Windows EventLog Management–Part2

How to get the log to let you know when something happened

Event Triggers

  • Specify a custom action when a particular event occurs
    • Start a program
    • Send an email
    • Display a message
  • Use scripting to give yourself flexibility
  • Be careful about email

Triggers are one of those really awesome things that you wish had been around in Windows from the beginning. The idea is that when a particular event occurs, you want to perform some action. You can start a program or script or send an email, those first two are perhaps the one’s you’ll use most.

For myself I find the Start Program option the best of the bunch, being a sysadmin I find myself routinely writing scripts to perform one or more things. If I’m interested in a particular event I can create a script that will give me additional information surrounding that event.

I have a few of these in place right now on my file server I have a trigger on Event ID 2013, the low disk message. The default message is rather cryptic, simply stating that a given disk is getting close to full. Fortunately it does give me a vital piece of information, the drive letter. So I have a script that pulls that entry from the log, grabs the disk letter, and queries WMI for the free space of the disk, the script stores that as an XML file that I have the Task email to me. So you can use a script to flesh out a rather vague entry.

On the opposite side of that coin, there are some events that you are interested in that happen so frequently that sending you an email each time they occur would be overwhelming. Going back to my example of the Print Server logs, I manage two print servers that I have divided between lab use and staff/faculty use. I have written up my own print logging script that generates a daily CSV of printer usage. With two servers, about 50 printers and over 3,000 users who can print to them you could imagine what my inbox would look like if I had that emailed to me at each print.

Creating an Event Trigger

  • Find the event you want to be notified about
  • Create a script that gives you more info
  • Attach a task to the Event
  • Choose an Action
  • Configure the Action
  • Set the context for the Task

Now that you are familiar with your logs, and have determined what specific log entry you want to know about, it’s time to do something about it. The example I will be using is from my DHCP server, I’d like to know when a computer asks for an IP and is denied because the MAC address is unknown to me.

I have written a script that gives me the MAC, Hostname, Message, and Time at which the client asked. Since a given client may potentially ask every 5 minutes until it gets a lease, I don’t want an email. In fact, since a given client can ask multiple times, I just want a file with the MAC address as part of it so I can, at a glance, get an idea of how many devices are trying to connect.

Create s script

FindEvent

There are actually two events that I’m interested in, this means that I’ll need my script to accept the Event ID as a parameter. Also, neither of these events are Error or Warning events, merely informational, letting me know a computer was unable to get an address.

Create a script

Get-DHCPDenies

I’m pretty good at writing scripts to get the information I need, but if you’re not comfortable scripting by all means you could run a command-line utility. There are quite a few available in the Sysinternals suite, not to mention some very handy built-in tools on Windows Server 2008. This script accepts the EventID and outputs an XML file named for the MAC that triggered the event.

Create the trigger

task1

Give your task a name and a description.

Choose an action

task2

Pick whether you need to start a program, send an email or display a message. The wizard allows you to only set one Action, but you should be aware that you can have as many as you want so pick one to start with and then mix and match later!

Configure your action

task3

So if you’re using a script you need to specify the script interpreter to run. For this example I’m running a PowerShell script which is why I typed in powershell.exe. But it could just as easily have been Cscript, or Python, or the utility of your choice. If you’re running a script then the argument is the script itself along with any parameters you need to pass it. I keep all my scripts in the same place, so I define the Start In folder to be that location.

Set the context

task4

You will notice that I have set this task to run whether or not someone is logged in. I have not stored a password with this account so it will run as the system. That’s something to keep in mind, if you’re uncomfortable doing this, you may want to create a service account to run as.

That’s it, after you click Ok, the trigger is done. All you need to do now is sit back and watch as those files get created.

Now that we have our triggers, let’s see how we can get a notification when something happens.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Windows EventLog Management–Part 1

Using Event Triggers and Event Forwarding to get what you want from the Event Subsystem

Event logs are horrible, and depending on which log you’re looking at they could be even more horrible!

EventLogs

Seriously though, I shouldn’t say they are horrible, there is just so much that sometimes things get lost in the chatter. Prior to Windows 2008 there were only 3 logs that we had to worry about Application, System and the dreaded Security log. With the Release of Windows Server 2008, countless other logs have been added, Event ID’s have been changed, and the underlying services that report events potentially have their very own log to write to, that is of course if it’s been enabled!

What do you want to know?

  • Low disk space
  • Invalid logon attempts
  • Network outage
  • Service failures
  • Time synchronization issues

The answer to this question depends on so many things, there are literally no wrong answers when it comes to event monitoring. The key is to start looking! You’re never going to know what it is you want to focus your attention on, if you never open up the console.

EventViewer

The nice thing about the Event Viewer is that we can apply filtering so instead of seeing a year’s worth of entries, narrow it down to this month, or this week, or just today. While we would all love to see the friendly blue icon that lets us know the server is happy, the fun only begins when we start looking at the Warning and Error entries. You might be surprised but your log could dwindle from 36,981 entries to a paltry 224!

Granted the resultant log looks way more scary because it’s filled with yellow and red icons, but this view is way more interesting in terms of troubleshooting and monitoring.

Be familiar with the log

  • Are Error and Warning entries all I need to worry about?
  • Is it ok that the Operational log I’m looking at is empty?
  • Do I need to be concerned about each Error or Warning entry?

This goes back to what I said earlier about opening up the console. While it’s ok to start out with a filter for Error and Warning entries, not all logs report problems as an Error or Warning. When you drill down into the Applications and Services logs, often times they are filled with Information entries, and that entry may let you know something either did or didn’t happen. So you need to be familiar with your log and know what events are things you want to be aware of.

For example, the DHCP Filtering log reports MAC denies as an Information entry, if you were filtering for Error and Warning entries you would never see that, assuming you care.

As I mentioned earlier, not all of those new logs are enabled by default. If you have a print server and want to know who is printing, when you open up the Print Server Operational log, it’s empty. Does that mean that nobody is printing? Perhaps, but since the log is off by default, you may want to enable it before you make your decision. Once you become familiar with whatever log you’re looking at, you’ll be able to determine if those red error entries are really something to worry about.

For example, once you have enabled that Print Server Operational log, you may see a recurring Error event, Event ID 812. In our environment our user accounts reside in an external domain, and that entry is indicating more or less a false-positive. The error is the spool file was unable to be deleted, access is denied. The reality is that the spool file did in fact get deleted, so this particular error I don’t need to worry about.

But when I first encountered it, I was concerned about it. I searched for that Event ID on the TechNet site, asked questions in the forums, and searched Google. Only when I satisfied myself that there was nothing I could do to keep this error from occurring, and that the error really wasn’t an error did I decide to ignore it.

Now that we’re comfortable with our logs let look at some fun things to do with them.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

ExitCodes Part 2

So, yesterday I mentioned that I re-wrote the inventory script. Today I decided to re-write the reboot script. The idea behind the script is that once a week we bounce all the lab computers. We do this for various reasons, but since I’m in the mood decided today was the day to tackle that problem.

The last time I talked about this, I got a little off the beaten path hunting down all possible exit codes for the shutdown.exe command. While not wrapped around the axles this time, I did have to figure out how to deal with it.

The nice thing about PowerShell is that when running a command you have access to $LASTEXITCODE. This contains exactly what you think it contains, the number of the return code from the command-line program. Before I get to far ahead I do want to mention that when last I wrote about exit codes I found them on the Symantec site (still works). Today I found an archived newsgroup that had a link to the MSDN site, so I’ll put that here.

Ok, so I decided since I was re-writing this thing I wanted to be a little more accurate in my reporting of errors encountered. Now it was impossible for me to find what error codes are returned from shutdown.exe, most likely because it could be any number. So then I started looking at how I could get what it was using $LASTEXITCODE.

Buried deep in my brain I remembered that there was a net command that would give you a text version of the number.


net helpmsg 53

The network path was not found.

That seemed perfect, What happens if I use $LASTEXITCODE


net helpmsg $LASTEXITCODE

The operation completed successfully.

BRILLIANT! This was perfect, I decided to store the result in a variable and then write it out. The only problem, really more of a hassle, was that it returns a string array.


