Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why not bike to work


OK, so I finally admit that riding a bike is cheaper transportation than driving a car. If you cooincidently live far enough away from work, you can definitely lose weight as well. Since I live 25 miles from work, a ride on a bicycle three days a week, well, you do the math. This has helped me to lose 25 lbs., plus it has put a little more pep in the step and allowed me to try out a couple of triathlons too. I would absolutely, without question, take up biking as an exercise routine. If you can get away with riding to work, you take advantage of saving the gas as well. Some companies like mine provide financial assistance for car-pooling, biking, motorcycling to work. I also believe that part of the bailout bill allows for tax breaks for bicycle commuters.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The proper way to throw your golf club

I love golf and came across this. Too hard to pass up.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Branding the Altiris Software Portal with your Company Logo


I ran across this scenario this week and thought you might be interested in an easy way to brand the software portal with your corporate logo.

I renamed the disks.gif file in the %programfiles%\altiris\software delivery subdirectory to disks.gif_bak. I then modified our corporate logo to be the same size as the original gif file making sure the background of the logo was transparent, and named it disks.gif and copied it into the same directory.

The file I replaced provided the CD/Disk logo that was in the upper left pane of the software portal. This was easier than installing the Altiris SDK and becoming a codemaster. Although this is probably now supported, I found it an easy way to brand the software portal that we are about to use for departmental moves and software requests. The end result will look something like the screenshot attached.

Friday, March 28, 2008

How to use PC Transplant to make Userprofile Settings in Deployment Server

This topic has always been a sore subject with customers and Altiris when it comes to using Deployment Server. The feature is available when using Notification Server to run something as the logged in user in order to make settings withing the users profile. With Deployment Server, you did not have this option. The options were to run using the system account or specify a user only, not use the logged in user context. One of the ways that you can get around this is by using PCTransplant. Create a template containing the information that you want to capture. Create a personality package on a machine with the settings you want to capture using the template you created. Once the package is created you can deploy the package to the target computer missing the specific user profile settings by adding the PCT Switch option -user:'options'.

Example to deploy package to all domain users on a computer silently:

myprofilepackage.exe -user:\mydomain\* -q

The trick here is that when creating a personality package from the template, you are logged into a computer with a domain account that has access to the computers you plan to deploy the package to.

How to create scripts to install printers on WinXP


Our company just ran into this issue. We are undergoing a transition of employees from one section of the building to another section of the building. One of the challenges that we faced is getting the printers installed on the employees new locations. We used a combination of Altiris Software Delivery Solution and the Software Portal to publish printer install tasks to the end users to install the printers at their location. I know some of you are probably saying, login scripts to do this, searching AD for printers, AD Group Policy, etc... Unfortunatly, we did not have the time an resources from our internal staff that manages AD and login scripts to accomplish this. Plus our end users can't browse AD for printers. We decided to use an employee self help portal web page using the Altiris Software Portal and publish printers based on Department locations and the printers in the area. The printer tasks in the software portal were all setup to to contain a package for each department location with no source files, and multiple programs for the package using a command line that references the Printer User Interface. An example of how we did this on the command line is shown here:

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe printui.dll,PrintUIEntry /in /n \\myprinterserver\myprintshare .

If you want to see the options for using this tool you can open a CMD Prompt and type in the following to see the help options for using this tool.

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe printui.dll,PrintUIEntry /?



My company uses the Altiris Software Portal with the printers available as shown below.



HP Systems Insight Manager plugin

For those of you that have HP hardware in house, you probably/maybe have your Systems Insight Manager software installed somewhere to monitor your HP devices. Well, Altiris has a connector that you can install to allow you to view the data collected by the SIM tool within the Altiris Notification Server Console. You can get this from the altiris download portal. The release notes are located on the Altiris Knowledgebase.

My Pirate Name is



My pirate name is:


Red John Roberts



Passion is a big part of your life, which makes sense for a pirate. Two things complete your pirate persona: style and swagger. Maybe a little too much swagger sometimes -- but who really cares? Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

Monday, March 24, 2008

Running Altiris on your iPhone

I don't have an iPhone, but I have an ipod touch. I ran across this the other day and thought it was too cool to not mention. Shane McLean has created .NET web application that queries an Altiris database using the safari browser on the iphone. You can see the details here . I tested it on my ipod touch and was amazed. Way to go Shane, open the options for alternate browsers and maybe altiris will follow.

Using SVS as a Portable App Creator

For those of you using Altiris Software Virtualization Solution, this may be of interest. Using the SVS Admin tool to create an SVS app, prepping the app and then exporting the vsa package somewhere. Now take the vsa package and use Winzip/7Zip or whatever zipping tool you prefer, to extract the package to a folder location, put the folder on a flash drive, and browse to the program files directory where SVS loaded the app. Launch the exe for the app and voila, you have a portable app that can run on a flash drive.

