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You might think legal computer hacking sounds like an oxymoron, but really, it's the furthest thing from it. More and more computer users today are modifying their computers to run all sorts of interesting programs that are legal and fun to use. And while "computer hacking" evokes thoughts of a Matrix-like environment filled with 30 computer screens and a single genius who is able to bend PCs to his will, I'm here to tell you that any average Joe can actually accomplish some "hacking" of his own.
First, let's start with a definition and a disclaimer. Hackers and Hacking have many different definitions, the most notable being that a hacker is someone who uses technology to circumvent copyright systems and securities measures. Today, there are a couple different kinds of hackers, those who attack via the Internet (black hats), those who attack via telephone (phreakers) , and those who debug or fix safety holes in programs (white hats). That was the definition, now onto the disclaimer. We here at Bright Hub love helping you get the most out of your technology - however, our love ends where legal issues begin - therefore, if you're looking for illegal hacking tips, your time is better spent googling than reading this article because all the programs we will be describing are perfectly legal and do not achieve the aforementioned definition in any way, shape or form.
Now that the unpleasant part is out of the way, let's look at our first "hacking" exercise - changing the Windows intro screen. This is the screen that you see every time you boot up your computer - in Vista, it's a black screen with a small loading bar in the middle. Using special programs, it's easily possible to change the background image of that screen, or (if you're more adventurous) to change the loading bar all together.
Let's switch out that old boot screen, keep in mind that the method I am about to describe theoretically works on Vista, but has only been 100% tested on XP. First, you need a 640 x 480 picture file to be able to pull this off, since the boot.ini file will only recognize a 16 bit color, 640 x 480 screen. Once you're done editing said photo, save it as "boot.bmp" and place it inside the Windows folder.
Got the pic? Good. Now, what you'll want to do is to edit your boot.ini file - I'll walk you through it.
First, go to your desktop and right click the computer icon. Next, go ahead and click on "properties". Click on the "Advanced System Settings" button or tab, depending on the interface you're working with. Once inside there, click on "Edit" after confirming what operating system you're working with. Once that's done, you'll be greeted by a new prompt that will hopefully read something along the lines of:multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)4 partition(1)\WINDOWS=” Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn
Now, all you need to do is add the following line of code at the end of that line:/bootlogo /noguiboot
Now, restart your computer and you should see your picture pop up instead of the bland loading screen.
Should something go wrong, retrace your steps and see what you did wrong - in the event of a total computer meltdown, I highly recommend a program called BartPE that runs a windows shell. Through Bart, you can re-edit the boot.ini, but again, that's only in the highly unlikely event that something could go wrong - assuming you followed all the steps to the letter, you should just reboot and be greeted by a nicer-looking boot screen.
Again, the boot screen is just one of many examples of using "hacking" skills (read: coding skills) to be able to change the interface and operation of your system. By modifying code lines, you'll often find that you can achieve things you never thought possible.