Windows Server – Xenit Technical

Category: Windows Server

SCCM 1806 – News and features

Once more it was time to upgrade our SCCM environment to the newest release that is 1806. As it was not released for everyone yet, I had to run the Fast-Ring script to allow the update to present itself. I found this update very interesting as it comes with some exciting new features, and there are alot. These are the ones that I am most excited about.

  • Ability to PXE boot without WDS
  • CMTrace installed as default on clients
  • Ability to exclude Active Directory containers from discovery
  • High availability on Site Server
  • CMPivot
  • Boundary group for peer downloads
  • Enhanced HTTP site system
  • Improvements to OS deployment
  • Software Updates for third-party

…and much more. You can read about all the new features here on Microsoft docs.

Since there are a lot of news, I have chosen to cover the two that I am most excited about in this new release.

CMPivot

Configuration Manager is a very helpful tool when gathering information, CMPivot now allows you to take it to the next step by real-time querying clients. This allows you to gather a lot of information instantly. This feature uses Azure Analytics Language, .

CMPivot is located under Asset and Compliance > Overview > Device Collection, you can find this new feature in the top ribbon bar.

Location of CMPivot

An example is to find BIOS-information about the Dell computers that are currently online. From this output you easily create a collection (the members of the collection will be added as Direct Members) or export to both CSV and Clipboard.

 

PXE Without WDS

It is exciting to have a new way of deploying over PXE. Since Windows Deployment Services has been available for a long time, it feel suitable to have an updated way of deploying clients. By replacing WDS, the distribution point will create the service ConfigMgr PXE Responder. If you have plans of using Multi-Cast, you are for now stuck with WDS.

This setting can be found under Administration > Overview > Distribution Point, right click on the distribution point you would like to modify with the setting shown below.

After applying this setting, Windows Deployment Services will automatically be disabled. Be advised that if you are monitoring this service, it will be report as stopped. SCCM PXE Without WDS

If you have questions, thoughts or anything you would like discuss? Send an email to Johan.Nilsson@xenit.se and I will be more than glad to talk about these topics.



Automate tasks with use of XenServer Powershell Module

Working with backups of your virtual machines is obviously essential. Working with exports in XenServer can some times be time consuming, particularly with bigger virtual disks attached to your virtual machine. In this scenario I will show you an alternative to manually export via XenCenter, by doing it with Powershell to an remote server using XenServer Powershell module.



Flickering Desktop Icons and re-directed folders

This blog post will only cover a scenario with Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and re-directed folders where flickering icons appear. Other solutions may apply to different scenarios.
Since the release of Windows 10 / Server 2016 and their different releases 1607, 1703, 1709 and 1803 there has been several issues regarding flickering icons on the Start-menu, in File Explorer and taskbar.

SCENARIO

During the deployment of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7.15 on Windows Server 2016 with published Desktops and re-directed Desktop folder, users could experience that the desktop icons kept flickering continuously. The more shortcuts, folders or files on the Desktop the more prevalent the issue was. Constantly blinking icons on the desktop looked like refreshing the desktop with F5 or Ctrl+R and would also flash when browsing network shares.

My first thought was to activate ”Always show icons, never thumbnails” in Folder Options since there seemed to be a constant query to network shares where the re-directed Desktop folder resided.

File Explorer - Options

File Explorer – Options

File Explorer - Always show icons

File Explorer – Always show icons

INVESTIGATION

The moment I clicked on View in Folder Options the desktop icons ceased flashing in my session. Dwelling deeper with Procmon investigating what actually happens when opening View tab in Folder Options I found out that explorer.exe queries a registry key in the users HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry. If the registry entry does not exist it will be created.

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}
Explorer query and creation of registry key

ProcMon – Explorer.exe query and creation of registry key

SOLUTION

With the knowledge that the registry key was missing and creating they key would stop the icons from flashing for users on Windows Server 2016 RDS, the appropriate solution was to use Group Policy Preferences (GPP) that created the registry key for users during logon (run in logged-on users’s security context) and apply it to Windows 2016 RDS servers.
Gorup Policy Preferences - User Configuration - Registry

Gorup Policy Preferences – User Configuration – Registry

Apply to Current User

Apply to HKEY_CURRENT_USER and set Key Path

Run in logged-on users security context

Run in logged-on users security context

Step 1: Create a USER GPP that will be applied to affected targets

Step 2: Create a Registry Item

Step 3: Add registry key

  • Hive: HKEY_CURRENT_USER
  • Key Path: SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}
  • Tab Common: [v] Run in logged-on user’s security context (user policy option)

If you have any questions regarding above solution, or ideas on how to handle above in a better way, please contact me at viktor.glinski@xenit.se or post a comment below.



