You are here

Vista cannot write to PortableAppsMenu.ini

38 posts / 0 new
Last post
MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Vista cannot write to PortableAppsMenu.ini

Using a Freecom 80GB USB drive where everything works (more-or-less) perfectly on my XP machines at home and in the office.

I plug in the portable drive on my Dell Vostro 4GM RAM, 1TB HDDs and nothing in PortableApps works (including all the applications) apart from the menu loading.

If I don't load PortableApps reads and writes work just fine to and from the drive. If I launch PortableApps then I get a dialog that tells me that the system cannot write to the above file.

On checking the file I find it to be read only so I change that attribute. Whatever I try to do in PortableApps gives me the same error dialog.

I work up the tree to the root folder removing the read only attribute on everything below but it changes nothing. I can't even exit Portable Apps - I have to kill it in Task Manager.

On removing the drive and putting it on an XP machine everything works just fine.

I am set up as an Administrator in Vista (Home Premium).

Any suggestions gratefully received

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Sorry to pester the Vista vexer

I don't like to pester but I think that Microsoft has now sold more than three Vista licences!

Whilst Vista may not be overly loved does anyone know if PortableApps simply does not run on Vista or has anyone been able to get it running (with its installed apps) successfully?

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I'm Schizophrenic,
And so am I!

ZachHudock
ZachHudock's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Developer
Joined: 2006-12-06 18:07
Almost all, if not all, of

Almost all, if not all, of the apps here work on Vista, and the Menu works on Vista as well. The issue you described in the main topic is quite unusual. I think the reason nobody responded is because nobody knows why you are having that issue.

The developer formerly known as ZGitRDun8705

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Online
Last seen: 48 min 57 sec ago
AdminDeveloperModeratorTranslator
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
All

Actually, every official app as well as the entire platform works on Vista without issue. I have not checked it out on Vista SP1 yet, though.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

John Bentley
John Bentley's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 1 day ago
Developer
Joined: 2006-01-24 13:26
I use Vista SP1 and haven't

I use Vista SP1 and haven't seen any issues with any software, portable or not.

cowsay Moo
cowthink 'Dude, why are you staring at me.'

OliverK
OliverK's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Developer
Joined: 2007-03-27 15:21
I've got access to a vista

I've got access to a vista business (SP!, I think) I just tested and it works fine.

Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many bridges you can burn
Too many tables you can't turn
Don't wanna live my life in the real world

rab040ma
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 2007-08-27 13:35
We could start asking random

We could start asking random questions to see if we can spot anything that might be causing the problem:

  • Can you load any of the portable apps directly, e.g. by going to G:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable and running FirefoxPortable.exe
  • How is the drive formatted, NTFS?
  • Is UAC enabled?
  • What are the NTFS permissions on the file in question, that is, who owns it and which users/groups have write permission? (Humor me, I know you said you were an Administrator -- ignore if the drive isn't NTFS.)
  • Does it make a difference if you right-click (in Explorer) and choose "Run As Administrator" (which is different in Vista from being an administrator, which is massively counter-intuitive). I think the RequestExecutionLevel instruction in NSIS makes the "run as" not work, so no sense trying it.
  • Does it matter if you run g:\StartPortableApps.exe or go to g:\portableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe?

Just some random questions, might help, might not. Good luck.

MC

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Random questions will help by elimination

Thanks for your responses. It's good to know that PA works with Vista so I has to be my fault. At this stage Vista is new to me and things like the UAC are unlike XP on the rest of my home network.

I haven't tried running any of the portable apps directly but will do so this evening.

The drive is NTFS formatted.

Is UAC enabled? I think so though I've tried to turn it off - I get regular warning messages to confirm that I want the PC to do what I've asked it to do and attempting to switch it off does not seem to get rid of those messages (even though I am certainly set up as an administrator).

My home network uses file sharing and not user profiles. I'm not a system administrator in the MCSE sense - simply an experienced user grappling with a new OS.

I don't understand the RequestExecutionLevel part of your reply.

When I connect the drive on an XP machine I select the option to Start PortableApps. Since this does not work beyond loading the menu at the moment in Vista I simply close that dialog and use SyncBack to synchronize my files on that drive with those on my backup drive.

I will respond further if I may once I have followed through with the matters thus far raised.

Many thanks,

Martyn

Time flies like an arrow,
Fruit flies like a banana.

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
TweakUAC

I've been having a poke around the Interweb (using PortableApps Firefox on my work XP machine, of course) and the above widget was presented (it may be downloaded from http://www.tweak-uac.com/download/).