$result = (& net helpmsg $LASTEXITCODE)

$Result.Count

3

After some poking around I realized that the first row is blank, the second row contains the message and that the remaining rows were empty. So in my case, one line padded top and bottom with empty rows. Then I began to wonder, are all the messages one-liners? So I wrote up a little routine to display all the messages, I’ll give you the final version of it.


$ExitCodes = (0..15818)
foreach ($ExitCode in $ExitCodes)
{
try
{
$ErrorActionPreference = 'SilentlyContinue'
(& net helpmsg $ExitCode)[1]
}
catch
{}
}

You might be asking why am I stopping at 15818? If you visited the link I gave you earlier you would have noticed that the codes ran higher than that. In fact the last page of that list is System Error Codes (12000-15999). Well if you scroll to the bottom of that page, you will note it stops at the above listed 15818. Now I don’t know why, but I figured why go any higher right? Well, I did and there isn’t anything there.

This script is pretty straightforward, it loops through each number and passes it to net helpmsg. All I did then was just ask for the second row [1] of that returned object. While I didn’t count all the returned messages, there were a lot, and for my situation, the one line on the second row was plenty for me.

 

The script can also be downloaded from TechNet.

PowerShell New-AdInventory script

I may have mentioned on here before that we rely quite heavily on Active Directory, and it’s true. It’s at the core of nearly all the services we deliver, the only exception would be the web, and that would really only be the public facing web sites.

I’ve also mentioned before that I’ve been moving over from VbScript to PowerShell, and I think it’s safe to say that I moved over quite a while ago. If you’ve not browsed my scripts you should head over to my code.google.com site to see what I’ve done.

Anyway, today I was working on a problem with a script that runs from a cron and after fixing that one, I realized I was still using my old inventory script to update Active Directory computer objects with some useful information. So I decided it was time that I rolled this script over to PowerShell. Now while I’d like to say the new and improved one is much more wicked awesome, it’s not, it’s just all PowerShell’d up.

The previous script I had created several functions to do things like send data to the event log. A rather generic function to return values from a remote computer via WMI. A nice little function to ping the computer, although looking back at the code I noticed that it’s not actually there, I should fix that.

At any rate the new script seems to go a little faster, and it certainly doesn’t look any shorter but most of that is actually documentation. Although technically since I dot-source in a library it’s significantly larger than the previous script.

This runs every hour and pulls the UserName, MacAddress, IPAddress and SerialNumber from the remote computer via WMI. I then write these values back to the computer object more or less using the same properties. Although description becomes UserName and ipHostNumber becomes IPAddress.

The nice thing is that we can then visually scan a given OU and see who might be logged into a computer. If there is an issue connecting to a computer, that is also written to the description property. That way as you browse your AD you can easily see which computers have problems, typically these are also dead computer accounts.

The code is also available on Technet.

Windows Server 8 Beta Failover Clustering and PowerShell

So the last two posts (one, two) were just some screenshots and comments as I went through and created a failover cluster. To be fair this wasn’t the first go round with the cluster I created one earlier with just one computer so I could see the PowerShell stuff.

I must say, 81 PowerShell commands to handle clustering, not too shabby. The first cluster I created was with the New-Cluster cmdlet.

New-Cluster -Name win8-hv -Node win8-hv1 -NoStorage -Verbose
Name
----
win8-hv

The progress bar flashed for a bit as it did stuff and then there was a cluster. It didn’t take a long time but it was rather hot I must say.

Here are all the new commands

Get-Command |Where-Object {$_.ModuleName -eq 'FailoverClusters'} | Format-Table -Property Capability, Name -AutoSize

