April 2 2013

SQL Server guide for System Center 2012

Today I came across a great post today on with comprehensive information on SQL configuration for System Center 2012.  Even if you aren’t deploying System Center products, this is still a great guide for configuring SQL for optimal performance and best practise.

Link is http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/SQL-Server-guide-for-8584c403

 



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August 1 2011

SCCM unattended OSD with bootable USB drive

Here’s a neat trick to created an unattended USB boot disk for deploying SCCM OSD task sequences. The machine that you are going to use for this process needs to have the SCCM console loaded on it. The machine also needs to be a Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 or higher Operating System, this process will not work on Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Also log onto the machine with an account that has administrative privileges.

  1. Attach the USB Flash Drive to a Windows Vista, 7 or Server 2008 machine (won’t work with XP or 2003)
  2. 2. Open an administrative command prompt window (cmd.exe) and start DISKPART
  3. At the DISKPART> prompt type ‘List disk’
  4. Determine which disk number corresponds to the USB flash drive
  5. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Select disk x’ where x is the disk number that the USB flash drive corresponds to
  6. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Clean’
  7. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘List Partition’. If there is a partition, at the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Select Partition 1’ then type ‘Clean’ or even try ‘Clean all’ if the partitions won’t go away
  8. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Create Partition Primary’. If you receive an error at this stage regarding not being able to create a partition, the USB Flash Drive is not capable of being made bootable and will not work as an SCCM 2007 bootable Task Sequence Media. Please restart the process using a different USB Flash Drive.
  9. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Select Partition 1’
  10. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Format FS=FAT32 QUICK’
  11. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Active’
  12. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Assign’
  13. At the DISKPART> prompt, type ‘Exit’
  14. From the SCCM console, right-click on the Task Sequence and select Create Task Sequence Media. Follow the prompts to create a USB boot disk.
  15. Once created, on the USB drive, navigate to SMSDataTSMBOOTSTRAP.INI
  16. Open TSMBOOTSTRAP.INI and change line Unattended=false to Unattended=true
  17. Save the changes to TSMBOOTSTRAP.INI

 
You can now boot your machine onto the USB drive (BIOS support required of course) and as long as you have a mandatory advertisement for a OS task sequence and the required computer association in SCCM, you should be fine! Generally much faster the PXE or CD / DVD booting!

If you need to make a few and know that USB is disk 1, you could use a diskpart script (diskpart.txt in this case) something like this (check before you use it!):

Select disk 1
Clean
Create Partition Primary
Select Partition 1
Format FS=FAT32 QUICK LABEL=”SCCMOSD USB”
Active
Assign
Exit

And then just run diskpart /s diskpart.txt
 
 

November 18 2009

Migrating email to Google Apps

I recently made the choice to move my email hosting to Google Apps after having several bad experiences with my previous email hosting provider.

I decided to use the ‘free’ Standard Edition which seemed to meet my requirements. It was a surprising easy transition which involved the following steps:

  • Verify domain ownership – this required me to upload a small file to my www.danovich.com.au website to provide that I had ownership of the domain
  • Create accounts – using the Google Apps web interface, I created new accounts for all users using danovich.com.au
  • Google Email Uploader – I used this fantastic tool to upload all of my email from my existing Outlook PST file. It was a very easy to use tool and can be stopped and started as  needed. My Outlook emails then started to appear in the Google Apps web interface. It also preserved information such as sent dates and sender/recipient data, as well as the folder structure used by Outlook.
  • Change MX DNS records – I updated the domain MX records to point to the Google servers, which also provided many more entries than previous hosting company, giving an added level of comfort
  • Imported my Outlook calendar into Google Apps

So far I’ve found Google Apps to have a fantastic web interface and I’ve also configured an IMAP connection so that I can still use the feature of Outlook if required. I’m really enjoying the powerful search within Google Apps as well as the web-based Offline mode provided by Gears.  I still have access to all of my old emails throught a single interface and not a single email was lost for any users during the transition.

The only negative thing I have found so far is that with the web-based version of Google Apps, you cannot set a default font for when you compose an email, which can be quite frustrating.

I now gain the benefits of hosting email for free with a company like Google, which give me many connectivity options and allows for almost unlimited customization. Overall, this was a very painless experience and I would highly recommend it as a solution to anyone having issues with email hosting.

May 29 2009

Creating a Windows Server 2003 or 2008 Cluster within Hyper-V using iSCSI shared storage

Shared disk options when trying to create a cluster using virtualized nodes within Microsoft Hyper-V are very limited – in fact, only iSCSI will work! You can no longer use a shared SCSI device as you could with older Microsoft virtualization product or like you can with products from VMWare.

I was happy to find that StarWind offers a free iSCSI Target Server (http://www.starwindsoftware.com/) – it’s very simple to install and share out storage and best of all it is free – great for test / dev environments.

Gavin McShera has a fantastic step-by-step guide on how to set up a 2008 cluster in a Hyper-V environment over here –> http://blogs.technet.com/pfe-ireland/archive/2008/05/16/how-to-create-a-windows-server-2008-cluster-within-hyper-v-using-simulated-iscsi-storage.aspx