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Tag Archives: automate

PowerShell – Using PowerShell 5 to automate the installation of your favorite Windows applications

In this blog post I will explain why to automate installations of Windows applications and how you can do this.

Why automate the installation of applications?

But first, why is this useful? Well this depends on your situation and there are probably many good reasons. For me though, it basically boils down to this:

  1. I often reinstall my computers with new (preview) versions of Windows operating systems and having to install applications each time is a waste of time. Also sometimes you forget to install some things.
  2. On a regular basis, friends and family either want me to install or upgrade their PC and I want to provide them with a standard set of programs that most people need/want without having to spend a lot of time on it. By example virus scanner, burning program, media player, codecs, etc.
  3. I want to update existing installed applications to the latest (and hopefully more secure and feature packed) versions.
  4. When installing applications, there are often checkboxes enabled to install other applications (you generally don’t want to install). Automated solutions using packages generally prevent these additional unwanted applications from installing.

Which tools to use to automate the installation of applications?

Before PowerShell 5 preview was released, I used both Ninite and Chocolatey to perform to automate installations. They both have their advantages as described on this wiki page.

The PowerShell 5 preview version of OneGet installs and searches software from Chocolatey repositories, but support of additional repositories will come in subsequent versions.

How to automate the installation of applications using PowerShell 5 preview?

To automate the installation of applications a couple of things are required:

  1. You need to determine which applications you want to install automatically.
  2. You need to determine the package name that Chocolatey uses for this application. Options include:
    -Using a browser to browse the Chocolatey packages
    -Using PowerShell and a part of the name of the application you’re looking for. By example if you’re looking for Irfanview, use:
    Find-Package -Name “fan”
  3. Store the package names to install somewhere (e.g. in a .txt file on OneDrive for easy access). My .txt file by example includes:
    AdobeReader
    Directx
    ffdshow
    Flashplayerplugin
    GoogleChrome
    Imgburn
    IrfanView
    Javaruntime
    Keepassx
    Mp3tag
    mpc-hc
    PDFCreator
    Silverlight
    TeamViewer
    Totalcommander
    Winrar
    greenshot
  4. Use the Install-Package cmdlet to install all the packages whose name is in the file from step 3.
    Install-Package -Name (Get-Content C:\OneDrive\AppsToInstall.txt) -Confirm:$False
  5. Wait for the programs to install

My opinion

It’s great to be able to use PowerShell to install my list of favorite applications similar to like I did with Chocolatey and I’m also looking forward to see what benefits the additional repositories will bring in the future.

I did encounter some errors however while trying to install some applications like Firefox and dotnet3.5. But since it’s still a preview, this will probably be fixed.

For regular users, I think they are better off sticking to by example Ninite because they’re often afraid of anything that involves a CLI.

Blog posts by other people about OneGet

Some other people have also blogged about the OneGet module and have gone in more technical detail, so be sure to take a look at their posts as well:

More information about PowerShell 5 Preview including a download link

Windows Management Framework v5 preview, includes also Desired State Configuration (DSC) improvements and NetworkSwitch commandlets to manage network switches that pass the Certified for Windows Program. For more information including a download link, you can read the initial blog post. : Windows Management Framework V5 Preview

 

 

 

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Create Active Directory Visio diagram automatically using Active Directory Topology Diagrammer ADTD

One of the least favorite tasks of many administrators is to document. Good administrators also don’t want to manually do things when it can be automated. This is where Active Directory Topology Diagrammer (ADTD) can help to automate documenting your Active Directory environment.

Recently I have been working on a new Active Directory OU design and used the Active Directory Topology Diagrammer to create a Visio diagram for the AS-IS situation. I have to say it worked great. Keep in mind though that it will show the OUs and not any other containers.

Besides documenting AD OUs, the Active Directory Topology Diagrammer can document many other things as well. Take a look at the article “How To Use The Active Directory Topology Diagrammer” or play around with it yourself to see what it can do.

The tool can also be very helpful when:

  • You’re in a new environment and need to get a quick overview of the Active Directory.
  • When there’s no documentation available or when the available documentation is outdated.
  • When you’re auditing the quality of documentation.

For more tools, take a look at my website: http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Applications/Summary.aspx

 

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PowerShell – Book review of : Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a month of lunches, second edition

About 6-7 years ago at school we were taught how to script using VBscript. I was really bad at it though and never really made an effort to change that. When PowerShell became more popular however I had gained some working experience and was also pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of it.

I started learning about PowerShell scripting by googling and using script examples. Disadvantages of this approach however is that:

  • You can pick up bad habits from others (without realizing it).
  • You sometimes don’t know exactly why you’re doing things a specific way.
  • You sometimes don’t know why some things are/aren’t working.

PowerShell is getting increasingly important though:

  • Even though more companies are offshoring and employees are relatively, it is still cheaper to automate instead.
  • Cost isn’t the only issue, speed is important as well. Scripting allows you to get things done more quickly.
  • PowerShell is increasingly being adopted by more companies, products and (cloud) services.
  • The number of available built-in cmdlets are increasing, which makes it even easier to automate actions.
  • For many products you have to use PowerShell to make specific settings, because only the more basic settings are available in a Graphical User Interface (GUI).
  • Changes can be applied consistently in a development, test, acceptance, pre-production, production environment.
    • Less chance of human error.
    • If done correctly, you’ll also have included a way to quickly revert the changes by script.

To make sure I didn’t miss out on too many things, I decided to start with a book that teaches the basics. Because of the good reputation of the authors Don Jones and Jefferey D. Hicks in the PowerShell community, I decided to go for their book “Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a month of lunches, second edition” published by Manning Publications Co.

The book’s purposely didn’t try to stuff all PowerShell related information into the book. Instead it provided the reader/student with the basics needed to be able to find/discover this information themselves if needed. I personally like this approach, because otherwise there would be too much information to take in which might be demotivating and distracting.

I also liked the practical examples of common mistakes made by people who are new to PowerShell. There were a lot of examples I ran into as well when I started using PowerShell and I think this will prevent people from becoming frustrated because they understand why things aren’t working the way they might have expected.

All in all this is a great book to start learning PowerShell. This is however just the start and you should expect to continue using other resources/books to further your knowledge. The book also provides links to useful resources as well. And most importantly … start using PowerShell more so you will learn by experience.

Personally I still have these books lying around, but haven’t decided yet which one to start with next:

I’m also still considering taking a PowerShell course, but I’m a bit hesitant about the added value because it’s hard to determine the quality of a course by the description.

If you have experiences or suggestions, please let me know.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Automation, ICT, Microsoft, Powershell, Windows

 

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PowerShell – Extract specific info from multiple source winaudit files

I run Winaudit on each server/system and save it to a central location named <computername>.csv                 This way I have access to a lot of information about each system. If you need a specific subset of information for each system however, you don’t want to have to open each file manually to get this information.

This script will parse each <computername>.csv to extract specifc information and save it to one new file containing this info for all parsed separate files.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Automation, ICT, Microsoft, Powershell

 

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PowerShell – Get-GroupMemberships

This script determines the group membership of Active Directory users.

In this case, some users are member of multiple functional groups (groupname “*-core”), while the design assumes a user can only be a member a single functional group. This script helps determine the functional groups they are a member of.

Especially with a large number of users, scripting will save you a lot of time.

 

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