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Enabling .NET Framework 3.5 (before and after your install)

There is no doubt that Windows 8 relies on .NET Framework 4. But what about .NET Framework 3.5? Just on my machine, two of my daily tools require it (Advance Group Policy Management and VMware vSphere Client). To make matters worse, the source files are contained on media and not preloaded on your install!

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Configuring iSCSI Storage in Windows Server 2012

An article series on WindowsNetworking.com explains how to prepare your environment for Windows Server 2012-based iSCSI storage. The articles cover the configuration of the iSCSI Initiator feature and iSCSI Target Server role service, and how to configure and use the iSCSI Target Server and iSCSI Initiator features of Windows Server 2012.

Read more here – http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/windows-server-2012/configuring-iscsi-storage-part1.html

IE 8, time zone and USB video driver updates fail to install

At the end of September ’10 Microsoft released two recommended and one important Windows 7 updates that may fail to install automatically on Windows 7 Enterprise editions.

The most important update – Update for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB2158563) resolves issues caused by revised daylight saving time and time zone laws in several countries. This update enables your computer to automatically adjust the computer clock on the correct date in 2010. Microsoft recommends to deploy the most current Windows cumulative time zone update to guarantee the consistency of the time zone database on all systems.

Another failing update refers to the Compatibility View functionality of Windows Internet Explorer 8 – Update for Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility View List for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB2362765)
This Compatibility View List update helps make Web sites that are designed for older browsers look better in Internet Explorer 8. When users install Internet Explorer 8, they will be given a choice about opting-in to a list of sites that should be displayed in Compatibility View. After you install this item, you may have to restart Internet Explorer.

While the third failing update refers to the prevention of unexpected shutdowns or blue screens when you are using a USB video device. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer. – Update for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB979538)

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Disk Partitions

In Windows 7 systems we find two different partitioning systems. These are the Master Boot Record (MBR) and the Globally Unique Identifier Partition Table (GPT) styles. While MBR is supported by all versions of Windows, GPT is only supported on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Servers 2003 and 2008, and 64-bit versions of Windows XP. GPT offers several advantages over MBR such as, it can support up to 128 partitions while MBR supports only four, GPT is more reliable as it is aware of the modern disks geometries, GPT supports larger partitions – up to 18 Exabytes in theory and uses primary & backup partition tables for redundancy.

When using GPT partitions it is worth noting that larger partition sizes can have side-effects such as, take longer to check (running ChkDsk) and they are not compatible with all operating systems! Also, to boot from a GPT disk, the computer must support the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). Remember, that all BIOS based systems must boot from an MBR disk. Removable media cannot be partitioned with the GPT style.

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Image deployment from a Network Share

This method of deployment is ideal for SMBs since its implementation is very straight forward and inexpensive as the main requirement is some storage space. This involves an installation of a reference computer (user/department configuration), creating a bootable client (Windows PE) and capturing the image onto a network share. Whenever, you need to install a new or reformatted computer system, you just need to push the image from the network share to that machine 🙂

Windows PE environment

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Creating a Windows PE boot disk

Windows PE enables you to boot a computer directly into memory (RAM Drive) and run various tools such as, deployment and recovery ones! To create a bootable Windows PE CD or DVD media and install the ImageX Windows WAIK tools perform the following steps:

    1. Install Windows AIK tools on your computer
    2. From ALL Programs\Windows AIK open the Deployment Tools Command Prompt
    3. Create a local Windows PE build directory as follows:
      copype.cmd <architecture> <destination>
      where <architecture> can be x86 for Windows 32-bit environment, amd64 for 64-bit (including Intel 64-bit processors) and ia64 for Intel Itanium architecture
      while <destination> is the path to a local directory
      copype.cmd x86 c:\winpe_x86   –> for the 32bit env or copype.cmd amd64 c:\winpe_amd64   –> for the 64bit env
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Creating an answer file

An answer file gives you the control to perform an unattended installation, that is, the installation process is provided with the answers in a script file instead of having someone attending to it! You can for example, configure passwords, set default Internet Explorer settings, accepting a EULA, etc… The answer file should contain all the settings (answers) required during an installation.

To create an answer file, you use the Windows SIM utility found in Windows AIK by following these steps: Continue reading

Problems with Windows SIM

Windows SIM fails to create a catalog for a 32-bit Windows image from a 64-bit version of Windows SIM. To workaround this issue, use the 32-bit version of Windows SIM to create 
catalogs for your Windows images. problems

Different binary versions of Windows SIM cannot create catalog files for some Windows images of different architecture types. MS recommends using the 32-bit version of Windows SIM to create catalog files because this version can create catalogs for all Windows image architecture types. The following list describes the Windows SIM architecture types and 
catalogs that can be created for each Windows image architecture type:- Continue reading

Windows Automated Installation Toolkit (Windows AIK or WAIK)

The Windows Automated Installation Toolkit (Windows AIK or WAIK) is a collection of tools that help you deploy operating system images to target computers or to a VHD. With Windows AIK you can automate systems installations with up-to-date images and use various deployment options. For the experienced users, with Windows AIK you can create the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE version 3) which is a 32-bit or 64-bit replacement for the good old MS-DOS client.

Windows AIK tools include: Continue reading

Installing from a USB storage device

pen driveThe main advantages of using flash drives instead of DVD-ROMs are becuase of their faster read speeds and ability to customize the installation image according to your needs such as, adding additional drivers! However, your computer must be able to boot from a USB device. A capacity of 4GB is required for a normal x64 installation image and about 3GB for the x86 one.

 Follow these steps to perform an installation from a USB device:

Preparing the USB device: – Continue reading