Friday, January 9, 2009

Editing Windows Registry Through Linux

There are many Windows/Linux dual booters out there that manage to somehow mess up the registry on their Windows partition (usually the case causing them to not be able to boot.) When this happens most users do not know where to turn other than to a Windows disc. BUT, there is a solution.

Windows stores registry files in the "C:\Windows\System32\config" directory. While there do not seem to be any Linux utilities to open/edit these hives, there is still a solution. Of course -- using 3rd party Windows registry viewers/editors through WINE. There are many 3rd party programs that work similar to regedit, usually only allowing you to view registry hives and export them to REGEDIT4 format (.reg files used to modify the registry.) An example of one of these would be Regworks. These programs can be used very easily to do many tasks.

For an example, you could use these programs to extract registry trees related to certain Windows programs that do not work quite correctly through WINE. For instance, Adobe Photoshop. At the moment WINE does not fully install this program, so in order to get it to work, you just need to export the HKLM\Software\Adobe tree into a .reg file and run it through WINE's regedit. As compared to guides out there about how to install Adobe Photoshop, this keeps you from needing to log onto Windows and extract it, then switch back to run. And no one's perfect. It's easy to mess that up or forget something and need to make multiple annoying trips back and forth.

There are many reasons why someone could need to edit their Windows registry from a Linux machine, and I hope this little trick will help someone out there solve a problem.

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  1. Yeah, thanks!
    I completely messed up my Windows by trying to change the device letter, I want to change it back to how it was. I used the registry editor...

  2. THANK YOU!!

    I screwed up my sister's LogonUI....and the hard drive was locked in Linux due to a forced shutdown of XP (...had to force the Linux mount)....and after those obstacles, I thought I was going to be cut short by the one step that shouldn't even be a problem.

  3. Pretty cool, I'm going to try that to get rid of a locked key leftover from malware. Glad I carry my linux on a flash drive at work.

  4. You don't have to use wine ;)
    chntpw is glad to help you

  5. chntpw doesn't seem to work on XP, or am I wrong? It said to me:
    openHive(system): File does not seem to be a registry hive!

    I'm still looking for a proper editor. The first paragraph ("there is a solution" for recovery) seems to contradict the second ("no utilities.. to open/edit hives"), and instead starts talking about how to extract useful hive info. If I misread, please let me know. Otherwise, sloppy..

  6. Wow great idea. I haven't do it via Linux. Thanks for the nice informative post that help me alot in expanding my skills. Windows Registry Cleaner Reviews

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  8. hi,You have a very good blog that the main thing a lot of interesting and useful!linux flash drive , thanks

  9. Your link to regworks takes me to some Russian website, which is probably up to no good. can you modify or remove this link. Thanks