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RDS Part 3

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Remote Desktop Services: Part 3

This will be final part in our series about Remote Desktop Services. This part will focus on profile VHDs, which is a new feature in Server 2012 R2. This allows for the entire user profile to be contained in a VHD that gets mounted on any RDS host. This allows for a documents and settings to be the same across your entire farm.

Some things to consider with profile VHDs are the fact that they are collection based. That means that if you have a user in multiple RDS collections, they will get a different VHD for every collection. Also, as with traditional roaming profiles, it’s not a good idea for a user’s profile disk to be mounted in multiple VM’s, meaning that you should keep those to a minimum to avoid profile corruption. Finally, you need a file share to host the VHDs. This file share can be anywhere on your network, as long as the RDS hosts can access it. You should also ensure that this is a fast connection, as slow connections can have a negative performance impact.

Enabling profile VHDs is very simple, though it must be done on new collections. Currently, you cannot enable it on already-existing collections. To create a new collection, open Server Manager and select Remote Desktop Services. In the upper box, select “Create session collections”.

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The wizard will be the same as described in part 2 of this series, except for the User Profile Disks page:

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Specify a location to store the profile disks and a maximum size. The default maximum size is 20GB, but you can set it to whatever will fit your organizational needs. Complete the rest of the wizard as described in part two. The wizard will configure the share for your user profile VHDs. If this collection is designated for apps instead of a full desktop, you will still need to complete the section of part two the describes changing a collection from desktop to apps.

Weekly Tip

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Get IP Address for Entire Collection

This tip requires a limited knowledge of SQL Management Studio. Open Management Studio and paste this SQL query:

SELECT COLL.Name,IP.IP_Addresses0

FROM v_CM_RES_COLL_<collection ID> COLL,v_RA_System_IPAddresses IP

WHERE COLL.ResourceID = IP.ResourceID

ORDER BY IP.IP_Addresses0

Replace <collection ID> with the collection ID for the appropriate collection and execute the query. You will get two columns, one the with machine name and the other with the IP address. The query also sorts the results by IP address. If you would like it sorted by name, replace the ORDER BY line with this:

ORDER BY COLL.Name

Weekly Tip

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ConfigMgr 1511 Service Connection Point

This new role handles the ConfigMgr serving feature in v1511. It is automatically installed as part of the upgrade process. It contains two options:

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I recommend keeping the online, persistent connection option selected. This option does not actually install updates, but it will go ahead and download them for you and alert you that they are there. The offline option is more for environments that do not have an Internet connection.

Weekly Tip

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Modify the BIOS on a Dell machine

Download Dell Command | Configure here: http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/enterprise-client/w/wiki/7532.dell-command-configure.

Install it on one machine and make a copies of “C:Program Files (x86)DellCommand ConfigureX86” and “C:Program Files (x86)DellCommand ConfigureX86_64”. Use the cctk.exe tool contained in the folders to make your changes. You need the entire X86 or X86_64 folder as your source directory in SCCM, as it contains the driver the cctk needs to communicate with the BIOS.

For a full list of commands, see here: http://www.dell.com/support/manuals/us/en/19/dell-cmnd-config-v3.1/DCC_CLI-v4/Command-line-syntax?guid=GUID-61E28CF5-6240-42C2-B395-E5263AEA511D&lang=en-us. Example:

cctk.exe –autoon=everyday –valsetuppwd=<BIOS password>

If you do not have a BIOS password set, you can leave off –valsetuppwd.

Enable New Software Center in ConfigMgr 1511

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ConfigMgr 1511 – Enabling the New Software Center

ConfigMgr 1511 comes with a new version of Software Center. There are several advantages to this new version. First, it will now show both user and device deployments, meaning that your clients no longer need to go to the Application Catalog webpage. Second, it no longer requires Silverlight, which Microsoft deprecated earlier this year.

Enabling New Software Center

You must enable the new Software Center. To do this, open up your client settings by going to Administration > Client Settings. This is a device setting, so select the appropriate settings package. Now, under Computer Agent, find the option that says “Use new Software Center” and set it to “Yes”.

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That’s it. Once your devices update to the latest version of the SCCM client (5.00.8325.1000 or later), this policy will take over. One important note: if you have shortcuts defined anywhere for an old version of Software Center (one that points to C:WindowsCCMSCClient.exe), this shortcut will still open the old version of Software Center. If these shortcuts are required, I would suggest recreating them as files pushed by SCCM or Group Policy.