Palo Alto introduces new feature to support Terminal Service (TS) Agent on Windows Server 2016

In the latest release of Palo Alto Networks Terminal Service Agent 8.1.1, we were introduced to a new feature where it is now supported to install the agent on Windows Server 2016.

This is a very welcome feature that a lot of us have been waiting for. There are no other features added to this version or the one before.

This release is also compatible with all the PAN-OS versions that Palo Alto Networks still support.

For more information see:

Where Can I Install the Terminal Service (TS) Agent?

Release Notes – Terminal Service Agent 8.1



Windows Server 2019 Preview is now available

It’s finally here – the preview of Windows Server 2019!

Windows has release the first preview of the completely new Windows Server 2019. In this article I will summarize the main news and tell you a little about them. The final version of Windows Server 2019 are planned to be released in the second half of the calendar year 2018.

 

Hybrid cloud scenarios

  • Windows Server 2019 will come with the previously announced Project Honolulu (which is a modern server management interface). This will help you to more easily integrate Azure services (like Azure Backup, Azure File Sync disaster recovery) so you can use these services in a more convenient way.

Security

  • Shielded VMs was first introduced in Windows Server 2016 and was only available for Windows Server. In Windows Server 2019, support are added for Shielded VMs for Linux. VMConnect will be improved for troubleshooting of Shielded VMs for both Windows Server and Linux. Another new feature is called Encrypted Networks which will let admins encrypt network segments to protect the network layer between servers. Microsoft is also embedding Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) feature in the operating system which provides preventative protection, detects attacks and zero-day exploits.

Application Platform

  • Microsofts Goal is to reduce the Server Core base container image to a third if its current size of 5 GB. That will reduce the download time for an image by up to 72 % which will be a significant performance boost. Also, in Windows Server 2019 the choices available when it comes to orchestrating Windows Server container deployments are event better. Another new feature is the ability to run Linux containers side-by-side with Windows containers on a Windows Server.

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

  • Windows Server 2019 are adding adding scale, performance and reliability to HCI environments. With Project Honolulu (mentioned above) you will have the ability to manage HCI deployments which are a great new feature. This will help you simplify the management and day-to-day activities on HCI environments.

 

Read more about the preview here.

(if you want to compare this release with the previous release of Windows Server 2016, read this article)



HOW-TO IMPORT DHCP-LEASES TO WINDOWS SERVER FROM PALO ALTO

In some cases you will come across DHCP-scopes that are configured on the edge-device or similar and wanting to move it to your dedicated Windows Server instead.
Below is an example where you can export DHCP-leases from your Palo Alto Networks device and add them to your dedicated Windows Server.

In this example I will be using Putty.

Step 1.
Start Putty and connect to your Palo Alto Networks firewall. Then go to the Putty Reconfiguration page, Session > Logging and select ”All Session output”.
Choose your filename and where to save it. Select Apply.

Step 2.
Log in to your Palo Alto Networks firewall and issue one of the below commands. Choose the second one if you need to specify an interface. For example if you have several DHCP-scopes configured on your firewall.

Close your session when the output has been printed.

Step 3.
Inactivate the DHCP-scope on your Palo Alto Netoworks firewall so there are no new leases being added.

Step 4.

Open the file where the output has been pasted and remove any unnecessary information.

Import the values to Excel and it should look something like this: (We are only importing IP, MAC and Hostname in this example)

Step 5.
Now we need to add the information to the command that we will be using in Powershell on the new DHCP-server.

Go to a new column on the same sheet and add the below:

This will get the information for the IP on column A and row 2, MAC-adress on column B and row 2 and the Hostname on column C and row 2.

Go the new cell and hover to the right corner. Drag down to fill in the rest of the rows.

Step 6.
If you have not already created the new DHCP-scope this is the time to do it.

Step 7.
Start Powershell on your DHCP-server and paste the below commands.

Step 8.
Activate the new scope and remember to configure DHCP-relay on your Palo Alto Networks firewall if needed.



Nyheter på väg till RDS 2016

Microsoft presenterade tidigare i höstas nyheter som är på väg till Remote Desktop Services (RDS) 2016. Det är några stora förändringar på gång som är viktiga att känna till, och detta inlägg sammanfattar några av de nyheter som ska komma inom kort.

