Posts belonging to Category Release Candidate

Configuration Manager 2012 Client upgrade settings (2)

In my earlier blog about the Client Upgrade Settings that were new in the Release Candidate 2 of Configuration Manager 2012, I showed you where you can find this option and what you are able to do with. This week I learned from Wally Mead in the open beta support forums where this option is coming from.

It seems that the new option is replacing one of the two client packages that were present after installing Configuration Manager 2012 RC1. Yeah the ones that almost everybody was using but weren’t working as stated in the release notes..

Wally Mead explains the reason of the “new” option; “This was to remove one of the packages that you see in packages from RC1, and moved it to a hidden package and controlled by this.”

The package Wally is referring to is shown below:

Client upgrade package

Deploying a custom Windows 8 image with ConfigMgr 2012

Yesterday I wrote about building a custom Windows 8 image to use with Configuration Manager 2012, even though it is not yet supported in this RC2 version. Today I will have a look if we are able to deploy the image correctly.

Create an “Install an existing image package” Task Sequence and be sure to supply the Product Key that can be found on the download page of the Windows Consumer Preview edition.

Supply the product key

The created task sequence is like shown below, as extra the Task Sequence will also install Microsoft Office 2010 ;)

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview Task Sequence

Next boot into PXE and select the Task Sequence you want to start, I will use the Windows 8 CP Beta 1 custom image..

Select the right Task Sequence

The task sequence will start and apply the WIM image on the hard disk of the machine. After applying the WIM image on the hard disk, Windows 8 will walk through the sysprep procedure.

Applying Custom Windows 8 image

Downloading and installing the Configuration Manager 2012 client

The Configuration Manager 2012 Client will be reinitialized and configured for the Configuration Manager 2012 Primary Site.

Initializing and configuring the Configuration Manager 2012 client

The next and final step of this Windows 8 Consumer Edition deployment task sequence is the installation of Microsoft Office 2010.

Downloading Office 2010

Installing Office 2010

After the installation of Microsoft Office 2010 is finished our first custom Windows 8 Consumer Preview image with Office 2010 is deployed. Let’s see how logging on looks like.

Windows 8 Logon screen

Press Ctrl+Alt+Del or slide the screen up to logon.

Logon into the domain

The installation is domain joined, logging on with jjohnson will result in the following with Office 2010 present.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is ready to use

With Office 2010 available

In the next blog I will look at the Configuration Manager 2012 client and the ability to manage the client.

See ya later!

Remote Control client settings in Configuration Manager 2012

In an earlier blog about the Remote Control CEP session I explained the rebuild and secure remote control feature in Configuration Manager 2012. Today I want to look at the Client Settings that are related to Remote Control.

You are able to find the Remote Control settings in the Remote Tools section of the Client Device settings.

Remote Control settings

When enabling the remote control feature you are able to configure configuration Manager to be able to configure the firewall settings for the domain, private and public firewall profiles. You need to ensure that Configuration Manager is able reach the destination computer. When enabling a firewall profile, the remote control port and program exceptions are automatically created at the client.

Enable Remote Control and enable creation firewall rules

When you look at the local firewall on a Configuration Manage client, you will see that the firewall exceptions are created like shown below.

Created firewall rule

Configuration Manager firewall rule

Exception program CMRcService.exe

Firewall rule created for profiles

By default users cannot manage their remote control settings via the Software Center. By enabling the setting, which you don’t want if you ask me, you will be allowing users to for instance disallow remote access of their client.

Let the users control their remote control settings

Back again is the ability to send the Ctrl+Alt+Del key key sequence and logon at clients that are unattended.  You will have the option to disable this feature. When you connect with the Configuration Manager Remote Control tool to a Configuration Manager Client you will have the option to send the Ctrl+Alt+Del key.

Control unattended client

In most situations your users will get a notification when you want to connect to their computer, you are able to disable this notification. When the notification is on, you will see the following message.

