Monday, June 30, 2008

Windows Vista Kind of "Documents and Settings" Is Gone

I liked Windows 2000's improvements over NT 4.0, but I really found one thing annoying about it: the Documents and Settings folder. I do a lot of command-line work, you see, and folder names with spaces are a pain in the neck. You've got to put quotes around them, and even if you do, some programs get a bit stupid when handed a folder name with spaces in it.

NT originally stored user profiles in winnt\profiles, but Microsoft decided to move the profiles out of the OS's directory (which probably made sense) into a separate location. That, again, was a good idea; calling it “Document and Settings”, in contrast, was a bad one. (Not as dumb as making people learn goofy phrases like HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE to understand the Registry, but dumb enough.) Vista changes that, creating a folder to store local profiles called \Users. You've just gotta love it: no spaces, short and sweet.

But we've been living with Documents and Settings for six and some years, so Microsoft knows that there will be some application out there that doesn't follow the rules, and decides to write some data to c:\documents and settings\ some-users-name \ some-folder-name instead of just asking the operating system where that user's profile folder is. To combat that, Microsoft creates a Documents and Settings folder on the drive, but hides it. Then they take things a step further and set its NTFS permissions to-you'll love this-deny the Everyone group read access to Documents and Settings. The result? Any application that tries to create data in Documents and Settings, rather than just asking the OS where to put the profile information, will fail.

Vista, however, does make working with folders and file names with spaces in them easier. Whenever you're using a command-line tool that requires a file or folder name, you can just type as much or as little as you like of the folder or file name that you want to specify, then press the Tab key. It auto-completes the file or folder name. Thus, to change my directory to C:\Documents and Settings, I just type cd d and then press Tab, and instantly the command becomes cd ‘c:\documents and settings.’ If there is more than one directory starting with a "D" and it chose the wrong one, I'd just press Tab again and it'll cycle through the possibilities. It even puts the quotes around the name if there's a space in the name. (This feature existed in 2000, XP, and 2003 but was not enabled by default.)

Source of Information : Sybex Administering Windows Vista Security: The Big Surprises

No comments: