My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related

win_logoIn various presentations I have done in the past 6 months I have been asked what I could tell about “Windows 8” or “Windows vNext”. My answer was a tongue and cheek “I have never heard of it”. Well as of today, June 1st 2011, I have heard of Windows 8 and you can too!

Check out the “Windows 8" press release is here: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2011/jun11/06-01corporatenews.aspx

Make sure to watch the Video in the above press release! It is also on Youtube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p92QfWOw88I

If you want to know more about “Windows 8” you should attend the developer conference that will be held in Anaheim California from September 13th – 16th. It is called “BUILD”. You can find out more and sign up for the conference at the website:  http://www.buildwindows.com/

I hope you agree… This is getting exciting!

win_logoIn various presentations I have done in the past 6 months I have been asked what I could tell about “Windows 8” or “Windows vNext”. My answer was a tongue and cheek “I have never heard of it”. Well as of today, June 1st 2011, I have heard of Windows 8 and you can too!

Check out the “Windows 8" press release is here: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2011/jun11/06-01corporatenews.aspx

Make sure to watch the Video in the above press release! It is also on Youtube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p92QfWOw88I

If you want to know more about “Windows 8” you should attend the developer conference that will be held in Anaheim California from September 13th – 16th. It is called “BUILD”. You can find out more and sign up for the conference at the website:  http://www.buildwindows.com/

I hope you agree… This is getting exciting!

imageMAP 6.0 Beta
The Solution Accelerators team just announced that the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 6.0 Beta is available for download. This is the latest version of our free planning tool.

This next release of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit—version 6.0 Beta—includes assessment capabilities to evaluate workloads for both public and private cloud platforms. With MAP 6.0 Beta, you now haveT the ability to identify workloads and estimate the infrastructure size and resources needed for both Windows Azure and Hyper-V Fast Track. MAP 6.0 continues to have all of the assessment tools that version 5 had. So you can evaluate your hardware readiness for running Windows 7 or Office 2010. It also has the capability to do a software inventory so you know what you have in your environment. Other new features to MAP 6.0 Beta is the Office 365 client assessment, enhanced VMware inventory, and Oracle schema discovery and reporting. Expanded assessment and discovery capabilities from MAP help you streamline planning for your next migration project. Plan what’s next with MAP.

Join the MAP 6.0 Beta: Join the beta review program for MAP Toolkit 6.0. We’d like your feedback too. Visit Microsoft Connect to download the beta materials. http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=219168

Tell us what you think! Test drive our beta release, and send us your constructive feedback. Send your feedback and questions to the MAP Development Team. We value your input; this is the perfect opportunity to be heard. MAP 6.0 will be available for beta download through mid-July 2011.

The Current Version of Map (Map 5.5) is available here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=67240b76-3148-4e49-943d-4d9ea7f77730&displaylang=en

MAP 5.5 Documentation and how to videos are here:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/solutionaccelerators/dd537566.aspx

/

asus-ux-smallIntel has announced a new class of PC dubbed the “Ultrabook”. This is a thin and light notebook that is fully powered. Ok, so what is the difference between these and the current thin notebooks like the Samsung Series 9? (Which I really want BTW) The difference is that Intel has created the specification and chipsets to go with it. The have a 22nm Ivy Bridge 2nd generation Intel Core processor for this package. This will allow the system to be packaged into a shell less than 20mm (0.8 inch) thick, and sell for under $1,000. The Ultrabooks will also incorporate tablet features. I am not sure what “tablet like” features are but I would expect it to mean touch enabled on the screen and instant from a sleep mode. One of the first Ultrabooks available will be the Asus UX21 Ultrabook (pictured above) which is 17mm at its thickest point.

