One thing I hear people ask about with PowerShell pretty frequently is regarding the fact that reference information for underlying .Net types is not available through the Get-Help cmdlet. While I can certainly understand the frustration, there is unfortunately little that can be done about it since the .Net reference documentation is not included with PowerShell.
While Get-Member can give us an awful lot of information about the methods, properties, and other members of a specific object, you have to jump through a few hoops to make all of the information display in an easy to read format. If you want to see static members you have to change around your call to Get-Member entirely. The only way to get real reference / help information is to open up the MSDN library and look the information up.
This got me thinking, instead of dealing with all of the MSDN documentation manually, why not just create a script that will open up MSDN for me to the page about the specified type? This isn't a difficult process, but there are many different URLs that the script would have to be aware of to make sure it always loads the correct page that it became a bit messy. Therefore I opted for a much simpler option: just make the script load the MSDN search page with the specified type queried for me.
Jump past the break for more info and to download the script
I was excited about the Windows 8 developer preview that was released earlier tonight, so I fired up Virtual PC to start playing around with it. I ended up with an error when it was loading so I thought maybe I had a bad copy of the ISO so I thought "I know, I'll do a checksum test." Unfortunately, I don't have a tool to take a checksum on my current machine so naturally I wrote a simple function in PowerShell to do the checksum test for me.
It has only a few simple parameters that you can enter, file and algorithm. "File" is for the actual file you want to checksum. "Algorithm" is either "sha1" or "md5" and will let you get both an MD5 and a SHA1 checksum of the specified file.
Update: If you came here looking for the SHA1/MD5 hashes for the Windows 8 CTP iso’s, here you go.
Windows Developer Preview with developer tools English, 64-bit (x64)
Windows Developer Preview English, 64-bit (x64)
Windows Developer Preview English, 32-bit (x86)
You can download the full script after the jump.
As a Premier Field Engineer for Microsoft, I'm often presenting workshops to classrooms of people on various technologies. During these workshops we take breaks and work on labs and it's nice to have some kind of countdown timer to show the attendees how much time is left in a break or until we begin the next module for example.
Sysinternals has a very useful tool called ZoomIt which allows presenters to zoom in, draw, and even display a countdown timer on the screen. While this tool is well designed and is even used by many PFE’s around the world, including myself, and while it includes useful features such as playing a sound when the timer has completed and even displaying a background image, it left me wanting more. I just wanted something basic that I could use when presenting PowerShell material that would allow me to simply specify a time and a message… so I made my own.
Head after the jump to download the script.
An interesting situation came up recently that involved having to execute a PowerShell script through the cmd.exe command prompt. It sounds pretty simple, after all you can simply run powershell.exe –file “<path_to_script>” and call it a day. That wasn’t the case here though because the –File parameter is only available in PowerShell V2 and this situation was dealing with V1. The only option then is to use the -command argument of powershell.exe and to execute the necessary code. This works great, but if you need to include a string with quotes, you may have some trouble.
A reader sent me a message asking how to modify the original CA monitoring script I wrote back in November so that instead of monitoring the pending requests, it would send a message based on expiring certificates. The answer is just a modification to the certutil command that was used in the original script. The new script also allows you to specify the number of days advanced notification you are looking for, the default is 30 days. Just keep in mind that if you run this script once a day, you will receive a notification every day until the certificate is either revoked/superseded or the certificate is passed the time period specified. Of course this is all irrelevant if you have the money to spend on SCOM which can do this with one of the released management packs.
The modified certutil command looks a bit like this:
certutil -view -restrict "NotAfter>=8/9/2010,NotAfter<=9/9/2010" -out "Request ID, Request Submission Date, Request Common Name, Requester Name, Request Email Address, Request Distinguished Name, CertificateTemplate, NotAfter" -config "<CA_SERVER_NAME>\<CA_NAME>"
This will return to you all of the certificates that are scheduled to expire between today (August 9th, 2010) and 30 days from now (September 9th, 2010)
You can download the new script here: Download monitor_ca_expiry.ps1
Update: Thanks to Aaron (from New Mexico? the original reader) who noticed I forgot one really useful bit of information from the status report that displays when you run the command: the date of expiration for the certificate. I have updated the script and the sample above to reflect the change.
Rolling out a certificate authority in Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 is a relatively trivial task if you are deploying a stand-alone CA, Enterprise CA’s are a bit more complex, but that’s a post for another day. The web interface (http://server.domain.local/certsrv/) is pretty limited and doesn’t provide the greatest interface for manually requesting certificates, it even relies on cookies for managing requests. It would be really nice to see Microsoft build this into a truly useful application like what you get with the Thawte Certificate Center.
