Win2K commands reference may save you but could be better

O'Reilly's <i>Windows 2000 Commands Pocket Reference</i> puts most Win2K commands at your fingertips. While you're likely to find most commands, there are a few glaring omissions. Erik Eckel has your review.

Any book that begins with a disclaimer addressing the material intentionally omitted makes me nervous. O’Reilly’s Windows 2000 Commands Pocket Reference (Figure A) does just that on page one.

Even more worrisome is a note in the introduction. The reader is warned that other commands were excluded “either because they have been deemed redundant, obscure, obsolete, broken, unacceptably insecure, or because they perform inadvisable actions or procedures.”

If I’m in the middle of a crisis and I’m searching frantically for a command switch, such language isn’t going to soothe my mood any. I’d prefer to pay an extra 10 bucks and have all the possible commands included, leaving the discretion of whether they should be used to my own circumstance.

Figure A
Windows 2000 Commands Pocket Reference sells for a reasonable $9.95.

Fortunately, author Aeleen Frisch includes most of the commands that you will need. In addition, many helpful Windows 2000 Resource Kit commands are included.

While the book is short, at just 110 pages including the index, it could save your day. The pocket guide’s index is thorough, making it quick and easy to find commands.

The book’s index lists each command covered. Short descriptions accompany each Windows 2000 command. In addition, the switches for each command are listed, along with syntax examples.

If you wish to search commands by topic, you can. Commands are presented in some 20 different chapters. For example, commands are sorted in chapter groupings, including:
  • ·        General Administrative Commands
  • ·        Working With Disks And File Systems
  • ·        Printing
  • ·        Active Directory And Domain Management Commands
  • ·        Installation Related Commands

Whether you’re working with Windows 2000 Professional or a Windows 2000 server platform, you’ll find a wealth of commands. However, there are a few conspicuous omissions. For example, I couldn’t find option listings (or even mentions, in some cases) for the following important Windows 2000 commands:
  • ·        Makeboot.exe
  • ·        Makebt32.exe
  • ·        Poledit.exe
  • ·        Sysprep.exe
  • ·        Winnt32.exe

Both Sysprep.exe and Winnt32.exe are significantly shortchanged. Winnt32.exe is mentioned with Winnt.exe, but the reader is simply referred to Windows’ native Help files for more information. That’s inexcusable.

Any administrator worth his weight can rattle off critical differences between the two commands, not to mention the different options each possesses. Plus, this is a critical command. The book even references the Winnt32.exe switch in its Recovery Console section, where the Winnt32.exe switch is used to install the Recovery Console. However, Winnt32.exe doesn’t receive its own listing.

Sysprep.exe, whose usage future MCPs and MCSEs must memorize, is neglected as well. While it’s mentioned, the reader is directed to Windows 2000’s W2RKTools.chm file for more information. I would prefer that descriptions of Sysprep.exe’s -pnp, -quiet, -nosidgen, and -reboot options were included in the pocket reference. After all, the command and its options are likely to be used repeatedly by systems administrators, whom the book targets.

You will find other popular commands covered well, including:
  • ·        Attrib.exe
  • ·        At.exe
  • ·        Cacls.exe
  • ·        Cipher.exe
  • ·        Diskperf.exe
  • ·        Ntbackup.exe
  • ·        Ping.exe
  • ·        Regback.exe

All told, I found the Windows 2000 Commands Pocket Reference a little frustrating. The concept is a no-brainer; collect the most important Win2K commands in an easy-to-use pocket guide. It’s unfortunate that more attention wasn’t paid to what was included. Adding just a few more commands and switch descriptions could have made an okay book a must-have reference tool.

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