Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 Released

May 27, 2009 at 1:08 am | Posted in Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista | 1 Comment
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windows2008logo2bz4Microsoft finally released Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2. The last SP for Vista was released 14 months ago and 800 bugs away. Windows Server 2008 SP1? Was already included in the final version of the operating system.

Download Links

Yes, Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 it is included as the same update.

Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 – x86

Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 – x64

This update will appear in Windows Update starting June 30. And if you are asking about getting the media installation for Vista or Windows Server 2008 with the SP2 slipstreamed, you will need an MSDN or TechNet Subscription.

Improvements and Changes Applied

Applications compatibility
  • Solved several issues presented on common applications like ZoneAlarm or Spysweeper.
Hardware
  • Support for 64-bit CPU from VIA Technologies.
  • Solving performance issues with wireless connections after sleep mode.
  • Ability to record Blu-Ray media.
  • Bluetooth 2.1
Operating System Experience
  • Windows Search 4.0 included
  • SP2 has no limit on the number of half open outbound TCP connections.
Enterprise Improvements
  • WebDav redirector options increased.
  • Improved Power Management. Including Group Policy settings.
  • Terminal Services license keys improved backward compatibility.

To check the full list of improvements, check this link.

As an important notes:

  1. If you have installed a previous beta for this SP2 or the RC, you will need to remove to install the final version.
  2. The SP2 it is not a cumulative update. So having the SP1 installed it is a requirement.

Cheers!

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Free eBook: Windows Small Business Server 2008 Administrator’s Companion

April 15, 2009 at 10:16 am | Posted in Books, Cool Stuff, Windows Server 2008 | 6 Comments
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Again, Microsoft Press is releasing a brand new book for you to download it completely free:

Windows Small Business Server 2008 Administrator’s Companion

But you should know that this book is going to be available for download for a short period of time: April 15 to April 22. So you better hurry up and get yourself a copy!

The SBS platform that was introduced with Windows Server 2003 is oriented to small-medium organizations (between 5 and 75 computers) and gives you all the possibilities and solutions that you may need to use on your organization within a single server: Active Directory, Exchange Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), Sharepoint, SQL, Terminal Services, etc. Avoiding, this way, to consider the implementation of several servers and their hardware and licensing costs.

Also, on the devs side, you can find this book also available:

Microsoft® Visual Basic® 2008 Express Edition: Build a Program Now!

Enjoy!

Windows Server 2008 R2 Live Migration: “Overview & Architecture” and “Step-by-Step Guide” Documents Released

January 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Documentation, Hyper-V, Virtualization, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 | 1 Comment
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Microsoft released in the last days two new more documents about one of the most expected technologies on Windows Server 2008 R2: Live Migration. This new technology will allow you to move any running virtual machine using Hyper-V from Windows Server 2008 R2 or Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (the free hypervisor offered by Microsoft) to another machine with any of those operating systems, without any downtime or disruption of the service.

Here are the two links for the new articles:

Windows Server 2008 R2 & Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 – Hyper-V Live Migration Overview & Architecture

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Live Migration in Windows Server 2008 R2

Here’s an example graphic of how Live Migration setup handles Configuration Files of the virtual machines:

It is important for you to notice that Live Migration requires Failover Clustering to be configured on all hosts, access to a shared storage (like in NAS or SAN environments) and a special network configured between them to be used only for Live Migration feature.

For more information about Hyper-V Failover Clustering check this guide:Hyper-V Step-by-Step Guide: Hyper-V and Failover Clustering

Complete list of requirements for Live Migration:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Enterprise Edition
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Datacenter Edition
  • Live migration is also supported on Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2.
  • Microsoft Failover Clustering must be configured on all physical hosts that will use live migration
  • Failover Clustering supports up to 16 nodes per cluster
  • The cluster should be configured with a dedicated network for the live migration traffic
  • Physical host servers must use a processor or processors from the same manufacturer
  • Physical hosts must be configured on the same TCP/IP subnet
  • Physical hosts must have access to shared storage

Other interesting links about Hyper-V, Hyper-V Server and Failover Cluster:

- Hyper-V Planning and Deployment Guide
- Failover Cluster Deployment Guide
- Failover Cluster Step-by-Step Guide: Validating Hardware for a Failover Cluster
- The Microsoft Support Policy for Windows Server 2008 Failover Clusters
- Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta Available for Download
- Hyper-V Server: Installing, configuring and troubleshooting

Cheers!

