Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dropbox to the rescue

Techbyte solved!

If you are an admin, you don't want users circumventing your security procedures. I know I do not like users pulling files down from disparate sites; but then it is OK for us right? Dropbox is one of those storage in the cloud solutions that could be deemed a security risk. It can also create more chatter on the local LAN if you have configured it for "Lan Sync" ( see this Link for what that is); but more than once it has saved me not only a lot of work, but actually helped me be more efficient working for a customer.

I was trying to install Spiceworks for a customer at a remote location but downloading to the server which I was connected to via vpn and RDP, would somehow corrupt the download. I had the file in my Dropbox, so I fired up the browser at the remote server and downloaded from there. In minutes I was up and running.

I know, I know, but it worked and I know what I am doing don't I? Well, in any case Dropbox has allowed me more than once to by pass firewalls and security to do good. Just be careful, because in the hands of a black hat, it definitely can be bad.

Delco

Monday, December 27, 2010

Evaluating Spiceworks

OK I am sorry! Why? Because 3 years ago I started using Spiceworks, then because of circumstances I got away from it in 2009. I have been away for a while now, but I came back to it in December of this year.

I have to say that I have been very pleased by it's features and the progress of the product. If you are not aware of Spiceworks, please visit their site and download it and install it. It is very easy to install.

The reason I got back into it is for a small opportunity I have to install it as a help desk for someone else. Of course this is only a part of Spiceworks, but it is a big part of it, and I think it is the biggest part.

Details I put in this blog entry, you can find on their communities page, and in their self-help videos, but I added my own touch or explanation. These are some demo videos I put together. Again, this is just a very small part of what Spiceworks is and it is only to whet your appetite to check them out.

I made these with "JING" (Another very cool, very free product). I made one mistake with these videos-They were made with my wide screen, and I had the audio not quite right. So hopefully you have a wide screen. If your audio is low, you could download the videos since they seem to play ok then, but others said they could hear them just fine. In the future I will have these right. Sorry, but did not have time this time to redo them all.

1 SpiceworksOverview_2010-12-12_1728

2 HelpDesk_1_2010-12-12_1806

3 HelpDesk_2_2010-12-12_1820

4 CreateTicket_1_ 2010-12-12_2231

5 CreateTicket_2_2010-12-12_2300

6 CreateTicket_3_2010-12-13_0717

7 Reports_2010-12-13_0819



Delco

Monday, December 6, 2010

Windows can't create a shortcut here. Do you want the shortcut to be placed on the Desktop instead?



Here is a Techbyte ... and a solution:

It used to be easy creating a folder in the "All Programs" menu in Windows XP. All you had to do is go to the "c:\Document and Settings\All Users" profile, and there you could add shorcuts for all users in the Desktop, Programs, and Startup. Ever since Vista and Windows 7 Microsoft tighten the security and now it is not as easy, or at least not as straight forward. I can see why they want to tighten it up, but it is still frustrating to jump though hoops.

You really should not have to add "folders" to the "All Programs" during normal software installs it asks you if you want it for all users or just the current user. There are applications thought that fail, or there are stand alone programs that are grouped in a folder and you need or want to add the list to the "All Programs" area.

Recently I wanted to add the group of Putty applications to my "All Programs" menu and I wanted for all users on my Laptop. Now I just did this quick and dirty, but it works just fine. Just remember to change the rights back.

Here are the locations of the Desktop and Start Menu for "All Users"

All users desktop:
C:\Users\Public\Public Desktop\

All users start menu:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\

Steps:

1. I wanted to add a folder called "Putty" to the "All Programs" for "All Users"
2. Open C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\
3. Open the "Programs" folder and create the folder, it will ask for "confirmation". I created a folder called Putty. It will let you create it that way.
4. Right click on the folder and select Properties.
5. Select the "Security" Tab.
6. Look for your name (account), then select "Edit".
7. Give yourself "full controll" then click on "Apply", then "OK" to close.
8. Now open the folder, select the file(s) you want to put in there, but drag and drop with the right mouse button not the left. When you do this it will ask you if you want to move, copy, or create shortcut --- Select "Create Shortcut".
9. Now go back to steps 4 through 7 and remove the rights you just gave to your account. You should leave (it is greyed out), the special permissions at the bottom. That is normal.
10. Now you will see it in the "All Programs".



If you have a better way, plase leave me a note, and I will post it as a comment on the blog.

Delco

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Error installing Veeam FastSCP

Veeam FastSCP is a stripped down version of Veeam's Backup and Replication for VMWARE. What is cool about both products is that you can Secure Copy between servers/folders. You can add Linux Servers to it and if you are using the Paid version, it does not count against licenses since the licenses are for VMWARE ESX and ESXi hosts.

I use the Free Version to copy files from my computers to and from VMWARE Hosts which is a real good thing if you ever tried moving files from your Windows Machine to the Storage of a VMWARE server without it.

Any ways, I have seen this now a couple of times and it only happens in Vista and Windows 7. When you are installing it, it will ask you for an account to start up the service, but when you give it an account, it will error out. It complains about the password and or account (sorry I did not get the error copied).

All you have to do is start the installation with administrator privileges. Right click on installer and "run as administrator" --- that is all.

Do not use an administrator account though. Create just a plain old account since all it needs it for is to start the service.

Delco

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Delay Starting Services with Batch File (Also use %errorlevel% and sc)

Recently I needed to delay starting up some services in Windows 2008 server. I had recently upgraded Veeam Backup and Replication from version 4 to version 5. When the server rebooted I found that for some reason three of the four of the services sort of hung. They said "starting" but would not finish starting. I found that if I started them up manually and started one at a time, they worked fine.

Now, I know that what I did is sort of a hack since the problem should not happen. Indeed after talking to Veeam tech support they said that they have never heard of the problem. Well, that still leaves me with a somewhat working system. I need it to work now, and then, I will try to scour for what the actual problem is. I could not leave it on manual because it would be easy to forget to start them up.

I needed to delay the start of the services, and stagger them so they would each start individually one after each other. There a few ways to delay start up of services. One is to create a dependency on another service. Another is to use a program that does that-the third for me was to write a script. I chose to write a script.

For my script to work, I needed another little utility: sleep.exe which is part of the Windows 2003 Resource kit.

Let's dissect it a bit. I am adding line numbers for easier reference, you would not have these line numbers.


* The first two lines are just comments
1. REM 1. VeeamNfsSvc - Veeam vPower NFS Service
2. REM Checking Service State

* Line 3 is very important. SC is a command line program used for communicating with the
Service Control Manager and services. If you want to find more about it in a command line window, just type sc /?.

*"sc" is the command. "query" is the command. In this case it says "look for". "VeeamNfsSvc" is the service name. "|" This is the Pipe. Pipe funnels the result to another command. In this case the "find" command. We are looking for the results of the query that has the text "STATE" in it, and we do it again and look for "RUNNING". The "> nul" redirects what you would normally see in the screen to nowhere. You will not see it. It is a dead end.

* A summary is look for a service called VeeamNfsSvc with the STATE of RUNNING (as opposed to STOPPED).

3. sc query VeeamNfsSvc | FIND "STATE" | FIND "RUNNING" > nul

* Lines 4 and 5. OK, this is decission time. When "sc" gets done it sets an exit code on the system if it was the code is 1 jump to label ":vPower_not_running. If it is 0, then jump to label "Veeam_Backup.

4. if %ERRORLEVEL% == 1 GOTO :vPower_no_running
5. if %ERRORLEVEL% == 0 GOTO :Veeam_Backup

* Line 6 through 9: Line 6 the label. Line 7 print message to screen. Line 8 uses sleep.exe to wait for 30 seconds. Then line 9 starts the service. Line 10 jumps to the next Label to test and start the next service if needed.

6. :vPower_no_running
7. echo Starting VeeamNfsSvc
8. sleep.exe 30
9. NET START VeeamNfsSvc
10.GOTO :Veeam_Backup

After this I went through each service doing the same thing. Four total services. To wrap the whole thing up, I added an Scheduled Task in Winodows Scheduler to start this script (which I saved as a *.bat file) at start up with administrator account. Also made sure that it runs whether the user is logged in or not. Why? Because if I reboot and I don't log in, it will still run and have the services started.

Delco

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shrinking Windows 7 Physical System Disk

A while ago I blogged about how easy it is now to expand a Windows 7 or Server 2008 system disk, but try shrinking it. Well, let me rephrase that, it is easy now to shrink a system disk with Windows 7-but, not shrinking it to the size I wanted.

