I ran into an issue the other day while deploying a new VM in our Server 2012 development Hyper-V environment. I went through the new VM creation wizard, setting my folder paths, NIC, default memory at 512MB. I also specified that I wanted to install my OS via network installation in the wizard as I was planning to use MDT 2012 via PXE load.

I PXE booted my server, ran through the selections and kicked off the build. After a few moments my build failed with this error:

 

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I had seen this before months ago, but could not remember how I got past it. After analyzing my Deployment Share, looking at various scripts, and searching online, I increased the RAM from the default 512MB to 2GB, then tried my deployment again. It was then successful.

 

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UPDATE 06/20/2013 – Included steps to update Dell Firmware and BIOS. I also updated when to setup the /etc/mulitpath.conf file, updated the order of some software install steps and fixed some formatting and mistakes to make the process more smooth.

UPDATE 03/30/2013 – The original post used older tools to try and make this work. I had issues with multipath and decided to call Dell as my MD3000i was still in warranty. While they would NOT support this or my OS, they did offer me the latest Resource CD and answered a few questions along the way. Thanks to their help, and various blogs on the interwebs, I can confidently setup CentOS 6.4 to a Dell MD3000i utilizing MPIO. I’ve also submitted this blog to my technician, along with my /etc/multipath.conf file to share with the Dell ESS team should any other Dell customers inquire on this setup, they would have a reference. I’ve successfully setup three different Dell servers using this procedure.

Recently I worked on a project to stand up a CentOS based XEN environment using Dell hardware. I’ve used Linux in the past, mostly on test machines and for specific software vendor builds. My experience and day-to-day in my career has been in Windows Server administration, so I decided to extensively document my configuration and experience during the setup over a series of posts.

The hardware involved (minus switching, Cisco) in this project is all Dell, specifically, Dell PE servers (M600’s) and a Dell MD3000i. The XEN servers will be utilizing the iSCSI space for 3.8TB of R10 storage.We are using some specialty software that requires the use of CentOS, so the base OS for these boxes will be CentOS 6.4. By choosing CentOS 6, this will allow us to use XEN v4.

Dell supports RHEL6, so they inadvertently support CentOS 6 as well; however, the md3000i product is EOL, no further firmware updates have been released, and the resources will not officially support RHEL6. I documented my setup and configuration of the host components as I went and turned it into this guide so that anyone searching for help with this particular setup may be helped.

http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/os-applications/w/wiki/red-hat.aspx

 

Before beginning this guide, I assume that you have your server built fresh and are ready to begin configuration. Need help installing CentOS 6? You can find the ISO here:

http://isoredirect.centos.org/centos/6/isos/x86_64/
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Thanks to a very helpful blog from Jessica over at Cytanium, I have setup FREE email accounts for my domain, gabrielbeaver.me over at Outlook.com. I can create up to 50 email accounts and each will have full email, EAS, and 7GB SkyDrive storage for each user.

To see how to setup email for your custom domain, you can get started here or check out Jessica’s guide here.

After creating the email account successfully, I was unable to add the account to my Windows Phone 8. This may seem like a simple task, but it eluded me for a bit. In order to successfully get it working, I had to set the server address to:

blu-m.hotmail.com

Also make sure that “Server requires encrypted (SSL) connection is checked.

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I was unable to find this address anywhere in the documentation for WP8 or for custom domain email configuration. I only found this by comparing my default Outlook.com account I have configured on my phone. Hopefully this will help others who stumble into this.

Here is my quick Lumia 900 story. I walked into an ATT store in April this year to kill some time while waiting for some take out next door (Sticky Fingers, that place is awesome!). While walking around I noticed the Nokia Lumia 900 device, the first Windows Phone I had ever seen in person, seriously! I had heard some buzz about the device online, saw some advertisements, and decided to take a look at it. First impressions, the OS was much faster than my iPhone4, I thought the People Hub made sense, the Nokia Maps and Local Scout were nice features. It even had MS office integrated to work with SkyDrive (OneNote! iPhone app had corrupted some notes). I thought the email layout was much better. I did a little research on the net later that night, and decided to purchase next day and let my kids play games on my iPhone.

