Windows Server and System Center: Designed with You in Mind

If you’ve been keeping up with Microsoft related news, you’ve probably heard that Microsoft announced new features in Windows Azure, announced Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2014. For many of these products, they are here less than a year after their predecessors. This is a huge accomplishment for Microsoft.

According to a blog post published by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Windows Server and System Center, Microsoft is able to do this because they are building for the cloud first.

By building for the cloud first, Microsoft says that they are able to do couple things:

  • Battle harden what is built. By deploying in Windows Azure first, Microsoft can ensure that they are delivering a solid product both in the cloud and on-premise.
  • Unify the planning and delivery across multiple products. With this wave of releases, Microsoft has brought together Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Windows Azure, and Windows Intune.

What this means for you as a Microsoft customer is that scenarios are being designed for better integration end-to-end, using real world feedback from people like you and I, and validated in the Windows Azure cloud.

It’s an exciting and interesting time for both Microsoft and its customers. I’m encouraged by the products I’m seeing and the scenarios that are being unlocked.

Microsoft releases Windows Server 2012 Essentials Public Beta

Today Microsoft has released the public beta of Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the replacement for Windows Home Server, Windows Small Business Server Standard and Small Business Server Essentials.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials has the following features:

  • Dashboard implements the Metro user experience styling
  • Office 365 module is now built-in
  • Remote Access website has been updated with new color scheme and has option for tablet and desktop modes
  • Anywhere Access enables VPN and / or Remote Access website
  • Media Streaming
  • Built on Windows Server 2012 with full access to Storage Spaces, Windows Server Backup, and leverages Active Directory
  • Official support for Windows 8 Release Preview

For the build number curious amongst us, this is build 9552 and is available today from the Microsoft Download Center. The CRC and SHA1 hashes for the ISO have been posted below along with steps to check the integrity of the downloaded ISO.

Hashes for today’s release:

WindowsServer2012Essentials-Beta-English-Install.iso
SHA1: 7bd66fd27aa40e51a53c161f2b178a7123494ee0
CRC: e7bb8495

WindowsServer2012Essentials-Beta-English-Restore.iso
SHA1: 492cb8c4196705b12aee6ed405f6f2950172b1b2
CRC: 33ddcc37

To run MSCDCRC against an ISO file that you have downloaded follow these steps.

  1. 1. Download MSCDCRC to the same folder that you downloaded the ISO to. (Click here to download MSCDCRC)
  2. 2. Open a Command Prompt window and navigate to the folder from Step 1
  3. 3. Type “MSCDCRC InstallDVD.iso” (without quotes)
  4. 4. The integrity check will take a few moments to complete. After the check is complete compare the CRC and SHA hashes to the hashes posted above
  5. 5. If the hashes match then you have successfully downloaded the ISO

Pro tip–The one where cfg.ini would not be recognized

Figured I’d post this in case anyone else runs into this issue. I was performing an unattended install of Windows Home Server 2011 and the setup failed. I tried to use the same cfg.ini file again, however, setup didn’t like the file the second time around. Knowing that I hadn’t changed anything, I opened the file and noticed something strange. There was an additional line that Setup adds to the file once its used it.

The line added is located in the [WinPE] section and is called Processed=true.

In my testing, removing this line will allow the cfg.ini file to be used again.

image     image

                          Before setup runs                                       After setup runs

This tip applies to:

  • Windows Home Server 2011
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials
  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

Online help resources for WHS 2011 / SBSe 2011 / Storage Server R2 Essentials

This one’s a short post. Here are the direct links to the online help sites for Windows Home Server 2011, Small Business Server 2011, and Storage Server R2 Essentials.

Windows Home Server 2011 – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/windowshomeserver2011

Small Business Server 2011 Essentials – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/sbs2011essentials/

Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/storageserver2008r2/

How-to: Remove the Windows Server Solutions Mac Connector

If you’re like me and have multiple servers that all use the same type of connector software and are testing things out or just want to remove your Mac from being connected to your Windows Home Server 2011, Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, or Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials server, then these are the steps for you.