Waiting for user

Approve or deny remote control

When you choose to grant the remote control permission to local administrators, all members of that group are able to remotely control that workstation. You are able to disable this option, but you than need to configure which (groups of) users are able to connect via remote control or remote assistance.  Personally I think this is the preferred way of giving remote control and remote assistance access.

Define which user or group of users are allowed to remotely control clients

Notification of for when remotely controlling or assisting a client can be enabled of disabled. By default this notification via sound, a session connection bar and a session notification icon on the taskbar is enabled.

Session connection bar

Session connection icon on the taskbar


Las but not least you are also able to manage unsolicited, solicited Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop settings with Configuration Manager 2012.This way you are able to use remote assistance and remote desktop from the Configuration Manager 2012 console.

Monitoring Configuration Manager 2012 via alerts

As mentioned in my blog about the Replication Link Analyzer I would like to point out the Monitoring features in Configuration Manager 2012 since most of  those features are much better than in earlier versions of Configuration Manager. Let’s today have a look at the alerting mechanism in Configuration Manager.

Alerting in Configuration Manager 2012

Alerting can be found in the Monitoring Workspace of the Configuration Manager 2012 console. The you find some standard alerts that probably never have been triggered before. For every site you will find the following alerts:

  • Critical low free space alert for database on site: <site>
  • Warning low free space alert for database on site: <site>
  • Database Replication component failed to run on site <site> (if more sites are available)

Alerting Node in the Configuration Manager 2012 console

In the General Information part of the screen you are able to find a description of the alert, the following information can be found: Severity, Condition, Type, Alert State, Postpone Alter, Date Created, Closed By, Date Modified, Occurrence count.

As you see in the figure some alerts have a “Never triggered” state. Each alert can have the following states:

  • Never triggered
    A never triggered alert is processed by Configuration Manager, but the condition of the alert is not met. The default alerts like described above have a Never triggered state.
  • Active
    When the condition of an alert is met, the alert becomes active and the alert will be shown in the Recent Alert list in the Configuration Manager console.
  • Disabled
    An alert can be disabled by the Configuration Manager administrator, or someone with delegated access. Disabling an alert will result in the fact that updates of the alert are not processed and the status of the alert will not be changed.
  • Postponed
    Postponing an alert can be done when you want postpone the evaluation of the state of an alert until a specified date.
  • Canceled
    An alert is canceled when the conditions of an alert are no longer met. The alert is auto resolved when the issue is fixed.

In RC2 and also in RTM there will be no reporting to email addresses for common alerts generated by Configuration Manager 2012. Hopefully there will be the ability to report alerts to emails in Service Pack 1 of Configuration Manager 2012. For alerts regarding Endpoint Protection are reported via email to definable subscribers, like explained in an earlier blog about Endpoint Protection.

Change the severity of the alert and change the thresholds

Alerts can be set on different objects in Configuration Manager, the following list will give you some objects where you can configure alerting:

  • Compliance Setting Baseline Deployment
    Generate an alert when compliance is below XX% before a date and time
  • Application Deployment
    Generate an alert when threshold  is below XX% before a date and time and when a threshold for failed deployments is higher than XX%
  • Software Update Group Deployment
    Generate an alert when compliance is below XX% before a date and time
  • Task Sequence Deployment
    Generate an alert when threshold  is below XX% before a date and time and when a threshold for failed deployments is higher than XX%
  • Database replication link
    Generate an alert when the replication link is not working for XX minutes. Standard 30 minutes.
  • Site Object
    Generate a warning when the free disk space falls below the following value in XX GB and Generate a error when the free disk space falls below the following value in XX GB.
  • Management Point object
    Generate an alert when the management point is not healthy

Configure alrting for a Management Point

For several objects or processes you are not able to configure alerts, but will be reported in the active reports list in the reports node when something happens. For instance:

  • Migration job failure
  • Migration data gathering process complete / failure
  • Migration initial data gathering process complete / failure
  • Distribution points lack FQDN
  • If migration source site contains AMT-based computers

For every alert you are able to edit or add your own comments for a selected alert. Till next blog, it may have some monitoring content, depending of the latest Configuration Manager news. ;)

Replication Link Analyzer in Configuration Manager 2012

In the next couple of blogs I am going the write about the monitoring and troubleshooting possibilities when running into issues with Configuration Manager 2012. One of the new features in Configuration Manager 2012 is the Replication Link Analyzer. Let’s see how this feature looks like and what it can do for us.


When managing a Configuration Manager 2012 environment with more than one site you are able to use the replication link analyzer when running into database replication issues between the sites. Before using the analyzer you are able to identify replication issues by monitoring the replication status in the Database Replication node in the Monitoring Workspace like shown beneath.

The replication link status can have a different status that you would like to investigate:

Link is Active

Replication is active

No issues have been detected and communication across the site link is currently active. They state that you want to see ;)

Link state is Degraded

Replication link is degraded

Replication between the sites is functional, but at least one object that needs to be replicated has been delayed. Monitor the links in this state and review information from both sites involved for indications that the link might fail.

Link has failed

Replication link is failed

Replication between the sites is not functional. It is possible that after a while the replication link will recover without doing anything. Consider using the Replication Link Analyzer to investigate and help to remediate replication on this link.

If the link has failed, as shown above,  you can use the replication link analyzer to troubleshoot and repair the database replication issues. It is used to analyze and repair replication issues between Site Server to SQL Server and SQL server to SQL Server.  When you start the Replication Analyzer Wizard it will check several things that can lead to the reason and solution of the issue. The following is in the current RC2 version checked on both of the servers that need to replicate data with each other:

  • Checking registry access.
  • Checking accessibility of the certificate store and the availability of the certificates.
  • Is SQL server running?
  • Is the SMS_EXECUTIVE service running?
  • Is the site active?
  • Is the current SQL version correct?
  • Is the network between the sites available?
  • Is there enough space in the Configuration Manager 2012 databases?
  • Does the broker configuration exist?
  • Does the broker certificate exist?
  • Is the SQL log path accessible?
  • Are the replication queues disabled?
  • Is the time in sync?
  • Is the transmission of data stuck?
  • Does Key Conflict exist?

The steps are logged in the ReplicationLinkAnalysis.log and ReplicationAnalysis.xml files saved on the desktop. Is one of the steps is failed you will see one of the following screens to fix the issue:

Reset queued messages

Enable replication queues

Replication Queues enabled

Restart the SMS_EXECUTIVE service

No issues detected

To be able to use the replication link analyzer you need to have the permissions to monitor the database replication within Configuration Manager 2012 and the account must have SA access to the SQL databases.

The Replication Link Analyzer Wizard can also be started from the commandline by using the following syntax: “%path%\Microsoft Configuration Manager\AdminConsole\bin\Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ReplicationLinkAnalyzer.Wizard.exe <source site server FQDN> <destination site server FQDN>”

The replication link analyzer is not fully functioning in RC2 but it is already a nice feature if you run into site replication issues.

Happy (System Center) 2012!

First of all, I would like to wish everybody a healthy and successful 2012! It’s is going to be a superb year for every System Center adapt with the release of the System Center 2012 suite ;) Looking forward to it!

Some people say, never look back, but last year was a superb year for me, it was the year of;

As mentioned earlier, it was a superb “System Center”  year for me, hope to see you again in 2012 on ! Thanks for reading the blogs and giving feedback!

2012 is going to be exceptional!

Two new Configuration Manager 2012 TechNet Virtual Labs available

 Today Wally Mead posted two links to new Configuration Manager 2012 TechNet Virtual Labs in the Configuration Manager 2012 beta forum. Last week I already posted a link to a TechNet Virtual Lab build with the Beta2 version of Configuration Manager 2012, the two new labs are build with the Release Candidate of Configuration Manager 2012. So you are now able play with Configuration Manager 2012 Release Candidate without having to building your own lab environment.

