Guide To Windows NT 4.0 Profiles and Policies (Part 4 of 6)

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Summary

This article is the fourth in a series of articles that provides information and procedures for implementing Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Profiles and Policies on client workstations and servers.

A whitepaper is available that contains all of this information and additional flowcharts, diagrams and examples and can be downloaded from the following web page:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/archive/winntas/maintain/prof_pol.mspx
For the other sections of this guide, please see the following article(s) in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
161334 Guide to Windows NT 4.0 Profiles & Policies Part 1 of 6
185587 Guide to Windows NT 4.0 Profiles & Policies Part 2 of 6
185588 Guide to Windows NT 4.0 Profiles & Policies Part 3 of 6
185591 Guide to Windows NT 4.0 Profiles & Policies Part 6 of 6

More information

                   Windows NT Server Operating System
                             White Paper
         Guide to Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Profiles and Policies

Copyright 1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The information contained in this document represents the current view of
Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of
publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions,
it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft,
and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented
after the date of publication.

This White Paper is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO
WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS DOCUMENT.

Microsoft, the BackOffice logo, MS-DOS, Windows, and Windows NT are
registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

Other product or company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of
their respective owners.

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
USA
0997

SYSTEM POLICY - AN INTRODUCTION
===============================

A System Policy is a set of registry settings that defines the computer
resources available to an individual or to a group of users. Policies
define the various facets of the desktop environment that a system
administrator needs to control, such as which applications are available,
which applications appear on the user's desktop, which applications and
options appear in the Start menu, who can change their desktops and who
cannot, and so forth. System policies can be implemented for specific
users, groups, computers, or for all users. You create system policies with
the System Policy Editor.

The System Policy Editor is a graphical tool provided with Windows NT
Server 4.0 that allows you to easily update the registry settings to
generate the correct environment for a particular user or group of users.
The System Policy Editor creates a file that contains registry settings
which are then written to the user or local machine portion of the registry
database. User Profile settings that are specific to a user who logs on to
a given workstation or server, are written to the registry under
HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Likewise, machine-specific settings are written under
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.

When you apply a System Policy, the new policy overwrites the existing
registry settings, thus giving you, as system administrator, the ability to
set restrictions for the client machine and user. When a user logs on to a
Windows NT 4.0 computer, the user's profile is loaded first and then the
System Policy is downloaded. Any registry settings that you have
reconfigured, whether these are machine-specific changes or are specific to
the user logging on, are changed before the user receives control of the
desktop. Note that System Policy changes are not dynamic; if you make a
change to the policy, affected users must log off and log back on so that
the new policy can be downloaded and applied.

With a properly implemented policy, you can customize the user's
environment to your specifications, despite the user's preferences and
regardless of where he or she logs on. The settings available in the System
Policy Editor provide a variety of options for managing the user
environment. For a detailed list of these options, see the section
"Registry Keys Modified by the System Policy Editor Default Templates."

System Policy Files
-------------------

Policies can define a specific user's settings or the settings for a group
of users. The resulting policy file contains the registry settings for all
users, groups, and computers that will be using the policy file. Separate
policy files for each user, group, or computer are not necessary.

If you create a policy that will be automatically downloaded from
validating domain controllers, you should name the file Ntconfig.pol. As
system administrator, you have the option of renaming the policy file and,
by modifying the Windows NT-based workstation, directing the computer to
update the policy from a manual path. You can do this by either manually
changing the registry or by using System Policy. This path can even be a
local path such that each machine has its own policy file, but if a change
is necessary to all machines, this change must be made individually to each
workstation.

When a user of a Windows NT 4.0-based workstation logs on, if the
Windows NT 4.0-based machine is working in Automatic mode (which is the
default), the workstation checks the NETLOGON share on the validating
domain controller (DC) for the Ntconfig.pol file. If the workstation finds
the file, it downloads it, parses it for the user, group, and computer
policy data, and applies it if appropriate. If a user logs on to a machine
that has a computer account in a resource domain, the search for the
Ntconfig.pol file is redirected to the validating domain controller in the
account domain. In this situation, the Windows NT 4.0-based workstation has
a secure communication channel established to a domain controller of the
resource domain. The Windows NT-based workstation sends the user's logon
request over this communication channel, and expects a response the same
way. The domain controller in the resource domain receives this request,
forwards it to a domain controller in the user's account domain, and waits
for a response. Once the domain controller in the resource domain receives
this response from the account domain's DC, it returns the authentication
request to the client machine, including the validating domain controller's
name from the account domain. The Windows NT-based workstation now knows
where to look for the Ntconfig.pol file.

