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NI Week 2012 Wrap Up - Customizing Windows Embedded

NI Week 2012 Wrap Up - Customizing Windows Embedded

The days have certainly flown by, and, I’m sad to say, NI Week 2012 has run its course. The last day was shorter and leaner than the others, so, unfortunately, none of the sessions really stood out to me. I did learn a little more about TestStand and sat in on a session on Network Connection Managers that reaffirmed a lot of DMC’s decisions in developing the network messaging daemon that we use. I also got an interesting look from JKI at a Continuous Integration implementation for LabVIEW. I was happy to see that they use some of the same tools that we do at DMC.

Without anything from day 4 to really write home about though, I figured I’d jump back to Tuesday to highlight a Windows Embedded presentation given by NI’s Andrew Mierau. I had worked on Windows Embedded a few times over the years, but never had the chance to really reap all of the benefits, so it was helpful to hear someone with significant domain knowledge recap his top tips.

Firstly, the newest embedded version of Windows, Windows Embedded Standard 7, seems much easier to work with and is fully compatible with LabVIEW and many NI drivers. This customizable build of Windows 7 offers many robust features and shouldn’t be grouped with the watered down embedded version, Windows CE (or Compact as they are calling it now.) There is also a Point of Sale tailored version, but it probably doesn’t fit for a lot of what we typically work with.

One of the coolest WES7 features is the ability to protect the system from unintended or malicious modifications. The first tool to do this is the Enhanced Write Filter, which keeps file changes in RAM instead of pushing them to disk. This means that as soon as you reboot, you’ve got a clean image back from when you enabled EWF. A beefed up version of EWF is Hibernate Once, Resume Many or HORM, which lets you essentially lock in a hibernate point from which the system will always resume.

Last but not least, Andrew presented the ease of replacing the Windows shell, explorer.exe. The Windows Explorer is really just an application like any other, so by changing a registry key, you can have windows run your own app for every user or just certain users (note that if you only want to change it for one user, go to HKCU\Software instead of HKLM.) This is great for specialized terminals that are running kiosk or test stand applications, where you only want users to have access to the application they need to be running. Remember to leave a way to get back to explorer or to shut down or log out or you will end up stuck pretty badly.

Well, that’s it. The last post for NI Week 2012. In all, it was a good experience, and even after 5 years of LabVIEW and becoming an architect there were still useful takeaways to gleam (and some of them were even .Net related!)

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