Monday, September 24, 2007

How to change screen resolution on Windows Server 2008 Server Core

Since Windows Server 2008 Server Core doesn't have access to display properties, you must change the screen resolution using the registry. Here's how:

  • Log into Server Core with an admin account
  • Run Regedit from the command prompt and modify the following reg keys:
HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Video
  • There, you will find one or more GUIDs. Expand each one to find the one with a VolatileSettings subkey under the 0000 subkey (usually the first GUID)
  • Double-click the 0000 key and modify the DefaultSettings.XResolution and DefaultSettings.YResolution values to set your resolution
  • Close Regedit
  • Logoff and log back on to receive the new resolution settings

How to Install VMware Tools in Windows 2008 Server Core

Windows 2008 Server Core benefits from VMware Tools, even though the GUI is mostly just a commandline. The most important benefit (to me) is the VMware enhanced mouse driver. This allows you to move the mouse in and out of the VM without having to to press the Ctrl-Alt release sequence.

Installing VMware Tools is a bit tricky, though, because there's no shell to integrate into. Here's how to install VMware Tools on Server Core:
  • Log into your Windows Server 2008 Server Core VM with an admin account
  • From the VMware Workstation console, click the VM menu Install VMware Tools. This will mount the VMware Tools disk in the virtual CD-Rom drive.
  • From the command line, switch to drive D: (or whatever drive is your CD drive)
  • Type Setup and press Enter
  • Click Install to the VMware informational message. The VMware Tools will begin to setup.
  • Click Next to install
  • Click Next to perform a Typical setup
  • Click Install to begin the installation
  • When you see the status stall, open Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Ins Start Task Manager)
  • Click the Applications tab, select the RUNDLL process and choose End Task
  • Close Task Manager and click OK to any error messages. Setup will continue as normal.
  • Click Finish and click Yes to restart the server
When Windows Server 2008 Server Core starts up, it will be in 640x480 resolution. Read my next blog post to explain how to configure the resolution in Windows 2008 Server Core.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Windows Server 2008 Hibernation

As the Technical Editor for the forthcoming book, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Unleashed (Sams Publishing), I'm doing a lot of work with Windows Server 2008.

It seems that W2K8 Server enables hibernation by default. This is quite interesting since I'm not sure how many people actually hibernate a server. Nevertheless, it's something we need to deal with. Particularly for those (like me) who do most of their work in VMs.

As you may know, Windows creates a file named hiberfil.sys in the root of the system drive for systems where hibernation is enabled. The hiberfil.sys file is always the same size as physical RAM. In a VM where hibernation is normally replaced with the VM software's suspend feature, that can be quite a sizeable chunk of wasted space. In a production environment I would normally want to disable hibernation, too.

Trouble is, you can't disable hibernation anywhere in the GUI. It must be disabled from the command line using the command:
powercfg.exe /hibernate off
This is further documented in the following MS KB articles:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast, me hearties!


September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today be a day to toss out that scurvey bilge water ye call coffee and grab a bottle of me best rum. Yo, ho, ho!

If talkin' like a pirate be not easy for ye, ye best sail over to this website to learn how. Ye don't want to be caught talkin' like a land lubber today! Properly warned ye be, says aye.

Lots of blargh!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Have you examined your Pagefile lately?

Whenever you build a new server or workstation Windows automatically sets the pagefile size based on the amount of RAM available. Usually, it sets the minimum amount of RAM to 1.5X RAM and the maximum to 2X RAM. So, for a server with 2GB RAM the pagefile minimum might be 3072MB and the maximum size might be 4096MB.

That might work well for your base build, but what about after you add the applications you built the server to do? The pagefile requirements change dramatically after you install SQL, Exchange, antivirus, etc.

You can view the pagefile settings by checking your system settings (Right-click Computer Properties Advanced tab Performance settings Advanced Change). Take a look at the Recommended setting, as in the example in this article.

I recommend setting the Initial size to the Recommended size (4509MB in the example above), and the Maximum size to 2x RAM (8096MB for this server). This will have a truly awesome affect on server performance! I especially find big performance gains in Exchange and SQL.

It's interesting to note that even though Windows recommends 4509MB for a pagefile, the system's currently allocated pagefile size is only the inital size. You would think that Windows would adjust the pagefile up to the maximum size of 4096MB, but it doesn't.

