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Windows XP, Games, and Administrator Privileges?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the broken-privilege-requirements dept.

Windows 201

An anonymous reader asks: "I manage my kids' computer, running Windows XP Professional, with an iron fist. They have limited access rights as I do not want them accidentally deleting the wrong file or downloading trojan software. However, software products, particularly games, fight my user management schemes at every turn. Each user on the computer is member of the 'Gamers' group. This group has full access to the games directory, the place I install all of the game software. I did this since games often need to update configuration files or write save files. Despite these changes, I still run into problems. Our latest two games, Age of Mythology and Battlefield 1942, require administrator privileges irrespective of the file privileges. I have not been able to overcome the problem and it seems, based on Googling, that others are in the same boat. Fellow Slashdot readers, what have you done to overcome this problem?"

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Teach them. (3, Insightful)

userloser (707754) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752454)

In the long term teaching them what they should and shouldn't do will prove to be the best option to achieve this.

Re:Teach them. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752617)

Yeah, try to play soccer or something like that with them instead.

Windows... (-1, Troll)

rhs98 (513802) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752457)

I see your first problem

1) Try removing Windows XP

Re:Windows... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752490)

OMG DOOD YR HILARIOUS!

Has this innovative yet witty response ever been posted on slashdot before? I DARE you to find a single instance!

Re:Windows... (1)

wcb4 (75520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754048)

yeah, because they can really play so many FANTASTIC games under linux (and don't give me shit about emulators and the like, if you have to jump through those kind of hoops just to play a game, then windows *IS* the better solution for his needs.)

short answer (5, Informative)

nsebban (513339) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752459)

1- Dual Boot (WinXp for you + Win98SE for your kids)
2- A ghost image of the win98SE partition
3- Let them play
4- Wait for them to say "Dad it doesn't work anymore !"
5- Restore your ghost backup
6- Goto 3

Seems a bit dub, but it works better and it's less a pain than managing XP user rights.

Re:short answer (4, Informative)

Decado (207907) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752791)

Or you could just use the system restore facility that you got free with Windows XP. Install your games, set a system restore point (start->programs->accessories->system tools->system restore) and give full admin access to the kids. Then when they mess anything up go back to your known good restore point. Thats a hell of a lot easier than dual booting and ghosting and you dont need any extra software to do it.

Re:short answer (0, Informative)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753004)

ha, as if system restore ever actually worked. of the thousands of people I know who use winxp on a regular basis system restore has never been anything but a nuisance to anyone. it never works properly when you need it, and it hogs a crapload of space when you dont want it.

Re:short answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7753290)

Yeah it doesn't stop massive wipes. In fact it can make things worse. You would need to pump the system restore space up to 75% to make it effective enough to hold consistent backup images. Realistically the best option is to run a Win98 or Win2k Partition and image it and block their access to the good XP partition. I'm actuallly doing this quite regularly for some of my friend's computers that I'm building, except I 'hide' a win2k partition with all the good drivers and such in a place where if need be I can boot the win2K partition and wipe the XP partition completely if they get it virus ridden enough. I keep the win2k partition small enough to ghost to about 3 or 4 CDs in the event they corrupt the crap out of that too.

Re:short answer (1)

Raghead (167999) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753399)

You actually personally know thousands of people's computing habits?

Re:short answer (-1, Troll)

Domini (103836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752976)

4.5- Did Win98SE take the XP partition with it?

This solution stinks. You have the worst of both worlds here... The unreliability of 98 with the security headached of XP, combined with a healthy dose of rebooting. :(

Rather just get more PCs.

The one good idea is Norton Ghost (or other similar software). With this your re-installation time is cut down from 4 hours to 15 minutes.
(installation + SP1/2 + configuration + drivers taken into account)

Re:short answer (1)

nsebban (513339) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753337)

when it comes to kids playing games, win98SE (SE stands for Second Edition, being more stable) is far enough stable...

Re:short answer (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753679)

4.5- Did Win98SE take the XP partition with it?

How would it do that? Your XP partition should be NTFS, and 98 can't even read NTFS, let alone write it.

Re:short answer (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754488)

fdisk can take out any partition: FAT, NTFS, ext2, whatever.

Hrm. (1)

Naffer (720686) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752465)

I know it's not the answer you want to hear, but maybe the best thing to do would be to give your children administrative access. Not having full access drives me absolutly crazy. I was practicly on the verge of killing someone when I realized windows likes to create empty folders in "Program Files" and write protect them against any means of destruction.

If you're still worried about your children mucking up your computer, I totally understand. I've troubleshooted so many computers that were dying of bloat. 55 Processes on boot can sure cause trouble. Consider building a second box for your kids, or even reaserch the possibility of doing a dual boot XP setup (is it possible?)

