IT Consultant Everyday Notes

Just some problems/solutions storage

SCCM: Proper SQL Installation prior SCCM Setup

SCCM: Replace Collection ID with Collection Name in report


One of my Customers asked me to create a customized report for his environment. A standard SCCM report for Software registered in Add or Removed Programs for a specific collection fit perfectly as a base, but I wanted to replace Collection information in the report (originally it is Collection ID, but I guessed the Customer would prefer a Collection Name).

My knowledge of SQL reporting is limited, but with help of Sherry Kissinger I ended up with the following result:

SELECT arp.DisplayName0, Count(Distinct arp.ResourceID) AS ‘Count’, arp.Publisher0, arp.Version0, col.collectionid, COL.Name as CollectionName
FROM fn_rbac_Add_Remove_Programs(@UserSIDs)  arp
JOIN fn_rbac_FullCollectionMembership(@UserSIDs)  fcm on arp.ResourceID=fcm.ResourceID
JOIN v_Collection COL ON fcm.CollectionID = COL.CollectionID
WHERE fcm.CollectionID = @CollID
GROUP BY DisplayName0, Publisher0, Version0, col.collectionid,
ORDER BY Publisher0, Version0

That gave me the report I looked for (of course Collection ID column can ber removed now and some other will be added):


Top 10 Free tools


here is a snip from Redmond Mag, just for memory.


Certificates: The Do’s and Don’ts of PKI

This is a copy of Andrzej Kaźmierczak’s blog post:


DON’T install PKI without a detailed plan. Ask yourself what you need it for, what features will you use and would it be scalable enough in the future.

DO use Windows Server Enterprise Edition for Active Directory users enrollment. UPDATE: This only applies to Windows Server 2008 R2 or earlier, as for Windows 2012 or later you can use Windows Server Standard Editions.

DO use a CAPolicy.inf file during installation. There you can define attributes such as basic constraints extension, renewal key length and period, CRLs period, etc.

Server naming and CA (Certification Authority ) naming should be standardized. DO create naming convention which additionally includes naming of GPOs, templates and accounts related to PKI. Root CA shouldn’t follow the pattern and be named differently than other servers in organization.

DON’T change CA server name after ADCS role installation. It is possible to rename server and reconfigure infrastructure, but not recommended. Enrolled certificates will stop working.

DON’T use Root CA to issue certificates directly to the end users.

DON’T install CA on a domain controller. It is technically possible, but not recommended. CA should run on a separate machine.

For high availability DO failover clustering. Only one CA instance can be running at a time. Microsoft ADCS role can act as active-passive using failover feature of Microsoft Windows operating system.

DO create CPS (Certificate Practice Statement) and CP (Certificate Policy). Structure of those two documents should be based on the RFC 3647 recommendations. This allows subscribers and relying parties comparison with other, similar documents issued by other organizations.

DO create multi-tiers architecture. For huge organizations, depending on Active Directory structure and amount of forests and domains, DO use 2 or 3-tier architecture.

In 3-tier architecture, subordinate CAs located in the second tier, are called Policy CAs. Those CAs should only enroll for other CAs and no users. DO put in CAPolicy.inf file for Policy Issuing CA following section:
Pathlength = 1
Critical = true
After installation run following command:
certutil –setreg Policy\CAPathLength 1
This “Pathlength=” setting specifies the length of the path, the maximum number of CA certificates that may be issued as subordinated to the Policy CA. Pathlength with value set to „1” means that establishment CA two (or more) tiers below Policy CA is not possible.

DON’T domain join Root CA or Subordinate CA. Let those most important, top-level CAs stay in workgroup.

DON’T use online Root and Policy CAs, especially if it’s private keys are not protected by HSM (Hardware Security Module). Offline CAs hard drives or virtual disk files should be placed in a secure vault until a CA certificate needs to be issued or a new CRL needs to be issued and published.

