laptop is clean and ready to start installing modified XP sources and boot discs during the next weeks.

More news about this soon..

- Nuno Brito

Help pages for wb

July 4th, 2007

The new set of help pages for winbuilder has been concluded and grammar has been revised to correct the misspellings - thanks go to thunn for his patience at this very lengthy task.

These pages will soon be uploaded and should become a good starting point to help out others getting started with wb. We’ve tried to cover most of the doubts that usually appear - especially when starting up for the first time. A complete syntax page was also added to properly explain how to use the available commands.

Users get these pages from the download center since they’ll be placed inside the tools folder or will be able to access them online directly from the update server location - and this way we can keep a single location for both offline and online help resources.

We also have the wiki, but the main idea was to provide offline content that could be printed if needed or viewed at any given time. This way people don’t need to go online and can always read up more details about scripting.

Of course that there will always be a lot of details needed to correct or add on the pages, and more work will be done to make things better and easier to use.

:)

- Nuno Brito

API scripting

July 3rd, 2007

A few scripts were posted on under a new category called API scripts. These are meant to help people starting up with scripts and also a way to provide scripts that can work under all sort of compatible API projects.

Still a long way to go until we can have this method fully optimized, but so far the results are very good and we can already create scripts that work under LiveXP, nativeEx, nativePE and VistaPE - hopefully extendable to  more projects in the future.

Please use them as example to create your own scripts. I’m also working on some additional tools to ease the task of producing and publishig scripts.

Have fun!

- Nuno Brito

Back to work..

July 1st, 2007

Seems we’re back to normal again - no more error 500 pages for a few days and some of the addons are carefully being activated again.

Also been taking this time to work on the documentation pages for winbuilder. Still missing to publish a new beta that fixes the latest changes on the run command, but the new version should be just about ready to become available during next week.

There are also some interesting news from the bartPE support as Thunn  is already working on a project to apply tweakings on bartPE boot discs. This might be fun to try out. Would be good to see more people working on this since we can already make so much in unatended mode that it would be fun to go back to our roots to see how much have boot land people really done and explored over this last year.

Also hope to help more with scripting after this release since most important matters to solve are already being completed (download support for proxies and proper help documentation).

Also good to see more people joining in and creating their scripts, this is all very motivating - thanks! :)

- Nuno Brito

Improving mySQL performance on IPB board

June 29th, 2007

After 8 days of waiting for the server stress to slow down and decrease, it seems that it is even getting higher along with more demanding requests.

I really thought we were having a huge ammount of new visitors, but this is no longer a friendly wave of visitors and resembles a DDoS attack targeted to hog and overload the server.

Checking back the logs from the hosting company I’ve noticed that SQL usage has multiplied 5 times the regular usage since the 21st of June.

This excess of usage makes this site consume an exorbitant amount of bandwidth - luckily enough that we can endure this proportion of data transfer (and even bigger if necessary).

Unfortunately there isn’t much to be done with the mySQL database which is taking most of the stress and was often giving the “error 500″ messages when acessing the forums. I was hoping to place our database on other external servers where these requests could be balanced, but this is a bit dificult because I have no experience with this sort of handling - and it would be better not to risk the safety of our posts.

At the moment, I’ve removed all the extra “fluff” from the IPB forum software and disabled statistics displayed on the main page, search function, members viewing a forum, members who viewed a topic, similar topics, aniversary box were also disabled.

Reduced the counting of number of visitors to the last 5 minutes, also decreased the number of displayed topics on each category, removed gzip encoding while exchanging pages (more bandwith, but also less CPU overhead) and ensured that pages are cached on user’s disk instead of always retrieving them from the server on multiple requests.

On the portal software, I’ve disabled the display of the last 1000 posts (will reduce google rank) and the left bar which was displayed while browsing the forum.

Some other internal improvements were also added to ensure the minimum SQL usage.

This removes much of the user friendly functions that keep everyone in touch with what is being discussed during the day but I hope to bring these addons back when we step over these server overload issues.

