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Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

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  • Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

    One of the great things about installing a new OS is that it runs lean and mean. There typically aren't a lot of extra services installed and very few things are loading at startup. This leads to faster boot times, more available memory, and faster perceived responsiveness. If you have a rig that is dedicated to gaming it isn't too hard to keep the OS in its pristine state--simply don't install any applications that aren't vital to your gaming experience.

    However, few of us have the luxury of a dedicated gaming rig. More often than not our gaming hardware has to do double or triple duty as our general use system or even our work system. It becomes much more difficult to avoid installing software and services in these cases. For example, I use my rig for software development as well as gaming. I need to have a number of memory hogging software suites installed such as SQL Server, Oracle, IIS, BizTalk, etc. The last thing I want is to slow my boot/shutdown speed or have these applications resident in memory while gaming.

    Luckily there is a fairly easy workaround for this category of problem: virtualization. Virtualization technology allows you to create a virtual PC and install software and services on this virtual rig. This allows me to create a work specific PC with all the software development tools I need and not worry about clogging up my gaming OS. What makes this approach even more attractive is that it is free: Microsoft provides Virtual PC 2007 free to download.

    I would be interested to hear about other approaches to keeping your OS lean and mean.
    Twisted Firestarter
    a.k.a |TG| Harkonian
    sigpic

  • #2
    Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

    nLite ftw. There is a well done XP called TinyXp that I honestly cannot tell as a power user the difference between it and Windows XP Pro SP2 except that its a lot smaller (600mb installed) and much more responsive.

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    • #3
      Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

      clean OS install every 3 months or major driver update for chipset, vidcard or soundcard, whichever comes first.

      I run OS enhancments like windoblinds and some widgets. I disable as many services as I can, and keep a sharp eye on my directorys. I have my 300 gb hd split into 3 partitions. one I use for the OS, one I use for my documents and video editing, and the other I use for shared multimedia storage (dvd files that are shared to the comps around the house.)

      “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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      • #4
        Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

        I don't know if many of you know about the Blackviper guide but I have been using it for several years to tweak y system and check services. He tells what almost every service on your computer is. http://www.blackviper.com/ Check out his xp guide, it is awesome.
        |TG-Irr|Avengingllama
        I used to eat paint chips. Now I just drink the paint because I couldn't find a salsa that went well with the chips and they were dry =)

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        • #5
          Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

          Originally posted by avenging llama View Post
          I don't know if many of you know about the Blackviper guide but I have been using it for several years to tweak y system and check services. He tells what almost every service on your computer is. http://www.blackviper.com/ Check out his xp guide, it is awesome.
          a simmilar site that I find useful is www.theeldergeek.com

          “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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          • #6
            Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

            Originally posted by avenging llama View Post
            I don't know if many of you know about the Blackviper guide but I have been using it for several years to tweak y system and check services. He tells what almost every service on your computer is. http://www.blackviper.com/ Check out his xp guide, it is awesome.
            He scares me.


            Wouldnt creating a second login be quite similar? Aka several logins for different computer uses?

            Gameing
            Video Editing
            Internet Browsing
            ect.
            Oyee

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            • #7
              Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

              Originally posted by Black_V!per View Post
              He scares me.


              Wouldnt creating a second login be quite similar? Aka several logins for different computer uses?
              Unfortunately not, because most programs are installed for "All Users".

              When windows starts there are programs that run per-login, and programs that run for the entire machine. Most run for the entire machine.

              If you want to stop things running at startup (and therefore only run when you ask them to), then the main locations are:
              -The program menu "Startup" folder
              -The startup keys in the registry (at Regedit -> HKLU\Software\Microsoft\windows\current version\run and
              HKLM\Software\Microsoft\windows\current version\run, run once, run services, etc)
              -Under Windows Services (Start -> Run -> Services.msc). Here you can disable lots of unnecessary MS services and any other non-MS services that you don't need. There are lots of references to which are required and which are not, but some you can work out yourself (ie, you don't need the wireless zero configuration, unless you have wireless, funnily enough).

              The only process I run at startup is my AV software. Everything else is from the start menu when I need it. Task manager shows this is the only process other than critical system processes I have running. The machine starts in ~20 seconds, and shuts down in about 10. If you have a system tray which stretches halfway across your screen, you'll be amazed at the difference if you disable all of the extraneous software at startup.

              Run Lavasoft Adaware regularly if you use IE (especially if you like porn ;)), and think about using Firefox. It will help keep your PC running flawlessly. Hijackthis and Spybot are other good ones, but require a little more technical knowledge (hijackthis can remove DNS server addresses and home page settings, and all other kinds of stuff if you're not careful).

