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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Hack Your XP Boot Screen

Maybe you really like the "Windows XP Pro/Home" screen that appears when WinXP boots up, but I doubt it. Jeez. You know what OS you run. You know Microsoft made it. Does it really need to remind you at every startup? No. Allow me to show you how to make the currently obvious (and boring) boot screen say whatever you want. You have two options.

1. Use a boot screen changing program that walks you through the process.
2. Hack your boot screen.

Boot screen programs

I really like Stardock's BootSkin, a free program that works with Windows 2000/XP. Plus, you don't have to mess with the Windows kernel, which can really suck if you do something wrong. I like another good program called Screen Booty even better. It works with Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, but you'll need to pay $18 when the 60-day free trial period ends.

Hacking = more fun

I never like doing things the easy way, so I'm going to explain how to hack your WinXP boot screen by modifying the Windows kernel in Resource Hacker. Modifying the kernel is really risky, and if you mess things up, Windows may not even start. Please be careful. No, onto the danger! Start by getting the tools you need.

Every smart Windows tweaker needs Resource Hacker. Download it.

You'll also need an image editor that can import palettes such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. I'm using Paint Shop Pro's free trial edition.

The step-by-step

1. Locate ntoskrnl.exe in your \Windows\System32 folder. You might have to unhide the folder.

2. Make a copy of your ntoskrnl.exe and rename it ntoskrnl.bak for backup safety.

3. Launch Resource Hacker and open ntoskrnl.exe.

4. In the left hand you will see a list of resources to edit. Open the first tree called Bitmaps and you'll see numbers 1 through 12. The Windows XP Pro bitmaps are numbers 1, 8, and 10. Windows XP Home bitmaps are numbered 1, 7, and 9. The bitmaps are slightly different shapes and sizes based on the graphics and text for each. In this tutorial we'll work with Windows XP Pro. If you use Home, substitute the numbers for your OS.

5. Select No. 1. The bitmap will appear completely black, but it really isn't. For some reason Microsoft removed the color palette from the logo to another location in Windows XP. We'll fix it later in our image editor.

6. Go to the Action Menu and choose "Save Bitmap." You can save the bitmap wherever you want, but remember where you put them for later. Repeat this process for numbers 8 and 10.

7. Open your image editor (my steps are for Paint Shop Pro 8, but you Photoshop experts can go that route). Open all three of your saved bitmap images. When opened, they should appear totally black.

8. We'll have to import the palette to see the actual images. Save the following file to Program Files\Jasc\Paintshoppro\Palettes.

Download Paint Shop Pro Color Palette

Side note: you might need to right-click and "Save Target As" if your browser tries to open the file as a bunch of numbers. Make sure you rename the file with the extention ".PSPpalette" if that's not the extention by default.

9. In Paint Shop Pro, make sure the bitmap 1 window is active and press Shift + O to import your palette. If you have multiple palettes available, select your new one to import the colors used in the original boot screen.

Important: Make sure to select Maintain Indexes in the bottom options before importing. If you've already got all three images open at once in your canvas, you will need to apply the palette to bitmaps 8 and 10 as well with the steps above to make the images visible.

10. Modify the bitmaps however you like and save them over the existing bitmaps 1,8, and 10. They will make up your new boot screen.

11. Open Resource Hacker again, and reopen the ntoskrnl.exe. Under the Action menu, choose "Replace Bitmap." Select Bitmap to Replace for bitmap 1, then click "Open file with new Bitmap" and find your edited image. Click replace. Follow the same steps with bitmap 8 and 10.

12. Once you replace all 3 bitmaps, choose Save As and save your new ntoskrnl.exe to a directory other then the system32 directory. You don't want to overwrite the original while it's in use. Saving it to your desktop is fine.

13. You have the option to test out your new boot screen before totally overwriting the original. First, name your new ntoskrnl.exe something different (like ntsarah.exe). In boot.ini, locate this string:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

Add a line just above it with this string:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="My new boot screen" /fastdetect\kernel=ntsarah.exe (or whatever you named your new ntoskrnl.exe)

Now, move your new and renamed ntoskrnl.exe back into your system32 folder. This will allow you to choose which kernel you boot into before Windows starts.

