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Archive for the ‘XP-embedded’ Category

.NET/C# – TEE filter that also runs on Windows (XP) Embedded

Posted by jpluimers on 2010/04/07

The usage of tee - image courtesey of Wikipedia

The tee command stems from a *nix background.
It is a command-line filter that allows you to deviate a stream from the regular stdout/stdin redirected pipeline into a file.

Recently, I needed this in a Windows Embedded Stadard (a.k.a. WES) system for logging purposes.
This way, a post-install-script (similar to the Windows Post-Install Wizard, but command-line based) could log to both the console and a log-file at the same time.

WES is the successor Windows XP Embedded (a.k.a. XPe), which is a modularized version of Windows XP.
Se WES usually means that you don’t have the luxury of everything that Windows XP has.
This in turn means that you need to be careful when selecting external tools: a lot of stuff that works on plain Windows XP won’t work.

There are various Win32 ports of tee available.
This time however, I needed a Unicode implementation, so I searched for a .NET based implementation.

Windows PowerShell 2.0 does contain a tee implementation, but:

  1. We don’t have the luxury of having PowerShell in our WES image
  2. PowerShell tee first writes the contents to e temporary file, which interferes with how we build this WES image.

Luckily Sterling W. “Chip” Camden started with such a .NET implementation of tee – in Visual C++ – back in 2005.
Though his TEE page indicates it is based on .NET 1.1, his current implementation is done in Visual Studio 2008 using C++.

Now that is a problem for the targeted WES image: that image is based on .NET 2.0.
But when using Visual C++ in .NET, you need additional run-time libraries (for instance the ones for Visual C++ 2005, or the ones for Visual C++ 2008).

If you don’t have these installed, tee.exe does not start, and you get error messages like this on the command-line:

The system cannot execute the specified program.

and entries like this in the Eventlog:

Event Type: Error
Event Source: SideBySide
Event Category: None
Event ID: 59
Date: 01/04/2010
Time: 19:09:22
User: N/A
Generate Activation Context failed for K:\Post-Install-Scripts\tee.exe. Reference error message: The operation completed successfully.

The odd thing in this error message is “The operation completed successfully”: it didn’t :-)

Anyway: translating the underlying C++ code to C# is pretty straightforward, so:

The C# implementation

I did change a few things, none of them major:

  • replaced some for statements with foreach
  • renamed a few variables to make them more readable
  • added using statements for stdin and stdout
  • added try…finally for cleaning up the binary writers
  • moved the logic for duplicate filenames into a separate method, and moved the moment of checking to the point of adding the filename to the filenames
  • moved the help into a separate method
  • added support for the -h (same behaviour as –help or /?) command-line argument

The implementation is pretty straightforward:

  • Perform parameter parsing
  • Catch all input bytes from the stdin stream
  • Copy those bytes to both the stdout stream, and the files specified on the command-line
  • Send errors to the stderr stream
  • Do the proper initialization and cleanup

This is the C# code:

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Collections.Generic;
// Sends standard input to standard output and to all files in command line.
// C# implementation april 4th, 2010 by Jeroen Wiert Pluimers (,
// based on tee Chip Camden, Camden Software Consulting, November 2005
// 	... and Anonymous Cowards everywhere!
// TEE [-a | --append] [-i | --ignore] [--help | /?] [-f] [file1] [...]
//    Example:
// 	tee --append file0.txt -f --help file2.txt
//    will append to file0.txt, --help, and file2.txt
// -a | --append	Appends files instead of overwriting
// 			  (setting is per tee instance)
// -i | --ignore	Ignore cancel Ctrl+C keypress: see UnixUtils tee
// /? | --help		Displays this message and immediately quits
// -f			Stop recognizing flags, force all following filenames literally
// Duplicate filenames are quietly ignored.
// Press Ctrl+Z (End of File character) then Enter to abort.
namespace tee
    class Program
        static void help()
            Console.Error.WriteLine("Sends standard input to standard output and to all files in command line.");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("C# implementation april 4th, 2010 by Jeroen Wiert Pluimers (,");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("Chip Camden, Camden Software Consulting, November 2005");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("	... and Anonymous Cowards everywhere!");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("tee [-a | --append] [-i | --ignore] [--help | /?] [-f] [file1] [...]");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("   Example:");
            Console.Error.WriteLine(" tee --append file0.txt -f --help file2.txt");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("   will append to file0.txt, --help, and file2.txt");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("-a | --append    Appends files instead of overwriting");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("                 (setting is per tee instance)");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("-i | --ignore    Ignore cancel Ctrl+C keypress: see UnixUtils tee");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("/? | --help      Displays this message and immediately quits");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("-f               Stop recognizing flags, force all following filenames literally");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("Duplicate filenames are quietly ignored.");
            Console.Error.WriteLine("Press Ctrl+Z (End of File character) then Enter to abort.");

        static void OnCancelKeyPressed(Object sender, ConsoleCancelEventArgs args)
            // Set the Cancel property to true to prevent the process from
            // terminating.
            args.Cancel = true;

        static List<String> filenames = new List<String>();

        static void addFilename(string value)
            if (-1 == filenames.IndexOf(value))

        static int Main(string[] args)
                bool appendToFiles = false;
                bool stopInterpretingFlags = false;
                bool ignoreCtrlC = false;

                foreach (string arg in args)
                    //Since we're already parsing.... might as well check for flags:
                    if (stopInterpretingFlags)  //Stop interpreting flags, assume is filename
                    else if (arg.Equals("/?") || arg.Equals("-h") || arg.Equals("--help"))
                        return 1; //Quit immediately
                    else if (arg.Equals("-a") || arg.Equals("--append"))
                        appendToFiles = true;
                    else if (arg.Equals("-i") || arg.Equals("--ignore"))
                        ignoreCtrlC = true;
                    else if (arg.Equals("-f"))
                        stopInterpretingFlags = true;
                    {	//If it isn't any of the above, it's a filename
                    //Add more flags as necessary, just remember to SKIP adding them to the file processing stream!

