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Dec 29, 2010

Creating Bootable Windows 7 Install USB Keys On The Easy

A few months ago I wrote a post on how to take a Windows 7 ISO image and install it to your USB drive to make a bootable Windows 7 Install USB Flash drive. The process wasn’t that difficult, but for some of you dropping to the command prompt might be a bit scary, or if you are not tech savvy at all, it’s like I was speaking a completely different language!

Microsoft actually made a really cool tool that makes this process easier for the average Joe. Their tool takes you step by step through taking a Windows 7 ISO file, and either using it to burn it to DVD, or to install it directly to USB. It really is so easy, than I’m sure your Grandma could probably do it!

The tool is called the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. There are some system Requirements to run the tool such as:

  • Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)

  • Pentium 233-megahertz (MHz) processor or faster (300 MHz is recommended)

  • 50MB of free space on your hard drive

  • DVD-R drive or 4GB removable USB flash drive

For Windows XP Users
The following applications must be installed prior to installing the tool:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 must be installed. It can be downloaded here.
  • Microsoft Image Mastering API v2 must be installed. It can be downloaded here.

Windows 7 USBDVD Download Tool_2010-12-29_11-17-00

Pretty easy right? Just a quick 4 step process, and boom! You can have a bootable Windows 7 USB Installer so you can install Windows 7 on your computer from USB! I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get easier than that!

[Via The Microsoft Store]

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Dec 28, 2010

Uninstalling Exchange? Getting an Error Saying, “Object is Read Only”? Here’s Your Fix!

My company upgraded to Exchange 2010 about a year ago. It is really awesome, and I’m glad we did. We did not, however, ever remove the only Exchange 2007 server we had. It’s just been sitting in our data center, using up power, and expensive Microsoft licensing. I finally decided that since we were in need of more VMware resources, it would be a good time to decommission Exchange 2007 for good, order some more RAM for it, and re-purpose it for VMware.

I started on this last week. You see, in order to remove an Exchange server from your environment, you have to do several things in order to make it go smoothly and cleanly. One of them is to make sure you remove all public folder replicas to your new Exchange server. That can take several days. I set that to go over the weekend, and decided to start back up today.

When I went to uninstall, all the perquisites passed. That meant I moved replicas successfully. However when I proceeded with the uninstall it failed at removing the Mailbox Server Role with the following error:

Object is read only because it was created by a future version of Exchange: 0.10 (14.0.100.0). Current supported version is 0.1 (8.0.535.0).

Exchange Server 2007 Uninstall Failed

It turns out that after you move all replicas, you now have to actually remove the public folder database from your Exchange 2007 server. The problem is you can’t really do that from the Exchange 2007 server itself or you will get a similar error. So here is what you have to do.

  • On your Exchange 2007 server, open the Exchange Management Shell as administrator
  • Get the public folder identity by running this command:

    Get-PublicFolderDatabase -Server YOUREXCH2007SERVERNAME | fl name, identity

  • Once you have the identity, open the Exchange Management Shell as administrator on your Exchange 2010 server.
  • Remove the 2007 Public Folder database by running the following command:

    Remove-PublicFolderDatabase "YOUREXCH2007SERVERNAME\First Storage Group\Public Folder Database"

Make sure that you don’t just copy and paste what is above! Your environment may be different, so modify the commands above match your environment! Once you run these commands and after everything replicates nicely through your active directory, you can proceed with the uninstall without issue!

Dec 24, 2010

Tracking Down Account Lockouts in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

You have all probably had to troubleshoot account lockouts right. I mean, it comes with the territory for a Windows admin. Sure, some of you may be Help Desk workers, and you unlock the account then send the user on their way. What if a certain user’s account keeps getting locked out though? Like chronic back pain, the user keeps coming to you telling you that their account is locked out again. It sounds like a deeper problem.