Application Catalog

Both of the Application Catalog roles are still required to be installed in your environment. Users can also still access the traditional Application Catalog by going to the Installation Status section of the new Software Center. The same link is still there:

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This link will only function if you set the “Default Application Catalog website point” option in the screenshot above.

No More Silverlight

As I mentioned above, this new version of Software Center no longer requires that you have Silverlight installed on your machines. To exclude it from being installed, use this parameter anywhere you install the client:

/skipprereq:silverlight.exe

This is a ccmsetup.exe parameter and not an MSI parameter. It can be added to your task sequences like this:

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RDS Part 2

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Remote Desktop Services: Part 2

In part of this series, we went over installing session-based RDS roles and installed them on servers in our RDS farm. In this part, we will deploy an application using RDS.

I have installed Notepad++ on my session host. Most of the work is done from Server Manager under the Remote Desktop Services node. To being, I’m going to create a new Collection. A collection is group applications deployed to a group of users. A collection can have as many applications as you would like, and as many groups assigned to them. To create a new collection, click “Create session collections” on the Overview page of the Remote Desktop Services node.

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The collection wizard is pretty simple – just walk through it giving the collection a name and an access group from Active Directory. I would recommend creating a group per collection.

After creating the collection, select it under collections in Server Manager.

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By default, RDS deploys the entire desktop instead of just the application. This is a collection setting, so if you click “Publish RemoteApp programs” in the middle of the window, we can convert this to just the application.

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Now we have the publish applications wizard. This wizard finds all of the applications installed on this server. You have to check the box of the application(s) you want to deploy. You can deploy multiple applications from the same server. I am deploying Notepad++, so I select that from the wizard and click Add.

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Next, the wizard asks you to confirm, and you click Publish.

Now if I launch my RDS web portal and log in, I see Notepad++ as an available option.

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Come back for the final part in this series about profile disks.

Weekly Tip

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Remove site server from ConfigMgr

All site system roles except for the Distribution Point role will also add the “Component Server” role in ConfigMgr. This role is supposed to automatically uninstall itself after all dependent roles are removed. Sometimes, when decommissioning a server, this does not happen. To force it, simply open the Site Server role and change ANY setting. Obviously the most easy to change is the one about site server connections. Just change any setting and save it. Within a few minutes, the Component Server role will disappear and you can delete the site system.

Weekly Tip

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Get BIOS information for machines in SCCM

This requires a limited knowledge of SQL Management Studio. This query, when executed against the SCCM database, will bring back BIOS information containing the computer name, BIOS version, BIOS release date, machine manufacturer, machine model, and BIOS description. Be sure to change <collectionID> to the collection ID where you want to search (make sure to leave the single quotes). I choose to sort the list by the computer model, but you change the ORDER BY line to sort by any column.

SELECT COLL.Name, BIOS.SMBIOSBIOSVersion0, BIOS.Manufacturer0, PRO.Version0, BIOS.ReleaseDate0, BIOS.Description0

FROM v_FullCollectionMembership COLL, v_GS_PC_BIOS BIOS, v_GS_COMPUTER_SYSTEM_PRODUCT PRO

WHERE COLL.ResourceID = BIOS.ResourceID AND COLL.ResourceID = PRO.ResourceID AND COLL.CollectionID = ‘<collectionID>’

ORDER BY PRO.Version0

Weekly Tip

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Set up Rooms in Office 365 for conference rooms, etc.

 

  1. Open Office 365 admin portal (https://portal.office.com/admin/default.aspx)
  2. Select “Meeting Rooms”
  3. Fill out the form, providing a room name, email address, and room capacity.
  • The email address will serve as the calendar name for the room when adding it to an event.
  • You can also add a location and phone number. The phone number field is helpful if the room as a conference phone in it.
  1. Click “Create”

 

You can now add the room to meeting events.

Weekly Tip

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Software Update Administration from ConfigMgr (the easy way)

I’ve seen ConfigMgr update administrators deploying updates to multiple collections, which can be time consuming. To simplify this, deploy updates to one collection of all servers or workstations (I would still do separate collections for these). Make sure that during the deployment, you do not tell the updates that they can run outside of maintenance windows. Then setup different collections for the servers and set the maintenance windows then. Even though the deployment is to a collection without a maintenance window, the machines will still not install updates and reboot until their assigned maintenance window.

Example collection structure:

All Server Updates      <– contains all servers in your environment, and where you deploy your Software Update group

Update Collection 1    <– contains first group of servers and maintenance window set for Monday at 2am

Update Collection 2    <– contains second group of servers and maintenance window set for Tuesday at 2am

Update Collection 3    <– contains third group of servers and maintenance window set for Wednesday at 2am