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Documenting Your Task Sequences Automatically

I found an article on the Technet Blog about creating documents for task sequences. I used it to make an overview of what is done within the task sequence and copied it to Excel.

Often times, after creating an MDT or SCCM task sequence, you need to document it for yourself or your customers. Usually, this involves creating a table with the groups and steps, extracting their descriptions, identifying conditions and denoting the step actions and variables and then having format it all nicely and with indents denoting hierarchy. All of this information is usually already in the XML of the task sequence and all you're really doing is formatting. You can automatically format XML documents by using an XSL transform with the right logic.

Link: http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/archive/2008/08/17/documenting-your-task-sequences-automagically.aspx

DNSMASQ as DHCP Proxy to Enable PXE on your network

In my office-network I like to have simple solutions instead of very complex ones. But still I like to have sophisticated functionality. One of this is PXE support to boot from the network. My Qnap nas has the option to act as a TFTP server to transfer the files to the computers.

Since I am using a Fritzbox as modem, firewall and router which does not have much options in the DHCP server to configure it will be a challenge to put the PXE options in it.

One option is to replace the firmware on the Fritzbox with a custom firmware and add dnsmasq for DNS and DHCP service. The down-side of this is that I break the default installation, maybe it will be unstable afterwards and maybe more things.

So, I looked around and found the there is a standard which is Proxy DHCP. Microsoft is using this technology in his WDS (Windows Deployment Server). So you don’t have to alter the DHCP server to enable it.

DNSMasq can also used to act as a Proxy DHCP. You have to use the following configuration for this:

port=0
log-dhcp
dhcp-boot=pxelinux.0
dhcp-option=vendor:PXEClient,6,2b
pxe-service=X86PC, "Boot from network", pxelinux
dhcp-no-override
dhcp-range=192.168.79.0,proxy,255.255.255.0
#enable-tftp                                          # if you also like to enable DNSmasq as TFTP server
#tftp-root=/tftpboot/                      # if you also like to enable DNSmasq as TFTP server

I installed DNSMasq on my QNap NAS. But you can also run dnsmasq on any other Linux distribution, or even look for another Proxy DHCP service.

Local System and interactive command line

Tools such as SCCM are normally running installations in the LocalSystem privilege set. In some cases that is different from a Administrator account. Normally it is not possible to logon with the LocalSystem account because Microsoft is not supporting that. In this little blogpost you find the techniques to become System on your Windows 7 / Windows 8 box. You can download psexec from http://live.sysinternals.com and run with the following options:

psexec -i -s cmd.exe

You get a command prompt open. In that one type:

whoami

To check if you are the nt authority\system (which is the LocalSystem account). During my jobs I found that the psexec is not always the most reliable option to use. The following option is better in representing a true System account and working as a service (Like SCCM does)

sc create cmd binpath= "cmd /K start" type= own type= interact

When you are running Windows 8, you have to check the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows\NoInteractiveServices

This must have value 0, else you won’t get the Interactive Services window. After that type this code:

sc start cmd

Click in the screen on View the message to start Interactive Services.

Now you are in and you can do the job or throubleshoot your problem.