How to update Group Policy without restarting your Windows server

After you modify group policies, you may wish that these changes are applied immediately, without waiting for the default update interval (90 minutes on domain members and 5 minutes on domain controllers), or having to restart the computer.

Run gpupdate /force at the command prompt, to update the Group Policy without restarting the domain controller. The “Gpupdate.exe” program can also be used with the following parameters as described bellow:

Syntax:

GPUpdate [/ target: (computer | user)] [/ Force] [/ Wait: value] [/ Logoff] [/ Boot]

Options

/ Target: (computer | user)
You can use this option if you want to specify that only updated user or computer policies. If you do not use this option, by default, both user and computer policy updated.

/ Force
This option reapplies all policy settings. By default, only the policy settings that were changed.

/ Wait: (value)
With this option you can specify how many seconds you have to wait until the processing of all the guidelines are finalized. The default is 600 seconds. You do not have to wait, if you set the value to zero (0). If you set the value to -1, you have to wait indefinitely. When the time limit is reached, returns to the command prompt, but will continue processing the directives.

/ Logoff
This option means that your session is logged off the computer after the Group Policy has been updated. This behavior is for those Group Policy client computer extensions need not update the guidelines periodically in the background, however, process the policy when a user logs on the computer. Two examples of such behavior can include features for the user-specific software installation and to monitor the folder redirection. This option has no effect if extensions have not been called that require you to log off the computer.

/ Boot
This option can force a restart of your computer after the Group Policy settings have been updated. This behavior is for those Group Policy client computer extensions need not update the guidelines periodically in the background, however, process the guidelines when you restart the computer. An example of this behavior is observed in the feature for the user-specific software. This option has no effect if extensions have not been called that require a reboot of your computer.


Posted in Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and tagged , by with comments disabled.

How to Deploy Windows XP Professional Using WDS

As I was preparing to write this article, I discovered someone has already written a solid tutorials on this same topic. All credits to Lucius Craig for this excellent guide. I had to rewrite this here partly to suite my needs and also because some of the links provided by Lucius Craig were no longer active. Just click here to read the original blog from Lucius Craig…

The idea is to roll out 29 new Dell Optiplex workstations using Windows Deploy Service (WDS). We will be installing Windows XP Professional SP2 on all workstation and the method of choice is to install WDS on the SBS 2003 server. First, verify that the server you are going to use is running Windows server 2003 SP2. For this tutorials, we are going to use Windows Small Business Server 2003 SP2.

 Step 1 – Installing WDS on your Windows 2003 Server SP2

  • Logon to the Server with Domain Administrator rights 
  • Navigate to the control panel and click Add/Remove Programs
  •  Click Add/Remove Windows Components
  • Scroll down and check Windows Deployment Services 
  • Click Next and Finish (once installed WDS can be found under Administrative Tasks)

Step 2 – Configure Windows Deployment Services

  • Navigate to Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools > Windows Deployment Services (WDS MMC should appear)
  • Expand Server and right click [sever name] and click Configure Server
  • Click Next to start the Wizard
  • Check the Path if needed (I used D:\Remoteinstall because of disk space on system drive C:)
  • For DHCP Options 60 Check both “Do not listen on Port 67″ and “Configure DHCP option 60 to “PXE Client” and Click Next
  • For PXE Server Initial Settings select “Respond to all (known and unknown) client computers” and click Finish 

Step 3 – Download and Install Business Desktop Deployment 2007 (BDD 2007)

  • Navigate here 
  • Save download locally to the server and install
  • Once installed you will need to launch Workbench and added any required components 

Step 4 – Install OS and all needed Applications (excluding Windows Media Player 11)

  • Enable network boot option in BIOS  
  • Install Operating System – In my case I installed a Volume Copy of Windows XP Professional SP2
  • Join to the Domain and install needed Application and Updates
  • Remove from Domain 

Step 5 – Setup Boot Image in WDS

  • Create a folder on the sever to copy two WIM files to (WinPE.WIM and Boot.WIM)
  • Insert a Vista Business DVD in to the DVD-ROM drive and browse the Disk for a file called Boot.WIM and copy to folder recently created folder
  • Navigate to Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86\WinPE.WIM and Copy to recently created folder
  • Now I opened up WDS expanded Server and right clicked the Boot Image Folder and Clicked Add Image
  • Browsed to Boot.WIM  and click OK
  • Repeated for WinPE.WIM and click OK
  • Next, In WDS I right clicked WinPE and Clicked Capture Image
  • Finally, In WDS I created a Master Image Group called “Windows XP Image” 

