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How to change the default user?

Post Date: 2021-09-25

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SomervilleTom View Drop Down
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: How to change the default user?
    Posted: 25 Sep 2021 at 4:13pm
I just powered up my second DigitalStorm machine (I'm still using my first, more than ten years old!).

It came with Windows 10 Pro installed, and on startup boots into a user named "Administrator" with no password and a DigitalStorm desktop.

I know this is stupid, but Microsoft in all its wisdom has apparently turned off or hidden the ability for me to change the default user. I've looked all over the web and found nothing current and relevant (the only "official" Microsoft answer from 2018 no longer works).

I've added the new user I want.

Q1: How do I make that new user the default user?

Q2: Do I break anything/everything by adding a password to the "Administrator" account that is already on the system.

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Cretae View Drop Down
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  Quote Cretae Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 3:59am
This is my rather sketchy understanding of how this works:

YOU only want to be the Administrator, and typically you want to be the only one on YOUR machine. A DS tech is the first person to log onto your OS ever, and needed to do so as Administrator. They did not password protect the OS so you could be the Administrator and choose your own if you want the security. Administrator privileges mean that you have unrestricted access to all the systems and operations in Windows. It means, for example, that you can get Win to reveal hidden files if necessary, and run programs that only the Administrator should be able to access for reasons of configuration and security.

You may set up a password or a pin # that id's you as the administrator every time you boot. "Default user" refers to a set of restrictions that apply to anyone logging on to your computer without your password/pin as administrator. BY "default" they have no access to admin functions. Since I've had Win 10, I've never needed to do this, as generally I'm the only user. On the rare occasions someone in the family thinks they need to use my PC, I simply surrender my seat temporarily. Thus, I have no idea how to set up for a default user with restrictions. You certainly wouldn't want anyone else to be able to change administrator settings on your PC would you? There's some good basic info here:

https://www.howtogeek.com/709060/what-does-run-as-administrator-mean-in-windows-10/

I hope you paid attention to the "hidden account named 'Administrator' " hyperlink.

I told you my knowledge was sketchy, so there you go. Hope it helps a bit.    
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  Quote ealderson Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 1:04pm
Shoot...I wish I took notes when I fiddled with mine, but it was like 6 months ago and I don't remember what I did. If memory serves, I created a new account for myself using the default Admin account that DS used to setup the machine. Then once that was done, I elevated that account to administrator and then changed the password on the DS account to something ridiculously complex. I did have some bizarre issues like Windows updates not working correctly and the Microsoft Store not working unless I was logged in as the DS Admin account so I had to do a bunch of Google Fu to figure out how to fix that. Anyway, I dunno that there is really a "default" user, but if the admin account is the only one on the machine and it has no password when you boot it will automatically log in as that account. As soon as you make a second account and/or give the default Admin account a password you will boot to a logon screen and you can select which account you want to log in with and enter a password/pin.

Edited just to say - whatever you do, make a baseline backup now before you fiddle with anything. I use Macrium, but there are many options out there. That way if you accidentally really hose something you can easily just recover to where you were and try something else. I think DS included a recovery USB stick, but I never looked at it. I don't trust any backups unless I do them myself.

Edited by ealderson - 26 Sep 2021 at 1:08pm
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 2:03pm
Originally posted by Cretae

This is my rather sketchy understanding of how this works:

YOU only want to be the Administrator, and typically you want to be the only one on YOUR machine. A DS tech is the first person to log onto your OS ever, and needed to do so as Administrator. They did not password protect the OS so you could be the Administrator and choose your own if you want the security. Administrator privileges mean that you have unrestricted access to all the systems and operations in Windows. It means, for example, that you can get Win to reveal hidden files if necessary, and run programs that only the Administrator should be able to access for reasons of configuration and security.

...


What I'm talking about here are the account names that show on the splash screen at boot time. As the machine was delivered, that was a user named "Administrator", with no password, so that the system boots directly into the "Administrator" user with the "Digital Storm" desktop and background image -- and of course full privileges.

Coming from my Unix/Linux background, this strikes me as defaulting to a "root" sign-in with no password protection. That's fine while the system is being built and tested at DS, but I think it's a terrible idea after delivery and setup.

It is almost never necessary to be logged in as root/Administrator, and that login should always require at least a password.

A "regular" user account should be used that -- on Linux -- has `sudo` privileges that can be used when root access is required. I think the Windows 10 analog is a regular "User" account that is assigned to the "Administrator" group. I've done that.

I want passwords on every sign-in because I am not always in the same room as my physical machine and I want to present at least modest friction to any random visitor or guest who happens to walk by the system. Like a physical keyset lock on a door, it isn't "secure" -- but it at least offers enough resistance that the merely curious will walk away.

Once I've done that, then when I boot the system I want the initial "splash" screen to be the pretty Windows picture with a password prompt in the middle -- showing the USER account that I described above.

I want to click in the password entry box, type my password, and have MY usual desktop open.

On every other Windows 10 Pro system I've used (on the order of a dozen), the username shown at startup (with password entry box below) has always been whatever user was logged in when the "shutdown" command was executed.

That expected behavior is what I'm missing on this system.
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 3:12pm
Originally posted by ealderson

Shoot...I wish I took notes when I fiddled with mine, but it was like 6 months ago and I don't remember what I did. If memory serves, I created a new account for myself using the default Admin account that DS used to setup the machine. Then once that was done, I elevated that account to administrator and then changed the password on the DS account to something ridiculously complex. I did have some bizarre issues like Windows updates not working correctly and the Microsoft Store not working unless I was logged in as the DS Admin account so I had to do a bunch of Google Fu to figure out how to fix that. Anyway, I dunno that there is really a "default" user, but if the admin account is the only one on the machine and it has no password when you boot it will automatically log in as that account. As soon as you make a second account and/or give the default Admin account a password you will boot to a logon screen and you can select which account you want to log in with and enter a password/pin.

