25
Apr

Windows System Image Restore and Intel RAID volumes

   Posted by: Dante   in General

Scenario:

Computer has 4 hard drives, two in RAID-0 and 2 independent disks. RAID-0 contains two partitions, C: and D:. One of the drives started failing, needing replacement, and then a backup was done using Windows System Image Backup, included with Windows 7. Recovery DVD was generated t oboot the computer.

All fine and dandy, the failing HDD was replaced. Another RAID-0 volume was created, and proceeded to boot the recovery DVD. After following the steps and making sure to exclude the independent disks from the restore process, the backup says that there are no valid volumes present. Tried downloading the latest Intel drivers, no go. Tried going with all independent disks, the DVD wouldn’t even boot. After some time playing around and fearing for the data, here’s a few tips to have a successful experience:

  1. Make sure to label the new RAID-0 volume *exactly* as it was before. The default is Volume0, and it *has* to be the same for the restore to work;
  2. Disconnect any and all hard drives that you don’t need. In this procedure, there were two independent disks, one had the image backups, the other was for regular data storage. Had to disconnect the second independent disk for the restore to work.

In a nutshell, the procedure works fine, despite the majority of people going to Acronis (I agree it’s a much more reliable solution) for this image backup. Following the 2 simple tips mentionded before, the backup will restore and the drives will be the same as before. As always, make sure to have regular data backups in place!

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With Microsoft Exchange 2007, there is a default policy that enforces the use of a 4 digit passcode (PIN) to unlock the phone. Here’s how to make the passcode optional to the user:

  1. Login to a machine with the Exchange Management Tools installed
  2. Open the Exchange Management Console
  3. Expand the Organization Configuration
  4. Click on Client Access and then choose the password tab
  5. Remove the check from the box that says Require Password

Afterwards, do a manual sync with the phone, then disable the passcode under Settings / General / Passcode Lock.

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13
Apr

Recovering MS Outlook address autocomplete data

   Posted by: Dante   in General

When migrating users between different computers, most people end up just copying their files on the desktop, my documents folder, etc, and forget the little things like the database that stores the previously emailed addresses in Microsoft Outlook. I’ve seen in a lot of cases, folks that rely almost exclusively on this database to know other people’s email addresses. Here’s how to copy it from one computer to the other:

In Windows Explorer, navigate to

C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

if it’s Windows XP, or

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook

if it’s Vista or 7, and copy the file with the .NK2 extension. It’s usually called Outlook.NK2 but it depends on the name of the Outlook profile used. Copy this file to the same location on the new computer.

One gotcha: if the old profile is on a domain computer, the file caches some domain information, and when sending emails internally, there will be errors. To solve this problem, manually delete the internal address entries using the “delete” key and resend an email to cache the new entry.

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14
Dec

Installing Ubuntu or derivatives using a USB pendrive

   Posted by: Dante   in General

Another easy method that is not readily available through Google searches, and most of the how-tos out there are incorrect, yielding nothing but frustration. Here’s how to do a proper flash drive installation media for Ubuntu, or any of its derivatives – kubuntu, xubuntu, edubuntu, etc – so it can be installed on a computer without an optical drive.

Follow these steps:

  1. Download UNetbootin
  2. Download the Ubuntu ISO image for your preferred install – this was tested with 9.10 Karmic Koala
  3. Run UNetbootin, click Diskimage, and browse to select the corresponding ISO image, then select the drive letter matching the destination flash drive (BE CAREFUL HERE) and press OK. The program will extract all the files, install SYSLINUX and leave it partly ready to use. Click Exit at the end of the copy.
  4. After UNetbootin finishes, navigate to the root of the flash drive and delete the following files:
    – syslinux.cfg
    – vesamenu.c32
    – ubn* (all files starting with ubn)
  5. Copy all files fro the folder isolinux to the root of the flash drive, with the exception of isolinux.bin
  6. Rename the isolinux.cfg file to syslinux.cfg
  7. Edit the text.cfg file, and at the end of the append subsection of the install entry, add cdrom-detect/try-usb=true, so you have an option that looks like:
    append file=/cdrom/preseed/(distro).seed initrd=/install/initrd.gz quiet — cdrom-detect/try-usb=true
  8. Remove the flash drive, boot it up and reap the profits!

Very easy procedure, but there doesn’t seem to be an automated way, yet. This was tested on Windows, but should be easy to do on linux as well, since UNetbootin has a linux counterpart.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you destroy your data with UNetbootin.

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3
Feb

How to join a XP Home machine to a 2003 domain

   Posted by: Dante   in General

Yes, the topic is true. You can join any XP Home machine to a domain in a few steps:

  1. Open regedit, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\ProductOptions
  2. DeleteĀ  the ProductSuite string
  3. Create a new DWORD entry, call it Brand
  4. Set it’s value to 0 (zero).
  5. Reboot.

What this procedure does is simulate an XP Pro environment. In some cases, it might block you from getting updates from Microsoft, but has been tested on XP SP3 and it works flawlessly.

Thanks Enrique for the tip.