OT:Where do I find def'ns for Win's process names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752587)

Now that you mention it, I have often wondered about all of those processes, and which ones might be safe to kill (or preclude from starting in the first place...).

Are there any lists - by Win op sys - that
spells out what they are/do, when it's safe to (preclude starting or) kill them & which file(s) get loaded to become that process (eg so we can watch for growth in the file names, suggesting viral additives)?

Also, weren't there some groups that had come
up with "minimal Windows" configurations for
various operating systems?

Today, our main Windows op sys is NT 4.0 Workstation, but a few Win95 & /or Win98 have crossed my path (if not my eyes... ;-)

We're the dope, fellow /.ers?

Re:OT:Where do I find def'ns for Win's process nam (4, Informative)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753301)

A list of system processes, what they are for etc.
http://www.liutilities.com/products/wintasks pro/pr ocesslibrary/

A lot of system services share process space with each other. You will have 3 or more svchost processes. To find out which services are safe to disable.

http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm

Re:Hrm. (5, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752718)

More to the point, stop struggling and realise that windows is by design a system which will fall over itself after a long enough period of time, and you WILL have to reinstall it sometime. So stop trying to delay that moment, and make sure that you can do that easily. The previous suggestion about ghosting the system in a stable state is good, but not the best because you will still have to keep track of what important updates you hadn't done when you made the ghost image.

Probably the best solution would be to keep a CD-RW regularly updated with the entire list of drivers/service packs/updates that you need to install when you reinstall the computer, along with a list of the programs that must be reinstalled before any games (eg Office, any dev tools that you need, etc), and (this will be a shocker) teach your kids to do it!!! Then when the computer falls over, you can tell the kids that it's in part their fault, and that this is a good learning opportunity for them (and it is - you learn more about how a computer functions when rebuilding it from scratch than when using it), and so stick them on there for whatever time it takes and let them do it (under penalty of no gaming if they screw it up and you have to do it yourself, of course).

The result will be kids who know more about PCs than just gaming, who will not need to pester their friends/parents to get their computer(s) set up, and who will be more computer-literate than most of their age group. And don't worry about the task being 'too complicated'. Don't underestimate your kids, they will pick it up in no time, and by the time the next version of Windows comes along they'll probably be the ones giving you tips on how to install your PC.

Daniel

Re:Hrm. (1)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753699)

I was formatting my HD and reinstalling Dos 6.22 and Win 3.1 when I was twelve. Surely if I could do that (and get everything freaking working!! I hate memmaker), your kids could pop in a disk and reinstall XP.

so simple... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752468)

the fix is to not be a douchebag-nazi and trust your own spawn, ass. it's not like little jimmy and suzy haven't already seen the XXX hardcore german shit videos in health class.

Standards? We don't need standards... (4, Informative)

Drakino (10965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752488)

Unfortunatly a ton of programs do not adhere to the exact standards they should, and there really isn't a way around it. XP easially lets you grant someone full control, or none, but this dosen't mean every program is going to listen and act the same. The sad realty is to get anything done on a Windows box, you have to sit logged in as an admin. It's ironic that a Microsoft published game is one of the ones giving you pains...

Though, to address your current problem, you could create a new user, use the policy manager to only allow one of the troublesome games to be run, and grant them admin rights. Then use the "Run As" feature of XP to run that program as this new user, from the kids login. Just keep an eye on where the game is saving files, as it could be doing so in the new users home folder somewhere.

Buy an Xbox (2, Insightful)

Golthar (162696) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752495)

At lot of games should also be available on an Xbox.
Having one of those will save you the grief of having to maintain a system for gaming

Re:Buy an Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752568)

Yeah! You paid who-knows-how-much for a perfectly fine gaming PC, now go drop a couple hundies on an Xbox and all your games all over again.

Stay focused on the problem at hand, Golthar. Just because the Xbox and Windows PCs share a lot of titles (hmm, wonder why) doesn't mean buying an Xbox now will solve his problem.

educate / console / play outside (0, Troll)

erroneous (158367) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752500)

I'd pass a law that all PCs should be sold with a label on them that says "this is not a tv. this is not a refridgerator. this is not a toy. this is not a consumer device. this is actually quite complicated"

Options include educating your children in the proper use of a PC, buying a console for the kids to play games on, or, and this is radical thought :

How about going outside and playing with a ball, giving them full administrative rights over the size and shape of the ball and the rules of the game, and the option to include additional sticks.

Normally I'm nice and productive and helpful but just occasionally I feel the need to vent and troll. Today is one of those days.

Re:educate / console / play outside (5, Insightful)

karnal (22275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753254)

Why is this insightful?

The man wanted to know how to solve a problem. Granted, you give him a few good "alternatives", but that doesn't solve the problem.

It'd be like me saying "My car is old and doesn't run well -- what do I do to ensure it won't leave me stranded?" and you telling me "Ride a bike. It doesn't pollute and it's always ready to roll...."