After I expanded the disk, I realized that I wanted to clone the hard disk to a smaller disk so I could use the larger disk to install Windows 7 64bit and still have my old disk in case I needed it.

My plan was to use Windows Home Server recovery cd to take a recent backup and put it on the smaller, but here is another techbyte: Windows Home Server cannot resize into a smaller disk even if you have a lot of un-used space! I needed a smaller size so I could do that.

Back to shrinking. In Windows 7 you can now shrink a disk. I have a disk approxametly 465gb with only about 65gb being used. I want to make it 215gb big. The first time I tried shrinking with Windows 7 this is what happened:

1. In Computer management, go to Disk Management.
2. Right Click the disk you want to shrink, and select shrink.
3. After an analysis, it comes back telling how much you can shrink the disk by, it told me I could only shrink it by 17gb! The problem is, that if you have a file that cannot be moved, it blocks you from actually shrinking by the amount you want. Here is the message in the application log:

A volume shrink analysis was initiated on volume (C:). This event log entry details information about the last unmovable file that could limit the maximum number of reclaimable bytes.

Diagnostic details:
- The last unmovable file appears to be: \Windows\SoftwareDistribution\DataStore\DataStore.edb::$DATA
- The last cluster of the file is: 0x700aa55
- Shrink potential target (LCN address): 0x12035b2
- The NTFS file flags are: ----D
- Shrink phase:

To find more details about this file please use the "fsutil volume querycluster \\?\Volume{efa59fe1-bcbc-11de-89e4-806e6f6e6963} 0x700aa55" command.

4. I stopped the Windows Update Service and deleted the Datastore folder which allowed me then to shrink the disk even more, but only by 34gb. So I thought, well I will run it twice, but then my Blackberry software was blocking it.

5. Back to the old school. I used GPARTED.

See the following Screenshots:


Selecting the Shrink Option


Analyzing the disk


Results only allow 17gb of shrinking


Based on information in Windows Log, I deleted the storage folder and Re-ran the analysis.


After running the Shrink Option, I now shrank by 34gb. This is way short of what I want.


This is where I ran a second analysis, and I still could not shrink the disk anymore. Now my Blackberry Software could not be moved.


Here is the GPARTED process running on my disk.


So I ran GParted to get the results I wanted.

Ok, so now I have the disk the size I want. Now I am going to try to back it up and restore it with Windows Home server restore to a smaller disk. Oh, by the way, I love Windows Home Server but it sucks that it cannot resize to smaller partitions like Ghost or Accronis, or as you can see GPARTED.

Windows has made great inroads in giving us the tools to resize the disks. Now that we can increase the system drive on the fly! We can also shrink the system disk, but I find it still limiting. Don't get rid of the third party tools yet.

Delco

PS: I ran Diskeeper to see if I could move the folders and files to the front but did not work for me.

Also see following links:
How to shrink Windows 7 disk
Download GPARTED

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Extending the C: Partition in Windows 7

The cool thing about Windows Server 2008 is the feature to be able to extend the system partition (make it bigger). So if you have a disk partitioned that includes the c: drive but you still have free disk space that has not yet been allocated, you can add that to the c: drive.

This is something you could not do before. Believe me as a server administrator, not being able to do this in the past was a huge deal. This was especially true in the bad old days of nothing but physical servers. If your system disk filled up, your only choice is to somehow replace it with a bigger one.

In the virtual world it became a bit easier since you could make the virtual disk larger, but you still could not extend it with diskpart as you could a non-system disk. You could still extend it with Gparted or linking to another OS as second disk and extending there.

See:
Increase size of C in VMWare
Expanding virtual disk with VMWorkstation
Increase size of system disk part 1
Increase size of system disk part 2

But now whether physical or virtual, you can extend a system disk with diskpart on the fly with no downtime at all-very cool! Now of course you can do it with Windows 7.

1. To do so, just start a Command Prompt with Administrator rights.
2. Type Diskpart and hit Enter
3. Type list volumes
4. Select the c: drive volume --- like sel vol 3
5. I like to do list volumes again and make sure I selected the right one. Look for the one with the Astrix in front of it.
6. Type Extend
7. If successful, you will see message "Diskpart successfully extended the volume".

Go back and check the new size of your disk.

Very cool!

Delco

Remove Ubuntu and Grub from dual boot with Windows 7

I found this very easy.

I had set up my laptop to dual boot between Windows 7 32 bit Ultimate and Ubuntu 9.x 32 bit. The way I set it up was to first install Windows 7 first, then Ubuntu. In this way I replaced the Windows 7 boot loader with Grub.

I ran my laptop for a year like this but lately I wanted to change it up a bit. I want to run all 64bit both Windows and Ubuntu. Yet, I do not want to lose my Windows 7 Configuration because I had made that my primary boot and used it extensively and had a lot of personal software on it. I wanted to move my current Windows install to a smaller hard drive, and then use my larger faster hard drive for 64 Windows. I had a hard time cloning the Windows partition to another drive because of Grub and Ubuntu.

I decided I wanted to get rid of Ubuntu so I would be left with just Windows and that should be easily cloned to another hard drive, or use my Windows Server backup and restore to move it to a smaller hard drive.

Steps to remove Ubuntu and Grub:

1. In Computer Management, then Disk Manager, select the Ubuntu partition and delete it.
2. Boot with your original Windows 7 installation Disk.
3. Select Repair, and get to the menu where you can select the Command Prompt.
4. Type bootrec.exe /FixMbr
5. Reboot.

NOTE: Step 4 above. The first time I used bootrec.exe /FixBoot ... this still did not work and Grub was there so I rebooted with the Windows 7 install disk, and used the /FixMbr. I belive just selecting /FixMbr should work, I did not have opportunity to select it first so if you have any problems, use /FixBoot first, the /FixMbr.

Delco

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Device ‘Hard disk 1′ which is not in persistent mode

"Virtual Machine is configured to use a device that prevents the operation: Device 'Hard disk 1′ is disk which is not in persistent mode. Device 'Hard disk 1′ which is not in persistent mode".

This is a bug in VMWare VSphere 4.0 or 4.0 update 1.

This is because machine went into standby mode because of power settings, and the disk was in independent non-persistent mode, and DRS is enabled in the virtual cluster.

The way I fixed this was to un-register the VM machine.  Create a new machine with same specs, then instead of creating new hard drive, just add the existing hard drives from original machine.

After I did this, I did a storage migrate to put all the files together and have the names of the disks all match the name of the new machine.

Delco

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wipe Verizon Razr to Factory

This is how to reset Phone to Factory --- Wipes Everything, no going back!

1. Open your phone up and go to "Settings"
2. Next go to the selection for "Initial Setup"
3. Next go to the selection for "Master Clear"
4. Then select to confirm the option.
5. Now enter the security code which should be "000000"
6. Finally press select or ok and the phone will reset itself to the factory condition

Now you can sell it on Craig's list :)

Delco

Monday, September 27, 2010

Assign the same Drive Letter Every Time to USB Drive

How can you make sure that the same drive letter is assigned every time you plug in your USB drive? How can you exempt drive letters assigned to Network drives?

If you right click a drive in Disk Management and assign it a drive letter you are pretty much assured that you will get that drive letter next time-but you can't really be 100% sure.

You also run into problems when a user plugs in a USB drive and then your Network drive letter does not work.

My problem at hand this time was making sure that my mom's USB drive always got the letter E assigned to the USB drive I gave her. I had written a script that mirrored her picture folder. There is no way my 77 year old mother is going to be able to trouble shoot something weird like that.

The solution came via a utility quite a few others recommend: USBDLM.

Here is what I do with USBDLM:

1. Make sure I always assign the same drive letter to USB drives.
2. Make sure my network mapped letters do not conflict with USB drive letters.
3. You know those multi-media readers that have a slot for each type. Each one of those show up as a drive letter even though you do not have a card inserted. USBDLM can make it so a drive letter is assigned only when you insert one.
4. I assign drive letters based in Device IDs.
5. Make the drive letter be assigned by ini file on USB and not conflict with INI file on Computer.

USBDLM is free for personal use, but there is a price for business. The price I found is quite reasonable. The work it does really can't be beat. Ther are more options that I will cover here including working with Firewire. There is also a pretty extensive help file.

I am going to cover the 5 steps above by basically just showing you my INI file. WSBDLM is controlled by INI files.

Please excuse the semicolons since if you would put this into an actual ini, it would be the comments. You could just pear it down. Also I built it based on the template that is included.