Policy Replication
------------------

If you implement a System Policy file for Windows NT users and computers
and you intend to use the default behavior of Windows NT, be sure that
directory replication is occurring properly among all domain controllers
that participate in user authentication. With Windows NT, the default
behavior is for the computer to check for a policy file in the NETLOGON
share of the validating domain controller. If directory replication to a
domain controller fails and a Windows NT-based workstation does not find a
policy file on that server, no policy will be applied and the existing
settings will remain, possibly leaving the user with a nonstandard
environment or more capabilities than you want that particular user to
have.

How Policies Are Applied
------------------------

Once located, policies are applied as follows:

 - If the policy file includes settings for the specific user account,
   those are applied to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry key. Other group
   settings are discarded, even if the user is a member of the group,
   because the user settings take precedence.

 - If a user-specific policy is not present, and Default User settings
   exist, the Default User settings are applied to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER
   registry key.

 - If no user specific settings are present, and group settings exist, the
   user's group membership in each of those groups is checked. If the user
   is a member of one or more groups, the settings from each of the groups-
   starting with the lowest priority and continuing through the highest
   priority-are applied to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER key in the registry.

   NOTE: If a setting is ignored (gray) in the group settings, but the same
   setting is marked as enabled or disabled in the Default User settings,
   the Default User setting are used. The Default User settings take
   precedence over only those settings that are ignored in the group
   settings.

 - If the policy file includes settings for the specific computer name,
   these are applied to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE registry key. Otherwise, the
   Default Computer settings are applied. This process is independent of
   the user account for the user who is currently logged on. All users
   receive these settings when they use this computer.

NOTES:
 - Group policies do not operate in a NetWare only environment, because
   Windows NT checks for Windows NT global groups only, not NetWare groups.
 - If an administrator logs on, a policy is in effect, no explicit settings
   exist for the administrative account, and the Default User settings are
   present, the administrator will receive the settings of the Default
   User. Administrative accounts are not exempt from policies. This should
   be a key factor to consider when implementing policies.

The System Policy Editor provides a hierarchical Group Priority dialog that
helps you see and manage the order in which group policies are applied. The
next illustration shows the dialog and explains these priorities.  <image
present in whitepaper>

Additional Implementation Considerations
----------------------------------------

Although a properly implemented policy can simplify system administration
in the long term, such policy requires careful planning. Before you
implement system policies, consider the following:

 - Would administration be simplified by defining group settings rather
   than creating settings for individual users?

 - Where are the computers located in your network? Is geographic location
   an important aspect of your network's design-for example, is your
   network distributed over a large geographic area? If so, computers from
   a certain locale may benefit from retrieving policy files from a machine
   that is close at hand, as opposed to using a domain controller that may
   not be nearby.

 - What type of restrictions do you want to impose on users?

 - Will users be allowed to access locally installed common group
   applications, or will these be overridden by administrator-defined
   program groups, desktop icons, Start menu programs, and so forth?

 - What other options are available if you simply want to restrict access
   to a specific icon or file? Would modifying NTFS permissions be more
   effective?

 - Will you be controlling computer-specific settings only, and not user
   settings?

If after considering these issues, you conclude that System Policies will
simplify administration of your system, use the System Policy Editor to
create the appropriate individual and/or group policies, as explained in
the next section.

THE SYSTEM POLICY EDITOR
========================

The System Policy Editor is a graphical tool that allows you to easily
update the registry settings to implement a System Policy. The System
Policy Editor is included with Windows NT Server 4.0, but you can install
it on Windows NT Workstation-based machines and on Windows 95-based
machines as well.

Note that a policy file is valid only for the platform on which it was
created. For example, if you run Poledit.exe on a Windows 95-based machine,
and you save the policy file, the file will be written in a format that can
be interpreted by Windows 95-based machines only. The same is true when you

create policy files on Windows NT-based machines. As a result, Windows 95
and Windows NT policy files are not interchangeable.

After you complete the installation, the administrative tools group
includes the System Policy Editor.

