Use Wim2VHD to Quickly Build a Lab Network

WIM2VHD has been around for quite a while now but I don’t know that many people realised what it could offer.  Mikael Nystrom (Server deployment MVP) has blogged a reminder.  You can use WIM2VHD to quickly create a VHD from a WIM file, e.g. the install.wim file in the Vista/Windows7/Server 2008/Server 2008 R2 installation media, and then attach that VHD to a Hyper-V virtual machine.  This is a quicker way to build a set of lab machines than doing an installation, e.g. WDS, MDT, sneakernet, etc, if you don’t have a set of library images (VMM).  I’ve been guilty of not doing this … reminder to self: use WIM2VHD in the future when I need to build a lab template.  Mikael has the notes you’ll need to do the job in his blog post.

Passed 70-635 Exam

I sat and passed the 70-635 (MDT 2008) exam today.  I know it’s old; but it’s required for a some MS partner stuff and a more modern replacement hasn’t been announced as a requirements replacement.  The exam was particularly easy considering that I had done work with Vista, WAIK (Vista and Windows 7), WinPE, MDT 2010, WDS (2003 SP2, 2008, 2008 R2), and ConfigMgr 2007.  It also goes into some Office 2007 deployment stuff which is easy enough and some SMS 2003 stuff.  The answers to the SMS questions centred around SP3 and the OSD feature pack with everything else being similar to ConfigMgr.

What I did not like was how some of the questions are written as trick questions rather than as tests of knowledge or experience.  That’s quite unfair.  I didn’t bother commenting on the questions; I have my doubts about the comments being used and I had places to be and things to do.

Next up (once the Prometric site lets me book an exam from my voucher) is 70-401: System Center Configuration Manager, Configuring.

User State Virtualization

What the hell is USV?  It’s simple; it’s using technologies to unbind user data from the PC.  You’re talking about features like roaming profiles, redirected folders and offline files.

Believe it or not, most companies I encounter have not done this.  For them, a PC repair is the timely process.  A PC upgrade is a potentially nasty piece of work to use USMT to capture a user state and restore it.

That’s why MS has released a Planning and Designing Guide for Windows User State Virtualization (USV).  Reading this, you can enjoy the tech that the rest of us have been using since the mid 1990’s.  Some of us stated using redirected folders and offline files back with W2003 and XP.  Admittedly, I disabled Offline Files when managing XP because it was a royal PITA (not a good thing).  Vista/Windows 7 appear to have solved that.

Getting the user state off of the PC is invaluable:

  • Windows upgrades are simple and quick.
  • PC repair which might take more than 10 minutes can be replaced by PC rebuild.
  • User data is centralized and easier to back up.
  • Those worried about regulators can do archiving.

End Of Life Coming Soon

Folks, this summer the following products will be end of life, i.e. no support of any kind for the following products:

  • XP SP2 – upgrade to a newer service pack
  • Vista RTM – upgrade to a newer service pack
  • Windows 2000 – upgrade to Windows XP SP3 or later, Windows Vista SP1 or later, or Windows 7
  • Windows Sever 2000 – upgrade to Windows Server 2003/2003 R2/2008 or migrate to Windows Server 2008 R2.

Go to the Microsoft product life cycle site for precise details.

For the server replacement, I’d strongly consider you look at moving to an x64 server operating system.  Making the jump now will ease future upgrades.  A few notes:

  • Microsoft hates upgrades because they are messy.  Problems are inherited/created.
  • You cannot upgrade from x86 to x64 or vice versa.
  • You cannot upgrade from a full installation to a core installation.
  • You need the correct licensing for the server and the CAL’s.
  • Check application compatibility.
  • Test, test, test and verify with application/hardware vendors before making changes.

European Union Windows Browser Choice

KB976002 describes what operating systems will receive a choice of Internet browser and how this process will work.  This will bring Microsoft into compliance with the much discussed demands of the European Union on this subject.  Affected OS’s are:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows XP Service Pack 3
  • All editions of Windows Vista
  • All editions of Windows 7
  • Future versions of the Windows client operating system that are released within the duration of the agreement with the European Commission

Some more information on the process can be found on Stealth Puppy.  I’ve not seen the update yet but it appears to be delivered by Windows Update.  If you don’t have Windows Update enabled then I guess you don’t get a choice.