; This is my working USBDLM.INI
; Created 9/18/2010

; More informations in the help file USBDLM_ENG.CHM



;------------------------------ Settings -------------------------------------
[Settings]

;here you can let USBDLM remove driveletters of cardreaders as long
;as there is no media present this is done by setting it to "1"
NoMediaNoLetter=1

;here you can let USBDLM write a logfile, default is _USBDLM.LOG in
;the root of the Windows drive
WriteLogFile=0
LogFile=
LogLevel=3


;---------------------------- BalloonTips -------------------------------------
[BalloonTips]

;this activates balloon tips and sets their show
;duration in milliseconds-it gives a nice
;message down in the service tray when you plug in your USB device
Enabled=1
Timeout=6000



;-------------------------- the drive letters ---------------------------------

;here you can define new default drive letter for USB drives
;The first line says look at the ini on usb first.
;In that ini put the letter you want for
;that drive.
;comment out everything on the usb except the section below
;omitting the first line.
;Also, lines Letter= contain USB drive letters you want to assign in that sequence
;to other USB devices you plug in.
;So here the first line says: look on usb drive for ini and set letter from that
;then after that, start with k,l,m to other usb drives
[DriveLetters]
Letters=%drive%\usbdlm.ini
Letter1=K
Letter2=L
Letter3=M


;here you can define drive letter that shall never be used for new local drives
;configure here your network and subst drives here but no local drives!
[NetworkLetters]
Letter1=V
Letter2=
Letter3=


;many other options are documented in the Help files.
;Here is how you assign letter by device ID number.
;Below, while usb is connected do a cmd,
;then dir e:\*.x and then copy paste vol serial
;below (e: is whatever drive letter has at the time).
;Here we will give Y to one, Z to the other.
;finding the vol serial that way is sure
;that you will give the drive the letter you want

[DriveLetters10]
DeviceID1=USB\VID_0781
VolumeSerial=1012-B5C6
Letter=Y

[DriveLetters20]
VolumeSerial=A805-CFBB
Letter=Z

Delco

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Backup Mom's Pictures Robocopy Batch file

My 77 year old mother travels to fairer weather in late fall. She has a laptop. I needed for her to back up her picture files on a regular basis. It had to be easy. It had to be free. I could not count on any other backup operation because it is hard for my mom to remember backup procedures.

My solution was to use an old and tried and true method. I have used "robocopy (Robust File Copy)" since back in the bad old days of NT 4.0. Robocopy is part of the 2003 Resource Kit, but it should be part of Vista and Windows 7. The result is the following batch file. I then just put a shortcut on her desktop and made sure she knew how to plug in the USB drive and double click on it.

The highlight of the batch file is the "if" statement section:

The first line checks for the existence of a drive "e" --- Her USB drive.

* if exist e: (

If it does exist, I call the robocopy program. Robocopy is fast once the initial copy-it only copies add/move/or changes-it will not copy existing un-modified old files. I used to mirror terabyte of data with it rather fast. It also creates a log file.

* c:\bin\robocopy "c:\documents and Settings\mom\My Documents\My Pictures" e:\momspictures\ /v /mir /r:1 /w:1 /eta /log:c:\bin\picbakup.txt

The above disected (there is a lot more optional parameters):
1. c:\bin\robocopy-This calls robocopy which I put in a folder called "bin"
2. "c:\documents and Settings\mom\My Documents\My Pictures"-This is the source. Notice " because of spaces in some folders.
3. e:\momspictures\-The target folder. I created the folder ahead of time and did an initial copy of all files.
4. /v /mir /r:1 /w:1 /eta -V is vervous, mir means mirror which will delete files that are not longer present. It is a true mirror. r:1 retry times, w:1 wait time. eta Show Estimated Time of Arrival of copied files
5. /log:c:\bin\picbakup.txt-Write a log

The rest of the "if" is an "else", which basically jumps down to tell mom that "e" is not available. (By the way, I made sure that the USB will always be "e" - more on that in different blog entry).

* ) else (
* goto noexist
* )
* goto done

The rest of batch, if successful, will open up the log file, then quit.

***** Here is the whole batch file *****

@echo off
cls
echo.
echo Mom, I am copying files from your picture folder to the thumbdrive
echo Please put the thumb drive in first in the computer and wait
echo for it to be recognized.
echo.
echo Ok, now hit any key on the keyboard to continue, for example the SPACEBAR
echo.
pause

if exist e: (
c:\bin\robocopy "c:\documents and Settings\mom\My Documents\My Pictures" e:\momspictures\ /v /mir /r:1 /w:1 /eta /log:c:\bin\picbakup.txt
) else (
goto noexist
)
goto done

:noexist
cls
echo Mom, I can't find the E: drive.
echo Please make sure you can see E: on your computer first then try again.
echo Sorry. Hit any Key on the Keyboard to quit now please!
pause
goto quit

:done
cls
echo OK done!
echo When you hit the next key, the log file will open.
pause
start c:\bin\picbakup.txt
goto quit

:quit

Delco

Friday, September 24, 2010

Using CHAP with Equallogic SAN

ISCSI connection hit limit. Only 15 connections allowed to one Equallogic Lun (Volume). I am not talking about total number of ISCSI connections to the whole SAN, but to one LUN.

This can happen in a cluster of VMWARE VSphere servers. Having 7 servers each having two connections (dual ISCSI HBAs) to a Volume on Equallogic is 14. Now if you add the 8th that would be 16. Equallogic limits the connection access by IP to 15. This cannot be fixed through firmware upgrade.

What can you do? Use CHAP.

To set up CHAP in Equallogic is simple:

1. In the Group Page of the Management select ISCSI Connection.
2. Here you will see at lower left where to add the ISCSI user.
3. You need to add a Username and a password (The password has to be at least 12 Characters).

4. In the Volume Access itself, you can select Chap authentication, and all you do is just to add the user.

5. In the Source (The machine you are going to connect from), set up ISCSI with CHAP authentication to the target. You will need the username and password you set up on the Equallogic box.

The only perceptible gotcha that I saw using this method was that now on any ISCSI source that has access to that subnet, will see all available LUNS (Volumes) being published. The way around it is to add a second restriction. We opted for IP Range. Adding an IP Range as 192.168.10.* will act as a filter. The only Sources that will see this are ones with a NIC in that range. The other option is to add the iqn identifier, we did not try that. But remember-just because you can see it does not mean you can connect to it because you now have Chap controlling the access.

Delco

Event ID 53258

How to fix it here.

Delco

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eight Steps to Help a Great Grandmother with Her Laptop

My 78 year old mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, has a laptop. My mother also spends half the year in Florida. Who do you think helps her with her tech support? Yes, her son-me. The other question, is, what do you think a great grandmother does with her laptop? Mostly surf the internet, email, play card games, and most of all look at family pictures. Since my mother is often far away I need to be able to make sure that when she needs help, I can help her. But better yet hopefully that she will not need my help much.

Here are some of the things I did to help my mother with her computer tech support needs:

The first I did was make sure that I could remotely control her computer. I installed Logmein (free) version. When my mom has something that I cannot explain over the phone, I can remotely help her with Logmein. It has proved a very reliable and secure way to help and fix her problems from far away.

The Second thing I did was to use Dropbox on her laptop. Now I made sure she had one folder shared with me. Sharing files with mom now is a drag and drop! I can even do this from any computer without Dropbox installed. All I need is a browser. Very cool.

Now the third thing is to keep her computer bug free. I installed Avast free. I periodically check it to make sure it is in good working order and all updates are happening in a regular basis. I also keep a copy of CCleaner that I run periodically.

Step Four: Because my mom is on XP, I set up a scheduled job to automatically to run every week to defragment her hard drive for her. I also used ERUNT and NTREGOPT to run at every log in to keep her registry fast and backed up.

Step five was more of a Goal: Teach my mom to use Firefox. This way she has two browsers to use in case Internet Explorer get’s compromised. She actually uses Firefox more than IE.

The sixth step is pretty crucial. Pictures is major part of my mom's computer experience. They also represent the most important, if not the only files on her laptop that cannot be replaced. To assist here with both user experience and file backup. I installed Picasa and taught her how to use it. Took a bit. The things I concentrated on was importing pictures, creating and organizing the pictures using Picasa, and burning CDs of the pictures.

Now I needed her to back up her pictures. I found that trying to teach her how to copy files from her My Pictures folder to a USB thumb drive challenging. The thing is that folders, copy and paste commands were hard for her. It was not something she does often, so she would forget. Even though I could of set up a program like Carbonite or use Dropbox both solutions were not good for her. One she does not want to spend any money, and Dropbox free is too small in size.

