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Avoiding Windoze crapware on re-install on Toshiba laptop
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Tux's lil' helper
Tux's lil' helper

Joined: 02 Jan 2005
Posts: 142
Location: Sydney Australia

PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:51 am    Post subject: Avoiding Windoze crapware on re-install on Toshiba laptop Reply with quote

Moderators - please feel free to delete/move this post if it's not appropriate BUT I thought it might be helpful to gentoo users who dual-boot their machines with Windoze:

I *have* to use some Windoze apps in my work, so when I buy a new laptop I create the Windoze recovery DVDs, then nuke the disc, re-install Windoze on part of the disc, and then load Gentoo, with dual-boot via grub. It drives me nuts that during the Windoze re-install I have to waste *my* time waiting while the recovery scripts load extra crapware (e.g. Norton anti-virus, Crystal Backup, trial version of Office, yada yada yada). So when I bought an SSD for my 6-month old laptop I decided to waste a bit more time, and see if I could stop the bloody crapware being loaded in the first place instead of having to wait while it was installed, and then unistall it again.

Here's what I found after a bit of digging around - this refers to a Toshiba Satellite C850, but hopefully it's applicable to other models and manufacturers. (I never wanted to know about "sysprep" - still don't ! - but it's apparently a way of automating Windoze installs.)

So first I went through the Windoze recovery process of loading three DVDs worth of Windoze stuff onto the 40Gb of space that I told Windoze it could have on my 120Gb SSD. Then when it re-booted (the first of many :D ), I hijacked the reboot by booting off a Knoppix 7.0.4 Live distro (from the Linux magazine I'd just bought) - but any distro that can mount/read/write NTFS partitions will do. Then, I mounted sda2 (Windows 7 uses sda1 for a boot partiton, apparently) and found the C:\Windows\SysWOW64\sysprep directory - there are some script files and other junk, plus a heap of (67 in my case) COMPnnn directories. These directories hold the installers for any laptop-specific drivers - e.g. the video, Ethernet, wireless LAN and sound cards - and also most of the crapware installers.

So - how to find out what installer is in each of the COMPnn directories ? Each COMPnnn directory has a .EXE installer, and two info files with identical names in each of the COMPnnn directories. In my case one was called COMPMSG.INI, and inside there's a line with "appname = blah blah". Grep won't work on these files because they are Unicode (what a joke - Unicode on an operating system that can't tell the difference between upper and lower case file names !!), but I copied all of them across to my Gentoo desktop, used iconv to convert to ASCII, then used grep to list the appname line.

Then, it turns out that all you have to "rm -rf" all the COMPnn installer directories you *don't* want to run, and then reboot back into the Windoze install rebootathon. I only needed 7 installers out of the 67 COMPnnn directories, it took half an hour less to complete the install, and I don't have to unistall a whole heap of crap that might leave cruft around anyway.

Posted in the hope that it might be useful to other poor sods who have to use Windoze..


Rob Diamond
Gentoo Hack, hack, hacker
Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

alternate and more practical solution is to change job to one that doesn't force you to use m$$. That way you save yourself the trouble of dual-booting.

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