Tag Archives: Computing

FSMO Roles and moving them

I wrote last week about my move from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007, and in that article I mentioned that I moved my Domain Controller over at the same time.

There has been questions about what and how, so I’ve knocked this together for anyone that needs to do likewise.

In this scenario we have our old server, and we have our new freshly Server 2003’d server, OLD and NEW.

  • Install DNS on the NEW server, however do not configure it. To do this just add the DNS role through Add Remove programs. You may also need WINS if you use legacy OS’s.
  • Configure the NEW server’s network with a static IP, and the primary DNS should point to the OLD server for DNS, with itself as a secondary.
  • Join the domain on the new server (through computer properties) and reboot.
  • DCPromo the server upto a DC, you should join this server as ‘Additional Domain Controller for an Existing Domain’. This will automatically configure the DNS to replicate the DNS of the domain. Use the defaults for all the settings, unless you have a good reason not to. Make sure you remember the recovery password that you enter.

Write after a reboot at this point you will have two DC servers on your LAN (NEW and OLD), the problem is however that OLD will still be the FSMO master for all the roles in the domain, seeming as we are decommissioning this box we need to move all the roles.

  • First off we need to make the NEW server a Global Catalogue server, to do this launch ‘Active Directory Sites and Services’, now expand your site, then expand servers, select the NEW server, then right click and properties of NTDS Settings (on the right pain). Select the ‘Global Catalogue check box, now ok out of this screen.
  • Now change the properties of the NEW server network to point to itself for DNS as primary and the OLD server as secondary.

Now that the server is a GC server we can assign it FSMO Roles, lets do that.

  • Launch the ‘Active Directory Users and Computers’ from Admin tools.
  • Select the Domain and right click, select ‘connect to domain controller’, select NEW then ok.
  • Right click the Domain, select ‘Operations Masters’.
  • You should now see a screen with three tabs, Select the change button on each tab to migrate that role to the connected server.
  • Domain Naming Master must now be transferred. Launch the ‘Active Directory Domains and Trusts’ tool from Admin Tools.
  • Right click the root level, and select the ‘Connect to Domain Controller and select the NEW server.
  • Right click the root level, and select ‘Operations Master’ then Change. This should move the Ops Master role over to NEW.

The last couple of roles can either be done through script (as can all of the above), or with an ‘unsupported but shipped’ tool. We will use the later as it’s easiest to describe without going into how to use the NTDSUTIL.EXE tool.

  • First register the Schema Management tool by typing regsvr32 schmmgmt.dll into the run box on the server.
  • Now run MMC and add the Active Directory Schema snapin to it.
  • Right click the Domain name, and select ‘Change Domain Controller, select NEW server.
  • Right click the Domain name, and select ‘Schema Master’, then change.
  • Now we need to change the Site Licensing Server, to do this open ‘Active Directory Sites and Services’, now select Sites, then your domain, then on the right pain right click ‘Licensing Site Settings’ and then Change on the Licensing Computer area.

Ok nearly done now. Reboot the NEW server, and wait, what we are looking for is an event type of 1869 (or 1119, but we should get an 1869) to show up in the NEW servers Directory Service log. Whatever you do don’t shutdown the OLD server until you get this, else nobody will be able to logon, as we will not have a GC server on the lan.

When we get that Event happen, we can remove the Global Catalog role from the OLD server, this is done in the same way as we added it to NEW earlier.

Now we do some checks and force the PDC role over, and for this we will use NTDSUTIL.

  • Launch a command prompt
  • type NTDSUTIL
  • You should see ntdsutil: at the prompt. Here we type Roles and press enter
  • fsmo maintenance: connections and enter
  • server connections: connect to server NEW (or servername here) and enter
  • Connected to NEW using credentials of locally logged on user.
    server connections:
    CTRL-Z and enter
  • fsmo maintenance: Seize PDC
  • This should result in the server attempting a nice transfer of the role (which should already be on the NEW server). The results will also tell you about the other roles. If any of the roles are still on the OLD server, then type the appropriate command from below to seize the role on the NEW server.