Lucky for you then that Microsoft has an old tool to help you look for account lock outs on domain controllers so you can see which computers the accounts are getting locked out on. Then from there you can check for stuff like scheduled tasks with old passwords, viruses using old credentials, hacking attempts, etc. It’s called EventCombMT and comes with the Microsoft Account Lockout Management Tools.

In EventCombMT, there are several built in searches, but the only one I have ever used is the account lockout search. For domain controllers running Windows 2000 or 2003, the default event ID’s for the search work fine. If you are running Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2 domain controllers though, you need to add a search for event id 4740, as that is the event ID for lockouts in 2008/2008 R2.

eventcombmt

What other tools do you like to use for account lockouts? Any of them work better than EventCombMT? Are they free? Let us know in  the comments!

Dec 23, 2010

Can Microsoft DPM Backup a SQL Failover Cluster in an Untrusted Domain? Hell No!

So here is a scenario I have been working on at work for the last day or so. I have set up two sets of failover SQL server Clusters. Four servers total. If you don’t know why someone would do that, it is for high availability. If one of the SQL servers goes offline, it will fail over to the second node in the cluster, and nobody is the wiser. It’s a good thing to do so you can do maintenance during business hours without interruptions, and just to generally cover your bases so you don’t get woken up in the middle of the night due to an outage.

My company’s network is set up kind of weird. I manage multiple domains. This is because I also manage a hosting environment for clients. We backup our servers currently with Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2010 (DPM). Everything has been great with it until now. You see, since I just setup the failover clusters in the hosting environment, I wanted to add them to DPM to back them up. The DPM server is joined to a different domain, so I had to manually install the DPM agents on each of the failover nodes. Here is where I noticed an issue.

DPM could see that each node was a part of a failover cluster, but under the cluster I had no options to back up anything! WTF?!? Well it turns out, this type of setup is not supported by Microsoft. Check it out. In fact, there are a lot of things NOT supported in untrusted networks, or in workgroups setups. Check them out:

dpm-not-supported

Click The Image To Enlarge

My workaround for this situation is to simply use SQL maintenance tasks to backup SQL on these clusters to flat bak files, and just back those up with DPM. It’s not ideal, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye. If these clusters were in the same domain as the DPM server, it wouldn’t be an issue at all. Damn it Microsoft! Why is it that companies like Symantec can make a better backup product than you for your software? You guys should be the ones that know the best way to backup your stuff! I hope this is fixed in the next release!

[Via Technet]

Dec 22, 2010

When Coders Become Taggers

I was on indefinite hold with HP Lefthand Support for work the other day. Since I was stuck to the phone listening to terrible hold music, I decided to surf the interwebz with my good friend Stumbleupon. That’s when I cam across a strange video that I thought I would share with you.

Have you ever learned a new programming language? maybe it is C++, C#, or whatever. Hell, have you ever learned a simple scripting language? What is the first program you learn to write? Almost always it is something that pops up and says two magical words, “Hello World!” I would have to say that every book I ever had on any computer language had to begin with some sort of Hello World exercise. I suppose if you do that sort of thing too much you might end up going crazy and tagging it every where like this fool!

When Coders become Taggers

 

If you want to make your own Looptaggr device, and go around graffitiing your neighborhood with geeky stuff, check out Looptaggr.com for some interesting instructions. It’s arts and crafts time people!

[Via Makezine]

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Dec 21, 2010

Microsoft Network Load Balancing in VMware

At my day job we do, among other things, website hosting. For one of our clients with a dedicated server they wanted two front ends load balanced using Microsoft’s Network Load Balancing (NLB). Easy enough right? Well, not so much.

If you configure NLB in Microsoft, the default setting for the cluster is Unicast mode. The problem with Unicast mode is that although it works well with most routers and layer 2 switches, it causes switch flooding. Switch flooding is when all ports are flooded with NLB traffic, even to nodes not involved in the NLB cluster. VMware virtual switches by default prevent switch flooding.