During the next several weeks buzz started to stir up about Windows Phone 8 (WP8). At first I didn’t pay much attention. I figured my Lumia 900 is only a few weeks old, shouldn’t be a problem. As more and more information started to funnel out through tech sites, blogs, and wpcentral, it started becoming more clear that I may have bought a phone that, while great in its own right, would be in a dead platform in six short months from release.

Eventually it came out that, no my Lumia would not be able to upgrade to WP8. There would be all new hardware for WP8, including a new Nokia Lumia 920 with wireless charging, a better camera, a new OS, and for the same price I paid 6 months ago. Oh and by the way, you aren’t eligible for a phone upgrade for another 14 months. If I just would have waited! But alas I didn’t know. I still enjoyed the Lumia 900, but it soured me a bit that I couldn’t upgrade and take advantage of the new features.
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The purpose of this blog is to introduce two new features “Storage Spaces” and “File History” that are available and built-in to Windows 8. These features are great additions to Windows 8 individually and if used together, you can easily put in place a backup system very much like what is available in Mac OSX called “Time Machine”. Hopefully with my advice and using my configuration as a guide, you too can setup backups for your PC. Backups are something that can be a pain to configure and are often forgotten, until your hard drive dies. If you’ve ever been in a situation where your hard drive has died and you have NO backup, you know how painful this is! These new features look to take the pain out of setting up backups. Friends don’t let friends neglect their backups!

First we’ll cover Storage Spaces. The idea behind Storage Spaces is that you can create a Storage Pool that includes one or more hard drives and present them as a single volume. That may sound complicated, but let’s take a look at my setup so you can see what this looks like. Let me explain what I have setup. I bought a Media Sonic USB hard drive enclosure from Amazon for ~$130 that holds four hard drives and connects to my computer via a simple USB connection. You can find that unit here, I highly recommend it:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002UUPWP6/ref=ox_ya_os_product

I have 2x 1TB Samsung drives and 2x 2TB Hitachi drives in that unit. I created a single Storage Pool in the Storage Spaces Manager that puts all those physical drives together into a single Storage Space. I named the pool “Storage_Space” and assigned the F: drive letter to it. Below is a screenshot from Storage Spaces Manager followed by what it looks like in My Computer.

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Setting up a Storage Space is easy, just connect up the drives you want to use for backups or storage of your data (I highly recommend a USB enclosure for this) and go to Control Panel > System and Security > Storage Spaces. Then select, Create New Pool and Storage Space.
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These days annoying advertisements, popups, and spyware are still alive and quite well. Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer have some good built-in Pop-up blockers and available plug-ins, but they don’t always catch everything, especially advertisements. There are many software products and plug-ins out there that promise to help keep you safe and block known bad sites. Many of them work, but most of them cost money. In this guide, I’ll show you a simple tweak you can do for FREE to help block known bad and malicious sites.

Do you use playlists on Youtube, Pandora, or Grooveshark and get interrupted between videos or songs for 30 seconds or more with annoying political ads and such? Do you want to protect your kids from adult websites or want to block your kids from www.facebook.com for fun (devious but hilarious)? I can help you do this without any extra plug-ins or paid products.

In this post I’ll be showing you how to utilize your HOSTS file to protect your computer in a simple yet effective way. Using this guide, in combination with Microsoft Security Essentials for your Antivirus (highly recommended AV for Windows users!) and smart web browsing habits, you’ll keep your PC out of trouble Smile.

First, let’s explain what the HOSTS file is. The HOSTS file is the first place that your PC looks to match a hostname with an IP address. “What the heck are you talking about, Gabe?!”