Re:educate / console / play outside (4, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753354)

Pretty much exactly what I wanted to say.
I in no way got the impression that the submitter of the question tries to use his machine as a substitute for parenting. Or is it now bad to ever let children play games, even for a second?

I got the impression that for once a parent was trying to do the right thing in regards to their computer and their children.

Re:educate / console / play outside (1)

Average Joe (99250) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753990)

That was really helpfull.

Re:educate / console / play outside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7754462)

I always find it amusing when someone who spends his/her time posting on Slashdot tells someone to go outside. If you took your own advice you wouldn't be reading /. posts.

Same problem with my kids - different solution (5, Insightful)

Captain Kirk (148843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752501)

I've a 10 and 8 year old who play Warcraft and Age of Mythology. My fix it to let them do what they want and accept the consequences it the system broke. Sure enough it wouldn't boot after a few months.

Rather than rush to fix it, I spent a week doing nothing but said I "was doing research into how to fix the problem." The 1 week without games was sufficiently traumatic that there's been no problem since.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (2, Funny)

tankdilla (652987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752562)

I actually just got into Warcraft about a month ago, and couldn't stop playing it until I beat it. A week without Warcraft could be seen as cruel and unusual punishment.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (5, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752924)

Rather than rush to fix it, I spent a week doing nothing but said I "was doing research into how to fix the problem." The 1 week without games was sufficiently traumatic that there's been no problem since.

This is actually what drove me to learn how to do an OS reinstall. As time went on, each time Windows ate itself, my dad would take longer and longer to get around to fixing it. Eventually, I got sick of waiting and did it myself. Within about two months I had him in complete understanding of the beauty of keeping data and OS on seperate drives, and now, many years later, my dad calls me when he wants information on how to do something or advice on new hardware.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (2, Flamebait)

Artifex (18308) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753059)

Rather than rush to fix it, I spent a week doing nothing but said I "was doing research into how to fix the problem." The 1 week without games was sufficiently traumatic that there's been no problem since.


Were you researching, or just lying to your kids?
If you're going to punish them, at least be up front and tell them so, and not passively, secretly penalize them.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7753132)

You're a fucking idiot.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7753288)

You're a fucking moron.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7753898)

Both of you are fucking retards.

Eat my shit.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (4, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753390)

No kids ehh?

It's all too obvious really.

Here, I'll spell it out for you:

He was giving his children an opportunity to learn the relationship between their actions and subsequent consequences, on their own.

Again, the key word here is: LEARN

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (5, Insightful)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753888)


Exactly right on.

I agree with the earlier poster, too, who was motivated to learn how to re-build his computer after crashes because, well, no one else had time to do it.

I think that's a great way for kids to learn something practical as well as the moral lessons of actions/consequences, if you want something done you have to do it yourself, etc..

The double edged sword, of course, is that when your sharp kid learns the intricacies of re-installing the OS from scratch, getting the settings right, etc. that they'll be empowered to see the Internet in all its ugliness, too.

So the corollary is that, before you throw the installation CD and manuals and have your kid rebuild the computer, explain plainly the basic fact that much of the world is screwed up in these 23 different ways and that you'll see it all on the Internet.

Arbitrary ages of 18 ought to be replaced by "whatever age someone is able to figure out how to rebuild a computer" IMHO. Yes, there are some people who ought never to be exposed to some stuff no matter how old they are... The age of understanding concepts should be the threshhold for driving, voting, consuming harmful addictive substances, etc. rather than some X years.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (0)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754116)

Arbitrary ages of 18 ought to be replaced by "whatever age someone is able to figure out how to rebuild a computer" IMHO. Yes, there are some people who ought never to be exposed to some stuff no matter how old they are... The age of understanding concepts should be the threshhold for driving, voting, consuming harmful addictive substances, etc. rather than some X years.
Very insightful! Great comment!

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (3, Insightful)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753948)

Yeah...I have to agree.

It's quite possible to do the exact same punishment while still telling them the truth. In the short term, you might produce more friction, but knowing that they can trust what a parent tells them is priceless.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7753136)

My mother bought the computer and said, "If you break it, you pay for repairing it." When I broke it I learned how to fix it. Then I learned how to improve it. Then program it. I'm a sysadmin for an engineering firm now, damnit! See how good intentions lead to hell? ;)

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (1)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753686)

I have tried this, though not necessarily due to deliberately ignoring their problem, but because I am busy and often dont get home from work until after my little brothers are in bed (thus cant fix the computers in their rooms.)