    Seize infrastructure master
    Seize domain naming master
    Seize RID master
    Seize schema master
    Select operation target

That should be it. You can now DCPromo out the OLD server, and use the new server as if the OLD one did not exist.

The only things left that may need to do are, setup the helper addresses in DNS so the server can lookup Internet DNS names. Setup your DHCP Scope and options.

If there is anything that I have missed, then please let me know.

Intel 2915ABG

I've recently done a rebuild of my IBM T43 Laptop and bumped into an issue.

The Intel 2915ABG network card that's in the device has a load of issues. It seems to be a driver incompatibility between a good number of wireless routers and the drivers. That said I KNOW there are some drivers arounf that worked, I know because they did before a rebuild.

I unfortunatly forgot to write down the version that I was using (mistake). So does anyone know what drivers / settings (I know to turn the advanced power off) that work with this family of card.

If so let me know. I'm OK to surf, because all traffic on the inside of my LAN works just fine (so connection to my proxy works just fine), it's only Internet traffic that's an issue. Very odd.

Terratec Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity

The Terratec Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity is one of the first Diversity devices to reach the market.

Diversity allows you to take the best parts of the signal from two aerial sources and combine them to create the best signal possible.

The box includes everything you will need to use the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity straight away.

There is the device itself, a USB extension cable, remote, remote sensor, two magnetic aerials, two suction bases, converters for the mini aerial sockets, and the software.

Installation is as simple as inserting the device into a USB 2 socket, popping the driver CD into the drive and installing the software. After plugging the aerials in and scanning for channels using the Terratec Home Cinema software you are free to watch.

The version of Terratec Home Cinema that comes with the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity includes the Diversity mode.

To test the diversity mode I decided to see if the included aerials were capable of holding a BBC1 signal whilst on the move in a car. I stuck the aerials to the two separate side windows of the car, turned on the Diversity mode, and tuned into BBC1.

I was not expecting the channel to remain watchable, but to my surprise the channel was rock solid whilst I was driving at 40Mph. Even going around corners and driving into built up areas did not disrupt the signal! Quite impressive.

After testing using my laptop – as if I was a mobile user – I decided to see if the little USB device was good enough to use in another of its likely locations, in the home.

The reason I class this as a likely location for use is because media center PCs are getting slimmer and slimmer, and most PCI/PCI-E dual DVB-T tuners are full height cards and won't fit in some of the smaller cases. This means that if you want a dual DVB-T tuner, the easiest way is to use an external one like the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity.

To test the device in these conditions, I connected it to the Vista Media Center PC that I have been building to replace my Sky+ installation.

I was looking for a USB or half height dual DVB-T tuner, and when I had the chance to test the Cinergy device I jumped on it. The device fills all my needs: it should be reliable and well performing based on my previous tests of the XS's big brother the Cinergy 2400i DT, it is also well built and includes all the necessary drivers for Vista Media Center.

After plugging the device into my digital aerial and scanning for channels in Media Center I had a full channel lineup, a good sign as Media Center can be picky with channel reception.

I scheduled some recordings, making sure that some of them overlapped so I could test the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity's abilities when recording two channels at once, as this usually shows up any issues that may exist with bandwidth on the device and between the device and the PC.

No issues located however; the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity records two channels without any issues, and there is no sign of skipping and stuttering in the recordings, even on the channels that are difficult for some tuners to receive (Sky3/UKTV History).

Conclusion

The Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity is a great USB receiver. It is well built with a nice design, it has some really good features with the dual aerial inputs and the Diversity functionality. The only issue that I can see is that at the moment the Diversity functionality is only available when using the Terratec software, however some third party applications will enable its use shortly.

I can recommend this card to any laptop user that travels and would like to take a TV with them. I will also heartily recommend the device to anyone who does not have space in their Media Center PC for a full height card. The USB device could also be used to add two more tuners to an existing dual tuner Media Center setup, therefore allowing you to record three channels whilst watching a fourth (registry hacking is required to enable this).

The device retails for around 75GBP (111Euro/144USD) and for that price it is more expensive than some of its competition, but the build quality and Diversity functionality more than make up for the small price difference. Support seems to be as good with this device as with the Cinergy 2400i DT in that there is already 32 and 64bit BDA drivers for Vista available.

It is also worth noting that Terratec also sell an Apple version of the device, so even OSX users need not feel left out.

Vista Media Center

What is Media Center

Windows Media Center started life as Windows XP MCE 2004, and this was basically a nice 10ft front end (i.e. not the standard Windows 2ft interface, but specifically designed for much larger displays) to Media Player 8. It had some added functionality over the normal Media Player in that it could show a slide show of pictures, video and be controlled via a TV style remote. Windows XP MCE 2005 and MCE 2005 SR2 added to the features, allowing radio, pictures and stored videos over a network share to the media.

MCE 2005 also introduced the hosted HTML application framework to Media Center. This allowed third party developers to improve and add to the functionality of Media Center. 

Making a PC into a Media Center

My reasons for looking at setting up a full time Media Center PC came about due to the ever increasing price of subscription TV (Cable and Satellite in the UK). The price of a couple of months high-end subscription will upgrade a standard PC to a decent Media Center.

Free View (Digital Over The Air TV) is starting to take off in most European countries at the moment, and the UK is no different, so I decided to see if I could replace my Sky+ with a Media Center PC full time.

As I was already running Vista Ultimate Edition as my desktop OS on all but one PC in the house, I could add the Media Center functionality with no real difficulty. However, I am no stranger to Windows XP Media Center 2005, as I used to use it to stream video to my PocketPC.

After some research it seemed that for little outlay I could upgrade my home equipment to perform well in Vista and work as the replacement for Sky+.

What's Needed

I already had a case that was approved by the wife for use in the lounge, some memory and most other requirements. What I did need, however, was a decent dual channel TV tuner and a DVI capable Vista graphics card so I could plumb it into my Panasonic LCD.

Graphics was the easy part. I needed a half height card, that had HDMI/DVI (as the Panasonic does not have VGA) and it had to be Vista compliant.

After a little searching around it came down to either the nVidia 6200 series or the ATI X600. I decided on the ATI card in the end, really due to the fact that I am happy with ATI cards as most my PCs run one or another of the X series. This also makes driver updates easier, but the choice is yours.

I also needed a dual digital TV tuner for the half height chassis, this proved difficult. None of the well known manufacturers have one. They do all seem to have USB devices though, so with that in mind I went about looking into them.

I decided to use the Terratec Cinergy USB XS Diversity as it offers not only great build quality, but clever design as well. It also has Vista BDA (Media Center) drivers available for both 32 and 64bit (one of few). I have also go the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT which is a PCI-X dual tuner card in my other (upstairs) media center, this is the computer that feeds my PocketPC devices while I am on the move. Both of these cards will get the review they deserve shortly, as they are well worth a look.

You should also think about storage; Media Center does not decode the incoming TV stream nor do any encoding on it, and due to this all the recorded TV is in MPEG2 format, and can consume a good proportion of disk space. My PC has 3x250Gb Sata300 drives in a raid 5 configuration  for the storage, and a single Sata 300 drive for the OS. This configuration is not cheap, but then again it is not expensive nowadays either. It also has the benefit of being redundant for the video storage, and easily restorable for the OS as that is just an install away.

Operating Systems

To enjoy Media Center in Vista you will either need the Home Premium or Ultimate, with a compatible TV card (any of the Terratec Cinergy Cards come recommended).

First thing to do is to get your machine built with either of the Vista editions I mentioned earlier. Now click on the start menu and type Media Center and launch the application.

After launching, the initial setup screen will be shown. Go through this set of screens one by one and setup Media Center for your particular computer and configuration.

During setup Media Center will ask you details of where you live so it can setup the guide for your location and channel lineup, it will then scan for the TV channels that you can receive in your area and map the channels found to the correct channel names on the guide.

After all the setup is done, that's about it. I would recommend investing in a decent Media Center remote control as the ones that come with the Terratec cards are OK, but not really Media Center remotes. 

Media Center allows for all the, now standard, digital TV additions, these include live pause and timeshifting, as well as series recordings and searching for actor/genre/program. It also includes a decent DVD player.

This being Windows however, we can take things a lot further.

Add-ons

Media Center is a very extensible system in Vista. Almost all of the old Media Center 2005 hosted HTML Plugins that I have tried work great with Vista. However Vista's version of Media Center adds the new 'Windows Media Center Presentation Layer Applications', this is new in that as well as hosted HTML applications you can now host .NET Framework 3.0 XAML applications. This allows developers to add new animation and effects to their applications.

MyMovies allows you to copy your DVD's from disk onto your hard disk, and will download details of the film from IMDB.

WebGuide 4 allows you to connect to your PC over the internet to change the recording schedule of your PC.

MobileWares has some nice .NET 3.0 applications that are worthy of a look, both Big Screen Headlines and Big Screen Photos are  both great applications, and worthy of installation on any Media Center.

DVRMSToolbox is a great little application that will allow you to transcode recorded TV into WMV as well as remove or allow you to skip adverts.

MCEBrowser is a nice little wrapper for IE to allow you to surf the web from your sofa via a nice 10ft interface.

TVTonic is another great little application that also supports the new flashy Vista interface, and allows you to subscribe to media feeds. It then downloads them in the background so you can watch them at a later date. Great stuff.

Conclusion

Vista Media Center has moved on significantly from XP MCE 2005. Performance in general is improved, as is the reliability of the system as a whole, the new XAML based applications are a much needed improvement from the hosted HTML of 2005 as is the XBox360 integration. 

Vista MCE has a few other new tricks under it's bonnet, Microsoft have now integrated a decent MPG2 codec so third party DVD decoders are no longer needed, as is the DVD burning software. This allows the user to make use of some of the most important parts of the MCE experience. You can now backup your favorite TV or video to a DVD disk and watch it back at any point, on any DVD player.

So should you build a Media Center PC or just pop out and buy a TopField or TiVO. Well yes, it offers all of the functionality of a standard set top recorder, but with extensibility just a plugin away.

People have asked me in the past why a product that I, and many others believe is one of Microsoft's best has not taken off like it should have done? My feeling for this is it is due to the way it has been marketed in the past and the difficulties of integrating with cable and satellite television. Microsoft used to only sell MCE 2005 to OEM vendors (HP/Dell etc) and those vendors supplied Media Center PC's, they where usually expensive and underpowered machines. this and both of the pay for services have there own TiVo/Sky+ systems that where for the most most part 'less hassle' for end users. That combined with the fact that the free to view digital over the air channel lineup has not been good enough until relatively recently has impacted heavily on the success of MCE.

Things are changing however. People now require a more integrated experience, with the like of the Xbox 360 / Wii and PS3 on the market where a lot of diverse media can be integrated into one experience, people are looking for an all in one solution for all there digital media. This is where MCE excels, it's good integration of all sources of media, be it TV, Music or WebCasts. Also there has been agreement in the USA with the Fox Cable network that a cable tuner card will be available for Vista MCE allowing access to the full spectrum of programming in the USA, if Fox's sister company in the UK (Sky) allow a similar card for Satellite television in Europe would really mean that MCE would become a common site in lounges all around the world.

Links

Windows Media Center
Freeview
Terratec

Vista X64 and Media Center

I've recently upgraded my Media Center PC to a Core II Duo, and as a consequence I decided to try Vista X64.

Now this went on well, performed well, and for the most part worked great, I even had native driver support for everything I had connected.

The one place I did not think there would be a problem was with Media Center. Now the issue is not Media Center itself, but rather the fact that it is a native X64 application, because of this it needs X64 versions of all the codec's I use.

