The Basics of the Windows Server 2008 Distributed File System (DFS)

For those of you who are not using Distributed File System (DFS) I would really encourage you to have a close look at what it is, and consider the value it will add to the management of your companys file system.

Ive found this excellent blog post by Jose Barreto (Senior Program Manager with the File Server Foundation team) called “The Basics of the Windows Server 2008 Distributed File System (DFS)” (Yes, I did copy the blog post title :-) )

Its a best practice to set up DFS for managing the file system, and I always encourage my clients to implement this for the following main reasons:

-Unified file structure (\domain.localShare-root) for file shares
-Future file server replacements will be transparent to users and applications
-Replication (WAN-scaling and redundancy)

DFS links (copied from Joses post):

TechNet on DFS
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753479.aspx

DFS Step-by-Step Guide for Windows Server 2008
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732863.aspx

DFSUTIL overview
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc782897.aspx

DFS Step-by-Step Guide for Windows Server 2003 R2
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc737358.aspx

DFS FAQ (from Windows Server 2003 R2)
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/techinfo/overview/dfsfaq.mspx

Troubleshooting Group Policy made easier

In Windows Vista/Server 2008 and newer operation systems from Microsoft the userenv.log file which was logging Group Policy processing information in Windows 2000/XP are replaced by a new event log named Group Policy. You can find it in the Event Viewer when you browse to Applications and Services Logs/Microsoft/Windows/GroupPolicy.

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The event categories found in the Group Policy event log:

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This really makes Group Policy troubleshooting much easier!

In addition to checking out the Group Policy event log on the client, I would also recommend the use of the Group Policy Modeling (simulating what is supposed to happen) and Group Policy Results (connecting to the client to see what did happen) wizards when troubleshooting Group Policy:

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Outlook Web Access not working after applying an Exchange 2007 Update Roll-up

Ive just installed Update Roll-up 7 for Exchange 2007 SP1, and afterwards the Outlook Web Access showed a blank page and there was a yellow exclamation mark in the bottom left corner, which stated “syntax error on line 6 of login.aspx”.

I first tried the solution Microsoft provided in this support forum thread, although it didnt work for me.
I had to re-create the OWA Virtual directory.

I accomplished this using these two PowerShell commands from the Exchange Management Shell:

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Actually the Microsoft Exchange Team stated the following reminder in the blog post regarding Update Roll-up 7:

“And finally, from the installation perspective, a friendly reminder that the roll-up installer will overwrite any OWA script files if required to ensure proper operation of OWA. So if you have customized the logon.aspx page or other similar OWA pages, you will need to redo any customization after installation of the roll-up.”

My recommendation would be to backup the C:Program FilesMicrosoftExchange ServerClientAccessOWA folder before installing an Exchange 2007 Update Roll-up.

Group Policy Preferences

 

GP Preferences was released with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It gives much more flexibility in addition to Group Policy Settings (administrative templates), and in some environments it may completely replace logon scripts.

 

Overview

GP Preferences Overview

To work with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 there must be installed client-side extensions. The most common and practical way to deploy these would be to approve them in WSUS.

If setup and managed from Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, GP Preferences may also be implemented in a Active Directory domain in Windows Server 2003 mode. This is described in more detail here.

Group Policy preference client-side extension can be downloaded here.

Group Policy Preferences overview whitepaper can be downloaded here.

 

Preferences vs. Settings (from the whitepaper)

Group Policy Preferences

Group Policy Settings

Enforcement

· Preferences are not enforced

· User interface is not disabled

· Can be refreshed or applied once

· Settings are enforced

· User interface is disabled

· Settings are refreshed

Flexibility

· Easily create preference items for registry settings, files, and so on

· Import individual registry settings or entire registry branches from a local or a remote computer

· Adding policy settings requires application support and creating administrative templates

· Cannot create policy settings to manage files, folders, and so on

Local Policy

· Not available in local Group Policy

· Available in local Group Policy

Awareness

· Supports non-Group Policy-aware applications

· Requires Group Policy-aware applications

Storage

· Original settings are overwritten

· Removing the preference item does not restore the original setting

· Original settings are not changed

· Stored in registry Policy branches

· Removing the policy setting restores the original settings

Targeting and Filtering

· Targeting is granular, with a user interface for each type of targeting item

· Supports targeting at the individual preference item level

· Filtering is based on Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and requires writing WMI queries

· Supports filtering at a GPO level

User Interface

· Provides a familiar, easy-to-use interface for configuring most settings

· Provides an alternative user interface for most policy settings

Also, see this blog post from the Group Policy team regarding GP Preferences vs GP Settings.

 

Example usage


Drive mapping

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Printer mapping

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Power Options

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Group Policy Resources 

Group Policy Team Blog

GPOGuy – whitepapers, blog, free tools and some excellent video trainings

GPanswers – newsletters, book resources, community forum and more.

IIS Powershell Snap-in released!

Microsoft have released the final version of the IIS PowerShell Snap-in to the download-sites:

IIS Powershell Snap-in (x86)

IIS Powershell Snap-in (x64)

 

Installation

Installation are straightforward:

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Getting started

When the installation are complete the IIS PowerShell Management Console are available on the Start menu:

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Cmdlets provided by the new PSSnapin:

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Example:

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Resources

IIS.net – Getting Started with the IIS 7.0 PowerShell Snap-in
IIS.net – additional articles and resources from IIS.net

Integration between MDT 2008 and SCCM 2007

Im scheduled for exam 70-635 (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008, Desktop Deployment) next Friday, and Ive been looking around for some study materials.
Microsofts exam information can be found here. Beside the preparation materials submitted by Microsoft there really arent much info about this exam to find. Although Ive found Garth Jones excellent wiki for this exam.

During the last months Ive been working quite much with MDT 2008. Ive not worked that much with System Center Configuration Manager 2007, so I didnt really understand the value of MDT on top of SCCM until I saw this excellent video by Richard Smith (Microsoft UK) posted on Technet Edge. If you are working with MDT or SCCM I would really recommend this video.

Beside this Ive read through the documentation provided in the MDT 2008 Workbench:

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If you know more resources for either MDT or SCCM (which I`m also planning to learn more extensively), please post a comment to this blog post.