If using HSM that are located in distant server room, DON’T restart CA server or certsrv service. You may find out that you need to insert operator’s cards set into HSM to start the service again. Sometimes it needs involving many people.

If not using HSM, CA’s keys are generated with software CSP. DO use at least 4096b keylength for Root CA.

DO change default system accounts. Local administrator should have its name changed, the default Enterprise andDomain Administrators group permissions for CA should be taken away, and Domain Admins group should bedeleted from the local administrators group on all systems belonging to the PKI.

DO use long and complex local administrator password and DO make sure it is kept in safe place.

DON’T leave default AIA (Authority Information Access) URLs with the CA hostname in issued certificates.  Default value is %windir%\system32\CertSrv\CertEnroll\%%1_%%3%%4.crt. The part „%%1_” in CA certificate will be replaced by „<CAservername>_” which will reveal internal naming convention and structure. „%%1_” should be deleted. It is important to remember that during renewal process because .crt file will be generated with %%1_ prefix, so it has to be manually deleted after renewal operation.

If implementing in organizations, DO use templates OID to differentiate company’s policy objects from default Microsoft policy objects tree. You should request PEN (Private Enterprise Number) from IANA organization (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). Templates OID should be created with PREFIX (got from IANA) and individually created numbers for template structure.

DO customize templates, DON’T use default ones. Use organization name prefixes with templates names, customize them and add OID created with IANA’s PREFIX.

After ADCS installation DO use following commands to publish CRLs and .crts to the Active Directory:
certutil -dspublish -f "name_of_root_ca_cert.CRT"  RootCA
certutil -dspublish -f "name_of_ca_crl.CRL"

UPDATE: As HTTP is recommended path to publish CRT and CRL there is no need to use CDP and AIA with LDAP and to publish them to AD.

DO make CDP (CRL Distribution Point) redundant. Include in CDP and publish CRLs to both LDAP and HTTP. Make sure that at least one HTTP is accessible from Internet, WAN or partner’s network. It is required if you want to use certificates outside your intranet. UPDATE: DO NOT use LDAP in your CDP path at all – use only HTTP and make sure HTTP location is highly available, highly consider using split-brain DNS scenario.

If however, you decide to distribute CRL using Active Directory, DO bear in mind AD replication delays.

DO implement OCSP. Online Certificate Status Protocol reduces CRL usage (bandwith) and is more reliable. End-users workstations cache CRL in local user profile, so user’s certificate revocation may become effective when cached CRL validity period is over. Unlike this CRL weakness, OCSP uses delta CRL, so to work efficiently I suggest setting Active Directory Certificate Services Delta CRL time to minimum period (30 minutes):
certutil -setreg CA\CRLDeltaPeriodUnits 30
certutil -setreg CA\CRLDeltaPeriod "Minutes"
OCSP should be available from both Internet and intranet.  Keep in mind that despite the revocation of the certificate, thepreferred method for removing user access to resources is disabling AD account.

DO use PKI repositories. Those are places to keep PKI related data. It can be a public web folder for all with CRLs and CA’s certificates or private folder for internal users only with CP, CPS, user’s .crt certificates, user’s regulations. CRLs and CA’s .crts as well.

Microsoft ADCS default repository is C:\Windows\System32\certsrv\CertEnroll. To that directory are published CRLs and CA’s .crt certificates. As mentioned before, CDP and AIA should be published redundantly – with HTTP protocol. DON’T publish CertEnroll folder directly to the Internet. Instead create a copying script which copies *.crt and *.crl to another machine and folder and create task schedule to trigger it every, let’s say, 5 minutes. When in another folder, publish to Internet with your reverse proxy, for example Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway UPDATE: Microsoft TMG is discontinued. Be careful on credentials that are provided to run script. You can use this simple code below to create batch file:
xcopy C:\Windows\System32\certsrv\CertEnroll\* \\\Repository\* /Y /Q

DO role separation. In simple scenario these should be: PKIBackupOperators, PKITemplateAdmins, PKIAuditors, PKICertAdmins, PKICAAdmins.

