MDT – WinPEshl.ini what does it do?

Published / by Rens Hollanders / Leave a Comment
 

Something I’ve had on my blogroll for a long time and now finally found some time to write about it.

This little ini file is very important in the process of MDT doing what it does. As some of you may know, MDT uses a standard WinPE image which will be modified on the fly during the “update deploymentshare process” where boot images are generated, drivers embedded, the wallpaper and extra files are set.

After booting the WinPE image it will automatically start a VB script and call the parameters trying to connect with the deploymentshare. This all starts with WinPEshl.ini.

After installing the MDT software on your workstation or (management) server, you will find the ini file on a special location: C\Program Files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\Templates.

When you open the file the contents are as following:

Now for instance let’s say you would want something to execute prior to starting the process of connecting to the deployment share, you have some options:

  1. Modify the WinPEshl.ini
  2. Modify the MDT generated boot image after deploymentshare update
  3. Modify the default boot image

The default boot image which MDT uses as base for the modified MDT boot image can be found in the following two locations:

  1. x64: C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation Environment\amd64\en-us
  2. x86: C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation Environment\x86\en-us

In my opinion it is best to stick with modifying the WinPEshl.ini for several reasons:

  1. Its traceable, easy documented by saying locating there and there is modified with x and y
  2. Its consistent, if you are altering a MDT generated and updated boot image, you need to do this every single time when you completely regenerate the boot images. I believe that when you are merely updating the existing images nothing changes
  3. It’s considerably faster to modify the ini file, then mounting a wim image with dism providing its customizations.

So what customizations are we talking about here, well I have encountered the following requests:

  1. Running scripts such as placing DNS suffix priority in a multiple domain environment
  2. Running scripts to wipe the disk entirely (for particular machines) preventing the dirty environment found error pop-up
  3. Running diagnostic tasks, password scripts etc.

So to end this, I think WinPEshl.ini is a need little file that has a huge responsibility in the process of MDT which can easily be altered to accomplish things that need to go outside and before the deployment process takes place.

For more info please see: Winpeshl.ini Files

Cheers! Rens

Activating Adobe Acrobat in a non-persistent environment

Published / by Rens Hollanders / Leave a Comment
 

So, yeah recent events at a customer lead me to writing this article for my own purposes of documenting what I did and sharing this with you to prevent the frustration I’ve encountered.

Lets just say Adobe isn’t that keen on using its software in a SBC environment or VDI infrastructure. Or you might say they still have the perception of the traditional stand alone work-space. -This is just my opinion

Using a product such as Adobe Acrobat DC requires activation for every single user that uses it, perhaps you have encountered it before. Upon starting Adobe Acrobat, the program closes itself and you are prompted with the following screen:

This to me is just unfeasible in a SBC or non-persistent environment, I guess that’s why this application gets packaged into a Microsoft App-V or VMware thinapp so often.

But since we haven’t got these tools to our possession we needed a different solution. This solution can be found by using adobe_prtk.exe which is part of the Adobe Provisioning Toolkit.

First of all we discovered the customer had a single user license, which will get you nowhere if you want to activate the product for multiple users. Adobe is software that cannot be easily fooled around with (which is a good thing from a anti-piracy standpoint).

So after a quick chat with Adobe support and the software distributor, the client purchased a volume license based on the English language (since this was cheaper).

Now we where able to activate and stream the license (that’s the way Adobe works) to the machines. To do this we will need the following things:

  1. The serial number
  2. Grant an offline exception for the product through the Adobe Customization Wizard
  3. Know if the product is Continues Track or Classic Track (see here)
  4. License ID or LEID (see here)
  5. The command lines

As I said before you’ll need a volume license serial number, the track the customer had or used was “Continuous” and the accompanying “LEID” is: “V7{}AcrobatESR-12-Win-GM”

This leads to the following command line for Adobe_PRTK.exe: “Adobe_prtk –tool=VolumeSerialize –generate –serial=XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX –leid=V7{}AcrobatESR-12-Win-GM –regsuppress=ss –eulasuppress”

As you can see, the Return Code is “0”, which is a good thing. After running the command above a prov.xml is generated. This file holds the license information. This “prov.xml” file on it’s turn can be used to stream the activation of Adobe Acrobat against machines that are non-persistent such as a VDI work-space, Citrix XenApp MCS or PVS etc.

