New Computer Build Settings

I recently had to build a new Windows XP laptop, and it took me about 2 full days to get it like I wanted it. So I can remember what all the steps are and where all the software came from, I decided to write it all down here for future reference (because I know I'll have to do it again). Maybe it'll be a good reference for you too.

Steps for building my new Windows XP laptop

  1. Install and configure ZoneAlarm firewall software (preferably while disconnected from the network).

  2. Reboot

  3. Load my minimal desktop theme

  4. Desktop Settings:
    1. Show My Computer on desktop
    2. Do NOT run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days
    3. Large icons
    4. Enable and configure ClearType

  5. Start Menu:
    1. Display Control Panel as menu
    2. Show Administrative Tools in All Programs
    3. No personalized menus
    4. Do NOT highlight newly installed programs

  6. Taskbar:
    1. Show Quick Launch toolbar
    2. Show the clock
    3. Unlock the Taskbar, drag it up to make it 2 lines high, and drag Quick Launch toolbar down to the bottom line

  7. Folder Options:
    1. Display full path
    2. Show hidden files
    3. Do NOT hide extensions or system files
    4. Show encrypted/compressed folders in color

  8. Internet Explorer options:
    1. Temporary Internet Files = 100 MB
    2. Enable script debugging and display notifications about script errors
    3. DISable "friendly" HTTP error messages
    4. DISable annoying warnings about submitting forms and changing between secure and non-secure sites
    5. Use Passive FTP
    6. Use HTTP 1.1 through proxy connections
    7. DISable IE checking to see if it's the default browser

  9. Laptop Power Settings:
    1. Home/Office Desk profile
    2. Enable hibernation
    3. Hibernate when lid is closed
    4. Never automatically hibernate or standby when the computer is plugged in

  10. Command Prompt Settings:
    1. Lucida Console 14pt font
    2. Screen buffer height to 500 lines
    3. Text color = bright green (#00FF00)

  11. Disable Services:
    1. Indexer
    2. UPnP
    3. Messenger
    4. SSDP

  12. Set fixed pagefile size (2x RAM), with no growth to prevent pagefile fragmentation

  13. Reboot

  14. Download and apply Windows updates, preferably while watching a movie

  15. Reboot (potentially several times)

  16. Install Firefox web browser (custom options, include developer tools)
    1. Super DragAndGo extension for dragging links to open them in a new tab
    2. Greasemonkey extension for running handy user scripts
    3. ForecastFox extension so I always know the weather
    4. MeasureIt so I know how big things are
    5. Live HTTP Headers extension for troubleshooting website connectivity
    6. View Formatted Source extension for troubleshooting CSS
    7. View Rendered Source extention for seeing how all the HTML elements are nested together
    8. Shockwave Flash plugin
    9. Quicktime plugin (and iTunes player ;-)

  17. Install Java
    1. JDK 1.3 for backwards testing
    2. Latest JDK/J2SE
    3. Javadocs

  18. Set a system restore point (Start - Programs - Accessories - System Tools - System Restore)

  19. Install small freeware programs:
    1. Andale monospace font (my favorite monospace font, which used to be packaged with IE, but is no longer)
    2. Pstools for doing seriously useful command line things to Windows servers remotely
    3. Crimson Editor for text editing
    4. frhed for quick and dirty hex editing
    5. windiff for comparing two text-based files (hidden in the Windows XP SP2 Tools package from Microsoft, or in various places on the Internet)
    6. UnxUtils for those times when I need to use Unix command line utilities like tar or gzip or grep
    7. TweakUI for adjusting those hard to find Windows settings
    8. Image resizer PowerToy to easily resize big pictures for e-mailing to family
    9. Command Prompt Here for quick access to a DOS Prompt
    10. ISO Recorder PowerToy for creating and burning ISO images
    11. Pixie color picker
    12. Sizer window resizer for seeing what my web pages will look like at 800x600
    13. JCreator for lightweight Java editing and Javadoc browsing
    14. PasswordSafe for keeping up with all of my website logins
    15. Audacity free sound editor
    16. CutePDF printer for easily creating PDF files
    17. Eraser for really secure file deletions (just in case)
    18. PGP Desktop for when I'm feeling extra private
    19. FTP Commander
    20. TightVNC for remote access
    21. PrintScreen
    22. Gmail Notifier
    23. Agent Ransack for quick file searching

  20. Add items to SendTo menu:
    1. Crimson Editor
    2. frhed

  21. Install bigger programs
    1. Microsoft Office (plus all updates)
    2. Lotus Notes
    3. Adobe Acrobat
    4. wamp server for Apache/MySQL/PHP
    5. SQLyog for MySQL admin
    6. MySQL Administrator and Query Tools
    7. MySql ODBC driver
    8. Microsoft SQL Server client & Enterprise Manager (at work)
    9. Oracle client + OO4O (at work)
    10. IBM Client Access (at work)
    11. Visual Studio .NET (at work)
    12. Microsoft Virtual PC (plus service pack)
    13. CD-ROM Burning Software
    14. Photo Editing software
    15. Anti-virus software
    16. Thunderbird
    17. VPN software

  22. Clean up start menu, desktop, system startup, and services

  23. Set a system restore point

  24. Registry hacks:
    1. wireless network tweaks
    2. Faster file uploads

  25. Lotus Notes settings:
    1. Disable NetBIOS and COM port communication (File - Preferences - User Preference - Ports)
    2. Set Workspace as default bookmark (Databases folder on sidebar - right-click Workspace - Set bookmark as home page)
    3. Sign mail that I send (File - Preferences - User Preference - Mail)
    4. Logon to Sametime using SSO (File - Preferences - User Preference - Instant Messaging)
    5. Compress network data for TCP/IP port (File - Preferences - User Preference - Ports)
    6. Do NOT check subscriptions at Startup (File - Preferences - User Preference - Basics)
    7. Expand Names Fields when printing (File - Preferences - User Preference - Basics - Additional Options)
    8. Install NotesPeek
    9. Install DDSearch
    10. Install Teamstudio Class Browser
    11. Install Icodex desktop skins along with my blue skin/theme
    12. Create "Debug LotusScript" toolbar button [ @Command([DebugLotusScript]) ]
    13. Create "Remote Console" toolbar button [ @Command([AdminRemoteConsole]) ]
    14. Create "Edit Any Field" toolbar button [ by Chad "Smiley" Schelfhout ]
    15. Disable automatic display of InfoBox when opening Agents and Views (Notes.ini setting DesignNoInitialInfobox=1)
    16. Change default Designer LotusScript font to 10 point instead of 9
    17. Use Firefox for Notes Internet browser (Location document - Internet Browser)

Sadly, I'm sure that list isn't quite complete (and it's always subject to change). But it's a big start.

You are on the website.