They are way too typical- I have tried my damnedest to get them to understand "data goes on this drive/partition, we install programs on this drive..." to no avail. They just want to be ignorant- with my brothers I can just tell them and then when they ask for a reinstall blast all their data away and teach them a lesson, but w/ the parents... I cant just do that. I have no idea how I share the same genes as them. But anyway, I have been looking for a solution to these problems and I can tell you that multiple users doesnt work out. Alot of software isnt written to use XP's multi user features. What's worse is, that the family has no regard for who is logged in when and will install software at will, and if they sit down and the program isnt in the startup list, well theyll just install it again. Huge nightmares...

The one thing they can do fairly competently is install software. So my solution right now is that I have an image of the C drive in its clean state w/ only essential software (windows, VNC, winzip, acrobat, Antivirus, JVM, GoogleToolbar w/ popupstopper) on my hard disk, and I can in theory in a half hour restore their system. It is the best, and only workable solution I have found.

Re:Same problem with my kids - different solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7754008)

Not a bad idea. I would have just said "If you fuck up this computer, I'll break it over your head." That way they won't even screw it up once.

secondary logon service (5, Informative)

happylight (600739) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752508)

Use the secondary logon service. Right click on the game program short-cut, select properties, under the "Shortcut" tab click on advanced, then check the box that says "run with different credentials".

It'll prompt you for the administrator password when you run it.

Re:secondary logon service (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752637)

So the alternative to running as Admin is running as Admin?

Erm? Shome mishtake, shurely?

YAW.

Re:secondary logon service (1)

Wuffle (651894) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752767)

The point is that you can run only the problem apps as a full Admin without having to give the user system-wide admin rights.

Still, it isn't a proper workaround, an option to 'save password' so Dad wouldn't have to keep entering it would be handy, but it's better than the kids having full-control.

Re:secondary logon service (1)

jherekc (460597) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752967)

um, I may be missing something, but surely if you give the kids the admin password just to run one game, then they will be able to do *anything* as the administrator?

(i.e. at the logon prompt type "administrator" and then the password?)

Re:secondary logon service (2, Informative)

Zardoz44 (687730) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753229)

Here's what he means:

1. Kids want to play Warcraft, so they click shortcut.

2. Shortcut has "run with different credentials" checked.

3. Prompt asks for user information.

4. Kids shout" "Daddy!".

5. Dad comes over to computer, works his administrator magic.

6. Game runs with administrator credentials, but the kids don't have it.

The biggest problem is that there's bound to be a lot of shouting for "Daddy!" in that household if they really like the game.

Solution: (-1, Redundant)

phaze3000 (204500) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752509)

Buy them a console. Let them use the PC for web browsing/email/being groomed by peodophiles (aka MSN chat).

Encourage your children in life, not games. (0, Redundant)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752515)

Encourage your children to be involved with reality, in which everyone is an administrator.

Re:Encourage your children in life, not games. (5, Funny)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752615)

I'm always amazed that in these modern times, with so many bicycles, motorcycles and cars, people still manage to care for and ride such high horses.

Re:Encourage your children in life, not games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752804)

Yes, but you see, the problem lies within the boundaries of the United States, which is a capitalistic society, in which there are definite administrators. And in Communistic societies (not ideological communism) there are even more pronounced administrators. So as you can tell, to encourage them in life, i would say play the Sims ;)

Re:Encourage your children in life, not games. (1)

Samus (1382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753513)

I guess you haven't figured out that in real life there is precious little that you are administrator of.

Re:Encourage your children in life, not games. (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754225)

Yes, because God knows that there is no possible reason a child should be allowed anywhere near a computer game at any time, for any reason.

Jesus, who the hell threw an Insightful on this crap? Yes, troll, he shouldn't let his kids spend 14 hours a day playing Warcraft 3, and I'm quite sure this isn't what's happening. It's quite possible to enjoy a computer game for the entertainment media that it is, as part of a normal life.

Regmon + Filemon (5, Informative)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752527)

Use Regmon and Filemon from sysinternals.com to discover which files/keys the program is trying to modify and is failing on. Then adjust the ACLs on those files/keys so that the Gamers group has write access.

One of the conditions for obtaining the "Designed for Windows XP" Logo is that the program must be capable of being run under a Limited user account. If MS's own software isn't capable of this then you ought to report it to them as a bug.

The situation with XP home which only has "Limited" and "Administrator" account types really does not help people adopt more secure working practices.

The situation ought to improve in future but at the moment it does not seem to be something that most developers test against.

Re:Regmon + Filemon (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752662)

It says:
"""
Simply run FileMon (filemon.exe). You must have administrator privilege to run FileMon.
"""
In which case, I'm not going to see which ones my g/f's CD burning software barfs on because it won't barf on them? What's the point in that? (under NT4.0)

YAW.

Re:Regmon + Filemon (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752729)

Well you can run the apps under different user accounts. Either log in as admin to run filemon and run the CD software under your G/Fs account or the other way around.

RunAs /user:(username) (program path+file)

Is this feature not available on NT4?

