Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Running Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake in a Microsoft Virtual Machine 2007

We I recently have been talking about Virtual Machines and I wanted to look at Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake for many reasons. Getting everything installed was easy once I started the install in Graphics Safe mode. From there it was a simple easy to follow install. Now I can play with Linux or any thing else that I can get to run in the VM at will.

The only "downside" to Ubuntu is they don't install services with the operating system. I wanted SSH installed by default, but I must have missed that somewhere. It's one command to install SSHD on Ubuntu. "apt-get install openssh-server" A minute or so later I was using putty from my local machine to get CLI access to the server!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 FTP Drag and Drop Workaround

With Internet Explorer 7 being forced on many users world wide I would like to point out one of it's NEW shortcomings. Back before Tabbed Browing was all the rage there was (and still is) FTP. One of the things that Microsoft took out of Internet Explorer is something I use almost every day.

Drag and Drop File Transfers.

There is nothing easier then telling a customer to open up Internet Explorer and pointing them to the correct address (starting with ftp:// of course) and telling them they can drag the file/folder right into the window.

The easiest way to get this functionally back (though not really) is to use Windows Explorer instead. Now the first thing I ask is what version of IE they use. If its 7 I ask them to go to "My Computer" and then tell them our FTP address.

Simple, quick, yet annoying since it WAS there.

Virtual Machine Software, for Free!

We all like free software. I especially do being that I am still studing for my MCSE and can't afford high end software. My company likes free software because it allows our small IT budget to go further.

Microsoft has released Virtual PC 2004 SP1 for no cost. This is excellenct news since that is the software I use at school to train with. You can find out more about Microsoft's Virtual PC software here. One of the links is for Virtual PC 2007 Beta. I am currently installing this to see what the next generation of Virtual Machine software has to offer.

Virtual Machine software has a place in a lot of IT Departments tool set. It allows me as a Developer to have identical machines on which to test my software on. I can easily roll back a machine to it's previous state. For what I do in my job I can test out new software or a new patch before rolling it out to my clients.

I hope that my next computer has Virtualization technology built into the processor (as most do these days) to make my virtual experiance faster!

Using the Windows Backup Utility (ntbackup.exe)

Most people don't know that Windows comes with a decent (read Free!) Backup Utility. Granted it is not that useful in true enterprise situations (like mine), but it does work and is handy in a pinch. Also Microsoft has released a Powertoy called "Sync Toy" that does a fairly good job backing up file systems only.

The first thing that I do when I run the Backup Utility (found at Start Menu, [All Programs]*, Accessories, System Tools, Backup) or "Run...", ntbackup, [Enter] is I uncheck "Always start in Wizard mode", and click "Advanced Mode".

*Only if not using the "Classic" start menu in Windows XP/Server 2003.

To start a backup follow these steps.
1. Click on the "Backup" tab.
2. Check the boxes for what you want to back up.
3. Check "System State" to back up Boot Files, Com+ Class Registration Database, and the System Registry.
4. Name your backup and select it's location.
5. If you want to schedule a backup job click the "Schedule Jobs" tab. Then the "Add Jobs" button in the lower right corner.
6. This will bring up a warning dialog box if you have anything selected. "Files and Folders are already selected. Would you like to start the wiazard with these selections? Click 'No' to clear these selections before starting the Wizard." You then get the options for "Yes, No, & Cancel." If you want to use your selections click "yes" if you didn't mean to follow my directions then click "Cancel" otherwise click "No".
7. On the "Back up Wizard" home page click "Next".
8. Make your selections, remeber that if you chose "Yes" you will start with those options. Click "Next"
9. On the "Back up Type, Destination, and Name" page choose your location and file name. Click Next.
10. Choose the type of Back up job that you want to do. Options and descriptions below.