Installing the System Policy Editor on a Windows NT Workstation
---------------------------------------------------------------

You have two options when installing the System Policy Editor on a
Windows NT Workstation-based computer. You can

 - Run the Setup.bat file from the Windows NT 4.0 CD-ROM
   \Clients\Svrtools\Winnt directory, or

 - Copy the System Policy Editor executable, Poledit.exe, and template
   files to the workstation. The template files have an .adm extension, and
   are located in the %systemroot%\INF directory, which is hidden by
   default.

Installing the System Policy Editor on a Windows 95 Computer
------------------------------------------------------------

When you install the System Policy Editor on a Windows 95-based computer,
the installation process modifies the Windows 95 registry to allow system
policies to function correctly. You can install the policy editor from the
Windows 95 Upgrade or Retail compact disc, or you can install the editor
that ships with Windows NT Server 4.0.

To install the System Policy Editor from the Windows 95 compact disc:

1. Insert the Windows 95 Upgrade compact disc in your CD-ROM drive.

2. Open Control Panel, and click Add/Remove Programs.

3. Click the Windows Setup tab, and select Have Disk.

4. Browse to locate the directory x:\Admin\Apptools\Poledit\ (where x is
   drive A through Z) on the Windows 95 compact disc.

5. Select both Group Policies and the System Policy Editor, and then click
   OK to Install.

It is important that you run the setup program as described above.
Undesirable results will occur if you merely copy the Policy Editor and
related files to the Windows 95-based computer.

To install the System Policy Editor from a Windows NT 4.0 Server
----------------------------------------------------------------

1. Copy the Poledit.exe file from the Windows NT Server 4.0 to the \windows
   directory of the Windows 95-based machine.

2. Copy the Common.adm and Windows.adm files from the Windows NT 4.0-based
   server to the \windows directory of the Windows 95-based machine.

3. Create a shortcut to the System Policy Editor executable (Poledit.exe,
   located in the \windows directory of the Windows 95-based computer).

Updating the Registry with the System Policy Editor
---------------------------------------------------

The System Policy Editor allows you to easily update the registry settings
to generate the correct environment for a particular user or group of
users. You can use the System Policy Editor in two ways:

 - You can open the local registry through the System Policy Editor, and
   change the settings for the local user and computer.

 - You can modify an existing policy file or create a new one to contain
   the settings that you want to enforce on a per user, per computer, or
   combined user/computer basis.

When you open the System Policy Editor in registry mode, you can modify the
registry of the local computer without having to use Regedt32.exe or
Regedit.exe. However, you can modify only those values exposed by the
templates; the System Policy Editor does not give you access to the entire
registry.

SYSTEM POLICY EDITOR TEMPLATE (.ADM) FILES
==========================================

The System Policy Editor uses administrative (.adm) files to determine
which registry settings can be modified. An .adm file is a hierarchical
template, and consists of categories and subcategories that dictate which
settings are available through the user interface. An .adm file contains
the registry locations where changes should be made for a particular
selection, additional options for a particular selection, restrictions, and
in some cases, the default value for a selection.

When you run the System Policy Editor and select Policy Template from the
Options menu, a window similar to the one shown below appears. This window
displays the names of the .adm files that are currently being used. If you
need to make changes to custom applications, for example, you can add a
template to this list. To ensure that the system uses the latest
administrative information, the System Policy Editor reads the custom .adm
files each time it starts.

For detailed instructions when creating .adm files, see the section
"Creating Your Own Custom .Adm File," later in this document.

NOTE: The option to Add or Remove will be grayed out if there is a policy
file currently open. Close the file in use and then change the template
configuration.

CONFIGURING POLICY SETTINGS
===========================

The configuration options available to you fall into a tree structure,
which is determined by the layout of the .adm file. By navigating through
these options, you can select a mode that determines the action that will
be taken when the policy file is applied.

Policies are applied as follows:

 - If the box is checked, it is implemented. When the user next logs on,
   the user's computer conforms to the policy. If the option was checked
   the last time the user logged on, Windows NT makes no changes.

 - If the box is cleared, the policy is not implemented, and if the
   settings were previously implemented, they are removed from the
   registry.

 - If the box is grayed, the setting is ignored and unchanged from the last
   time the user logged on. Windows NT does not modify this setting. The
   grayed state ensures that Windows NT provides quick processing at system
   startup because it does not need to process each entry every time a user
   logs on.