                if (ignoreCtrlC) //Implement the Ctrl+C fix selectively (mirror UnixUtils tee behavior)
                    Console.CancelKeyPress += new ConsoleCancelEventHandler(OnCancelKeyPressed);

                List<BinaryWriter> binaryWriters = new List<BinaryWriter>(filenames.Count); //Add only as many streams as there are distinct files
                    foreach (String filename in filenames)
                        binaryWriters.Add(new BinaryWriter(appendToFiles ?
                            File.AppendText(filename).BaseStream :
                            File.Create(filename)));  // Open the files specified as arguments
                    using (BinaryReader stdin = new BinaryReader(Console.OpenStandardInput()))
                        using (BinaryWriter stdout = new BinaryWriter(Console.OpenStandardOutput()))
                            Byte b;
                            while (true)
                                    b = stdin.ReadByte();  // Read standard in
                                catch (EndOfStreamException)
                                // The actual tee:
                                stdout.Write(b); // Write standard out
                                foreach (BinaryWriter binaryWriter in binaryWriters)
                                    binaryWriter.Write(b); // Write to each file
                    foreach (BinaryWriter binaryWriter in binaryWriters)
                        binaryWriter.Flush();  // Flush and close each file
            catch (Exception ex)
                Console.Error.WriteLine(String.Concat("tee: ", ex.Message));  // Send error messages to stderr

            return 0;

Some alternatives that might (or might not) support unicode: (cannot be downloaded any more – pitty, as they were pretty good)


Update: 201009041030 – Syntax highlighting didn’t work, so changed
sourcecode language=”C#
sourcecode language=”csharp

Posted in .NET, C#, C# 2.0, CommandLine, Development, Encoding, Power User, Software Development, Unicode, UTF-8, Visual Studio and tools, XP-embedded | 13 Comments »

Windows Embedded – disable/enable W32Time “Windows Time” service

Posted by jpluimers on 2010/03/15

In some environments having the “” service (W32Time) running is not desirable.

Circumstances where you might want to disable W32Time include:

  • scheduling algorithms that are sensitive to sudden time changes
  • usage of other time synchronization mechanisms

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Development, Power User, XP-embedded | 2 Comments »

Windows Vista/7 – solution for multimedia (Flash!) throttles your network: NetworkThrottlingIndex

Posted by jpluimers on 2010/02/09

When you play multimedia on Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008, your network performance is throttled.

This behaviour was not present in Windows XP, but was introduced in Windows Vista and still present in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008.

From Vista SP1 on (including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008), this behaviour is configurable in the registry by changing a registry value.
The Microsoft knowledge base explains this is the NetworkThrottlingIndex value, but falsely indicates at the bottom it is for Windows Vista SP1 only (it actually works since Vista SP1, so this includes both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Development, Power User, Software Development, XP-embedded | Leave a Comment »

XP embedded – .NET Framework 3.0

Posted by jpluimers on 2009/10/27

The “out of the box” .NET 3.0 component in Windows XP Embedded drags way too many required components (like the System Restore Core) into your image.

So most people build their own .NET 3.0 component.

If you get errors like this when you make your own, then you didn’t get your dependencies right.

These are the dependencies for the .NET 3.0 framework:

  • .NET Framework 2.0
  • ASP.NET 2.0

These are the error messages you get when you forget the ASP.NET 2.0 dependency:

Of course I always get all my dependencies right :-)
(yeah right, not this time)


Posted in Development, XP-embedded | Leave a Comment »

C# / .NET – setting or clearing the Password Never Expires flag for a user

Posted by jpluimers on 2009/10/11

Recently, I had to change the “Password Never Expires” flag for some users on Windows systems.

In the past, there used to be a netuser tool available from WindowsITPro where you could use the pwnexp flag to set or clear that flag.
That tool seems to be vanished, so I was searching for alternatives.

Most alternatives I found depend on some  kind of scripting, or the use of the WMIC WMI command line interface: that was “out” because this particular setup is running on Windows XP Embedded, which is trimmed down very much.
The only C# example I found was on CodeProject, but it does

  • not take into account the existing flags correctly,
  • have  hard coded literals without any references where they are from,
  • use bit flag arithmetic without letting the C# compiler do its magic with enums,
  • use a call to the deprecated  InvokeGet method,
  • use the Invoke(“Put”, … way of calling that so many people use (which actually should have been an – also deprecated – InvokeSet method),
  • use COM Interop

Hence the solution below:
C#, with the proper ADS_USER_FLAG_ENUM enum from the MSDN documentation and no COM Interop, it also moves all literals to constants.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in .NET, C#, C# 2.0, CommandLine, Development, Software Development, XP-embedded | Leave a Comment »

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