Re:Regmon + Filemon (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754235)

"Is this feature not available on NT4?"

NAFAIK. I know very little about Windows anything as I've been exclusively Linux, FreeBSD, HPUX, DU, and Solaris for the last 5 years. In all of those, apart from name changes, running programs as other users has been either unnecessary or trivial since time immemorial.

YAW.

Re:Regmon + Filemon (2, Informative)

Xiadix (159305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754438)

There is a good write up about how one person deals with this here:
How to run as non admin [develop.com]

There was also a discussion about this on Broadband Reports
Runing as admin [dslreports.com]

VMWare (2, Informative)

sigxcpu (456479) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752529)

Try using VMWare.
you can isolate the game in its virtual copy of windows and grant it only limited acces to the real Network/Drives/System.

Re:VMWare (4, Informative)

Gyler St. James (637482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752633)

Have you even TRIED to play a game like BF1942 in a frickin VM window? I have. It's not viable. Let them play DOOM, sure. Quake is fantastic in a VM. Max Payne 2 tries to run...keyword: tries. Never does. Love playing games at 1fps.

Re:VMWare (1)

sigxcpu (456479) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752773)

In fact I have actually done performance tests of VMware (at work).
It is slower then running native.
You can greatly improve the speed of many applications by assigning a raw partition to your VM.
(which allows the VM to directly access the disk without the need to copy data from the host OS.)
The same goes for Networking.
However, I have not tested graphics performance (and I think there might be a problem there)

Re:VMWare (2, Informative)

jmlyle (512574) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753479)

VMware does not have good graphics virtualization yet. They are looking at it.

From a VMware Technical Support guy:

There is no hardware acceleration available with the VMware virtual video card. Hardware provided 3-d acceleration won't work at all, last I checked.

Windows Direct X provides software emulation where hardware acceleration is not available; unfortunately this is *very slow* and some/most 3d games don't even run with software emulated acceleration being the only 3d available.

This is a feature request (look in the feature requests forum), but we don't have a 3-d video card virtualized yet, so I can't tell you for sure whether or not this will happen in the future.

If we end up providing a full 3-d capable virtualized video card, I'll make sure to update on the feature requests forum when that happens.

Patches (5, Informative)

NexusTw1n (580394) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752543)

Microsoft appear to have a patch [microsoft.com] for this problem, I don't know if that will fix it for you.

Other ideas include giving "Gamers" full access to the "Program Files" directory in case it's trying to write there rather than your games directory.

If that doesn't work then perhaps mail the CD back and ask for a refund. There is no reason any application, least of all a game should require admin rights for normal operation, and if it does, the software is not fit for the purpose it was sold for.

Run as different user/Crack the games? (5, Informative)

rufo (126104) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753543)

No, they don't. It says right on that page to "try logging in as an Administrator" before it says to install the fix.

The reason the games need this is because of the CD copy protection; they need to access the drive directly to be able to see whether the bad sectors/whatever hidden data they're looking for are there. You could try cracking the games and seeing if that helps, as I'm pretty sure that's the only they need Admin access - a good site for cracks is GameCopyWorld [gamecopyworld.com] . I often use them because I'm a lazy bastard who doesn't want to risk ruining his (original!) CDs by switching them around all the time, and I've never had a problem with any of the cracks I've downloaded from there.

One other possible method.. Isn't there a way to have Windows "run as" a different user (ala +s on UNIX)? So you could have it run as some special Admin-priveleged user, while keeping them in the non-Admin account most of the time.

Microsoft Standards (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752545)

Is there a Microsoft document that defines the boundaries between the operating system and user-installed applications? I haven't run into any problems with the Windows applications that I have written, but I haven't written any particularly large and complex programs for Windows. I've always assumed that files in the installation directory, and the directory itself, should be treated as read-only. Any new or modified files should be in the user's file space.

Re:Microsoft Standards (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752579)

Designed for Windows XP Logo requirements

Re:Microsoft Standards (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752595)

Oops, try again [microsoft.com]

Re:Microsoft Standards (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752674)

Which claims to be a document, but its extension is .exe

Isn't that the kind of thing you warn your kids against?

YAW.

Re:Microsoft Standards (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752737)

Stupid MS thing. All their presentations and documents are in self extracting zip packages. I guess they want to prevent users of other OSs reading their precious files.

Re:Microsoft Standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752892)

rar for linux will open such a package.

My Advice: Don't even bother. (4, Insightful)

Domini (103836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752548)

I've got the same setup for family of mine where they only use internet browsing and mail as multiple users. (They don't even use fast user switching.) And even though they all use restricted accounts, they still seem to be able to corrupt system registry hive files.

My advice is not to even waste your time with this. I'm sure your time is worth so much that you could have afforded another PC, or at the very least Hard drive imaging and restore software.