One thing that is a bit frustrating is that even when you have the logging options fully enabled for the CA, events aren’t logged for new certificate requests so you have to manually check the server on a regular basis for outstanding requests. Usually this is a low priority kind of service in your enterprise and can get neglected, which has happened in my case a few times.
This neglect prompted me to write the following Powershell script which very simply uses certutil to check if there are any pending requests, and then fire off an email to a list of users if there are. This script could also be easily modified to check for revoked certificates or to generate a weekly report on existing certificates to monitor expiration dates, among a bunch of other things, however I really only needed this for requests so that’s all it does for right now. If anyone has any interest in something else, let me know and I’ll see about updating the script to include additional features.
To use this script, all you need to do is ensure you have a copy of certutil on the machine running this, update the configurable pieces of the script, then create a scheduled task to run it every hour or so, or whatever time-frame is appropriate for you and your organization.
More information and a download link is after the break…
Update 2010-03-03: Keep in mind that this was fixed in vSphere 4 Update 1. Although if you can’t move to Update 1 for some reason, this will still work.
Update 2009-09-08: I just updated the script because I received a report from wohali (Joan) over at VMware communities that they had a problem when the vSphere client was installed on a different drive and I have now fixed that problem. I also added in support for making the host update utility work as well. Lastly, I added a few output messages so you can see what’s going on and know what is getting done.
The past few months I have been enjoying Windows 7 quite a bit (both the RC and now the RTM), but at the office we use VMware for many of our clients and the vSphere Client unfortunately has an issue with Windows 7 due to an incompatibility with a .Net 2.0 library dll that comes installed on Windows 7. When you install the vSphere client, you will be able to get through the install without an issue usually (If you have J# already installed you may encounter issues installing the vSphere client), but once you try to connect to your vSphere server you get an error stating “Error parsing <server> clients.xml file Login will continue contact your system administrator” followed immediately by another error “The type initializer for “VirtualInfrastrcture.Utils.HttpWebRequestProxy” threw an exception” which then brings you back to the login screen and you are unable to connect in.
A reader sent in a question asking how to enumerate groups that have spaces in them and this lead me to realize I didn’t follow the specifications for valid distinguished names as well as I thought I had. If you take a look at RFC 2253 and the Microsoft page that defines security group names, you will see what the allowed characters are for these names. At this point the validation is a lot better, but it still isn’t perfect.
If you encounter a situation where you need to enumerate members of a group that my validation does not allow, you can scroll down to line 271 in the script and change the $rx variable to “.+” to make it simple which will allow you to pass any characters. If you pass invalid characters you will get some funny errors happening, but it should work. You may have to use quotes around the name if you are looking to use spaces or other allowed special characters.
Taking another look at the code, I also found a small bug that was causing the display of notes associated with a group to print out an error about null strings. This should be fixed now. If anyone notices any other problems, feel free to comment and let me know and I will try to fix it or add in the change as soon as possible. I’ll be posting another update soon that goes the other direction of this script, one that enumerates group membership for a specific user.
Thanks again to Darren from Brisbane(?), Australia for pointing this out.
Here is the updated script download link: Download enumerate_groups.ps1
Note: Script updated on 2009/07/17 to fix two bugs. Read more here: http://www.tinyint.com/index.php/2009/07/17/enumerate-distribution-groups-script-updated/
In my organization, we make use of many different groups to separate departments and sub-groups of each department, and many groups build off of this. We also make use of Dynamic Distribution Groups to make things a bit easier on the admin side of things. When tasked with cleaning up these distribution groups and making them easier to manage, it was a bit difficult determining who was supposed to receive mail for what group.
This is because the Get-DistributionGroupMember cmdlet doesn’t have a parameter like –expand which will give you all of the child groups and their members as well. If you have a group called “Engineering” which then has 4 child groups for each department and then each of those groups has each individual mailbox, when you perform “Get-DistributionGroupMember -Identity Engineering”, you will only see the four child groups, not each member of those as well. This became a big issue because of how much we rely on sub-groups in our organization, and after a lot of investigation it turned out there was no way to do this built in directly to any cmdlet, so I wrote a script that would do this for me. If you need to recursively enumerate distribution group members you are unfortunately out of luck with built in cmdlets.
There are a number of scripts out there that serve a similar purpose as the one I have created, but most do not handle mail contacts or dynamic distribution groups, so I figured if I am going to have to add functionality, I might as well write it myself from the ground up. So now, if you are ever in need of getting child members of a distribution group you can use this script to help you out.
One nice feature here is if you specify “-showTree” as a parameter, it will display a treeview of all the groups. Without -showtree it will just grab all child members and display them in a flat view. The script is pretty long because I included help text that displays if you run the script without any parameters, and for that reason I am just posting it as a download link. Hope this helps a few people out there who went through the same trouble I did finding out that there is no built in way to do this!
Download Link: Download enumerate_groups.ps1