What does the user see when running an OS Deployment with “Modena”?

As a follow-up on my previous post about User Driven OS Deployment with “Modena”, I will show in this post what a user sees during a OS Deployment with Modena. Why am I writing this post? Well… because I got a lot of questions about this and for some reason not everybody has the time (like I still have) to test this their self…

Under here are all the different pages the user can see during the OSD Wizard. All these pages are editable with the ModenaDesigner. For how to change these pages, take a look at the links provided in my previous post.

Welcome Page 01_Modena Preflight Page 02_Modena
Computer Page 03_Modena User Config 04_Modena
Language Page 05_Modena Volume Page 06_Modena
Application Page 07_Modena Summary Page 08_Modena

During the actual installation and configuration of the computer, Modena also takes care of a better insight in what is happening. Under here are the different states that Modena shows during the installation.

System Backup    09_Modena_Background Install Image           10_Modena_Background
Windows Setup 11_Modena_Background Install Applications 12_Modena_Background
Restore Backup 13_Modena_Background Deployment Complete 14_Modena_End

User Driven OS Deployment with “Modena”

It took a while but this weekend it was finally time for some testing of, what’s code-named, “Modena”. Modena is a tool, developed by Microsoft IT, that enables the ability of an End-User Experience by using a powerful OSD Wizard.

ModWelcWhen you are searching for a way to get your users “involved” in an OS Deployment, then I would recommend you to take a look at Modena. The OSD Wizard of Modena (see picture) can be changed in a lot of different way’s. As an administrator you can select which settings can be done by a user and which are pre-set. By these customizable settings you can think about things like computername, domain, local administrators, language, time, image, backup (via USMT 4.0) and the applications. The nice thing about the applications is that you can first do a scan of the computer to see what applications are currently installed. Based on the results of this scan, applications can get pre-selected (or not). Besides al of these settings Modena also provides a better insight in what is happening with the computer during the Task Sequence.

To make a long story short, take a look at Microsoft Connect to get Modena: 
>> https://connect.microsoft.com/site868 <<

Also take a look at the following links for setting up Modena…
1. Getting started with Modena – Step 1 – Installing Modena: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/archive/2009/12/15/getting-started-with-modena-step-1-installing-modena-rc2.aspx
2. Getting started with Modena – Step 2 – Create OSD Packages: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/archive/2009/12/16/getting-started-with-modena-step-2-create-osd-packages.aspx
3. Getting started with Modena – Step 3 – Importing Task Sequences: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/archive/2009/12/17/getting-started-with-modena-step-3-importing-task-sequence.aspx
4. Getting started with Modena – Step 4 –Introduction to OSD Designer: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/archive/2009/12/17/getting-started-with-modena-step-4-introduction-to-osd-designer.aspx
5. Getting started with Modena – Step 5 – Using Modena Online Services: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/archive/2009/12/18/getting-started-with-modena-step-5-using-modena-online-services.aspx
6. Getting started with Modena – Step 6 – Setting Up Applications: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/archive/2009/12/28/getting-started-with-modena-step-6-setting-up-applications.aspx

…and take a look at these links for the story behind Modena.
General Cravings of OSD: http://blogs.technet.com/osd/
Windows 7 Deployment Guide: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ee676738.aspx

Installing/ Deploying Windows Live Writer with ConfigMgr 2007

First of all, this post is not (meant as) a Step-By-Step. I will just show the big picture. As I like to install everything with ConfigMgr 2007, I also wanted to install my blogging tool with ConfigMgr 2007. My blogging tool is Windows Live Writer, nice, simple and easy. As it was kind of hard to find information about which command-line to use, the command-line will be part of this post.

To install/ deploy Windows Live Writer with ConfigMgr 2007, simply follow the next 4 steps:

  1. Download the full installer of Windows Live (WLSetup) here: http://download.live.com/*.
  2. Create a new Package in ConfigMgr 2007 (Site Database > Computer Management > Software Distribution > Packages) and point the Data Source to the location where you keep the installer.
  3. Create a new Program with the newly created package and use the command-line: wlsetup-all.exe /AppSelect:Writer /quiet. This command-line will only install the Windows Live Writer and is based on this article: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd550747.aspx.
  4. Create a new Advertisement of the newly created program and it is all ready to install/ deploy!

* Keep in mind that it will first start with downloading the web installer. Cancel this download and press “Try Again”, this time it will start to download the full installer.

The best (free) tools for ConfigMgr 2007!

This time I want to devote a post to some of the best (free) tools for ConfigMgr 2007. These tools can make it a lot easier to manage, troubleshoot and develop you ConfigMgr 2007 environment.

Using Task Sequence Variables to make life a bit easier in ConfigMgr 2007

Sometimes you think you’ve got it all, so you start looking for things to make it better and easier. Well…, to be honest I’m not even close to having it all, but I am looking to make things better and easier. This is why I started looking more on using Task Sequence Variables, because they can make life a whole lot easier. In this post I will use a Task Sequence Variable to prevent the need of building two separate Task Sequences.

