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Category Archives: Automation

PowerShell – Using PowerShell 5 to automate the installation of your favorite Windows applications

In this blog post I will explain why to automate installations of Windows applications and how you can do this.

Why automate the installation of applications?

But first, why is this useful? Well this depends on your situation and there are probably many good reasons. For me though, it basically boils down to this:

  1. I often reinstall my computers with new (preview) versions of Windows operating systems and having to install applications each time is a waste of time. Also sometimes you forget to install some things.
  2. On a regular basis, friends and family either want me to install or upgrade their PC and I want to provide them with a standard set of programs that most people need/want without having to spend a lot of time on it. By example virus scanner, burning program, media player, codecs, etc.
  3. I want to update existing installed applications to the latest (and hopefully more secure and feature packed) versions.
  4. When installing applications, there are often checkboxes enabled to install other applications (you generally don’t want to install). Automated solutions using packages generally prevent these additional unwanted applications from installing.

Which tools to use to automate the installation of applications?

Before PowerShell 5 preview was released, I used both Ninite and Chocolatey to perform to automate installations. They both have their advantages as described on this wiki page.

The PowerShell 5 preview version of OneGet installs and searches software from Chocolatey repositories, but support of additional repositories will come in subsequent versions.

How to automate the installation of applications using PowerShell 5 preview?

To automate the installation of applications a couple of things are required:

  1. You need to determine which applications you want to install automatically.
  2. You need to determine the package name that Chocolatey uses for this application. Options include:
    -Using a browser to browse the Chocolatey packages
    -Using PowerShell and a part of the name of the application you’re looking for. By example if you’re looking for Irfanview, use:
    Find-Package -Name “fan”
  3. Store the package names to install somewhere (e.g. in a .txt file on OneDrive for easy access). My .txt file by example includes:
    AdobeReader
    Directx
    ffdshow
    Flashplayerplugin
    GoogleChrome
    Imgburn
    IrfanView
    Javaruntime
    Keepassx
    Mp3tag
    mpc-hc
    PDFCreator
    Silverlight
    TeamViewer
    Totalcommander
    Winrar
    greenshot
  4. Use the Install-Package cmdlet to install all the packages whose name is in the file from step 3.
    Install-Package -Name (Get-Content C:\OneDrive\AppsToInstall.txt) -Confirm:$False
  5. Wait for the programs to install

My opinion

It’s great to be able to use PowerShell to install my list of favorite applications similar to like I did with Chocolatey and I’m also looking forward to see what benefits the additional repositories will bring in the future.

I did encounter some errors however while trying to install some applications like Firefox and dotnet3.5. But since it’s still a preview, this will probably be fixed.

For regular users, I think they are better off sticking to by example Ninite because they’re often afraid of anything that involves a CLI.

Blog posts by other people about OneGet

Some other people have also blogged about the OneGet module and have gone in more technical detail, so be sure to take a look at their posts as well:

More information about PowerShell 5 Preview including a download link

Windows Management Framework v5 preview, includes also Desired State Configuration (DSC) improvements and NetworkSwitch commandlets to manage network switches that pass the Certified for Windows Program. For more information including a download link, you can read the initial blog post. : Windows Management Framework V5 Preview

 

 

 

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LazyWinAdmin – a great powershell script for more efficient Windows management

The last couple of months I’ve been playing around a lot with PowerShell and I’ve also been trying to make some nice GUI versions for my script using PowerShell Studio 2012 from Sapien Technologies Inc. While looking for more information how to best use PowerShell Studio 2012 I came across LazyWinAdmin.

LazyWinAdmin is a great tool created by Francois-Xavier C that will save you a lot of time. It provides you with most of the commonly used tools and commands in a very structured and easy to access way. In the picture below you can see what I mean.

For more info on the tool, take a look at the website and be sure to download and test it yourself.

If you want to take a look at other useful tools I’ve found in the past, take a look at my applications list.

 
 

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Home LAB Setup guide – 07 Make your lab available over the internet

In the first part of this LAB setup guide, I described the hardware selection process.
In the second part, I described the hypervisor selection and installation.
In the third part, I described VM guest considerations and preparations.
In the fourth part, I described Configuring Server 2012 VM as DC with DNS and DHCP using PowerShell
In the fifth part, I described easily creating (many) proper AD users with PowerShell
In the sixth part, I described creating a local PowerShell v3 Help Repository with PowerShell

In this post I will describe how you can make your lab available over the internet.

When you’ve created your home LAB, you want to be able to use it anywhere. Depending on your situation, one of these options probably best meets your needs.

Examples include the use of:

  1. Remote desktop connection to your server
    + Easy to configure (enable on server and configure NAT forwarding if appropriate)
    - On many enterprise or public networks TCP3389 is blocked by the firewall.
    - Connects only to specific server. Even though you access the rest of the network from there.
  2. VPN connection to your network
    • Using your hardware router
      + Connection to network, not just a server.
      - No dependency on Windows Server
    • Using Windows Server 2008 / 2012
      + SSTP VPN (TCP443), is generally not blocked on enterprise/public networks.
      + Connection to network, not just a server.
      - Dependency on Windows server.
      - Requires more configuration.
      - The root CA certificate for the certification authority (CA) that issued the server authentication certificate needs to be into the store Local Computer\Trusted Root Certification Authorities. For a self-signed certificate, this means that you need to have local admin permissions to add it.Note: DirectAccess is a great feature, but it requires the client to be a member of the domain. And in my case this would limit where I can connect from, therefore I don’t plan to use it. For other situations it might be a better solution though.
  3. Using 3rd party tools like logmein, teamviewer or VNC
    + Connects only to specific computer.