The command line to use the prov.xml is: adobe_prtk.exe” –tool=VolumeSerialize –provfile=”prov.xml” –stream

Again if everything is successful the Return Code will be “0”. We have created a job that after every boot or reboot the command line above is executed against every machine Adobe Acrobat is installed on.

This will resolve the “sign-in required” screen in your user sessions. The activation is machine based, however make sure people cannot start Adobe Acrobat more times then you have licenses for.

This situation resolved the activation issues with the customer. However there was one oddity happening which we have recently discovered. If you have supplied alternative languages in the Adobe Acrobat Customization Wizard DC, you will need to provide and purchase a license in the desired language. So if you want to have a Dutch Acrobat installation, purchase a Dutch license (licenses in other languages appear to be more expensive then native English).

Our software distributor provided a English license because this was cheaper for the client, but when the client switched the desktop from English to Dutch, Adobe needed activation again, the currently streamed license was insufficient and the “Sign-in” required screen prompted again. To avoid this make sure you will only install the English language.

After returning the question to the software distributor the feedback was as following:

Purchase the language you desire and English is always available, purchase a English only license and no other language can or may be selected.

Hope you find this useful and it will save you time and energy.

– Something wrong? Did I mess up, talking BS or got another trick up your sleeve? Please let me know in the comment section!

Cheers! Rens

Download Windows ADK: The numerous versions of Microsoft Windows ADK (Assessment and Planning Toolkit)..and where to find them!

Published / by Rens Hollanders / 4 Comments on Download Windows ADK: The numerous versions of Microsoft Windows ADK (Assessment and Planning Toolkit)..and where to find them!
 

adk_en

…You get my point right?

As a core prerequisite for Microsoft’s Deployment Toolkit Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) successor: Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK), count’s numerous versions out there wandering the interwebs. As I’m always looking for the latest version available whenever I perform a Microsoft Deployment Toolkit implementation, I thought it would be nice to create and maintain a list of the most recent versions of ADK out there.

I went on a little investigation and came to the following table:

Name Installed Version URL Release Date
Windows ADK for Windows 10 v1607 10.1.14393.0 Download Sept. 2016
Windows ADK for Windows 10 v1511 10.1.10586.0 Download Oct. 2015
Windows ADK for Windows 10 RTM 10.0.26624.0 Download July. 2015
Windows ADK for Windows 10 10.0.10240.0 Download July. 2015
Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 8.100.26866 Download Sept. 2014
Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 update 8.100.26629 Apr. 2014
Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 update 8.100.26020 Oct. 2013
Windows ADK for Windows 8.1 RTM 8.100.25984 Sept. 2013
Windows ADK for Windows 8 8.59.25584 Download Dec. 2012
Windows ADK for Windows 10 v1703 10.1.15063 Download March. 2017

I will continue to expand this list as new versions come available. If you have any missing info like download links of the versions listed above. Please do not hesitate to contact me!

Cheers! Rens

Check Adobe Flash version Internet Explorer (Active-X) on Server 2012/2016 and Windows 8.1/10

Published / by Rens Hollanders / Leave a Comment
 

Hi there,

Just a very short post, because sometimes you’re search queries on Google don’t match the result you are looking for. I was looking for a way to detect which version of Adobe Flash is native installed on clients Windows Server (which happens to be Server 2012R2) and what it’s current patch level would be.

If you click this link (it point’s to Adobe’s website) and click on the button: “Check Now”, it will give you a result of which version of Adobe Flash is installed for Internet Explorer

checknow

After hitting “Check now” you will see the following result:

result

If you want to know which other versions of Adobe Flash player are installed for example for Google’s Chrome (PPAPI)  and Mozilla’s Firefox (NPAPI), then type in your start screen: appwiz.cpl which will bring you directly to the installed programs menu of the control panel.