I've used TweakUI for years with no problems. TweakUAC has three settings. One is to disable UAC entirely, the second is to switch UAC into silent mode for Administrators (that would be me being that I am the only user of my Vista machine) but leave UAC on for non-admins and the third is to have UAC fully on for one and all.

Which is the best setting for PortableApps?

Martyn

While your wife is out, glue your shoes to the ceiling. When your wife returns, sit on the floor, hold your head, and moan.

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Stunning!

I downloaded TweakUAC and switched off UAC. Robooted - BINGO! Excuse the little shout of glee.

I now got all my PortableApps running perfectly in my Vista Vostro.

A random question can go a long, long way.

Thank you kindly,

Martyn

Bruce Pascoe
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-15 16:14
...

Really weird, because I have UAC fully enabled on all my Vista SP1 machines and every one of my portable apps work just fine.

rab040ma
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 2007-08-27 13:35
First, UAC is there to warn

First, UAC is there to warn you of potentially dangerous events -- dangerous in that they can allow international crime syndicates to install software on your machine to turn it into a spam bot or worse. Instead of turning UAC off because it gets in your way, you would do much better to figure out what is triggering it and see if you can stop doing it -- use different software, or whatever. By all means turn it off to confirm that those settings are the problem, but don't consider the problem solved because it goes away with UAC off.

Second, the problem is most likely the access permission you set up in NTFS on your XP machine (NTFS has access controls whether you want it or not). The files are most likely owned by your account on the XP machine, which doesn't exist on the Vista machine. When it checks the access level, it would deny access to you, except that you are an administrator. The Administrators group exists on all NT class machines by default, so when you go in with Explorer you get access. What I think is happening is that the RequestExecutionLevel command we use in the menu or launcher tells Windows that you are a regular user, and to ignore the Administrators group. Windows happily does so, discovers that your user account on Vista does not have specific access to the NTFS file system on your portable drive, and falls back to a group that does have access, probably Everyone or something, which has read access. (If Windows ignores the Adminsitrators group, your User account is probably pretty limited.)

The thing to learn from this is not that you need to turn off UAC, but that you need to figure out how to make NTFS work for you (or switch to FAT32). If you take that drive to a machine where you do not have Administrative privileges, you will not be able to access the drive whether or not you turn off UAC there. The only way you will be able to access the drive on another machine is if you set the drive so the Everyone group has full access, or something like that, since there is an Everyone group on all machines.

If someone has physical access to your drive, they can take ownership of the NTFS on it and have access to everything. So making it default to giving the Everyone group access isn't really going to give you much less security. The only way to have real security is to make a TrueCrypt volume or encrypt your important files.

In other words, turning off UAC lets you diagnose the problem. The problem is still there, and will reappear if you plug in to a machine where you don't have admin. If you just say "UAC is the problem" and leave it off on your own machines, you might get bitten by the "gotcha" on another machine. UAC is not the problem, NTFS permissions are the problem. Leaving UAC off just lets you get your work done on that machine, but doesn't really solve the problem, and is dangerous besides.

Does that make sense?

Microsoft didn't put UAC on Vista to make it inconvenient for people, but to allow the built-in protection to actually work for a change. Too many people run XP as an administrator, and clicking on something accidentally or waiting a few days too long to run Windows Update has resulted in millions of machines joining the spam bot army, or passwords and bank account numbers being transmitted to a crime syndicate. Most of the spam you see is sent from compromised machines where people ran all the time as Administrator. 99% of those machines would not be compromised now if they had figured out how to run as regular users instead, and spam would only be a major problem instead of an overwhelming one.

MC

Tim Clark
Tim Clark's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 years 4 months ago
Joined: 2006-06-18 13:55
Well Done

Well thought out,
Well written.

Thank you,

Tim

Things have got to get better, they can't get worse, or can they?

Bruce Pascoe
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-15 16:14
UAC

Yeah, everyone complains about UAC and I even had it turned off for the whole first year I used Vista, but finally came to my senses and turned it back on. The constant prompts are annoying when you're first setting the OS up (especially if you customize heavily) but after that you barely notice it's there. Smile

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
This raises some interesting issues

Firstly, I thank you for taking the time and trouble to consider and to provide such a detailed response. It does, however, raise some points of peculiarity - not in what you have said, rather in what I am experiencing.

