Tricks Traps
Ask Dr. Bob
Your NT Questions

by Bob Chronister

Q: I have recently purchased a system that has an unsupported IDE CD-ROM drive. How do I install Windows NT from an unsupported device?

A: Excellent question! Many folks seem intimidated by the installation process. In all cases, the easiest installations are the ones that occur from the hard drive rather than the CD-ROM. (On RISC platforms the CD-ROM must be supported; you can't install NT any other way.)

Copy the I386 directory from the Windows NT CD to the local hard drive from within DOS. This assumes that you are setting up a dual-boot system. Go into the I386 directory, and run winnt.exe/b. The /b switch eliminates the need for the first three floppy disks. (After you install NT, the IDE CD-ROM drive will still be unsupported; check with the CD-ROM vendor to obtain the appropriate drivers.)

Q: I have a mirrored system--duplexed--and the primary drive has failed. No matter what I try, I can't get the fault-tolerant boot floppy to work.

A: The following information applies to Windows NT versions 3.5 and 3.51. In the setup process, the second drive is on a controller whose BIOS has been disabled, but due to a change from "SCSI" to "Multi" in the boot.ini file, the boot process needs to read the controller BIOS.

Reboot the system and enable the BIOS on the secondary controller. Edit the floppy boot.ini and make sure that "Multi" is used on the floppy. When you reboot, the boot process will read the controller BIOS and locate the correct drive.

There are also two other approaches:

Unless the drives involved cannot handle BIOS booting (e.g., if they exceed 2GB), I would use the primary method shown above.

Q: I recently attempted to install Windows NT 3.51 onto a new system that has a 1.2GB EIDE drive. The install fails with an "inaccessible hard drive" message. What's wrong? Can't NT handle new drives?

A: Windows NT detects hard drives by reading the BIOS of the drive with an INT 13 call. This call is limited to 1024 cylinders.

For most SCSI controllers, this is not a problem because the controller translates the drive into an extended type which uses 1024 cylinders. IDE and EIDE drivers are BIOS-resident, which presents a problem.

To solve the problem for EIDE drives, enable LBA (Logical Block Address) in the system or controller BIOS. Then, use fdisk to format the drive and reinstall DOS (if needed).

Q: I'm considering buying a new system, and I see constant references to the HCL. Can you tell me what HCL means and why it's important?

A: The HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) is a list of machines that Microsoft has verified will run Windows NT. Most important, Microsoft has access to all the testing data that was used if a machine should start to fail. It's always to your advantage to buy a machine that's on the HCL.

There are several factors you need to know to understand the HCL:

Q: I have a dual-Pentium motherboard with one CPU installed. When I attempt to update an existing Windows NT 3.5 installation, I get a message that the system has the wrong Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and needs the one for the Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC). How can I resolve this issue?

A: Actually, this is an easy problem to fix, but the underlying cause is bothersome. Let's deal with the cause first. According to the Multiprocessor Specification (MPS) from Intel, the system is supposed to write a CPU table into CMOS. When NT boots, it reads this table to determine the number of CPUs present. If no table is found, NT notes the appearance of the APIC logic and assumes that two CPUs are present--in fact, this is not true. It's a CMOS/BIOS issue, and you should contact your hardware vendor.

To fix the problem: Boot from the NT Setup floppy, or begin the winnt.exe /b or winnt32.exe /b procedure. When the screen showing "Setup is inspecting your computer's hardware configuration" appears, press the F5 key. This will give you the standard Windows NT Executive setup mode which lets you choose the Computer Model, etc. Pick "standard computer;" you can load the new HAL here.

Q: I have a dual-processor board and have added a second CPU. How do I get NT to recognize it?

A: Believe it or not, this is easy. There are basically only two files that are different between a uni- and a dual-processor system. These files are ntoskrnl.
exe and hal.dll. By far the safest method is to update the install. There's a utility in the Resource Kit, called uptomp (uni- to multi-processor), which you can use. For experienced users, you simply change the files and reboot. However, I typically don't recommend this method unless you are very NT-aware.

Q: I used the winnt32.exe /b method to install NT. How do I make a Repair disk after the fact?

A: You need to run the utility rdisk
.exe in the windows\system32 directory. It will create the Repair disk.

Registry Editing

The following are good uses for the Registry Editor (REGEDT32.EXE), but be extremely cautious: Editing the Registry can permanently corrupt your system, so always have a backup available to correct your entries.

Q: I have been using the new Explorer GUI shell (see "Exploring the Explorer GUI" on page 49 in the November, 1995, issue) and have decided to try Netscape v2.0. Netscape won't work at all. Can this be fixed?

A: Install Netscape. Go into the Registry (with REGEDT32). Select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Microsoft\WINDOWS\Current-
Version\AppPaths and delete the Netscape.exe key under AppPath.

Q: I am on a network that contains a Novell server with several printers on it. It constantly gives me a pop-up message. Can I eliminate the message?

A: Go to the following subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\Current-
ControlSet\Control\Print\Providers. From the Edit menu, choose Add Value. Then in the Value Name, type NetPopup. Select REG_DWORD for the data type, and enter a value of 0. Exit the Registry Editor, and then stop and restart the spooler.

Q: How do I make an NT Server act as a Domain Time Source Server?

A: Locate the following Registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\

From the Edit menu, select Add Value, and add the following:

Value Name: TimeSource
Data Type: REG_DWORD
String: 1
Shut down, and restart NT.

Q: How do I change the fonts on icons in Windows NT 3.51?

A: Open the window HKEY_CURRENT_USERS\ControlPanel\Desktop. Go to the key IconTitleSize REG_SZ number Default: 9. Highlight the number 9. Change the number to 12, for example, to make the font size larger. If you wish to change the font, go to IconTitleFaceName REG_SZ fontname Default: Helv and change Helv to the desired font (make sure it's a TrueType font).


Bob Chronister is a contributing editor for Windows NT Magazine and president of Chronister Consultants in Mobile, Alabama. You can reach him in the NTWORK and NTSERV forums on CompuServe or at

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