Update Symantec without an uninstall password

I had to update an old XP Home test machine to run the latest Symantec Suite of Crap. Installation of new Symantec stuff requires a manual uninstall of old Symantec stuff. Here, I ran into a problem — it prompted for an “uninstall password”.

The default password is “symantec”, but that wasn’t my issue.

Apparently, whenever an old version of the Symantec corporate authentication server is taken offline, the automatic uninstall password process verification is broken, and it keeps prompting indefinitely.

Open the registry editor (Start > Run > regedit) and navigate to:

Set it to 0. It will now not prompt for a password when uninstalling.

Also look at this.

Set it to 0 too. You’ll now be able to unload the service.

Do a Start > Run > services.msc

Scroll down to Symantec Antivirus, go into Properties > Recovery, and disable automatic reload.

Now right-click to stop SavRoam and all the other Symantec services.

You can now uninstall Symantec AntiVirus from the Add/Remove Programs control panel.

Restart the computer. This resumes some necessary services.

You can now install the updated Symantec product.

Useful tools

References

Creating Start Menu shortcuts with Javascript

While preparing the installer for the Web 2.0 Starter Toolkit for IBM DB2, I had to set up Start Menu shortcuts. The way to do that is to work through the Windows Scripting Host (WSH).

The WSH supports two built-in languages – VBScript and Jscript – and a theoretical number of third-party alternatives. VBScript is the better documented of the two in terms of examples, but I find its syntax ugly and constrained. Fortunately, Jscript can do anything VBScript can.

So here’s how we can create Start Menu shortcuts with Javascript.

Locate the Start Menu Programs folder

Most interesting Windows folders can be found by working with special folders

The shell object will be reused in code below, but you can redeclare it every time if you like.

Create a Folder

Scripting Guy has more details

startmenu is defined above.

Create an LNK Shortcut

The very hidden file extension of standard Windows shortcuts is LNK. This distinguishes them from website shortcuts, which have the equally hidden extension of URL.

If you are interested in something closer to the symbolic links of Unix, the NTFS equivalent is called junctions. You may find Junction Link Magic of interest.

See the full list of properties. I recommend always setting the working directory for application links. If you don’t, your program won’t be able to load resources from it’s installation folder.

shell and group are defined above.

Create a URL Shortcut

This is very similar. The main difference is that you set the extension to URL.

See the full list of properties.

shell and group are defined above.

Locate Program Files

When creating shortcuts, it is often useful to know where a user’s Program Files directory is located. It is called different things in different versions of Windows, and some advanced users like to move it or rename it.

shell is defined in the first code excerpt.

Utilities for Windows I

Hard Drive Cleanup

WinDirStat is an excellent utility for visualizing your used disk space and drilling down to files that you can clean up, back up, and delete. It’s similar to SequoiaView and Steffen Gerlach’s Scanner, but even more powerful. You can drill down through a folder tree as well as highlight filetypes in the graphical representation. The next time my hard drive gets too full, this is the utility I’ll use to clean things up.

WinDirStat

It’s only weakness is that you can’t drill down in the visual representation once it’s built, unlike both SequoiaView and Scanner.

Scanner 0Scanner 1Scanner 2

Startup Management

AutoRuns is a very comprehensive utility for dealing with the bane of hidden startup programs. TSRs and daemons date back to prehistory, but starting with Win95 a lot of rude programs began adding themselves to the system tray. This utility exposes all of the different hooks for management.

Autoruns

Task Management

Process Explorer can:

  • Kill processes Task Manager cannot
  • Find which process is preventing you from deleting a file
  • Match up processes to windows
  • Kill the root process of a multi-process app

Process Explorer

I find it invaluable on any Windows install.

Defragmentation

As you delete files from your hard drive, gaps of empty space form. New files get split into parts across these gaps. Over time, performance degrades. Some file systems are less vulnerable to this than others, but both NTFS and FAT are affected.

Windows comes with a defragmenter, but it has stayed uniformly crappy and slow since 95. I vastly prefer Vopt. Unfortunately, it’s shareware. It’s also well done, informative, and very fast.

Is there a good, free alternative?

Vopt

Gods, I need to defragment!

Hidden Settings

Tweak UI is a cliché choice, but I don’t know of a good replacement. My favourite tweak is to disable everything except Text Document from the New submenu in Explorer. I only ever create Folders and Text Documents that way, and Explorer significantly delays the display of the menu until all the useless icons are loaded.

Tweak UI

While you are there, grab Create Command Window Here and Power Calculator. Being able to open a command prompt window by right-clicking on a folder is very convenient. Meanwhile, Power Calc has a usable history, saveable formulas, primitive graphing, and super-handy unit conversions.