Windows Apps

So this all started because I was unable to open the Windows Security Center. It just wouldn’t open.

I tried to open SecHealthUI.exe directly (C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.SecHealthUI*\) and that failed out. Eventviewer showed Faulting application name: sechealthui.exe, faulting module name: KERNELBASE.dll. Someone wanted me to re-run the kernelbase.dll registry (regsvr32 kernelbase.dll) which doesn’t do anything unless you give yourself administrative privs to the kernelbase.dll file. And didn’t fix my issue anyway.

What did help me was re-installing all of the Windows Apps with the following powershell command:

  • windows key + x
  • Select Windows Powershell (Admin)
  • Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  • Profit

And, because this is entitled “Widnows Apps”..

  • Uninstall XBox Windows-related items
  • Select Windows Powershell (Admin)
  • Get-AppXPackage *xboxapp* -AllUsers | Remove-AppXPackage

Enable SNMP on ESXi

Inheriting 3 different companies’ worth of Virtual infrastructure is sometimes a giant PITA. This holds true especially when the 3 different companies all had multiple “admin’s” working at any given time without established standards for naming, setup, configuration, or even maintenance.

Some of the newly-installed VMWare equipment wasn’t showing up on my Nagios monitoring board. First step is to make sure that snmp is setup and actually running (hint, it was not).

I ended up at this auvik support site – and, if it wasn’t so expensive (our budget is about 1/3 of what it “should be” – I would be running this for monitoring of our infrastructure. Think of it as cloud prtg.

Since we’re running ESXi 6.5 and 6.7 currently:

  • SSH to your ESXi box using the root account
  • esxcli system snmp set -r
  • esxcli system snmp set -c YOURCOMMUNITY
  • esxcli system snmp set -p 161
  • esxcli system snmp set -L "City, State, Country"
  • esxcli system snmp set -C noc@domain.tld
  • esxcli system snmp set -e yes

Or, if you’re using ESXi 7:

  • SSH to your ESXi box using the root account
  • esxcli system snmp set --communities YOURCOMMUNITY
  • esxcli system snmp set --enable true

Nagios Add User

Yes, I’m a creature of habit. I started using Nagios back in 2005 and it was awful. I mean it “worked”, but I had no idea what I was doing. Reinstalling, installing, configuring, new jobs… each time I was learning from my previous mistakes and making it better. It’s now at the point I can perform most of the work without actually referencing anything else. But the point of this blog is for my own notes, so here goes.

  • SSH to your nagios server. I use putty from my primary Windows desktop.
  • Switch to root
    • sudo su -
  • Create the new web user account and password
    • htpasswd /usr/local/nagios/etc/htpasswd.users MYNEWUSER
  • Enter the password twice

Sometimes you’ll receive an error message about “You do not have permission to view information for any of the services you requested”. So we’ll have to edit the cgi.cfg.

  • SSH to your nagios server
  • sudo su -
  • nano /usr/local/nagios/etc/cgi.cfg
  • Add the MYNEWUSER wherever necessary
    • authorized_for_system_information=nagiosadmin,userhere,MYNEWUSER

Battery Health Windows

Had a remote user complain that his laptop’s battery was only lasting “about 5 minutes” before it would either shutdown or he’d have to plug it in. The laptop was 3 years old, but the battery had already been replaced ~6 months ago.

It’s at this point that I’d like to push my own thinking. This user had received a new-to-him laptop as the first member of his team to be upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10. If you’re familiar with Dell products, he upgraded from a 7480 to a 7490 laptop. If you’re also familiar with how office politics goes, as soon as one person on a team has something new/shiny, the others want it too. Well this PoC upgrade process (he was part of a pilot group) went well. Fast forward 6 months and the rest of his team is receiving 7400 laptops and he feels like he’s missing out (total conjecture) as part of their windows 10 upgrade process.

Anyway, you can run the battery report remotely assuming they’re somehow connected to the network – usually via a VPN or directly on the network.