NOTE: When you decide whether the value should be checked or cleared, be
careful of the terminology of the setting or unexpected results may occur.
For example, the Don't save settings at exit option, when checked, does not
allow settings to be saved. If you clear the checkbox, the settings can be
saved.

When you select an option, the pane below it contains other configurable
items that relate to the setting you modified, as well as information about
the option you selected.

When administering System Policies, if you specify paths for particular
options such as wallpaper, ensure that the paths are consistent across all
workstations that will receive the policy file.

SETTING FOLDER PATHS BACK TO DEFAULTS
=====================================

If you create a policy file and then change the path to any of the custom
shared folders or custom user-specific folders, the change overrides the
default setting established in the .adm file. For example, by default a
user's program folder path is %USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs.

If the policy file is not modified from the default, this value is not
changed for the client computer. However, you can modify this value to
point to a server location that contains different shortcuts. To do this,
click the option in the System Policy Editor, and specify the path to the
folder containing the shortcuts. Once this change is applied, the user will
receive the new shortcuts.

Suppose, however, that you want to restore the user's environment to the
state it was in before the change was made. To do this, follow the
procedure described next.

To restore the defaults:

1. Open the policy file, and click the option to clear the check box.

2. Save and close the policy file.

3. Reopen the policy file, and click the option to re-enable it. The
   original setting should be displayed, pointing to the user's local
   machine.

NOTE: Be sure to complete all steps; completing Steps 1 and 2 only results
in an empty Programs folder on the client machine.

CREATING A SYSTEM POLICY
========================

Before you create a System Policy, decide which settings will be enforced
and how the settings will be grouped.

To create a new System Policy:

1. On a Windows NT Server-based machine in the domain where the policy file
   will apply, open the System Policy Editor. From the Start menu, click
   Programs, then click Administrative Tools (Common), then click System
   Policy Editor.

2. From the File menu, click New Policy.

3. The Default Computer and Default User icons will be displayed. Click the
   user, computer, or group to be modified.

   NOTE: If you need to add a user, group, or computer, you can copy and
   paste the settings without having to manually go through each of the
   entries and make selections. For example, if you have made modifications
   to User1 and want to create a similar profile for another user (User2),
   select User1, then from the Edit menu, click Copy. Select User2, then
   from the Edit menu, click Paste. Make any changes specific to User2 and
   save your changes. You will be prompted to verify your changes, and then
   the settings will be applied. When you add users or computers to the
   policy file, they automatically assume the properties of the icons
   Default User or Default Computer respectively.

4. Make changes to the options desired. For more information on each
   option, see the portion of this guide titled "Registry Keys Modified by
   the System Policy Editor Default Templates."

5. From the File menu, click Save As and save the policy file with the
   appropriate name:

    - If workstations will be set to Automatic mode, use the file name
      NTconfig.pol.
    - If workstations will be set to Manual mode, use the name of your
      choice.

6. If workstations will be set to Automatic mode, place the file in the
   NETLOGON share of each of the domain controllers that will be performing
   authentication. To simplify this process, you can use directory
   replication from Windows NT to replicate the file to the other domain
   controllers. If you use replication and later make changes to the file,
   the modified file will be duplicated across validating machines
   automatically.

   Windows NT-based workstations, by default, are set to download the
   policy file in Automatic mode. If you modify the setting to specify
   manual update and to point to a specific machine, you must inform the
   workstation about this location change. There are two ways to do this:

    - Place the policy file in the location specified for manual updates,
      but maintain a policy file in the NETLOGON share that points to the
      manual path. Then, leave the Windows NT-based workstation in the
      default Automatic mode. When the policy file is first downloaded this
      change will be made, and at next logon and every logon thereafter,
      Windows NT will go to the new location for policy file updates.
    - Visit each Windows NT-based workstation either remotely or locally
      and make the required registry change to point to the new location.
      (Depending on the number of workstations affected, this could be very
      time consuming.)

7. Log on to the Windows NT-based workstation to download and enact the
   policy.

Creating Alternate Folder Paths
-------------------------------

You may need to create shared folders for groups of users who need a common
set of tools and shortcuts. Windows NT 4.0 System Policies allows you to
create such shared folders.