Capability Name
---------- ----
Cmdlet Add-VMToCluster
Cmdlet Remove-VMFromCluster
Cmdlet Add-ClusterCheckpoint
Cmdlet Add-ClusterDisk
Cmdlet Add-ClusterFileServerRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterGenericApplicationRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterGenericScriptRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterGenericServiceRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterGroup
Cmdlet Add-ClusteriSCSITargetServerRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Add-ClusterPrintServerRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Add-ClusterResourceDependency
Cmdlet Add-ClusterResourceType
Cmdlet Add-ClusterScaleOutFileServerRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterServerRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterSharedVolume
Cmdlet Add-ClusterVirtualMachineRole
Cmdlet Add-ClusterVMMonitoredItem
Cmdlet Block-ClusterAccess
Cmdlet Clear-ClusterDiskReservation
Cmdlet Clear-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Get-Cluster
Cmdlet Get-ClusterAccess
Cmdlet Get-ClusterAvailableDisk
Cmdlet Get-ClusterCheckpoint
Cmdlet Get-ClusterGroup
Cmdlet Get-ClusterLog
Cmdlet Get-ClusterNetwork
Cmdlet Get-ClusterNetworkInterface
Cmdlet Get-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Get-ClusterOwnerNode
Cmdlet Get-ClusterParameter
Cmdlet Get-ClusterQuorum
Cmdlet Get-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Get-ClusterResourceDependency
Cmdlet Get-ClusterResourceDependencyReport
Cmdlet Get-ClusterResourceType
Cmdlet Get-ClusterSharedVolume
Cmdlet Get-ClusterVMMonitoredItem
Cmdlet Grant-ClusterAccess
Cmdlet Move-ClusterGroup
Cmdlet Move-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Move-ClusterSharedVolume
Cmdlet Move-ClusterVirtualMachineRole
Cmdlet New-Cluster
Cmdlet Remove-Cluster
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterAccess
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterCheckpoint
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterGroup
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterResourceDependency
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterResourceType
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterSharedVolume
Cmdlet Remove-ClusterVMMonitoredItem
Cmdlet Repair-ClusterSharedVolume
Cmdlet Reset-ClusterVMMonitoredState
Cmdlet Resume-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Resume-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Set-ClusterLog
Cmdlet Set-ClusterOwnerNode
Cmdlet Set-ClusterParameter
Cmdlet Set-ClusterQuorum
Cmdlet Set-ClusterResourceDependency
Cmdlet Start-Cluster
Cmdlet Start-ClusterGroup
Cmdlet Start-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Start-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Stop-Cluster
Cmdlet Stop-ClusterGroup
Cmdlet Stop-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Stop-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Suspend-ClusterNode
Cmdlet Suspend-ClusterResource
Cmdlet Test-Cluster
Cmdlet Test-ClusterResourceFailure
Cmdlet Update-ClusterIPResource
Cmdlet Update-ClusterNetworkNameResource
Cmdlet Update-ClusterVirtualMachineConfiguration

So let’s play a little.

jeffpatton.admin@WIN8-HV1 | 12:56:01 | 03-20-2012 | C:Usersjeffpatton.admin #
Get-ClusterGroup

Name OwnerNode State
---- --------- -----
Available Storage win8-hv2 Offline
broker win8-hv2 Online
Cluster Group win8-hv2 Online


jeffpatton.admin@WIN8-HV1 | 12:56:04 | 03-20-2012 | C:Usersjeffpatton.admin #
Remove-ClusterGroup -Name broker -RemoveResources

Remove-ClusterGroup
Are you sure that you want to remove the clustered role 'broker'? The resources will be taken offline.
[Y] Yes [N] No [S] Suspend [?] Help (default is "Y"): y
jeffpatton.admin@WIN8-HV1 | 12:56:20 | 03-20-2012 | C:Usersjeffpatton.admin #
Remove-Cluster -Name win8-hv

Remove-Cluster
Are you sure you want to completely remove the cluster win8-hv?
[Y] Yes [N] No [S] Suspend [?] Help (default is "Y"): y
jeffpatton.admin@WIN8-HV1 | 12:56:45 | 03-20-2012 | C:Usersjeffpatton.admin #
Get-Cluster
Get-Cluster : The cluster service is not running. Make sure that the service is running on all nodes in the cluster.
There are no more endpoints available from the endpoint mapper
At line:1 char:1
+ Get-Cluster
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [Get-Cluster], ClusterCmdletException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : Get-Cluster,Microsoft.FailoverClusters.PowerShell.GetClusterCommand

So I just dumped the cluster, I think I’ll create the cluster again with a single node, and then add a node after the fact, since there is a cmdlet for that.

New-Cluster -Name win8-cluster -Node win8-hv1 -NoStorage -Verbose

Name
----
win8-cluster

Let’s confirm that it’s there.

