Hands-off deployments

 

handsoff

Let’s face it, guys.  There are times that you JUST don’t have access to SCCM, MDT or Kace, and need to deploy a completely automated and silent Windows install without our normal build tools.  If this is you, and you deploy systems frequently, you’ve probably spent way too much time looking at screens like this one

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Not only does it stink to have to type a user name and password every time, it also slows you down. Admit it, whenever you start a Windows install, you start doing something else, and then an hour later check back and have to reload the whole task in your memory again.  It’s a giant waste of time and makes you less productive.

To top it off, there are probably things you always do, like setup user accounts, join a machine to a domain, and set the time zones (we can’t all live in the chosen timezone of Pacific Standard Time).

Previously, making these changes and baking them in to an unattended install meant using the terrible Windows SIM tool, which was horrible.  Seriously, no offense meant, but if you had a hand in designing the System Image Manager tool, I’m sure you’re already ashamed.  Good, you should be.

Thankfully we now have the Windows Image Configuration Designer (Wicd) which makes this all super easy!

In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to do to make a fully silent, unattended Windows Install, along with some useful settings too.  We will be installing WICD, which is part of the ADK, and then walk through configuring the following settings:

  • ‘Enable Remote Desktop out of the box’

  • Set Default Time zone (no west coast time!)

  • Set Default First User

  • Silent Install (depends on setting a user account)

  • Make the computer do a quick virus scan on first boot

  • Optional – Domain Join

  • Optional – Add files to the image

  • Optional – Make Registry Changes on the Image

Setting up WICD

To get access to the awesome WICD tool, you’ll need to have the Windows 10 ADK.  I recommend using version 1607, at a minimum (Download Link).  When installing the ADK make sure to check the two red boxes shown below, for full features.

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If you leave these unchecked, it won’t be WICD good.  Make sure to ☑️

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Class is in Session: PowerShell Classes

ClassesInPowerShellGraphic

PowerShell has been mostly complete for you and me, the ops guys, for a while now. But for Developers, important features were missing.

One of those features were Classes, a important development concept which probably feels a bit foreign to a lot of my readers. For me, I’d been struggling with classes for a long time. Ever since Middle School. #DadJokeLol.

In this post, I’ll cover my own journey from WhatIsGoingOnDog to ‘Huh, I might have something that resembles a clue now’.

I’ll cover what Classes are, why you might want to use them, and finally show a real-world example.

What the heck are Classes?

If you’ve been scripting for a while, you’re probably very accustomed to making CustomObjects. For instance, I make Objects ALL the file that contain a subset of properties from a file. I’ll commonly select a File’s Name, convert it’s size into KB, and then display the LastWriteTime in days. Continue reading

SCCM v Intune Showdown

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If you’re an SCCM Administrator you’ve likely heard of InTune and might be wondering when to use it.

In this post, we’ll cover how SCCM and Intune are able to manage Windows 10 full desktop computers (including laptops and Windows tablets like the Surface or Surface book.)

If instead you’re wondering about managing the Surface RT, lol, enjoy your metro cutting board.

Best use for a Surface RT in 2016

To understand where InTune really shines, let’s think of where SCCM works best:

  • known and defined network infrastructure
  • well connected end-point devices (less of an issue today)
  • standardized hardware models
  • standardized, company owned hardware
  • Active Directory Domain (all SCCM servers must be domain members)
  • Managed machines are either domain joined, or need certificates (certs =PKI =Even more infrastructure and configuration)
  • Wonderfully powerful imaging capabilities

It becomes pretty obvious, SCCM is for the big enterprise,  which its also expensive and has some serious requirements.

Now, let’s contrast this to the management story we have from Intune:

  • No requirement for local hardware or infrastructure
  • No on premises Active Directory requirement
  • Works very well with Azure AD
  • Works great with user owned and heterogeneous devices
  • Literally zero imaging options

For the rest of this post, I’ll list the big capabilities of an Enterprise Client Management tool and contrast how each of these tools perform at that task, we’ll cover: Continue reading

Microsoft Ignite 2016 : Recap

Last week, I was able to attend my first big IT Conference, a dream of mine since I first got into IT almost ten years ago.  I got to attend Microsoft Ignite!

IT WAS AWESOME!

In this post, I’ll recap some of my experiences attending…and being able to speak there as well!

On the value of Ignite

Ignite is Microsoft’s gigantic combination of TechEd and MMS, a far-reaching summit covering all of Microsoft’s technology stack, from devices to SQL, asp.net to Azure, everything is here.

It is HUGE. Just overwhelmingly big. You simply cannot attend every session, and you’ll probably find yourself triple or quadruple booked for sessions.  Keep in mind that conferences like Ignite commonly take place in massive convention centers like the Georgia World Congress Center.  Actually, while I’m talking about it:

The GWCC

The Georgia World Congress Center is absolutely unfathomably big.  It is the fourth biggest convention center in the United States.  If you’re in Hall A, the walk to Hall C will easily take you twenty minutes or more.  And the session might be full by the time that you get there. Continue reading

Part VI – In-Depth Building the FoxDeploy DSC Designer

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This post is part of the Learning GUI Toolmaking Series, here on FoxDeploy. Click the banner to return to the series jump page!


Where we left off

Thanks for joining us again!  Previously in this series, we learned all about writing fully-fledged applications, in Posts 1, 2 and 3. Then, we learned some techniques to keeping our apps responsive in Post 4.

In this post, I’ll walk you through my GUI design process, and share how that actually worked as I sought to create my newest tool.

Along the way, I’ll call out a few really confusing bugs that I worked through in creating this tool, and explain what went wrong. In particular, I ran into quite a snag when trying to programmatically create event handlers in code when trying to use $psitem  or $_. This lead to many conversations which introduced me to a powerful solution: the $this variable.

What is the tool?

Introducing the FoxDeploy DSC Designer.

imaage base layer designed Designed by Freepik
Think something sort of like the Group Policy Management Console, for your DSC Configurations. But we’ll get back to this in a few minutes.

My GUI Design Process

Here’s my general process for designing a front-end:

  • Create the elevator pitch (Why does this need to exist?)
  • Draw out a rough design
  • Make it work in code
  • Add feature by feature to the front end
  • Release
  • Iterate

It all started with me taking a trip to Microsoft last year for the MVP Summit.  I’d been kicking around my elevator pitch idea for a while now, and was waiting to spring it on an unwary Microsoft Employee, hoping to con them into making it for me:

Here’s my elevator pitch

To drive adoption of DSC, we need some tooling. First, we need a GUI which lists all the DSC resources on a machine and provides a Group Policy Management Console like experience for making DSC configs.

We want to make DSC easier to work with, so its not all native text.

I decided to spring this on Hemanth Manawar of the PowerShell team, since I had him captive in a room.  He listened, looked at my sketches, and then said basically this:

‘You’re right, someone should make this…why not you?’

Thanks guys.  thanks

So I got started doing it on my own.  With step one of the design process –elevator pitch– out of the way, I moved on to the next phase.

Time to draw a Rough Draft of the UX

Continue reading