To create shared folders and alternate folder paths:

1. On a specific server, create a folder that contains shortcuts to network
   applications or to locally installed programs. If you are creating
   application shortcuts that will point to local paths on Windows NT
   machines, refer to the section "Setting Up Shortcuts for Server-based
   Profiles."

2. Share the folder.

3. Using the System Policy Editor, under computername or Default Computer,
   select the option Custom Shared Folders, then select Custom Shared
   Program Folder.

4. Enable this option. By default the local All Users folder for the
   workstation will be used, but you can replace the path to point to the
   folder that you created in Step 1 and 2.


5. Save the policy file. When the user logs on, the policy file will be
   parsed for this information and will replace the common groups from the
   local machine with the shortcuts, applications, and so forth, from the
   folder that you created earlier.

NOTE: This can be done per user for personal program groups and can also be
done for other folder settings such as the startup group, Start menu, and
desktop icons.

SETTING UP SHORTCUTS FOR SERVER-BASED PROFILES
==============================================

You may notice that shortcuts created on any computer automatically embed a
universal naming convention (UNC) path for the .lnk file, such as
\\machine\admin$.

This embedded UNC in the link can be a problem when it is copied to a
server and used in a server-based profile. By default, such links are
resolved to the original location of the file (the absolute path) before
any other path is used (these other paths are referred to as secondary or
relative paths). In this case, the UNC path to the original file is always
reachable, which prevents the link from being resolved via a local path. As
a result, the user trying to execute the shortcut will be asked for the
administrator's password for the computer on which the link was created.

This problem was corrected in the latest Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 U.S.
Service Pack. After you install the service pack, you can work around the
problem by modifying the registry as explained next.

To resolve links correctly:

1. Open Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).

2. Go to the following key:

      HKEY_Current_User\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies
      \Explorer

3. Add the following DWORD value by clicking Edit, New, DWORD value:

      LinkResolveIgnoreLinkInfo

4. Once entered, double-click this value and set the Value data to 1.

DEPLOYING POLICIES FOR WINDOWS NT 4.0 MACHINES
==============================================

By default, a Windows NT 4.0-based workstation checks the NETLOGON share of
the validating domain controller for the user's logon domain. It is
therefore critically important that replication of the Ntconfig.pol file
take place among the domain controllers performing authentication. If a
Windows NT 4.0-based workstation does not locate the policy file on its
validating domain controller, it will not check any others.

You have another option when enforcing policies. The UpdateMode registry
setting, configurable through the System Policy Editor, forces the computer
to retrieve the policy file from a specific location (expressed as a UNC
path), regardless of the user who logs on.

To retrieve the policy file from a specific location:

1. Open either the specific machine policy or the Default Computer policy,
   and navigate through the Network category and System policies update
   subcategory to reach the Remote update option.

2. Check the Remote update box.

3. In the Update mode box, select Manual (use specific path).

4. In the Path for manual update box, type the UNC path and file name for
   the policy file.

5. Click OK to save your changes.

The first time the workstation is modified locally via the System Policy
Editor or receives a default System Policy file from the NETLOGON share of
a domain controller, this location is written to the registry. Thereafter,
all future policy updates use the location you specified manually. This is
a permanent change until the policy file resets the option to Automatic.
The Windows NT 4.0-based computer will never again look at a domain
controller to find a policy file until you either change the instruction in
the local registry or modify the policy file in the location specified by
the manual path to set the mode back to Automatic.

DEPLOYING POLICIES FOR WINDOWS 95 MACHINES
==========================================

When creating a system policy file for a Windows 95-based client, you must
first install the System Policy Editor on a Windows 95-based computer so
that you can create the policy (.pol) file. You cannot run the System
Policy Editor on a Windows NT 4.0-based server to generate a .pol file for
Windows 95-based clients because a policy file is valid only for the
platform on which it was created. For procedures when installing the System
Policy Editor on a Windows 95-based computer, refer to the section
"Installing the System Policy Editor on a Windows 95 Computer" earlier in
this document.

After you have created the .pol file, you can enable a Windows 95-based
computer to look for and accept system policies as is described below.

To deploy policies for a Windows 95-based computer:

1. Open the Control Panel, and click Passwords and then User Profiles.

2. To enable User Profiles, select Users can customize and then click OK.

3. Check the UpdateMode value in the following registry location:

      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Update

   If this value is 0, policies will not be applied. If this value is 1,
   the Automatic Policy mode is in effect and when the user is validated on
   the domain, the validating domain controller's NETLOGON share will be
   checked for the existence of the Config.pol file. If this value is 2,
   the Manual Policy mode is in effect, and when the user is validated on
   the domain, the Windows 95-based machine will check the path specified
   in the value NetworkPath for the existence of the Config.pol file. Note
   that the default mode for a Windows 95-based machine is Automatic.

