Using Hardware Profiles


Windows has a feature called Hardware Profiles that lets you boot up Windows with different sets of hardware devices enabled. Profiles grew out of the need for docking laptops to be able to boot with a different set of driver settings based on whether the laptop was on the road or connected to a docking station with its own external monitor, additional CD-ROM drive, and so on. Profiles have become more capable with Plug and Play, sensing when the computer is "hot-docked" and kicking in the appropriate profile when needed. Also, for complex arrangements such as on a desktop computer stuffed to the gills with devices, it is sometimes necessary to disable some devices so that others can have access to certain limited resources such as interrupt requests (IRQs). I should add that hot-dockable ports such as USB, IEEE-1394, and PC Cards have reduced the need for hardware profiles somewhat, since their hardware can be attached and removed on-the-fly without rebooting.

In addition to allowing different combinations of hardware, Hardware Profiles allow the same hardware to be configured with different resource settings. In essence, you can have almost a different computer with each hardware profile.

Hardware profiles are set up on the System applet, which you can view by clicking Start, right-clicking My Computer, and selecting Properties. View the Hardware tab and click the Hardware Profiles to bring up the Hardware Profile manager.

NOTE

Windows enables or disables devices by simply installing or not installing their drivers at boot time.


Windows XP creates one hardware profile called Profile 1 automatically whenever it's installed on any type of computer. As additional devices are installed, they're automatically added to Profile 1.

To create an additional hardware profile, open the System properties sheet, click the Hardware tab, click Hardware Profiles, and copy Profile 1 to another profile (see Figure 30.17).

Figure 30.17. User Profiles on a system with two profiles available.


NOTE

You must be logged on with Administrator privileges to alter the hardware profiles.


To change the hardware in any profile, select that profile when you reboot and disable or change the settings for devices through the Device Manager. The Properties button on the Hardware Profiles screen lets you adjust profiles for portable computer use and select whether the profile is displayed as a startup option. Table 30.7 shows a typical laptop scenario after creating two profiles and enabling and disabling some devices.

Table 30.7. Typical Laptop Hardware Profiles

Example

Description

Profile 1: "On the Road"

Use when traveling. Contains enabled modem and printer.

Profile 2: "At the Office"

Use when docked to the docking station or port replicator. Enables LAN card, external monitor, and CD-ROM drive.


To switch between hardware profiles, reboot your computer and select the hardware profile you want to use at boot time.

After you've copied a profile, you can begin to modify it to meet your needs. Click the profile, and then click Properties. You can declare some aspects of the profile at this stage. You can indicate, for example, whether it's a profile on a laptop computer. Table 30.8 lists some of the options and their meanings.

Table 30.8. Hardware Profile Options

Option

Description

Delete

Use this option to eliminate a profile. You can't delete the currently active profile.

Wait Until I Select a Hardware Profile

When you boot the computer, you are presented with a list of profiles early in the boot process. If this option is on, the computer will wait forever for you to select the profile to boot into.

Select the First Profile If I Don't Select a Profile in x Seconds

Profiles appear in the list above this setting. The order determines the first profile. You can organize the profiles using the arrow buttons so that the first one is the default profile you want to boot in case you don't intervene. I like to change the default for x Seconds from 30 to 10 to save time when booting.

This Is a Portable Computer

If you're on a desktop, don't check this box. If you're on a laptop that is going to be alternately docked and undocked, check it,

and

 
 

choose the appropriate radio button. The Unknown button is selected by default if Windows can't figure out the docking status at the current time. You can help clear up the confusion by clicking one of the other options.

Include This Profile As an Option when Windows Starts

You can opt to have a profile not appear in the bootup list if you want to keep it on hand for future use but don't want it to show up in the list of profiles to choose from when you boot up.


Altering a Hardware Profile's Device Complement

Windows XP Professional is pretty good about detecting and setting up separate hardware profiles for popular docking stations and port replicators. However, if yours isn't detected, you can use the technique presented here to alter what drivers will load with each profile.

You can use this technique for personalizing profiles on any kind of computer, be it desktop or portable, for that matter.

The way you differentiate hardware profiles is to first create multiple copies of the same profile, then turn off or on devices in each to suit your needs, and resave them. After settings are made, you reboot. During bootup, you are prompted to choose between them.

TIP

You should use different hardware profiles for any computer where you alter the physical setup regularly in a predictable manner, such as switching between two monitors.


The following is the basic game plan for modifying existing profiles:

1.

Get your system running with a superset of the hardware you're going to want to use. That is, use as much external stuffsuch as hard drivesas possible. This step may require your using the Control Panel's Add/Remove Hardware applet as well (see earlier in this chapter).

2.

Choose Control Panel, System. Then click the Hardware Profiles button on the Hardware tab.

3.

Select the profile you want to use as a basis for your scaled-down (undocked) profile, and click Copy.

4.

Name the new profile something meaningful, such as Undocked Laptop.

5.

Click the Properties button, and look at the options there. If you're modifying a portable computer, check the appropriate box, and indicate the current state (docked or undocked) and whether you want the new hardware profile to be presented as an option for the user to choose when Windows boots. (Normally, you would want it to show, but you could disable this option if you, for example, were loaning the computer to someone and didn't want to confuse him or her with boot options.) Click OK to close that dialog box.

6.

Now comes the tricky part. You have to boot up in a specific profile before you can modify the settings therein. Do so, and pick the profile you want to modify.

7.

Choose Control Panel, System, and click the Device Manager button on the Hardware tab.

8.

In the Device Manager window, click the + (plus) sign next to any piece of hardware whose inclusion/exclusion in one of your profiles you want to alter. Highlight the specific item, and click Properties.

9.

At the bottom of the resulting Properties dialog, use the Device Usage drop-down list to choose whether you want to enable or disable the specific piece of hardware in your current profile.

10.

Repeat for each device whose usage will be affected by a given profile.

11.

Repeat steps 6 through 10 for each profile you want to adjust.



Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP Professional (3rd Edition)
ISBN: 0789732807
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 450

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