If you are running tightly controlled corporate PC’s then you’ll be glad to hear that you can prevent the update from being deployed via WSUS/ConfigMgr/etc.  You can also use the registry, according to KB2019411 (and therefore group policy) to prevent the update from executing:

  • Key: HKLMSoftwareBrowserChoice
  • Value: Enable (REG_DWORD)
  • Possible settings: Enabled = 1, Disabled = 0

Got A Slow Hard Disk In Your PC? Try ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a feature of Windows Vista and Windows 7 that is aimed at PC’s and laptops that have slow hard disks, i.e. under 7,200 RPM.  It allows you to use a USB stick (or even internal USB) as a cache for files that are read from the hard disk, thus making them quicker to load and improving the performance of your PC.  You can read more here.

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God Mode: Windows Vista and Windows 7

This one got some serious re-tweeting yesterday.  It’s an easter egg in Windows 7 and Vista.  Create a folder on your hard drive and rename it to GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}.  It suddenly gets renamed to “Godmode” and the icon changes to a control panel icon.  Navigate into it and you get short cuts to all sorts of admin and configuration functions.  No more nested navigation; you quickly just do what you want to do.

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This won’t be supported by MS so don’t go making it a standard.

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Lots Of Operations Manager Updates

Microsoft released lots of updates for Operations Manager over the last couple of weeks.  There are lots of updates to management packs, too many for me to go posting them at this time of night.  Have a look on the catalogue and you’ll see them.  Or check your console if you’re using OpsMgr 2007 R2.

Most importantly is KB971541, Update Rollup for Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1.

“The Update Rollup for Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1) combines previous hotfix releases for SP1 with additional fixes and support of SP1 roles on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. This update also provides database role and SQL Server Reporting Services upgrade support from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008.

The Update Rollup includes updates for the following Operations Manager Roles:

  • Root Management Server, Management Server, Gateway Server
  • Operations Console
  • Operations Management Web Console Server
  • Agent
  • Audit Collection Server (ACS Server)
  • Reporting Server

The following tools and updates are provided within this update which may be specific to a scenario:

  • Support Tools folder – Contains SRSUpgradeTool.exe and SRSUpgradeHelper.msi (Enables upgrade of a SQL Server 2005 Reporting Server used by Operations Manager Reporting to SQL Server 2008 Reporting Server)
  • Gateway folder – Contains a MSI transform and script to update MOMGateway.MSI for successful installation on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • ManagementPacks folder – Contains an updated Microsoft.SystemCenter.DataWarehouse.mp which requires manual import

For a list of fixes and tools addressed by this update rollup, see KB971541.

This update is supported for application on System Center Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1 only.

Feature Summary

The System Center Operations Manager 2007 SP1 Rollup 1 contains:

  • All binary hotfixes released since Service Pack 1 release
  • Support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Operational and DataWarehouse database support on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Additional stability hotfixes”

Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Vista; Windows XP
  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 Service Pack 1

Instructions

This update must be applied to each computer that meets the following criteria:

  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Root Management Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Management Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Operations Console
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Web Console Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Reporting Server
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager Manually installed Agent
  • Hosts a Microsoft Operations Manager ACS Server

Before applying this update it is strongly recommended that Operations Manager databases, Management Server, Report Server and Web Console roles be backed up.

To extract the files contained in this update and installation of the update on the Operations Manager roles above:

  1. Copy the file – SystemCenterOperationsManager2007-SP1-KB971541-X86-X64-IA64-locale.MSI – To either a local folder or accessible network shared folder.
  2. Run the file – SystemCenterOperationsManager2007-SP1-KB971541-X86-X64-IA64-locale.MSI – locally on each applicable computer that meets the predefined criteria.
    You can run SystemCenterOperationsManager2007-SP1-KB971541-X86-X64-IA64-locale.MSI from either Windows Explorer or from a command prompt.
  3. Select the appropriate role to update from the Operations Manager 2007 Software Update dialog.

NOTE: To run this file on Windows Server 2008 you must run this file from a command prompt which was executed with the Run as Administrator option. Failure to execute this Windows installer file under an elevated command prompt will not allow display of the System Center Operations Manager 2007 Software Update dialog to allow installation of the hotfix”.