4. Restart the computer and have the user log on. The policy file will be
   downloaded from the configured location and applied.

MODIFYING POLICY SETTINGS ON STAND-ALONE WORKSTATIONS
=====================================================

If you need to modify settings of a Windows NT 4.0-based workstation user
who is not a member of the domain and thus will not be able to use the
policy file located on the domain, you have three options available to you:

 - You can create a policy file for stand-alone workstations where users

   log on locally, or

 - You can change policy settings remotely, or

 - You can change policy settings locally.

Procedures for each option are described next. Note that you must have
administrator rights to the stand-alone workstations in question.

To Create a Policy File for Stand-alone Workstations
----------------------------------------------------

1. Log on as administrator, and create a policy file that includes Computer
   and User objects with appropriate settings for the computer and users
   respectively. The user objects may include the Default User or user
   accounts from the local workstation, but global group objects will be
   ignored if added to the policy file. Windows NT recognizes machine-
   specific policy settings for the computer if those are specified in the
   policy file.

2. Place the policy file in a secure directory on the stand-alone computer
   or on a network share to which the user has at least Read permissions.

3. In the workstation registry, locate the UpdateMode value in the
   following key:

      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Update

4. Update the data to a hex value of 2.

5. In the same registry subkey, modify the NetworkPath value with the local
   or UNC path where the policy file resides. If this path does not exist,
   add it as a data type of REG_SZ. For example, if the policy file is
   named Ntconfig.pol and is placed in the root directory of Windows NT,
   NetworkPath should contain the path c:\Winnt\Ntconfig.pol.

6. Have the user log on to the workstation. Windows NT will read the policy
   file specified by NetworkPath and then apply the appropriate policy to
   the computer or to the user.

NOTE: UNC paths may be used in the NetworkPath value. This is beneficial to
those administrators who want to centralize the policy file in use.

The ability of Windows NT to take advantage of and apply System Policies to
local workstation users is not operable in Service Pack 3, but will be
available in Service Pack 4 and future service packs. This does not affect
the retail build of Windows NT 4.0 and Service Packs 1 and 2, where this
feature is operable.

To Change Policy Settings Remotely
----------------------------------

1. Log on as administrator, open the System Policy Editor, and from the
   File menu, select Connect.

2. Type the computer name of the workstation to be modified, and click
   Enter. A dialog will appear displaying the user name of the currently
   logged on user for whom the changes will apply. If the user is not
   currently logged on, click Cancel. (The user must be logged on for the
   changes to take effect.)

3. If the user is logged on, click OK.

4. The icons Local Computer and Local User will be displayed.

5. Modify these just as you would modify a normal policy file. Save your
   changes. The next time the user logs on, the changes made to the
   computer and the user settings will be in effect on the remote machine.

To Change Policy Settings Locally
---------------------------------

1. Log on as an administrator, and copy the Poledit.exe, Common.adm, and
   Winnt.adm files to the Windows NT-based workstation where the changes
   for the computer or user need to be made.

2. Log on with administrative permissions as the user for whom the
   modifications will apply.

3. Open Poledit.exe and load the templates that were copied to the local
   computer.

4. From the File menu, select Open Registry.

5. The icons Local Computer and Local User will be displayed.

6. Modify these just as you would modify a normal policy file. Save your
   changes. The next time the user logs on, these changes will be in
   effect.

7. Close the System Policy Editor and remove this tool from the workstation
   by deleting the Poledit.exe file and any .adm files used.

These changes modify the registry entries that control the behavior of
Windows NT on the target computer. A policy file is not created when this
procedure is used. This procedure is the same for Windows NT Workstation
4.0 and Windows NT Server 4.0.

CREATING A CUSTOM .ADM FILE
===========================

The content of this section is also documented in the Windows 95 Resource
Kit and the Windows 32-bit Software Developer's Kit, which are available on
the Microsoft Developer's Network or through Microsoft Sales.

This section refers extensively to the following .adm files:

 - Common.adm-This contains registry settings common to both Windows NT 4.0
   and Windows 95.