What I did was get her an 8GB USB thumb drive, and then wrote a simple script using Robocopy to copy any new Pictures since the last copy to it. All she would have to do is put in the Thumb Drive. Then Double Click on the short cut I put on her desktop. (To see the script and how I made sure that that the USB always got the same Drive Letter Number follow these Links: Backup Mom’s Pictures, Assign the Same Drive Letter to USB drives)

Step seven really is a combination of two things: One put all her often used programs as shortcuts on her desktop. That is probably nothing new. The other was a little coaching. I told her not to let anyone else touch her computer. I found that often she would let other seniors help her, and they would do things that were not as good for her laptop. They meant well, but they are not aware of best practices.

The eighth step are bookends. When she first got her laptop, I created an image of the factory Image using Ghost and burned to DVD and stored it. Then I installed the Windows Home Server Client Software (I have a Home Server). and made sure my Home Server backed up her laptop before she went away to Florida. Worst case scenario, all she has to do is ship me her laptop and I can do a full restore.

After all I did when I was young, is the least I can do for mom!

Delco

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Editing Grub2 Multiboot

I have a multi-boot laptop. I dual boot between Ubuntu 9.x and Windows 7. Grub is the boot loader. The default OS in my Grub was the latest build of the Kernel. Windows 7 was the last in the list. I wanted Windows 7 to be the default choice.

Apparently Grub2 is a little more complicated to edit-at least it seemed at first. The older Grub boot loader all you had to edit was the menu.lst file. Grub2 was made in such a way to protect the system and provide more features.

If you Google this issue you will run into a lot of entries about how hard it is. Some also give what I think is wrong instructions.

First just a little more information:

The old file to edit was in /boot/grub/menu.lst - this is a text file that you could edit by entering this command: sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst. But, Grub2 is configured a little different. The file that controls how Grub boot is /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

Grub.cfg is actually read only, and while you can change that and edit it-the file itself warns you about editing it. See the following from the beginning of the file:

#
# DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE
#
# It is automatically generated by /usr/sbin/grub-mkconfig using templates
# from /etc/grub.d and settings from /etc/default/grub
#

### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/00_header ###

Now this file is edited by Grub itself.

The solution though is rather simple. All you have to do is edit the /etc/default/grub/grub. This file is actually used to build the one read upon boot.

Here is what mine looked like:

# If you change this file, run 'update-grub' afterwards to update
# /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

GRUB_DEFAULT=10
#GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0
GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT_QUIET=true
GRUB_TIMEOUT="10"
GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""

# Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)
#GRUB_TERMINAL=console

# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'
#GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480

# Uncomment if you don't want GRUB to pass "root=UUID=xxx" parameter to Linux
#GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_UUID=true

# Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entrys
#GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_RECOVERY="true"

The most important line is at the top:
GRUB_DEFAULT=10

The default is the OS in order from the grub.cfg to default to if you don't make another selection from the menu. One point here is that the list starts with "0". So O is the first, and usually the default: GRUB_DEFAULT=0. So count to see which number you need.

In the /boot/grub/grub.cfg each choice starts in the file with: menuentry. So just count how many lines start with menuentry starting with "0". In my case, I counted 10: 0,1,2,3,..,10. The actual full entry below:

menuentry "Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda1)" {
insmod ntfs
set root=(hd0,1)
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set 707c80a97c806c22
chainloader +1

So once you are done editing the /etc/default/grub/grub file, you must run this command:

sudo update-grub

Now next time you boot, you will have the new default.

Summary:

1. Look at the /boot/grub/grub.cfg and count the lines from 0 to see what number the OS you want is to be the default.

2. Edit the /etc/default/grub/grub file-the line with the GRUB_DEFAULT={put your number here}.

3. After saving the file, run sudo update-grub.

4. Reboot.

Delco

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Event ID: 7000 Vstor2 P2V30 Virtual Storage Driver service failed

Here was a little nasty leftover. I did not do the actual p2v, so when I found the error in the event viewer at first I was a little perplexed-but I found the fix by doing a little detective work. If you have the same error, consider the following:

VSTOR-P2V30 is left over from P2v

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Service Control Manager
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7000
Date: 9/16/2010
Time: 9:06:35 AM
User: N/A
Computer: BBB123
Description:
The Vstor2 P2V30 Virtual Storage Driver service failed to start due to the following error:
The system cannot find the path specified.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Careful with Registry on this. Export Key(s) just in case.

1. I tried stopping the service and removing from startup but I still got error.

2. I also deleted it from the System --- show hidden devices.

3. I searched in Registry for: vstor2-p2v30.

4. Found it in: hkey_local_machine\System\ControlSet001\Services\ and hkey_local_machine\System\ControlSet002\Services\, and hkey_local_machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\

5. After exporting the keys just for safety --- I deleted:
hkey_local_machine\System\ControlSet001\Services\ and hkey_local_machine\System\ControlSet002\Services\

6. Could not delete the last one.

7. Error went away

Delco

EVENT ID 10021

If you put on Windows Updates, you would think you are getting rid of issues-not creating issues. This is why it is so profitable to be a Windows Geek. The amount of money you can make just fixing what does not have to be fixed :)

Event Type: Error
Event Source: DCOM
Event Category: None
Event ID: 10021
Date: 9/16/2010
Time: 9:32:10 AM
User: N/A
Computer: BB123
Description:
The description for Event ID ( 10021 ) in Source ( DCOM ) cannot be found. The local computer may not have the necessary registry information or message DLL files to display messages from a remote computer. You may be able to use the /AUXSOURCE= flag to retrieve this description; see Help and Support for details. The following information is part of the event: {61738644-F196-11D0-9953-00C04FD919C1}.


1. On the Server, click Start ? Run, type “dcomcnfg” and click OK.

2. Expand Component Services\My Computer\DCOM Config.

3. Right click “IIS WAMREG admin Service”, select Properties.

4. Go to the Security tab, click the Edit button of “Launch and Activation permissions”.

5. Add Network Service with Local Launch and Local Activation permissions

6. Click OK to exit.

Delco

.Net Framework Update causes this on W2k3 Servers

Here is rampant error I have seen after applying Windows Updates:

Event Type: Error
Event Source: .NET Runtime Optimization Service
Event Category: None
Event ID: 1103
Date: 9/16/2010
Time: 8:24:21 AM
User: N/A
Computer: BBB123
Description:
.NET Runtime Optimization Service (clr_optimization_v2.0.50727_32) - Tried to start a service that wasn't the latest version of CLR Optimization service. Will shutdown

Fixed it this way:
Downloaded: NDP20SP2-KB974417-x86.exe

1. Run NDP20SP2-KB974417-x86.exe -X
2. In the “choose directory” box, enter “C:\kb974417” (whatever you want to name it)
3. Then go to C:\kb974417, using explorer
4. Doubleclick the file NDP20SP2-KB974417.msp to install
5. Reboot your computer.

If you are using Windows Update server, you might have to reset:

At command prompt: wuauclt.exe /detectnow

Got to love updates!

Delco

Monday, September 13, 2010

Citrix or Terminal Techbyte!

Something or someone disables logons on your Citrix or Terminal server and logons never get enabled.

Now you have a server nobody can log into and you are clueless about it.

If you have Nagios working in your environment-Here is a solution to send alert.

Prerequist: Nagios, NRPE addon, Nagios Agent installed on Windows Server, and a program that can read Reg key and communicate with Nagios.
There is a Nagios utility out there created already, but it contains a serious bug that cannot read a value of Zero properly.

Working together, here is what our team came up with.
We created a custom utility with AutoIT and called tsnenable.exe

Here is the code:

;tsenable - purpose to read registry key for value to see if Terminal Services Logons are enabled 0 or disabled 1
;then based on that, it does either of these two things: 0, then write to console message and set exit code to 0
;else if 1, then write to the console, and set exit code to 1.
;This must be compiled as a non-gui application for it to work.
;This is to be used in conjunction with nagios

;Written by:
;September 1, 2010

dim $RegVal, $i

$RegVal=RegRead("HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon", "WinStationsDisabled")
If @error <> 0 Then
MsgBox(0, "oops", "Crap! This is not working!")
Exit
EndIf
if $RegVal = 0 then
ConsoleWrite("Logons Enabled")
Exit(0)
Else
ConsoleWrite("Logons Disabled")
Exit(1)
EndIf

Note: You must compile this as a Command Line Interface not GUI!