              Clean out your temp folders in c:\windows\temp, c:\documents and settings\%username%\local settings\temp. It's safe to delete everything in these folders, but you may find it doesn't all delete if you have lots of programs running in your sys tray.

              Caveat: Like anything else, when you start messing with the services and/or the registry, you are messing with the mechanics of your OS. If you don't know what you're doing, keep out, you may break your machine beyond repair. If you are going to mess with the registry, use regedit to export the keys you are about to mess with, so you can restore them in the event of a problem (Windows restore should be able to do the same thing, but caution is good).

              When I built my machine, installed all of the drivers and had it the way I wanted it, I used Ghost to make an image. The image can be blasted back onto the C: drive in about 30 mins, which will wipe any crap on the machine, then all I have to do is install BFII and PR. I keep all of my email files (.pst's), and the My Documents folder on the D: partition, so I won't lose anything doing this. This saves you doing a clean install every month. All you need is a ghost boot disk and some DVD's to save your image onto (a fresh XP install with all of your drivers and even some apps will be covered by two DVD's usually). The DVD's Ghost creates are bootable. A free alternative is http://www.windowsdream.com/ping/, but my use with it is limited, so I can't vouch for it's reliability.

              Firestarter - I like the idea of using VPC 2007 for your work machine, but I don't do any work on my home machine, so it's no use to me - great idea though. Virtual Machines are so easy to work with/backup/transport.
              7Shades

              How sweet, thought lifeless, yet with life to lie,
              And, without dying, O how sweet to die!
              - from Thomas Warton's "Ode to Sleep"

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              • #8
                Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                any users of nlite? I have never used it but am considering it. just wondering what your experience is. seems a bit daunting.

                “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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                • #9
                  Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                  I use nLite. It rocks. It is real easy to use and there are tons of informative posts on the message board. The best advice I can give you is that if you are not 100% SURE of what you are removing, don't. It will just cause headaches.

                  Just an idea of what it can do:

                  On first boot up of WinXp Pro SP2 with all hotfixes I am using only 56Mb ram and have 11 processes running. I play HL1 and HL2 games and mods at better fps' than before. I have experienced ONE BSOD and that was due to faulty hardware, not the OS. My C:\Windows folder is only 633 MB.

                  I used TinyXP (search demonoid) Rev05 as a base and then further nLite'd it.

                  I also have it automatically install firefox and my network driver and it is unattended so I just pop it in, click install, choose the partition and it is fully up in less than 25 minutes on my slow 5400rpm laptop hard drive.


                  THREE TIPS:
                  Don't remove something if you are not 100% sure about it.
                  Test the nLite'd OS in VMWare before installing as your main.
                  And of course as always backup your files and settings.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                    I was looking at nLite. Interesting. He is also working on a Vista version called vLite. It seems like it would be pretty easy to fiddle with and not worry about screwing things up by creating a restore point before you did anything with it.
                    Twisted Firestarter
                    a.k.a |TG| Harkonian
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                      I usualy just disable services on my own. I know which ones I would remove and am not worried about that part. my problem is with how to incorperate drivers for my nforce 4 mobo and vid card. i have serched through thier forums but have not had alot of luck. I was thinking of posting a question there soon.

                      I will post back here when I have a clue.

                      using vmware is a solid sugestion.

                      “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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                      • #12
                        Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                        ok, you know your a geek when your up at 2 am troublshooting BSOD errors for a virtual machine...

                        thanks for the info in this post. im having too much fun. :)

                        “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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                        • #13
                          Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                          Have any questions just post / pm me. I'd be glad to help.

                          Just not with Vista (horrid operating system eh).

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                          • #14
                            Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                            i have built a few iso's with nlite. but the only one that seems to work right is when I dont remove anything. even removing keyboards from other countries seems to wreck things. what is nice is that i can set up all the registry tweaks I normally use and install hotfixes right off the bat.

                            I just got a copy of ghost 9 from a friend and I think I am going to reinstall the os with just a few basic programs then ghost the hd.

                            as far the vm goes, any way to emulate apple hardware?

                            I am using vmware workstation (registered). I would love to install the apple os disk I have for my imac.

                            right now I have two vms im running. one is to check out the latest kubuntu release and the other is a dup of my machine for testing tweaks out.

                            “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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                            • #15
                              Re: Keeping Your OS Lean & Mean

                              I used to keep my old computer on 24/7, so after picking/choosing services, when I'd boot the few first times I googled all the processes running, and ended the useless ones. Eventually I "memorized" which ones were useful/useless and didn't need to google. I think this greatly increased my comps efficiency, but I can't be sure.
                              "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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