At least in the meanwhile we still have a working site instead of semi-offline one.

Peter has started a good post here to further comment this matter where everyone is welcome to write their comments or ideas.

Have a good weekend!

- Nuno Brito

New sub-forum for wb on 911cd.net

June 27th, 2007

A new sub forum was created on 911cd.net to discuss wb projects, more specifically intended to the customization of bartPE based projects but also intended to be used as an alternative place whenever our servers get overloaded with too many people has we have been experiencing during this week. This way we always ensure a contact point if boot-land.net gets temporarily offline.

To improve server performance a new static html page to directly download WinBuilder was also created and can be found here

This new page contains very few images and is very fast to load. I hope this way we can free the CPU and RAM resources of our server since it won’t even use any PHP scripts or mySQL queries. Once people download Winbuilder.exe, the remaining projects and script can also be retrieved using direct download links from the internal Download Center which is a very efficient and well supported method for massive downloads.

Our current download system will continue to be available in the future, the important thing at this moment is to be able to move this massive wave of visitors to a place where they can get the desired projects and that we can continue to talk with better conditions.

Once again, sorry for these issues, let’s hope to get them all solved by the end of this week.

:)

- Nuno Brito

Sony Reader Update

June 27th, 2007

After having the PRS-500 for awhile I’ve realized it’s best for plain text files. PDF files expect to be displayed on a bigger screen. RTF files don’t always display properly or simply don’t open. These problems are not necessarily the fault of the unit. I’m quite satisfied to read plain old text files. Long live DOS EDIT!

I had a little scare this morning when the unit rebooted and scrambled its display. It subsequently failed to power on or allow a reset. I tried to recharge it via USB with no avail. Turns out the battery was drained and USB charging only works if the Sony Connect software is installed.

I’ve gotten used to cellphones and iPods that charge without drivers installed. PDAs usually give more proactive warnings when the battery is low. The eReader is supposed to blink a pinhole sized indicator light on its side when low (which I obviously missed.) The moral of this story is: if you don’t read the manual expect surprises.

- moongoon

Error 500??

June 26th, 2007

Sorry for this incovenience but it seems that simply too many people are recently visiting the forums at the same time and this causes the server to refuse more connections when it reaches the limit. This happened after the official support from bootdisk.com and removal of user limitations on the new download system

Our hosting conditions are quite good in general terms since we enjoy ilimited bandwith provided on a decent speed, but I wasn’t predicting that so many people would be connecting to the boot land forums so soon and this obviously pushes the CPU to a frenzy state - more people are visiting our community and this should be expected to grow more and more over the next months.

One option would be shifting to a dedicated server instead of shared hosting with enough conditions to survive this demand but at this moment this upgrade is simply too expensive for monthly support and survive on it’s own over the years. Sad enough that our datacenter in Lisbon - Portugal has excellent hardware conditions to host a small server since they have a dedicated 5Tb optic fiber internet uplink connection - on which I’m sure that nobody would mind if I joined a small machine there to host our community, but unfortunately I’m just a bit too far away from Lisbon until the next year and would only trust myself to set up the machine and keep an eye on it to fix whenever needed.

Or maybe I can contact my hometown university in Coimbra where I have some trusted childhood friends on the IT department to see if they have good hosting conditions to support this demand.

Another option would be the help from an external company with enough resources to freely give dedicated hosting, but I don’t also have many contacts on this area and I think that most companies would only help in exchange for placing their advertisements. A logo on the bottom of the page saying something like “Hosted by …” would be reasonable to be accepted, but annoying ads like the ones provided by google are not. (have nothing against google ads but I like to keep a good distance from any sort of ads)

If anyone knows a trustable company willing to help us on this dedicated server, please write a topic on the forums where we can further discuss it.

I will do my best to find solutions that can solve this sort of annoyance within a short period of time. First step will be moving WinBuilder.exe to a static page or external server since our only issue is when people get on the forums to download this binary and start running php scripts and mySql queries which overload the CPU / Memory when entering here.