Step 6 – Sysprep the Master Image

  • To Run the sysprep I inserted the XP Professional SP2 Disk and Browsed to the deploy.cab file (in my case it was D:\Support\Tools\Deploy.cab)
  • I used WinZip to extract the Deploy.cab file to a new folder I created called sysprep (C:\sysprep
  • Navigate to the C:\sysprep folder and launch setupmgr.exe
  • Click Next to Start the Wizard
  • Select “Create new” and click Next to continue
  • Select “Sysprep setup” and click Next to continue
  • Selct “Windows XP Professional” and click Next to continue 
  • Select “No,do not fully automate this installation” and click Next to continue
  • For Gernerl Settings enter the Name and Organization, Display Settings (default), enter the Time Zone applicable and then enter the Product Key
  • For Network Settings select “Automatically generate computer name, Select “Use the following Administrator password (127 characters maximum ; case-sensitive” and enter local administrator password and confirm. Select Typical settings and finally select Workgroup.
  •  For Advanced Settings specify Country or region, enter area code, Regional Settings select “Specify regional settings in the answerfile” and check ”Customize the default regional settings” Click Custom and verify and enter sysprep Identification String (example Windows XP Deployment for Dell Optiplex 755 112007)
  • Click Finish and OK
  • Click Cancel to Close Setup Manager ( This is an annoying microsoft glitch)
  • Now runs Sysprep by navigating back to c:\sysprep and launch sysprep.exe
  • Click OK to Continue
  • The System Preparation Tool 2.0 windows should appear. Check “Use Mini-Setup and then Click Factory 
  • Once PC shuts down press the power button to restart the PC (PC will take some time to reboot)
  • Once at the Desktop Click Reseal and OK to Shutdown the PC
  • PC should Shutdown (do not boot to windows you need to PXE boot and capture the image
  • Sysprep is Complete 

Step 7 – Create Master Image for WDS

  • Boot up the PC that you want to image and press F12 to enter Boot Menu
  • Select Onboard Network Controller and press Enter
  • Press F12 again to Boot from network
  • Select Windows Vista PE (x86) and press Enter
  • From the command prompt type wdscapture.exe
  • Click Next to start the WDS Image Capture Wizard
  • In the Image Capture Source use the dropdown to select the volume to capture (in my case it was C:\) and enter an Image Name and Image Description. Once complete click Next
  • In the Image Capture Destination you will need to browse to a local Destination ( I had problems finding the WDS server when I checked “Upload image to WDS server:”)
  • Click Finish to begin capturing Image
  • Once I had the Image I restarted the Master-Image PC and Join to Domain
  • I copied the image file to a local directory on the WDS server
  • Once complete I opened WDS and expanded Servers> [Server Name] > Install Image
  • Right Click Install Image Group and Select  Add Install Image
  • Browse to the Image and Click OK to upload the Image to WDS

Step 8 – Image New PC

  • Press F2 to access the BIOS and make sure that PXEboot is enabled on the NIC
  • Press F12 to access the Boot Menu
  • Select “Onboard Network Controller
  • After DHCP issues IP address press F12 to continue
  • Select “Microsoft WindowsVista PE (x86)” and press Enter
  • Once wpeinit launches type the following:
    • Diskpart
    • Select disk 0
    • Clean
    • Exit
  • Type exit to let system restart
  • Press F12 and Boot from Onboard Network Controller
  • Press F12 to continue
  • Select “Microsoft Windows Longhorn setup (x86)” and press enter
  • Click Next to start the WDS wizard
  • Enter the domain administrator’s credentials and click OK
  • Highlight the Master Image and Click Next
  • Highlight Disk0 and Click Next – Installation will begin
  • After PC reboots the windows setup should appear click Next to begin
  • Select “Yes, I accept” to click Next
  • Enter the product Key and click Next
  • Enter Computer Name and click Next
  • Enter and confirm the local administrator password and click Next
  • Select No, don’t make this computer part of a domain and click Next
  • Click skip and slect No, not at this time and click Next
  • Click Finish
  • Once PC reboot confirm that you can logon to the desktop as a local administrator
  • Reboot in to the BIOS and disable Network PXE

Issues:

PROBLEM: Not able to configure WDS

CAUSE: REMINST.INF missing

RESOLUTION: Copied the same from service pack files folder

 

PROBLEM: Not able to PXE Boot to WDS – “WdsClient: An Error occurred while starting networking: a matching network card driver was not hound in this image. Please have your Administrator add the Network driver for this machine to the Windows PE image on the Windows Deployment Services server.” 

CAUSE: Boot Image missing network driver

RESOLUTION: Need to inject the network driver in the Windows PE image. I used the procedures at http://apcmag.com/5436/customise_windows_pe_2_0

      

PROBLEM: Reboot after loading the install image generates the corrupt hal.dll message ““Windows could not start because the following files is missing or corrupt: \systems32\hal.dll. Please re-install a copy of the above file.”

CAUSE: Hidden partition present and needed to delete

RESOLUTION: Resolution was added to procedures (see above)


Posted in Windows, Windows XP and tagged , , by with comments disabled.

The display on my monitor has rotated 90 degrees clockwise. How can I rotate my display back to normal?


Office emergency! Help me get this monitor out of portrait mode and back into its usual landscape display!

Best Case Scenario

A secretary put a heavy folder full of papers down on her keyboard without looking. Apparently, she hit some mysterious key combination that rotated the entire display 90 degrees clockwise. Evidently the mysterious key combination was “Control-Alt-Right Arrow.”