Let’s take the website www.google.com as an example. When you type in www.google.com into your web browser your computer needs to match the words you entered with an IP address to serve you the content. Your computer will check your local HOSTS file first, and then if there is no match to www.google.com, it will then check your configured DNS servers(Domain Name Server). A DNS Server’s job is to catalog matching IP addresses and hostnames.

Let’s say I wanted to block access to www.google.com on my computer. By pinging www.google.com I see the IP address is 74.125.137.106. We would make an entry in the HOSTS file to block this.

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First you need to open Notepad as an Administrator. It’s very easy, just hold the shift key and right-click Notepad, then select Run As Administrator (Notepad can be found in the “C:\windows” folder) Then click File > Open then enter the below in the File Location:

“C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc\HOSTS”

ProTip – You have to open Notepad as an Administrator then open the HOSTS file because it is protected from non-administrative user changes. This is a good thing.

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Anything that starts with “#” is commented out (ignored) for note purposes, so as far my computer is concerned, this file is blank. These notes are very helpful and explain the use of the HOSTS file completely. Notice that localhost is 127.0.0.1. That IP address is a loopback adapter that exists on every computer. Anything we point to 127.0.0.1 in this file will not leave your computer. Further explanation of loopback is beyond the scope of this posting, just trust me it works.

I am going to add an entry for www.google.com to 127.0.0.1, then click File > Save As and make sure it saves as HOSTS and not HOSTS.txt. Then test.

Here I’ve added the entry:

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Here I am making sure it is NOT going to be saved as a .txt file, it will ask if you want to replace the existing select YES:

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I then went back to my web browser and tried to access www.google.com. It doesn’t work now!

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And here is what the ping looks like, notice it replies with 127.0.0.1. Since I am not running www.google.com on my PC, nothing is presented in my web browser.

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From this quick example, you can see how useful this could be!

Now here is where I will show you where to get an excellent list of bad, malicious, and spyware ridden domains that you can add to YOUR hosts file. This file is updated every 30-60 days or so, I recommend visiting it every so often to keep your file as up-to-date as possible.

Just visit this site here:

http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt – for full HOSTS file text
http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm – for full information on the HOSTS file and the last time the list was updated.

Select all the text on the first link (it will look a lot like your hosts file), copy it, paste it into your HOSTS file, then save it (Remember to do Save As, to make sure Notepad does not save the file as hosts.txt)

Here is a screenshot of just a small portion of the file, notice ads and adult site names in the list:

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IMPORTANT – If you ever have an issue loading a website and you suspect that this hosts file is blocking the site for some reason, simply select all the text, delete it, and save it as an empty file. Then test your site again. You can apply and revert changes to your HOSTS file anytime you want and any changes to the file are instant once saved.

Here is a screenshot with the HOSTS file enabled for a video website. Notice instead of an annoying, flashy ad, I have a nice Chrome emblem and a message that says, “sorry this ad couldn’t be loaded” Horray for no ads! Smile

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Hopefully you’ll find this useful. Do you use the hosts file on your computer already? Do you use any other utilities or built-in windows functionality to protect yourself online that many people many not be aware of? Let me know in the comments section…

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to ping a server? Most everyone that has used a computer has done this at some point. As a System Administrator, I use this utility on a daily basis. Just fire up a command prompt or PowerShell and type, “ping MYSERVER01” and press enter. Easy peasy, right?

What if you needed to ping a long list of hundreds or thousands of servers? What if you also wanted that results to be put into a text file or csv file? I was put in this situation this week and instead of manually pinging thousands of servers (because we all know that would be SO much fun!), I made a custom script that will do it for me. Here is how I did it. Hopefully other sysadmins out there find this useful.

I had a list of servers in XLS format that I exported from System Center Configuration Manager 2012, it looked something like this, except they were different names and I had over a thousand of them:

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Next, I added in some fields that would aid me in converting this into a text editor to make it scriptable. On each row, I added a ping before the server name and Parameters afterwards. Now it looked like this:

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Next, I selected the contents of all these cells, copied to my clipboard, opened Notepad, and pasted the data in. It looked like this:

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Next, I selected the space between ping and the server name, and copied this to the clipboard.