Having a direct link to winbuilder should allow to later download all needed scripts and projects from the download servers which is very well supported and is very far from reaching limits. We spend around 1Tb of monthly bandwith and can still use well more than 5Tb and this value can be adjusted as needed. This would still allow people to later visit our forums for support or join the daily talks if they wish.

I will start working on this right away, it surely isn’t anywhere pleasant having to press reload several times until a connection is accepted.

Was expecting around a rate of 100~200 visitors but >800??

I’m quite surprised how the server still (barely) supports this workout.

Is MS evil?

June 24th, 2007

Tough question raised by Jaclaz here about the resistance to use IE as default method to download files on wb, but what real alternatives exist out there?

Sad enough that I probably know exactly what he means and have to agree with his perspective that using a IE function has it’s serious downsides when we consider their code quality when compared to other available browsers.

Unfortunately I think that we still need a solution for this case and all the other methods have proven to be not compatible with most machines available. Some would fail to start because were they were not prepared for x64 windows OS versions. Others would complain about another door open up on their firewall security which could be pointed like a suspicious behavior and last but not least was the proxy headache.

Proxies are a lovely piece of design - when they work as we expect. Otherwise it’s a very lengthy task to figure which type of proxy is being used and then try to correctly add up the needed settings to make the proxy access authorized.

This seems wrong but unfortunately most home users / companies / schools / universities use IE and so we need to use IE as well to use their settings and connection functions.

Jaclaz, sorry because I’ve really tried to use other methods as much as possible, but these are things that were clearly monopolized to a single “compatible” solution. Would really like to fight against this system, but if we don’t use this tool then it’s our own loss and I really doubt that MS or the other browser alternatives would ever care.. :(

- Nuno Brito

New download system

June 22nd, 2007

There is a new download system available on boot land, you can access the older system visiting here.

A lot of files had been posted recently over the old system, so I’m sorry for the inconvenience of having to repost these scripts again. The main advantage of the new system is a much more customized way of doing things. Developers can post their scripts and a new topic is automatically generated from where everyone can read back the feedback or discuss things that need to be improved.

So, everyone is welcome to post their files on this new download location. Hope you like it. :)

Memory leaks and speed improvement

June 22nd, 2007

It’s been a while since the last blog post so there’s a lot to catch up. At moment wb is being worked to solve memory leaks and start handling properly big sized files. This wasn’t a priority before, but since more people are starting to use scripts sized over 10Mb we are also noticing that performance gets sluggy. Happily enough that this is somewhat easy to solve, but I’m also taking the time to do a complete recoding over the most important areas to see that they are also improved.

One other important step is complete the download center to make it more compatible with machines were network connectivity is heavily filtered and restricted. So far wb can also completely disable the builtin network functions, but ideally it would be good to add more support for all sort of web connections. So far it should work just fine for most home users, but it is still hard to connect on local intranets that use proxies to access the web.

Another positive step is the development of a common script standard that introduces a general purpose script that can be used across different projects without adding any changes on the script file itself. This is very important to start creating an easier way to code and also allow to make all written code reusable within a few years as projects evolve and change themselves. Meaning that I can write a script and be assured that it will still work after 10 years. Is it possible? I’m not sure, but would be good to think this way.

- Nuno Brito

Sony Reader

June 14th, 2007

Got a Sony Reader last week. Its main purpose is to read text files and pdfs. Because the display uses eink some claim that you get 7500 page turns before the battery runs out. The display uses no power after a page is “printed”. Unlike LCD displays you can view from any angle and even in direct sunlight. Also, unlike other Sony gadgets, this one has a SD card slot.

So far the only downsides are ghosting (residue from previous pages) and its small size. Some PDF files have text too fine to read.

- MoonGoon

Fast times..

May 16th, 2007

Time do seems to fly sometimes..