Cheers! Rens

Travel – Going to Sziget Festival as a First Timer

Published / by Rens Hollanders / Leave a Comment
 

Yes! This is a blog about my travel experiences to the Sziget 2016 festival on the Obudai Island in Budapest Hungary. Not something you would expect on my website, since I mostly write technical pieces. But I wanted to share my experience with other people who are interested in going to Sziget Festival

sziget logo

Travel:

We traveled by car at night from the Netherlands through Germany, Austria all the way to Hungary. Be sure to purchase vignettes for Austria and Hungary if you travel by car. We arrived Sunday in the afternoon at approx. 13:00 o clock, is it smart to arrive early? Yes because you are the first among others, already can start building a party but you’ll have to wait before the island opens. Then you’ll have the perfect chance to find a quiet and shady spot to pitch your tent.

Coming in early?:

Coming early gives you the opportunity to explore the full island before anything has started yet. The downside is that arriving early feels the same like the Olympic Games in Brazil, nothing is finished everything is still in the process of building and fixing things.

We pitched our tent on Camping Bridge which isn’t far from the main entrance. This is very convenient if you don’t want to haul your stuff halfway over the island, also it’s quite some distance from the main stage, A38, Colosseum and Europe stage, so the noise of people and music is a bit less than average but you should bring some good and multiple earplugs anyway.

Upgrades:

Upon buying your tickets you have a few options like: Camping Upgrade, Pre-party, moving in x days earlier, buying a parking ticket, renting a locker with 230v power

The camping upgrade is worth the money if you want to have a fresh and guaranteed shower in the morning. At 8 o clock there are no queues and there is hot water, so if you like to stay clean like me, showering is definitely worth the money. Each camping also advertises with Wi-Fi, but don’t expect much of it. If you are addicted to Facebook, Instagram, twitter or snapchat, buy a local sim card or up your plan with a ‘foreign mobile bundle’. Camping security is good in general, people ask you to show your wristbands, people are patrolling over the area by foot or bike and everything is kept very clean, including toilets and showers.

On the special camping’s you’ll also find pre-pitched tents which are for rent. Again this is convenient when traveling light if you travel by plain, bus or train. But consider you are side by side with your snoring neighbors and the Quechua 2 seconds for 2 persons is actually a 1 person tent. To stuff your gear and have some space, you’ll need a bigger tent then that.

A locker with 230v power might come in handy if you are not carrying an old Nokia (which still lasts for a week on a single charge) be sure to bring a power socket so you can share the 230v power outlet with more than one device.

Moving in some days earlier, I already explained has some advantages. This extends the Sziget experience and allows you to visit Budapest on the day’s that the festival isn’t in effect.

Supermarket “Auchan”:

Not far from the island near when you are standing in front of the main entrance bridge, you’ll have a look back over your shoulder and you’ll see a big chimney rising out among other buildings. Walk over there to find a huge supermarket called “Auchan” where you can buy food, drinks, supplies and camping gear such as camping chairs and airbeds, if you can spare the money or are traveling light this is the place to be. Beer is as cheap as 200 forint for Stella, Heineken or Becks, but be aware it is not allowed to bring alcohol to the island, just like any glass jars or bottles. You can try smuggling it in, but if they’ll find it you have to drink it up right away or throw it away.

Food and Drinks:

Food and drinks are good and cheap if you are used to the prices of other festivals like PinkPop, RockWerchter, PukkelPop or Rock am Ring, a beer (0.5 liter that is!) sells for approx. 2,2 euro and it’s called “Dreher Classic” which you can get canned or tapped. They also have a second beer called “Dreher Hidegkomlos” which is more fruity and hoppy kind of beer which I can definitely recommend.

Cocktails which seem are fresh-made sell for approx. 5 euro’s which is still affordable, and come in al sizes up to a bucket of 5 liters for the big spenders.

Food wise you can eat almost anything but be aware of products with meat and fish (like salmon) wait a little bit until the festival is in full effect and there is enough food in circulation so you’ll know for sure it’s fresh and hasn’t been lying around for a day. I cannot stress enough that you need to choose your food wisely. For instance, we’ve wanted to buy a box of pasta which was lying in one of those big paella dishes. The person scooped some pasta in the box and then went off with it, presumably to the microwave. We have experienced that before with some Thai food 2 days earlier, and the day after that I felt sick in my stomach. So we preferred not to eat food which needed to be reheated in the microwave. Something I definitely can recommend are the burgers from “Zing & Co”

The general mood of people is relaxed an friendly. Everybody is in a good mood and you can have some good fun on the festival.

