Installation of NT can be done a variety of ways. The CD is bootable, so if your computer supports booting from CD, you are good to go. Or, you can load a mini-copy of NT with 3 boot diskettes.
Finally, you can type Winnt.exe /b and it will put the equivalent of the three boot diskettes in a temporary area and install without the diskettes.
NT is fussy about hardware. This is because all hardware calls must pass through the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL).
This requirement allows NT to be run on different CPU architectures than Intels, such as the DEC Alpha chip and keeps renegade hardware in check.
NT uses a layered structure for protection. An analogy you might think of would be a moat around a castle, with a drawbridge as one of the rings of layered protection. NT uses a number of these layers. Inside the castle walls is called the kernel (layer 0). Like the citizens inside the castle walls, NT is safe if renegades are kept outside the kernel.
Microsoft made a change when they went from NT 3.x to NT 4. For example, video drivers used to be outside the kernel. That meant that to make the monitor work, all video information had to go through the doorway to talk to the kernel. To make NT respond to the user faster, in NT 4 they moved the video drivers to the kernel. That put the pressure on the authors of video drivers to be very careful, lest they crash the kernel.
Should a video driver that is not well behaved get loaded into NT4, the Operating System will go into a fatal tailspin, called a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). This results in a cryptic message at the top of the screen saying something like,
**STOP** IRQ Less Than or Equal to
Followed by four columns of hexadecimal code all the way down the screen in very small type. You dont need a Doctor to know that NT session is dead. So the question arises, how to get out of this mess?
The answer lies below. NT retains the settings from the last session. During the boot up process a message is displayed that says, Press the spacebar NOW for the last known good configuration Pressing this will take you to the configuration that last worked before the BSOD due to the video driver. Caution, pressing this before you are sure new installations are working may take you to reinstall not recovery.
The difference is at the end of all the Disk and Rdisk data there are two switches. One has /SOS which if used replaces the dots with an express call out of the drivers that are loading. That is, it lists each driver on the screen as it loads. Watching this as an NT system boots might provide more information about a problem that is keeping the system from booting all the way up into NT. The other switch is /basevideo which if used calls a plain VGA video driver that operates in 16 colors @ 640x480 pixels.
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