The Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) team has kicked off 2018 with a brand new release of the ConfigMgr Technical Preview branch with version 1801. As always, new features and improvements to the product derive from the feedback they receive from the community on the ConfigMgr UserVoice forum. Now, you can also provide feedback directly from within Windows 10 by using the Feedback Hub App. See additional documentation to provide ConfigMgr feedback.
This update has a number of new features (as listed in the Enterprise Mobility & Security blogpost) which include:
Run Scripts – You can now import and run signed scripts and monitor the script results.
Moving Distribution Points between sites – You can now move an eligible distribution point from one primary site to another primary site or from under a secondary site to a primary site . For information about requirements for moving a distribution point see “Reassign Distribution Point”.
Improvements to client settings for Software Center – Client settings for Software Center now has a customize button where you can preview your customizations before deploying them to machines. You can also hide unapproved applications in Software Center.
New settings for Windows Defender Application Guard – For Windows 10 version 1709 and later devices, there are two new host interaction settings for Windows Defender Application Guard. Websites can be given access to the host’s virtual graphics processor and files downloaded inside the container can be persisted on the host.
Co-management reporting – You can now view a dashboard with information about co-management in your environment.
Phased Deployments – You can use phased deployments to automate a coordinated, sequenced rollout of software without creating multiple deployments.
Support for hardware inventory strings greater than 255 characters in length – For newly added classes, you can specify string lengths greater than 255 characters for hardware inventory properties that are not keys.
Improvements to Automatic Deployment Rule evaluation schedule – You can now schedule Automatic Deployment Rule evaluation to be offset from a base day.
You can update to the 1801 Tech Preview release via the ConfigMgr console under the Updates & Servicing node. The baseline version of the Technical Preview branch is now at version 1711 and available on the TechNet Evaluation Center.
The following document provides further details on the capabilities in Technical Preview 1801 for System Center Configuration Manager.
Here’s my video tutorial which I did for version 1701. The steps are the same for 1801.
Here are the step-by-step upgrade guide (if you prefer not to watch the video) to get your current ConfigMgr Technical Preview site to version 1801:
You will find the 1801 update available in the ConfigMgr console under Administration > Updates and Servicing. If you don’t see it, click on Check for Updates in the menu ribbon.
Right-click on Configuration Manager Technical Preview 1801 and click on Install Update Pack. If you prefer, you can also use the Install Update Pack option from the ribbon menu. I recommend that you run the prerequisite check first to make sure there are no issues reported with your site server. Otherwise, you will need to address the issues before proceeding with the update.
Click Next and select the checkbox if you want to ignore the prerequisite check warning.
Select the features desired for install in the update pack. You can choose to do this later under the Updates and Servicing node.
Pick your option to validate or not to validate the upgrade against a collection. For my production Current Branch site, I generally select Validate in pre-production collection and choose one of my test collections for the first phase of the upgrade. However, since this is the Technical Preview site and only used in a test environment, you can continue with the option, Upgrade without validating.
Select the license terms and click Next.
Click Next to confirm the settings.
You can now monitor the status of the upgrade under Monitoring > Updates and Servicing Status. Then select the update package name and click on Show Status in the ribbon menu.
The window below will show the stages of the upgrade process where you can monitor it’s progress. If there are any issues, you will see it listed here with a warning and the details provided in the description box in the bottom of the window.
Upon successful completion of the hotfix installation, you will be presented with the pop-up window as seen below to indicate a console upgrade from version 184.108.40.20695.1000 to 5.1802.1050.1000 is available.
You can verify the console upgrade in the About System Center Configuration Manager drop down menu from the console.
Version 1801 for Technical Preview
Console version: 5.1802.1050.1000
Site version: 5.0.8611.1000
And you now have ConfigMgr Technical Preview 1801 running in your test environment.
On January 23, 2018, I received an email from Rise Social Media with the weekly listing of social media influencers and their respective rankings among 1000 Tech bloggers. Typically, I quickly scan the email and delete it, but this time in the week 3 newsletter, something caught my eye and it was this message:
I did a double take and clicked on the week 3 link and confirmed that I had moved up to the number 2 spot from way down the list. I was super excited and couldn’t wait to share the news with my friends and followers on social media, which is the source of my influence. I remember being just as excited when I made it to the 14th spot on week 43 in 2017 (see image below).
I was first introduced to Rise Global by my friend Richard Hay, who is well respected in the technology industry where he covers valuable news, reviews, and many other tech related matters as a tech journalist. Rich has taught me how to use several useful tools, helped me with some automation techniques, as well as shared some insightful strategies which in turn has made me successful with my social media work. We also had the opportunity to work together as the official social media journalists for the IT/Dev Connections Conference held in San Francisco in October 2017. We are looking forward to do the same at IT/Dev Connection 2018 in Dallas.
And then we have my friends Christian Buckley and Vlad Catrinescu, who are great contributors in the tech community and powerhouse Microsoft MVPs. These guys make Rise Global status ranking fun and exciting to take part in. We have a running joke and a friendly competition between us, which often involves some fun teasing to keep things challenging. We are rooting for each other to get to the top spot, and then we can call it a collective success. It will happen sooner than later!
As an IT Professional, I enjoy social media quite a bit and have a knack for it. I have developed some strong skills in this respect which has allowed me to contribute to the community in various ways from helping IT Professionals with valuable information and resources to keeping commuters safe during their daily travels. My social media activities have provided many wonderful opportunities which include travel, representation at large conferences, member of various committees, access to privileged groups, speaking engagements, contributions to technical newsletters, reviewer for products, books, and software, and some consulting work to name a few. I am humbled and grateful for these opportunities and to everyone who has helped me and continue to support me. Thank you, Thank you!
Well, I’m not naive to know that my reign on Rise Global will not last for long but I did get my five minutes of fame for what it’s worth. If you have somehow come across this blog post, please feel free to follow my social media channels, subscribe to my blog, YouTube channels, and podcasts. You’ll enjoy the information I share. Thanks.
I recently came across a post by Jim Naroski on The Office 365 Guy TechNet blog site. He listed the links to the UserVoice portal for the various products or topics which Microsoft utilizes to gather feedback and feature requests. One important link is missing from the TechNet blog, which is for the System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) feedback site, and I have added that to the list below. Start using this valuable resource to help improve products and make your voice heard.
Uservoice provides an opportunity for customers or end users of products to provide feedback, request features and interact with others as well as with the product teams. If you discover a request or feedback that you agree with and would like to support, you can add a vote to that post. Each UserVoice member receives a limited number of votes to use and these votes are returned once the the particular feedback has been acknowledged and completed. See above screen capture.
Another useful feature of UserVoice is the ability to see the status of the posts such as Noted, Planned, Under Review, Started, and Completed. See examples below:
I’m thrilled and honored to be invited by IT/Dev Connections to help manage their social and community engagements at the conference in San Francisco from October 23-26, 2017. IT/Dev conference is a deep dive highly technical conference for developers and IT Professionals and the speakers are top notch world experts. Here’s the announcement of my engagement on their blog.
This year’s cyber threat epidemic started with Windows, then spread over to Linux and third-party apps, and now is here for Macs. While the latest malware Fruitfly is targeting Mac computers, its malware library is also capable of running on Linux systems.
Though it was recently found conducting surveillance attacks, it’s possible Fruitfly has been infecting Mac systems for over two years. It appears that the base code of Fruitfly is over a decade old, which begs the question: how can decade-old malware start breaching systems now? Haven’t our systems been updated over the last ten years?
It seems the Fruitfly developers have reused old code and modified it to give this malware extra power and capabilities. This cross-platform malware uses old APIs, but if there are any changes in the API, it will break the legitimate program to maintain reverse compatibility as long as possible. Fruitfly may have escaped detection for a long time because it appears that its creators have intentionally limited how many computers it targets. And since Mac systems don’t usually face as many threats as Windows, many administrators have been more lenient with patching their Macs, leaving them vulnerable to attacks such as Fruitfly.
You can identify Fruitfly infections by detecting suspicious network traffic. A file integrity monitor or log analyzer can help you identify an attack on your network, but a breach could be avoided altogether by keeping your systems up-to-date. Since most enterprises comprise different operating systems, it isn’t advisable to employ a separate patching tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The smarter alternative would be for an enterprise to employ a multi-platform patch management solution that helps update every computer from a single console. However, there are only a few solutions on the market that even support third-party patching, and even less that provide complete control over all enterprise devices, including mobile devices.
These last few months have already given security professionals a lot to cover, and since cyber attacks are evolving at rapid rate, its high time enterprises maintain endpoint security by keeping their systems up-to-date. The best way to do this is to employ a patch management solution to stay safe from future ransomware and malware. One such solution is ManageEngine’s Desktop Central.
Desktop Central is integrated desktop and mobile device management software. This multi-platform solution helps automate your overall patch management process, and also has some other enhanced features to help secure your network. Download ManageEngine Desktop Central Now and keep your Windows, Mac, Linux and all your third party applications completely safe and up-to-date.
IT departments play a major role in systems maintenance and it takes some effort for a system administrator to keep servers and end user workstations up and running for stability and productivity reasons. Lets take a look at system administrator’s daily routine and the importance of it.
1. Downloading and Deploying patches to user computers
System administrator has to identify required patches (3rd party) on systems, download them from the vendor websites and deploy them to end user computers. Managing these patches on a one of basis seems straightforward but it becomes cumbersome on a routine basis and especially when there are many systems to patch. Using a Patch Management solution, these routine tasks can be automated and scheduled to lessen the cumbersome workload on system administrators.
2. Installing software to user computers
Manually installing software on remote computers can be a daunting task and is challenging. A Software Management solution can resolve this complication by allowing a system administrator to deploy software from any location, handle tickets with ease and assist users demands in software installation with simplicity.
3.Troubleshooting remote computers
Troubleshooting servers and workstations for Operating System issues, software installations, security patches, system crashes can be remedied much easily with software management solutions, especially with remote capabilities and centralized management interface.
4. Managing IT assets in your network
Asset tracking for hardware and software in your organization is highly important and can be done with ease with the use of an asset management software. Apart from tracking the hardware and software in the organization, software license management, hardware warranty management, and identifying the usage of software particularly for licensing, restricting unwanted software in your network is important as well. An asset management solution provides a systems administrator the tools needed to effectively gather and manage this data.
5. Deploying configurations and managing mobile devices
Managing and configuring devices such as computers, tablets, phones, and peripherals in a growing organization with rapid demands for technology can be a challenging task for system administrators. MDM and desktop management solutions provide much flexibility and the tools needed to handle these technology challenges in the enterprise.
ManageEngine Desktop Central is one such ideal solution for desktop management, with its bundle of features and pricing compared to some known industry solutions. Desktop Central offers Patch management, Software management, Asset management, Remote support, Mobile device management, Failover Service, and Auditing capabilities. Desktop Central supports heterogeneous platform in 16 different languages. Finally, Desktop Central offers a fully functioning edition to manage 50 endpoints completely free with no hidden cost.
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
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! 🙂