Camera’s:

About bringing camera’s to the venue, I saw some people walking around with DSLR, I’m not sure security is really tight about it if you are not a professional photographer, but I think with all the system camera’s and swappable lenses nowadays, they are not going to stop you if you bring an advanced camera. Beware though that valuable items should be kept somewhere safe.

City pass:

The City pass can be bought upfront through the web shop of the Sziget Festival or at the top-up points on the festival site itself. The city pass offers some great advantages (if you are intended to use them):

  • Discount on hop on, hop off transportation
  • Discount on visiting bath houses, including free entrance for 1 bath house
  • Free usage of public transport, including bus, train, metro and tram
  • Available for 13 days, and 2 days

We’ve bought a City pass for 13 days thinking it would be really convenient to travel everywhere any time, but to be honest we used the City pass only once, the day we visited Budapest. So basically we’ve payed 33 euro’s for one day of public transport. Next time I’d say a 2 day’s City pass would suffice.

Pre-party:

We had bought ourselves a ticket for the pre-party which was held on Tuesday evening, the day before the festival started. We were a bit surprised about the location of the pre-party since it was of the island, and on a boat (the A38 boat) which is situated 10 kilometers from Obudai Island. To attend the pre-party you needed to buy an additional ticket which costs: 12,50 euro. We’ve bought it if only to support a Dutch band we really like called “Bombay”, the pre-party isn’t really worth it in my opinion. There are already some parties on the island by bars that are already finished building up, although they don’t have parties till early in the morning, it is enough to pass time until the festival starts. The pre-party however wasn’t really crowded, is mostly visited by Dutch people and is organized by Festival Travel, which has nothing to do with Sziget organisation itself.

Music:

-Aaaah yes!!! The music, the most important part of any festival, looking back at this year’s edition it was a very varied line up with numerous bands and performers. The most disappointing of all, and also confirmed at other festivals such as PukkelPop in Belgium was Rihanna. Yes such a gigantic name draws attention and sells tickets, but when it comes to performance and value for money, you are stuck with a singer which not only comes too late on the stage (between approx.. 20 to 45 minutes) but also doesn’t finish one song completely, does not sing live (at least no more than one or two consecutive songs), has no band, and actually no show. Compare this to a band like Muse, or Die Antwoord and you are still swooning about those performances. What I kind of like about the Sziget Festival is that it isn’t packed with bands throughout the day. In comparison to other festivals, Sziget start their main program around 4:45 pm when the first bands hit the stages, and all mainstream band’s, singers or other acts have their last performance around 11:45 pm and 1:00 am.

Will we go back?:

First I was thinking no, because we planned Sziget basically as our summer holiday, and we were 10 days abroad in Hungary and liked the combination of visiting one the world’s largest festivals with a city trip to Budapest. Also the fact that we don’t know other people that would want to visit this kind of festival’s for such a long period of time, makes it harder for us to go back there. Going alone is fine, but having some company, amusing yourself makes a big difference in festival experience.

But, perhaps there will be a chance we go back, most important thing for me personally is the music. I don’t really care about anything that happens on the festival besides the music. I know there is an insane amount of things to do on Sziget, but I mostly care for seeing bands and enjoying their performances. Be sure to check Sziget next year since  it will be its 25th anniversary, and I think they are going to celebrate this big time.

So far my story of visiting Sziget as a first timer, I’ll leave you behind with some photos and videos I’ve made during the festival.

My personal top 5 of the festival where:

1. Editors
2. M83
3. Oscar and the Wolf
4. Muse
5. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

AfroJack – Opening:

Editors – Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors

Muse – Mercy

Bloc Party – Song In Clay

Sum 41 – In Too Deep

Sia – Cheap Thrills

MO – Kamikaze

Oscar and the Wolf – Joaquim

M83 – Steve McQueen

And finally, Dj Hardwell closing moments with Fireworks: