Friday, February 27, 2009

Last day for TechEd 2009 Early Bird Discount


Today is the final day to register for TechEd 2009 in Los Angeles and receive a $200 discount.

Don't miss out. Register today!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Hyper-V Dedicated Network is Coming

Windows Server 2008 R2 will offer Hyper-V V2, the second version of Microsoft's hypervisor virtualization solution.

Among the new features, Hyper-V V2 will feature a new "Dedicated" virtual network type. This will be in addition to the External, Internal, and Private networks currently available in Windows Server 2008.

As background, when you create a new virtual network in Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V converts the physical network adapter to a Microsoft Virtual Switch. It also creates a new virtual network adapter attached to the new virtual switch.

In the example above, we see a Hyper-V host with four physical NICs. The first NIC is dedicated to the host, as per best practice, and is attached to the corporate LAN. The other three NICs have been configured as External virtual networks using the Hyper-V Virtual Network Manager.

You will note that there are three disabled virtual NICs at the bottom of the image for the host to use. These virtual NICs were automatically created by Hyper-V when you configure the External virtual network, and are normally enabled by default. I've renamed each NIC and virtual switch on my host server for clarity.

If you're following the best practice of using a dedicated NIC for the Hyper-V host, as above, there normally would be no reason to use these virtual NICs. If you leave them enabled, it can cause a number of problems for the Hyper-V host:

  • The virtual NICs will attempt to get DHCP addresses. If no DHCP server is available, it will get the automatic private IP address (169.254.x.x).
  • The network binding order may be out of order, causing network inefficiencies.
  • The Windows Firewall will apply vastly different settings (I'll blog more on this later).
  • Trying to sort out an IPCONFIG /ALL is a mess

The current recommended way of dealing with this in the Windows Server 2008 version of Hyper-V is to remove all the connections for the new virtual NIC (IPv6, IPv4, etc.) and then disable the virtual NIC. Finally, you should check the network bindings to ensure that the host's NIC is at the top, followed by the virtual switches, and then the disabled NICs.

In Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft introduces the Dedicated virtual network type. When you create a Dedicated virtual network, Hyper-V does not automatically create a corresponding virtual NIC. It simply converts the selected physical NIC to a Microsoft Virtual Switch for the VM(s) to use. No need to disable anything or change network binding orders. Very cool!

Note that you will be unable to create a Dedicated virtual network on a single NIC Hyper-V host. If you did, the host would be unable to connect to the corporate LAN since there would be no NIC (physical or virtual) for it to use.

This new network will be a welcome addition to Hyper-V!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Fix for Paused-Critical Virtual Machine State


Your Hyper-V virtual machines may be happily running along, when suddenly they go into a "Virtual machine state : Paused-Critical" condition. If you resume them, they run for a few seconds and then pause again.

This happens when the volume hosting your dynamically expanding VHDs runs low on disk space.

Either free up space on the host volume, move one or more VHDs to another volume with sufficient space, or free space in the child partition and compact the VHD.
To compact a Hyper-V VHD, shutdown the virtual machine and open its Settings. Select the VHD and click the Edit button. Select Compact > Next > Finish.

Ben Armstrong also has an excellent article explaining how to compact a VHD file using PowerShell or VBScript.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Windows Server 2008 and R2 Default Background Colors

Have you ever changed the default Windows Server 2008 desktop color and wanted to change it back? The blueish-green color is not shown in the default palette, so you have to enter the RGB values manually.

Red = 29
Green = 95
Blue = 122

Here are the RGB values for the default Windows Server 2008 R2 desktop:

Red = 58
Green = 110
Blue = 165


While I'm at it, here is the formula for the cool smokey blue background for Windows PowerShell 2:

Red = 1
Green = 36
Blue = 86

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ow...


I went to the emergency room Monday night for excruciating pain in my abdomen that wouldn't let up.

On Tuesday morning surgeons removed my gall bladder which, I was told, resembled the picture on the left.

I would not wish this on anyone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Enable Aero Glass on Windows Server 2008 and R2

Some of us geeks like to use Windows Server 2008 or R2 as our desktop operating system. It's rock solid and offers more features and better perfomance than Windows Vista.

If you're missing the Vista Aero Glass interface on your Windows Server 2008, here's how to enable all that eye candy goodness.

First, you need to install the Desktop Experience feature using Server Manager, or with the following command line:

ServerManagerCmd -i Desktop-Experience

This will install the Windows Aero and other desktop themes, along with a lot of other programs that go into Vista by default (Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Gallery, etc.).

Next, you need to set the Themes service to Automatic and start it.

If you're running Windows Server 2008 (not Windows Server 2008 R2):
  • Click Control Panel > Personalization
  • Click Windows Color and Appearance and select the Windows Aero color scheme
  • (To turn Aero off, click Theme and select the Windows Classic theme)
For Windows Server 2008 R2:
  • Click Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization
  • Click Personalization and select the Aero Theme

How to Configure the Default OS to the Current OS on Multi-boot Systems


Here's a handy tip to automatically configure the default OS if you have a computer with a dual or multi-boot operating system.
Normally, when you configure a system with two or more operating systems, you select the default OS within Windows using Advanced System Settings > Startup and Recovery > System Startup. Whenever the computer is restarted it will boot to this OS automatically when the timer runs out.

If you're like me, you tend to work with one OS for a while and through several restarts. If the default OS is Windows 7, but I'm working with the Windows Server 2008 R2 OS, the computer will always default to Windows 7 on a reboot unless I manually select Windows Server 2008 R2. This is annoying since reboots are the time I usually use to get a cold drink or go to the bathroom.