Let’s start with telling the scenario. I have a Task Sequence that I use for a computer-refresh by using hard-links (take a look at thisprevious post). Now I want to use the same Task Sequence to perform a clean install.TSVariable Of course it’s easy to just say, like in the default Install Task Sequence, that the step of Capture User Files and Settings only has to run when _SMSTSInWinPE equals TRUE. The only problem for me with this is that you have to set the step Restore User Files and Settings to Continue on error. I only want an error when there is really something wrong, not just because the Task Sequence can’t locate a store that doesn’t exist…

This is where the fun starts and where it makes sense to create a Task Sequence Variable. In this scenario the computer-refresh can only be started in FullOS, so when the Task Sequence gets started from WinPE it is not needed/ possible to perform a computer-refresh. This is why the first step in my Task Sequence (red arrow) only creates a Variable when _SMSTSInWinPE equals TRUE. I create here a Variable called CaptureRestoreUserFilesSettings with the value NO. Now I can use this Variable in the rest of the Task Sequence to decide whether or not some steps have to run. The steps Capture User Files and Settings and Restore User Files and Settings (first and third red rectangle) will only run when my Variable CaptureRestoreUserFilesSettings not equals NO. So that’s always except for when the Task Sequence started from WinPE. It’s not necessary to give the Variable a different value when the Task Sequence is running in FullOS, because when the Variable doesn’t exists it can’t equal NO either (nice and cryptic).  The step Partition Disk 0 (second red rectangle) will only run when CaptureRestoreUserFilesSettings equals NO. So that’s only when the Task Sequence is started from WinPE.

This same construction can of course be used in many different ways and scenario’s, all I tried to do is showing an example. To conclude this story, I don’t say that you have to use Task Sequence Variables, but I do say that it can make your life a lot easier.

Data Source Settings of the Reporting Services in ConfigMgr 2007 are grayed out

Since the release of ConfigMgr 2007 SP2, I’m running ConfigMgr 2007 SP2 R2 (in Native Mode) on Windows Server 2008 R2. After installing the ConfigMgr Reporting Services Point I noticed that I couldn’t configure the Reporting Services, because the Data Source Settings where grayed out.

After doing some research and searching online I came on the FAQ about Reporting Services from the ConfigMgr Team. For those FAQ’s take a look at this link: http://blogs.technet.com/configmgrteam/archive/2009/05/14/faq-sql-reporting-services-integration-with-system-center-configuration-manager-2007-r2.aspx

One of these FAQ’s is the following: Do we support https enabled report server instances?

There are known issues in the R2 release with https enabled report server instances. There are some methods in the reporting services webservices  API that are inherently secure  methods and if SSL is configured on a report server instance these methods  cannot be invoked via http and require https connections. Internally, since we leverage some of these APIs, we fail to perform some actions.

Workaround: Unfortunately there is no easy workaround for this other than to not use SSL enabled report server instances. However there is a configuration setting that can be tweaked to get around this problem but it is NOT recommended to tweak this setting if the report server instance is hosting other reports (not specific to Configuration Manager).

Open the rsreportserver.config file using notepad and search for the property "SecureConnectionLevel". This value should be set to 3 (or some value > 0) for secured report server URLs. Change this value to 0 and save the rsreportserver.config file. (The default location for the default instance is under [SystemDrive]:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSRS10.MSSQLSERVER\Reporting Services\ReportServer).

After using this workaround it all worked like a charm!

Error trying to open the ConfigMgr Console

Last week I had some problems with opening the ConfigMgr Console. The weird part was that the error only appeared for one user. This was the error I got: MMC cannot open the file <driver>:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Configuration Manager\AdminUI\bin\adminconsole.msc. This may be because the file does not excist, is not an MMC console, or was created by a later version of MMC. This may also be because you do not have sufficient rights to the file.

Then I figured that, because the ConfigMgr Console is a MMC snap-in, it creates a version in the user profile. Because I use Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 it is located at: <Drive>:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\MMC\adminconsole.msc.

So after deleting the version from the profile and restarting the ConfigMgr Console it all worked like a charm.

ConfigMgr 2007 and Binary Differential Replication

In a previous post I already mentioned Binary Differential Replication (BDR). In this post I will also show how to configure it. ConfigMgr 2007 can use BDR to update package source files with a minimum of additional network traffic. When ConfigMgr 2007 updates the source files for a package, and uses BDR, it sends the parts of the package that have changed since the last time the package was sent. So BDR will work after the source files have already been distributed. This minimizes the network traffic, especially when the package is large and the changes are small. A file is considered to be changed if it has been renamed, moved, or its contents have changed.

BDR will work as long as a site has a one of the previous five versions of the package. The originating site keeps track of the differences between the current version and the previous five versions. AppPackPropIf a site has an older version of the package, the originating site will send the entire package.

How to enable Binary Differential Replication

  1. Open the Configuration Manager console and browse to System Center Configuration Manager > Site Database > Computer Management > Software Distribution.
  2. Select a Software Package and click in the Actions pane Properties to open the <Software Package> Properties.
  3. Select the Data Source tab and check the Enable Binary Differential Replication checkbox (see the picture).

BDR has to be enabled on every single Package.

ConfigMgr Client failed to download policy

Sometimes it happens that a client cannot get its policies and the only errors you can find are that the Download of policy [PolicyID, PolicySource, PolicyVersion] failed (PolicyAgent.log) and that the DTSJob is in state ‘Error’ (DataTransferService.log). The weird part in here is that the client can connect to the Management Point (MP).

By looking at it with BitsAdmin it shows that not all the policies can be downloaded. The errors that it shows, look like there are problems with WMI. Now that the problem is located it is easy to solve. The only thing that has to happen is to repair WMI and to re-register the WMI Services.

How to repair and re-register WMI

  • Stop the WMI Service (winmgmt),
  • Remove the folder Repository in %systemroot%\system32\wbem,
  • Start the WMI Service.
  • Re-register the WMI Services (For this it is possible to use the following three commands:
    1. cd /d %windir%\system32\wbem
    2. for %i in (*.dll) do RegSvr32 -s %i
    3. for %i in (*.exe) do %i /RegServer)

ConfigMgr 2007 SP2 is now officially released!

I can be really short about this… … …ConfigMgr 2007 SP2 is now officially released! For a download and a overview take a look here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=3318741a-c038-4ab1-852a-e9c13f8a8140