Using PowerShell to Manage Windows Server DNS entries

Firstly, Happy new year. Anyway, I was recently tasked with creating a large number of DNS entries on our internal DNS servers. To accomplish this I decided to use PowerShell to perform an import of a CSV file that I had been given that already had my DNS entries. There was a header row with HostName and IPAddress as columns and then dozens of lines entries that needed to become DNS A Records on our server.

So the first command I used to Import these records was the below (replace adatum.com.au with your DNS zone) and DNSentries.csv with your filename.
Import-CSV C:\Scripts\DNSentries.csv | %{ Add-DNSServerResourceRecordA -ZoneName adatum.com.au -Name $_."HostName" -IPv4Address $_."IPAddress" }

After completing that I noticied that some had a typo (the file was given to me) so instead of going in and manually removing the ones that were wrong, I again used PowerShell to remove them with the following command:
Import-CSV C:\Scripts\DNSentries.csv | %{ Remove-DnsServerResourceRecord -ZoneName "adatum.com.au" -RRType "A" -Name $_."HostName" -RecordData $_."IPAddress" }

Using the above commands you can quickly and easily add or remove DNS entries from your Windows Server DNS Infrastructure using entries from a CSV file.

Using custom OWA URLs in SharePoint to display your inbox as well as calendar and other items

This one has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while but last year I was experimenting with our SharePoint environment and thought it would be a cool idea to have a view of our web mail and calendar come up into our SharePoint homepage as web parts. Now if you are running SharePoint 2010/2013 you can simply use the Outlook OWA web parts to display what you want to a degree but by using a web page viewer web part and specifying the URL we can have a better degree of control on the output of the page.

So start by adding a web page viewer web part to your page and point the web part to your exchange server hosting Outlook Web Access. The following is an example of a URL that you can use:

Exchange 2010

https://owaurl/owa/?cmd=contents&module=Publicfolders&fpath=School%20Calendar&view=weekly

Exchange 2013

https://owaurl/owa/#path=/calendar

For more information on how to format the links and available flags please follow this link http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb232199.aspx. I hope that has helped some people in bringing better looking mail access to their share point environments.

Make viewing and sorting Exchange 2013 / 2016 Message Tracking Logs using PowerShell easier with GridView

exchange2010-powershell-logoSo a lot of environments are making the jump to Exchange 2013/2016 away from 2007/2010. From a management point of view the largest change is the move away from a GUI Management option to web-based and PowerShell management. One of the tools missing is the Message Tracking tool, which in a basic form is available on the Web Console but is difficult to use for external mail items so then we move onto PowerShell which gives us what we want but not in the format that is the easiest to understand.

You can use things like FormatList or FormatTable to make things a little prettier but a nicer trick I learned recently was to use Out-GridView which formats things into a new window which we can apply filters to. An example of Get-MessageTrackingLog piped to GridView is below (see the image for the example output)

Get-MessageTrackingLog -ResultSize Unlimited -Start "November 10 2016" -End "November 30 2016" -Recipient "john@adatum.com.au" | Out-GridView

Using the GridView we can easily apply filters to further narrow down our search easier.

How to Install a trusted certificate onto a FileZilla FTP server to enable FTPS (FTP over TLS)

I was recently helping troubleshoot an issue where as part of that I needed to get a 50GB SQL Database transferred from an interstate client onto our servers.  Both the client and us have a decent Internet Connection and we already had an FTP server in place but I was worried about the sensitive nature of the material we were transferring, so I set about enabling FTP over TLS on our FileZilla FTP Server using our Public CA Digital Certificate, the process took a little fiddling and I’ll outline it now. One thing I would highly recommend is re-exporting this Certificate with a different private key than what you would normally use as FileZilla unfortunately stores it in plain text.

openssl-commandsFirstly, you will need the OpenSSL windows binaries (available here).  Once downloaded, extract them to a handy place like c:\openssl and copy across your Certificate in PKCS#12 .pfx format (which is what our default format of the certificate is).  So we have .pfx inside c:\openssl. Now that we are ready, open an administrative command prompt and CD into C:\OpenSSL (handy tip, in Windows Explorer when you are in a folder you want to open a CMD prompt to, just type CMD into the address bar and hit enter).  Now there are two commands we will use with OpenSSL to convert and strip out what we need.

openssl pkcs12 -in <your.pfx>  -nocerts -nodes -passin pass:<yourpass> | openssl rsa -out <output.pem>

and

openssl pkcs12 -in <your.pfx> -clcerts -nokeys -passin pass:<yourpass> -out <output.crt>

filezilla-settingsOnce you have that, open both of them up in Notepad (or Notepad++), you will want to copy the Certificate extract from command two into the RSA Key we extracted in command one.  Once we have that save the file as <yourcertnamehere>.crt.  Open up FileZilla Server manager and go into Settings.  Under the FTP over TLS Settings page, select the Certificate we created earlier and enter the Private Key for the Certificate and click OK.  Now I’d recommend using WinSCP to connect as it trusts certificates already in the Windows Trusted Root CAs Store (FileZilla will always prompt to trust).