Get-Cluster |Format-List -Property *


Domain : soecs.ku.edu
Name : win8-cluster
AddEvictDelay : 60
BackupInProgress : 0
ClusSvcHangTimeout : 60
ClusSvcRegroupOpeningTimeout : 5
ClusSvcRegroupPruningTimeout : 5
ClusSvcRegroupStageTimeout : 5
ClusSvcRegroupTickInMilliseconds : 300
ClusterGroupWaitDelay : 120
MinimumNeverPreemptPriority : 3000
MinimumPreemptorPriority : 1
ClusterEnforcedAntiAffinity : 0
ClusterLogLevel : 3
ClusterLogSize : 300
CrossSubnetDelay : 1000
CrossSubnetThreshold : 5
DefaultNetworkRole : 2
Description :
FixQuorum : 0
HangRecoveryAction : 3
IgnorePersistentStateOnStartup : 0
LogResourceControls : 0
PlumbAllCrossSubnetRoutes : 0
PreventQuorum : 0
QuorumArbitrationTimeMax : 20
RequestReplyTimeout : 60
RootMemoryReserved : 4294967295
RouteHistoryLength : 0
SameSubnetDelay : 1000
SameSubnetThreshold : 5
SecurityLevel : 1
SharedVolumeCompatibleFilters : {}
SharedVolumeIncompatibleFilters : {}
SharedVolumesRoot : C:ClusterStorage
SharedVolumeSecurityDescriptor : {1, 0, 4, 128...}
ShutdownTimeoutInMinutes : 20
UseNetftForSharedVolumes : 1
UseClientAccessNetworksForSharedVolumes : 0
SharedVolumeBlockCacheSizeInMB : 0
WitnessDatabaseWriteTimeout : 300
WitnessRestartInterval : 15
EnableSharedVolumes : Enabled
DynamicQuorum : 1
Id : d4e05676-cf3d-4814-a828-f32e106bb1c0

Let’s see some information about the node.

Get-ClusterNode |Format-List *


Cluster : win8-cluster
State : Up
Id : 1
Name : win8-hv1
NodeName : win8-hv1
NodeHighestVersion : 467002
NodeLowestVersion : 467002
MajorVersion : 6
MinorVersion : 2
BuildNumber : 8250
CSDVersion :
NodeInstanceID : 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001
Description :
DrainStatus : NotInitiated
DrainTarget : 4294967295
DynamicWeight : 1
NodeWeight : 1

Okay, let’s add a node now. I chopped off the crazy long report filename.

Add-ClusterNode -Name win8-hv2 -Cluster win8-cluster -NoStorage -Verbose
Report file location: C:WindowsclusterReportsAdd Node Wizard

Verify

Get-ClusterNode

Name ID State
---- -- -----
win8-hv1 1 Up
win8-hv2 2 Up

How many cluster do I have? Seems like a lot, but the Windows 8, and dev-cluster aren’t actually there anymore.

Get-Cluster -Domain soecs.ku.edu

Name
----
CLUSTER
DEV-CLUSTER
HYPER-V
WIN8-CLUSTER
WIN8-HV

Let’s add server role, this is basically a cluster end-point

Add-ClusterServerRole -Name Win8ServerRole -Cluster win8-cluster -Verbose

Name OwnerNode State
---- --------- -----
Win8ServerRole win8-hv1 Online

How about some details on that role. I cut out the Type property to keep it readable.

Get-ClusterResource -Name win8serverrole |Get-ClusterParameter

Object Name Value
------ ---- -----
win8serverrole Name WIN8SERVERROLE
win8serverrole DnsName Win8ServerRole
win8serverrole Aliases
win8serverrole RemapPipeNames 0
win8serverrole HostRecordTTL 1200
win8serverrole RegisterAllProvidersIP 0
win8serverrole PublishPTRRecords 0
win8serverrole ResourceData {1, 0, 0, 0...}
win8serverrole StatusNetBIOS 0
win8serverrole StatusDNS 0
win8serverrole StatusKerberos 0
win8serverrole CreatingDC \DC1.soecs.ku.edu
win8serverrole LastDNSUpdateTime 3/20/2012 6:17:30 PM
win8serverrole ObjectGUID e3fbfe6ba596a447a09fd4e117...