However there are no X64 codecs around, none! FFDShow has a variant that will not play back XVid/DivX at all, and makes a hash of most other things as well.

The *Nix world has had native 64bit support for things for quite a while now, so why is the windows world dragging their heals?

I think it's because the X64 WinXP was for all intense and purpose a 32Bit OS anyhow, there was no 64Bit apps.

Yes it's the old chicken egg syndrome, vendors wont write x64 stuff, because no-one has it, but people wont install it because x64 stuff does not exist.

I was willing to try the Vista x64 stuff, because I thought I could struggle through until it took hold, but I cannot, a media center without any media is just not worth it.

So back to 32Bit Vista for me it is. Please someone let me know when x64 wakes up and starts being useful!

Windows Mobile Device Center

Update – Microsoft have released this (for RC1 but works in RTM, I'm sure a new version will be out for Launch).

Dan pointed me in the direction of this blog.

I've done as suggested, and it works a charm on my laptop, syncing to my HTC Universal (please note however, this is an UNSUPPORTED way to get the WMDC installed. The current WMDC is for private/internal Microsoft testing only, and get's updated regularly. So there is a risk in using it.)

  • Make sure your Mobile device is unplugged
  • What you have to do is this, Fire up regedit and pop along to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft 
  • Right Click the Microsoft key, then select New – Key
  • Create a new key called WHOS
  • Close Regedit down, now connect your device and let it connect. You know it's />connected when the storage is visible in the My Computer explorer.
  • Now Goto Windows Update, make sure it says it will update Windows and Other Applications (see image right)
  • Click the Check for updates in the top left corner.
  • It should detect a new driver update called 'Microsoft Corporation driver update for Microsoft Windows Mobile Remote Adapter'
  • Let Windows Update install the new driver.
  • Plug in your Windows Mobile device, and hey presto you can now sync with Outlook or the Windows Mail/Contacts
  • I'm not really sure why Microsoft have 'left this out' of the current builds of Vista. Although I suppose they have not, you have to download the update from Windows Update.

I've tried this with both Windows Mobile 5, and Windows Mobile 2003. The experience is not bad at all, very much improved on ActiveSync.

WMDC_Pictures.jpg

The system works with Office 2007 B2TR fine for syncing contacts etc. Also I quite like the way it shows you new items like pictures, video and music etc.

The application install experience is a little hit and miss at the moment. Some installers check for the ActiveSync process running, obviously it's not there so they fail.

SyncCenter.JPGHowever most applications install and work fine. After you've got it all running, and you want to find your way back to the application, then it's in the control panel, or if you have the green Sync Center icon in the taskbar then double click that and you will get the Sync Center up. This has all of your synchronisations in it for files, folders and now mobile devices.

Oh on a side note, the images are all taken using one of my favorite bit's of Vista, Vista Sniping Tool is brilliant. If you want to run it, just click start, then type snipper into the search.

The reg file needed looks like this (open notepad and paste the contents below in Italic into it then save as wmdc.reg)

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WHOS]

For those still struggling to get this installed, try downloading this msi installer and running it AFTER setting the registry. I would sudgest you then reboot the machine and do a windows update to check for a new version (as this one may be out of date).

Virtual Server 2005 SP1 Beta

The latest beta for the Microsoft Virtual Server product is out. New in the SP1 product (but not necessarily in the beta) are :-

  • Support for Intel VT capable Processors (Hardware virtualization support)
    Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 includes support for Intel® Virtualization Technology. By default, hardware assisted virtualization is enabled if present. Support for Intel® Virtualization Technology can also be specifically enabled or disabled on a per virtual machine basis by toggling the "Enable hardware-assisted virtualization if available" option in the general properties configuration page. Users should refer to their system’s documentation on how to enable Intel® Virtualization Technology.
  • Virtual SCSI Fix for *nix guest os's
    Some users encountered an Continue reading Virtual Server 2005 SP1 Beta