It seemed just like yesterday when we crossed the new year of 2007 and now we come to realize that it has been over 5 months since that date - nearly concluding my third consecutive year in São Miguel, Açores.

A lot has changed and a lot more continues to change every week and maybe this is something I should get used with age, but I keep noticing that each week passes really quickly almost without as an eye blink - althought sometimes I get a bit sad if I don’t consider it as productive week, I think most times it is possible to look back at each week that passes and feel that a bit more has been done.

This is also a similar feeling towards my daytime work. Never been working so long at the same place before - worser even to think that I will try to stay here another year without moving away (guess I like more of azores then what I’d expect..).

At the moment I do feel that time simply passes too quickly. My next personal challenge is due within one month - the maths exam to enter university and continue my studies. This will be my second attempt, two months ago I’ve went to the first exam season but I guess that I’ve just spent too much time online and less time studying as I should so the results were not as happy as needed..

Now there’s a second chance and a whole month to study and understand the dreaded math questions - it will be a though thing since I’ve never really enjoyed anything about math since kid and always opted to ignore it completely all the way up to high-school to later follow a technical career instead of enginering.

Not that I complain about my current work evolution which is good when comparing to others at the same age in Portugal, but I really want to learn more and keep going forward - time goes fast so I guess all we need to do on this case is move faster than time to actually see it going slower, right? ;)

- Nuno Brito

Proxy confusion

May 10th, 2007

Funny how proxies can make such a big confusion and fuzz to get them working as expected..

Last year I received a proxy called “ixbox” - from a portuguese linux development team (Caixa Mágica), the potential was huge - imagine safely connecting our local intranet to the outside world and allow everyone to surf the web freely.. (5 months waiting to arrive)

Then it was the internet connection - we had installed a dsl line (8Mbps) just for use with this proxy box, but the ixbox only accepted a fixed IP from where it should connect to the web - after some other failed tricks to fix the ip (it would be renewed after some time by the dsl box) we ended up getting a new dsl box which outputed an IP as 10.0.0.2 and finally solved this matter (3 weeks testing and new dsl box)

The proxy machine was a P4 with a cooling vent which was so loud and noisy that I had to disable it to get my brain waves calmed (prefered CPU overheating instead of mental breakdown) - since this really caused stress just by hearing it. (1 day for opening the box and adding a new silent vent which had to be custom “created” to suit the SFF box (small form factor))
Then it was the correct configuration: This was a linux machine which was supposed to work with Active Directory - never such thing I manage to achieve.. Permissions were never working right and the machine had to be rebooted every now for some strange reason to accept users - ended up used a custom created list of authorized users. (5 weeks testing and debugging until it was correctly done)
No manuals or documentation also slowed everything up - had to pratically learn everything myself and even had to guess the root password to acess the machine (luckily the password was defaulted to “admin”) and didn’t took long to be able to open up the settings console box.

Last but not least is filter mayhem - this box has a built-in filter - but the software is so buggy that the filter often goes crazy and refuses to give acess to users at random hours of the day (funny enough it didn’t liked hotmail.com because of the first 3 letters which were also filtered).

After everything I thought it would give me some rest - but the issues because of user’s surfing began - machines with all sort of funny popups on the IE tab, flash exe’s running on local shares with sugestive names (britneyXXX.exe), complaints about others who spent their work time just browsing “unproper” sites and the worst consequence - heavy downloads from p2p networks made and excessive webcam traffic by msn, skype and other IM’s made the whole web acess a lot slower (taking 10 seconds to open up google for example).

I like the idea of sharing Internet on the workplace - it is a tool that brings quality of work to everyone’s life, just wished that some people knew the hard times someone on tech support has to pass in order to get it working and view the use others often give to it..

At the moment I’m working to add proxy support for wb and if I had a bad impression about the “easyness” to install a proxy server - I was far from imagining the mess to install a proxy client with poorly documented proxy components to use from delphi. Still haven’t learnt enough from proxies - but I also hope to continue learning more about a proxy and setting it up correctly.