Windows Server 8 Beta Failover Clustering Part 2

There were so many images that I decided to split this up over several posts. In Part 1, I got the Failover Cluster feature installed on my first server, and now I’m going to work through the Failover Cluster Management tool.

win8-hv1-FC1

So, the interface doesn’t look any different. I was hoping for something that was part of the Dashboard.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard1

So here is the wizard, it’s really almost identical to Windows 2008 R2, but what the heck.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard2

I’ve selected both servers to be nodes in my new cluster.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard3

Oh wait! I forgot to install the Failover Cluster feature on win8-hv2!

win8-hv1-AddFeatureRemote

No worries, I got it covered, I can add that feature remotely from the dashboard. That option has to be one of the coolest one’s I’ve seen.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard4

Needless to say the feature installed successfully and I’m able to proceed now.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard5

None of the hardware I’m using is technically support by Microsoft but it’s Beta software so who cares right? Let’s see what the report says though.

win8-hv1-FC-validation-wizard1

Welcome to the Wizards, is it just me or are there more of them?

win8-hv1-FC-validation-wizard2

Lets run everything, I know it will have issues, as both machines are different and don’t have the same sets of software available.

win8-hv1-FC-validation-wizard3

Here we go…

win8-hv1-FC-validation-wizard4

That looks good!

win8-hv1-FC-validation-wizard5

OUCH! Well, win8-hv2 doesn’t actually have Hyper-V installed and since that was in the test, that’s where it failed.

win8-hv1-FC-validation-report1

The report confirms this. But again, thanks to being able to remotely install Roles and Features, I installed Hyper-V on the other server and re-ran the tests.

win8-hv1-FC-validation-report2

Much happier! For the record, there are several warnings.

  • Hyper-V : The processors are different between the two machines.
  • Network : I don’t have redundant network cards
  • Storage : I don’t have any storage available suitable for some types of clustering, which could be an issue for Hyper-V (Clustered Shared Volumes)
  • System Configuration : To be honest, I didn’t actually look at this, I was aware of the others so I assume there is something minor missing or different between the two nodes.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard6

Here we go, this is good enough to move on to create the end-point for the cluster. This is one of the ways you’ll be able to manage it.

win8-hv1-FC-wizard7

Here it is saying it’s going to steal some IP’s from my range

win8-hv1-FC-wizard8

My cluster is forming!

win8-hv1-FC-wizard9

I was successful! But there were warnings, basically it’s telling me I don’t have any sort of network storage to use for this cluster, of which we were already aware.

win8-hv1-FC2

Huzzah! The one warning was from the cluster I built earlier with just the one node. Perhaps should have nuked the cluster log, oh well.

Windows Server 8 Beta Failover Clustering Part 1

I read a very nice article over on TechNet about some of the new features of Failover Clustering in Windows 8, so I decided to give it a spin. It’s not too bad, I’m really enjoying the new Server Manager interface, it’s pretty awesome.

Here are the screenshots of the setup process.

win8-hv1-step1

Here is the dashboard, this particular computer was upgraded to Windows 8 Server from Windows 2008 R2, so there were already a few roles installed.

win8-hv1-wizard1

Similar interface for adding the Failover Clustering Role

win8-hv1-wizard2

I’ve not tried the Remote Desktop VDI stuff yet, I’m thinking I may grab a couple of more machines and start over with fresh installs.

win8-hv1-wizard3

Here you can install roles onto one of the servers in your pool. I added win8-hv2.soecs.ku.edu to the pool so I could manage both servers from one interface, cool huh?

