Automatically Adding Users to a Windows 2003 Server

27. November 2006 13:35 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

A crucial part when carrying out training labs is setup. Without a well thought plan that takes into consideration everything that can go wrong (because it will), your labs are toast. We've done about ~70 trainings so far and in every one of them something pops up. With more and more trainings, you start to develop a sixth sense of complete and utter pessimism that will help you identify problems before they even show up.

That being said, we are in the middle of testing all of the setup for a series of Virtualization training labs in December 2007. We needed a way to quickly and painlessly add a bunch of users to a Windows 2003 Server. The following is the series of commands to create a user callled student1 on the server with Administrative priviledges that belongs to domain admins and an account that never expires:

net user student1 p@ssw0rd /ADD /DOMAIN
net group "domain admins" student1 /ADD /DOMAIN
net localgroup Administrators student1 /ADD
net accounts /maxpwage:unlimited /DOMAIN

There are plenty more of options so check out the net command to find a command that best suits your need.

TSA providing Airport Security Checkpoints Wait Times

18. November 2006 09:32 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Whether you travel a lot or just a few times per year, you have probably noticed the nuisance that it is dealing with the security checkpoints.  Depending on the airport you are in, it can easily take you anywhere from 20 minutes to up to an hour (in my experience, MIA is the worst airport in waiting times for anything - even for a sandwich!).  If you are flying in internationally to the US and you need to make a connection, there really is no way of knowing how bad the security checkpoints are to see if you are going to make your flight - until now.

TSA has published this web page that lists the estimated wait time when going through security.  By selecting a couple of check boxes, you can get detailed information on the average wait time to arrive at a particular gate at a particular time.  This can really help you out beforehand in case you will miss your flight to reschedule a new one ASAP.

Error Starting Carmine: The credentials provided do not have sufficient privileges on localhost

14. November 2006 13:10 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Today, while creating the final image for our SCVMM (System Central Virtual Machine Manager), one of the guys in our team stumbled into a problem in which the SCVMM (which I will refer to as Carmine from now on), was refusing to start up even though we had met every pre-requisite it had listed.  We were completely baffled, the error given was:

Access denied while contacting the Virtual Machine Manager server.  The credentials provided do not have sufficient privileges on localhost.(ID: 1605)

The account had full admin privileges, so what could be wrong?  The machine had joined our domain, how come it did not have the right credentials?  Well, after a while Jose suggested to check if the DNS were set to that of the domain controller (see previous entry regarding this) and indeed that was the culprit.  After setting the DNS severs, Carmine started up without any problems.

Virtualization Training

10. November 2006 15:57 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Are you new to Virtualization?  Do you want to learn the best ways to manipulate Virtual Server using the Virtual Server API?  Do you want to learn about future Microsoft Virtualization technologies such as Carmine and VT support in Longorn?  Well, today is your lucky day.

In its continuing effort to provide customers with the latest technology, Microsoft has launched the Virtualization Events lab series.  During 3 days, you will learn everything you need to know in order to code your way through Virtual Server.  Please bear in mind that the lab is not targetted for the IT Pro, but instead for programmers who want to learn the latest tips and tricks without having to read through thousands of pages of documentation.

Virtualization is a very hot topic, and I would not be surprised if the events filled up very quickly, so act fast if you want a seat reserved!

VHD Test Drive

10. November 2006 14:52 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

On November 6th, Microsoft had a big announcement to make.  This announcement is only the beginning of something that will, without a doubt, become a huge success: the VHD Test Drive program.

The program’s idea is that a user can download a pre-configured VHD that has and operating system already installed.  The idea is evolved a bit more in the sense that the VHD not only has an OS, but also has some kind of pre-configured environment in order to test out a particular product without the hassle to go through difficult setups.

For instance, if you want to test drive Exchange Server 2007 quickly and effortlessly, just download this VHD and you are good to go.  Want to install something on Windows Server R2 without having to install the OS?  This VHD right here will help you accomplish your task. 

There are 4 VHDs available for download, the entire list is summarised below:

For the official press release, click here.