Now go ahead and restart. When you get to the prompt, choose "My new boot screen" and see if you like it. If you're happy, go back into boot.ini and delete the string you added.

14. You don't want to keep multiple booting options in your boot.ini. When Windows has critical updates or other updates it needs to install on your system, it only updates what it considers the original kernel, the ntoskrl.exe. Basically, you want to overwrite the original ntoskrnl.exe file so you only have one copy in the System32 folder. Remember, you did make a backup of the true original before at the very start of this exercise, so you can always revert back if you absolutely have to.

In order to overwrite properly, Windows File Protection makes you reboot into safe mode (reboot and hit F8 before the boot screen appears). You could also boot off a DOS bootdisk to overwrite the original ntoskrnl.exe in the System32 folder. Once you overwrite the file, reboot. Your new screen should appear!

If you're still with me, I commend you. I found this exercise really fun. Hopefully you did too.


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Orginal Article: http://freewebdevhelp.siriusdns.net/TechTVArchive/ReadArticle.asp?ArticleID=46


Aight i went into MSCONFIG and found the Boot.ini but i cant add anything b4 it how do i add that string b4 it?


thanks for all the tech help and ideas towards the things that everyone ; i'm sure is bored of in the windows programs....i would love to read more about dos and other other programin' concerns,help,and of course some cool hacks and tweeks.....aside from your tips do ya have any fav books or sites ya vist for info...or past things that you have read to get me started....
any ref' would be greatly appreciated
have a great day:)

wil storrey


thanks for all the tech help and ideas towards the things that everyone ; i'm sure is bored of in the windows programs....i would love to read more about dos and other other programin' concerns,help,and of course some cool hacks and tweeks.....aside from your tips do ya have any fav books or sites ya vist for info...or past things that you have read to get me started....
any ref' would be greatly appreciated
have a great day:)

wil storrey


Can somebody help me locate the palette file ? The link up top is dead. Great article Sarah, Thanks.


I also can't get a connection through the link above. If someone could email me the paletted file, I would appreciate it.


Okay gang, I can get everything to work just fine...however.....
Does anyone know how to get rid of the "Welcome" splash screen that pops up AFTER the inital boot screen? I know if you have more than one user on XP this probobly won't be an option, but I'm the only user and I want to get rid of it. Any registry hack or program sure would be appricated. If at all possible, please email me with any help. I sure would appricate it.


this site is very interesting, teach alot of things.


ok so i tried to change the logonui.exe file (after creating a copy of course) so i get a different looking logon screen. I see all the things that i changed (which was all the bitmaps listed in every string), but a large portion of the logon screen, mainly the center, top, and bottom are unchanged. I just want to make them black. What did i miss?



hey, wat abt for the photoshop Color Palette? how can we see the actual image? thanks.


Can you use the paint shop pro palette using on adobe photoshop 5.5


The palette link does not work for me, please help!


I'm in the same boat as meny are - the color palette link doesn't work - it looks like it's from the old day's when it was techtv.com and not the g4techtv.com website can anyone help me - feel free to e-mail me


G4 brought down the only profesional tech channel out there. I |-|473 what they have done with it. they destroyed the good name of TechTv. there is much MUCH more to tech than gameing. i used to have that file but im very sorry to say i reinstalled windows and didn't think to bak that up... little did i know that i would not be able to get it back where i had origionaly gotten it. I too would like to find the PS colour pallet. E'mail me if anyone can find it...


OK, I need Help. I'm runing Windows XP Home Edition on my laptop. I followed all the steps in here. I found the color palette for bitmap 1, and it works great, however it doesnt work for any of the other bitmaps in the file, and bitmap 7 is just this long orange and blue line. So I can get rid of the "Home Edition" text on the boot up screen. I hope one of you guys knows what's wrong and could email me with the solution because I'm lost.


I have changed the colors and everything but during startup in the scrolling bar area black boxes appear as the bar scroll. How do I remove the black boxes.