- Nuno Brito

Vista Boot

May 4th, 2007

I’m usually very carefull about backups on my daytime work - ensuring that they are manually done and visually checked instead of trusting on automated backups wich sometimes don’t backup as we expect.

But on my home machine (a laptop) I must admit that I’m quite lazy when it comes to backup my own data and I always carry this laptop to nearly anywhere - never really worried much but imagine if someone would ever steal it - worse than losing a laptop would be losing priceless photos of my family events and the source codes for my codings.

Yesterday I decided to do something about this situation and bought myself an external 320Gb drive where I planned to store all documents, photos, music, programs and everything else just in case..

When I got home I decided to partition this hdd and into two partitions, the first with 20Gb and the second with the remaining space. My idea was to also use the first partition as a boot disk for some project like mobileOS wich seems a really good addon for a backup disk.

Used Disk Management from MMC and created the two partitions - unfortunatelly enough that I decided to see what would the option set as “Active” would do to the first partition - my goal was to later disconnect the drive and then re-set C:\ as the “Active” partition..

Started backup of 80Gb worth of data and while waiting I made a skype video call to my wife to help pass the time quickier - we we’re talking just fine but suddenly the computer BSOD to my panic… It seems that vista web cam drivers still don’t seem to play nice with this windows - it wasn’t the first it had occured a BSOD because of this webcam + skype, but this time drive C:\ was no longer “Active”…

Reboot only complained about a missing boot manager - luckily enough I had a rescue disk around and quickly solved this matter - I can only imagine how often these sort of things can happen to people, I’m just happy I understand much better the boot process than some years ago and I can only thank the writers who give support for so many over these forums.

Now “my” Vista is using Grub and I say thanks to everyone who spends time explaing to others how this sort of things is done - Thank you!

- Nuno Brito

wb beta 3

April 30th, 2007

A new beta has been released, unleashing some of the features already expected for some months now.

We can finally start adding all sort of bulky sized scripts onto the web servers because users will only download the scripts they need based on download profiles or their own choice.

Unfortunatelly this method is still young and needs more work to be completed, hopefully this will all be done by next beta 4..

- nuno brito

Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For..

April 26th, 2007

I’m trying to find a good programming language. My basic needs are writing simple program launchers and system utilities. Long term plans include rapid application development environments and game engines.

I’ve been using Game Maker and, for the most part, it’s been working well. It has a forgiving syntax like Visual Basic and a well designed IDE. The development environment makes visual elements easy to design and place. Events and resources are easy to navigate.

Alas, as it’s focus is creation of Pac-Man clones, it lacks basic things like text input fields. Also, the licensing gets more restrictive/weird with each version.

In the future I hope to talk about what makes a good language/IDE and what alternatives I’ve found.

- Moon Goon

Bought myself a printer..

April 23rd, 2007

After spending the last few days looking at registry hives I’ve decided to buy a small printer to keep at home and start printing the hexadecimal view of the registry keys and respective tree structure.

I don’t usually like to print anything to avoid wasting perfectly good paper - but I’m opening an exception on this case, simply because it is without doubt the best tool I’ve found to cross compare hives.

Thanks to it I’ve already spotted a few details needing correction and I’m even able to comment the code line by line using a simple pencil.. ;)
Also worth mentioning that this method also eases the view since it was dificult to go back back and forth with several open windows trying to make some sense of the tree structure.

At the moment I’m trying to duplicate the creation of a single empty key inside a previously empty hive. The code to study is roughly sized in 0×300 bytes and most data blocks already seem well created but I have a feeling that there is still a lot of details needed to expose and predict until this task is sucessfull.

I’ve also started using a small excel spreadsheet to help with the details and track back the changes from each test - I really hope this sort of documentation can save some time to others understand better the registry in the future.

- Nuno Brito

The registry hive tricks..

