“Unofficial” MVP Perk From Special Friends

A couple of weeks after receiving my MVP Award from Microsoft, I asked my IT Pro peers for some feedback via a Facebook group (Tech Konnect) and MVP Yammer Community on what they use for computer systems to run test environments such as ConfigMgr, Windows builds, Server OS, etc. I realized as a MVP, I need to up my game and build a portable lab environment to conduct testing and create tutorials for the IT Pro community in order to share some technical knowledge. Also, I’m often asked to test various software and tools in return for reviews or product QA feedback, so a proper lab environment is a must.

For those of you who run test environments on your laptops using Hyper-V or VMware Workstation, what make and model laptop are you using and what are the specs (Hard Drive(s), memory, CPU, etc)?

I received an overwhelming response with many different hardware specifications including suggestions of various makes and models of laptops and much more. One thing that stood out was the amount of memory (RAM) one should consider in order to have a decent lab environment, at least to sustain for example, a Domain Controller, ConfigMgr server, SQL, MDT, and some Windows clients to name a few. “You need at least 32GB of memory”, the crowd roared!

I knew my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with 8GB of memory was not going to cut it and I was stuck since I can’t upgrade the memory and hard disk on the Surface Pro 4. Unbeknownst to me, two of my IT Pro friends who are well respected by me and by the global IT Pro community stepped up to the plate and very generously decided to provide me with a special gift to help me with my MVP and IT Pro endeavours, so I could further expand my technical skills and to give back to the community via my learning and knowledge. For confidentiality purposes, these two special friends of mine will remain anonymous. I have been shocked and speechless from the day I was told that I was to look out for a package (shipped) and even to this day as I use this laptop daily to setup my test lab. I’m so grateful and blessed to receive this generous gift and …………well….., I’m speechless! My friend said “Now that you are MVP, you need the right equipment for testing!”

So, here’s what I received:
1. HP Zbook 14 G2 laptop (Intel Core i7-5500U CPU 2.4GHz, 32GB memory, 256GB Hard Disk, 1TB SSD Hard Disk)
2. Power adapters (two)
3. HP UltraSlim docking station
4. Stickers

  

  

I love my “new” HP laptop, it’s shiny, it’s awesome, it’s perfect! Stay tuned for my future blog post on how I setup my test lab, what I used to build it, and some obstacles I ran into which I ended up resolving. To my two special friends, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! 🙂

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ConfigMgr Tech Preview 1701 Released

The Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) team has been doing a great job with implementing new features and improving the product on a regular basis following the Software as a Service (SaaS) model and using feedback from the community on the Microsoft Connect site, as well as paying close attention to feature and enhancement requests on the ConfigMgr UserVoice forum.

The 45th President of the United States of America was inaugurated on Friday, January 20th and on this day the ConfigMgr team released SCCM Tech Preview build 1701 which is the first new release of 2017. This update has a number of new features (as listed in the Enterprise Mobility & Security blogpost) which include:

  • UEFI inventory data – Hardware inventory can now determine whether the device is UEFI-enabled.
  • Express files support for Windows 10 Cumulative Update – Configuration Manager can support Windows 10 Cumulative Update using Express files. This functionality is only supported in Windows 10 version 1607 with a Windows Update Agent update included with the updates released on January 10, 2017 (Patch Tuesday). For more information see https://docs.microsoft.com/sccm/core/get-started/capabilities-in-technical-preview-1612#express-installation-files-support-for-windows-10-updates.
  • Validate Device Health Attestation Data via Management Point – You can now configure management points to validate health attestation reporting data for cloud or on-premises health attestation service.
  • Updated Content Library Cleanup Tool – The command line tool (ContentLibraryCleanup.exe) used to remove content that is no longer associated with any package or application from a distribution point (orphaned content) has been updated with fixes for known issues.
  • Host software updates on cloud-based distribution points – Beginning with this preview version, you can use a cloud-based distribution point to host a software update package.
  • Support for Microsoft Azure Government cloud added to Operations Management Suite (OMS) Connector feature – You can now configure an OMS connector for the OMS workspace on Microsoft Azure Government cloud.
  • Additional boundary groups improvements – Clients now find software update points using Boundary Group associations.

You can update to the 1701 Tech Preview release via the ConfigMgr console under the Updates & Servicing node. You will need the baseline version of Tech Preview 1610 if you are installing it brand new.

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Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT 8443) Released

mdt_2013-8443

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) has been released and the most current build (8443) can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. This update requires the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10 version 1607 (10.1.14393.0) which is available for download on the Microsoft Hardware Dev Center.

According to the MDT blog post by Aaron Czechowski (Senior Program Manager), MDT is now tagless without the year and version number and going forward, new releases will be identified by their build numbers only.

You may notice that we are not tagging this release with a year or update version. To better align with the current branches of Windows 10 and Configuration Manager, and to simplify the branding and release process, we are now just referring to it as the “Microsoft Deployment Toolkit”, using the build number to distinguish each release. This is not necessarily a “current branch” of MDT; we are committed to updating MDT as needed with revisions to Windows, the Windows ADK, and Configuration Manager.

Some of the significant changes in this update include:

  • Supported configuration updates
    • Windows ADK for Windows 10, version 1607
    • Windows 10, version 1607
    • Windows Server 2016
    • Configuration Manager, version 1606
  • Quality updates
    • Deployment Wizard scaling on high DPI devices
    • Johan’s “uber bug” for computer replace scenario
    • Multiple fixes for the Windows 10 in-place upgrade scenario
    • Several fixes to Configure ADDS step
    • Removed imagex/ocsetup dependencies, rely solely on DISM
    • Includes the latest Configuration Manager task sequence binaries (version 1606)

The following post provides some information on How to get help with MDT, in case you need it.