It's best to let kids loose on a machine, and if they mess it up, you just restore it... it's their (save game) loss.
They will learn about all those vital microsoft tricks like backing up your important data and do not install all that junk.

It's also imporant then to get them each a machine, but since you will not be wasting time admining those machines anymore, I'm sure you will have a lot more time and thus money.

I mean, really, since Win NT 4.0 the graphics drivers have had admin rights... and you are still denying this to your kids! ;)

I think the best admin policy is education of the user. Also keep a system restore handy with software such as Norton Ghost (with all the propper patches already installed to protect against internet worms etc.) as well as good anti-virus software. Believe me, this is the cheaper solution..

Re:My Advice: Don't even bother. (1)

mo^ (150717) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753530)

Where is this magical world where saving time on domestic chores (and thats all rebuilding a home pc really is) magically gets you more money???

I am paid for the time i am at work and that amount of time is written into a contract.. so even supposing i can save 3-4 hours a month on system maintenance, where is the extra money to buy a new pc gonna come from?

'kids computer' (4, Insightful)

xmple (704367) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752554)

If it is truly the kids computer (so you have another one with all your important data on it), then I should let them have full privileges, and let them explore the computer on their own.
How else will they know what a computer can 'really' do, if you just let them have restricted access to a single game directory.

Let them explore, let them familiarize with the computer, they learn from their mistakes: if you do something wrong, like deleting system files, you probably wont try that again.

When my parent bought me (well it was ment to be for the whole family) a 286 computer with dos installed, I knew nothing, and neither did my parents.
so I explored, and I found a 'help' command, and a 'dir' command, and I found different types of files (the ones you can execute, and others)...

So once again:
It's not that bad when something goes wrong, format the disk, and reinstall.

However I would recommend on restrincting access to the internet, so they can't accidently download malware.

Re:'kids computer' (1)

neglige (641101) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752719)

It's not that bad when something goes wrong, format the disk, and reinstall.

Or create a HD image after each installed game (CDs are cheap, so even if you install a game every day it won't be a problem) and use that. And let the kids back up their saved games, so they learn some backup strategies right from the start ;) Like the parent (no pun intended) said: allow your kids to earn experience (not just in their RPG games) by making mistakes. It's good advice.

Re:'kids computer' (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752903)

"However I would recommend on restrincting access to the internet, so they can't accidently download malware."

Or better yet, set up a transparent proxy on the net connection to send all net access trhough squid and squidguard. Log all traffic (yes, I know, no freedom for the kid etc...) and set up squidguard to return a detailed error when the kids try accessing anywhere you don't want them to go. Yeah, they may find a way around it, but if they do, congratulate them - they're actually learning something useful.

But a proxied, filtered setup like that will give you control over where they can go without killing all net access completely.

Oh, and for $DEITY's sake, keep an eye on what they're up to rather than just letting them mess around unsupervised..

Check your ACLs (4, Informative)

stevenbdjr (539653) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752607)

These kinds of problems are most certainly related to file and/or registry permissions. Working at a K-12, I'm often troubleshooting software that won't run as a normal user. I've found the majority of the problems are related to poorly written software trying to add and modify files to the SYSTEMROOT directory (usually c:\windows or c:\winnt). The rest are usually solved by opening up permissions on the applications registry keys under HKLM.

Get yourself a copy of RegMon and FileMon from Sysinternals. You'll need to logon as an Administrator, start up reg or filemon, then do a RunAs on the application to run it as a normal user. You'll probably want to filter the output of reg/filemon to only show activity of the app itself, otherwise you'll be looking at all activity on the system. Look for ACCESS DENIED errors in places where normal users can't usually write. Slowly open up those areas to modify access until you've found a solution.

Re:Check your ACLs (2, Interesting)

curious.corn (167387) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752842)

Good answer but it makes me wonder... how is this weeding trough the registry simpler than unix administration? It's no wonder Microsoft calls it the Registry Hive... it's a Hornet Nest not much different than /etc
Sorry for the flamebait, it's just something that crossed my mind reading your comment.

Re:Check your ACLs (1)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753271)

I will have to agree with this method. I have found that several things I have had to grant permissions to a registry key or a file or directory. Even things like the profile editor for the Nostromo N50 Speedpad which asks if you want to install it for all users during installation has to have the registry key permissions set afterwards for it to operate properly under other users profiles.

No, I do not have the answer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752650)

My sons (7, 9 and 11) better be happy with their linux boxen (no flash, no java, no closed source stuff at all), otherwise you know what...

Re:No, I do not have the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752763)

You'll send them Micheal Jackson's house for a night?

Power Users (3, Informative)

tiny69 (34486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752668)

Add them to the "Power Users" group. From Computer Management:
Power Users possess most administrative powers with some restrictions. Thus, Power Users can run legacy applications in addition to certified applications
A large number of programs want to be able to write and modify files located in system directories as well as make changes in the registry. Normal Users are not allowed to do this.