According to VMware:


On an ESX [ESXi] host, the VMkernel sends a reverse address resolution protocol (RARP) packet each time certain actions occur—for example, when a virtual machine is powered on, when there is a teaming failover, or when certain VMotion operations occur. The RARP packet gives physical switches the MAC address of the virtual machine involved in the action. In a Network Load Balancing cluster environment, after a Network Load Balancing node is powered on, the notification in the RARP packet exposes the MAC address of the cluster NIC. As a result, switchesmight begin to send all inbound traffic destined for the Network Load Balancing cluster through one switch port to a single node of the cluster.

Now, we originally set up their cluster using unicast because it was the default setting. Our problem was that the SQL backend could only ping one server in the cluster. If we failed it over to the other node, SQL couldn’t talk to it. Talk about a headache!

If you absolutely must use unicast, there are some configuration changes you can make on your VMware virtual switches:

To Prevent RARP Packet Transmission for a Virtual Switch
1. Log on to the VI Client and select the ESX host.
2. Click the Configuration tab.
3. Choose Networking and, for the virtual switch, select Properties.
4. On the Ports tab, select the virtual switch and click Edit.
5. Click the NIC Teaming tab, set Notify Switches to No.
6. Click OK and close the vSwitch Properties dialog box.

Complete the following steps to prevent RARP packet transmission only for an individual port group. This setting overrides the setting you make for the virtual switch.


To Prevent RARP Packet Transmission for a Port Group
1. Log on to the VI Client and select the ESX host.
2. Click the Configuration tab.
3. Choose Networking and, for the virtual switch, select Properties.
4. On the Ports tab, select the port group and click Edit.
5. Click the NIC Teaming tab, set Notify Switches to No.
6. Click OK and close the vSwitch Properties
dialog box.

If you don’t want to do all that then do what VMware suggests. Use Multicast mode! We did that, and everything has been right as rain!

nlb

According to VMware:

VMware recommends that you use multicast mode, because unicast mode forces the physical switches on the LAN to broadcast all Network Load Balancing traffic to every machine on the LAN


You do not need to take any special steps to configure your ESX host when you are using multicast mode

So in other words, if you want to make your life easy, just select multicast mode when setting up a NLB cluster on two VMware virtual servers.

[Via VMware]

Dec 20, 2010

How To P2V Windows 7 For Use in VMware

Sorry I have been off for a while. As my last post said, I have been working on getting back into shape for martial arts  and studying for my VCP exam. Speaking of VCP, I have discovered a really cool little trick for converting a physical Windows 7 machine into a VMware virtual machine.

Now I know what you are saying, why not just use the VMware converter tool? Well, that is a good question, and the answer is simple. It doesn’t quite work right for Windows 7. Every time I tried it would either fail to convert, or if it did convert, when I powered it on I would get a really cool Blue Screen of Death!

Anyway, I found a post on IT Knowledge Exchange explaining a method that actually works! Sure, it’s not ideal, but if it works, it works right? I think it would be better if VMware could make their converter just work better with Windows 7 though.

Anyhoo, what I did was:

  • On the Windows 7 laptop I was trying to convert I downloaded and ran a Sysinternals tool called Disk2VHD. Which creates a Microsoft Virtual PC VHD disk file.
  • I took the VHD from the previous step, then ran another free tool called StarWind V2V Converter and converted it to a VMDK file for use in VMWare
  • I took the VMDK file from the previous step and copied it to my ESX server using WinSCP
  • In vSphere I created a new Windows 7 VM, but before I powered it on I removed the hard disk, and replaced it with my existing VMDK from step 2 above.
  • I powered it on and installed VMware tools!

GUINNESS on esx03.sp360

Sure that is a lengthier process than usual, but it’s the only one that has worked for me for Windows 7 both 32bit and 64bit. Maybe I am doing something wrong in VMware converter though. If you know of a way to do a physical to virtual conversion of Windows 7 using the VMware tool, let me know in the comments!

[Via IT Knowledge Exchange]



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