In some cases DO set private keys archivization. Thanks to that you will be able to recover old keys used to secure data in the past.

DO set KRA (Key Recovery Agent) and DRA (Data Recovery Agent). Those two are one of the most important accounts that help recover important data and must be protected with increased caution. KRA can restore lost private key. DRA is a user granted the right to decrypt data encrypted by other users.

DON’T write down your user’s certificate password/PIN and stick it to monitor or hide under the keyboard.

Whenever possible, DO use tokens or smartcards for users and special purpose accounts (Enrollment Agents, etc). Without them private keys are generated by software CSP and kept in Windows registry! Whoever has access to workstation and knows where and how to look, may find these interesting things. To protect from that situation use smartcards which lets keys be generated by hardware CSP and if FIPS-3 compliance, never leave the smartcard.

DO take into account above when disposing user’s hard drives, especially CA hard drives. If not on smartcard, user’s private key is still on that hard drive.

DO make sure that system time on CAs machines is set correctly. The best way (but not cheap) is to use NTP (Network Time Protocol).

DO renew the CA certificate with a supply of time so that certificates issued by the CA have shorter life time than the remaining life time of the CA certificate.

DO enable all auditing events for the CA when configuring Microsoft ADCS:
certutil -setreg CA\AuditFilter 127
Also, enable ‘Audit Object Access’ within Group Policy (for ‘Success’ and/or ‘Failure’ as required) in order for any Cert Services events to be logged.

DO health check of PKI infrastructure. If using Microsoft ADCS, use tool PKIView. Moreover, PKI events are logged inSecurity event log on CA server. Use event viewer to check for events especially those red and yellow ones.

If needed to increase level of logging, DO change value „3” to „4” in following registry path:
HKLM\CurrentControlSet\Services\certsrv\configuration\Subordinate CA\Loglevel

DO create CA backup, including private key, CA certificate, certificate database and certificate database log, CAPolicy.inf file and exported CA templates. Make copy of folder „Database” including certpkxp.dat, edb*.log and<CAname>.edb files. Also export settings of registry path:

DO make sure that system backup is done regularly. Backups should be protected with password and kept in safe place (vault).

DON’T consider internally issued certificates as a qualified certificates. Qualified certificate is issued to a person acting on his or her own behalf by Trusted Third Party CA. Qualified certificates can be used to authenticate to government organizations.

Azure: Migrated VM cannot start with 0x000000e

I recently migrated some VMs to Azure for one of my Customers. VMs were in Production and the Customer was not ready to switch IP address to DHCP before migration. Unfortunately neither ASR nor MVMC was an option and I stopped on Disk2VHD tool by Mark Russinovich following PowerShell Add-AzureVHD cmdlet for the VHD upload.

To speed up the process I connected an empty virtual disk to the migrated machine and save VHD on it. After the VHD was captured by the tool I mounted it and edited registry to enable DHCP on its network adapter.

That was a mistake (I found that hard way after several hours of uploading the VHD to Azure). The VM built from the VHD failed to start. Fortunately we can now see Boot Diagnostics, so I found the VM failed with

Status: 0x000000e

Info: The boot selection failed because a required device is inaccessible.


Internet brought nothing about VM migration to Azure with such error Sad smile

I finally found an article from Mark himself where he described exactly scenario I had (except migration to Azure). The main point – never open captured VHD on the same machine where the source disk is. That will break disk signature on VHD and it become unbootable.

Fortunately Mark described how to fix the signature.

