CCMEXEC.COM – System Center blog

CCMEXEC.COM – by Jörgen Nilsson

System Center 2012 Sp1 beta is available for download! :D

Some of the news from the blog post from the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team

Configuration Manager SP1 enhancements include:

  • Deployment and management of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
  • Distribution point for Windows Azure to help reduce infrastructure costs
  • Automation of administrative tasks through PowerShell support
  • Management of Mac OS X clients and Linux and UNIX servers

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Beta is now available for download here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=34607

More information in what is included in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 can be found on Technet Library: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj591552.aspx

For the whole blog post: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2012/09/10/system-center-2012-configuration-manager-sp1-beta-and-windows-intune-update.aspx

Download it and try it out with Server 2012 and Windows 8!

CMTrace.exe (former Trace32.exe) is a must have and probably one of the tools you use most as a Configuration Manager Administrator if you don’t count the Admin Console it self of course.  CMTrace is a fantastic tool to view Configuration Manager log files, it is truly a life saver.
In Configuration Manager 2012 it is included in the actual installation of Configuration Manager instead of beeing and additional download.

You find CMTrace.exe in <ConfigMgr install folder>\Tools on the Primary Site server, it is also included by default in the Boot Images, thank you for that! I always copy it to all computers in my environment during OSD so I have it everywhere where I might need it.

One feature that I find extremely useful but still not known/used by that many is the possibility to merge log files in one view. It is really great as it will provide a simple overview of for instance all log files involved in Software Update Management sorted by timestamp so you can see exactly when different steps are completed or what happend just before an error.

You can choose to open multiple log file as the same time and select to merge them.

cmtrace_1

Then you can follow all events related in the same view, great!!

cmtrace_2

While writing this I found that Rob Marshall – ConfigMgr MVP put together even more information about CMTrace features, it is a really good article which I recommend reading:

http://wmug.co.uk/wmug/b/r0b/archive/2013/10/27/lab-system-center-2012-configuration-manager-6-cmtrace.aspx

A question I am getting a lot and which has been discussed many times is: ”why should we use Configuration Manager for deploying Software Updates instead of WSUS?” or “I use WSUS today and it works fine, why should I switch?”

I put together this list with some of the strongest arguments why you should move to the Configuration Manager 2012 for managing Software Updates.

  1. One Client:
    The ConfigMgr client controlling all installations on a computer, both software updates and application installations. No more “Another installation is already running errors”. When ConfigMgr installs a software update to a c client Software distribution is paused to avoid these situations. When using a standalone WSUS the ConfigMgr client and WSUS client often tries to install software updates at the same time, which results in an error which is a hazard both for the end user and to the IT department. This is the one thing that many don’t think about but I think is one of the most important once.
  2. Reporting:
    There are many built-in reports for Software Update Compliance, troubleshooting and details. The reports combined with all the other information ConfigMgr holds about your clients in your environment you can easily create really powerful and customized reports that you need in your environment.
  3. Unified Management / One console to rule them all:
    When using Configuration Manager 2012 for Software Updates as well as all other features in Configuration Manager 2012 like Application Management, OSD, Settings Management, inventory and now also Endpoint Protection you will have a single management console for you environment.
  4. Maintenance Windows:
    Maintenance Windows can be used to control when changes are allowed to be made to a specific systems. This means that you deploy the update once and then based on Maintenance Windows the updates are installed and the servers are rebooted according to the deployment. More information about Maintenance Windows: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh508762
  5. Scheduling:
    In Configuration Manager 2012 we have much more available options when it comes to scheduling an update and in combination with Maintenance Windows it is truly powerful.
  6. One Infrastructure:
    The actual software update files are downloaded from the local DP and not the WSUS/SUP server. This means that you will not need a separate WSUS infrastructure and the updates are downloaded from the DP which minimizes the WAN impact for remote sites.
  7. Automatic deployment rules:
    This isn’t really a benefit compared to WSUS, but as it is a new feature of Configuration Manager 2012 I will still add it to the list. It is possible to automatically approve updates, download them and distribute them to the DP’s automatically, just as you would in WSUS. More Information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg682168
  8. System Center Updates Publisher:
    You can use System Center Updates Publisher to both download vendors catalog’s with updates like Adobe, HP and Dell and to publish your own updates into the WSUS DB and deploy them as updates in Configuration Manager 2012. More Information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh134742.aspx
  9. OS deployment integration:
    A built-in task is available and can be used to deploy software updates from Configuration Manager during the OS deployment in the Task Sequence.
  10. End user experience:
    Software center is used for all end-user interaction, dialogs shown to the user all have the same look, making it easier for end user to understand what is happening.
  11. Targeting:
    Using query based collections we get really powerful options for targeting. We can dynamically create a collection based on any value that exists in the database for instance divide all clients based on the last number in the computer name, and deploy software updates to computers with odd computers on one day and all with even numbers the day after. Spreading the load and the risk automatically.
  12. Offline Servicing of Images:
    If you use ConfigMgr 2012 for managing your Software Updates you can use the built in feature to do offline servicing on you OS Images,  which means that you can install OS related Software Updates in the image without rebuilding the image. This will reduce the number of times you have to rebuild the image. More information: http://blogs.technet.com/b/inside_osd/archive/2011/04/18/configuration-manager-2012-offline-servicing-for-operating-system-images.aspx