I recommend taking a look at your pagefile settings after installing your applications and occasionally (maybe every 6 months) while in production and adjust as needed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Upcoming Webcast for daylight saving time changes in 2007



Of note to Systems Administrators (especially Exchange SAs)

Available on Friday, September 14th at 9am PT:

Preparing for Daylight Saving Time: This Webcast will provide an overview of information on Microsoft products and resources available to help businesses prepare for change to Daylight Saving Time.

https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/lmevents/join?id=msft091407sa&role=attend&pw=AGT732

To see future Webcasts related to this subject please keep checking our "Webcasts for daylight saving time changes in 2007" page which you can find here.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Search results may take a long time to appear because Microsoft Search is unavailable


A colleague of mine ran into a problem during an Exchange 2003 / migration. When some of the users tried to search their mailboxes, they receive a message saying, "Search results may take a long time to appear because Microsoft Search is unavailable. Results will not include matches in the e-mail body." (See the example above, from OWA)
This will happen to all mailboxes on the same server if the Microsoft Exchange Search Indexer service is stopped, but in this case only some of the mailboxes on the same server were affected.

I tested the same thing on my home server and found the same results. I had migrated all my accounts from my Exchange 2003 server months ago. When I ran the Get-Mailbox Test-ExchangeSearch PowerShell command I found that all my mailboxes except one (a service account) came back as True (enabled).

The bad news is that there's no way to enable Exchange Search for an individual mailbox. However, the following PowerShell command worked for me to correct the problem:
ResetSearchIndex -Force -All
This command will stop the MSExchangeSearch service, remove the entire search database and restart the MSExchangeSearch service. The MSExchangeSearch will immediately begin crawling the database(s) and rebuild the index(s). It took about 3 minutes on my 550MB database in a VM. You can use Perfmon to watch the Full Crawl Mode Status counter in the MSExchange Search Indices performance object to monitor when it's done. The counter value will be 1 while it's rebuilding, 0 when it's done.

Usage for the ResetSearchIndex PowerShell command:

ResetSearchIndex.ps1 [-force] [] ...
-OR-
ResetSearchIndex.ps1 [-force] -all
-OR-
get-mailboxdatabase ResetSearchIndex.ps1 [-force]

Thursday, September 6, 2007

How to Access Public Folders in OWA 2007

Public Folders are not available in the RTM release of Exchange 2007 OWA, so I created a work-around:
  • Log into E2K7 OWA as usual
  • Right-click your name in the folder list and select "Create new folder"
  • Name the new folder "Public Folders"
  • Compose a new email to yourself with https://yourOWAserverURL/public in the body of the message and send it
  • Move the new email to the Public Folders folder you created

To access Public Folders, open the Public Folders folder and click the link. Public Folders will open in a new window or tab in Internet Explorer.

Look for REAL Public Folder access to arrive with Exchange Server 2007 SP1.

Relaying SMTP Email Through Your ISP

Most ISPs these days are blocking SMTP email (port 25) from their subscribers. This is a good thing, because it stops malware and infected hosts connected to the ISP network from propagating to other hosts on the network and the rest of the Internet.

If your ISP blocks port 25 your Exchange server(s) will be unable to send SMTP email. This article explains how to work around this in Exchange 2007. Other versions of Exchange will be similar.

If you have an Edge server, like I do, you cannot make the configuration changes directly on the Edge server. You have to make them on a Hub Transport, CAS or Mailbox server. The changes will then replicate out to the Edge server on the next EdgeSync.

Here's what to do:


  • Open EMC and navigate to Hub Transport under Organization Configuration.

  • Select the Send Connectors tab and double-click the send connector for outbound email to the Internet.

  • Click the Network tab and select "Route mail through the following smart hosts".

  • Click Add to add your ISP's outbound SMTP server (i.e, smtp.comcast.com)

  • Click the Change button to configure Smart Host Authentication Settings.

  • Select Basic Authentication, and enter your ISP account's user name and password.

  • Click OK twice to close the dialog windows.
Test outbound email. If you're using an Edge server, you need to wait for an EdgeSync event to run (or run Start-EdgeSynchronization from the Exchange Management Shell). If you're not using an Edge server, the changes go into affect immediately.

VMware Processor Check for 64-Bit Compatibility

VMware has created a standalone processor check utility which you can use without VMware Workstation to determine whether your CPU is supported for virtual machines with 64-bit guest operating systems.


This utility is a handy way to check a system before you buy it. Download it onto a USB key and run it on the prospective computer to see if it will run 64 bit guests.

It's important to note that you do NOT have to run a 64 bit host OS to run 64 bit guests in VMware 6. For me, this is really handy since none of my wireless USB Ethernet adapters have 64 bit drivers. I can use x86 XP as my host OS to access my wireless network while still running 64 bit guests like Windows Server 2008. Sweet!