 - Winnt.adm-This contains registry settings specific to Windows NT 4.0.

 - Windows.adm-This contains registry settings specific to Windows 95.

To Create A Custom .Adm File
----------------------------

1. Create a backup copy of the Winnt.adm file in the %systemroot%\ Inf
   directory.

2. Use a text editor to open the Winnt.adm file. The first entry of this
   file is CLASS xxxx, where xxxx could be either:

    - MACHINE = This section includes all entries available in the Local
      Computer/DefaultComputer icon.

    - USER = This section includes all entries available to modify user-
      specific settings.

   These are the only two classes that are valid within the System Policy
   Editor. The System Policy Editor checks the syntax of each .adm file
   when the files are loaded, and displays a message if any errors are
   found.

3. Choose the CLASS in which you want your custom entries to appear.

4. Create categories by using the keyword CATEGORY followed by a space and
   !!variable. The System Policy Editor requires that anything preceded by
   !! must have a string defined in the [strings] section of the .adm file.
   This allows the editor to use variables to define long strings of text
   that will appear in the user interface a single time, even if these
   strings are used in multiple locations in the .adm file. For example, to
   open a category you would use:

      CATEGORY !!MyNewCategory

   To close the category after filling in the options, you would use:

      END CATEGORY      ; MyNewCategory

   These can be nested to create sub-categories as follows:

      CATEGORY !!FirstCategory
      CATEGORY !!SecondCategory
      CATEGORY !!ThirdCategory
      ...
      ...
      END CATEGORY ; ThirdCategory
      END CATEGORY   ; SecondCategory
      END CATEGORY      ; FirstCategory

   Be sure to specify the text for the variables you used above. In this
   case, in the [strings] section of the .adm file, you would need to
   include:

      FirstCategory="My First Category"
      SecondCategory="My Second Category"
      ThirdCategory="My Third Category"

5. Within each category, define the registry key that will be modified. To
   do this, use the keyword KEYNAME followed by the registry path to the
   key that contains the value you want to change. Note that due to the
   CLASS you are in, you do not need to specify HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE or
   HKEY_CURRENT_USER. For example, you can use:

      KEYNAME System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanManServer\Parameters

6. Identify the policy that specifies which options the user can modify.
   Use the keyword POLICY for this, followed by !!variable. For example:

      POLICY !!MyFirstPolicy

   Be sure to define MyFirstPolicy in the [strings] section of the .adm
   file. Complete the policy specifics, and finish with an END POLICY
   statement.

7. Define the options available within the policy. ?Use the keyword
   VALUENAME to identify the registry value that an administrator can
   modify. For example:

      VALUENAME MyFirstValue

   Remember that the VALUENAME needs to be within a PART if the option is
   selected within the lower pane of the System Policy Editor (see the
   discussion of PART and the code example below).

   If not specified otherwise, the value will be written in the following
   format when any administratory checks or unchecks the option:

      Checked: REG_DWORD with a value of 1
      Unchecked: Removes the value completely

   Other options can specify what the user selects from and what gets
   written to the registry.

    - Use the keyword PART to specify options, drop-down list boxes, text
      boxes, and text in the lower pane of the System Policy Editor. PART
      is similar to CATEGORY, and uses the syntax:

         PART !!MyVariable FLAG
         ...
         END PART

      where FLAG is one or more of the following:

    - TEXT  -Displays text only, for example:

      PART !!MyPolicy TEXT
      END PART

    - NUMERIC  -Writes the value to the registry with data type REG_DWORD,
      for example:

         PART !!MyPolicy NUMERIC
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

    - DROPDOWNLIST   -Displays a list box of options to choose from, for
      example:

         PART !!MyPolicy DROPDOWNLIST
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         ITEMLIST
         NAME "First" VALUE NUMERIC 1
         NAME "Second" VALUE NUMERIC 2
         NAME "Third" VALUE NUMERIC 3
         NAME "Fourth" VALUE NUMERIC 4
         END ITEMLIST
         END PART

    - EDITTEXT -Writes the value to the registry with data type REG_SZ, for
      example:

         PART !!MyPolicy EDITTEXT
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

    - REQUIRED -Generates an error if the user does not enter a value, for
      example:

         PART !!MyPolicy EDITTEXT REQUIRED
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