If you haven’t made the switch already, what are you waiting for?

Thanks to Jason Sandys for reviewing the content and providing feedback, Thanks!

Cumulative Update 1 for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is now released! A list of fixed issues as well as the download for the CU1 Update can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2717295

The move to a Cumulative Update model is great news for all of us that work with Configuration Manager as it will be much easier to manage compared to how hotfixes are released and handled  in previous versions! Exiting news!

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager will have a new update model, which will minimize individual hotfixes and use Cumulative Update bundles instead. The Cumulative Updates will be released on a regular basis.

This is great news! as it will make it much easier to keep you Configuration Manager environment up to date. :D

It is describe both in this excellent blog at the System Center Configuration Manager Team blog: http://blogs.technet.com/b/configmgrteam/archive/2012/08/10/new-cumulative-update-servicing-model-for-system-center-2012-configuration-manager.aspx

More details about Cumulative Updates are available on Technet Libray: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj553405.aspx

I have been using different script and solutions to tattoo the registry during OSD with useful information. There was a question a while ago on Technet forum for a script that could be used to tattoo the registry with Task Sequence variables values it can be found here: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/configmanagerosd/thread/24cd277c-d8cb-4dad-a10e-a087a2e5a791/#7d11e483-83a4-4d97-9721-f6a359f6717f

After that I have been using it myself a couple of times to tattoo the client registry during OS deployments, rewrote it a bit and here it is:

I write some values in the Task Sequence which I the pick up in the script like Clientversion, TSVersion like this:

osdtatoo1

The script then simply picks up the Task Sequence variables you are interested in and writes it to the registry like below. It is then really simple to extend the HW inventory in Configuration Manager to include the newly created registry key and then you can create your own reports for when computer where installed and of course used to populate collections.

Then you can create a collection if all computers deployed with a specific version of the TS for instance and target it with updates.

The script will create a registry key for you under HKEY_Local_Machine\Software,  just change the value in the script.

osdtatoo3

To implement it:

1. Modify the script to create a registry key with a name of your choice,  strKeyPath = “SOFTWARE\CCMEXEC”
2. Create a package containing the script
3. Add the two task sequence variables I use above if you don’t edit the script. TSversion and Clientversion
4. Add Run command line step in the TS after the Setup Windows and Configuration Manager step( as we want to be in the installed OS) that runs the script.

Then you are ready to test the script.