Here's how to configure the computer to change the default OS to the current OS:
  • Create a new batch file called DefaultOS.bat using Notepad

  • Add the following line:
bcdedit /default {current}
  • Save the file to the Windows directory on each operating system drive

Now do the following in each Windows OS:

  • Run gpedit.msc to edit the Local Computer Policy

  • Expand Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Scripts (Startup/Shutdown)

  • Double-click Startup in the details pane

  • Click Add to add a new script

  • Browse to %WINDIR%\DefaultOS.bat and click OK

  • Click OK to close Startup Properties

  • Repeat these steps for each Windows operating system

Now Windows will configure the default OS to the current OS whenever the computer starts up. You can also apply this Startup script to all computers in the domain using Group Policy. It will not affect single boot systems.



Friday, February 13, 2009

Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder

Here's a 4-1/2 minute video by Keith Combs showing a great new feature in Windows 7, the Problem Steps Recorder, or PSR.

PSR allows end users to record the actions they took to produce a problem.

The user enters PSR in the start menu, clicks Record, and then performs the steps to produce the problem. When the user clicks Stop Record, they can optionally enter comments and save the recording to a single ZIP file. Then they email it to the support staff.

The ZIP file contains an MHT file with screen shots and written actions that documents everything the user typed or clicked during the recording session.

This will be very useful for help desk and support staff in corporate environments, not to mention all those calls I get from my parents.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eye Scanner FAIL


Photo from actual customer site.

New Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 7

Windows 7 beta 1 includes some handy new shortcut key combinations that allow you to navigate and manage the Windows workspace more efficiently.

Here are 10 new Windows 7 shortcuts that will help you speed up your workflow (“Win” means the Windows Key):

  • Win+Home: Clear all but the active window

  • Win+Space: All windows become transparent so you can see through to the desktop (requires the Aero interface)

  • Win+Up arrow: Maximize the active window

  • Win+Down arrow: Minimize the active window or restore the window if it's maximized

  • Win+Left/Right arrows: Dock the active window to each side of the monitor

  • Win+Shift+Left/Right arrows: If you've got dual monitors, this will move the active window to the adjacent monitor (love this one!)

  • Win+T: Shift focus to and scroll through items on the taskbar

  • Win+P: Adjust presentation settings for your display

  • Win+(+/-): Zoom in/out

  • Shift+Click a taskbar item: Open a new instance of that particular application

Thanks to Stephen Rose, the Senior Community Manager for the TechNet Springboard Series for the tips.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to Configure IPv6 Using Group Policy

By default, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista enable and use IPv6 as the default protocol. These versions of Windows will normally use IPv6 for all network communication and will step down to IPv4 as necessary.
You may decide to disable Windows IPv6 for several reasons. Perhaps your IPv4 network doesn't support it, and you want to disable unnecessary protocols. You may have also read that IPv6 breaks Outlook Anywhere on Exchange 2007 Client Access servers.

Most people think that you disable IPv6 by simply unchecking the Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) checkbox, as shown above. This method disables IPv6 on the particular LAN interface and connection. For other network adapters or connections, users have to repeat the steps to disable IPv6. However, disabling IPv6 this way does not disable IPv6 on tunnel interfaces or the IPv6 loopback interface. It also must be done manually and cannot be instrumented or enforced using Group Policy.

In order to truly disable IPv6, you must disable it in the registry in the following key:
Normally, the DisabledComponents value does not exist. If the value does not exist or the value data is 0, IPv6 is enabled on all interfaces.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip6\Parameters\DisabledComponents


Microsoft wrote KB article 929852 to document how to disable certain Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) components in Windows Vista (and later) manually using the registry. At the end of the article, Microsoft helpfully wrote, "Note: Administrators must create an ADMX file in order to expose the settings in step 5 in a Group Policy setting." Nice. So, I decided to do just that.

I wrote the attached ADMX and ADML files to enable the configuration of IPv6 using Group Policy. Copy each file to the computer you will use to configure the policy.
IPv6Configuration.zip - This ZIP file contains both the ADMX and ADML files:
  • IPv6Configuration.admx - Copy this file to %SYSTEMROOT%\PolicyDefinitions
  • IPv6Configuration.adml - Copy this file to %SYSTEMROOT&\PolicyDefinitions\en-US (Replace en-US with your country's language, as necessary)
Now log into the computer and use the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to configure the IPv6 settings. The new policy will be located under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Network > IPv6 Configuration, as shown below:


Here, you can configure the following IPv6 settings:
  • Enable all IPv6 components (Windows default)
  • Disable all IPv6 components (the setting you probably want)
  • Disable 6to4
  • Disable ISATAP
  • Disable Teredo
  • Disable Teredo and 6to4
  • Disable all tunnel interfaces
  • Disable all LAN and PPP interfaces
  • Disable all LAN, PPP and tunnel interfaces
  • Prefer IPv4 over IPv6
Note that you must restart the computer for the configuration to go into effect.
Please to enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How to Configure the Filter Limit in ADSIEdit


When viewing a container with a large number of items in ADSIEdit, you may receive the following error:

There are too many items in the folder DC=xxxxxx. Please refine the query parameters or increase the maximum number of items per folder.

The default filter for each container is 10,000 items. To increase the filter, select the parent naming context (Domain, Configuration, Schema, etc.) and click View > Filter in the menu bar. Then enter an appropriate value.