Tag Archives: Windows

MS-DOS (cmd.exe) prompt introduction

This article is from our Febooti archive, it was relevant then, and I think that it is still relevant today.

If you remember the computers of an earlier day then you surely remember the old MS-DOS. If you are of the more recent generation of computer users then you have also probably seen, used or at least heard of MS-DOS. If you are not one of the aforementioned, MS-DOS is an acronym for Microsoft Disc Operating System. This is just yet another Microsoft operating system.

However, unlike the Microsoft operating systems, you are probably used to, Microsoft Windows 95, XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8, for example, you won’t see any neat little graphics to which you are able to click. These newer operating systems are often times called Graphical User Interfaces, or GUI. MS-DOS does not care about anything called an icon, wallpaper or screen saver. Rather than being considered as a Graphical User Interface MS-DOS is what is known as a command-line interface (CLI). You type commands on what is called the command line.

When using a command-line operating system, you enter commands to accomplish tasks. Once you have worked with this type of system you would soon realize that there are many command combinations that you enter frequently. This is where the use of batch files becomes ingenious in that when you want the computer to perform a given combination of commands an abundant number of times, a batch file can store the details of that command combination for swift execution.

Therefore a batch file is a sequence of commands you would typically enter in a command prompt. Batch files are often used to start programs and run utilities. This is because batch files can allow these events to happen with fewer commands. Automation is possible as well to further the advantages of batch. Batch files accomplish all of this while remaining relatively small in file size.

Now, how does this relate to Batch scripts? Once you make a script (program), it will run in this screen. Not exactly. We won’t run our scripts in the actual MS-DOS, more of a watered down readily accessible version Windows provides us. The command prompt – this is where you will see any output produced. This screen, among being called a command prompt, is often referred to as simply a DOS prompt, command line or a MS-DOS prompt.

You are also able to open and modify programs from the command prompt. When writing batch scripts you will soon become quite familiar with this screen. Since most of us are using Windows XP, 7 or 8 that will be the primary operating system for which the examples herein will be for. However when worthy, references will be made towards previous versions of Windows. So, to actually run the batch scripts we make we need to be able to access the command prompt.

Run cmd in Windows 8.1
Run cmd in Windows 8.1
Run cmd in Windows XP
Run cmd in Windows XP

How to get MS-DOS prompt? To access the command prompt you simply click the Start button in the lower left hand corner of the screen followed by clicking on the Run… option. On newer Windows 8 and 8.1, just press Windows key on the keyboard, and type CMD.exe

When you do this, a small box will appear in the lower left hand corner of the screen. To access the command prompt simply type cmd (Windows XP, Vista, 7).

The command prompt is similar to MS-DOS. The command prompt is a great tool that has many great uses. One way of harnessing those uses in one file and not having to type the command for that use each time is through a batch file.

Next article tomorrow.

This article is from our Febooti archive, it was relevant then, and I think that it is still relevant today.

Edit Oct 17, 2014: added link to the next article.

Disappearing folder – bug in Windows 7

In process of testing one of our automation software I hit interesting Windows 7 bug. First I found it in our software, and right away tested this scenario on Windows 7, and bug was there.

The bug. Create folder on the Desktop.

Right click on Desktop
New folder

New folder appears and cursor blinks allowing to change the name for the folder.

Cursor at the end

Place cursor at the end of folder name, and enter dot (.) character.

Dot at the end

After pressing Enter key the folder disappears.

Folder disappears

But do not worry, it will come back after reboot, or after refresh (F5 key).

After refresh

Appears that this bug/behavior… that only Windows 7 is affected. Other Windows versions I tested does not have this bug, even Windows XP and upcoming Windows 8 behaves correctly (see screenshots at the end of the post).

A side note. By “correctly” in this case I mean, that folder does not disappear, however perhaps, there is another bug. The dot “.” character disappears in all Windows versions. This of course depends on interpretation, for example, I also tested this on Ubuntu 10, and Ubuntu (and probably most nixes) allows dot (.) at the end of filename.

Why this happens? Every filename consists of two parts: filename and extension. These two parts are separated by dot (.) character. Windows Shell hides this dot from you, and when you enter “filename.”, it thinks, that this must be a filename without extension, so it stores only filename. In theory you should be able to trick shell by adding more dots, like “filename…”, but Windows 7 Shell reduces them to no dot. Of course you can create file or folder with one or more dots at the end, but for this you will need a normal file manager, like Far Manager (which is open source). Also, keep in mind, that you will not be able to delete this file or folder from desktop using Windows Shell, you will need to switch to file manager again.

Note 1. Windows Server 2008 R2 is based on the same codebase, so it has the same bug.
Note 2. Operating Systems used in the test:

  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2003 Enterprise
  • Windows 8 Consumer preview
  • Windows XP
  • Ubuntu 10

When Windows automatic update suddenly stops updating Windows automatically

Recently we noticed that some of our test and dev servers were not updating automatically through Windows or Microsoft update.

It was real pain to find why this happened. There are numerous threads in the Internet about failed Windows update, and it is very hard to find the right answer. Luckily, I found a post in CNET forum from Jim Sheehy from Sequel Data Systems. He supports more than 800 desktops and he is writing about three possible causes of Windows update failure:

  1. The Windows Update Temporary folder is corrupted. (%windir%\SoftwareDistribution)
  2. Update Agent 3.0 is not installed properly. (Download latest Update Agent)
  3. Installer 3.1 is corrupted. (Reinstall Windows Installer 3.1 or …)

Read more at CNET forum: Help! My Windows automatic updates suddenly stopped working.