On my home network I have two desktop PCs and two laptops - all Dell. All but the new Vostro are XP fully patched and the Vostro is Vista Home Premium SP1 fully patched. The users are my wife and I and all User Accounts are Administrator accounts. All drives a formatted using NTFS and no additional security or restrictions have been added. One machine has NTFS formatted USB drives to store data and I use SyncBack to synchronize all data backups and Norton Ghost to perform main drive backups so all data is kept separate from the machine drives, the Ghosts are stored on the USB data drive and this drive in synced to another USB drive.

I do have and have used TrueCrypt but I'm not currently employing it.

My office PC (at which I am sitting) is also XP fully patched but I am working on a locked down network with Group Policies in place. I do not have administrative privileges on this PC (or any of the other work PCs that I might "HotDesk" on) but I've never encountered any problems plugging PortableApps into any machine at this location. Simple things like using the Windows Key+E to launch Windows Explorer are denied to me here and the Group Policy prevents me, on many occasions, from installing software.

I certainly agree with you that UAC has a valuable role to play but because I do not have the knowledge of a System Administrator I am unable to diagnose why having it switched on on my Vostro prevents PA from running but working, as I am, as a humble scribe with all the privileges of a Dickensian plebian (to mix era somewhat) I can access fully PA in all of its glory.

I'll have a poke around over the weekend to see if I can find anything of interest but I know that if I do find anything interesting that it will be by dumb luck rather than by informed investigation.

This is, however, a hugely interesting exercise and its outcome, I feel, will be of interest to PA users and developers alike.

Kind regards,

Martyn

grey88
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 2007-08-26 16:05
Run as Administrator

Run as Administrator (right click on StartPortableApps.exe) works for me in Vista... my WD 120GIG external drive was formatted NTFS without compression on XP, and as long as I run as administrator, I have no problems with any of my portable software running from the menu. I have not tried running software directly, but I would assume the "Run as Administrator" would be required in my case.

Brian

aka Major PITA... ask me what it means, as you will be amused...

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Online
Last seen: 48 min 57 sec ago
AdminDeveloperModeratorTranslator
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
NTFS

If your removable drive is formatted NTFS, be sure it was formatted without security otherwise Vista will have major issues with it.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Is security included with the default formatting of NTFS?

The portable drive was formatted with no specific security added if that information is of help.

On my work PC (User profile of a Dickensien plebian) Administrators, SYSTEM and Creator/Owner have Full Control, there are three entries for Users showing Read & Execute, Create Folders/Append Data and Create Files/Write data in order of appearance and Everyone has Read/Execute in respect of my Portable Drive.

I guess I may be Creator/Owner but that is just a guess. I'll check out the same info on my home machines and see what is reported later on.

Kind regards,

Martyn

Bruce Pascoe
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-15 16:14
NTFS

NTFS is always bound to cause issues like this if you share the drive with multiple computers. The issue here is in how NTFS security works. Basically, when you create a user account in Windows, the account is assigned an ID number. NTFS access control is implemented in terms of these IDs (I assume Linux and OSX AC work similarly): when you set the security for a file, it stores the IDs and the permissions given to each. If, on another system, your user ID (which is independent from your username!) happens to match, then you get the correct permissions. If it doesn't match, you'll likely be denied access.

Vista security is implemented so much differently when UAC is turned on that that's probably what's happened: with UAC on, even admin accounts run as standard users for most of the time and I'd guess the "standard user" half of the equation is assigned a different user ID.

Save yourself the hassle and format the drive as FAT32. I can't see what features NTFS has that you'd absolutely need. Compression is one perk I suppose, but most of the apps here (excluding the Mozilla ones because of licensing issues) have already been heavily UPXed and otherwise squashed down to size. Smile

rab040ma
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 2007-08-27 13:35
If the Administrators group

If the Administrators group and/or the security tokens are removed, what you are left with is the inherent permissions or other groups of the user account.

It's supposed to be impossible for the user IDs to match up from one machine to another.

There are IDs that are common to all machines. Administrators is one, so is Everyone. I think Authenticated Users is also. If your user account has access, you don't need to be a member of the Administrators group. If Everyone has access, your user account doesn't need to be a member of the Administrators group; it gets access through the Everyone group. If Administrators is the only group that gives you access, and you remove that, then you don't get access.

Which is why giving the Everyone group (or perhaps Authenticated Users) full access will pretty much guarantee that any user account will have access, even when not a member of Administrators, no matter what machine. Whether giving Everyone access is exactly the same as converting with /NoSecurity is something I'm not sure of. At any rate, if you're going to make changes like that, you probably want to do it on the Vista machine, so it can set things up the way Vista likes, then test it on the XP machines to make sure it's compatible.