Now the actual steps:

1. Install newer nsclient on Citrix server. If you have old client, uninstall that one first then install nsclient_3.6RC8 and get it working with Nagios.

2. Create a folder called nsscripts put the custom app in that folder.

3. Put nsscripts in the NSclient++ program files folder.

4. Rename nsc.ini in NSClient++ to nsc.ini.org

5. Edit nsc.ini in the NSclient++ folder. I am only going to cover the part for running custom scripts.

[External Script]
.
.
.
.
.
; *********** CREATED THIS FOLDER IN THE NSCLIENT++ FOLDER *********
script_dir=.\nsscripts\*.exe

[NRPE Handlers]
.
.
.
.
.
; *********** Custom app **********
check_tslogon=nsscripts\tsenable.exe

6. Reastart Service for nsclient.

7. Create nagios service entry in services.cfg
This is Linux so you have to use vi or nano editor:

vi services.cfg

NOTE: service_description below uses "check_command" from nrpe2 which calls the tsenable.exe.
In the INI file above notice the "check_tslogon" setting pointing to the custom tsenable.exe.

# Service definition
define service{
use generic-service ; Name of service template to use

host_name CITRIX1
service_description TS Logons
is_volatile 0
check_period 24x7
max_check_attempts 3
normal_check_interval 5
retry_check_interval 1
contact_groups citrix-admins
notification_interval 360
notification_period awakehours
notification_options w,u,c,r
check_command check_nrpe2!check_tslogon

8. Restart Nagios.

Delco

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Save Putty Settings

Putty is probably a universal tty/ssh/telnet program used by computer profesionals the world wide.

I know that I have used it ever since I learned about it, and cannot remember the time that I started using it.

The one thing that irritated me is that if I installed Putty on another machine I would lose my settings.

Backing up your "settings" is easy, but you have to manually do this. You have to export Reg keys, then import them.

The Reg key is:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Joshua F. Madison

To Export: (No I am not going to warn you about messing with the registry. If you are using Putty, you are in my mind
already a techie, and I am not going to insult your intelligence.)

1. run "regedit"
2. Go to the key:HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Joshua F. Madison
3. Export



On the target machine, double click the *.reg file, and import it.

That is all there is to it.

You could of Googled it, and maybe you did and ended up here.

Delco

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fwd: Steps to increase the size of the C drive (The system Drive) of a Virtual Machine

To increase C: drive on Windows VM…MAKE SURE THE VM does not have any snapshots!!!

1. shutdown VM you want to grow

2. Edit settings on the VM, go to hard disk and increase it to the desired size.

3. At this point, the OS can "see" the unallocated space in disk manager; however the C: drive is still the same size. We need to grow the windows partition using diskpart.

4. Attach the disk (vmdk) that you just grew to another virtual machine with a like OS. Use the VI client to "add a hard disk" to the VM that you are using to extend the partition (select the "use an existing hard disk" option).

5. Do a "rescan" in windows disk manager on the VM you are using to temporarily attaching the drive to.

6. open a Windows command prompt and type diskpart

7. Show the volumes that are on the system: DISKPART> list volume

8. Select the volume that you want to grow: DISKPART> select volume n where "n" is the number of the volume you want to extend.

9. Verify you have selected the correct partition, there will be an asterisk next to it:

   DISKPART> list volume

10. Extend the partition in diskpart: DISKPART> extend

11. Shutdown the VM that you are using to extend the partition

12. When the VM is shut down, remove the disk that was previously attached - choose the "remove from virtual machine" option.

13. You can now power the original VM back on.

14. you should now see the increased disk space; the server may ask you to reboot after it sees the partition increase.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Be more secure using Logmein

This is for my friend Richard. I have been using Logmein now for as long as I remember since Logmein has been around, and I have used it with an extra security setting that emails me a random security code that I have to either cut and paste, or type in in order for it to let me proceed.

The reason I did this, is because I have it installed on family member's computers, and I never wanted to have anyone hack it.

Here is the way it works:

1. You log into Logmein like you normally would with your user name and password.
2. Instead of proceeding, you are prompted with a screen to put in another security code.
3. This code has been emailed to you to your email account.
4. You enter the code.
5. You now can proceed to see the list of computers that you can control.
6. Of course, your pc's should all have a username and password also.

Steps 3 and 4 are the extra steps.

To set this up:

1. Log in to Logmein.
2. Go into your Account.
3. Go to the Security tab.
4. Select to have one time security code sent to designated email address once.

See the following screen shots:




The suggested tip is to use an email address that is accessible through the internet, or maybe have it email it to your cell phone.

Another point is that the code is time sensitive, so if you don't use it right away it will time out and you will have to try again.

There are other options on that security page, including having a set of codes you can print out and use, but I like the one shot time sensitive option. It adds another layer that might seem cumbersome or bothersome, but the security that it adds I think pretty much makes it pretty air tight in my opinion.

Delco

Friday, June 4, 2010

Windows 2008 and Network Bindings

Ok, you get two for Friday!

I don't know why Microsoft does some bone head things. We all had to move the bindings around before, but I really have had not to change them in Windows 2008 Server before. I had a circumstance where I needed at least to look at them. Do you know how? Where are they?

Maybe it just me, but I don't think so. Microsoft decided to hide them. You have to go into Manage Networks Connections, and then hit Alt+N, and all of a sudden you see a whole new menu pop up including the Advanced where you can then edit the bindings.

I am sure Microsoft has a good reason to hide this from Administrators! Hello, we are not the users.

Go figure.

Delco

Ctrl Alt Delete - what a byte!

If you are at all familiar with computers, the key stroke combination of Ctrl+Alt+Del Keys are well known. They are more of a throw back to the Microsoft DOS days when rebooting was done with those key strokes. Now much of the time in Windows it just gives you the opportunity to lock the screen, and of course reboot also; but it will not automatically do it without warning.

Here is the "byte". In Linux if you are in a terminal window the keystroke can also reboot your machine. Now this is not the normal operation. I have been groomed for a long time in Unix/Linux to use the "shutdown" command, or the init command with the proper parameters.

Ok, this still is not the biggest problem --- Here is the biggest GOTCHA. If you are a big user of VMWARE. Here is the problem(s).

1. If you have a Linux machine in a console session up on your Windows Machine, and you hit CTRL+ALT+DEL to lock your Screen, something we do all the time; and, normally if your VM machine is Windows, no harm, no foul, you just get a message from VMWare. But, if your machine is Linux machine, the screen will lock, but your machine will shutdown without any warning! This is huge. We had a print server serving printers to the whole company that got shutdown like that, and we did not know what had happened. So here is the fix for number 1:

If your VM is a Ubuntu Linux. Go to /etc/init and edit the file called control-alt-delete.conf file.

Add a # in front of the line: exec shutdown -r now "Control-Alt-Delete pressed", and add the line underneath: echo "control-alt-delete pressed". Save the file.

Here is what the two lines look like:
# exec shutdown -r now "Control-Alt-Delete pressed"
echo "control-alt-delete pressed"

For other Linux Distros look at : This Site

2. If that is not a big "byte". Here is one that if you are a VMWARE administrator you better know. The same thing will happen in a VMWARE console - but in this case the consequences are even bigger, because it will shut down the entire Host and all the VMs running on it. This could be from a couple, to 20 or 30 production machines. Ouch!!!!

To fix it in VMWARE do the following:

Log in to the ESX host via KVM, SSH or by accessing the console directly.
Open the file /etc/inittab. We used Vi.
Edit /etc/inittab and put a # symbol in front of the line that reads:
ca::ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -t3 -r now so that that it reads:

# Trap CTRL-ALT-DELETE
# ca::ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -t3 -r now

Quit and save the file.
Force the configuration changes without having to reboot the host, by executing

init q

OR make sure that you have patch: ESX400-201002402-BG which in our case we had applied. Another good reason to keep your VMWARE Hosts patched.

So just thought I would pass on what we experienced and what we did to stop it from happening again.

Delco

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Veeam FASTSCP cannot copy to VMWARE ESXi

Ok,

So you know that I love Veeam FastSCP. Even the free Version is pretty cool. So I had an instance where I could not copy files from my ESXi server datastore1 to datastore2. I know the rights were OK, I mean I was root. Having turned on SSH I could Putty in and create folders at will.

The answer is check your version. I had 3.0, download 3.1 and it worked like a charm.