Infrastruktur

I en traditionell RDS infrastruktur måste alla servrar i uppsättningen vara med i domänen. Det innebär att RD Gateway och Webaccess servrarna både är med i domänen och har direkt kontakt mot internet, vilket gör dem sårbara för attack.

Med den nya infrastruktur design som Microsoft presenterar så är Gateway, Webaccess och de övriga rollerna ej längre med i domänen. Kontakten från domänen till infrastrukturen görs endast genom utgående trafik på port 443. Förutom att detta ökar säkerheten, så möjliggör det för organisationer att drifta flera olika miljöer med samma RDS infrastruktur. Inte längre behövs den en RDS miljö för varje domän, utan nu kan infrastrukturen sättas upp en gång för att drifta flera olika miljöer och låta användare ansluta till deras respektive domän och Sessionhosts.

Microsoft presenterar även en ny roll inom Remote Desktop Services; Diagnostics, vilket har som uppgift att samla in information om uppsättningen och kan användas för att felsöka anslutningsproblem.

Azure

Integration med Azure Active Directory (AAD) är snart här. Med hjälp av AAD så kan Multi-Factor Authentication, Intelligent Security Graph och övriga Azure tjänster nyttjas i RDS miljön. Azure AD är något som många organisationer redan nyttjar, om de använder sig av Office 365 tjänster.

 

Om RDS miljön sätts upp i Azure så kan organisationer installera RDS rollerna som Platform as a Service (Paas) tjänster. Det innebär att det inte längre krävs ett VM för varje roll i infrastrukturen, Administratörer slipper alltså managera varje VM individuellt, samt de får tillgång till den smidiga skalbarheten som Azure erbjuder. Denna uppsättning stödjer även hybrid-lösningar, Sessionhosts kan alltså ligga on-premise och resten av infrastrukturen i Azure.

Det finns fortfarande ingen ETA på när dessa nyheter görs tillgängliga. För mer information och demo på några av dessa funktioner, se inlägget från Microsoft.



Print drivers and Microsoft Update KB3170455

Typically users get their printers mapped by Group Policies or Group Policy Preferences. Especially in Citrix environments, users should not have the right to add their own printers or drivers that are not approved for multi-user environments. On July 12th 2016, Microsoft released a security update (KB3170455) to safeguard Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks for clients and print servers. Then an updated version was released again September 12th 2017.

Users could encounter the dialog boxes below if the driver did not meet the requirements of Microsoft where the driver would be packaged and signed with a certificate:

Scenario 1

For non-package-aware v3 printer drivers, the following warning message may be displayed when users try to connect to point-and-print printers:

Do-you-trust-this-printer

Do you trust this printer?

Scenario 2

Package-aware drivers must be signed with a trusted certificate. The verification process checks whether all the files that are included in the driver are hashed in the catalog. If that verification fails, the driver is deemed untrustworthy. In this situation, driver installation is blocked, and the following warning message is displayed:

Connect-to-printer

Connect to Printer

Even if you enabled Point and Print restrictions in GPO and specified which server’s clients could get drivers from, users could encounter an installation prompt and request administrator privileges to install.

For most printers this is not an issue if there is an up-to-date driver which is compliant. Some manufacturers do not always provide printers drivers that is both packaged and signed. The first thing you should do is update the driver to one that both is signed and packaged. Usually the drivers from the manufacturer are signed according to Microsoft Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) but may not be packaged correctly and the users get prompted for administrator credentials when the printer is being added to the client computer or in the remote desktop session.

Since KB3170455 we need to enable point and print restrictions and specify our print servers in the GPO. For most printers there is no issues, however a couple of printers will not be pushed out by Group Policy Preferences since the update. Even though the print server was listed in the point and print GPO. Browsing the print share and trying to connect the printer manually would result in the ”Do you trust this printer” pop up which will then prompt for administrator credentials to install the driver. Looking at Print Management on the server in question shows that the problem printer drivers have a ”Packaged” status of false.

Workaround:

If you are pushing out printers via Group Policy or Group Policy Preferences and they are of Non-Packaged type you will always get a prompt to install, ignoring the point and print GPO, which will cause the install to fail. A workaround to this is a registry edit on the print server – test and verify this first before putting it into production:

  • HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Enviroments\Windowsx64\Drivers\<…>\<Driver name>\PrinterDriverAttributes

Change the value from 0 to 1 and reboot the printspool service or/and server. The value for other print drivers may not be 1, but to make this work the value needs to be set to an odd number. For example, if the value is 4 change it to 5. Only do these changes if you have no other means of getting a valid driver or printer swapped. In RDS/Citrix environments you could pre-install the printer driver on the host if viable and you only have a few session-hosts.

