DUST icon

DUST 1.6

Downloads :
Total: 24  |  
Product Version :
1.6
Producer :
License type :
Shareware | Price : 15.00 USD
Size :
1.37 MB
Category :
March 26, 2013, 08:26
User Rating : (UNRATED)
OS Supported :
Windows 7
Windows Vista
WinXP
Windows 8

DUST Information

Publisher's Description:

Switch users directly with chosen hot key plus password saving & automatic logon

Windows XP and later versions have a Fast User Switching mode of operation that allows more than one user to be logged onto the computer at the same time. This is accomplished by creating a separate session for each user that logs on, however only one of these sessions is allowed to be active at any one time, whether that is sitting at the machine (termed the console) or via a remote connection. You can switch from one user session to another by using the hot key combination of WinKey+L (the Windows logo key and the L key together) or by using the Switch User button on the log off dialog. Both of these methods disconnect the current session (rather than ending it) and present the welcome screen. At this point logging in as another user will either connect you with the previously disconnected session for that user or create a new session for that user. This process can be used to create multiple sessions and to switch between them.

The Direct User Switching Task (DUST) extends this functionality by providing the ability to switch directly to another user session, via a hot key, without going through the Windows welcome screen. This uses a popup menu of icons in a similar style to Alt+Tab task switching (including using the Shift key to reverse the selection direction). The benefits this task provides over standard Fast User Switching are as follows:

- Can switch directly to another user session via a hot key without going through the Windows welcome/login screen.
- An option to switch directly to another session via a menu off a notification area icon (useful for tablet computers).
- Can switch to a known user or the next/previous session via a command line tool for custom integration solutions.
- Allows user switching when the Windows XP welcome screen has been turned off for the classic logon prompt.
- Allows user switching when the Windows XP computer is a member of a domain.
- Can optionally save passwords and automatically logon on with them.

The default hot key is WinKey+S, but during installation a different key combination can be chosen. This can involve any combination of WinKey, Alt and Control (but not Shift) as the key (or keys) that need to be held down whilst another key is pressed to access the popup menu. The rest of this documentation refers to the chosen combination that needs to be held down as the DustKey. The Direct User Switching Task runs in every user session and provides the functionality to switch away from the current user. Hence immediately after installation the task will not be running in existing sessions until the user logs out and logs back in again (or the task is explicitly started from its installation directory).

The following screen shot shows the popup menu where repeated pressing of the hot key (whilst the DustKey is held down) causes the next item in the list to be selected. The first item will disconnect the current session and the last item will simply cancel the popup (as will DustKey+Esc). All intermediate items will have the picture for the appropriate user of that session (if available) and when selecting the item the session number and user name will be displayed.

Disconnect Rather than Lock

Ordinarily to protect the user session, the system can lock the workstation when the screen saver deactivates and also via other means like smartcard removal. It is just as secure to disconnect the session instead and this does not block another user from accessing the computer. There is an option to monitor session activity and whenever the session is locked it is disconnected instead. In addition to avoiding automatic locking this is useful for administrators to block deliberate locking. If you want to just avoid screen saver locking then there is a special disconnect screen saver available below.
User Settings and Passwords

By default each user has their own settings for DUST and passwords are saved to the users registry (under the key HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareWay Beyond ComputingDUSTPasswords). This allows for multiple circles within which passwords are known. However in cases where all passwords are known by everybody it can be tedious to repeat the same passwords for each user. Hence DUST has a Use only global saved passwords and options feature that causes passwords to be saved globally (under the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareWay Beyond ComputingDUSTPasswords) if permissions allow. In this mode any user settings and saved passwords are ignored. Normally administrators will be able to save passwords and everybody will be able to use them. If the administrator privileges option is also used then everybody will be able to save passwords. If this feature is later turned off then any global saved passwords will still be available to all users, acting as a fallback after any equivalent user saved password has been tried. The control panel applet allows these global saved passwords to be retained or deleted when the option is disabled.

Please note that passwords saved within a user�s registry will only work for that user but on any computer (for example roaming profiles). Likewise passwords under the system registry will only work for that computer but for all users.
Blank Passwords under Windows Vista/7/8

You are likely to encounter an error under Windows Vista/7/8 if you try to switch to a session using a blank password. This is due to the Local Security Policy setting Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only under the Security Options section of Local Policies. This error applies even if the current session is on the console and Windows XP does not suffer from this restriction. The solution is to disable the setting, however this will allow blank password accounts to be used for network and Terminal Services logons that would not have been possible before. Hence you should consider adding such accounts to the Deny access to this computer from the network and the Deny logon through Terminal Services settings within the User Rights Assignment section of Local Policies.

The Local Security Policy settings are changed through the MMC snap-in secpol.msc that is not available on all versions of Windows Vista/7/8 that support switching, for example Windows 7 Home Premium. Hence it is possible to disable the setting by changing the DWORD registry value LimitBlankPasswordUse under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlLsa to zero. To deny account access you can get the ntrights.exe tool from the Windows 2003 Resource Kit (see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315276) and use the commands "ntrights -u user +r SeDenyNetworkLogonRight" and "ntrights -u user +r SeDenyRemoteInteractiveLogonRight" for each user.
Classic Logon under Windows XP