Delco

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Scan port 993 Secure IMAP email with Avast (free)

Here is a cool free feature of Avast Free edition. You can scan the emails you get from an IMAP server, usually port 993 with Avast. What Avast does is to act as the conduit for that port.

Here is what I mean. Usually I use Google for my email through their Google Apps. When I set up email, I have to set it up going over a secure protocol through port 993. See screen shot below:



Now, change the settings in your email client (I am using Mozilla Thunderbird) to use the standard port of 143 and no encryption. See below:



Now open up AVAST, and then go to the Mail Shield, the Expert Settings, and then click on SSL Accounts. You will see that it is doing the 993 port for you and scanning your email for viruses --- Pretty cool and all for free!



Delco

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 7

I wanted to wrap up my log entries quick because since version 10.x is out, I want to move on. So I just want to close with some thoughts of what I think about Ubuntu, and how it compares with Windows 7 in my experience.

Over all I find Ubuntu a totally useful Operating System. I mean this from a usability standpoint. It is in my opinion ready for a Desktop, either at home or in the Corporate environment. The only thing that hinders it's adoption is probably in the area of Business Applications, and more specifically "Accounting". Quickbooks has refused to create a version of their OS to port to Linux environment. This is probably the biggest roadblock, but with Cloud computing continuing to increase in popularity, it might become a mute point hopefully.

There really was nothing I normally do in Windows that i was not able to do in Ubuntu. This does not mean that I tested everything thing in comparison, but basically everything I do. I am not a Gamer so I really can't compare that. I also do not do heavy Graphics and I am not a Music composer. I do some Photography and Videos and that seem work Ok for me on Ubuntu, and version 10 promises better in that area.

Really my major complaint in Ubuntu was with external Monitors and Projectors. I found that it was easier for me to boot into my Windows 7 partition if I had to do any kind of presentation or displaying my screen through a projector.

Since most of my work involves Computer, Network, and Virtualization, Ubuntu excelled in all those areas. Right now for example, Ubuntu plays a major role as a Print server, Firewall, Web Sever, Blog Server, etc. (Not Ubuntu, but Linux also does all the Network Authentication using IDM from Novell).

I think Linux is making good inroads, and Unbuntu especially in the Desktop area.

Delco

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 6

Man, tech sometimes bytes, and other times it just keeps getting better, or at least it seems to move very quickly. I thought I would have time to write more about my experience with using Ubuntu as my primary platform on my laptop, but time got away from me and before I could finish Ubuntu 10.x was released. Needless to say, I downloaded it already (The live CD) and have tested it from CD briefly.

But before I venture down that road I have to add a few more entries on the current platform 9.10 which I have installed. Last time I wrote about the apps that have crossed over to Linux from the Windows world, i.e., that they have Linux versions. But I had some that I liked that had no crossover. For that I used Wine.

I have not used Wine in probably 10 years. So I did not expect a lot. Yet it all seems to work rather well with one major hiccup for me. First there are applications that when you download and install they are actually wrapped in Wine. These are some of my favorite Google Apps: Picasa and Google Earth. But that left a few that I wanted to see if I could make work.

These are the apps: Goodsync, Notepad++, I_view32, ScreenHunter, and my all time favorite Microsoft Application - One Note.

The first thing that you need to do is download Wine. You do this from Wine HQ. Installing Wine is fairly straight forward, but there are real good tutorials, and also videos on YouTube. Because of this I will not go through the steps; but literally it only took me a minute or two. The main thing is that after you install Wine, any Windows App you want to install, you do so with Wine. You right click on the installer program, and you will see at the top it will say "Install with Wine".

I would have shown some screen shots, but I had a problem with all the screenshot taking mechanisms in Ubuntu. Not that they will not work, but that the system will not let them work with a drop down menu or a right click menu. As soon as I tried the screen shot, the menu would hide. Not so with Windows, so the advantage goes to Windows in that area.

In any case: I was able to successfully install Goodsync, Notepad++, I_view32, and ScreenHunter (ScreenHunter installs, but does not have full functionality, so I will probably not use it). By the way, the Editor that comes with Ubuntu can be configured pretty close like Notepad++, so it was just something I wanted to do. On the other hand I_view32, I do not want to do without. No Linux app comes close, and that goes the same for Goodsync, for that matter. Neither one has rival in Windows world or Linux country (my opinion).

Here was my major disappointment, I could not get One Note to work. I installed it, and that worked, even to the part or Registration with Microsoft, but then it would just blow up. Then the uninstall just whacked to the point that I just deleted the files off the system.

Now, some of the Open Source purist would say, why would you want to run that anyway, and my answer is simple: I love that app. I am not too disappointed though because I can still run it in a Virtual Machine, and there is another, not free, but available application CrossOver from CodeWeavers that should do better. I will try that and report back.

In reality I can work happy without any Windows apps on Ubuntu, but if I can have a couple that I like why not. I think it would be better if the Software vendors would develop them for Linux also. I certainly would pay for them if they did.

Delco

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 5

Over two months now on Ubuntu, I think closer to three and everything is going well. I like the OS. One of the things I have looked at is cross platform applications, or at least applications that have versions for all OSes.

One of the applications that I have fallen in love with is Dropbox. Dropbox right now is my favorite Cloud Computing app. It runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, and iPhone. As a matter of fact, I have it on every computer I own whether it is physical of virtual. The couple of PCs where I don't have it on at work, I can access my files on Dropbox through the Web Interface. I just love the ease and flexibility.

Installing on Uuntu:
Open an account with Dropbox. You get 2 gigs free.

1. Download the Linux version (get the Deb package).
2. Open it. It should open with by default with Package Manager. Run/install it.
3. Now go to the Applications Menu, and run the app. This actually installs the application.
4. You may need to log out log in.
5. Now everytime you log in, it will be running. It will be on the top right for Linux.

Here are other applications that have crossed over from my Windows to Ubuntu just fine:
1. Citrix client - Again download the Deb package. Super easy install with Package Manager.
2. Nero CD/DVD burner has a version for Linux (Deb package) runs great.
3. Avast Antivirus - not as good as Windows version; but it installs. Viruses are not as much an issue on Linux, so I am not as concerned.
4. Keepass - You know I love Roboform, but they in their infinite wisdom refuse to have a Linux version, so Keepass has become my cross platform Password app. In Ubuntu 9.l0 the easiest thing is to use the Package Manager, don't bother trying to download and install manually. Make sure you have all the Universe Repository turned on. I like to have all of them turned on.

Delco

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 4

In order for using 3-D Graphics I had to do a little work.

1. Select the System menu/Administration/Hardware Drivers/Scan.
2. My Laptop is a Thinkpad T61, so it showed two choices of NVIDIA drivers. I chose the recommended one - NVIDIA 185 (Recommended). And selected "Activate".
3. It goes to download the driver, but you have to enter your password.
4. Open a Terminal Window, and type: nvidia-xconfig, enter.
5. You need to re-start xserver, so either sudo startx from terminal, or restart which will work.

Next I wanted to activate 3-D effects and activate the Cube.
1. Go to the System/Administration menu.
2. Select the Packet Manager
3. In Package Manager, install "compizconfig-settings-manager".
4. After that is installed, go to the System Menu/Preference
5. Select the compizconfig-settings Manager
6. In the effects, select 3DWindows/Enable Desktop Cube
7. Disable Desktop Wall because it is redundant with the Desktop Cube.
8. Restart again.
9. After that, go to the System Menu/Preference
10. Select the compizconfig-settings Manager
11. Select Desktop/Rotate Cube
12. Now in bottom right corner, you should be able to rotate the desktops. I like to have 4, but how ever many you like.

Delco

File is larger than the maximum size supported by data store

I created a VM with all the disks and configuration on one data store. That data store had been configured with the default 1 meg block size. I then configured another data store, but as I was configuring the vmfs I wanted larger block size. I used the 8 meg block size.

Before I added the second data store and added the disks to the Virtual Machine the Virtual Machine Snapshot worked good; but then I then noticed that I could no snapshot any more. The error I got was in part: "File is larger than the maximum size supported by data store".

The first obvious thing to me was, "shoot, I need to put all the vmdk(s) on the data store with the largest block size". To do this you have to do a Migrate of the data store. This is what is so cool about VMWARE with all the bells and whistles. If you have a drive (storage) filling up, you can just migrate the disks to another storage location while the machines are on. In my case, I shut it down because it was not in production anyway.

While doing a Migrate, I choose Data Store, and then Advanced on the next screen. Doing "Advanced" allowed me to pick and choose the different vmdk disks. I had 6 disks in this server and only wanted to move 4.

