I was just brushing up on USMT (User state migration toolkit), and it would appear that a new cool version has been released, in conjunction with MDT 2010  (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) it offers USMT using hardlinks.

The point is that data does not need to be backed up to an external USB disk or network drive, it will be stored in a protected area of the harddisk during installation and then afterwards just linked via hardlinks..  This speed’s things up tremendously (normally a USMT could take from 30 min – 1 hour, but here we are talking minutes)..

In this example it was an XP migration to Windows 7, I may also need XP -> XP migration so it will be interesting to see if this is also possible..

See more here;
http://edge.technet.com/Media/User-State-Migration-with-Windows-7/

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=e263796c-c7e4-44d6-96dd-32e821c88a25

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=e90ebead-7b48-4d1e-9461-be5f07b83468

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=696dd665-9f76-4177-a811-39c26d3b3b34

I just stumbled across this interesting article “Using Group Policy Preferences to control multiple BGinfo scripts” during a search, this may indeed be worth a closer look.

http://www.fr3d.org/2010/03/using-group-policy-prefs-to-control-bginfo-scripts/

I keep forgetting how to enable Group Policy Loopback processing, this is useful if you have an advanced structure/advanced needs within your OU’s in AD.

The recipe is simple;

To set user configuration per computer, follow these steps:

  1. In the Group Policy Microsoft Management Console (MMC), click Computer Configuration.
  2. Locate Administrative Templates, click System, click Group Policy, and then enable the Loopback Policy option.

This will allow for Usersettings to be propagated even if they are only in the Computer OU.

More here; http://support.microsoft.com/?id=231287

If you use HP servers you hopefully also use or have configured the iLO connection, the iLO port will allow you to connect to the console screen of the server even if Windows is not booted, this allows for installing a server or configuring bios settings etc remotely.

However, yesterday when I tried to connect to one of our servers via iLO (you do this via Internet Explorer)  i got this message;

<?xml version="1.0" ?> - <RIMP>
-<MP>   <ST>5</ST>   <INFORM>The iLO firmware is in a network flash recovery state.</INFORM>
<REFERENCE>Refer to the iLO network flash recovery under the trouble shooting 
section in the iLO users guide.</REFERENCE>   </MP>   </RIMP>
Well that was not what I expected, anyhow the solution is fairly simple, you just need to download the iLO firmware and flash the iLO management processor, this can easily be achieved via FTP.
  • Download the iLO firmware from www.hp.com(support and drivers, search for iLO firmware), note there is difference between iLO/iLO2/iLO3 so check your server specs for which FW to get.
  • Unpack firmware (by far the easiest way is to use www.rarlabs.comWinRar, just rightclick and extract from the .exe you downloaded before)
  • Find the iloXXX.bin and copy it to C:\  (or use your own location if you prefer, just remember to change it in the commands below also).
  • Start a command prompt (cmd.exe)
  • Issue these  commands;

    FTP x.x.x.x  (replace x.x.x.x with the correct IP)
    User: flash
    Password: recovery
    type binary
    put c:\iloXXX.bin   (replace XXX with the version number of the image file)

    and then wait while it flashes the ROM you will see a progress indicator.

After this iLO should be back up working 🙂  easy as pie..

For those of you that have ever tried finding anything on HP’s homepage you know that it can be virtually impossible 🙁 thus I am often struggling to find the download link for “HP ProLiant Support Pack for Microsoft Windows Server 2003”, well no more my friends 🙂 here is the link to use 🙂

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareIndex.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&prodNameId=3716247&prodTypeId=18964&prodSeriesId=3716246&swLang=13&taskId=135&swEnvOID=1005

And as a bonuslink, here is how to install it on a “Server Core” (the one without the Win GUI)..

http://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2010/02/cheatsheet-how-to-install-hp-support-pack-on-a-server-core-installation-3/


(Screenshot is from an older version than the current 4.9)

Yet another free partitioning CD (why in the world pay for Partition Magic), this CD will let you boot from it and resize your partitions and much more (free).

http://sourceforge.net/projects/partedmagic/files/

super_orca_screenshot_2If you have ever worked with .MSI files you must have touched Microsoft’s utility ORCA.  Well it proves there is an alternative to this with a few extra features Super ORCA, so if you ever mess with .MSI files you may want to give Super ORCA a spin at http://www.pantaray.com/msi_super_orca.html

So I had to brush a bit up on my Softgrid knowledge for a package build and I came across a few things I’d like to share;

  1. A super guide to Softgrid building by one of the Guru’s on the field (Chris Lord).
    http://myitforum.com/cs2/files/folders/120058/download.aspx
  2. A neat util to explore Softgrid packages without installing the sequencer. SFT Explorer.
    sftexpl_screenshot_tb
    http://www.virtualapp.net/sft-explorer.html

As of right now I haven’t really gotten my package to work, I have to include an old version of Java with a link to a web-site.  But even if I set the registry to override it still fail to launch the old java, if no java is on the machine in advance it works like a dream..  We are currently using the old 4.2 sequencer so I might try the 4.5 version to see if any improvements has been made.

So you would like to extract some files from an Install Shield (IS) installer package you have, you may as I just need a few driver files from a package.

Well first you try the extract command from Windows (as some of the Install Shield files come as .cab files) however you quickly discover that the IS.cab files are not compatible with the Windows .cab files.  WinRar is often good at extracting all sorts of files, but not the IS files. You can forget all about -e or -x for extract that does not work either.

But there is a way, you need an utility called “ISCabVu.exe”, sadly this utility is not just lying around on the net, so you need to do a bit of fiddling around to get hold of it.. 

1. Download an evaluation copy of Install Shield (any never version will likely do, do go for the latest).
2. Install it (if you don’t want to pollute your system use SandboxIE (requires 32bit os)).
3. Copy the files under “Program Files\InstallShield\2010\System” to a different location.
4. Now just run the “ISCabVu.exe” file.
5. You may be able to thin out this directory (150mb) but this may take some time and may not be worth your time.

Now the extract part is easy, see image below;
hpquickbtn

So you for some reason or other need a custom GroupPolicy template (.adm template) to set some strange setting for some odd software.

You can use a Policy.ADM file to set custom registry values either for your own pc (may seem like a bit overkill) or more likely for your domain.

Well I have created a few of these back in the good old NT4 days and it was not all that difficult once you got the hang of it, and thus when I had the need again lately I was confident I could get it to work without too much of a hassle.

I was wrong :-/

Ok, creating a simple policy.adm file is easy;

policy1

And if you enter a keyname like;
”SoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftwhatever”

Things will work brilliantly, however lets say you want to change some obscure value for the adobe reader!?  This is outside the “Policies” section of the registry.. things will look like this when you enter the GPM MMC console.

policy2

This is where I lost my temper and started cursing at my monitor, see again once I put “Policies” in the keyname everything worked like a charm (but my setting was NOT in the Policy region of the registry)..

So Google to the rescue, it would seem that things have changed since the good old Poledit days, and that you need to do a bit of editor tweaking to get those ‘dirty’ settings available under NT4+ systems now-er-days.

Here is the secret;

policy3 
View, Filtering, “Only show policy settings that can be fully managed”..

Once this is done you can see everything – just like in the good old days 😀

policy4

Also it’s worth noting the other filter settings, I did not even know they existed, now you can actually limit your view to only those settings that are set, and this DO make it a lot easier to overlook the more complex policies.

Good luck making your new policies its easy as pie you know..

Links;
http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/12009443/m/645000852731/inc/-1
http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles/ADM-Template-Repository.html
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc738443.aspx