 

Adventures with setting up RDS RemoteApp and Web Access in Windows Server 2012 R2

RDS Overview in Server ManagerSo I was recently setting up a demo environment in Azure with two servers.  Our goal was to have Remote Web Access and then publish RemoteApps through that so we could give live demos.  The process to setup Remote Desktop Services is much easier in Server 2012 / 2012 R2 thanks to the Add Remove Features Wizard, but there are still some gotcha’s that I encountered and will cover in this blog post.

The first thing was getting the FQDN of the RD Gateway / Web Access server set to our external domain (since it is different). For example we’ll use adatum.internal and adatum.com.au.  For web access it is simply a matter of having a public DNS record and pointing to your web server but getting it working for the RD Gateway requires some PowerShell.  A script from the TechNet Gallery called Change published FQDN for Server 2012 or 2012 R2 RDS Deployment works a treat for Server 2012 and 2012 R2.  Simply go to the directory you have the script in with a PowerShell admin prompt and enter the following;

Set-RDPublishedName "remote.adatum.com.au"

This should now allow clients to see a connecting to a proper server FQDN instead of something like rds-01.demo.adatum.local.

My next issue was when my demo client when to connect it errored out with 0x607 – An authentication error has occurred.  After having a talk with someone in the office I had found out the Session Host server was hosting some demo web apps that ran using HTTPS.  Now I had imported a proper certificate (that hadn’t expired) but still found this issue.  So I opened up mmc.exe added the Certificates snap-in, browsed the computer certificate store and under personal I could see an EXPIRED certificate.  I deleted this but was still getting the error.  So my other trick was to force Terminal Services to no longer try to use that certificate.  To do this I opened up REGEDIT and went to the following key;

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp

In this key I would scroll down until I found SSLCertificateSHA1Hash and deleted the entry (you could also replace the hash with our good certificate).  Once I had done this, I restarted the server for good measure and was then able to connect up to my Remote Apps using Web Access without an issue.

 

A note about Veeam and Guest Indexing

Guest Indexing PropertiesSo I was asked to help out in a situation where a Backup Server had begun to run out of space. One of the first things you look at doing is cutting down retention rates.  In this particular setup Veeam had its Database and other associated files sitting on a 30GB disk, which also happened to be just about full (30MB free).

After a quick run of SpaceMonger I was able to identify that the Guest Indexing folder was taking up the majority of the space.  So I set about making a list of VMs that we didn’t really need indexing for.  A thing a lot of people don’t realise is that you don’t need to enable Guest Indexing to perform item level restores but makes the process becomes much faster because Veeam already knows what is in the backup image and where it needs to go.

To go about disabling it for particular virtual machines in a backup job, edit the job, go into Guest Processing, hit the indexing button then for each Virtual Machine in your job that you don’t need indexing for, hit edit and then select Disable Indexing.  For my job I left it on for an application server that had flat file attachments and file servers, the remainder I turned off for this job. Hope that helps.

ProTip: Did you know you can get a 1 year NFR Veeam License if you are certified in some areas of VMWare, Microsoft, Cisco or PernixData?

Setting the default wallpaper on a Windows 10 image deployment through MDT

Action - Set Default WallpaperSo recently I’ve been working on improving and streamlining our imaging process. One of the pain points that I have had with Windows 10 was an easy way of setting the default wallpaper, but without locking out the user, i.e. Group Policy from changing it in the future. After a long session of Google Fu and finding Powershell and VB scripts I settled on a simple solution of a batch file to take ownership and replace the default wallpaper files.

As the majority of our devices are laptops, I set the default img0.jpg to a resolution of 1366 x 768 and then proceeded to create all of the different resolutions in the 4K folder, 1024×768, 1200×1920, 1366×768, 1600×2560, 1920×1200, 2160×3840, 2560×1440, 2560×1600, 3840×2160, 768×1024, 768×1366. Once I had all the images ready, I created a file structure and then made the below batch or cmd file for my Application Install Task. If you are running SCCM instead of just MDT, change Administrators to SYSTEM.

takeown /f c:\windows\WEB\wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg
takeown /f C:\Windows\Web\4K\Wallpaper\Windows\*.*
icacls c:\windows\WEB\wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg /Grant Administrators:(F)
icacls C:\Windows\Web\4K\Wallpaper\Windows\*.* /Grant Administrators:(F)
del c:\windows\WEB\wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg
del /q C:\Windows\Web\4K\Wallpaper\Windows\*.*
copy "%~dp0img0.jpg" c:\windows\WEB\wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg
copy "%~dp04k\*.*" C:\Windows\Web\4K\Wallpaper\Windows

Once I had everything ready, I created an New Application Install called Action – Set Default Wallpaper and got it to call my batch file. Once that was done, I went and added it into my Task Sequence for building our Windows 10 Image as one of the first items to run once Windows 10 has passed the OOBE stage, so under State Restore, after the Windows Updates.

That process has worked every time flawlessly for me, where as the scripts I had found didn’t.