Using the Windows 2000 Safemode Switches
Although we love working with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000, both workstation and server versions, there are those moments that cause monetary hair loss, as in pulling your hair out trying to find out what is wrong. When it comes to Windows NT, some computer hardware can fall into that gray area where it sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. Not too long ago, we decided to take a few Pentium II based machines and make Windows 200 file servers out of them to store drivers and other software for manufacturing. Every now and then one or two of these computers would give us a blue screen (BSOD) error because of a bad video driver.
All of these computers had motherboards with integrated video (on-board video). Since these were Pentium II based computers, they had been around for a while and we presumed that the drivers we were using had matured to the point where we shouldn’t have had to worry about these types of problems. Keep in mind that we already checked the Hardware Compatibility List and all was fine. We ran the gamut with video driver changes trying to locate one that Windows 2000 would be happy with. In any event, our search had a bright side, as we came up with a boot solution that enabled us to work with these systems.
If we booted the systems into safe mode with networking, everything worked just fine. Obviously, doing this came with its own problems, as it meant that every time we needed to reboot the system, we had to have someone sitting at the computer watching for the appropriate moment to press F8. If we had an unexpected power down, and no one was around when the systems restarted, we could count on a blue screen on at least one.
Okay, here comes the work-around. We had 16 of these systems, and we didn’t have the time to sort out the motherboards and video issues along with potential driver candidates. What we needed was a way to make these systems run while we tried to find time to sort them out. One of our technicians began playing with Safemode options, and in the process, added a Safemode “choice” to the Boot.ini file to control the safe mode boot process. Doing this eliminated the need to have someone waiting at the machines for an opportunity to touch the F8 key.
Mode: Safe Mode
/SAFEBOOT:MINIMAL /SOS /BOOTLOG /NOGUIBOOT
Mode: Safe Mode with Networking
/SAFEBOOT:NETWORK /SOS /BOOTLOG /NOGUIBOOT
Mode: Safe Mode with Command Prompt
/SAFEBOOT:MINIMAL(ALTERNATESHELL) /SOS /BOOTLOG /NOGUIBOOT
Mode: Enable Boot Logging
Mode: Enable VGA Mode
Mode: Debugging Mode
Our entry choice for the Boot.ini:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Safemode with networking" /fastdetect / SAFEBOOT:NETWORK /SOS /BOOTLOG
Note: This is added to the [operating systems] section of the Boot.ini file, and is then selected it as the default boot.
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