Wouldn’t it be nice if you could be physically present every time a user logged on to your network? That way, you could make sure the drives the user needs are mapped, the user’s startup drive is correct, and Registry is configured the way it should be.

With KiXtart 2001 (version 4.02), you can be there, or at least your logon script can be. If you’ve been frustrated by the limitations of the batch files or the NT shell command language, KiXtart may be just what the doctor ordered to cure those logon blues.

KiXtart as CareWare
KiXtart has been around as freeware since 1991, when Microsoft Netherlands employee Ruud van Velsen created this logon script processor in response to the many requests for better logon scripting functionality in Microsoft LAN Manager. KiXtart’s scripting language lets you perform tasks including display information, set environment variables, start programs, connect to network drives, read or edit the Registry, and change the current drive and directory.

Although KiXtart isn’t officially sold or supported by Microsoft, it has become increasingly popular, and new versions have been written to meet the requirements of supporting new operating systems. At this writing, the current version is 4.02, and version 4.10 is in public beta.

KiXtart has traditionally been distributed as freeware, which means that the software can be copied, installed, and evaluated free of royalties, as long as you abide by certain conditions, including that you may not distribute KiXtart for profit.

When KiXtart 2001 was released, it was dubbed CareWare. Basically, that means that if you use KiXtart in your shop, Mr. van Velsen requests that you “make a donation to a nonprofit charitable organization.” You can make the donation in any amount and to a charity of your choice, although the documentation lists a number of “preferred” charities.

Getting, installing, and using KiXtart
Version 4.02 was made available Jan. 21, 2002, and can be downloaded from the KiXtart Web site. After you download and unzip the program files, refer to Kix2001.doc for instructions on how to install the executable files.

In general, KiXtart is a “free-form” scripting language that features a number of built-in key words (verbs), functions, and switches that let you “grab” information about your user and your network configuration, and perform certain tasks based on that information. KiXtart 2001 includes enhanced COM support, support for Universal and Nested Active Directory groups, and dozens of new commands and functions.

When you write a KiXtart script, the commands are stored in plain-text files with the .kix extension. You can run a KiXtart script from the command line by issuing a command in this form:
KIX32 <yourscript.kix>

You use the same syntax to call or run a KiXtart script from a batch file.

Running sample scripts
When you unzip the KiXtart files, you’ll see a folder called Samples that contains sample .kix and .spk files. (The .spk files are special sound files that can be played using Kixplay.exe.)

To demonstrate how KiXtart can be used to customize your logon scripts, we ran Kixtart.kix—one of the sample scripts—to generate the logon screen shown in Figure A. (We smudged the Workstation, Domain, and Logon Server information for security reasons.)

You can use KiXtart to create a custom logon screen like this one.

The following code segment from Kixtart.kix contains the commands that generate the image shown in Figure A.
Color y+/n
AT ( 9,40) @userid
AT (10,40) @fullname
AT (11,40) @priv
AT (12,40) @wksta
AT (13,40) @domain
AT (14,40) @lserver
Color w/n
AT (16,25) “Press any key to continue.”

The key words @userid, @fullname, @priv, @wksta, @domain, and @lserver, called macros, are examples of the kinds of environment variables you can display or store using the KiXtart scripting language.

If you want to test to see which operating system is running, use the macro @Product Type, which supports the following possible return values: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT Server, Windows NT Domain Controller, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Domain Controller, Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Server, and Windows XP Domain Controller.

KiXtart resources
If you’ve never used KiXtart and would like to begin using this tool, check out the KiXtart Resource Center published by the ScriptLogic Corporation. There you’ll find information about earlier versions of KiXtart, as well as tips and techniques for programming your custom logon scripts.

What is your technique?

Do you use KiXtart in your shop? If not, what tools do you use to manage logon scripts? Start a discussion below or write to Jeff.