More Free eBooks: Windows Server 2008 Server Core and SQL Server 2005 Integration Services

January 22, 2009 at 10:28 am | Posted in Books, Cool Stuff, Windows Server 2008 | 3 Comments
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Two more new and completely free eBooks from MS Press are available for download:

Windows Server 2008 Server Core Administrator’s Pocket Consultant

On this book you’ll find:

  • Introduction to Server Core
  • Deploying Server Core
  • Initial Configurations
  • Installing Roles and Features
  • Local and Remote Management
  • Detailed description of all roles available:
    • Active Directory and DNS
    • Hyper-V
    • DHCP
    • File and Print Services
    • Web Server
    • Others
  • Maintaining Server Core

Did you give Windows Server Core a chance already? On the obvious security reasons that you can find to install it; you’ll see other benefits like having a small footprint operating system, licensing price, great performance to take advantage all the features on the mentioned roles, including Hyper-V clustering.

You can start on this book to get a nice introduction and to know all the possibilities with Server Core.

And again, on the devs side (but it is also quite useful for IT guys) you’ll find a SQL Server 2005 book:

SQL Server 2005 Integration Services Step-by-Step

For another free eBook (“Virtualization Solutions”) still available, click here.

Enjoy!

Cheers!

Hyper-V Server: Installing, configuring and troubleshooting

December 12, 2008 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Hyper-V, Virtualization, Windows Server 2008 | 4 Comments
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It’s been a few weeks since its release but I finally managed to put my hands on to Hyper-V Server.

I was very curious about it: A free operating system released by Microsoft working only as an HyperVisor it makes wonder about a lot of things. Also recently I’ve been working with VMWare ESX Server 3i, that is also the hypervisor working directly on the machine, and I had a good experience (I really loved the monitoring and reporting features that you can use).

From the moment I started using Hyper-V Server few troubleshooting tasks needed to be done.

Installing Hyper-V Server

If you ever installed any operating system, ever, you should not have any problem with this. You’ll of course see that the process is identical from Vista and Windows 2008.

To get started with Hyper-V Server there’s available the Hyper-V Server 2008 Configuration Guide.

If you want to avoid almost any command line to be executed from now on, Hyper-V Server has a simple tool where you’ll load a menu to access most of the configurations you will need. You can access it using this cmd:

C:windowssystem32hvconfig.cmd

But I’ll execute the next steps using the command line features, so this procedure will apply as well for Windows 2008 Server Core.

Managing Remotely

To start using Hyper-V Server you will need Hyper-V Console on your Vista SP1 (remember: there’s no other option for an Hyper-V Server to be managed remotely), it is the same console to manage remotely any other Windows 2008 with Hyper-V. If you don’t have it yet, you can download it from here:

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Management Tools update for the release version of Hyper-V

But, from this moment I started to have a few problems.

1. Solving “Access denied. Unable to establish communication between: <Hyper-V Server> and <Vista client>”

For all of those who were using the early versions of this remote console probably had the same error.

The solution is the same, so I want to reference this post from John Howard’s blog; where it explain almost everything you must know about configuring Hyper-V role on a Windows 2008 Core Server. Hyper-V Server works the same way as this Core version of Windows 2008, so every step of configuration will apply.

Here’s a quick summary of the steps involved, I’m only applying the steps I considered necessary for my environment.

1. Since I’m using a domain environment, I joined this machine to the domain using NETDOM utility:

netdom join <ComputerName> /domain:<DomainName> /userd:<UserName> /passwordd:*

/passwordd: * Requires user password to be entered.

Reboot the machine to apply the changes:
shutdown /t 0 /r

2. Adding necessary rules on the Firewall to allow remote connections.

a. Remote Management:

netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=”Remote Administration” new enable=yes

Note: You can also use netsh to change server’s IP, using the following syntax:
netsh interface ip set address “<Adapter Name>” static ipaddr subnetmask gateway metric.

b. Enable Remote Desktop

cscript windowssystem32scregedit.wsf /ar 0
cscript windowssystem32scregedit.wsf /cs 0

c. Reboot the machine to apply the changes:
shutdown /t 0 /r

3. Solving the “Access denied” error from the client:

Now that the server is properly configured for remote management, you have to run a simple procedure to fix this common error:

a. On “Run” insert “DCOMCNFG“. Click OK
b. Expand “Component Services“, expand “Computers“. Right click on “My Computer” and click on “Properties” (imagen)
c. Now click on “COM Security
d. In “Access Permission” click “Edit Limits
e. Select “ANONYMOUS LOGON” in “Group or User Name“. In the column “Allow“, set the “Permissions for User” with “Remote Access“.

Now you should be able to connect remotely using the Hyper-V console.

Since I finally completed the Hyper-V Server configurations for remote management, so the obvious next step is creating a new virtual machine.

I started with a dummy virtual machine, just for testing. But in the last step of the virtual machine creation wizard I got “The virtual machine could not be started because the hypervisor is not running.” Ouch!

2. Solving “The virtual machine could not be started because the hypervisor is not running”

You should not worry if you see this error. There’s a good chance that your hardware is not the problem and that the hypervisor feature on your processor it is running.

Even though that the hardware on your server supports Hyper-V and that the service is correctly installed, what happens is that the hypervisor was not added on the boot environment and the service was not started.

To solve this, you only need to run this command line:

BCDEdit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto

Ok, NOW you can start using Hyper-V Server.

Adding Features to Hyper-V Server

Don’t get all excited, as we mentioned before, this is just an HyperVisor and you should not expect that much functionality available.

Most of the features (not roles) that you can install are there to increase security and to achieve interoperability with other platforms like System Center Virtual Machine Manager or Data Protection Manager, supporting Live Backup (backing up virtual machine without downtime) as well. 

To access all features available, as in Server Core, from cmd:

oclist

To install one of the features use: start /w ocsetup <NameofService> (for instance, I installed on this Hyper-V Server the TelnetClient)

You’ll find as well that Hyper-V Server includes a WMI interface for remote management extensibility. Here you can find more information:

Virtualization WMI Provider.

Hope you find it useful.

Cheers! 

Windows Server 2008: Creating and Maintaining System State Backups on Your Domain Controller

December 12, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Active Directory, Windows Server 2008 | 29 Comments
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I was very excited when I started to play around with the first beta versions of Windows Server 2008 and experiment with the latest security improvements. At first, I wanted to start with one of the more basics and important things on this new server: Active Directory.

Several improvements were made on security matters that we can find it related to Active Directory: Read-Only DCs, more group policies, auditing enhancements, etc. After installing a small lab to check all these features, I finally arrive to another important Active Directory matter: Backing up and Restoring Data from a Domain Controller.

I was pretty disappointed at first when I realized that there was no easy way to backup a system state from a Domain Controller. Even more disappointed when I couldn’t find out the way to schedule a system state backup! Well on this post I want to review the way to simply schedule a system state backup on a Domain Controller and maintain those backups by removing the old ones from the backup catalog.

Requirements

a. A secondary hard drive on the domain controller. It cannot be a network drive.
The only storage point possible for backing up your server is using a secondary hard drive that can only be attached locally.

b. Having the Windows Server Backup feature installed.

The first thing that you must know to start backing up data from Windows Server 2008 is that the backup tool is not installed by default, like it was on Windows Server 2003 with ntbackup. To install it:

a. Open Windows Server Manager snap-in

b. Access Features section and click on Add a New Feature

c. Select Windows Server Backup including the sub-item “Command Line Tools

i. This will also need Powershell

d. Click on Install.

Scheduling System State Backup

If you check the GUI of the Windows Server Backup you’ll see that there’s no way to backup the system state from there:

The only way to backup the system state using this tool is using the command line. So, to use this backup feature as a scheduled task, we are going to create a .bat file and schedule this batch file to run on our desired time (actually you can skip creating the .bat file, and just use task scheduler with the right parameters).

1. Open notepad and insert:

@echo off
WBADMIN START SYSTEMSTATEBACKUP –backuptarget:e: -quiet

e:” is your local hard drive where the backup catalog will be stored.

-quiet”: is the parameter used to not ask for confirmation

2. Save it as a batch file. Like: systemstatebackup.bat

3. Open Task Scheduler and create a “New Task”. The task properties window will open.

4. On the “General” tab select:

a. “Run whether the user is logged or not

b. “Run with the highest privileges

5. On the “Triggers” tab, click on “New”:

Here is where you select how often the backup task will run. This is an example of a task running weekly:

6. On “Actions” click on “New” and select to “Start a Program” and browse the batch file you just created.

7. Click on “OK” and the schedule task is ready.

You can manually run this task on demand by right-clicking it and selecting “Run”.