Since I want to be able to connect from within enterprise environments as well, I chose to use SSTP VPN in Windows Server 2012. The basic steps you have to perform, include:

  1. On the server, you have to install and configure the VPN service.
  2. On the server or your own PKI, you would want create and install a machine certificate. You can create a Certificate Signing Request and request a 3rd party public certificate. Alternatively you can create a certificate using your own Certificate Authority, or you could create a self-signed certificate, For creating the self-signed certificate you can use the great PluralSight SelCert tool.
  3. On the client, you have to make sure the created certificate will be trusted. This means you have to add the certificate to local system\trusted root certificate authority if you’re using a self-signed certificate, which requires local administrator permissions on the client.
  4. On the client, you have to set-up the VPN connection to the server. Preferably you want to connect by DNS name. For your home lab you can also utilize dynamic DNS services like by example no-ip.com or alternative solutions.

For some more information, you can also take a look at this:

 

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PowerShell – Manage printers

At work a colleague of mine was looking to modify printer permissions on a Server 2008 R2 terminal server using PowerShell. And to be honest, it was more difficult to do than I had expected.

So naturally, I started looking if someone had already created a script for this same purpose and eventually I found this great script created by Vadims Podans:
PrinterUtils.ps1 / Functions for advanced printer management

By leveraging this script, permissions were easily modified by adding the following lines:
$name = “Printername”
Get-Printer “localhost” $name | Add-PrinterPermission “corp\Domain Users” 0 “print”
Get-Printer “localhost” $name | Remove-PrinterPermission “everyone”
Get-Printer “localhost” $name

My modified script can be found here: http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Scripts/DispForm.aspx?ID=22

Be sure to check Vadims Podans website for other great resources: http://en-us.sysadmins.lv/

 

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VMware – PowerShell script to get (storage)vmotion history

Even though I’ve always liked VMWare vSphere, I thought the events and informational messages weren’t always as helpful as they could be.

One of the common things I want to know are the vmotions and storage vmotions that have taken place. Luc Dekens has created a great script that shows the (s)vmotions that have taken place including details about them.

Be sure to take a look at his website for the PowerShell / PowerCLI script including a detailed explanation:
http://www.lucd.info/2013/03/31/get-the-vmotionsvmotion-history/

 
 

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PowerShell – Getting Started with PowerShell 3.0 JumpStart July 18

I’m a big fan of the Microsoft Virtual Academy JumpStarts. Recently a PowerShell JumpStart has been announced as well that will be hosted by Jeffrey Snover and Jason Helmick. For more information and to register for July 18, take a look at : http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/liveevents/PowerShell-JumpStart. Apparently it’s even a 2 part series.

Also if you won’t be able to join the JumpStart live, the sessions will be recorded so you can view them whenever it suits you.

For those who missed it, this month there will also be JumpStart sessions for For Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. For more information and registration take a look at this blog post.

Hope to see you there.

 

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Create Active Directory Visio diagram automatically using Active Directory Topology Diagrammer ADTD

One of the least favorite tasks of many administrators is to document. Good administrators also don’t want to manually do things when it can be automated. This is where Active Directory Topology Diagrammer (ADTD) can help to automate documenting your Active Directory environment.

Recently I have been working on a new Active Directory OU design and used the Active Directory Topology Diagrammer to create a Visio diagram for the AS-IS situation. I have to say it worked great. Keep in mind though that it will show the OUs and not any other containers.

Besides documenting AD OUs, the Active Directory Topology Diagrammer can document many other things as well. Take a look at the article “How To Use The Active Directory Topology Diagrammer” or play around with it yourself to see what it can do.

The tool can also be very helpful when:

  • You’re in a new environment and need to get a quick overview of the Active Directory.
  • When there’s no documentation available or when the available documentation is outdated.
  • When you’re auditing the quality of documentation.

For more tools, take a look at my website: http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Applications/Summary.aspx

 

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Microsoft – New JumpStarts for Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 in July

At TechEd 2013 North America, Microsoft has announced a lot of new stuff. Many of the TechEd sessions have been recorded and can be viewed on Channel9. I’ll try to blog more about it as well.

For Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 the Microsoft Virtual Academy is hosting jump start sessions next month. For more information and registration take a look at this blog post.

 

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PowerShell – Video, presentation and script downloads from the PowerShell Summit 2013 North America

The PowerShell Summit took place in North America in April and many of the prominent PowerShell people were there. And from what I read there were a lot of great presentations.

The PowerShell Summit 2013 North America conference schedule can be found here. Thanks to Don Jones and PowerShell.org (most of) these sessions are available for download: http://powershell.org/wp/2013/04/22/summit-downloads/

Videos are available here:
http://powershell.org/wp/2013/05/07/powershell-summit-videos/

So even if you weren’t able to attend, you can still learn from their presentations. Or if you did attend, you can review them again.

 

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