Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Opening links with Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

I recently had a request to setup certain website links to open with a specific browser. In this case, it was with both Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. For most people, creating links is as simple as right clicking the location where you want your link, then selecting New > Shortcut. Depending on what your default browser is, the link will be opened by that browser. In many corporate environments, however, Internet Explorer is still the default browser. In these cases, as long as you have a modern browser installed, you can create a shortcut to have a link open with a specific browser.

Google Chrome

In the case of Chrome, you will have to create a shortcut that points to the executable, followed by a URL switch and finally the URL you want the browser to open. It will look something like this:

       "C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" -url

This path code assumes that Google Chrome is installed in its default location, otherwise adjust that to reflect your installation location.

Microsoft Edge

In a system that has Edge installed, then the path code just needs the Edge URI followed by the URL. It will look something like this:


As you can see, the solution is a simpler one, as you do not have to worry about installation location. This is a system wide setting and you just have to add the URI as a prefix, followed by the address you want to point to.

The above screenshot shows an example of what a MS link configuration would look like.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Displaying serial number and model of Pure Storage array

The command listed below will display the model, serial number and part number of controller 0. You can substitute CT0 for CT1 to get the information on controller 1. 

       purehw list CT0 --spec

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Server 2019 - Windows 10 Start Menu & Display Settings Not Working *FIXED*

Recently I was setting up a new Microsoft Windows 2019 Server image and as part of our onboarding process, we are required to patch and secure any new system. Seeing how Server 2019 is a new O/S in our environment, we didn't have any automation script to take care of all this. Part of the onboarding consists in either disabling services that are not needed or providing a justification for our baselines. As we were tackling this step, a user reported that the Start Menu wasn't working. I checked, under my profile I did not experience this issue. Another user who had logged in also did not have the same problem. 

I went ahead and started looking up and remembered that we had a similar issue with Windows 10, the fix was making sure a couple of services were running and then running the following command in Power Shell:

       Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

Unfortunately that did not resolve the issue for the user. It wasn't until I tested another server that I started experiencing the issue. The above fix did not work for our Server 2019 image. At this point I decided to get Microsoft involved. We tried different variations of the above fix, a lot of permissions and other things but one thing we noticed that was that the ShellExperienceHost service was not running under affected accounts. No rhyme or reason. We tried local users, other domain users and the issue was there with any new user. Some of the errors that were being logged were ID 69 with source AppModel-Runtime.

The errors would generate any time you left clicked the Start Menu or you attempted to launch Display Settings and they would mention ShellExperienceHost, Cortana or another app.

Below is an example of the error you would receive whenever you would try to launch the Display Settings.

After a lot of back and forth with Microsoft and doing my own testing, it turns out that I disabled a critical service that was the culprit for all these issues. Microsoft tech support did not have this documented anywhere according to the tech whom I worked with, thus me posting this in case someone else runs into a similar issue. The service in question is the Capability Access Manager Service (camsvc). The description for the service states that it handles Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application access and capability. Whatever the case, I'm glad this was resolved after all the troubleshooting we ended up doing. 

tl;dr - do not disable the camsvc (Capability Access Manager) service as it will break your start menu and other Windows 10/Server 2019 features. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Pure Storage Testing SMTP & Settings

Recently some changes within our network came about and had to make some changes to the SMTP alerts for our Pure Storage arrays. Since it's typically one of those things that you set and forget, I didn't pay much attention until now. If you're trying to test your changes/settings, the command changed in PurityOS 5.3.7 from the documentation that I found. Earlier versions you only had to run the following command from an SSH prompt:

       purealert test

The above code was for the older OS version, on the newer 5.3.7 code (5.3.3 in this case) you need to run the following command:

       purealert watcher test

The purealert command will utilize the settings entered on Settings - System - Alert Routing. Optionally, you can leave out the email address on the command, it will send it to whatever is configured under Settings - System - Alert Watchers. In my case, I don't want to send it to the distribution list so I was entering my email in the above command so only I received those emails.

If I can make a suggestion for the Pure Storage team, please add a test button within the GUI! It seems rather unnecessary to have to open up an SSH session for something this trivial (if this change has been implemented in newer code, thank you!).

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Updating HPE Servers with SPP & iSUT

In my recent attempt to automate and get a better handle of some of the HPE servers in our fleet, I tried to use the HP SUM function of the SPP server remotely. If you're trying to patch a VMware host, especially a Gen10, you will need to make sure you download and configure the iSUT component on those servers from HP. I'll link to the two sites that I used to get a better handle of the steps necessary to proceed with the updates.

  1. The Sleepy Admins - HPE Gen10 SUM iSUT
  2. PLJDesigns - How to install iSUT on HPE Gen10 VMware Servers
From my research, it appears that the new VMware images from HPE already come with iSUT preloaded so if using a recent image, this might not be a requirements. If you're looking for the download links, you can find them for vSphere 6.5 and vSphere 6.7 here:
  1. VMware vSphere 6.5 - HPE Download Link
  2. VMware vSphere 6.7 - HPE Download Link
Nov 23, 2020 Edit - Found the github page from HPE for the iLO RESTful interface that contains a ton of good information.

sut –set mode=AutoDeploy

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Comprehensive Windows Services Examples and Tutorial

It's not often that I have to script items due to the nature of our environment, but with an upcoming project, an opportunity (and some time) came up so I decided I would tackle one of the security aspects - disabling services. I'm a tad bit rusty and I need to research some of the newer services that didn't exist in the previous O/S versions, but what better way to automate some of these things, right? Without having to replicate any work or take unwarranted credit, I came accross this site that has plenty of examples of configuring manually, via command line and with PowerShell.

Windows 10 Forums: Start, Stop and Disable Services

Windows Services Features: Essential Tools For Windows Services

Windows Services Listings: Security Guidelines For System Services

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

VMworld 2020: Attend for free!

Have you ever wanted to attend VMware's VMworld but were unable to for one reason or another? Here's your chance to do so this year, for free! Due to the pandemic, this year's conference has moved completely online and it's free to all attendees.

You will be able to choose from over 800 sessions, learning from extraordinary speakers across the globe. Discover what’s new with the latest product releases, get expert tips and tricks, and learn how other customers are transforming their business with VMware solutions.

VMworld 2020 Registration Link