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Tag Archives: Windows

PowerShell – WMF5 (including PowerShell) 5 can be deployed using WSUS again, but there is a catch …

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking that I should blog that it’s a pity that Windows Management Framework (including PowerShell) could be not distributed through WSUS anymore. In the past it was available on through WSUS, but it was removed (expired) at some point due to some issues.

This meant to deploy PowerShell you could not deploy it through regular WSUS, but you had to either:

  • Include it in your base image
  • Install it manually
  • Install it using scripting
  • Install it using GPO
  • Install it using WSUS add-on solutions to deploy 3rd party packages. Example solutions include, but are not limited to Local Update Publisher (LUP), WSUS package publisher, SolarWinds patch manager.
  • Install it using enterprise systems management software. Example solutions include, but are not limited to System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Altiris, Landesk Management Suite, Tivoli Endpoint Manager (BigFix)
  • Install it using Intune

At many customers of ours this meant that PowerShell was left at version 2.0 for older operating systems unfortunately. For newer operating systems luckily version 3.0 was shipped by default. Still the version would never be updated in most cases.

Apparently the PowerShell team also thought something had to be done about that, because they made the Windows Management Framework (WMF) 5.0 RTM available via the Microsoft Update Catalog. Since it is published to the Microsoft Update Catalog, you have to manually import it to your WSUS environment. Also as the blog post states, before installing ensure you have reviewed known product incompatibilities (Exchange, SharePoint and System Center Virtual Machine Manager) and that the prerequisites are met.

I hope this will mean I will be seeing more up-to-date versions of PowerShell on systems of customers from now on.

One of the disadvantages however is that for operating systems before Windows 8.1/2012, a prerequisite is that WMF4 is installed, which cannot easily be deployed using WSUS unfortunately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Free PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) training on February 25th and 26th

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is hosting 2 PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) training classes on February 25th and February 26th:

  1. Getting Started with PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC)
  2. Advanced PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) and Custom Resources

The links above provide include a course outline and a link to register for the Jump Start. And even if you can’t join live, the recordings will always be made available at a later time so you can watch whenever it suits you better.

PowerShell DSC is becoming increasingly important and I personally also still need to learn more about it and look forward to it.

I hope it’s useful to you as well.

 

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Powershell – Recording of ‘The Case for PowerShell: Why To Learn-PowerShell So You Needn’t Leave-Industry’

Last week Mark Minasi presented a webinar made possible by http://www.learnit.com called:
“The Case for PowerShell: Why To Learn-PowerShell So You Needn’t Leave-Industry”.
The recording can be found here.

In this webinar he explains why ICT administrators need to be(come) familiar with PowerShell. He also explains the basic principles of PowerShell to help lower the threshold for people that have been shying away from command line interfaces (CLI) and scripting in the past. He does this by explaining how PowerShell is different from by example the CLI and Visual Basic Scripting (VBS).

I share his opinion about the necessity to learn PowerShell and therefore I hope I can help spread the message.

You can keep track of Mark Minasi by following him at Twitter: https://twitter.com/mminasi (@mminasi).

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Microsoft – RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 now available for MSDN and Technet subscribers

Even though it seemed for a while that MSDN and Technet subscribers would not get early access to the latest Windows versions, Microsoft decided to listen to customer feedback and reconsidered.

As a result, they just made the RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 available for MSDN and Technet subscribers. General availability for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is still October 18. For the official statement, read this blog post.

Personally I’m very stoked about Server 2012 R2 and I’m already running the preview version. I especially love the improvements on Hyper-V and de-duplication. For more information about new and improved functionality, take a look at the free e-book : Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Release.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Microsoft – Troubleshooting Key Management Service (KMS) activation

Today I helped a colleague troubleshoot a couple of systems were unable to activate using Key Management Service (KMS). Basically for this situation it boiled down to this:

Determine for the KMS service

  1. Which server is hosting the KMS service.If an SRV record has been added for KMS DNS auto discovery, run from CMD: nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  2. If the server hosting the KMS is functioning correctly:
  • Check if the server is up and running.
  • Check if the “Software Protection” service (sppsvc) is running.
  • Verify if the KMS service is listening on port 1688: telnet localhost 1688
  • Verify the KMS status. Run from CMD: slmgr.vbs /dli
  • Verify if a KMS key is installed and activated.
  • Verify if the minimum threshold for activation is being met.
  • Verify if other clients are able to activate using KMS. Even though the output of “slmgr.vbs /dli” gives you an indication, you can use the “Volume Activation Management Tool” (VAMT) for more insight and functionality.
  • Verify that a VLK key is being used.

