Windows Server


Using Device Manager Remotely

The Server Core variant of Windows Server offers a variety of benefits, especially with respect to security. The downside is that familiar GUI management tools are not always accessible. While Windows PowerShell and the command line offer alternatives, the learning curve can be steep. Device Manager is one example of a common GUI management tool that cannot be used on Server Core. Fortunately, Device Manager can be used remotely. This post explains how to enable remote access with Device Manager on Server Core.

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Thoughts on Building a Server Image

Repeatable, consistent, and predictable are three things that add an incredible amount of value in IT, and building servers from a base image is one way to deliver on this. I was just replying to a thread on a discussion alias where the person who started the thread had reviewed a blog post on how to build such an image for VMWare. I and a number of people disputed the recommendations made in the referenced blog post in addition to the various other things the individual who started the thread was planning to install in his image/template.

At a high level, the most important thing from my reply, I think, is that you should not be customizing a server for it to be convenient to your work style. The server is there for a purpose driven task.

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Script to Collect Hardware Inventory Data

This post includes a sample VBScript that will collect key hardware demographics from a list of hosts and output the results to a CSV file. The demographics collected are:

  • Host Name
  • Serial Number
  • Make
  • Model
  • BIOS Version
  • Operating System
  • CPU
  • Memory (MB)
  • Disk Drives


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Date and Time Math with PowerShell

How many times have you had to figure out what date was X days, months, or years ago, or perhaps what time was Y minutes, hours, or seconds ago? In this post, you'll learn how easy it is to calculate date and time math with Windows PowerShell.

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Installing WinPcap Silently

When silently installing WireShark, WireShark's critical dependency, WinPcap, is not installed automatically. This post shows you how to use a tool called AutoIt to develop a script that can silently automate a point and click process like installing WinPcap.


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Remotely Configuring DRAC Cards

The two scripts below are a quick solution to pushing out an identical (except for IP and hostname) configuration to a large number of Dell DRAC boards. They’re not the most efficient and they were written for a specific scenario, but, they should be easy enough to customize. There are two scripts:

  • RemoteDracConfig.vbs – This one will take a config template, customize it for a host, and apply it via psexec
  • RemoteDracConfigLoop.vbs – This one will read an input CSV and call RemoteDracConfig.vbs for each line

I seperated the scripts specifically so that the first one could easily be used as part of a build process without having to generate an input file for it. To get started, you’ll need to configure a reference DRAC and export its configuration. Once you’ve done the configuration work, run racadm getconfig –f baseline.txt on the reference machine. You’ll next need to replace the machine specific info with tokens. I support two:

  • %drac-ip% – this one will get replaced with the IP to use for the DRAC
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How to Sysprep in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

Learn how to use Sysprep for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Sysprep is a critical step to deploying new system images - both for client computers and servers. If you do not run sysprep, you can quickly run in to problems when uniquely identifying information about your source machine is duplicated across the network.

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Missing Windows Time Service

I ran into a domain controller at a customer today which was completely missing the Windows Time (w32time) service. You can run w32tm /register to recreate the service with default parameters.

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Troubleshooting a Spooler Crash

I ran into an interesting issue this evening where the Spooler service on a customer's print server was crashing constantly immediately after logging an event about unpublishing a specific printer. Since this was a Windows 2000 machine, troubleshooting this was a bit more involved than usual on 2003.

In general, you troubleshoot these issues by collecting a dump at the time of the process crash with adplus. Adplus is a VBScript available in the Debugging Tools for Windows package. To start, you'll need the PID of the Spooler process – you can get this from Task Manager. Look for spoolsv.exe, if the PID is missing, go to View>Select Columns to get it. The syntax to attach adplus to the process and wait for it to crash goes like this: cscript adplus.vbs –quiet –crash –p pid.

If you're running under Windows 2000 (or NT4), there is an extra step if you're also connecting to the problem server via Remote Desktop. The extra step here involves another tool in the Debugging Tools for Wind…

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Script to Inventory Print Servers

The script goes out to AD and collects all of the printQueue objects in the domain (these represent published printers). From this list the script compiles a list of print servers and dumps all the printer info off each server. The downside to this is that if you have printer servers with no published printers, they'll be missed. This is the data currently collected and outputted to a pipe separated text file:

  • Server
  • Name
  • ShareName
  • Comment
  • Error
  • DriverName
  • EnableBIDI
  • JobCount
  • Location
  • PortName
  • Published
  • Queued
  • Shared
  • Status

You can easily add more data to this by adding more fields inside the loop. I tested this with some really slow links and Wn2k/Win2k3 servers and it seems to work fine.

In order to use the script, you'll need to provide the FQDN of your domain in the DOMAIN_TO_SEARCH field at the top of the script. Additionally you'll need to optionally modify the FILE_PATH field to change the output destination.

Feel free to leave any suggestions, issues, etc in the comments area belo…

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