RDC on a Mac (OS X)

2. November 2006 13:43 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Even though there are not many Macs at Artinsoft (2, I believe :) this might come in handy for someone who needs an efficient remote desktop connection.  Even though Microsoft makes a RDC client for Macs, running it on an Intel mac can be a bit of a drag.  Rosetta apps (applications that do not run natively on Intel macs) are kinda sluggish when launching.   Also, if you need to run various instances of RDC, you would need to make copies of the app itself (or use this utility).

Luckily, there are various free alternatives out there that work like a charm.  My personal favorite is CorD (cocoa remote desktop).  It is lightweight, fast, free, and offers tabbed windows for various simultaneous connections.  The only con I have found so far is that it does not support copy paste.

You can also use TSClient, which has more features than CorD but unfortunately requires the installation of x11.  While this may not be a big issue, some people are not very fond of running programs under x11 for performance reasons.  TSClient is the client that most resembles the official Microsoft client and it even offers several features that the official client does not have.

The New VMware Converter

2. November 2006 12:30 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
The race between Microsoft and VMWare for the virtualization space can only offer benefits to the end user.   The close competition will push the limits of both Microsoft and VMWare in offering the best of each other.  Point in case is the (beta) release VMWare's Converter.

The VMWare converter makes the process of moving a physical machine to a virtual a painless process.   So far in our tests, we've managed to hack our way with some unconventional methods, but these take a lot of time.   The VMWare tools offers a new level of Physical to Virtual (P2V) conversion by having a manager that can queue operations for this process.   It is fully scriptable as well, which can only simply and make the whole process more efficient for system administrators. 

Microsoft is not falling behind in this area.  The Virtual Machine Manager has plans for not only fully automating P2V conversions but guiding you on the best Virtual Server where the new physical machine can be.  Unfortunately, this is not currently supported at the beta stage that the product is right now, but from demos I have seen I am sure it will be a sure contender to VMWare's offerings.

For more info on VMWare's Converter visit this page and for Microsoft's Virtual Machine Manager info, check this site out.

Joining a Machine to a Windows Domain that won't Budge

12. October 2006 04:57 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
During our VT labs, we are constantly messing around with domain controllers due to the fact that in order for Virtual Server's API and Carmine to work correctly, the hosts need to be on the same domain.

Everything has worked quite fine until a day in which we were trying to add a machine the domain we had.  I got the following message:

The system cannot log you on due to the following error:
The specified domain either does exist or could not be contacted.

Please try again or consult your system administrator.

Hmmm...well...trying again certainly did not work and we are our own sys admins ;)  I sent a desperate cry for help to our awesome Virtua team, and Jose hinted me on how to fix it.

All it takes is to change the Primary DNS of the machine that won't logon to the IP address of the domain controller.  Doing this fixed the issue.

As far as why this works, I really don't know and to a certain extent, I am not sure I want to. :D

Hope this helps someone in distress in the future!

Use VTune to Catch Alignment Faults

5. October 2006 02:50 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
So there is a quick hack method you can use to catch alignment exceptions on your code, but this approach - although effective, is not a very elegant solution. It turns out that VTune can help you find alignment faults very easily. I tested VTune using my MacBook running Windows XP and it had an event called: Misaligned Data Memory References By focusing on these events, you can find places in your code where alignment faults are happening. No more guessing, no more hacks, plain and simple. On some processors, this event counter might not be present. In cases like this, you would need to focus on the Split Stores Retired and Split Loads Retired events to find this information. We have added this extra information on our VTune labs as part of Artinsoft's continuing effort to support in-house customized 64-bit training .

How to run Visual C++ Binaries in a 64-bit Machine without Visual Studio installed

11. September 2006 06:28 by Csaborio in General  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Fact: You cannot install Visual Studio on an Itanium box - this is a "by design" issue and the installer will not budge regardless of what you try.

So if you are building binaries from Visual C++, how do you manage to make them run given that most of the libraries they need will not be found on the Itanium box?

One workaround is to statically link your binaries - which oftentimes lead to bloated sizes and defies the whole purpose of using dynamically linked libraries.

Another one is to install the Visual C++ Runtime libraries for Itanium and x64:
Install these on your 64-bit server and C++ binaries will run in all of their glory.  With Remote Debugging and these utilities installed, you won't even need a RDC to the 64-bit box to run your code.  Happy coding!