The PowerShell Prescription

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I usually don't post here on the Canadian IT Pro blog (my home is over on the Canadian IT Managers blog), but when Don send me this guest posting, I thought it would be of particular interest to those of you who are the hands on, in the trenches, IT professionals who are responsible for executing on the project plan and making things work. Enjoy!

guestbloggerDon Spencer (Waterloo, ON, IT Manager of Pano Cap Canada)

"I'm the doctor. You're the patient."

It's been a long time, but I can still remember those summer vacations on a lazy, hazy August afternoon when we didn't have enough kids for a game of soccer or baseball, nobody wanted to go swimming, or even to go the bush to play war. And so we played doctor, splinting broken legs with old hockey sticks, bandaging a head with canvas straps from an old tent, and expressing disgust at the greasy build up in somebody's ear.

So, we've just moved into autumn, but I still want to play doctor. Only this time, I'm the middle-aged IT doctor and you're the adult IT patient. Here's the deal. I have a prescription, one size fits all, and it will work for the next ten years. Are you ready?

PowerShell.

Would you like me to repeat that? Do you have a piece of paper for me to write it down so that nobody else can read it?

It doesn't seem like an easy pill to swallow. It may appear as big as a fist on first glance, but it's really not that bad. Try this and I think you'll see what I mean.

First, make sure you have a notebook or desktop running Windows XP Pro SP2 or Windows Vista Business or Ultimate or even a lab server with Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2007, or even a Windows Server 2008 beta release. Check to make sure you have the .NET Framework 2.0 or above installed. Then, go to this pharmacy (er, web site), download and swallow (er, install).

OK. Enough of the lame metaphor.

The real deal is this. PowerShell is here to stay. It's the wave of the future in Windows server administration. It's time to stop the nonsense of saying, "You know, someday I'm going to have to learn something about that." Someday is now. Time is still precious, and learning new tools and technologies is still a juggling act of current responsibilities and future concerns. But with PowerShell, I'm so certain that you'll reap immediate rewards that I can confidently claim that all IT professionals and all IT managers with responsibilities for Windows server products need to get started.

Where to begin? Try Don Jones' webcasts or get-busy -learning 'PowerScripting podcasts' with Jonathan Walz. Even better, join me and Peter Piluk, Ruth Morton, and Jacqueline Hutchinson for an evening on October 17, 2007 at the Holiday Inn in Cambridge for a WWITPRO in the KNOW presentation on PowerShell, Windows Server 2008, and HomeServer.  Or, try doing a LiveSearch (or Google search) for "PowerShell resources".

Learn one cmdlet per day, and after a month, try some simple scripts with a specialized search engine just for scripting resources. And by all means, share with us how you're doing in the PowerShell arena.

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  • It's funny isn't it...you can say the same words to different people and they mean different things.

  • I am Canadian and blog all about PowerShell.  I would be more than happy to try to help anyone/everyone learn PowerShell.

    You need to have Windows Server 2008 beta 3 to have PowerShell available to you just by enabling the "feature", otherwise it is a quick install/download.  Exchange 2007 was basically *built* on PowerShell.  Expect to see all server-based products have some kind of PowerShell support by 2009, whether it be tightly supported (like Exchange 2007) or losely supported (just some cmdlets that can do some/most of the functionality).

    The cmdlets you should really know:

    -"get-help": for help

    -"get-command": to list commands basically

    -"get-member" (a bit more advanced)

    Use these commands like this:

    -"get-command" alone will list all the cmdlets on your system.

    -"get-command something" will list commands with the "something" string in it, so do this actually "get-command *something*"

    -"get-help something" will give you the help for the "something" command

    My blog: http://marcoshaw.blogspot.com

    PowerShell team blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/powershell