imnuts' Blog
Random stuff from my mind…

Using Unsigned Drivers in 5472 x64

As I noted earlier today, Microsoft released Vista Build 5472 to Beta Testers today. I have since learned that this is a CTP build and should be available to TechNet and MSDN members as well, so enjoy if you have a subscription or are a member of the beta program. If you aren’t a member of any of the above, just wait until RC1 is released to the public. Unfortunately, you will have to have installed and activated Beta 2 to be able to download RC1, but that isn’t an issue for me and not the topic of this post.

For many people out there, moving to 64 bit has been a very painful process. Manufacturers put hardware out there and then decided that they don’t want to support it, so we’re left with unsigned drivers for our systems, if we can even find those, to get things working. I’m sure that there are many people out there having this issue. The problem I’m having is with my on-board Promise Fasttrack 378 SATA/RAID controller, but there are many other devices out there with the same issue. For some, the drivers aren’t really a problem as it is non-critical hardware, or something they don’t use. I have a somewhat needed drive that is sitting on my controller that isn’t supported, like backups, installation keys for various software/betas I have and install, and just some other random things. It isn’t really needed, just highly wanted. Up until this latest build though, installing unsigned drivers hasn’t been much of an issue. There has been the bcdedit method

bcdedit /set {current} nointegritychecks on

that would prevent you from having to press F8 on boot every time. The latest release of VistaBootPRO has also made this easier, giving you a graphical method of performing the command.

The entire ballgame has changed with 5472 though. You can use the bcdedit method from above and it will say it completes successfully, provided you are in the Administrator command prompt, or set it with VistaBootPRO. The BCD Store will even tell you that the operating system should ignore driver checks. Unfortunately though, none of the convenience options will work anymore. You can use VistaBootPRO all you want, or bcdedit, and nothing you do will allow you to restart your computer and use unsigned drivers. The only way that you can possibly install your unsupported hardware anymore is if you use the F8 method when booting.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “F8 method” this is what you need to do. When your computer is booting, press F8 as if you were going to enter safe mode. When the menu with all the different boot options is shown, there is one there that says something to the effect “Allow use of unsigned drivers” and you can select that option and continue booting and you can now use unsigned drivers. The problem is that anytime that you start your computer or restart, you will need to do this. It is going to be the biggest PITA most likely about this build, and all the more reason to get things set up the way you like them and let the system on as long as possible.

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