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Langa Letter: The OS Inside The OS

<b>Fred Langa</B> shows how a simple tweak turns XP's low-level Recovery Console into a complete, standalone mini-operating system--in effect, an XP DOS!

Fred Langa

April 27, 2006

3 Min Read

Using SET
After you've applied the tweak above and are back in the Recovery Console at a command prompt, the format for using SET is:

SET [variable] = [TRUE/FALSE]

In other words, you type SET, then a space, then the variable you want to modify, followed by a space, then an equal sign and another space, and then the word "TRUE" if you want to enable the variable, or "FALSE" to disable it.

Here are the options you can choose:

SET AllowAllPaths = TRUE
This allows you to access all directories and subdirectories on a hard drive.

SET AllowRemovableMedia = TRUE
This allows you to access removable media (such as a floppy) as a target for copied files.

SET AllowWildCards = TRUE
This enables wildcard support (e.g. using an asterisk to match any/all files) so you can use commands such as COPY and DEL on whole groups of files and folders.

SET NoCopyPrompt = TRUE
This turns off confirmation when overwriting an existing file, which is useful when copying many files into an already populated folder.

You can SET these variables one by one, in any combination of TRUE and FALSE. (They're all FALSE--disabled--by default.) You can also just type the word SET by itself, with no parameters, to see what the current variable assignments are.

Real-Life Example
Screen 5 shows how simply this works in real life. After our quick, three-step tweak above, the Recovery Console now accepts a "SET AllowAllPaths = TRUE" without complaint.

With the simple, three-step tweak done, the Recovery Console now accepts the SET commands without trouble.

Screen Five
With the simple, three-step tweak done, the Recovery Console now accepts the SET commands without trouble.

(click image for larger view)

And now, as Screen 6 shows, you can change to other directories and folders at will. We have no trouble at all getting to the Documents and Settings folder--no more "access is denied" message. In fact, we can now navigate anywhere we want on the hard drive and use the full range of Recovery Console's commands, as listed above.

Screen Six
Where before we got an "access is denied" message, now we can access Documents and Settings (or any other folder) at will. Recovery Console's restrictions are gone!

(click image for larger view)

Where before we got an

So Microsoft may have left rough edges in the Recovery Console, and its usage instructions may be needlessly convoluted and even contradictory, but now you know the easy, fast way to enable what amounts to a full XP DOS within the Recovery Console, with all the power and flexibility that implies!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page.

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