Please email me the answer at emoryvincent@yahoo.com


Hey, I was wondering if your could do the same with a themeXP boot screen as you can with the login screen? Thanks


Chinese Emperor

I command that thou shall search google for what thou seeks...


BootSkin can cause a stop error if left on while upgrading Windows XP to SP2 when a reboot is called for. The actual article done by Microsoft can be found at: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;[ln];873159


where can i get the platte


What is up with the palette link?!!? If anybody has the palette, can you please e-mail it to me?!!? Also, has anybody just tried to repaint everything with out the pallete?!!?

DeWayne Duff

Hey people! You DON'T NEED THAT PALETTE! Think it over for a second.... some of the images you can already see just fine, right? So open one of those, then select then then as whatever file name you want. Once that is done, open one of the black images you cannot see, then select then then and be sure to click on "maintain indexes" while you load the palette that you just saved. Then you'll be able to see the other images! If you must know, the problem is that the palette used is really only 16 colors! If you really need to just download it, I posted it on my web site - but I hid it. So pull it down from here:
Take it easy!

DeWayne Duff

Hey, that last post didn't work because I used symbols that were stripped. Sorry bout that! Just open one of the images that you CAN see, and select image, then palette, then save palette. Make a unique name and remember what it is so you can find it later. Then open one of the images that you cannot see. Once that is opened, select image, then palette, then load palette. Make sure you choose to maintain indexes. You will be able to see all of the images that way. Of course, if you're having problems, you can still download the palette I saved out at the linke above.


The palette is available at

click on the "Windows 2000 FAQ Web site" link...
unpack the file to u're psp palette-map and use the
16.pal file...

Goodluck pplzzz.


Ok well I have done this before but got a new HDD and wanted to redo it. It may be that I have SP2 but some reason bitmaps 7,9,10,11,12 are gone I am using home any ideas?

stikky fingaz

It doesn`t matter that 7,9,10,11 and 12 are missing, you only need to edit 1 and 8.

I`m running 'Home Edition' on my laptop with SP2 and it worked fine with me.


Great tip on hacking the boot screen.
You tip is accurate and will work.
You could post this as well in the event someone screws up their boot record and Windows wont start.

(Problem:-> Windows wont start).
This issue may occur if the Boot.ini file is missing, damaged, or contains incorrect entries.

To resolve this issue, start the computer from the Windows XP CD, start the Recovery Console, and then use the Bootcfg.exe tool to rebuild the Boot.ini file. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Configure the computer to start from the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. For information about how to do this, see your computer documentation, or contact your computer manufacturer.

2.Insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, and then restart your computer.

3.When you receive the "Press any key to boot from CD" message, press a key to start your computer from the Windows XP CD-ROM.

4.When you receive the "Welcome to Setup" message, press R to start the Recovery Console.

5.If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the installation that you have to use from the Recovery Console.

6.When you are prompted, type the administrator password, and then press ENTER.

7.At the command prompt, type bootcfg /list, and then press ENTER. The entries in your current Boot.ini file appear on the screen.

8.At the command prompt, type bootcfg /rebuild, and then press ENTER. This command scans the hard disks of the computer for Windows XP, Microsoft Windows 2000, or Microsoft Windows NT installations, and then displays the results. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to add the Windows installations to the Boot.ini file.

For example, follow these steps to add a Windows XP installation to the Boot.ini file:

a.When you receive a message that is similar to the following message, press Y:
Total Identified Windows Installs: 1

[1] C:\Windows
Add installation to boot list? (Yes/No/All) type Yes.

b.You receive a message that is similar to the following message:

Enter Load Identifier
This is the name of the operating system. When you receive this message, type the name of your operating system, and then press ENTER. This is either Microsoft Windows XP Professional or Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition.

c.You receive a message that is similar to the following:

Enter OS Load options
When you receive this message, type /fastdetect, and then press ENTER.

Note The instructions that appear on your screen may be different, depending on the configuration of your computer.

9.Type exit, and then press ENTER to quit Recovery Console. Your computer restarts, and the updated boot list appears when you receive the "Please select the operating system to start" message.