After it was done I powered on and tested the Snapshot. Still got same error. I did a little digging and it seemed like I had done the right thing, so I was perplexed. I asked a consultant and he said to open a case with VMWARE. I did. Surprisingly, I was on the right trail, but did not realize that I needed to move the "Configuration" file also. This puts all of the machine's files on the same Data Store. For this you do have to do a cold migrate.

I shut the VM down, and did the same steps I mentioned above, but this time while in the "Advanced" screen, I only chose the "Configuration File". Choose the same "data store" that the vmdk(s) were on and moved it. I did notice some extra messages I have not seen before. This referred to "registering with new host". That was interesting.

When it was done. I fired it up. I did a Snapshot. Voila! It worked.

One thing I noticed was that it took the VM out of the resource pool it was originally in. No biggie. I just dragged and dropped it back in.

VMWARE allowed me to do some heavy duty work without breaking much of a sweat. Pretty cool. I hope this helps somebody else.

For more information. Go to VMWARE's site and search on KB article 1012384
http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=1012384&sliceId=1&docTypeID=DT_KB_1_1&dialogID=75860431&stateId=0%200%2082517413

Delco

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 3

The next thing I tackled was the wireless networking on my Laptop. Ever since version 8, I do not think I have had many issues with the Wireless Networking in Ubuntu. Basically these are the steps to add a WPA Wireless Network:

1. Right Click Networking top right.
2. Edit Connections.
3. Wireless/Add.
4. Connection name: Give it any name you want, I just use the same as SSID.
5. SSID: SSID name.
6. Wireless Security.
a. Security: Wpa & Wpa2 personal
b. Password: xxxxxxx
c. Available to all users: I did yes (check box)
7. Apply.
8. Enter password (sudo password)
9. Authenticate.
10. Close.

Now if you are going to add a "hidden" network, left click on the Networking Icon, and choose "Add Hidden Wireless Network". Then follow the steps. I made the mistake, of doing the "Edit" then add, and even though I put in right information, it did not work; but if you choose the "Add Hidden Wireless Network", it seems to work great.

One thing I found is, that on the hidden Wireless Network that I connect to quite often, sometimes I have to fiddle with the on/off wireless button or the enable or disable network for it to connect. It will always connect, but sometimes it seems like I have to do that.

Other than that, the wireless on the Ubuntu 9.10 works pretty good. I might say again, that I am running on an IBM Thinkpad T61.

Delco

Rant on Antivirus

The question has become in my mind, and in the mind of others like me: Is it worth having antivirus software at all? It seems like every computer I fix (clean viruses), has antivirus on it. Also antivirus is the cause of much problems themselves. Even today, our Pastor's Computer would not work. The culprit, no, not a virus, but the antivirus software by Comcast. My friend who fixed it, said it basically pegged the Processor and you could not do anything at all.

I still believe in Antivirus, but in a layered approach. I think you are better off stopping as many as possible before they even get to the PC. Then isolating the browsing as much as possible, or using third party software to stop the scripts that are the cause for so much malware taking over the PC.

That aside, someone else asked this week for rating on Antivirus. Funny because I had just read an article in Maximum PC where they rated various packages. They gave Symantec a real good score, which to me is funny because I really don't care to much for Symantec. Here is another point. Opinions may differ based on the mileage that you have received. If at any point you experience trouble with antivirus software, you then form a bit of an opinion towards it.

Well, here is my little rant on what I think of various packages. Keep in mind that I am not trying to sway anyone to or from a package, although I would argue strongly for the point of Firewalls, isolation, and sand boxing when it comes to protection.

Generally this is some of the criteria I would evaluate Antivirus Software on:

1. Performance on the client: low cpu/mem (footprint), but good ratio of protection.
2. Ease of install.
3. Should not be intrusive.
4. Ease of use (schedules, updates, interface)
5. Price
6. *Important to larger installs* Management console: Roll out ease, upgrade, Maint!!!! Can't stress this enough.
7. Tech support or some kind of availability of Vendor.

1. Performance: 1. NOD32, 2. AVG (Workstation) - 1. Sophos (Server)
2. Ease of install: 1. On client they are about even: NOD32, AVAST, AVG (Standalone) 1. Sophos Workgroup or Enterprise - (but only because it works, it is still more complicated.)
3. Should not be Intrusive: 1. NOD32, AVG (Standalone) 1. Sophos (Workgroup or Enterprise).
4. Ease of use: 1. NOD32 2. AVG 3. AVAST (Worstation, Standalone) 1. Sophos (Workgroup or Enterprise).
5. Price: FREE is good for home, but not for Work: Home - I vote AVAST. Work: I do not vote. They all play games with pricing, but I would not pay for Symantec or McAffee.
6. Management Console - for home not an issue, for larger work-groups: 1. SOPHOS 2. Trend Micro 3. Pick your poison.
7. Tech Support: 1. Sophos Hands down (but you need to be under contract).

I use in my daily arsenal home/free/paid:

AVIRA (CD), AVAST (Windows and Linux) and NOD32. Also always install Malwarebytes. I also carry the slew of other Antiviurses and Spyware scanners including Combofix.
I highly recommend always setting up OPENDNS as the DNS service and turn on filtering.
I highly recommend Scanning emails AT the source: Postini or Google or whatever.
I highly recommend Scanning port 80 traffic at the source in/out - something like Barracuda or even something cheap or free.
I highly recommend Firefox with NoScript or Chrome (highest rated for security) - stay away for Internet Exploder and only use for what is needed.
One thing that at least the techies can do is sandbox your selves in a virtual machine for browsing and downloading - preferably a Linux VM with above mentioned browsers. because then, the chance of getting bit is pretty darn low.

What say you?

Delco

Monday, April 12, 2010

Darn .Net Frameworks updates!

Microsoft's Net Frameworks Service packs can be a pain to put on, not only do some take forever, but I have had problems putting them on. They fail to install. I found that this tool "dotnetfx_cleanup_tool" helps. It will uninstall all the Net Frameworks software, which allows you to start new and put them back on one at a time which seemed to fix my problems. I had to uninstall both 2 and 3. After I uninstall-ed them, I re-installed, then put on the updates and it worked.

Delco

Ubuntu Log - Entry 2

Ok,

The first I found out is that I could quit trying to install programs the old Linux way I had learned, that is, always from the command line. First look at the Synaptic Package Manager. If you need to install an old favorite Windows Program, you would be surprised how many have Linux versions. For example VLC. I have been using VLC for a long time, well is part of the Ubuntu packages.

Instead of creating on Log entry for each program, I am going to describe how to do the Package Manager, then list the programs that I found that I wanted already in there.

1. From the Ubuntu interface, select System, then Administration, and Synaptic Manager.
2. For VLC, just type vlc in the "quick search" and select vlc. You will notice that other items get selected automatically. The Package manager automatically knows what the dependencies are needed and installs them for you.

Other Programs I used in Windows that I found automatically in Package Manager:

1. Thunderbird
2. Putty
3. Sunbird

Also, this also means other programs that may not be Windows but that you had to install manually in the past. Look at Package Manager first before you try anything else. It will save you a lot of work.

Delco

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 1

Well, like I said, I have had to move to a more "Linux" world. Not totally, I still have my Windows world to maintain, but now I have to also work with Linux. Because of this, I needed to run Ubuntu on my Hard Drive, not just in a Virtual Machine as I had before.

Now not wanting to just blow away my Windows 7 installation. I first decided to use a fresh hard drive. So I kept my Ubuntu install in, and then switched to my Windows 7 when I needed to run Windows.

This worked OK for a couple of months, but I found it annoying. So for the first time in a long long time I went to a dual boot. Now I have not needed to dual boot for a long time since Virtual Machines are so easy to set up, but I need to run native both Operating Systems.

Why? I need Ubuntu on the hardware because I need to test it on the hardware. I need to see how it works in all situations running on the hardware. I have to switch to Windows because there are still applications that only run on Windows. For one my book keeping software, and I found that you can't beat Windows 7 for projectors. I had some problems with Ubuntu in that area.

Ok, I had a lot of work into the configurations of both my Windows and Ubuntu. So my idea was to take a fresh hard drive and image the Windows drive into one partition, and then take the image of the Ubuntu and put it in the remaining partition. For this job I used Terabyte imaging software for DOS. DOS is deceiving, it works on all Windows and Linux, they call it that for some odd reason. Then they had another product called "Boot Ng" that becomes your boot manager. It works great, but I could not get it to boot the Linux partition after I put it on there. The fault was me, I could not understand how to make it work that way.