  1. Go to the Applications folder and drag the Launchpad application to the trash
  2. Go to your user folder (typically /Users/<yourusername>) and browse to Library –> Application Support –> Microsoft, and drag the Launchpad folder to the trash
  3. Go to the root of your hard drive, and browse to Library –> Application Support –> Microsoft, and drag the Launchpad folder to the trash
  4. Go to the root of your hard drive, and browse to Library –> Preferences, and drag ‘com.microsoft.launchpad.plist’ to the trash
  5. Empty the Trash and reboot

That’s it. The connector has now been removed.

Technote: Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Router Setup

Quick note for those of you that may be setting up Small Business Server 2011 Essentials servers and are using the online documentation, there is a slight error. Currently the documentation for router configuration links to the wiki article for Small Business Server Standard and the ports required for proper operation of SBS Standard.

The only ports that need to be forwarded for Small Business Server 2011 Essentials are ports 80 and 443. Although, to be honest, you don’t even need port 80. Just train users to use https:// instead of http:// to access the Remote Access website.

P.S. If you use Windows Home Server 2011 or Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, the same port(s) need to be forwarded as well.

How-To: Configure Time Machine with Windows Home Server 2011

(UPDATE 04/11/2011 – Corrected error with sparseimage. Should be sparsebundle. Directions corrected.)

Note: These directions will not work with Mac OS X Lion as Apple has removed the necessary components to allow this functionality to work.

In today’s how-to, we’re going to setup Time Machine for a Mac client with the backups being stored on Windows Home Server 2011. These same steps should work with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials as well. (P.S. If after reading this, and you agree with me that setup could be easier, go here and vote.)

Step 1: Create shared folder on server

image

  • Click the Shared Folders and Hard Drives tab

image

  • Click Add a Folder, and fill in the details then click Next

image

  • Click Specific People, and then assign Read/Write permissions to the user account you wish to use on your Mac.

image  image

  • Click Add Folder,and then when the process is finished, click Close.

image  image

Step 2: Enable Network Volume Support and create SparseBundle file

  • On each Mac that you wish to back up, go to the Applications folder, then Utilities, then open Terminal and type the following command then press Enter.
    • defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.20.04 PM

  • We need to determine the MAC address of the Ethernet port (en0) to properly create the sparsebundle file. (NOTE: Even if you are using a wireless connection to backup, you MUST use the MAC address of the Ethernet port.) To do so, in the same Terminal window, type ifconfig and press Enter.  Look for the line starting with en0, and then look just below that for the line starting with ether and make note of the address on that line.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.20.42 PM

  • Now we will create the sparsebundle file that Time Machine will use. In the same Terminal  window, type the following command and press Enter. (NOTE: For the hard drive size, it needs to be the size of your hard drive. If you have a 160GB hard drive, then it will be ‘-size 160G’.)
    • hdiutil create –size <Hard Drive size>G –fs HFS+J –volname “<computername> Backup” <computername>_<MACAddress>.sparsebundle
      • Replace <Hard drive size> with the size of your hard drive
      • Replace <computername> with the name of your computer (Can be found in System Preferences –> Sharing) (Note: You may want to change the name to make it something short and simple.)
      • Replace <MACAddress> with the MAC Address you made note of in the previous step, leave out the colons in the address

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.21.54 PM

Step 3: Copy Sparsebundle to server and enable Time Machine

  • Close Terminal, then go to the Go menu and click Connect to Server, and type in smb://<ip address or name of server>, then press Enter. Choose the Shared Folder you created and click OK.
  • Browse to the location that the sparsebundle file was created in. This will most likely be the root of your user folder. (/users/<your username/)
  • Drag this sparsebundle file to the shared folder on the server

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.23.18 PM

  • After the file finishes copying, open System Preferences, and then click Time Machine

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.43.12 PM

  • Click Select Disk and select the shared folder on your server

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.43.27 PM

 

  • When prompted, enter the user name and password you wish to use and click Connect.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.43.40 PM

  • A countdown of 120 seconds should begin, and then once that countdown finishes, your backup should commence.

Screen Shot 2011-04-10 at 12.46.06 PM  Screen shot 2011-04-10 at 1.01.47 PM

Congratulations! You’ve just configured Time Machine with Windows Home Server 2011.