"Start --> Help --> Search --> Power Users" to get a list of the things Power Users are able to do and what they are restricted from doing.

Re:Power Users (2, Insightful)

Simon (815) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752971)

Add them to the "Power Users" group. From Computer Management:

ummm... The Power Users group also has too much power to screw the machine up.

Go not unto /. for advice, for you will be told both yea and nay (but have nothing to do with the question)

Or in this case just plain miss the point. We are trying to stop the computer from getting trashed here.

--
Simon

FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7752776)

How bout creating a FAT32 partition where you put all your games on? And maybe move the My Documents folder for the game-user to the same partition or something?

Are you a BOFH? (2, Funny)

Molina the Bofh (99621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752867)

Are you a BOFH or not ? Just because they're your kids, they shouldn't go away without a good LART [astrian.net] .

Use RunAs (1)

ag3n7 (442539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752900)

Create a shortcut and use "RunAs" to run it under an administrator account.

Works fine for me for other games.

Re:Use RunAs (1)

apocamok (196093) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754335)

To prevent typing the password every time they want to play a quick script like this:
https://lists.aas.duke.edu/pipermail/ntgrou p/2003- May/001354.html
will do.
The interesting task is obscuring the password enough to prevent the kids from picking it up - securing it 100% is probably not possible with this solution.
Bury it in the registry, place it in a mySQL database or some obfuscated hidden system file etc..

No Full Access (2, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752913)

I understand the sentiment that people think you should just teach them to not do stupid things and give them full access. While that is nice in theory, it is hard to teach children, especially younger children the important lessons without burning through a few computers. Unfortunately, the brighter they are, the more likely they are to break something. On occasion I head home and every time I do I have to fix two machines FILLED with Trojan programs and spyware. I educate, but there is only so much I can do. Kids are stupid and can be tricked, pure and simple. If you have a shared computer that does serious work, then it means constantly fighting the crap that gets on just to keep important things running. If someone could answer this question, I would appreciate so I don't have to constantly be battling to keep these computers working.

The best solution of course is to get them their own computer to use and destroy. This is fine if your kid just wants to beat around the Internet as you can buy a cheap POS computer for pocket change these days. However, if you have a young aspiring gamer it becomes much more difficult, as a gamer needs something with power behind it. Dropping a couple thousand dollars just for a kid to have his own computer no one else uses is a rather expensive proposition.

What I would REALLY like answered is if there is a way on an XP machine to keep Trojans and spyware programs out. Yes, I know adaware and spybot can clean this stuff, but I have found that most of the time it is far too late and the damage is done. Does anyone have any good suggestions for keepings this crap off in the first place?

Re:No Full Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7753036)

Spybot has a handy feature where it can sit in the background and stop these things before they try and install

XP and the Compatibility Engine. (4, Informative)

tvadakia (314991) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752921)

One other thing you might consider is the fact that Windows XP initiates the Compatibility Engine on a lot of games. One game I can think of right off the bat that does is The Sims. A user needs to be either in the Power Users or the Administrators group in order to run a game or any other application with this engine included in use.

There are a few things you might consider doing. First would to be to google to figure out how one might add the "lesser" users to be able to use the compatibility engine, or at least to run those particular applications (games) with elevated privledges. Another is to write a simple script to use the "runas" command to automatically run a program as administrator using a cached password (in the registry) to run the game in question and then creating a shortcut to that script on the desktop (or wherever) to run the game.

One other thing you can do is add your kids to the power users group then use the Local Security Settings mmc and right-click on "Software Restriction Policies" and chose "Create New Policies." You then can start creating rules of what directories are accessable on the computer (make sure in the "Enforcement" policy to choose "All users except local administrators", you don't want to lock yourself out). You can refine which folders they are granted or denied access to by right-clicking on the "Additional Rules" folder and choosing a new "hash" rule to specify a particular application itself, or a new "path rule" to specify an application path (which'll include EVERYTHING in all subfolders within that path.)

These are just a few ideas to get you started down the path.

The real reason admin access is required... (4, Interesting)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 10 years ago | (#7752951)

I have found this to be the case, too. I didn't want my gf's son (an 8 year old) having admin access on my XP machine, but half the damn games required admin access.

This required rightclicking on the game's shortcut, selecting 'run as' and calling me over to type in my admin password... several times a day! )(#@()$*@#()$&@#$@#

Its not that programs want to write to the registry, or system files, or anything else.

It simply seems to be the cd copy protection... most games have various types of cd copy protection (i dunno, daemon tools can emulate most of them when it mounts iso's, but anyway). It seems the games require admin access to perform their little sneaky copy protection checks on the CD...

Personally i think this is a real pain in the damn ass (why do we need the CD in there anyway! The game is already installed FFS) and now we require to give all kids admin access on XP machines just to play games! Its a damn nightmare.