There is also the option to install the role to VHD, I will have to try that later!

win8-hv1-wizard4

Here you can see the installed roles from Windows 2008 R2

win8-hv1-wizard5

There’s the feature I’m after, Failover Clustering. Note the additional tools, there are 81 PowerShell cmdlets available for managing Failover Clustering. I’m going to post those up after this.

win8-hv1-wizard6

Here is everything that will be installed, I checked the box to Restart the destination if necessary, but for this feature it’s not necessary. But as I was messing around with various other components earlier this week, that’s a nice option.

win8-hv1-wizard7

The installation is starting, you can see the notification flag now has a 1 inside it’s little box. You can close this window and the install will progress.

win8-hv1-TaskStatus

Clicking on the notification flag, you can see all tasks that are currently running.

win8-hv1-TaskDetails

Here is what you see when you click details. By the time I got to this screen the installation was done.

win8-hv1-Manage1

I can manage the Cluster from the Dashboard | Tools menu

win8-hv1-Manage2

Since it’s installed on win8-hv1 I can right click on that server in the Server Pool and select Failover Cluster Manager from there.

win8-hv1-Manage3

Perhaps this is silly to point out, but the Failover Clustering feature was not installed on win8-hv2 and so you don’t see the option to manage it from there.

RDP over SSH

Before I start, while this will allow you to access your servers over a secure tunnel, this does not mean you should forego patching your systems.

Don’t be that kind of admin, install the patches, install the critical updates, do us all a favor and make your gear as secure as you can.

I know this is not a new topic, but it’s rather new to me. The university has decided to block RDP at the border after the latest RDP exploit. For the record the university does provide a VPN which will work for most folks, but I don’t often have a machine that I can do that from. The nice thing about putty is it’s a simple download and you don’t have to install it, just download and go.

I’m not going to tell you how to setup an ssh server, mostly because it’s pretty straightforward.

Here we go

  1. Download and start putty
  2. Type in your connection information admin@server.company.com
  3. Open Connections, SSH, Tunnels
  4. Set the source port to be 3391
  5. Set the destination port to be rdp-server.company.com:3389
  6. Click add, and then open the connection
  7. Start the RDP client
  8. Make a connection to localhost:3391
  9. You may be prompted for all that new connection stuff and then finally credentials

You should now have a connection established to your remote desktop server that is being tunneled through your SSH connection.

SCCM + Dell – ServiceTag = HEADACHE

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything and this will most likely be the last post before I hop platforms, but since the resolution took nearly my whole morning I felt it was worthy a posting. As you know we’ve been rolling with System Center Configuration Manager for nearly two years now and while it doesn’t necessarily follow best practices, it’s been as stable as that product appears to be.

So today I was given a machine to image, and I promptly checked our servers to see if it was still lurking out there somewhere.

  • In AD? Nope.
  • In SCCM? Nope.
  • In DHCP? Yes, but that’s ok.

So I fired up the SCCM console and expanded leaf objects until I got down to Computer Association. Right click and choose Import Computer Information and follow through the dialogs. What we’ve always done is add the computer by Name and MAC address, mainly because the GUID is entirely too long for any normal person to remember or have the time to write down. After adding the computer to the proper collection and finishing out of the wizard, I fired up the computer and hit F12, and let the PXE do it’s magic.

Sadly, there was no magic, after about a minute I heard two beeps which means the computer is unable to boot off the network. No worries, I know my view on time is different from that of SCCM so I waited about 5 minutes and tried again, still two beeps. I decided that perhaps I had typoed the MAC address, so decided I’d try it again; two beeps.

That’s when I began my trouble-shooting, the first thing I did was double-check the MAC, as well as make sure there were no duplicates in DHCP, which based on how we roll DHCP is impossible, but still doesn’t hurt to check. There is a report in SCCM that let’s you know if there are duplicate MAC’s inside it’s database, “MAC – Computers for a specific MAC address.” This will let you know if the MAC you enter is associated with more than one computer, it wasn’t.

I fired up the log and saw the following message, I decided to leave the typo intact, since that’s the way Microsoft left it!

The SMS PXE Service Point intructed device to boot normally since it has no PXE advertisement assigned.

Device MAC Address:00:1A:A0:B9:EF:A8 SMBIOS GUID:4C4C4544-0000-2010-8020-80C04F202020.

That seemed odd to me, since I knew that everything was set properly, I decided to restart the Windows Deployment Services (PXE) service. Often times that will fix small issues with PXE booting workstations for imaging, two beeps. That wasn’t it, so then I had to go to the bad place, SMSPXE.LOG. I’m not sure why, but apparently the SMS dev’s decided to punish admins and write absolutely horrible log entries that look like XML and reference line numbers in the source code. Sadly, there wasn’t much of anything different in here either except this:

Device found in the database. MacCount=1 GuidCount=4]LOG]!>

See what I mean by horrible? Anyway, the interesting tidbit is GuidCount=4, wtf? So a while back Carson wrote a report in SCCM that would show GUIDs, I suppose I should post that at some point because it is SUPER handy! But sure enough there were 4 computer’s with the exact same GUID. All of them but one were current, so I decided to nuke them, restart PXE and attempt my boot again, two beeps. I was not a happy camper.