Solution:

Actually this is very simple – Windows XP has integrated controls for rotating the view.

Simply hold the Control-Alt-Down (Ctrl+Alt+Down) to rotate the display 90 degrees back to normal


Posted in Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and tagged , , , , , by with comments disabled.

Windows Routing Command

Route

Displays and modifies the entries in the local IP routing table. Used without parameters, route displays help.

Syntax

route [-f] [-p] [Command [Destination] [mask Netmask] [Gateway] [metric Metric]] [if Interface]]

Parameters

-f : Clears the routing table of all entries that are not host routes (routes with a netmask of 255.255.255.255), the loopback network route (routes with a destination of 127.0.0.0 and a netmask of 255.0.0.0), or a multicast route (routes with a destination of 224.0.0.0 and a netmask of 240.0.0.0). If this is used in conjunction with one of the commands (such as add, change, or delete), the table is cleared prior to running the command.

-p : When used with the add command, the specified route is added to the registry and is used to initialize the IP routing table whenever the TCP/IP protocol is started. By default, added routes are not preserved when the TCP/IP protocol is started. When used with the print command, the list of persistent routes is displayed. This parameter is ignored for all other commands. Persistent routes are stored in the registry location

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\PersistentRoutes.

Examples

To display the entire contents of the IP routing table, type:

route print

To display the routes in the IP routing table that begin with 10., type:

route print 10.*

To add a default route with the default gateway address of 192.168.12.1, type:

route add 0.0.0.0 mask 0.0.0.0 192.168.12.1

To add a route to the destination 10.41.0.0 with the subnet mask of 255.255.0.0 and the next hop address of 10.27.0.1, type:

route add 10.41.0.0 mask 255.255.0.0 10.27.0.1

To add a persistent route to the destination 10.41.0.0 with the subnet mask of 255.255.0.0 and the next hop address of 10.27.0.1, type:

route -p add 10.41.0.0 mask 255.255.0.0 10.27.0.1

To add a route to the destination 10.41.0.0 with the subnet mask of 255.255.0.0, the next hop address of 10.27.0.1, and the cost metric of 7, type:

route add 10.41.0.0 mask 255.255.0.0 10.27.0.1 metric 7

To add a route to the destination 10.41.0.0 with the subnet mask of 255.255.0.0, the next hop address of 10.27.0.1, and using the interface index 0x3, type:

route add 10.41.0.0 mask 255.255.0.0 10.27.0.1 if 0x3

To delete the route to the destination 10.41.0.0 with the subnet mask of 255.255.0.0, type:

route delete 10.41.0.0 mask 255.255.0.0

To delete all routes in the IP routing table that begin with 10., type:

route delete 10.*

To change the next hop address of the route with the destination of 10.41.0.0 and the subnet mask of 255.255.0.0 from 10.27.0.1 to 10.27.0.25, type:

route change 10.41.0.0 mask 255.255.0.0 10.27.0.25


Posted in Networking, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and tagged , , , by with comments disabled.

Autorun Apps from your USB Drive

Just like there is autoplay feature on CDs and DVDs, it is also possible to autorun programs and applications from your removable USB flash drives on Windows XP SP2.

The follwoing is a quick guide on how to autorun portables applications from your USB drive.

  1. Open Notepad
  2. Type in:

      [AutoRun]
      open=PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe
      action=Start PortableApps.com
      icon=PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe
      label=PortableApps
      Shell\Option=PortableApps
      Shell\Option\Command=PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe

  3. Save the files as autorun.inf
  4. Put the files in the root of your USB flash drive
  5. The next time you insert your flash USB drive into any PC running Windows XP SP2, the specified program will autorun from the USB drive.

Below are the explanations to the above options used in our autorun.inf file.

  open=PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe

The open option specifies the program that should autorun. You must use relative paths here. Do NOT specify the drive letter since it may vary from PC to PC.

  action=Start PortableApps.com

This describes the action that will be performed. This parameter is used by Windows Explorer in the autoplay dialog.

  icon=PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe

Specifies the icon to be used for the USB drive. The icon can be fetched from an .EXE file or it can be in the normal .ICO format. More on changing icons here

  label=PortableApps

This label parameter is used to specify the name of the drive. Basically, this can be anything you want to call your flash drive.

  Shell\Option=PortableApps

Optionally specify the text displayed in the shortcut menu for the Option above.

  Shell\Option\Command=PortableApps\PortableAppsMenu\PortableAppsMenu.exe

Adds a custom command to the drive’s shortcut menu. This is also the text that will appear in the shortcut menu unless specifically altered to some other text.

In many systems, the autorun is disabled by default for security reasons. Unless it is very neccessary, you are adviced to keep the default settings. Why this might be true for many users, there are those like me who would rather have the autorun enabled to ease working with PortableApps.

If your Autorun is disabled, go here to learn how to enable it.


Posted in Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and tagged , , , , , by with comments disabled.