March, 2008

  • Group Policies Preferences Client Side Extensions

    I had this in my inbox for quite a while now but finally found the time to share this with you.

    Group Policy preferences are made up of more than 20 new Group Policy client-side extensions (CSEs) that expand the range of configurable settings in a Group Policy object (GPO). These new preferences are included in the Group Policy Management Editor window of the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). The extensions are listed under each new preference item. Examples of the new Group Policy preference extensions include the following:

    • Folder options
    • Mapped drives
    • Printers
    • Scheduled tasks
    • Services
    • Start menu settings

    The GP Preferences are great to help you get rid of the huge logon scripts and let you even write registry keys or set default printers and so much more here' a list of the ability GP:

    • Windows settings
      • Applications: Extensible for ISVs to create simple Group Policy preference settings for their applications.
      • Drive Maps: Create, modify, or delete mapped drives, and configure the visibility of all drives.
      • Environment: Create, modify, or delete environment variables.
      • Files: Copy, modify the attributes of, replace, or delete files.
      • Folders: Create, modify, or delete folders.
      • Ini Files: Add, replace, or delete sections or properties in configuration settings (.ini) or setup information (.inf) files.
      • Network Shares: Create, modify, or delete ("un-share") shares.
      • Registry: Copy registry settings and apply them to other computers. Create, replace, or delete registry settings.
      • Shortcuts: Create, modify, or delete shortcuts.
    • Control Panel settings
      • Data Sources: Create, modify, or delete Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) data source names.
      • Devices: Enable or disable hardware devices or classes of devices.
      • Folder Options: Configure folder options; create, modify, or delete Open With associations for file name extensions; create, modify, or delete file name extensions associated with a type of files.
      • Internet Settings: Modify user-configurable Internet settings.
      • Local Users and Groups: Create, modify, or delete local users and groups.
      • Network Options: Create, modify, or delete virtual private networking (VPN) or dial-up networking (DUN) connections.
      • Power Options: Modify power options and create, modify, or delete power schemes.
      • Printers: Create, modify, or delete TCP/IP, shared, and local printer connections.
      • Regional Options: Modify regional options.
      • Scheduled Tasks: Create, modify, or delete scheduled or immediate tasks.
      • Services: Modify services.
      • Start Menu: Modify Start menu options.

    An Overview of Group Policy Preferences

    Download the GP Preferences Client extensions:

    GP Preferences for Windows XP

    GP Preferences for Windows XP x64 Edition

    GP Preferences for Windows Vista

    GP Preferences for Windows Vista x64 Edition

    GP Preferences for Windows Server 2003

    GP Preferences for Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition

  • Changes to Remote Admin in Windows Server 2008

    Last Saturday during the IT-Talks UG meeting I was talking about the fact that with RDP 6.1 the /console switch has been depreciated and to connect to a console session on a W2K3 box you now need to use the /admin switch. With the /console switch you remotely connected to the physical console session of the server which is also known as session 0. Because in Windows 2008 the session 0 is a non-interactive session that is reserved for services.

    You can use the new /admin switch to remotely connect to a Windows Server 2008-based server for administrative purposes. The /admin switch is introduced with RDC 6.1. RDC 6.1 is included with the following operating systems:

    • Windows Server 2008

    • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and RC

    • Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Beta and RC

    RDC 6.1 does not support the /console switch. However, for backward compatibility, you can use the /admin switch to connect to the physical console session on a Windows Server 2003-based server. For example, to connect from a Windows Vista SP1 RC-based client to the physical console session of a Windows Server 2003-based server, you can run the command mstsc.exe /admin.

    Do you want to know why this have changed?

    Continue at source:

  • Building a Failover Cluster with Server Core Part 3

    In the two previous parts of this topic we created the Server Core Machines, connected them to the storage and added the Failover Clustering Feature. In this last part we are going to configure the Windows Failover Clustering feature and form a 2 Node cluster. For doing this you have two options one is using the cluster.exe command line tool and do everything from the command line or by using the RSAT tools and remotely create the cluster. I've chosen for the second and easiest option.