Using Custom Token Variables to Write DS Scripts

For those of you who are Deployment Server administrators, you will feel my pain, trying to write deployment server scripts without hardcoding the path of a server in the scripts. Why is this a problem, I only have 1 DS? If anyone has more than 1 DS you have probably done an export of a job folder and imported it into another DS for use. Heck Altiris has a DSImport utility on the Notification Server to do this for you if you have Deployment Solution installed, but that is a whole other topic. The idea here is to be able to write script jobs without having to hard code a UNC path in the script so that it can be used on other DS's without changing the path on import. How to accomplish this became a daunting task until I read the Altiris Document on custom tokens in DS6.8. By creating a custom table on each Deployment Server's eXpress database, I could hard code the path for each DS within that table. Then I could use the custom token in my scripts and write them all with the same token path so I could use them on each deployment server without having to change the UNC path everytime I had to do a job folder import. You can learn more about DS Scripting here . At our location, we use a robocopy job to replicate software between multiple sites for our DS ADmins to access when provisioning computers. This allows us to write the scripts so that they are non-unique and can easily import a folder of jobs from one DS to another without having to change a bunch of scripts.

Example:
I have a few DS servers called ServerA, ServerB, and ServerC.

Each DS has it's own eXpress database with a custom table created called 'ds_server' with a column name called 'filestor' with a varchar50 setting.

ServerA has a sharename called \\SiteA\myshare, ServerB has a share name called \\SiteB\myshare, etc....

On each DS I have added the share name to the tables so that ServerA's eXpress database table called ds_server has a location added in the filestor column with \\SiteA\myshare as the location, ServerB's eXpress database table has a setting of \\SiteB\myshare, etc... You get the picture.

Now when writing my jobs, instead of doing something like:

REM Install Adobe Reader from software share
%windir%\system32\msiexec.exe /i \\SiteA\myshare\adobereader\reader.msi /qb

I can use the option of using my custom token and make my script importable into each DS without having to change the path to the MSI package:

REM Install Adobe Reader from some file server
%windir%\system32\msiexec.exe /i %#!DS_Server@FileStore%\adobereader\reader.msi /qb

The idea here is that I have a replicated software repository\file share on each site that I manage with my Deployment Servers, and I reference the location to the actual fileshare by passing the token variable in the script and it is translated to the actual UNC path to the file server at that site.

Altiris Linked In Group

For those of you using the LinkedIn network, there is a new group for altiris users. Great way to make contact with other users and find the possible altiris job you have been looking for.

Want to go Green? Use the Energy Saver Toolkit

Another freebee from Altiris is the Energy Saver toolkit. Yeah, I am sure all of you could figure out how to do this with AD group policy or something, but this is a no brainer easy to configure tool if you are using altiris. Pull it down from the altiris download portal or from your NS console you can grab it under the AZ Solutions called Altiris Energy Saver Toolkit. I pulled down the info from energy star's website, plunked in the numbers and presented a great way to save the company money just by turning the monitors off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Hey, maybe it will pay for my next trip to Managefusion.

I've been on Hiatus

Yes, that's right, I've been out of touch here. Too many things at my new job designing and implementing an Altiris infrastructure. Good news though, I am a customer again and no longer consulting so I may have more time to do things like post interesting tidbits on the blog. Stay tuned for more goodies as they arrive.

Dell/HP Client Manager

Yes, they are vendor tools, and can help you. Both are a free plugin on Notification Server and will allow you to manage those specific types of vendor hardware. Both allow BIOS configuration changes as well as BIOS update options on a mass scale. Both require a license, but the license is free. HP Client manager registration link is here.Dell Client Manager registration link is here . Additonal features allow you to monitor hardware and get notified before the battery explodes!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Oddities of WinPE

I can't stress enough how important it is when using new technology in a corporate environment. An example that I want to pass along involves the use of WinPE (Microsoft Windows PE operating system) with Altiris Deployment Server. I have learned the hard way that it is better to research until you die, before implementation of a new technology. When using Windows PE on Altiris Deployment Server, I would recommend using Altiris' WinPE package and pay the 20$ to get their install of the OS. They have made some modifications to increase the speed of packet traffic when imaging. I would also recommend using the Windows PE 2005 utility CD which contains a VBS script to embed in your WinPE boot image to allow VBScripting to work properly when booting a computer into a WinPE environment that you plan to run a VBScript on. In addition to these options, I would strongly recommend that you add the Mass Storage driver information for any kind of SATA drives you are using in your laptop/desktop hardware. It makes it much easier to do scripted OS installs, let alone image using WinPE if you can see the hard drive you are about to copy files to. Just a few ideas to pass along that I hope you find of interest. Hopefully, it will help from keeping your hair from turning gray or falling out too soon in your life.