So it was off to Google, since I wasn’t having any luck with the logs. As you can imagine there were lots and lots and LOTS of threads, postings and technical documents.  Most of what I read was from the Microsoft Technet social site, but as I began reading I began noticing that several of these were referencing Dell Optiplex computers. While not the same vintage Optiplex as what I was reading about I was working with Dell hardware nonetheless.

I finally fell on the answer in a two year old thread on the Dell support site. Turns out that service tag is more than just helpful on their website! The GUID for the computer is based on that service tag, and if the motherboard gets replaced and the tech doesn’t add it back into the BIOS, the computer will create a generic one. That’s the GUID or SMSBIOS GUID listed above, and it was a painfully easy fix! You will need to download the ASSET.COM utility from Dell’s Utility FTP site.

Once downloaded run that command with the /S switch and the service tag for your computer. Please be aware that if you muck up that entry, there is no way to remove it! So double, triple, quadruple check before you confirm that it’s ok to update that information.

The only other complicated part for me was finding a floppy drive, and more importantly a floppy disk to make bootable so I could run this and a BIOS update on the intended computer!

Do you suffer from “Premature Installation”?

Or, “What’s in a name?”

Turns out a whole hell of a lot! First I need to thanks Nick for the awesome title, as he completely pinpointed my issue after I told him what happened! The last article I posted talked about our desire to move away from vanilla Windows 2008 and up to Windows 2008 R2. What should have been a pretty straightforward process got slightly mangled by two things. I forgot to rename the computer, and I moved to fast, hence the “Premature Installation!”

Naming is important, there are some names you can change and some you can’t. How computers get names has also changed with 2008, it used to be that during installation you were prompted for a name, now you do that after. One of the things we found out was that a Domain Controller can have multiple names, while I don’t know how recent that change is, or isn’t it was new to us. Back to the naming process, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with a Domain Controller named WIN-LLF3467Q0, you would undoubtedly agree it doesn’t really roll off the tongue.

So that was the first problem, I installed Windows 2008 R2 without mishap, and Directory Services installed, and when I hopped over to the Domain Controller’s OU I noticed my problem. So the first thing I did was go to the above article and renamed my new Domain Controller, and this is where the second problem occurred.

Replication while speedy, it does take time, and the more things you have in your AD the longer it could potentially take. The end result of my fubar is that we wound up with no less than three different entries in DNS for the same server, only one of which was correct, and due to replication latency the name of the server in AD was completely wrong.

So I did what I imagine most people would do, and went to uninstall DS from the server and attempt to start over. But because things had gotten so trashed I was unable to uninstall DS, because the server name that I was on didn’t exist in AD, I really should have screenshot stuff but take my word, I was on dc1 and the error was dc1 didn’t exist…which was technically true. It was a crazy weird edge situation, you could actually connect to DC1 but you had to type it in manually in order to get there. At any rate I was unable to remove DS, so I turned off the computer and attempted to remove the computer account that was listed from the Domain.

The problem with that was in order to do it, you MUST be on a Domain Controller to remove a non-functional Domain Controller from the Domain. I’ve not found an article on TechNet that mentions that, but I’ve not looked in any great detail. This information was found on the TechNet Social site, after connective over RDP to the off-site Domain Controller I was able to remove the offending account.

So, in the future, remember to be patient and make sure you have a checklist!

  1. Install Windows OS
  2. Change the default name before network connectivity
  3. Make any needed changes
    1. Disable IPv6
    2. Apply 3rd party DNS Hotfix
  4. Install Directory Services
  5. Wait
  6. Wait
  7. Wait
  8. Verify successful replication

These are the steps I followed on my server rebuild yesterday, as well as the same instructions I followed when I migrated the second Domain Controller this morning.