April 22nd, 2007

It seems that the code to rewrite back completely new hives is giving a good fight - a few undocumented methods to create keys, strange data blocks with specific size and headers that are empty for no clear reason and specific purpose make some substancial oposition to allow being cloned properly.

But it doesn’t matter.. As long as all testings get properly documented it will likely be possible to provide a working solution soon enough.

On the other hand I really understand the need to create some model dificult enough to avoid people from tampering with the registry information.

Maybe this is the reason why MS is dropping support for the registry as backbone for applications and the OS itself within the next years.

Just hope they also understand that our boot disk projects depend on a stable way to create registry hives and ensure the survival of these projects in future OS releases.

So far the registry codings have taken almost all my time on the roadmap for the next wb, sorry for being behind of schedule - funny enough as it seems that whenever a time line is drawn - it’s just asking to be delayed… :)

- nuno brito

wb 069 beta 1 & 2

April 16th, 2007

A new beta was released a few days ago and I keep working on the next beta. At the moment I’ve tried following the topics from the roadmap but the tasks seem to be complicated to get working - just to say the least.

First I’ve started with the new objects on the script user interface, began using the same coding applied for previous objects, but quickly came to the conclusion that these new objects are quite different from “normal” objects and strongly oppose to runtime creation.

The first object I’ve tried was the embedded web browser - works like a charm on the web tab, but creating it on the fly seems problematic, tried a few workarounds, but none suceeded. Left a message on the respective support forum, maybe the author can explain how it is correctly done.

The second object was an attempt to combine external applications inside the UI of scripts - but a few problems began appearing. First, it was difficult to get the correct handle to the launched process. I used shellexecute (to be vista compatible since some people say that createprocess will become unsupported?) and got the correct handle from there.

Looking on MSDN also found the needed documentation to get the result I was expecting - but nevertheless it just refused to grab the given handle and make as a child window belonging to the script UI. As a quick workaround I used an older code wich would find an handle based on a partial title name of the window - this worked good enough for cmd.exe to be used as test program. Had serious problems getting the new object to be properly resized - ended up giving up on this approach and tought on using fixed values given from a menu to avoid more complications, then an even worser issue appeared - how to send the proper WM_QUIT message to make the launched application finish? It is possible to get everything working - but it might take much longer than expected since this really requires a lot of debugging and testing to get some stable working results.

After these try outs - was getting a bit tired of looking on the same code and switched to a small app designed to read registry hives and write them back on disk without using winAPI - so far so good with the reading part, but the write is a true headache.

But nevertheless, I am pleased to announce that some progress has been done!

So far I am also able to write back hives and make them recognizable to be read by my own application - now it’s only missing to do the same reg.exe/regedit and see what more it takes to make them fully compatible with MS format (wich is a true confusion on my opinion) - just wish they took the time to optimize the way how the registry gets written back since it seems a truly messy method - deleting keys doesn’t mean they are wiped from registry and newer keys are usually placed on the last data positions of hives, meaning a whole lot of time lost going back and forward to read values…

Maybe this offline hive reader also gets included inside wb on the next beta - the good news in case of sucess is a nightmare for rootkits based on hidden registry keys since this completely writes a new tree structure. While thinking about this, also noticed that one registry key containing binary data can still hold enough data to include a new set of hidden keys and this is still considered as a valid key for the registry API, so it wouldn’t exactly be considered as “hidden” and suspicious (I’d rather call it a stealth key) - Was really happy to see a good solution to keep the registry as a safer place, but with the right know-how this would be very dificult to detect and we could massively change the whole registry tree just by changing a single byte on the hive file wich is write protected safely on disk, but nevertheless people can modify the version loaded on RAM wich then gets written back to disk - dangerous thinking.

Well, time to go back and dig in further. If anyone is willing to help out hex editing a way to figure on how this is done, feel free to jump aboard and I’ll provide the tools to get started.. :)

- nuno brito

wb 069 roadmap

April 13th, 2007

Smiley has asked on the forums what were the priorities expected for the next version of Winbuilder. So here is a small roadmap that may change over time but will be used as a guideline to produce the next stable edition.

