Saturday, September 25, 2004 5:04 PM bart

My laptop "SARASTRO" - BIOS update rocks :-)

I'm since one year the proud owner of a Dell Latitude D800 laptop and have completed my first complete reinstall of the software. Pretty much work in fact (took me 3 days to get it up and running again with all the software I need to do my work). 40 GB disk space, 15 GB used for all my applications (no documents yet), running Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. I won't give a complete list of what's installed on the system but I just want to give one recommendation: check out the Dell downloads regularly for BIOS updates. I've upgraded the machine 10 minutes ago with BIOS revision A11 and now the system seems to run faster than ever (in fact I did a bunch of driver updates as well). In the System Properties, 599 MHz was displayed previously, now it's displaying the full 1.60 GHz correctly (running Centrino Pentium M processor). This has to do with the SpeedStep technology but due to outdated drivers (and BIOS) it wasn't running on my former Windows Server 2003 installation.

For people wondering why I just don't run Windows XP on my machine (with Windows Server 2003 in a Virtual PC or so), I have quite some reasons why (and yes, there are disadvantages such as the lack of support for Bluetooth and WPA for wireless LAN). First of all, I'm quite busy with Active Directory development. Secondly, I'm an IIS 6 fan. Third, even on Windows Server 2003 I can have Windows XP themes :-). To be honest, since I have MSDN (now 4 years already) I've never been running any client OS on my primary machines (Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003) except for Longhorn on a second partition. Windows XP Professional is running in VPC over here.

Another nice point is that I'm finally not running as an administrator on my machine anymore (on "jefken" I was a member of the administrators of my AD domain bartdesmet.local). Now, I'm just a power user on the system. During installation I've been using a dedicated "install" account (which is a power user) to do the installation/configuration tasks. Now, I'm running as a normal user with some elevated privileges on the system (i.e. to shutdown/reboot the system which is not possible for normal users on a W2K3 server). Thanks to Don (see comments) to point me to this (at the time of writing I was still a power user in order to finish my configuration/installation tasks). Another tip: if you still need more privileges/rights on the system, use the runas command to log in as a power user (or if it's really needed - should be rarely the case - as an administrator). Finally doing what I'm telling people for quite some time (for more info, check out "running with least privileges" in Writing Secure Code 2nd Edition).

Remark: "Sarastro" is the new computername of my laptop (formely called "jefken") and you might see it appear in some screenshots in articles in the future. I like strange names for my machines (in order to avoid naming collisions, which I had with "dotnetdev1" in the past). Sarastro is one of the protagonists of one of my favorite plays of Mozart. You can find out the rest yourself if you'd like to more about it.

Still one difficult step to take: take an image of my harddisk (which I'm telling I'm going to do now for 5 years :-)). I hope I get it done (don't have a floppy drive to boot Ghost) but I think I have some ideas that might work...

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Comments

# re: My laptop "SARASTRO" - BIOS update rocks :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2004 4:27 AM by bart

Bart! Please say it ain't so! Power User is *not* running with least privilege! It's sometimes called admin-lite because it has most of the dangerous privileges that the Administrators group has. You're not protecting yourself from anything by running as a Power User.

# re: My laptop "SARASTRO" - BIOS update rocks :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2004 2:17 PM by bart

Indeed Don, thanks for the correction. In fact I have two accounts, one power user (non-admin) for installation tasks etc and a normal developer user account but I was a little confused since I just finished my Active Directory setup. That time, I was still running under the context of my 'install' account (which is a Power User) since normal users don't have the right to reboot/shut down the machine by default (W2K3 in a domain setup). Now, my normal user account has the right to shut down the machine and now I'm indeed running as a normal user on the system.

Thx for the remark; I've added some little remark in the initial post, pointing to this comment.