So, for now I conceded and I will go back and figure it out later. I left the Windows partition on, cleaned out the Linux partition and installed Ubuntu fresh on that partition. From past experience it is always better on a dual boot between Windows and Linux to put Windows on first. Linux is a lot smarter with disks that Windows.

After putting Linux on, the dual boot worked perfectly. Next Personalizing Ubuntu.

Delco

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Frustrating Window problem: My Documents Opens Upon Boot!

My Documents Folder - Opens Upon Boot

To Stop Windows Explorer from opening My Documents: Check your settings here: Start/Run/Regedit

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

In the right pane under Userinit - Change the key that reads:

C:\Windows\System32\Userinit.exe,C:\Windows\System32\Userinit.exe
To:
C:\Windows\System32\Userinit.exe,

And also here: Start/Run/Regedit

Start/Run/Regedit

Replacing my Windows 7 Laptop with Ubuntu 9.10

I read an article a couple of years ago on Maximum PC where the editor decided he was going to switch from his Windows machine to a Mac for a period of 3 months (could of been different time), and force himself to learn the Mac. I have been using Ubuntu off/on since their version 6, but not as my main OS. After converting from Vista to Windows 7 early on -- I was running Windows 7 since beta all the way through the release last year, I was real happy. Windows 7 is a great improvement over Vista, and in my opinion an XP killer.

So why would I want to choose to change? Well, I kept looking at the things Ubuntu can do. I believed that it has become an Operating System that a normal user can use. Not a computer guy like me that can struggle and figure out weird computer things, but a normal type of "I just want to use the darn thing" type of user.

And, I also did want to be just a user. I actually need to do real work other than install, configure and trouble shoot my own laptop. In the past, I spent more time trying to get Linux to work, than actually doing any other work. With Ubuntu, there is a great productivity right out of the box. You really just install it and use it.

Now, don't let me kid you, because after just using it, I started to change it and see what makes it all tick. I also get great Linux experience, without having to go it alone. Ubuntu help on the Internet is great! Try searching for help on Red Hat vs. Ubuntu.

So I am going to write short blogs, each stating one thing I have done on my Ubuntu laptop to configure it the way I like it. Maybe by doing that, someone else will find it easier to do theirs.

I also would welcome any ideas or suggestions.

Delco

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

VMWare tools will not install while in easy install mode

Second article I had on this. The first one was installing a Windows machine, now in Red Hat 5 enterprise 64 bit Intel.

See screenshot:


The answer was simple in this case it was the autoinst.iso --- this could also be a floppy.flp, but not in my case. All I had to do is shutdown the machine (did not try with it on), and remove the device. After I did this, I powered it on, and the VMWare tools then were able to install. See Screen shot:



Delco

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Getting Juniper Networks NetConnect to work in Linux with Firefox

To get Netconnect to work.

First I installed the Java Plugin, which in my version of Ubuntu was fairly easy once I figured out that just installing Java was not enough. I also had to install the plugin for Firefox using the Synaptic Package Manager sun-java6-plugin.

Make sure you restart Firefox, and check that the plugin was installed by going to about:plugins

When you go through the VPN site, and Netconnect wants to start, I had to change the default password for root because that is the password it wanted --- could not sudo and do it, it wants only root password which in Ubuntu is set as a random hash by default.

Once I did that, it all worked and I successfully.

Delco

Install VMWare Workstation in Ubuntu

To install VMWare Workstation in Ubuntu 9.10, download it from VMWARE, you will need a license key, it is not free.

1. Once you downloaded it, put it on the the desktop.
2. Start a terminal session by going to Applications, Accessories, Terminal.
3. cd over to the Desktop - usually you start at your home folder, so cd Desktop.
4. run the following command (without quotes) "sudo sh VMware-Workstation-Full-7.0.1-227600.i386.bundle"
5. Run the install wizard as you normally would.

Happy VMing

Delco

Friday, February 19, 2010

Major beef with VMWARE

Anybody who knows me knows that I am pretty much a VMWare bigot. Well, here is a major beef I have with VMWare: VMWare uses a version of Linux for their service console - well, why then do they not supply VI clients for Linux? And not only that, but looks like they are only going to provide Windows based development in the future. Now they have Linux Workstation, and Converter for Linux, so it does not make sense not to provide VI Client for Linux. Real dumb I think since a lot of VMWARE users are Linux/Unix people.

So from my Linux Install, I have to run VMWARE Workstation for Linux with an XP Virtual Machine, so I can run VI Client to manage my ESXi server!

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Oh, yeah, dumb.

Delco

Monday, January 18, 2010

Windows 7 Aero

I don't know if this is a RANT or what ... but in December I installed Windows 7 Professional on an Intel PBZ875, 4 gigs or RAM, and 2 75 gig SATA drives. I also used an old Video Card that was running Windows 7 RC2 with Aero running just fine. I did not plan it that way, I was running 7RC2 on a different even older machine with a lot less guts with that card. It was just sort of an experiment.

When I installed the released version of Windows 7, I could not get Aero to work with the same card. I was just being cheap. But since it worked before with RC2, I thought it should work again. No. The rating on it is like 2.1 by Windows 7 ... but low and behold the other day Aero turned itself on!!! I don't know what happened.

It seems to me that the card should of been able to do Aero all along since it worked before .... The card is an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 - specs seem to suggest that it does support Pixel Shading and direct X 9.x which are requirements for Aero I believe. Maybe some of you Video Gurus can help me out on this one.

Why for over a month it would not work and all of a sudden it does? I did not make any changes. It is my Family PC used mostly for homework and some trivial work.

Default Windows driver since the manufacturer does not have drivers for Windows 7.

Anyway, I am enjoying the Aero but just waiting for it to turn off. Microsoft giveth, and Microsoft taketh away ;)

Delco

Monday, January 11, 2010

Virtual Machine as applications

I want to talk a bit about some of the ways that I have been using Virtual Machines. I have quite a few, here are a few that I want to make a note of.

First, you need VMWARE Workstation installed on at least one machine. I have it on my laptop. To just play the machines you need VMWARE player which is free from VMWARE.

Sandbox Browsing
One way that I have been using virtual machines is what I like to call a sandbox Internet machine. I created a Ubuntu Virtual Machine and installed the VMWARE tools. Once I got it working, I set it up so it can network between itself and my host machines which are often Windows XP or Windows 7. At work, I do not want any browsing to inadvertently pick up any virus or spy-ware. So I use VMWARE player to play my Ubuntu machine. I use it just like any application, but with Firefox in Ubuntu I find a very safe browsing machine. I can still download and transfer files between my Ubuntu machine and the host. Also cut and paste works pretty good between the Virtual machine and any host application that I have working. I use Dropbox to open and save files across all my machines (see next below) I like this setup so well, that I am thinking of possibly use it in every environment. [note: here is a pre-built Ubuntu appliance although it is version 8 so you don't even have to create it]

Single Application Machine
Another way is like I mentioned above, but this time my Virtual Machine is Windows XP. After I created it and put on all updates. I stripped down the services to bare minimum to make start-up and shutdown as fast as possible. I set the wallpaper and interface to maximum performance. Then I made sure that OneNote was working perfectly. I put this VM on a portable Hard Drive. Now I have my OneNote application in whatever machine I am on. This is important to me because I do not have OneNote available to me on my work machines, but with VMWARE player, I just plug my portable drive in play the machine. Now I do something else that I also do on my Ubuntu machine, I use Dropbox (Dropbox is cross platform. You can install it on Windows, Linux and Macs). With Dropbox, I keep my Notebooks in Dropbox which allows me to open my Notebooks with OneNote in any other machine that I have OneNote installed.

A Teaching Environment
A third way is actually a bunch of other ways. I also teach some Technical classes and I find VMWARE Workstation indispensable in that role. I every operating system I can installed in VM Workstation along with routers and Virtual Storage devices.

A Test and Development Environment
This is probably not needed to be mentioned, but this is the most efficient way to test and develop applications and set up test environments. You can isolate whole systems within your own PC/Laptop. I can easily create a whole Lan/Wan simulation and test real time environments. Test environments like these use to take me a great deal of time, numerous pieces of equipment and not to mention dollars. Not only that but the test environment was unmovable. With a Virtual Environment my test lab travels wherever I go. Again, I just could not work without it.

I really do not know how I use to work without Virtual Machine technology, but without it, I would be lost.

Delco