  • Correct Language support issues
  • Recode interface code (more objects, bugfix behaviors)
  • Complete proxy support
  • Add new commands (rename to uppercase)
  • Add simple profiles to the download center (Minimum, Recomended, Full)
  • Built-in Hive manipulation without using Windows API

Here’s the link where this was discussed:

wb 069 discussion post

If you have any ideas or requests for this current version, don’t forget write your ideas on the above link..

:)

- nuno brito

A nice gift..

April 10th, 2007

Today was a busy day - rushed all morning to set up a wireless antenna on the place where I work to connect two computers on a small place where people take a mid-morning cofee break. Next thursday there will be a small party, so it was important to have this done quickly. This antenna is really nice - it can be used to create a wireless network within a range of 3Km - wich pretty much covers everywhere around here. It’s a strange and funny feeling to go out into the green fields and send something to our network printer far away..

But today was only getting better after work. A friend of mine asked for some help setting up his home network. A dsl connection and a wireless acess point providing internet for two home computers (a laptop with Vista and a desktop one with XP). The connection was a bit troublesome to get working and took almost two hours to get this solved - I have the impression that troubleshooting network issues with XP is so much easier when compared to Vista.

On the end everything worked well and my friend happy with the result decided to give me a USB Wireless adapter - a really cool gift in my opinion..

I already have a laptop with wifi, but this is something I’d never buy myself - and since it was a gift - I will surely find something usefull to do with it. If you knew my house you’d notice an old desktop computer on my living room - maybe this way I can finally share files or stream media from one machine to another. Really nice.. :)

Back to work..

April 9th, 2007

Easter vacances have finished, just went back to work.

Nice to see everything is still in it’s place. You might be hearing more about Azores in the news soon since our earthquake activity on this island is increasing - letting everyone here enjoy a quick quake every 12 hours. I live on this place for some time, but it is the first time I’ve ever seen my computers moving around..

The Process of Unmotivated Game Coding

April 7th, 2007

Hi all! This is really an experiment to see what blogging and wordpress are. I know blogging is something you cannot do in public and wordpress is a wrestling move but that’s about it.

My topic is the process of motivation for the unmotivated. How does one fire the engine of creation without motivation? Well, not easily or timely. Here are the primary steps that lead to actually doing anything:

1. Ennui (bored to death, life is meaningless)

Perhaps you’ve completed your last good game. You’re sick. You’ve just gotten over your last drinking binge and nothing seems especially exciting. Whatever the reason it’s a dismal existence - clearly the Muse has left you.

2. Something reminds you of an interesting game

Part of depression as a professional hobby is to contemplate how bad things are - and sometimes how good things were. The problem with remembering the good is that it can lead to thoughts of improvement.

3. You start thinking about what could have been better

What made that game you miss so good? Was it the battle system? The open gameplay? Whatever it was, no one is gonna reproduce it in the era of First Person Shooter banality. Just like Smokey the Bear said: Only you can code awesome games!

4. Pick a technology to work on for a better game

Best not to think about how to start - thinking leads to overthinking and the imagined hurdles become bigger. Pick a single aspect of your game concept and go. Be it a menuing system or platform physics or level loading - JUST GO! DO IT! DO IT NOW!!

5. Code like mad

Avoid all distractions including hungry pets and girlfriends (even the inflatable ones). Focus on test runs rather than commenting because code reuse is for, er, other people. What you need now is the experience and pleasure of accomplishment.

6. Run out of steam or hit a major roadblock

Eventually a technical hurdle or over thinking will creep up. Don’t try to fight it; give in to your hatred and rejoin the dark side. Tuck your code into a safe folder and remember what you did and how it can fit into later endeavors.

7. Go back to step 1.

Ennui sets in again and you’ll quickly forget the progress you’ve made. Thankfully, you’re archived project won’t. It will sit in whatever directory you saved it in until you feel the urge to code come back - this time a little wiser.