It is really easy to add more variables to the script if you need to, here is the list of all available built in TS variables: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh273375.aspx

The script, can be downloaded in a text file here as well: Download

' Sample script to Tattoo the registry during a SCCM task seqeunce with usefull information

' Written by Jorgen@ccmexec.com

dim osd
dim oreg
dim strkeypath
Dim env
const HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE = &H80000002
set env = CreateObject("Microsoft.SMS.TSEnvironment")
Set oReg=GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\.\root\default:StdRegProv")
'Variables
'Main Registry Key path
strKeyPath = "SOFTWARE\CCMEXEC"
'Values
IntallDateTime = formatdatetime(date,2) & " " & formatdatetime(time,3)
AdvertisementID = env("_SMSTSAdvertID")
Organisation = env("_SMSTSOrgName")
TaskSequenceID = env("_SMSTSPackageID")
Packagename = env("_SMSTSPackageName")
MediaType = env("_SMSTSMediaType")
TSVersion = env("TSVersion")
ClientVersion = env("Clientversion")
MachineName = env("_SMSTSMachineName")
Installationmode = ("_SMSTSLaunchMode")
'Create the main Registry Key
oReg.CreateKey HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath
'Write Values to the Registry
Call writereg ("Installed Date", IntallDateTime)
Call writereg ("AdvertisementID",AdvertisementID)
Call writereg ("Organisation",Organisation)
Call writereg ("Task Sequence Name",Packagename)
Call writereg ("Media Type",MediaType)
Call writereg ("Task Sequence version",TSVersion)
Call writereg ("Client Version", ClientVersion)
Call writereg ("Computername", MachineName)
Call writereg ("Installation Type", Installationmode)
'----------- Write to registry ---------------
Function writereg(strValueName, strValue)
oReg.SetStringValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath,strValueName,strValue
End Function

' Sample script to Tattoo the registry during a SCCM task seqeunce with usefull information

' Written by Jorgen@ccmexec.com

dim osd

dim oreg

dim strkeypath

Dim env

const HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE = &H80000002

set env = CreateObject("Microsoft.SMS.TSEnvironment")

Set oReg=GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\.\root\default:StdRegProv")

'Variables

'Main Registry Key path

strKeyPath = "SOFTWARE\CCMEXEC"

'Values

IntallDateTime = formatdatetime(date,2) & " " & formatdatetime(time,3)

AdvertisementID = env("_SMSTSAdvertID")

Organisation = env("_SMSTSOrgName")

TaskSequenceID = env("_SMSTSPackageID")

Packagename = env("_SMSTSPackageName")

MediaType = env("_SMSTSMediaType")

TSVersion = env("TSVersion")

ClientVersion = env("Clientversion")

MachineName = env("_SMSTSMachineName")

Installationmode = ("_SMSTSLaunchMode")

'Create the main Registry Key

oReg.CreateKey HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath

'Write Values to the Registry

Call writereg ("Installed Date", IntallDateTime)

Call writereg ("AdvertisementID",AdvertisementID)

Call writereg ("Organisation",Organisation)

Call writereg ("Task Sequence Name",Packagename)

Call writereg ("Media Type",MediaType)

Call writereg ("Task Sequence version",TSVersion)

Call writereg ("Client Version", ClientVersion)

Call writereg ("Computername", MachineName)

Call writereg ("Installation Type", Installationmode)

'----------- Write to registry ---------------

Function writereg(strValueName, strValue)

oReg.SetStringValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath,strValueName,strValue

End Function

I have used these right-click tools many times, some say “you cannot live without them”! They are now available in a single download both for Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012:

http://myitforum.com/myitforumwp/2012/09/21/sccm-rctools/

Great stuff!!

Lenovo joins Dell and HP  by having SCCM Driver Packs that you can download for at least from what I have seen so far newer models only.
This is a great initiative from Lenovo to join Dell and HP as the leaders in delivering Laptops and Desktops for the enterprise segment.

When you download drivers check under the category Enterprise Management..

lenovo

This is great news!

Well spotted Oddvar! this is truly great news! http://msitpros.com/?p=1392