No matter what area of IT you work in, there’s always some important piece of information you frequently need to retrieve from a workstation or server; often, it’s several pieces of information. A lot of time can be spent searching a system to obtain that info. Fortunately, there’s a tool that’s been around for years that can display system info right on the desktop: bginfo (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897557).
Bginfo is often a necessity in a lab environment, but it can be used anywhere. Some of the most popular information to display is:
- OS version
- SP version
- IP address
- Boot time
- Disk “Free Space”
…but there’s a whole lot more. In fact, you can configure bginfo to display just about any attribute of the system. (NOTE: A detailed explanation about how to display custom info using bginfo is beyond the scope of this article; but if you would like to learn more, check out Shay Levy’s article here: http://blogs.microsoft.co.il/blogs/scriptfanatic/archive/2008/07/22/bginfo-custom-information.aspx).
It’s nice to run bginfo at startup silently and unattended. This can be challenging, though, particularly on Windows Server 2008 R2. To do so, you need to edit the following registry key:
**Credit to James from redkitten.co.uk for documenting this here: http://www.redkitten.co.uk/windows-server/using-bginfo-on-windows-server-2008/
Create a new
REG_SZ value under the “Run” key named “bginfo”, or whatever you want. The value of the key will be the path to bginfo.exe, and any parameters you want to pass. Personally, I’ve had the best luck passing
/silent /accepteula /timer:0 to run bginfo silently at startup. The help file indicates
/NOLICPROMPT is also a parameter to bypass the Sysinternals accept EULA dialog, but
/accepteula always works for me.
Something else to be aware of — especially if you intend to run bginfo in an enterprise with UAC turned on and GPOs applied — is to keep the output bitmap file in a location that the logged on user has write permissions. The reason for this is that bginfo runs in the user context to display on the user’s desktop; and because the information is “dynamic” — at least at each user logon — the output bitmap file needs to be updated. You can change where bginfo stores the .bmp under the Bitmap -> Location… menu. The default location is in the user’s TEMP directory, which should be okay.
Bginfo is a fun, easy and very useful way to customize your desktop, and I hope this helps you (and other users) be more productive!