In my humble opinion, it is about time that thin and light yet capable notebooks become a focus area of the vendors and at a reasonable price. The Samsung Series 9 is a great machine but at a list price of $1649 it is out of the budget for many users. So I think these machines will fly off the shelves. Intel agrees and expects that these new Ultrabooks will account for 40 percent of consumer laptop sales by the end of next year(2012). To me this is a great development! I love to see competition at work and I am looking forward to an Ultrabook!

asus-ux-smallIntel has announced a new class of PC dubbed the “Ultrabook”. This is a thin and light notebook that is fully powered. Ok, so what is the difference between these and the current thin notebooks like the Samsung Series 9? (Which I really want BTW) The difference is that Intel has created the specification and chipsets to go with it. The have a 22nm Ivy Bridge 2nd generation Intel Core processor for this package. This will allow the system to be packaged into a shell less than 20mm (0.8 inch) thick, and sell for under $1,000. The Ultrabooks will also incorporate tablet features. I am not sure what “tablet like” features are but I would expect it to mean touch enabled on the screen and instant from a sleep mode. One of the first Ultrabooks available will be the Asus UX21 Ultrabook (pictured above) which is 17mm at its thickest point.

In my humble opinion, it is about time that thin and light yet capable notebooks become a focus area of the vendors and at a reasonable price. The Samsung Series 9 is a great machine but at a list price of $1649 it is out of the budget for many users. So I think these machines will fly off the shelves. Intel agrees and expects that these new Ultrabooks will account for 40 percent of consumer laptop sales by the end of next year(2012). To me this is a great development! I love to see competition at work and I am looking forward to an Ultrabook!

sick-computerI usually lean towards not commenting on Apple things but here I feel I should point out this security issue.

Macs have recently been targeted by a phishing scam that redirects them from legitimate websites to fake sites which warn the user that their computer is infected with a virus. Then the user is offered Mac Defender “anti-virus” to solve the issue. It then tries to get your credit card information. The most common names for this malware are MacDefender, MacProtector and MacSecurity.

According to Apple:

In the coming days, Apple will deliver a Mac OS X software update that will automatically find and remove Mac Defender malware and its known variants. The update will also help protect users by providing an explicit warning if they download this malware.

When you receive these types of warnings either on a Mac or on a PC – Don’t install the software they are offering!!!

More info here:
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/apple-mac-os-x-update-to-put-mac-defender-malware-issue-to-bed/49278?tag=nl.e539

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apple-continues-to-tell-support-reps-do-not-help-with-mac-malware/3375

disk2vhdI am amazed at how many people I talk to have not heard of Disk2vhd. It was initially released in October 2009 as a sysinternals tool so that means it is a Free and download! If you are an IT Pro you need to check out the Sysinternals tools. Disk2vhd weighs in at a whopping 811 kilobyte download. The tool is billed as a Physical to virtual migration tool but it is more useful than just that. Here are the categories that I see Disk2vhd useful.

P2V tool
Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) from a running PC. You can then use this VHD in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). Disk2vhd runs on a system that is online by utilizing the Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability. VSS was introduced in Windows XP and is used to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion. You can even have Disk2vhd create the VHD files on a local volume, even ones being converted. The tool can also be used to convert a running virtual machine on a competitive product to a VHD file.

Backup tool
Because you can run Disk2vhd on a live working machine and it will use the volume shadow copy service to make a point in time copy of your machine it makes a great backup tool. VSS allows you to copy open locked files. If your open databases are VSS aware then it gets a good flushed out copy of the database. Dsik2vhd puts a good load on the machine but it doesn’t hammer the box so this can be done while the machine does other work. Once you have the vhd file you have several options.
Virtualization with Hyper-v: To get your machine backup and running it only takes 5 minutes to setup a virtual machine with your vhd file.
Windows Deployment Server: You can use the WDS service to drop your image to bare metal hardware over the network.  
Disk Management MMC: Just mount the vhd file as a drive to a windows system and access your files. You can attach the vhd file as read only or you can mount it read write and access it as you would any other drive.
Boot to VHD: This is a feature that lets you boot your physical machine from a vhd file. It gives a menu at boot time which lets you choose the operating system. For more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/knom/archive/2009/04/07/windows-7-vhd-boot-setup-guideline.aspx

Imaging Tool
My ghost drive imaging replacement. You can use the Disk2vhd tool to get your image instead of imageX or Ghost. The great thing about this tool over the others is that you don’t have to boot up off a boot disk. Then to drop your image to real hardware use the Windows Deployment Server in Server 2008 R2 which has added support for vhd files as your image. Another nice feature is that you can mount the vhd as a volume and make changes to your image. In addition you can also just run the image in a virtual machine to make changes.