Does anyone know how to get the password to an account that is on your computer that is password protected with out changing it or removing it. It is a normal account in the logon screen and it is a admistrator account.


he please email me the answer if you have one thank you verry much.

Ruel Moted

Exxelent way to hack boot screen. I make dozens of boot screens now! Your 16 color palette link dosent work and has halted my creations!

Danny Feet

Is there any way you can get past the Windows XP login users passwords?? Get into other users account without their password???

I need to know, plz!!!

Thanx a HUGE lot!!!!


The color palette link dosnt work corectly...


the color palette dosnt work for me either... can i get a new link or you can tell me where it is at in windows...


Bad link for the palette.

Thx for the start button trick though!!

bootui keep)

Bootskin Contains A Malware Infestation.

ntoskrnl.exe is only one of the four possible kernel choices (dependant on memory/processor.)

Check The MSFN.ORG Site For A Real Guide.

No Probs,


to see the 'black' bitmaps in photoshop (CS) select 'Image' > 'Mode' > 'Color Tables...' > 'System (Windows)' . no need to download anything -/a

wade wilding

I would like to know how to lock the cancel key on my log in screen i need regedit codes not programs


Can you help me ?
I need the file of the colorpalette.
Can you mail this file ?

Many Thanks


i had downloaded bootscreen and installed it .

now when i boot my system the desired boot screen is coming but soon after it get restarted...

plz tell me how can i get in to XP

Shaun Luke

Sarah you rule !!
I would love to learn more of your tweaks a.s.a.p.


can anybody help me, I cant figure out how to get my bitmap to show up in paint shop.When i try to open; it tells me "the specified file cannot be identified as a supported type." please e-mail me if u have any suggestions. Thank u


Hey i caught myself asking something stupid but im stressed out. i'm trin' to quiet smokin'. any ways i cant seem to get the palette. plaese e-mail it to me if u have it thanks!





If you cant download the PSP palette file, you can make your own fairly easy. If you take a look at the default file, it has a list of colors listed in (R,G,B). Go to:

These are the 16 colors in a 16bit palette.

To create your own palette, open notepad and paste the following:

255 255 255
0 255 255
255 0 255
0 0 255
192 192 192
128 128 128
0 128 128
128 0 128
0 0 128
255 255 0
0 255 0
128 128 0
0 128 0
255 0 0
128 0 0
0 0 0

For explanations, email me @ Shadowedsniper@gmail.com


Oh yea, save the file as:

windows.pspPalette in palette folder.



in paint shop pro 8 i cant get it to actually come up as a pallette how do i change it to the 16-bit pallette


Press Shift+o -- then select your palette and "maintain indexes"





The screensavers is long dead....didnt you know?

now its like AOTS and it sucks balls.


hi well i seen a clip about that u were looking for a poems well i found one i didn't write it just found it in one of the site. here it is: The Conscience of a Hacker
by Mentor
Written on January 8, 1986

Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers.
"Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker
Arrested after Bank Tampering"...

Damn kids. They're all alike.

But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's
technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker?
Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him,
what may have molded him?

I am a hacker, enter my world...

Mine is a world that begins with school. I'm smarter than
most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...

Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers
explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I
understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my
work. I did it in my head."

Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

I made a discovery today. I found a computer.

Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to.
If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up.

Not because it doesn't like me...
Or feels threatened by me...
Or thinks I'm a smart ass...
Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...

Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.

And then it happened. A door opened to a world rushing
through my phone line like heroin through an addict's veins,
an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day
incompetencies is sought... a board is found.

"This is it... this is where I belong."
I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never
talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all.

Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike.

You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby
food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of
meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless.
We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic.
The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils,
but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch,
the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing
without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by
profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals.
We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge...
and you call us criminals.

We exist without skin color, without nationality, without
religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic
bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and
try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is
that of judging people by what they say and think, not what
they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something
that you will never forgive me for.

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual,
but you can't stop us all...

After all, we're all alike. here is the site:http://www.geocities.com/carail666/


does any one know who wrote that poem of mentor
Written on January 8, 1986 who is this guy or kid

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