NTFS does journaling and handles larger file sizes. But most people can get by with FAT32.

MC

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Online
Last seen: 48 min 57 sec ago
AdminDeveloperModeratorTranslator
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
Yes

NTFS uses security by default which causes major issues with Vista.

You should reformat your drive as FAT32. And then convert it to NTFS from the command prompt: convert X: /FS:NTFS /NoSecurity

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

ZachHudock
ZachHudock's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Developer
Joined: 2006-12-06 18:07
But be sure to back up all

But be sure to back up all of your data before reformatting Smile

The developer formerly known as ZGitRDun8705

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Now on the Vista box

Being back home I've now tried using PortableApps with UAC switched on (it doesn't work though the drive is fully accessible) and, using TweakUAC setting UAC into silent mode and it's the same as UAC=On. So on my Vista box As it atands I have to switch UAC off. I've checked the vrious permissions and those that apply are the same as for any other XP PC that I am using.

The data is fully backed up (twice) as a matter of routine automation so I'll get a patch cable (to speed things up rather than using wireless lan), reformat the 80GB drive as FAT32 then bring back all the data and see if this makes any difference. I'll report back what I find.

Thanks again one and all,

Kind regards,

Martyn

Hansaplast
Offline
Last seen: 12 years 5 months ago
Joined: 2006-11-24 18:59
Modify rights?

I found a little VBS tool that might be helpful in this case;
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/318754

It allows to review and/or modify NTFS access right.

I did review my own portable drive (since I'm experiencing the same issues with Vista) using "xcacls g:\*" (G is my USB drive). It showed me example:

**************************************************************************
Directory: G:\PortableApps

Permissions:
Type Username Permissions Inheritance

Allowed BUILTIN\Administrators Full Control This Folder, Subfolde
Allowed NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM Full Control This Folder, Subfolde
Allowed MYCOMP\HANS Full Control This Folder Only
Allowed \CREATOR OWNER Special (Unknown) Subfolders and Files
Allowed BUILTIN\Users Read and Execute This Folder, Subfolde
Allowed BUILTIN\Users Advanced (Create Fold This Folder and Subfo
Allowed BUILTIN\Users Advanced (Create File This Folder and Subfo

No Auditing set

Owner: MYCOMP\HANS
**************************************************************************

(MYCOMP = my computer name, HANS = username)

This tells me that the user group "Users" has full access.
AFAIK this group exists on every system ...?

So what's next? Add "Everybody"??? Any suggestions?

rab040ma
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 2007-08-27 13:35
When I use that utility,

When I use that utility, when Users has full control it looks like this:

Allowed  BUILTIN\Users           Full Control

When the Authenticated Users group has permission to modify or delete, it looks like this:

Allowed  NT AUTHORITY\Authentica Modify

The more "limited" permissions I have set for a directory looks like this:

Allowed  BUILTIN\Users           Read and Execute

I'd say that "Modify" is what you should be shooting for. "Read and Execute" is just that; it won't allow modification or deletion.

MC

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Online
Last seen: 48 min 57 sec ago
AdminDeveloperModeratorTranslator
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
Unnecessary

This is completely unnecessary. Either use FAT32. Or use NTFS and be sure you've disabled security as I mentioned above. Otherwise, you will have issues with *EVERY* Vista PC you come across.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
FAT32 - 32GB drive limit

Hi John...

FAT32 seems to have a drive limit of 32GB (though the theoretical limit is, I believe, 8TB).

I've not tried to convert an 80GB NTFS drive to add the /NoSecurity switch but I'll look up info on the Web and see if there are any No Nos before cracking on.

I'll let you know what transpires from this.

Kind regards,

Martyn

Bruce Pascoe
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-15 16:14
...

Actually the 32GB limit is arbitrary, imposed only on XP and Vista (to get people to switch to NTFS). I guess they weren't thinking of removable drives, though; XP won't let you format a removable drive as NTFS by default (unless you change a setting that the average user will probably never find), meaning you can't format any removable drive over 32GB at all in XP (there's no file system to select). The limit doesn't exist in 9x. If you could get your hands on a copy of Win98SE or WinMe, you could format it as FAT32 there...

ZachHudock
ZachHudock's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Developer
Joined: 2006-12-06 18:07
Or he could use a Linux

Or he could use a Linux distro that includes gparted or a similar tool...