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ConfigMgr Version Numbers

about_configmgr_version

Release/Update Version Build
ConfigMgr 2012 RTM 5.00.7711.0000 7711
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 5.00.7804.1000 7804
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 CU1 5.00.7804.1202 7804
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 CU2 5.00.7804.1300 7804
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 CU3 5.00.7804.1400 7804
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 CU4 5.00.7804.1500 7804
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 CU5 5.00.7804.1600 7804
ConfigMgr 2012 SP2 5.00.8239.1000 8239
ConfigMgr 2012 SP2 CU1 5.00.8239.1203 8239
ConfigMgr 2012 SP2 CU2 5.00.8239.1301 8239
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 5.00.7958.1000 7958
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 CU1 5.00.7958.1203 7958
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 CU2 5.00.7958.1303 7958
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 CU3 5.00.7958.1401 7958
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 CU4 5.00.7958.1501 7958
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 CU5 5.00.7958.1604 7958
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 SP1 5.00.8239.1000 8239
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 SP1 CU1 5.00.8239.1203 8239
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 SP1 CU2 5.00.8239.1301 8239
ConfigMgr 2012 R2 SP1 CU3 5.00.8239.1403 8239
ConfigMgr Version 1511 5.00.8325.1000 8325
ConfigMgr Version 1602 5.00.8355.1000 8355
ConfigMgr Version 1602 (Update Rollup 1) 5.00.8355.1306 8355
ConfigMgr Version 1606 5.00.8412.1000 8412

Source: ConfigMgr 2012 Version Numbers

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Review – System Center Configuration Manager Reporting Unleashed

SCCM_Reporting_Unleashed

System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM / ConfigMgr) is a robust and complex tool used by SysAdmins to manage systems in their organizations. Similarly, working with reports, creating reports, and generating reports with ConfigMgr can become a complex task and challenging.

We all know that the built-in reports are not the best and often don’t yield the results we want to achieve. To get around some of the limitations, you either need to create your own reports or use third party solutions such as the wonderful reports from Enhansoft which are easy to install, configure, and to use. Well, Garth Jones, the owner of Enhansoft has released an awesome book to help clear the mystery of reports and make it super simple for anyone to follow the step-by-step instructions with the intelligently laid out chapters. The high level contents of the book is provided below but it doesn’t come close to listing the in-depth wealth of information this book provides.

SCCM_Reporting_Unleashed2

Whether you’re a beginner and want to learn how to create and work with ConfigMgr reports, or an expert who want to improve your reporting skills and rock it to the next level, this book is for you – I highly recommend it. The book is available on Amazon and comes in various formats. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Garth, who contributes tremendously to the ConfigMgr community via Twitter, Facebook, and various forums, to name a few.

Garth Jones – @GarthMJ
Enhansoft – @Enhansoft

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Update – Windows ADK For Windows 10 (Version 1511)

windows10_adk

Update / Warning:

Aaron Czechowski, Senior Program Manager, Enterprise Client and Mobility has issued a warning regarding the latest release of Windows ADK for Windows 10, version 1511:

“…….there is a serious issue with it that blocks the following Configuration Manager OS deployment scenarios:

  • From Software Center, launch a task sequence that uses a Windows PE v10.0.10586 boot image. When the computer restarts into Windows PE, it will fail when “Initializing hardware devices” with the error: “Windows PE initialization failed with error code 0x80220014.”

At this time, we do not recommend that Configuration Manager customers use the 1511 version of the Windows 10 ADK.”

Johan Arwidmark, a System Center and OSD expert had also posted a warning on November 15, 2015 on his blog post “Inside Windows 10 ADK Build 10586“.

Warning: Do NOT upgrade your ConfigMgr 2012 R2 SP1 or MDT 2013 Update 1 environments to this build yet. For ConfigMgr, even though it seems to fix the x64 UEFI / PXE and Powershell/.NET issue, which is great, the new ADK does break Computer Refresh scenarios (Bare metal works). The error code is 0x80220014. Research and discussions with the product teams in progress… MDT 2013 Update 1 yet to be validated, but error comments on twitter does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.”

——————————————————————————————————————–
Original post: November 20, 2015.

The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10, version 1511 is now available from Microsoft’s “Download Kits and Tools for Windows 10” site.

The Windows ADK now includes:

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PowerShell & ConfigMgr Blogs

SCCM_Love_PS

My good friend Deepak Dhami (aka Dexter), who is an expert in PowerShell and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM / ConfigMgr) is a frequent contributor for great information and resource in these fields. He conducts various user groups and workshops in India to help ConfigMgr admins improve their skills. Dexter has provided the links below on his blog and has generously allowed me to share them on mine in order to further share the goodness.

Feel free to follow and reach out to him. He is always happy to help.
PowerShell MVP profile
Blog
Twitter

Links:

Cmdlet ReferenceDavid O Brien’s Blog
PowerShell Script Repo by ConfigMgr MVP Kaido
Kaido’s personal blog
Coretech Blog by MVP kaido
Ronnie Jakobsen’s blog
Kent Agerlund’s blog
Johan Arwidmark’s blog
Henrik Hoe’s blog
PFE Heath’s Blog
Adam Meltzer’s Blog
Steve Rachui’s Blog
Nickolaj Andersen’s blog
Rob Looman’s Blog
Sean Lillis (Author of PS App deployment Toolkit)
Alex Verboon’s Blog
Laurie Rhodes’s Blog
Adam Bertram’s Blog
Stephane’s Blog

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