Blog Archives

Creating Your Own Personal Hydration Solution – Part 2: First VM – Windows Router

Part 0 Introduction
Part 1 Setting Up
Part 2 First VM – Windows Router
Part 3 Domain Controller
Part 4 Configuration  Manager Infrastructure


Routing between subnets and access to the Internet (required for Windows Activation) is handled by RTR01, a Windows server running Routing and Remote Access (RRAS).  This should be the first virtual machine to be built and configured as machines on the other subnets will need this server in place for them to successfully build.

This virtual machine will have 5 network adapters, one on each network.  The build will create a basic Windows server.  To configure the server you will need to run some PowerShell as well as manually configuring RRAS.

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Creating Your Own Personal Hydration Solution – Part 1: Setting Up

Part 0 Introduction
Part 1 Setting Up
Part 2 First VM – Windows Router
Part 3 Domain Controller
Part 4 Configuration  Manager Infrastructure

In this first installment we’ll work on getting the foundation set for building up the lab.  We’ll configure the virtual networks, the host networking and get our MDT environment installed and configured.  We are going to use a number of tricks that I’ve learned from others.

[This is going to be a long one.]

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Learn from my Mistakes – SCCM 2012: Importing Computers and Limiting Collections

This is probably one of those “Duh” moments that we all have but I thought I’d share it anyway.

I was getting frustrated when I was importing the MAC address of a new, out of the box computer into SCCM 2012 to be used to test my latest development build.  I had a testing collection used solely for testing this new build.  I’d import the computer and have the wizard place it into my testing collection, but it would never show up.  I’d search All Systems and it would be there, so I know the import worked.  I tried importing using a CSV.  I tried adding the resource manually.  I tried adding the object to the collection using a query.  Nothing worked.  No mater what I tried the imported computer would not appear in my test collection.

Then I noticed that my test collection was limited to a custom collection we have set up for only Windows 7 computers.  I could only chuckle and laugh at myself for missing that in the first place.

So, what happened?

When you import a computer into SCCM it is added to the All Systems collection.  That’s why when I searched All Systems I could find my imported machine.  If, while going through the Import Computer wizard you specify a collection to add it to SCCM will create a direct membership rule for your newly imported computer account.

Where things went off the tracks for me was that my test collection was limited to that Windows 7 custom collection.  That collection was, for the record, built using a query that looks at the OS info returned from Hardware Inventory.  Since my imported computer had never reported inventory the query to scoop it up would pass right over it.  So it only sat in All Systems, and since my test collection was not looking at All Systems it would never find it.  No matter what I wanted.

Morale of the story?

If you’re going to be using a test collection for something like build testing, be sure that it is limited to the All Systems collection if you’re going to be importing new, out of the box computers for testing.

Windows 10 In-Place Upgrade (Not Giving Up)

Okay, my Windows 10 Bare Metal builds have been working very well (Part 1 and Part 2).  I have a few application compatibility issues to work out but that shouldn’t be anything major.

So, I’m turning my attention back to trying to get the In-Place upgrade working for us.

Easy is not an option!
– Les Brown

I want this to work.  It will be an immense time saver if it does.

So it’s back to the drawing board.  Back to starting simple and building up from there.  Drivers are going to be an issue but they always are.  The biggest challenge will be fixing the applications that get broken during the process.

I know I have to fix:

  • Novell client
  • Cisco Anyconnect VPN client
  • Citrix client
  • Sentillion Authenticator (a new version is Windows 7 native, so that might be easier then expected)

On top of that I have the regular app compatibility issues to address:

  • Our printer install script doesn’t seem to work any more
  • I’ll have to find a new way to set up our branded login backgrounds
  • Start Menu manipulation

I’ll post what I work out.

Windows 10 – Bare Metal Deployment (Part 1)

To keep my sanity I put the in-place upgrade work I was doing aside for the time being and instead focus on the “traditional” wipe and reload sequence.

I also decided to try a different approach and do away with using a custom generated base image captured using MDT.  Over time we’ve pulled more and more out of our base images.  As I was preparing a build and capture sequence in MDT I realized that there were only about 20 customization actions that I was making for my image.  Most of those turned out to be installing some enterprise-wide applications that we were in fact upgrading during deployment.  Other settings were things like creating shortcuts, or Registry keys… Hello!  Group Policy Preferences!!!

So, I decided why setup and use one MDT task sequence to capture a lightly customized image that I then import into SCCM and then setup another task sequence to deploy it?  I’ll just use the factory image direct from Microsoft.  When it comes time to patch I’ll use the Offline Servicing feature of SCCM.

I may be asking for trouble with this but….

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
– Henry Ford

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Windows 10: In-Place Upgrade (Part 1 – Background)

With Windows 10 Microsoft is heavily promoting the in-place upgrade.  In fact, Microsoft used the in-place upgrade internally when moving their systems from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

I first heard about this during a TechEd Europe session (EM-B326).  Shortly after the session was made available the System Center Configuration Manager team posted a blog entry explaining the basics on doing this.

I thought I’d dig a little deeper and try to tie together the SCCM blog posting and the information from the TechEd presentation.

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MDTLabBuilder – Roadmap

I thought I’d lay out some of the ideas that I have for the direction I plan to take my lab builder.  I”m wrapping up version 1.1, which handles standing up a basic Configuration Manager infrastructure (1 Primary Site and 2+ Distribution Points) and should have it ready in the next day or so.

NomadBranch and PXE Lite from 1E
We use this where I work and I think that it might be useful for others to see how it works.  My lab builder relies entirely on evaluation software, so I’ll have to see if an eval version of the software is freely available from 1E.

Multiple Subnets
This would make demonstrating NomadBranch and PXE Lite much easier, particularly when used for OS deployment.  Having a “remote” office where 1E’s software handles the PXE booting and content sourcing would be helpful.

Windows 10
I’d like to be able to put Windows 10 deployment and management through its paces, using both MDT as well as SCCM.

System Center Orchestrator
This one is for me.  Orchestrator has interested me but I’ve never really gotten a chance to really try it.

Thoughts?  Any suggestions as to what you would like to see?