The odd bit

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

The odd bit - Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is an enemy action.

Administrative shares in Windows 7

Those who have experience with NT-based operating systems on a network will certainly be familiar with the concept of administrative shares. If that doesn’t ring a bell, you access them like \\computername\c$. With this intro and the title of this post, you might be alarmed or enter panick mode fearing they might be gone in Microsoft’s latest OS iteration. Well don’t go into cardiac arrest because they are still there… but of course not without the odd problem.

Windows 7 still creates the administrative shares on install, but you can’t use them out of the box. First of all, you need to have File and Printer Sharing enabled. And the way to do that has once again been changed:

  1. Open the control panel.
  2. Go to Network and Internet.
  3. Go to Network and Sharing Center.
  4. In the left column, click on Change advanced sharing settings.
  5. There are two profiles. You probably don’t want this on when you’re on a public network so open Home or Work.
  6. Under the header File and Printer sharing, select the Turn on… option.

And now your administrative shares still don’t work 😛 You’ve just completed step 1 which implies there’s at least a step 2 and here it is: you also need to change the registry.

  1. Click on the orb (= the round button with the Windows logo in the taskbar) and type regedit in the search box.
  2. Open the registry editor.
  3. Navigate all the way to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System.
  4. Right-click in the pane on the right side and add a new DWORD (32-bit).
  5. Give the new setting the name LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy.
  6. Double click on that setting and give it a value of 1.

It’s probably wise to reboot after doing this, although it might not be needed. I’m not sure if it works straight away because I rebooted without trying.

Anyways, if you’re lucky you will be able to access administrative shares after performing these steps. If you’re unlucky, like me, doing all these things appears to have zero effect at all. Once again don’t panick, because there’s another hint/tip/solution coming your way.

Somewhere at some point during the installation or configuration of Windows 7, you will be asked to do something with a thing called Homegroup. It’s some weird new sharing tool that looks OK but isn’t quite what you’re used to. Once you have enabled that feature, you won’t be able to use the administrative shares. So the tip is: disable the homegroup feature.

  1. Open the control panel.
  2. Go to Network and Internet.
  3. Go to HomeGroup.
  4. Click on the blue link Leave the homegroup.

The popup dialog should point out itself, but I believe I picked to first option. Once I had left the homegroup, the administrative shares started working again.

I hope this post can help anyone who experiences the same problem.

Ubuntu? No thanks

It’s probably the most popular Linux distribution for home use now, but Ubuntu just isn’t my cup of tea.

I’m sure it’s pretty nice if you only need desktop features, but it just doesn’t feel right when you want to use it as a server. I usually need a couple of server programs on each operating system I install: at least a web and database server with some PHP glue. Ubuntu aims to make your desktop life in Linux simpler and it does that pretty well. But all those “features” have an adverse effect on the server role.

One of my major annoyances is that you can’t be root. That’s a security feature to prevent people from messing up, but it also prevents easy server administration. You can run things as root by using the sudo command, but it’s not quite the same. You always have to add it in front of the actual command and you also need to provide a password every 5 minutes or so.

A second annoyance is that you’re pretty much in the dark when you’re trying to do more advanced stuff in Ubuntu (read: when there isn’t a GUI for what you want to do). The location of configuration files is a bit weird if you’re coming from a non-Debian distribution so at least some hinting would be nice.

A third annoyance is the crappy “service” configuration GUI, or in other words: which program starts when at startup? The GUI only allows (un)ticking a box and that’s it.

And last but not least, the software versions that are available can’t follow my requirements. Debian stable has e.g. PHP 5.2.0 with some fixes backported from newer PHP 5.2.x releases. New small features of a point release are not backported and version numbers aren’t bumped either. This will cause version checks to fail.

When you go past the GUI, you’re left alone and sudo adds a couple of jumps to make your life a bit harder. Debian, Ubuntu’s big brother, scores better in the server department: you can be root and there’s documented runlevel changes, but it still isn’t ideal.

For some odd reason, I’m far more comfortable running Gentoo. The only disadvantage is that you need to compile practically everything, but that in turn also results in the fastest Linux I’ve ever used because everything is compiled for your machine. But I guess it’s each to his own.