  • Normal - Back up selected files, and marks each file as backed up.
  • Copy - Backs up selected files but does not marky any as backed up.
  • Incremental - Backs up selected files only if they were created or modified since the previous backup. (You need all Tapes/Backup Files involved to sucessfully restore, makes for a quicker backup, slower recover, more can go wrong due to more tapes involved.)[Example: You Backup Incremental Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Normal Backup on Friday. Your server hard drive fails Wednesday after the backup, you need Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to recover from the failure. You also need to recover the server hard drive with each tape in order.]
  • Differential - Backs up selected files only if they were created or modified since the previous backup, but does not mark them as backed up. (You only need the newest/latest tape to restore, makes for a longer back up, but a quicker restore. Since you only need one tape to recover there is less that could go wrong in the recovery process. [Example: You Backup Differential Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Normal Backup on Friday. Your server hard drive fails Wednesday after the backup, you need Wednesday's tape/file to recover from the failure.]
  • Daily - Backs up only files that were created or modified today.

11. Select your options (Will vary due to hardware differences)

  • Verify Data After Backup
  • Use hardware compression, if available
  • Disable Volume Shadow Copy

12. Choose to append or replace the media.

13. Set the backup schedule.

Other Resources: Backup Utility Advanced Options, Microsoft Powertoys, Microsoft Synctoy

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remote Access Policy Reminders with Windows 2003

When using Routing and Remote Access remember that in a Domain setting all users have their dial-in properties set to "Control through Remote Access Policy".
Also remember that if No Policies exist (as in someone deleted the two default policies)there is still an implicit Deny. If none of the policies match when a user is trying to dial-in then they are denied. Additionally, if you don't delete the default policies, and create a third (and beyond) custom policy to place it above the default ones, as the policies are applied in order, from top to bottom.When a match is made to a policy the Routing and Remote Access Server stops processing policies.

Before a remote access server checks if a user has been granted dial-in access, the server checks if the user's connection to the server matches at least one of the remote access policies defined on the server. If there is no remote access policy, a remote access connection cannot be established.

Touch for Windows ported to

Well I had some free time today and ported touch to It was way easier than I thought it would be. I get the feeling that porting between C# & is not that hard (as there are online tools that can do it for you) but it was a good experiance anyways.

You can download Touch for Windows here. It is released under the GPL as was the C# version by Johan Cyprich of The source code can be found here.

I also plan on adding more of the features of the *nix touch program in the future. Check back later for updates.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Remote Control / Support Software for Free!

While some companies shell out big bucks for software like pcAnywhere or GoToMyPC I have first fell in love with TightVNC. TightVNC is one of many distributions of the popular VNC (Virtual Network Computing) client/server software. Most of this love was due to its compression abilities. Then I got sick of it now working well over a T-1 line. Then I noticed that even on a Gigabit network it was slow to respond, especially with menus, so I set out to find a replacement.

UltraVNC is what I have come to love now. On top of working well over a T-1 line or less, it offers encryption, file transfer, Windows Authentication, a Video Driver, chatting (instead of Notepad chat :) ) and a Repeater option for large networks like ours.

On top of all of this the sister project PcHelpWare aims to take on LogMeIn Rescue and other big boys in this area. PcHelpWare is a single click Reverse VNC Server. Technically I would run the server, our clients would run a client, but the client gives ME remote access of their computer!

Once I have this working I will report back how to set it up and how useful it is. Hopefully I can save my company $99.00 a month in software fees, and a lot of my time driving to clients offices.

Touch 2.00

This is an update to my previous post "Touch for Windows". Johan now has a handy installer and rewritten Touch in C#. To top everything off he has also released the code for Touch 2.00 so you can make changes / improvements. I might take a look and see if I can port this over to VB.Net 2005 as well. Below is an excerp from his site

"This utility can set the date and time of a file. It was originally written in Visual C++ and has been ported to C#. The source code is included.
I wrote this program mainly to show how easy it is to set the date and time of a file. I’ve seen overly complicated ways of programming touch and this source should show how simple it is with .NET 2.0.
You can get the file by clicking here."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Subnetting using the Shortcut Table

In trying to pass exams I keep needing to do subnetting. I like the "Shortcut Table" method, but as time passes I forget it and need to look it up online. MC MCSE has a good article on this method.