The developer formerly known as ZGitRDun8705

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
Can only format as NTFS unless using command line

On my work XP box Windows Explorer only allows me to format the 80GB USB Drive in NTFS. The command prompt enables me to create FAT and FAT32 but only up to 32GB so convert with /NoSecurity would be based on a 32GB drive.

Sadly I can't use Convert on an NTFS drive to add the /NoSecurity attribute - bummer!

What I can do, however is open the properties for the drive, go to the security tab and set full permissions for the drive manually.

As I write this is being done so I'll test it out this evening on my Vista box and report back!

As "The Governator" said,

"I'll be back!"

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Online
Last seen: 48 min 57 sec ago
AdminDeveloperModeratorTranslator
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
No

Once again... NO!

Do not set permissions on the drive. It will NOT work right on other Vista boxes.

Reformat the drive to FAT32 from the command line or using one of the tools floating around (like the HP format utility or something else).

Then convert it using the options laid out above.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Bruce Pascoe
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-15 16:14
...

Nope, format Secret /FS:FAT32 doesn't work from the command line if the drive is over 32GB. I've tried it already.

And /NoSecurity doesn't actually turn off security--I'm pretty sure it just sets the permissions so that everyone has read/write access. NTFS unfortunately has mandatory access control, keyword mandatory.

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
I set the permissions on an XP box

Hi John...

Rather than setting the permissions on a Vista box I set them on an XP Box on my work network. Then, having ensured my Vista was fully secured I attached my drive to the Vista box on my home network and Portable Apps (and everything else) has, thus far, been fully functional.

When you say, "Do not set permissions on the drive. It will NOT work right on other Vista boxes," does this mean do not set permissions on the drive on a Vista box or on any box? Perhaps setting them on one Vista box may set them for that box whilst setting them in XP may apply them for all Vista boxes. This I cannot test because I only have the one Vista box.

If this latter thought is true then one can format any drive in XP then set its permissions to Full Control for each entry in the Security Tab in the Properties dialog. Certainly having moved the drive from this work CP box to my Vista Box then to another XP box at home and now back to work XP box all the permissions have remained as set and I haven't yet found any issues arising.

Kind regards,

Martyn

Jimbo
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 2007-12-17 05:43
-IF- you get the permissions -EXACTLY- right, it should be fine

BUT.... that is easier said than done.

Some of the groups and special accounts, such as Everyone, Users, Authenticated Users, etc that appear on every windows machine are common to all windows machines, whereas others, which have the same name everywhere, have different UUIDs, which means that they'll appear correctly, and work perfectly one one machine, but fail to allow access on another. As far as I remember, the Users, Power Users, Authenticated Users, etc. groups are like this.

You might think that by allowing all Users full access, you would be fine, but when you move to a different box, the group that is allowed access is actually "Users (on that PC over there that this PC has no ability to authenticate against)", which would fail.

If you set the ownership and access rights on the root directory to be exactly what a convert /nosecurity sets them to, and you then force it to copy down to every subfolder, forcing them to inherit from parent, and deleting all uninherited definitions, then you -should- find that it works fine on all machines..... until something sometime changes the access rights of some folder somewhere... uncommon, but it still happens.

NTFS security is.... annoying at times. Good luck with it Smile

Bruce Pascoe
Offline
Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-15 16:14
...

So if Everyone is common to all machines (including its UUID), then giving Everyone full control should be enough...

MartynB
Offline
Last seen: 13 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2008-01-19 09:12
...

Hope so, Bruce. My brain is really beginning to fry and my indent almost runneth over...

I'm going to make a feeble attempt to summarize...

With an NTFS formatted Hard Drive, ideally it should be formatted at the command prompt using the /NoSecurity switch.

If the drive is already formatted to NTFS it cannot be converted to /NoSecurity at the command prompt but under the Security tab of the Properties dialog the EVERYONE user should be set to Full Control.

If done on an XP machine this appears to enable Portable Apps to work fully and correctly on a Vista Box with UAC switched on.

So far as I can see this approach appears to work without recourse to any other resources (older operating systems, etc) and this should become clearer once others far smarter than I have been able to prove or disprove the possible solution.

I'm now going to get very, very drunk (and I'm teetotal!)

Patrick Patience
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
DeveloperModerator
Joined: 2007-02-20 19:26
Shorten Topic Header

Would someone (John, Ryan, etc) mind shortening or breaking the topic of this post. It stretches the column quite a bit, and it's been at the top for a while now.

Thanks.

Ryan McCue
Ryan McCue's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 years 10 months ago
Joined: 2006-01-06 21:27
Done.

Short enough for you now?

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."

Log in or register to post comments