    Step 1: Open Failover Cluster Management Console and Validate the configuration

    In my case I will open up the mmc from my Domain Controller but with the RSAT tools you can now also remotely manage failover clusters from an Windows Vista SP1 box.


    The first action that needs to be performed prior building the cluster is running the validation tool. This is not needed for a test environment but if you want to get support from Microsoft you need to run this and keep the report, you also need to run the validation tool each time you make changes to the cluster infrastructure, changes like adding an HBA requires a new validation report.

    The Validation tool will run tests to determine whether your system, storage, and network configuration is suitable for a cluster. These tests include specific simulations of cluster actions, and fall into the following categories: System Configuration tests, Network tests and Storage tests.

    Click on "Validate a Configuration" in the action pane.


    Add both nodes to be validated.


    Run the tests needed for support and to know if the cluster config is correct.


    After all tests have completed you will be able to review the report by clicking onto the report button or if you want to open it afterwards we store all reports in the following directory: "c:\windows\cluster\reports"


    If the validation tool completes successfully then you can go on with the creation of the cluster. Let's assume everything is fine and perform the actual cluster creation wizard.


    Fill in all nodes that will be part of this cluster, this is a huge difference comparing to Windows Server 2003 clustering because now the setup wizard is going to configure all nodes at once.


    Give your cluster a name and IP Address in my case I only selected the network because that's my public LAN and the second network is only used for heartbeat configuration.


    After this step the setup tool is going to create the cluster and making configuration changes on both server core nodes to form a cluster.


    The cluster is now ready.


    The next step you need to perform is that the correct Witness disk has been used in my configuration it was not the case and I had to change Witness disk config.

    You can do that as follows:

    In the action pane click on more action and then select the "Configure Cluster Quorum Settings" as can be seen in the picture below.


    In the following Wizard you are able to change the Quorum configuration model or change the details of the current Quorum.


    In my case I just clicked on next and in the screen that follows you will be able to change the disk configuration of the Witness disk.


    That is what I've done and now my cluster is up and running and I can start clustering Services or Applications

    I hope that these three blogposts will help you to create a Windows Failover Cluster on a Server Core.

  • Building a Failover Cluster with Server Core Part 2

    In my previous post I've talked about how to use base images to quickly deploy new servers in my Hyper-V environment. In this post we will configure the shared storage based on the microsoft iSCSI target software, in a real life environment you could use either a Windows Storage Server or another iSCSI or FC based storage environment.

    Before actually digging into the failover clustering installation I want to briefly explain what I have setup so far to be able to build a cluster in the first place.

    First I have created a Domain Controller and installed the iSCSI target software to be able to emulate a shared storage environment. I've created two disks one which is 100MB in size and will be used as a witness disk (used to be called Quorum disk) and I have a second disk which is is 1GB of size and will be used as a data disk.

    Secondly I have installed two Server Core machines and added the to the domain (read Configuring Windows Server 2008 Server Core or use the Coreconfigurator tool). Make sure your Server core machines have at least two network cards, one for the normal traffic and one for the cluster heartbeat. After having configured all basic things we are now ready to start with the installation and configuration of the clustering software.

    Let's do this step by step:

    Step 1: Install the Failover Cluster role


    Make sure you do this on both Server Core machines

    Step 2: Configure and Start the iSCSI initiator service


    Again perform this on both machines. Now the Microsoft iSCSI initiator service is configured and will start up during boot time.

    Step 3: Connecting the Server Core boxes to the iSCSI storage box

    Here are all steps you should take on both Server Core boxes to connect to the storage.

    1. iSCSIcli QAddTargetPortal <Storage Box, Portal IP Address>
      Required to refresh the new target built,
    2. iSCSIcli ListTargets
      You should see the iQN of the target created

    3. iSCSIcli QloginTarget <Target IQN>
      You should see a connection and session id
    4. iSCSIcli PersistentLoginTarget <target_iqn> T * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 0

      NOTE: There are 15 “space” + “*”
      You do this so you can survive a reboot
    5. iSCSIcli ListPersistentTargets
      You should see a target

    6. iSCSIcli ReportTargetMappings

      You should see the target and a LUN x mapping for every LUN defined in the target

    At this stage you have assigned both disks to the server core machines the next step will be to configure the disks

    Step 4: Configuring the clustered disks

    By being GUI less you need to do this onto the command line.