    - EXPANDABLETEXT-Writes the value to the registry with data type
      REG_EXPAND_SZ, for example:

         PART !!MyPolicy EDITTEXT EXPANDABLETEXT
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

    - MAXLEN   -Specifies the maximum length of text, for example:

         PART !!MyPolicy EDITTEXT
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         MAXLEN 4
         END PART

    - DEFAULT  -Specifies the default value for text or numeric data, for
      example:

         PART !!MyPolicy EDITTEXT
         DEFAULT !!MySampleText
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

      or

         PART !!MyPolicy NUMERIC
         DEFAULT 5
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

    - MIN and MAX -These specify the lowest and highest valid values
      respectively, for example:

         PART !!MyPolicy NUMERIC
         MIN 100 MAX 999 DEFAULT 55
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         END PART

    - Use the keywords VALUEOFF and VALUEON to write specific values based
      on the state of the option, for example:

         POLICY !!MyPolicy
         KEYNAME ....
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         VALUEON "Turned On" VALUEOFF "Turned Off"
         END POLICY

      or

         POLICY !!MyPolicy
         KEYNAME ....
         VALUENAME ValueToBeChanged
         VALUEON 5 VALUEOFF 10
         END POLICY

8. Save and test your file.

Note that if you modify an .adm file while the System Policy Editor
application is running, you will need to reload the file. From the Options
menu, select Policy Template, and press OK. This reloads the structure, and
your new entries will be available. (You do not need to perform this step
if you modify a file before starting the System Policy Editor; the reload
is done automatically each time the System Policy Editor starts.)

CONFIGURING SYSTEM POLICIES BASED ON GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
========================================================

You may choose to enforce certain environment settings based upon
geographic site location or vicinity. At least two methods are available to
do this.

 - Generate a System Policy that contains settings for specific computers.
   In each of the machine-specific settings, configure the Remote Update
   path to a specific regional server that will be maintaining the regional
   System Policy file. When the user logs on at the Windows NT-based
   workstation for the first time, because the default mode is Automatic,
   the workstation will check the validating domain controller for a policy
   file. The policy file it finds will point the policy update
   configuration to another server. Note, however, that this does not work
   for the first logon. When the user next logs on, Windows NT checks the
   remote path and continues to use that path until the System Policy file
   on the remote server directs otherwise.

 - Manually configure each of the workstations in a given region or site to
   use a remote update path, and change the remote update mode from the
   default of Automatic to Manual.

CLEARING THE DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE LIST
=====================================

As an alternative to removing the Documents option from the Start menu, you
can set and clear the documents available by clearing the MRUList value in
the registry. Use this registry key:

   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
   \Explorer\RecentDocs

   Value: MRUList

Note that you should not delete the value; instead, replace MRUList with a
blank string.

BUILDING FAULT TOLERANCE FOR CUSTOM SHARED FOLDERS
==================================================

If you want to create a user environment that includes a Custom Shared
Programs Folder and a Custom Shared Desktop, you need to place the source
folders for these shared items on a central server for all users to access.
However, this involves some degree of risk if the server is unavailable. If
that occurs, the user's Programs menu and desktop would not contain the
appropriate folders, shortcuts, and files.

To build fault tolerance into this configuration, you can take advantage of
the distributed file system (Dfs) available for the Windows NT Server 4.0
operating system platform. Dfs, which runs as a service, can provide a
share that will refer the client to multiple servers for the same path. For
example, on a Dfs server, the administrator has defined that users
connecting to the UNC path \\Dfsserver\Dfsshare\Customfolder, will be
returned a response with three different servers, \\Server1\Customerfolder,
\\Server2\Customerfolder, and \\Server3\Customerfolder, all of which
contain the same data. The client machine, which can be either a Windows NT-
based 4.0 machine or a Windows 95-based machine with the Dfs client
software, randomly selects one of these servers and uses that path to
generate the custom shared folders for the user. If one of the servers is
unavailable, the client has the other two servers to select from. Note that
the Dfs host server must be running for this fault tolerant structure to
work. (Although Dfs software currently supports a single host server,
Microsoft is developing a fault-tolerant version of Dfs for a future
release of Windows NT.)
				

Properties

Article ID: 185589 - Last Review: October 26, 2013 - Revision: 4.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 95
Keywords: 
kbnosurvey kbarchive kbinfo KB185589

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