If you support Windows 2000, this week’s Windows 2000 Insider column can make your job a little easier. Learn to use the System Information console and unhide or modify Windows 2000 accessories.

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Be in the know with System Information
If you’ve done system analysis or troubleshooting under DOS or Windows 9x, you’re probably familiar with the Microsoft Diagnostics (MSD) program. MSD was provided with DOS and several applications to enable technical support staff to easily and quickly glean information about a computer.

In Windows 2000, the functions offered by MSD are now provided by the System Information console snap-in. The snap-in appears in the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), but you can also open the System Information console by itself. To do that, go to Start | Run and type MMC. After the MMC opens, go to Console and click Add/Remove Snap-In. Then click the Add button, select System Information, and click Add again. (You may also want to add the Disk Management snap-in in order to gain access to disk information.)

Unlike the MSD utility, the System Information snap-in provides a wealth of information about applications and your system’s memory, resource usage, software and hardware resources, and much more.

You have the option of saving this information as a text file for documentation or as a System Information file, which enables you to load the configuration information on another computer. If you want a hard copy of the information you obtain, simply print it out.

Unhide or modify accessories in Windows 2000
Windows 2000 hides certain components, such as the Accessibility tools, Pinball, and WordPad, preventing you from removing them through the Add/Remove Programs object in the Control Panel. The key for unhiding these components after installation is to edit the Sysoc.inf file, located in the %systemroot%\Inf folder. By removing the keyword HIDE from each line where it occurs, the components will become visible to Add/Remove Programs.

But think about it: If you don’t install the unnecessary accessories in the first place, you can save yourself time from doing the aforementioned steps down the road.

The solution is to modify Sysoc.inf before you perform the installation. To do that, copy the folder I386 from the Windows 2000 CD to a local or network share. Then use the EXPAND -R SYSOC.IN_ command to expand the compressed Sysoc.inf_ file.

Next, open the newly created Sysoc.inf file in Notepad or WordPad. Search through the file for instances of the word HIDE and delete the word, leaving the commas on either side of it. (Be sure to remove the instance of HIDE on the AccessUtil= line.) Save the file and close the editor.

The way you proceed from here depends on how Windows 2000 is going to be installed. If you’re installing from a network share, point the client to the I386 folder you just created and run Setup. However, if you’re installing from a CD, create an installation set on a local folder that includes the I386 folder with the customized Sysoc.inf file, along with the other files and folders from the Windows 2000 CD. Then, burn the distribution set to a new CD and run Setup from that CD.

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