WinBuilder 068

April 6th, 2007

Edition 068 has been released!

This binary has added some new features when compared to the latest release, I think the most important step has been the introduction of a download center that allows people to freely share scripts and projects - unfortunately a bug still slipped through the testings, but it was quickly reported by paraglider and new binary with the issue fixed was uploaded.

It seems that the new release also jammed completely boot-land.net making it very dificult to acess the forums during all day. Maybe it is time to start thinking on adding a new server just for the downloads keeping the forum’s bandwidth free from this stress, last month boot-land.net used about 400Gb of data and it should predictably increase during the next months so I think it might be wiser to think ahead and start planning some mirrors or backup servers to keep up with the increase.

Perhaps adding a torrent client inside wb would also be a good solution, but it is not a very safe solution, maybe within the next months we can come up with a creative solution for this matter.. :)

Visit to Aveiro

April 4th, 2007

Just spent the weekend on Aveiro, Portugal - one of my all time favourite places to rest. It’s near the sea, very calm and people are really nice. Some call it the venice of Portugal because of the traditional boats that travel around the water channels - maybe one day I can actually visit Veneza in Italy and compare both. I’ve worked for a year in Aveiro back in 2001 - nothing better than actually travel by boat to your workplace to give a closer touch to nature.

Moliceiros

On holidays for a week..

March 30th, 2007

Starting today, I’ll be on holidays throughout the whole next week. I must say that it is a very much needed rest from my daytime work wich seems to consume each bit of my own resources.

Maybe it’s just my impression, but it seems sometimes that our work with computers is never finished - I mean - once you propose youself to do something and eventually get around to complete your assigned task - something else appears along the way also needing some attention creating an endless loop..

Well, this time I’m (almost) on vacations - will be flying back home tomorrow and ensure some things get properly done back at work on monday so that I can really rest for the rest of the week.

On a bright note: the next release of winbuilder is almost ready - still missing to fix the upload mecanism wich decided to not play nice with the rest of the improvements, maybe all it needs is just another code shake up to see where things are not working well.

While I’m on vacances I’ll take the oportunity to some things I’ve been wanting to do for some time - deliver my tax return form online, study for the math exam on 12th of April and just wake up late everyday.. ;)

To Vista or not to Vista..

March 22nd, 2007

Operative Systems evolve, and we somehow try to evolve along with them.

Most of us around here still remember a time when an operative system would confortably fit on a floppy and creating a boot disk was as simple as typing “format a: /s” from the command line prompt..

On these days that quickly pass, our boot disks have grown in features, but have also grown in complexity and responsability.

Vista is a shiny example on how certain things shouldn’t be taken as granted to not change in a near future - In our case the whole process involved in creating and modifying registry hives needs to be rethinked and likely recoded to ensure that winbuilder can still operate under the newer OS user account control (UAC) restrictions.

Maybe an answer can be found soon. In the meanwhile I notice that the players on this cat and mouse game have changed, but the challenge remains the same: learn, share and create new solutions..

Multiple languages

March 14th, 2007

Here’s a new challenge: Replacing english inside winbuilder with other languages. The idea sounded simple at the begining, but there are so many variants on how text should be placed inside buttons that we end finding out that it’s isn’t as simple on a first look as it first seemed..

First was a question of adapting some labels to show up greek characters, then it was some minor fixes on labels that we’re mixed. Now comes the big question: How to use german words bigger than 46 words??

A really nice discussion can be found here:

enjoy!

Greetings from the Azores..

March 12th, 2007

Hi everyone,

This is my first entry on this blog system. Hopefully there will be more postings related to toughts and opinions from our community members. These writings don’t necessarly need to be just about computers, it’s a simple everyday life blog to keep a written record and have some fun when going back a few years from this date and read them back again, who knows?

That’s all for now, stay tunned for more posts soon..