    First list the disks in your boxes by using the diskpart commandline tool:


    list disk (this will return the disks available in your system in my case I had disk 0, 1 and 2 with 0 being my OS disk and the other two the disks for my cluster)

    select disk 1
    attribute disk clear readonly
    online disk
    create part primary
    select part 1
    assign letter=Q

    select disk 2
    attribute disk clear readonly
    online disk
    create part primary
    select part 1
    assign letter=S



    Format each disk by typing format x: /q  where X is your drive letter and don't provide any label name.

    The servers are now completely configured to form a Windows Failover Cluster, this process will be explained in Part III of this post.


  • Building a Failover Cluster with Server Core Part 1

    During the Dutch Launch event I presented about Windows Failover clustering and I also prepared some demo's. I build a failover cluster on top of a Server Core. In Part 1 I will briefly explain the sysprep process because I had to rebuild all my VM with the RTM version of Windows Server 2008.

    So first I wanted to create a new set of base vhd's which I will use to install all my VM's from, this makes the install process much faster.
    I started with the installation of a Windows Server 2008 EE to create my first base vhd. After the installation I added a few tools, changed some registry keys to make sure some of the tools are running when logging into the box.

    Now with Windows Server 2008 the Sysprep tool is included within the System32 directory. To sysprep you're machine you need to run the sysprep tool and select the following options:


    After the sysprep process is done the VM will shutdown automatically. Now keep this VHD as a base for all your new Virtual Machines.

    In my case I needed to start with the installation of a DC and I've used the VHD Base, this is what you will see when you boot a sysprepped vhd file:


    Select the correct regional settings.


    Fill in the product key.


    Fill in the server name and click start to configure the server, after a while you will need to change the password of the local Administrator account.

    The server is now ready to be configured, in my case I will configure the networking and add the Active Directory Domain Services role and finalize with a dcpromo.

    The next step in this little project is to install two Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Editions - Server Core. I also created a base vhd for this and used them to create SCCLU01 and SCLU02.

    Once the base OS is installed I've configured the server as described in one of my previous posts , in Part 2 I will explain how to configure the iSCSI shared storage and assign it to a server core. In part 2 I will install the cluster and configure a high available file sharing infrastructure


    Note: This is one way how to create your base VHD's another option is to use those base VHD files and create differencing disks pointing to the base vhd for each additional VM you need in your environment.

  • Configuring Server Core with a GUI

    Remember one of my previous posts around Configuring Windows Server 2008 Server Core with the inbox tools, now if don't like using commandline tools then this will definitively be your tool:



    • Product Activation
    • Configuration of display resolution
    • Clock and time zone configuration
    • Remote Desktop configuration
    • Management of local user accounts (creation, deletion, group membership, passwords)
    • Firewall configuration
    • WinRM configuration
    • IP configuration
    • Computer name and domain/workgroup membership
    • Installation of Server Core features/roles

    After installing CoreConfigurator (supplied as MSI package), navigate to the folder where it has been installed and execute CoreConfigurator.exe


    Do read the Windows Server Core - CoreConfigurator to the rescue post where Guy explains the different settings and what you can expect to see as a result.

  • Heroes Happen Here: Community Game Winners

    In one of my previous posts TechDays and the Community Heroes , I've talked about the community game during the TechDays, we were very happy with the results and here are the winners of the Xbox360:

    230 MS HEROES 13-03-2008 (5)

    Congratulations to all winners and a BIG THANK YOU to all communities and the participants who made this game successful.

  • Remotely manage Hyper-V with MMC

    We've released the Hyper-V Manager MMC (RC release as well) for Vista SP1 (x86 & x64). What this allows you to do is install the Hyper-V Manager MMC on Vista SP1 which appears here in the Administrative Tools like this:


    From here, you can launch the Hyper-V Manager, click on Connect to Server, type in the name of the server running Hyper-V and you're set!


