RG01F – Getting rid of the first-time login stuff

By Max Ranzau

 

This article covers one of the little annoyances which many an Microsoft admin has grown accustomed to. It’s the first-time user-setup thingy which pops up every time a user logs in for the first time. Update: From Workspace Manager 2010 an option was built-in to prevent this, so the registry hacking and the buildingblock below may not be relevant for you anymore. According to See below on how to enable it in PF2010 and newer.

Anyway back to the matter at hand. Some may argue; “oooh but don’t touch those settings, they contains really really important stuff”. Oh is that so? Please tell me what I’m missing? In case you’re still wondering about what I’m refering to, it’s this puppy:

On Windows XP, this window will stay up for several seconds, setting up things in the user’s profile. The bad thing is, I’ve seen examples of how it may hang for up to an hour. It may be stuff the user never needs, or stuff that may be dealt with through Workspace Manager, so in short you should be okay in getting rid of it.

If you combine this hack with a locally stored mandatory profile, then your login times will positively SCREAM! Things which may be configured during this phase may be, but not limited to:

  • First time configuration of MSN messenger
  • Theme setup
  • Initial internet shortcuts in IE (MSN, Radiostations, etc)
  • Windows mediaplayer
  • Outlook express

Since we can pretty much configure all such things per user with Workspace Manager uppon application launch, instead of wasting time at logon, we will investigate how we get rid of this. It’s simple, yet with ordinary tools at your disposal it may be a bit challenging. You need to edit the HKLM registry and search and replace specific values in some keys which may be unknown.  You need to dive down in the registry under:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components

Below here, you will find a load of {GUID} registy keys, which may look like shown on the right (click to enlarge). The values we are interested in are the REG_EXPAND_SZ StubPath, which may be found under any of the keys. You would want to set all of these to a empty/blank value. Before you do this, I would advise you to export a backup of the above mentioned registry path, as who knows – you may later want to re-instate a few of them.

Now, if you are building a template for an image, there’s little point in automating the above procedure, as it will only take you a few moments to go through the approx. 40 keys and blank the StubPath value if it’s set. However, if you are in the situation where you want to doctor existing computers with this change, you need to figure out a way to automate this. I’m sure there are plenty of scripting guru’s out there, which can be helpfull with a registry search and replace VB script, but since we here at RESguru are into RunBook automation big time, I’ll show you how to do this with RES Wisdom and even throw a buildingblock in, for your convenience.

Wisdom has a task built in for modifying the registry. A little know fact about this task is, that it actually supports wildcards on keynames. This is extremely usefull if you for example need to change settings on a network adaptor, as the NIC settings are stored in HKLM under a GUID which you cannot know unless you look it up elsewhere first. Using wildcards on GUID registry keys make it a snap to modify such values. In the example below we will use it to search and replace all StubPath keys to a blank value.

To build the module by hand, use the following steps:

  1. Create a new Wisdom module and add a Registry Settings (Apply) task.
  2. On the settings tab, click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and press Ctrl+O. (Alternatively rightclik, then select Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE… from the context menu)
  3. Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\{2179C5D3-EBFF-11CF-B6FD-00AA00B4E220} (Second one from the top) or any other {GUID}key here, which contains a StubPath value which is EMPTY.
  4. Select the StubPath key and hit. Wisdom will tell you “The Selected Registry key or value hass been added to the “Apply Registry Settings” task. Click Close.
  5. Now it’s time to insert the Wildcard. Click on the {2179C5D3-EBFF-11CF-B6FD-00AA00B4E220} key in the left side of the console. Hit F2 to rename it, and change the keyname to {*}
  6. Now rightclick on the  new keyname and select Toggle “use pattern matching on keyname” from the context menu. Note the blue asterix which appears on the key. The final result should look like this on the right (click to enlarge).

When you run this module on the target computers, it will  overwrite  the StubPath value with blank, underneath all the GUID keys in the path as we have replaced the guid name with a *. Remember you can use all sorts of wildcards when using Pattern Matching in both Workspace Manager and Wisdom. For more information on this topic, start your Wisdom console, Hit F1 and search for the article called “Pattern matching, wildcards and operators”.

If you’re not feeling up to the task of building it yourself and want to fast-track to using this immediatly, here on the right you will find a buildingblock to download. Click on the legobrick to download:

Finally, as mentioned, the ability to control the first-time stuff has been built into the Workspace Manager 2010 Console. In order to configure it, go to the Composition | Applications | Managed applications node. Click on the Properties tab and select the Disable Active Setup checkbox, as shown here on the right. Next time you log in a  new user that does not have a profile, the Personalized Settings window should not show up

Note: According to Iain’s experience, this checkbox apparently only works with V2 profiles (Win7, Vista, 2008), but not for WinXP/2003 etc. The method described above may therefore yet still be valid in your environment.

 

 

3 Comments

  • By Iain Brighton, September 16, 2010 @ 20:08

    I have also found capturing the “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components” as a Global, targeted User Setting to be a great option too.

    By doing it this way, the Active Setup components will run once for each user and RES PowerFuse will capture the resulting settings.

    If additional software is installed on any machine where users have Mandatory profile, the Active Setup can complete and settings will be captured. There won’t be a need to re-run the Wisdom job or clean the Active Setup keys manually!

Other Links to this Post

  1. RES Software User Group | PowerFuse 2010 SR1 Released! — June 7, 2010 @ 18:53

  2. Disable Microsoft Active Setup - RES Workspace Manager | RES Software Blog — May 6, 2014 @ 05:59

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