Check out the labs via the links below and learn about Configuration Manager 2012 and how you are able to migrate to Configuration Manager 2012 without building a whole lab yourself.

After completing the Introduction lab, you will be better able to:

  • Become familiar with the Configuration Manager 2012 Console terminology
  • Navigate around the Configuration Manager 2012 Console
  • Use the search and filter capabilities of the Configuration Manager 2012 Console
  • Become familiar with Configuration Manager 2012 features in the RC release
After completing the Migration lab, you will be better able to:

  • Configure a Configuration Manager 2012 hierarchy to migrate data from a Configuration Manager 2007 hierarchy
  • Create migration jobs based on collections and on individual objects
  • Migrate objects from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012
  • Migrate a client to Configuration Manager 2012
Thanks Wally for sharing and building these two great Virtual Labs. :) If you do not want to play yourself, you can still join the Configuration Manager 2012 Community Evaluation Program and sit back and relax and learn al about this great products while the Configuration Manager Product Team are showing all the features of Configuration Manager 2012.


Package Conversion Manager & P2V Migration Toolkit CEP update

Today another CEP session was held by Rob Vogt and Ben Shy about the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Package Conversion Manager and the Physical 2 Virtual Migration Toolkit . Let’s see what is changed since the last session about PCM and P2V Migration Toolkit was held.

Package Conversion Toolkit

First check the earlier blogs about the Package Conversion Manager and P2V:

Schedule analyzing packages

In the Overview of the Package Conversion Manager node in the Configuration Manager 2012 Console you see now the “Scheduled analyze status”. This means that you are able to schedule the analyze of your classic packages in the next version of the Package Conversion Manager. You can use Run Now, Schedule or cancel from the Package Conversion Manager node.

Scheduling part in the node

 As result of the scheduled task a report is created of all the packages that are analyzed, it is in XML format.

Example of the analysis report

Use Fix and Convert to add requirements to the conversion, the requirements will be converted to global conditions.

Microsoft did a analyze test with 4000 packages which took about 8 hours.

Change the deployment type:

You are able to change the deployment type order while migrate and fix an application.

What’s further on the horizon:

  • PCMPlugin: wrapper conversion and extensibility story for PCM (add uninstall commands in the application)
  • Additional server languages next to English German, Simplified Chinese
  • More collection conversions

The changes will be available before RTM time frame, so there will be probably a pre RTM release soon ;)

P2V Migration Toolkit

The next subject is P2V Migration Toolkit, check the earlier CEP session about the P2V Migration Toolkit for the general information. I will now only write down the new or updated  information.

  • Both 86 and 64 bit images are supported in the final release
  • Support for creating a Virtualization Package
  • Support for additional software packages
  • Better support for prefligh checks
  • Supply information computer and domain information for the new computer

P2V  Support:

  • Hard disks must have 63 sectors per track
    • virtual hard disk requirement
    • task sequence rehost wizard will block if sectors per track is not 63
  • Supports maximum up to 2 TB disk size
    • VHD size maximum for dynamic or differencing disk
  • Free disk space: Initial p2V capture mirrors entire drive
    • Destination location should have double the amount of free space to house pre-compressed VHD
  • Minimum Windows 2003 SP2 or greater
  • Drive encryption is not supported
  • Windows 7 WAIK required for bootable media
  • Next version will support the Task Sequence Designer without the Configuration Manager 2007 console

I am a fan of both! :)

Package Conversion Manager part 2: Converting packages

In my last blog I wrote about the Package Conversion Manager in general, in this blog I will write about the conversion process of the classic packages. Let’s see how this nice extension of Configuration Manager 2012 works and rocks!

