Archive for January, 2008

Free PDF Printer

Every now and then somebody asks me if there is some way around paying Adobe hundreds and hundreds of dollars if they just want to create some PDF’s. Answer? Absolutely!

Two free PDF printers you can use are CutePDF and PDFCreator. I have not used the latter, but I use CutePDF myself, have recommended CutePDF to several people, and have not had any problems with it.

If you are looking for a bit more functionality, such as creating a single PDF from multiple PDF’s, rearranging pages or adding/removing pages, converting PDF’s to MS Office documents, etc, be sure to check out PDF Converter Pro from Nuance Software. It has a whole whack of features, and it’s only about $100.

I’m not anti-Adobe or anything, but I just think that there are tonnes of less tech-savvy people out there paying hundreds of dollars for Adobe Acrobat functionality that they will never need.

Happy printing!

Categories: pdf

Exchange 2007 Mailbox GUID

On a recent Exchange 2003 to 2007 upgrade, I ran into a very frustrating issue that significantly delayed our deployment. All new mailboxes that were created on using Exchange 2007 tools (Exchange 2007 Management Console or Powershell) were missing several crucial ADSI attributes, namely:

  • legacyExchangeDN
  • msExchALObjectVersion
  • msExchMailboxGuid
  • msExchMailboxSecurityDescriptor (set to “not set”, all other accounts have a blank value here)
  • msExchUserAccountControl

Read more…

Resize VHD Files

This topic has been covered a bit (here, here, and here, for instance) but I have been working on a project that utilizes Virtual Server for testing, and it came up again. A consultant that was working on the VM’s in question apparently struggled for quite some time before he asked for help on it. So, I thought I would see if another post on this might help someone out.

If you run into a situation where you have existing Microsoft Virtual Server/PC VHD files, but the sizes you created them with initially simply don’t cut it anymore, there is hope!

What you will need:

  • Original VHD file (obviously)
  • VhdResize from vmtoolkit
  • Spare disk space
  • .Net 2.0 installed on the machine you will be using for the process

The beauty of the tool is that it can be without having to be installed (self-contained). Just extract the zip, double-click the VhdResize.exe executable, select your source file and destination VHD, and away you go! The VhdResize also allows you to convert from fixed-size VHD’s to dynamically-expanding VHD’s as well, and it is non-destructive on your source VHD.

Note that this only increases the size of the VHD, so that, effectively, your VM will see a larger physical hard disk present; it does not resize partitions on that drive. For that, you can either use Disk Management or diskpart in your guest VM, or mount the VHD using the vhdmount utility included in Virtual Server and use those disk utilities from your host OS (quick walkthrough here).

Let me know if that’s of use!

Reliable, Free P2V Solution

If you have ever had to take on a Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) migration of a server or other machine, you know that you generally have a fine balance of the following triangle of factors: cost, complexity, and reliability. It seems like the only way to get an easy and reliable solution is to throw gobs of money at either a VMWare infrastructure or something like Platespin. Don’t get me wrong: from what I’ve heard they both offer excellent solutions in that field, but it simply isn’t cheap. I had to find out the hard way, but there is another way.

Read more…

Modifying Group Memberships with Powershell, Part II

I had hoped to put this all in one post, but the thing would have gone on forever! Part I covered some basics in copying group memberships to an Active Directory user from another user, such as a template account, using Powershell. Part II will delve into my misadventures in gaining more control of user group memberships, including removing users from a group either by editing the group’s attributes or editing the user’s attributes. I was also looking for a way to change dial-in permissions on user accounts, and that will be covered by a similar strategy.

While these examples should be less dependent on the MS Exchange 2007 snap-in for Powershell and Powershell Community Extensions, please note that I have not checked through the code samples to confirm what is purely Powershell and what requires those snap-ins.

Read more…

Modifying Group Memberships with Powershell, Part I

I recently had to spend hours figuring out how to properly modify Active Directory group memberships using Powershell. Some of the .Net methods have not yet been implemented, so I had to get a bit tricky with it. I could find the various bits of information I needed in various places, so I hope that collecting them here in one place is of some use to others.

The scenario was that I needed to disable user accounts in a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory environment running with Exchange 2007. We have a fairly customized, hosted Exchange environment, and so disabling a user is not just a simple matter and right-clicking and disabling the account in Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC); we have a 2-page doc for the process to catch everything from removing group memberships to setting up email forwarding or restrictions, changing dial-in permissions, changing NTFS permissions on profile directories, etc.

Read more…

Ultimate Guide to Linux Boot Problems

I haven’t played around much in Linux lately, but I finally dusted off my Ubuntu CD’s and started tooling around again. I already had Vista installation on my work laptop, and did not want to blow that away, so I erred on the side of caution by not letting the Xubuntu setup program install its own GRUB bootloader…except then I couldn’t get into the Linux OS…

So, off I go in search of GRUB install guides, and just about every how-to out there is using the basic scenario that GRUB was installed in the first place, and that it just needs to reinstall itself, which was totally not the case this time around!

Anyway, after searching and searching and booting back and forth multiple times between Vista (slow boot!) and the Xubuntu live CD (which is somehow booting faster, even though it’s discovering all of the hardware for the first time), I finally stumbled across an absolute gem for Linux booting troubleshooting.

I have to say this is by FAR the most conclusive coverage I have EVER seen for resolving Linux boot issues. Lilo and GRUB issues are covered with tonnes of different scenarios, including dual-booting and the dreaded Vista BCD bootloader. If you have run just about ANY Linux distro, you need this reference. And don’t tell me that you’ve never had boot loader issues, ‘cuz it will happen to you!

Check it out here.