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Then I clicked “Edit” and then selected “Replace”, in the “Find What” field I pasted the copied space, in the “Replace With” field, I simply pressed spacebar one time. Then pressed Replace All.

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Now I need to set the parameters for each ping. I wanted my script to attempt to ping each server in the list twice and pipe the output to a text file in this location “c:\temp\IP_Results.txt”. This would be accomplished by Replacing “Parameters” with “-n 2 >> “c:\temp\IP_Results.txt” “ and then pressing Replace All.

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Now I have my text exactly the way I need it, I even added a message at the end as a reminder of where the data will be:

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Now I just needed to save the file as a PS1 and run it. I saved it as “Gabe_Test_Ping.ps1” to my desktop, launched PowerShell, and away it goes. In the below screenshot, noticed it processed the entire script and wrote out my Write-Host entry at the very end.

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And here is my text file, these servers don’t exist so all of the pings failed:

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Note – To launch a PowerShell script in your current working directory, you have to use “.\” in front of your script path.

Note2 – Also if you are unable to execute the script, check your Execution Policy settings. For information about setting this policy issue a “get-help Set-ExecutionPolicy –detailed” from PowerShell. Below are your options, in my lab I use Unrestricted.

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I am very much a “scripting” novice, but I made the data and tools work for me. Instead of pinging over a thousand servers one by one, I can initiate a simple script and be much more productive with my time. With PowerShell you can work smarter, not harder! Would you have done this differently? Do you have any other administrative tasks you’ve automated in your enterprise? Let me know in the comments section.

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What is WebMatrix? WebMatrix is lightweight development tool that you can use on your computer to develop and publish your websites. With WebMatrix, you can start with blank sites, utilize ASP .NET and PHP templates, or use Application Gallery to setup Blogs and CMS sites (WordPress, Orchard CMS, Drupal, and more)  eCommerce sites, Forums, Galleries, Wiki sites, and much more.

You can download the software installer here and you can find some excellent How To guides after you install WebMatrix here.

Once you download the software on the site, run the exe to begin the Web Platform Installer 4.0.

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By clicking the items to be installed link, you can see what components will be installed as part of the installation:

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On the next screen, you’ll see the Prerequisites and also need to accept the license agreement to proceed.

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Then your installation will begin:

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Near the end of the installation, we’ll need to reboot so that we can complete the install:

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After the restart, the installation will proceed:

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Then it will finish shortly:

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Once you click finish, WebMatrix will display its logo in the center of the screen and launch to the Quick Start screen where you can:

-Open an existing site you’ve created
-Choose from a Template
-Setup a site from the App Gallery (WordPress, Orchard CMS, Drupal, etc..)

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Templates:

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App Gallery:

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As you can see the installation of WebMatrix is quite easy. Even a caveman can do it? :)

Again, check out the official WebMatrix homepage for more information.

I am running Windows 8 RTM and even since the RC I have had intermittent issues with Windows Live Messenger. I use this for messaging people at work at all hours of the day and for chatting with Facebook friends on occasion. After being signed in for more than a day in some cases, I find that even though my Status is set to Away, Busy, or Online I am appearing offline to everyone.

When I try to open and close Live Messenger I get an error, that says it cannot log me in Live network and asks me to Retry or Cancel. Retry always fails. In the error message there is an error code in the error details dropdown: 80010100

In order to get logged back in I had to open task manager and kill the “Windows Live Communications Platform (32 bit)” process:

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After doing this I can now login without issue and I don’t have to reboot to do so.

Hope this helps someone who may encounter this same error message!

Today I released a blog post over @OrcsWeb on how to install WebDeploy on Windows Server 2012 with IIS8.

Check it out there:

http://www.orcsweb.com/blog/gabe/how-to-install-webdeploy-on-windows-server-2012/