Like mentioned earlier, after analyzing your packages there are several scenarios for converting the classic packages to the new Application Model. I will describe 3 different conversions scenarios of classic packages to the new Application Model.

Scenario 1: Converting a classic package automatically

Packages with the readiness state Automatic, can easily be converted by following the next steps;

1.      Select the classic package with the Automatic readiness state and click on Convert Package

Select a classic package with the readiness state Automatic

2.      Click on OK to start the conversion process

Click OK to start the conversion process

3.      Monitor the process, the process will take a few minutes.
4.      When the conversion process is completed, click on close.

Conversion completed

5.      Next browse to the Applications node and select the application that has been converted. Browse to the programs tab and retrieve the properties of the program. Browse to the Programs Tab and see that the Package Conversion Manager also added the uninstall string for the program.

Uninstall information is also automatically added by PCM

Scenario 2: Converting a classic package manually

When you need to convert a classic package manually, you first need to fix the program of the classic package before you are able to convert the classic package. Reasons of a manual conversion can be found in this blog.

1.      Select the classic package with the Manual readiness state and click on Fix and Convert Package

Select the classic package with the Manual readiness state

2.      The Package Conversion Wizard will start and you see the Items to fix in the screen, for this conversion we will need to provide a detection method before we are able to convert the classic package. Click on next

Review the items to fix

3.      Check if there are unconverted dependencies and click on next.
4.      Next we see that a detection method for the Deployment Type Install Client is missing, click on Edit Detection Method.

Detection Method is missing

5.      Click on Add to for this application a Windows Installer Product Code (via the MSI), click on OK twice to proceed.

Create a detection rule

Detection method is fixed

6.      Click on Next to select optional requirements detected in the collections associated with the original package and click on Next twice to start the conversion process.

Package is fixed and converted

7.      Click on close to check and test the application before deploying it in your environment.

Scenario 3: Converting a classic package with application depended automatically/manually

The third scenario is converting a classic package that is depended of another classic package. In this scenario we want to convert the classic package Flash Application which is depended of the application Flash Player.

Two manual classic packages (Flash Application and Flash Player)

1.      First we need to convert the Flash Player classic package before we are able to convert the Flash Application. Select the Flash Player and click on Fix and Convert in the home ribbon of the Configuration Manager Console. Check the items to fix and click on next in the Package selection screen in the Package Conversion wizard. Follow the same steps as mentioned earlier in this blog.

Package is depended on an unconverted program

2.      After converting the Flash Player, select the Flash Application and click on Analyze Package. The package will be reanalyzed and the readiness state will change. See the figures ;)

Flash Player is converted, Flash Application is still Manual

After reanalyzing Flash Application, the readiness changed to Automatic

3.      The readiness state is changed to automatic after reanalyzing the classic package. Click on Convert Package to convert the package automatically.

Both classic packages are now converted

4.      When browsing to the new applications you can check if the dependency is also converted to the new application model. You can do this by accessing the properties of the new deployment type and browse to the dependencies tab.

Dependency is also converted to the new Application

Converting a classic package is overall a fairly easy and valuable step to take, if you ask me a must have for every migration from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012. In next blog I will show you the Package Conversion Manager in action, in other words sit back, relax and enjoy the movie. ;)

International version of Configuration Manager 2012 RC1 released

Today the Configuration Manager 2012 team released the International version of Configuration Manger 2012 RC1. You are able to download this version on the Connect website. If you are interested in testing Simplified Chinese or German please install the International build of Configuration Manger 2012 RC1. Be sure to install the same languages on your Client Access Site and all primary sites.  


This version includes the German, Chinese Simplified, and Mobile Device language packs, the RTM version or later version will include the following languages:

  • Chinese Simplified
  • Chinese Traditional
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese-Brazil
  • Russian
  • Spanish

 The team is looking forward to your feedback for Configuration Manager RC1! Please submit your feedback regularly using the Feedback Form at the connect site.