You can download the Disk2vhd tool from the TechNet Sysinternals website and while you are there check out the other great free utilities: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx

disk2vhdI am amazed at how many people I talk to have not heard of Disk2vhd. It was initially released in October 2009 as a sysinternals tool so that means it is a Free and download! If you are an IT Pro you need to check out the Sysinternals tools. Disk2vhd weighs in at a whopping 811 kilobyte download. The tool is billed as a Physical to virtual migration tool but it is more useful than just that. Here are the categories that I see Disk2vhd useful.

P2V tool
Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) from a running PC. You can then use this VHD in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). Disk2vhd runs on a system that is online by utilizing the Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability. VSS was introduced in Windows XP and is used to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion. You can even have Disk2vhd create the VHD files on a local volume, even ones being converted. The tool can also be used to convert a running virtual machine on a competitive product to a VHD file.

Backup tool
Because you can run Disk2vhd on a live working machine and it will use the volume shadow copy service to make a point in time copy of your machine it makes a great backup tool. VSS allows you to copy open locked files. If your open databases are VSS aware then it gets a good flushed out copy of the database. Dsik2vhd puts a good load on the machine but it doesn’t hammer the box so this can be done while the machine does other work. Once you have the vhd file you have several options.
Virtualization with Hyper-v: To get your machine backup and running it only takes 5 minutes to setup a virtual machine with your vhd file.
Windows Deployment Server: You can use the WDS service to drop your image to bare metal hardware over the network.  
Disk Management MMC: Just mount the vhd file as a drive to a windows system and access your files. You can attach the vhd file as read only or you can mount it read write and access it as you would any other drive.
Boot to VHD: This is a feature that lets you boot your physical machine from a vhd file. It gives a menu at boot time which lets you choose the operating system. For more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/knom/archive/2009/04/07/windows-7-vhd-boot-setup-guideline.aspx

Imaging Tool
My ghost drive imaging replacement. You can use the Disk2vhd tool to get your image instead of imageX or Ghost. The great thing about this tool over the others is that you don’t have to boot up off a boot disk. Then to drop your image to real hardware use the Windows Deployment Server in Server 2008 R2 which has added support for vhd files as your image. Another nice feature is that you can mount the vhd as a volume and make changes to your image. In addition you can also just run the image in a virtual machine to make changes.

You can download the Disk2vhd tool from the TechNet Sysinternals website and while you are there check out the other great free utilities: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx

Linux-penguin-huge-704931Microsoft now supports 3 versions of Linux running on our Hyper-v virtual server environment. The three supported flavors are Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise Server, and CentOS. CentOS Linux was added because it’s a popular distribution for hosting providers and Microsoft wants to make it very appealing for hosting providers to use our product. Red Hat and Suse are very popular in enterprise customer datacenters and they have been supported in Hyper-v for a while.

Hyper-V is able to run other versions of Linux but it does not fully support other version. The best way to run Linux on Hyper-v is to use the paravirtualization drivers or “enlightenments”. If the linux distro runs on Xen well it should run well on Hyper-v. You can get the paravirtualization drivers by installing the Linux Integration Components or the Satori InputVSC drivers.

For more info on the announcement see Sandy Gupta’s blog post:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/openness/archive/2011/05/15/expanding-interoperability-to-community-linux.aspx

computer_iconI had a customer who was looking for guidance on how to harden the IP stack of Server 2008 R2 similar to the guide on how to harden server 2003.

How to harden the TCP/IP stack against denial of service attacks in Windows Server 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;324270

It turns out there is no paper on how to do this for Server 2008 because it is built into the new IP stack. It has been there since the new IP stack in Vista and Server 2008.  This feature is even better in two ways. The first is it is self tuning. The second is that you can’t turn it off. You can read more about it here:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/nettracer/archive/2010/06/01/syn-attack-protection-on-windows-vista-windows-2008-windows-7-and-windows-2008-r2.aspx