For clients that are not able to activate

  • Verify if the correct KMS server can be resolved correctly:
    nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  • Verify if the KMS can be contacted:
    telnet <KMS FQDN or IP> 1688

    •  If this is not the case, perform a traceroute to determine potential causes. Reasons could include:
      • No default gateway configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • No route configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • Firewall on the client is blocking the traffic.
      • Firewall on the server is blocking the traffic.
      • If it is a VM, the virtual network might be misconfigured.
      • Routing on the network is not correct.
      • Firewall on the network is blocking traffic.
  • Clear any previous (mis)configuration: slmgr.vbs /ckms
  • Attempt activation: slmgr.vbs /ckms

NOTE: If you have lots of systems where you need to clear configuration and then attempt activation, you can also perform slmgr.vbs on remote computers using:
slmgr.vbs TargetComputerName [username] [password] /parameter [options]

Additional information

If you haven’t been able to resolve the issue, you might want to take a look here:

 

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Games – Only 12 hours left on the Humble Origin Bundle – give to charity and get great games

A new Humble Bundle, the Humble Origin Bundle has been available for a while and will be over in 12 hours. don’t miss out on the great games.

This is a way to give to charity and get great games (or the other way around). Basically you can determine how much you give and you can even specify who should receive which amount of your donation. You can read more about the concept and other bundles in a previous blog post.

It’s also good to note that ALL proceedings will be going to charity. Even though Electronic Arts (EA) has been criticized a lot in the past, this is a great thing they’re doing.

The Humble Origin Bundle

The Humble Origin Bundle contains the following steam redeemable games:

  • Dead Space
  • Crysis 2 Maximum Edition
  • Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
  • Medal of Honor
  • Mirror’s Edge
  • The Sims 3 (along with two expansion packs in The Sims 3 Starter Pack)
  • Battlefield 3
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – Uprising
  • Populous

To give you an idea what these games look like, take a look at this YouTube video:

Make sure to visit the website and don’t wait too long:
https://www.humblebundle.com/

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Entertainment, Games

 

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PowerShell – Reverse strings and reverse file names

With PowerShell it is relatively easy to reverse a string:
$str = “gnirtsdesrever”
$str[-1..-($str.length)] -join “”

Some of you might ask: Why would anyone want to do this ? Well, since the start of the year Usenet DMCA takedowns have begun to occur automatically, very quickly and very often. This means many movies and TV series on Usenet / News Groups are being taken offline very quickly.

Counter measures to prevent takedowns by uploaders include:

  • The use of encrypted links to NZB files.
  • The use file names that make it harder to find copyrighted files.

As you can probably guess, some just reverse the file names. The PowerShell script I’ve created will automate reversing the file names for files in the specified folder that match the specified file name filter.

I hope it is useful for you as well.

PS: Someone else on usenet had the same idea as me and created a VBS that will add a right-click menu option to explorer. I’ve added this in the same location as my PowerShell script as well.

 

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Windows 8.1 – Use windows store apps when behind an authenticated proxy

With Windows 8 one of the major issues especially when used in an enterprise was that the Windows Store and Windows Store apps wouldn’t work when you were behind an authenticated proxy unless you specifically allowed URLs to pass through the proxy unauthenticated.

I even created a blog post about this before and since it gets many views I believe it is an issue a lot of people are having.

As such I’m happy to inform you that with Windows 8.1 Preview you can configure your authenticated proxy to be used for Windows Store apps. Press Windows key + W and type “Change proxy settings”.

Win8.1_proxy

The settings from Internet Explorer are also automatically used, so existing configurations set using a GPO work as well.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Windows 8 – My view on the re-added start button in Win 8.1 and 2012 R2

As you may have read already, with Windows 8.1 Preview (and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview) the start button has been re-added:

win8.1_start

Basically by left clicking you will switch between the modern/metro interface and the desktop (similar to pressing the windows key). By right clicking you will get the menu shown in the image above (similar to pressing windows key + X). For more information and tweaks take a look at:
http://www.thewindowsclub.com/shutdown-restart-sleep-hibernate-windows-8-1

Another often requested feature was to be able to bypass the metro/modern interface start screen. This boot to desktop is now also possible: http://www.thewindowsclub.com/boot-to-desktop-windows-8-1

A lot of people have been complaining and discussing the absence of the start button and the start menu and that the shutdown/restart options where too hard to access.