Edited just to say - whatever you do, make a baseline backup now before you fiddle with anything. I use Macrium, but there are many options out there. That way if you accidentally really hose something you can easily just recover to where you were and try something else. I think DS included a recovery USB stick, but I never looked at it. I don't trust any backups unless I do them myself.


Indeed, the first part of what you describe is exactly what I've already done (and always do with a new Win 10 Pro system).

The behavior that is still unusual for this system is that when I power it up into Windows, I expect it to boot up into a sign-in prompt with my usual account as the default. Instead, my new system boots up showing "Administrator". Since I added a password, it also says that the password is incorrect.

I'l post a follow-up below that shows images of what I'm seeing.
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 3:34pm
The following four images show the behavior I want to change.

Here is the initial login prompt. Note that it is attempting to sign in "Administrator" and that it complains of a broken password.


1. Initial login prompt

Here is the screen that results clicking the "Ok" button in step 1 (above):


2. Select user prompt

Here is the result of clicking the desired user at the lower left of the above screen.

3. Correct user prompt

The third screen (above) is what I'd like to see initially. Note also that there are three, rather than two, users shown at bottom left. I think that one of them requires a password challenge and the other does not, but I haven't exercised that.

Here, for comparison, is the initial log-in prompt from one of my other Windows 10 Pro systems (which happens to be another DS workstation built and delivered in the fall of 2010. It is still working fine, BTW, even though it's now running Windows 10 Pro instead of the Windows 7 Pro it was shipped with. It has a new BIOS, new graphics card and new SSD C drive. DS has created very high expectations in me because of the fine job they did building this first system and then supporting it for more than a decade.

Anyway, here is what I expect to see when the new system boots into Windows:


4. Expected initial login prompt

Perhaps this will clarify some confusion I may have created by my use of imprecise vocabulary.

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  Quote ealderson Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 4:00pm
Interesting...it's almost like they setup an administrator password and set it up to login automatically but now that you changed it an incorrect password (the previous one) is being passed through to the logon box. It seems like Windows would be smart enough to be aware of the password change, but who knows...maybe something to check?

Edited by ealderson - 26 Sep 2021 at 4:01pm
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 4:06pm
Originally posted by ealderson

Interesting...it's almost like they setup an administrator password and set it up to login automatically but now that you changed it an incorrect password (the previous one) is being passed through to the logon box. It seems like Windows would be smart enough to be aware of the password change, but who knows...maybe something to check?


I added the password myself when I added the new user, as you suggested above.

Whatever it is that is creating the splash screen is using the now-outdated password-free login.

I wonder if perhaps DS did something special during QA and forgot to remove it?

It's not really a big deal. I'm more worried that if this IS a new Microsoft "improvement", it will start to spread to my other systems as they do updates.
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 4:08pm
I did see references on the web to something called `netplwiz`. Its purpose seems to be to create password-free logins -- I wonder if they've used it for their "Administrator" account.

I haven't found how to undo its effects.
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  Quote ealderson Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 4:50pm
Back in the day I know you used to be able to pass credentials through with a couple registry entries, but not sure if that's a thing anymore. I suspect you have something going on that isn't normal DS stuff or there would be more threads about it and some of the regulars would know exactly what you are talking about and how to fix it. Like I said earlier, my own experience was that I had to do a bunch of fiddling to get the user accounts the way I wanted them and had problems with my own admin account as well. Mine does boot like your third screen shot though with the primary user account that I created as the default. Maybe somebody with more Windows knowledge will come across this thread and help get it sorted.
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 5:40pm
I'm hopeful that somebody from DS tech support may notice the thread during upcoming work week.

I bought this system with the idea of running RockyLinux on it most of the time, so the Windows boot will only happen on special occasions.

My plan -- if I can pull it off -- is to run Windows 10 Pro in a guest VM hosted on vmware using RockyLinux on this iron.

In the fullness of time, I hope to make a Microsoft-free life for myself.

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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 6:40pm
DS usually doesn't frequent the forums.. other than the occasional drive by with Alex... to fix things and to put people's minds at ease... along with the occasional cool announcement. I would suggest that you send an email to the tech guru, Stellar ([email protected]) and see if he can help or at least point you in the right direction.

Good luck!
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  Quote SomervilleTom Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 8:51pm
Originally posted by Snaike

DS usually doesn't frequent the forums.. other than the occasional drive by with Alex... to fix things and to put people's minds at ease... along with the occasional cool announcement. I would suggest that you send an email to the tech guru, Stellar ([email protected]) and see if he can help or at least point you in the right direction.

Good luck!


That sounds like an excellent plan.

I'm very happy with this new machine, BTW. I had RockyLinux v8.5 w/ KDE-Plasma running with less than hour of effort.

I tried to do this on a brand new Dell machine last summer. I gave up after a month and a half and returned the machine for a full refund. At least that experience taught me how to turn on journaling (journalctl etc).

This DS machine has NONE of the many issues that I found on that failed system.

I'm not sure why anybody would bother buying a system from anybody except Digital Storm.


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  Quote JamesAstro Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Sep 2021 at 10:31pm
When I got my machine from DS, I think I just created a new user, gave it admin privileges, logged into that new user, and then deleted the original Admin account that DS had created. That way there was just one account, and it solved the default user problem.
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