This task to complete takes between 40 minutes to 1 hour (or even more), depending on the system state data (Active Directory, DNS, registry, certificates, etc).

This is the process running


I have the backup… but what a hell is this??

Probably your first impression on the backup won’t be the best:

You don’t have permissions to see the backup files at first

You don’t see a simple .bkf file as it was when you used ntbackup

The size of every backup (that means every time you run the task) is as much as the size of the system drive

After all that, maintaining those backups sounds a little bit hard to do, the backup hard drive will significantly increase in a few weeks and for sure, you won’t be feeling much comfortable if you just try to delete.

Keeping It Simple… and smaller

But not of these annoying things are here to just making our work a little bit hard and awkward. Besides from adding a new layer of security to our backups, it also the maintenance of the old backups will actually get simpler.

You can create a new scheduled task that will keep every week (if that’s your case) only the newer backups on your catalog:

WBADMIN DELETE SYSTEMSTATEBACKUP –backuptarget:e: -deleteOldest –quiet

This way you will prevent from the backup hard drive to easily increase enormously. A good thing to keep in mind if you are working with virtual machines, you’ll probably know that it’s REALLY annoying having a big size virtual disk, and not being able to decrease their size (not an easy way anyhow).

This is the cmd running and deleting an old backup from system state (without the -quiet parameter).

To restore an Active Directory using these backups is not very much different from backing it up, we can see that procedure on a next post.

Hope it helps!

Cheers!

Configuring different password policies on Windows Server 2008 domains

December 12, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Windows Server 2008 | Leave a comment
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Recently I found out that there was no way to implement different password policies on domains running on Windows Server 2003. It didnt sound right to me, why I cannot keep different password complexity, for example, in different OUs for different users?

You can actually link to separate OUs with different policies with different values on passwords options, but theyll be ignored by Default Domain Policy.

It seems that there’s a way to accomplish this (not an easy way, but anyhow) running domains with Windows Server 2008 and of course in the highest domain functional level.

The tools involved: GPMC (included with Windows Server 2008) and ADSI Edit.

Here’s the solution:

http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles/Configuring-Granular-Password-Settings-Windows-Server-2008-Part-1.html

http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles/Configuring-Granular-Password-Settings-Windows-Server-2008-Part2.html

Cheers!

Windows Server 2008 Exams

December 12, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Certifications, Windows Server 2008 | Leave a comment
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On the Orlando Tech-Ed that took place on the first days of June, one of the things that were official announced and presented were the Windows Server 2008 exams for Microsoft’s certification.

Here’s some of the things you should now if you are planning to get or upgrade to this certification:

- This will be a new stage for certification, the names will be: MCTS (three exams) and MCITP (2 exams).

- MCSA and MCSE there’ll be still certifications available.

- On 2008 the Windows 2000 exams will be retired (the exams but not the certification, of course).

- MCTS exams will be availabe one moth after the RTM version of Windows Server 2008. MCITP will be available two months after.

- There’ll be a upgrade exam from 2003 certification to 2008.

- There will be NOT an upgrade from Windows 2000 to 2008.

- MCSA and MCSE professionals will have a 40% discount on the price of the Windows 2008 exams.

Taking a look to some of the sites that talked about these new exams, I found out some of the topics that will be on these tests.

Peak to Windows 2008 exam:

  • Terminal Servicesthe different roles, the new features, etc
  • IIS 7the new command line tools, new features, etc
  • Server Coreof course, know your way with all the cmdline tooling that you can use
  • Virtualizationbe sure to study on how Virtual Server 2005 works
  • Active Directorythe new features, but also AD in general

    Cheers!

  • Windows Server 2008: the last server of 32-bits

    December 12, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Windows Server 2008 | Leave a comment
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    Well as they predicted, the 32bits versions of operating systems it’s getting to the end.

    Windows Server 2008 (wich it will be realeased in late october or november in this year) will be the last operating system to use an 32 bit arquitecture. Windows Server 2008 R2 (that it’s expected on 2009) will be exclusively on 64bit editions.

    On the other hand, it’s also expected that at least one more client operating system (meaning Windows 7) will appear again as x32.

    Cheers!

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