Through the User Accounts Control Panel it is possible to disable the welcome screen (via the Change the way users log on or off link) such that you get the classic logon prompt, however if this is done Fast User Switching is also disabled. This is an artificial restriction probably imposed because there is no convenient way to switch users, as under classic logon the WinKey+L hot key locks the current session as opposed to going to the logon screen. As the Direct User Switching Task provides a convenient way to switch users, you have the option to enforce Fast User Switching such that disabling the welcome screen does not disable Fast User Switching. In addition the Direct User Switching Task installer provides the means to enable the classic logon prompt as the User Accounts Control Panel does not allow the welcome screen to be disabled when there are multiple user sessions. The welcome screen cannot be turned off under Windows Vista and later versions.
Enforcing Windows XP Fast User Switching

As mentioned in the last section there is an option to enforce Fast User Switching. This is achieved through a service that monitors specific changes to the registry and then makes adjustments as necessary. This option is required if you want to use the classic logon prompt or if your Windows XP computer is part of a domain, as these situations do not support user switching unless Direct User Switching Task has been installed. The Offline Files feature is not compatible with multiple user sessions and Windows XP ensures that Offline Files cannot be enabled in these circumstances. As enforcing Fast User Switching creates more situations for multiple sessions the service prevents the Offline Files feature from being enabled but does not actively disable it. There could be situations where Offline Files is enabled when the service is not running and to protect against these you could set up a Group Policy to disallow the Offline Files feature and another to prohibit configuration by removing the property sheet page. Under Windows Vista and later versions, user switching is always possible and hence the enforce Fast User Switching option is not required.
Direct Switching Considerations

By default only computer administrators are allowed to switch directly to another account with the result that once switched to a limited account you would need to disconnect to the logon screen in order to switch to another user. However this can be changed under Windows XP Professional through the System Control Panel by using the Remote tab and then Select Remote Users to add the limited users from which you would like to switch. For advanced users this is equivalent to adding the user to the Remote Desktop Users group.

To allow unrestricted switching under Windows XP Home and Windows Vista/7/8, a new Use administrator privileges for switching option has been added to the DUST control panel applet. When selected the DUST programs under each logon session run under the Local Service account with the Administrator group and privileges granted to it, thus allowing every user to switch. For maximum security the program impersonates the logged user except when performing an operation that requires administrator privileges. This option is enabled by default for all operating systems. Disable the option to have the DUST programs run as the logged on user and thus restrict which users can switch. When disabled under Windows Vista/7/8, the program will run elevated if the user is an administrator, thus allowing the user to switch.
Command Line Support

It is now possible to invoke the switching functionality via a command line tool that allows you to create your own icons or tasks. The tool called DUSTcmd.exe (within the DUST install directory) simply initiates the same option as if you had selected it interactively. Thus any prompting for passwords or displaying of errors will be via the usual graphical interface.

The syntax of the tool is as follows "DUSTcmd [/exec[:*]] " where "/exec" causes the command to be executed within the tool rather than being sent to the DUST client (if there is no client or an error in communicating with it then the tool falls back to this mode). The difference between the two is the privilege level of the tool versus the DUST client. If you use "/exec:*" then the tool will elevate itself as required along with the usual system dialogs. Under Windows XP it is possible to enter a user that is not an administrator however this will cause the tool to fail ("/exec" is not supported for Windows 2000). For security reasons the tool will only communicate with the DUST client if it is run as the user of the session.

The supported command lines are as follows:

    "disconnect" which disconnects the current session.
    "connect [/disconerr]" which connects to the identified session. The session identifier can be a user name of the form "[]", a SID, a session ID or a session offset of the form - or +. To force it to be treated as a user name or a session ID follow it with "/user" or "/session" respectively. The offset applies to session entries within the list and not session ID values; hence "+1" means the next entry and can wrap around to the beginning but will not be valid if there is only one entry. By default if the session does not exist then an error message will be displayed, however if "/disconerr" is used then the session will be disconnected such that the required session can be created.

Command line support within the DUST client is disabled by default and the tool provides additional commands to administer this according to the following syntax "{enable | disable} [/system | /lock | /unlock]". As with all DUST settings there is a system default value and possibly an override at the user level. The "/system" option causes the system default to be changed. The "/lock" option causes user changes to be explicit and persists until the "/unlock" option is used. Otherwise "enable" does nothing if the system default is enabled already and "disable" just reverts to the system default. Hence if you want to enable support regardless of what the system default may become later then use "enable /lock". To fall back to the system default use "disable /unlock".

The main commands (not administration commands) can be invoked without generating a console window through use of rundll32 via the following syntax "rundll32 DUST.dll,Invoke ". This assumes the command is run from the DUST install directory; otherwise you will need to supply the full path to the DUST.dll file. To get the same behaviour as the "/exec" option, use "Exec" instead of "Invoke".
Automated Silent Installs

InstallShield silent installs are supported through the normal syntax and can be used via the downloaded PackageForTheWeb installer with initial options of "-s -a". Hence to record an installation use the command "dust13.exe -s -a -r" that will create/overwrite %SystemRoot%setup.iss as an InstallShield silent response file. Then to perform the silent install invoke the command "dust13.exe -s -a -s -f1%SystemRoot%setup.iss", if the response file is copied/moved make sure the full pathname is used via the -f1 option and that it is enclosed in double quotation marks if the name contains spaces. Please be aware that actions taken as a result of prompts within the control panel applet are not performed during the silent install. For instance disabling Offline Files when the Enforce Fast User Switching option is enabled, however Offline Files can be disabled via Group Policy.

It is possible to hand edit the setup.iss file and modify the install path to make use of environment variables, for example the line "szDir=C:Program FilesWay Beyond ComputingDUST" could be changed to "szDir=%ProgramFiles%Way Beyond ComputingDUST". This is the only line that can be changed in this way.

Requirements:

As for Windows Fast User Switching

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