Friday, March 18, 2011

How to disable Windows Error Reporting on Windows 2008

Sometimes programs crash on Windows and we all know that Windows might asks us to report back to them or just for us to be notified that something did not work properly.
This is quite good for users but not for automating jobs on machines.

I was setting up a Windows 64-bit machine to run our Firefox builds and I noticed that every time we reached the "make -k check" step the job would hang until it timed out.
I decided to run the step manually and discovered that we would get a prompt for the user to intervene.
jsapi-tests.exe crashed when running "make -k check" and Windows notifies the user

At first ted let me know that it might be related to disabling the JIT debugger (Visual Studio allows you to attach a debugger on programs outside of itself just-in-time!) but I figured out that it was disabled and this was the "post attaching the debugger" message.

I filed a bug to disable the jsapi-tests.exe crash until it gets fixed but soon after I found a post that gave me an idea.
I searched for "prevent stopped working" and I noticed this low-rated comment on stackoverflow that mentions how to disable the "Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program".
This was not what I wanted but it inspired me to look for something that would stop Windows from notifying the users of an error.
I filtered for the word "Error" (because that is what you do on Administrative tools on Windows instead of searching). After looking for a while I found "Prevent display of the user interface for critical errors" and voila! It did the trick.

Here are the steps I followed which I documented on the Win64 reference platform documentation:
  • Run "gpedit.msc"
  • Computer configuration -> Administrative Templates
  • Windows Components -> Windows Error Reporting
  • Set "Prevent display of the user interface for critical errors" to Enabled
From now on this machine won't let the user know that a program crashed and will just carry on.

Happy Windows automation!

Creative Commons License
This work by Zambrano Gasparnian, Armen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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