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26
Jan

How to configure auto-SSL redirect on IIS v6.0

   Posted by: Dante   in General

Since our webserver resides on IIS here at our company (SBS 2003), I had to secure one of the websites and make sure that whomever tried to access it via HTTP was automatically and transparently transferred over to HTTPS. There’s no “1-click” way to do it in IIS, it must be done in one of 2 ways:

1) Edit the HTML files to do a redirect

2) Use a redirection website

Since there was a bunch of PHP/HTML/other files in that particular website, it seemed much simpler to just go with the second option. Here’s a rundown of the steps to do it:

  1. Open IIS Manager and select properties for the website for which you want to require SSL. For HTTP port, use anything other than 80, like 8989. For SSL port, use the default 443.
  2. Now go to the “Directory Security” tab, click Secure Communications, click Edit, check the “Require secure channel (SSL)” box and check the “Require 128-bit encryption” box too. Restart IIS. If you try to browse http://yourserver.com:8888 you should receive a “The page must be viewed over a secure channel” message. If not, something is not working properly.
  3. Now, create a new website in IIS, then name it something like “SSL redir for yourserver.com”. Choose port 80 as the HTTP port. For path, point it to anywhere in your server, like C:inetpubwwwroot (this doesn’t matter, we’re gonna change it). Give it read permissions. Now go to the properties of the newly created website, and select the “Home Directory” tab. Change “The content for this resource should come from:” to “A redirection to a URL”. In the “Redirect to:” textbox, enter https://yourserver.com. You can also optionally select “A permanent redirection for this resource”, which will cause bookmarks to update to the new URL. DO NOT select “The exact URL entered above” or “A directory below URL entered”. Restart IIS. Now try to browse to http://yourserver.com and it should redirect to https://yourserver.com automatically.

Little note: the redirect URL is sent back to the client, so if you type https://localhost as the redirect, the client browser will try to redirect to localhost on the client machine, which won’t exist. Same thing exists for NetBIOS names.

(Original source by James Kovacs, www.jameskovacs.com)

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16
Oct

How to clear IE7 personal data from the command line

   Posted by: Dante   in General

Sometimes it is much easier to simply run a command line command or batch file to perform repetitive or administration tasks. Here are some commands to help you clean that pesky IE7 history/cookies/temp/whatever files that are stored on your hard drive.

Delete Temporary Internet Files
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 8

Delete Cookies
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 2

Delete History
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 1

Delete Form Data
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 16

Delete Stored Passwords
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 32

Delete All
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 255

Delete All with the Also delete files and settings stored by add-ons options selected
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 4351

And to make things more interesting, you can combine the numbers and get 2 or more functions at the same time, i.e.:

RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 9

This will delete the files (+8) and history (+1) in one single step. Now you can also create shortcuts with this and make it run every startup, or have a shortcut on Quick Launch, whatever suits you best.

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16
Oct

Using a dual monitor setup with Excel 2007 and Vista

   Posted by: Dante   in General

If you have a dual monitor setup and wish to open 2 spreadsheets, simultaneously, one on each monitor, it’s not straightforward. Excel likes to open everything under one application window. There’s 2 approaches for this:

  1. Restore the application window, then manually resize it to occupy both monitors, but DO NOT maximize it as it will go back to one monitor only. Then open up the spreadsheets and put them side-by-side.
  2. This is the cleaner approach. You can open one spreadsheet first, maximize it to one monitor, then go to the Start Menu and hold SHIFT while clicking the Excel shortcut. This will call a second instance of the application, and you can maximize it to the second monitor. Then manually open the file.

The first approach has a nice feature attached to it which is the possibility of scroll-locking between spreadsheets, so if you’re comparing/editing data in two similar spreadsheets, makes it a bit easier.

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7
Oct

Changing the logon screen wallpaper

   Posted by: Dante   in General

For Windows 2003, it’s a simple registry hack:

System Key: HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop
Value Name:
Wallpaper
Data Type: REG_SZ (String Value)

Change it to the path that your BMP file resides (must be BMP) or blank it to have no wallpaper.

For Windows XP, the Fast-User switching has to be disabled, and the registry key is the same. To change the wallpaper with Fast-User switching on, a program called LogonXP has to be used.

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Here’s a quick and dirty how-to on how to reset a Domain Controller password.

Disclaimer: I assume you own the machine you’re doing this procedure on. I take no responsibility whatsoever to whatever happens to you or your server. Proceed at your own risk.

First, download SRVANY and INSTSRV from here.

  1. Boot with SysRescCD or the ntpasswd live cd, reset the password for the local Administrator.
  2. Boot the machine into Directory Services Restore mode (press F8 at the start)
  3. Log in with Local Administrator, blank password
  4. Create a folder C:\nt and copy INSTSRV, SRVANY, and cmd.exe to it. If this is a Server 2008 machine, you’ll have to right-click the ZIP file and click Unblock before extracting it, otherwise Windows won’t let you do it.
  5. In a command prompt, cd to C:\nt or whatever you called it, and type instsrv PassRecovery “C:\nt\srvany.exe” adjusting the path accordingly.
  6. Start Regedit and open HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\PassRecovery
  7. Create a new subkey called Parameters and add two new values:
    name: Application
    type: REG_SZ (string)
    value: C:\nt\cmd.exe

    name: AppParameters
    type: REG_SZ (string)
    value: /k net user administrator new_password

  8. Change new_password above with a desired new password, keeping in mind password complexity policies.
  9. Open the Services applet, change PassRecovery to automatic startup.
  10. Click the Log On tab, check “Allow service to interact with desktop”
  11. REBOOT!
  12. You will not see a command prompt before logging in, but you will be able to log in with the new password.
  13. After logging in, use a command prompt with:
    net stop PassRecovery
    sc delete PassRecovery
  14. Delete C:\nt and change the admin password.

And that’s it! Easy enough..

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