No wonder we hate software manufactureres for all their sneaky copy protection, serial keys, product activation, and now needing admin access to run anything.... *sighs*

I'm glad i bought my titanium powerbook. And last week i bought a used G4 cube. Forget windows....

D.

Create a Dual-Boot System (0)

NetPoser (266960) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753041)

Why don't you make a gaming system just for them and one for you.

Install XP Pro or Home (whichever you have) on each partition.

Give the kids admin to *their* OS partition. Wait for them to muck it up, reboot into *your* partition and play your games whilst laughing about how your OS partition works!!

Copy protection (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753124)

You will probably find that many many games require essentially "root"/Administrator/System access to hardware like CD players to verify whether there is really a CD in the drive. It is stupid and sucks. There are a couple of programs that allow you to mount CD images on disk...but I don't know how shady or legitimate such software is...and I still think some games somehow really really touch hardware...they do some out of band calls directly to hardware or something.

Re:Copy protection (1)

mkraft (200694) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754317)

http://www.gamecopyworld.com is your friend.

There are patches that will prevent the CD checks. Not only do you not need the CD, it actually speeds up the loading of games and gets around problems that the copy protection schemes sometimes cause (like this one).

It is not illegal to make backup copies of a game for yourself or to force the game not to check for the CD (despite what the software companies say). Of course these programs can also be used to pirate games, but that's the software companies' problem not mine.

Same issue, different issue (1)

Double0fro (685378) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753579)

I'm a Network admin (sort of learning as I do) and I am starting our PC migration to windows 2000 pro. Learned about RIS etc. The issue lies in 1 application that is used to access our POS software. It wants to modify a registry entry when it opens. I want my users to be users, not power users (to stop them from installing crap like webshots). I can't really use runas because if I change the admin pass, i have to go box to box and change it. Any ideas? Can I set permissions on registry keys?

"Run as" works in Windows (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 10 years ago | (#7753836)

You can try configuring the program to Run as the Administrator. I've found this helps in many cases.

I like the ideas that have been posted of using drive imaging software to do restores of something thats completely FUBAR. While Norton Ghost works very well, there are Open Source options that are a little more work. There was a /. story on such software a few weeks back. Keep your data on a separate drive / partition.

If the hard drive is large enough, a multi boot system is an option. One install lets them into a system where they have admin rights, another lets them into a system where they don't. Have the "Work only" partition(s) hidden from the "Gaming" partition, and as long as the boot manager and the "work" partitions are untouched you can still get in to do work.

This is assuming a laptop, or a second computer or a second system on the same I/O via a KVM switch are out of the question due to cost. I love how so many people say "Just buy X, Y and Z" never thinking about the possibility that someone might not HAVE the cash on hand due to any number of options. (Saving for the Kids' college, money is tight, Johnny needs braces and the company dental plan sucks, saving for a family vacation and so on)

My home setup involves two computers. One is the Linux box that has my vital data and is used for work, the other is the "Who the Hell Cares what happens to it" Windows box for burning DVDs, gaming and general futzing around. They're both on the same KVM switch, so I can toggle between them.

Group Policies might help (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754135)

If you feel like investing the time, and have another machine that can act as a Domain Server, Group Policies could help a bunch with this. Join the computer to the domain, setup the logins for your kids, and set them up as administrators. You can then configure Group Policies for their logins to strip away their access to anything you don't want them getting into. Pretty much everything from preventing desktop wallpaper changes to preventing them from running Admin Console is available.

Control! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7754245)

Oh yes, you've got complete control! You're a control-master! Or a f**king asshole if you ask my opinion.

Why don't you take some medication and let your kids have fun instead of putting them in a sandbox? I'm sure they could learn things you don't even know, but because of your "iron fist", they can only play games.

I learned programming at the age of 7 on my own. Would my parents allowed me to do only things they knew about, I probably wouldn't be into computers anymore.

I wish I could put my iron fist in your face.

Re:Control! (1)

Eamon C (575973) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754372)

I love it when parents ask parenting-related questions on slashdot -- you always get angry teens projecting their father-issues onto the poster.

heh (1)

silicon1 (324608) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754253)

I've found that the 'stick the gun to the bunny's head' trick always works, 'break the computer and the bunny gets it!'.

How about an application-server-type setup? (1)

scum-o (3946) | more than 10 years ago | (#7754480)

I've seen this before, but never actually done it:

Set up a linux machine as an application server and have the machine basicially do a diskless boot from the linux partition (read only). Then, have a disk on the actual machine that they can write to (save game files, etc ...). I've seen this done before but don't ask me how to do it.

Anyway, that way, you're sure that every time the kid boots the machine, he/she is getting a clean OS and they can save their data to their own disk and not interfere with the other users or the OS.
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