Personally I simply press CTRL+ ALT + DELETE, click the power icon and choose the action to perform. Or I press the physical power button on my laptop, pc or tablet.

I also don’t really need the start button/start menu. I added my most used apps on the modern/metro start screen and/or added them to my desktop and taskbar. Other apps  I simply search for by starting to type on the modern/metro start screen.

The lack of a start button does irritate a lot when you’re accessing Windows 8/2012 through RDP or any other remote method. Trying to access the hot corners to switch between the metro/modern start screen and the desktop can sometimes be hard, especially on laggy connections (ILO/RSA/DRAC). The same is true for accessing the charms bar (which you use to restart/shutdown).

The re-added start button does solve the switching between the metro/metro start screen and the desktop I described above,but the charms bar is still an issue. You can use the start button for restart/shutdown though.

What I hate most though, is that the start button is simply a button. It doesn’t include the start menu people want to access their programs and settings in a way to are accustomed to. To make it even worse the re-added official start button makes it harder to use some 3rd party start button/menu replacements that were working well (but this will probably be sorted out soon since 8.1 has only been released a couple of days). Classic shell still works well though: http://www.classicshell.net/

Even though I think Microsoft has been doing a lot of great things lately, the way they’re handling the start button/start menu isn’t one of them in my opinion. People want the start button and the start menu they’ve grown used to and that has been available for many Windows versions. This start button without the start menu will probably lead to more disappointed users because they expect the start menu to be included with the start button. I think this will also hurt adoption in the enterprise. All in all I think it’s a missed oportunity

The preview version with this start button is not the final version. While I don’t expect Microsoft to re-add the start menu before the finl release, I sure hope they prove me wrong. If you want to have the start menu back, be sure to voice your opinion. This did work for the Xbox one, where Microsoft changed course with regards to Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Even though the start button isn’t what many people have hoped for, there are a lot of other great improvements to Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 though. I’ll try to post more about it in the next couple of weeks.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 2012, Windows 8

 

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Windows 8 – performance issues possibly caused by KB2821895 or SuperFetch

Last week I visited my dad. He is not very familiar with computers and mainly uses it for mail, internet and viewing and editing photos. Despite my expectations, it really surprised me how fast he got used to Windows 8 (with a custom start menu).

This time though, he had some questions with regards to mail. While I was showing him how to do it, I noticed that his pc was relatively slow. Even though he doesn’t have a super fast laptop, it wasn’t this slow before.

When I took a closer look I saw that the issue was caused by high disk usage / load (I/O). At first it seemed like this was caused by TiWorker.exe which is part of Windows Modules Installer Worker and is used for installing updates. Since there were updates pending I decided to install these first just in case a fix might have been released. While these were downloading and installing I googled and found that more people were having similar sounding issues but with also high cpu usage/load. One of the the advises was to install KB2771431. This update was already installed, so it didn’t solve my issues either. I then turned off other programs that were disk I/O intensive like the backup tool Crashplan that was performing a scan and the virus scanner. Unfortunately the issue remained.

I gave the system some time just in case this was some sort of maintenance job. As the issue remainedI tried checking the system files with SFC /scannow and some files were fixed, but the disk usage was still very high.

Eventually the workaround was stopping and disabling the SuperFetch service. This is very strange since SuperFetch should make Windows faster, not slower. Since it was already late I decided not to look into it  any more at that time.

I see however that there are also issues being reported with KB2821895 that was released this month and replaces the previously mentioned KB2771431. In the known issues for KB2821895 there is mention of errors stating corruption and that you should use SFC /scannow and use the DISM tools to check and repair Windows. These symptoms do not completely match my issue, but if this doesn’t work there are also options to tune SuperFetch and Prefetch instead of turning it off completely, which is worth a shot.

So if you haven’t installed KB2771431 yet, you might want to consider postponing deployment or at least testing it very thoroughly.

To be continued …..

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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