    You can find the Hyper-V Manager MMC here, there's versions for both x64 and x86.

    Vista x64 Edition:

    Vista x86 Edition:

    Source: Hyper-V manager mmc now available!

  • Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) has been released to the web!

    A few days ago we released the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) to the web.  RSAT is the collection of Windows Server 2008 management tools which enable IT professionals to manage their Windows Server infrastructure from their PCs running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1.  This email outlines the list  of components which make up RSAT, a link to the downloads, and frequently asked questions.  Please let encourage your customers to download and use RSAT today!

    Where to Install:


    RSAT is available to all customers as part of supplemental Microsoft Software License Terms to Windows Vista licenses.

    What Is Included in RSAT?

    This is the list of Windows Server 2008 administration tools which are included in RSAT:

    Role Administration Tools:

    • Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) Tools
    • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Tools
    • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) Tools
    • DHCP Server Service Tools
    • DNS Server Service Tools
    • Shared Folders Tools
    • Network Policy and Access Services Tools
    • Terminal Services Tools
    • Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) Services Tools
    • Feature Administration Tools
    • BitLocker Drive Encryption Tools
    • Failover Clustering Tools
    • Group Policy Management Tools
    • Network Load Balancing Tools
    • SMTP Server Tools
    • Storage Manager for SANs Tools
    • Windows System Resource Manager Tools

    The tools in the following list are fully supported managing Windows Server 2003 servers as well:

    • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Tools
    • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) Tools
    • Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) Tools
    • DHCP Server Tools
    • DNS Server Tools
    • Group Policy Management Tools
    • Network Load Balancing Tools
    • Terminal Services Tools
    • Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) Services Tools
  • The Belgian System Center UG will be announced during HeroesHappenHere event

    It has been a while since Alexandre Verkinderen started his SCUG blog onto the trycatch site and now he decided to take it one step further and to make it an official UG in Belgium.

    The SCUG will be announced during the TechDays opening keynote but if you can't wait go ahead and register yourself onto their site.

    It pleases me to see that another UG will actively organize events around the System Center products.

  • TechDays and the Community Heroes

    The UG community in Belgium are organizing a community game during the TechDays, underneath you find the info I received from the community game lead, take a look at it and if you want to win an Xbox 360 then you should definitely join this game.

    This year the event is all about IT Heroes “the people that make it work”, and yes that’s you and me. Microsoft fills this event with load of technical sessions about all the latest and the greatest, but IT-Talks wanted to take it one step further so we sat down, had a good hard think and came up with “The community game” and united the communities. Together with RIS for the technical expertise we created a simple game, open to all attendees of the Heroes Happen Here event. The game is all about meeting Heroes with equal interests that you might otherwise never meet. It’s a simple 3 step game, but don’t forget you must attend the conference to take part:

    1. If you are attending the conference head down to: and subscribe. The system will ask for your email, interests and you need to upload a picture of yourself.

    2. On 11 March 16h subscription will end and the clock starts ticking. Everybody that entered the game will be randomized towards their interests and you will get an email with the pictures of the people in your Hero team and a magic number. Print the sheet and take it with you to the conference.

    3. During the event, find your 3 peers and unite your Hero team. Head down to the game booths, fill in all the magic numbers. If all the numbers match, the system will take a picture of you Hero team, your clock stops and you’ll be placed on the Heroes hall of fame. If you’re the first team to make it back you’ll each win an XboX but don’t worry there are even more great prices waiting for you.


  • Windows Vista Interactive Virtual Roundtable with Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich

    Join Mark Russinovich and a panel of experts at 9:00 A.M. Pacific Time, March 5th for a live, interactive discussion on adopting Windows Vista into a desktop infrastructure. The panel will feature subject-matter experts and IT pros from around the world who have tackled Windows Vista deployment—hear about the challenges, workarounds, and tips & tricks they have learned along the way. Ask your questions live during the event or e-mail your question in advance to The panel will answer as many questions as they can during the 60-minute event so take advantage of this opportunity to ask the experts and find out what you want to know about Windows Vista adoption.

    For access to guidance, resources, tools, and straight-talk articles today, visit the Springboard Series for Windows Vista.