Back in Print Management you will see the Packaged status is now changed to true, and the printer should deploy. If you can find packaged print drivers then use those, but some manufacturers have not bothered supplying them.

PrintManagement-packaged-true

PrintManagement – Packaged True

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3170005/ms16-087-security-update-for-windows-print-spooler-components-july-12



Update for Windows is already installed on this computer?

En del uppdateringar från Windows Update misslyckas vid installation med en prompt om att uppdateringen redan är installerad. Ett återkommande exempel är KB3146978 som listas som en rekommenderad hotfix för RDS 2012 R2 Session Hosts. I ett flertal miljöer har jag sett att KB3146978 inte listas under Installed Updates, Systeminfo, Powershells Get-Hotfix, wmic get hotfixid eller andra sätt som är baserade på Win32_QuickEngineering men installation fastnar ändå på ”Update for Windows is already installed on this Computer”.

För att få en mer inkluderande översyn på vilka uppdateringar som faktiskt är installerade kan följande köras:

$Session = New-Object -ComObject ”Microsoft.Update.Session”
$Searcher = $Session.CreateUpdateSearcher()
$historyCount = $Searcher.GetTotalHistoryCount()
$Searcher.QueryHistory(0, $historyCount) | Select-Object Title, Description, Date,
@{name=”Operation”; expression={switch($_.operation){
1 {”Installation”}; 2 {”Uninstallation”}; 3 {”Other”}
}}} | Export-Csv -NoType ”$Env:userprofile\Desktop\Windows Updates.csv”

Windows Updates.csv lägger sig då på skrivbordet och innehåller i detta exempel information om att KB3146978 faktiskt är installerad.



Provisioning services – Activate SMB2 for better security and performance

When installing Provision Services 7.x and below on a Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 2012 R2 – The Provisioning installer will disable SMB2 and only allow SMB1 on the server.
NOTE: SMB2 will still be enabled with a new install of PVS 7.13 (Thanks Andrew Wood).

Verify which SMB protocols are enabled on Windows 2012 R2 by running the following powershell command:

View SMB Protocols

View SMB Protocols


SMB 1.0 (or SMB1) – Used in Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 R2 is no longer supported and you should use SMB2 or SMB3 which has many improvements from its predecessor. Another big reason is to prevent the security-hole that the WannaCry/Wcry/WannaCrypt0r-ransomware utilizes to infect and spread if you have not installed the security patch MS from Microsoft released 14th of March 2017.

Here’s a very brief summary of what changed with each version of SMB:

  • From SMB 1.0 to SMB 2.0 – The first major redesign of SMB – Windows Vista (SP1 or later) and Windows Server 2008
    • Increased file sharing scalability
    • Improved performance
      • Request compounding
      • Asynchronous operations
      • Larger reads/writes
    • More secure and robust
      • Small command set
      • Signing now uses HMAC SHA-256 instead of MD5
      • SMB2 durability
  • From SMB 2.0 to SMB 2.1 – The version used in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2
    • File leasing improvements
    • Large MTU support
    • BranchCache
  • SMB 3.0 – The version used in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012

SMB2 has a requirement to utilize Oplocks. Enabling Oplocks will not cause any failures so long as the write cache is not stored on the Provisioning Server.
SMB2.1 introduced leasing and is more flexible and results in significant performance improvement in a high latency network.

If the write cache is on the PVS server then this would happen:

  1. You have two PVS servers, PVS1 and PVS2.
  2. The write cache for targets is hosted on \\FileSRV01\store
  3. A target device is connected to PVS1 and PVS1 becomes unavailable.
  4. The target device fails over and connects to PVS2.
  5. PVS2 cannot connect to the write cache file because PVS1 still has the exclusive OPlock to the file. Eventually, the OPlock will timeout and PVS2 will be able to connect to the write cache file, but there will be a delay.
    Cache-on-Server

ENABLE SMB2 and DISABLE SMB1

To activate SMB2 and disable SMB1 on Windows 2008 run the following PowerShell command:

To activate SMB2 and disable SMB1 on Windows 2012 run the following PowerShell command:

A reboot is required to activate the new settings. As always, perform any changes in a test scenario first, before deploying into production. This is important since Windows XP and Windows 2003 utilizes SMB1 and will not be able to communicate with servers over SMB where SMB1 has been disabled.

If you have any questions or feedback about above, feel free to leave a comment below!