1. Mount the VHD in Disk Manager (it should give its volumes letters since there is no signature conflict at that point)

2. Load DCD hive (located under hidden \Boot folder in root of one of the volumes) to regedit

3. Search for “Windows Boot Manager”

4. Open key 11000001 under the same elements

5. Double Click Element reg value in this key and look for Offset 0x38. We need first four bytes

6. Write down the bytes in reverse order (last byte first, third one after that, then second one and the first byte) . For example if you have four first bytes in 0x38 offset as 38 d5 5C C0 your disk signature will be c05cd538

7. Unload hive and close regedit

8. Start Diskpart tool and connect to the disk you are fixing

9. Invoke the DISKPART command:   uniqueid disk id=c05cd538   (change signature to yours). At this point you should see VHD going offline in Disk Manager due to signature conflict with the source drive. This is expected, do not bring it online

10. Unmount VHD

At this point the disk signature should be fixed and disk is expected to be bootable again.

SCCM: Boot image tuning

Johan published several boot image tuning tips allowing to avoid the following errors:

“Failed to find a valid network adapter”

“No Policies found”

How to set bigger logs: Understanding-logging-in-ConfigMgr-OS-Deployment

Add drivers to the boot image. Dell WinPE driver Pack is here: 11530.winpe-10-driver-pack


The article is here:

SCCM: Uninstall Software “en masse”


Jason Sandys published a nice script to uninstall all versions of a certain app:

SCCM: Windows 10 in-place upgrade Task Sequence improvements

MVP Johan Arwidmark published two things to change in standard SCCM CB Windows 10 in-place upgrade TS:

source is here

Adding Setup Upgrade Assessment and Driver support

As you probably know, ConfigMgr Current Branch has a built-in task sequence template for Windows 10 Inplace-Upgrades. This template is used for Windows 7/8/8.1 to Windows 10 upgrades as well as Windows 10 to Windows 10 upgrades (when a new build is available).
However, the default task sequence template for inplace upgrades are missing some useful features. This post shows you how to add them.

Adding Setup Upgrade Assessment and Driver support
The features I recommend adding to the Inplace-Upgrade task sequence is a setup upgrade assessment action, as well as support for injecting drivers.
1. Edit your Inplace-Upgrade task sequence, add an extra Upgrade Operating System action, configured it to continue on error, and rename it to Upgrade Assessment

Adding the upgrade assessment action.
The compatibility scan will always spit out a non-zero return code, for example 0xC1900210 which is the no issues found return code. The return code is set in a new read-only task sequence variable, the _SMSTSOSUpgradeActionReturnCode variable, and the reason for having a variable that, is so you can use it further down the line in the task sequence. The important thing is that even though Windows setup spits back a hexadecimal value, ConfigMgr reads it as a decimal value, so you need to do some conversion. For example 0xC1900210 in hex is 3247440400 in decimal.
2. Modify the Upgrade the Operating System group to use a task sequence variable as condition: Add _SMSTSOSUpgradeActionReturnCode, and set the value to 3247440400.

Configuring the Upgrade the Operating System group with a condition.
Next up is adding driver support, and in this example I had a Windows 10 driver package for a HP Elitebook 8560w.
3. In the Upgrade the Operating System group, add a new group named Drivers, and then use the new (for v1511) Download Package Content action to download the driver package. Also set a condition to only download the package if you’re deploying to that model.
4. Configure each Download Package Content action to save the path as a variable, in my case I used a custom path of C:\W10Drivers andW10Drivers as the variable

Adding Download Package Content actions with driver packages.
5. Finally, configure the Upgrade Operating System action to use the drivers by selecting Staged content to %W10Drivers01%.
Note: Don’t forget to add “01” to the end of the variable or it won’t work.

Lync: Presence information is missed in Outlook

One day I noted Presence information is no longer available in my Outlook.

I tried to apply KB but that did not help

Resolution: it turned out Cisco Jabber installed recently switched  “DefaultIMApp” under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers to “Cisco Jabber”. I changed it back to “Lync” (without quotation) and presence is back Smile

Windows 7: April 2016 Convenience Pack

How to integrate all post SP1 updates to your Win 7 SP1 media. Great time saver!


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