  • Run Powershell as an Administrator
    • windows key + x, Windows Powershell (Admin)
  • powercfg /batteryreport /output "C:\temp\battery-report.html"
  • Open the battery-report.html in any browser

Windows Change Network Type

I completely understand the segmentation of networks based on labels – Private for trusted internal communications, Public for non-trusted or external communications, and DomainAuthenticated for domain-joined systems. This allows for a more fine-tuned windows firewall experience and can create a more secure environment.

Unless the automatic labels get it wrong. OK, I should preface that I’ve never seen the automatic network labels go the wrong way – that is to say a “public” connection that is actually labeled as a private/trusted one. However, it’s still a PITA when Windows thinks the connection is untrusted (public) when it’s really something on the internal network.

It generally does this with my VPN connections. TUN and TAP both have had this issue, so I think it’s more a Windows-feature than anything else.

Enter PowerShell. You’ll see a theme here, I’ve been PSing a lot more lately.

  • Run an Elevated Powershell (run as administrator)
  • List out all network profiles
    • Get-NetConnectionProfile
  • Find the Interface Index of your connection, then set the category
    • Set-NetConnectionProfile -InterfaceIndex 22 -NetworkCategory Private

There are ways to do this from a Registry Editor perspective as well, but this seems to be the easiest way (and doesn’t require a reboot). More info here

Exchange Truncate Logs

In a hybrid environment had an Exchange server on-prem (2016) that was not being backed up by normal means. In fact, now that I’m writing this, I’m pretty sure it’s not being backed up at all; something I’ll look into eventually.

Anyway, this Exchange server was filling up its drive space for logs. So I “faked” a backup and truncated the logs without any dismounting of the storage or taking the system offline.

  • Run CMD as an administrator
  • diskshadow
  • add volume e: (this is assuming your Exchange DB and Logs directories are on the E: drive)
  • begin backup
  • create
  • end backup
  • Profit!

Powershell Scripting

I know Powershell has been around for quite some time – about the time it was introduced I was actively trying to learn batch files. I ended up using batch files pretty much for everything I could and only relying on powershell for Exchange-related administrative tasks. So this post may be a little ancient for some people.

My imaging process successfully dropped the time required to deploy a newly minted workstation (Windows 10, Office, Updates, Oracle, Java, Firefox/Chrome, Adobe Reader, etc) from 5 hours down to 2 hours. The imaging process used to be 1) Boot workstation from Windows 10 USB thumb drive, 2) Install and configure Windows, 3) Manually install updates, 4) Manually install drivers, 5) Manually install Office, 6) Manually install Oracle, 7) Manually install… the list went on and on.

However, there are several applications that I cannot include in the image as they are either tied to a specific user or tied to a specific workstation name. Antivirus suites generally say not to include in an image process and I’ve adhered to that logic. Some of my other applications below *can* be included in the image, but I wanted to flex my after-image process muscles a bit too. All of these other applications added significant time – just over an hour – and I wanted to be able to script them instead of relying on a semi-manual approach.

  • Image laptop – Installs Windows, Office, Oracle, semi-recent drivers; Join to the Domain
    • 45 minutes
  • Run batch script – Installs Firefox, GoToAssist, Chrome, Acrobat Reader, AnyConnect VPN, Sophos AV; Reboot
    • 30 minutes
  • Download Slack client, Zoom client, and Dell SupportAssist; Install and run, let SupportAssist find missing drivers/update BIOS; Reboot
    • 30 minutes
  • Run Windows Updates; Reboot
    • 15 minutes

So the initial image process (45 minutes), followed by the setup of 3rd party applications (I used a batch script that would install most of what I needed without any interaction) would take upwards of the 2 hours to deploy. Then logging in as the user, setting up their Outlook profile, connecting OneDrive and backups, Configuring VPN, Installing and testing Slack, Zoom, Java and permissions et all. It added up quickly and I was tired of the manual and tedious approach.

My new powershell script will auto download, auto install. This is mostly for my own records, but some of it is commented if you wanted to use it. Total time savings? Another 20 minutes! We’re down to 1 hour and 40 minutes start-to-finish.

My next steps would be to auto install and configure Java (we have a lot of security exceptions), join the domain with a specific OU and prompted name, Remove the Mail App, hide the Cortana button, hide the Search box, hide the Task View button, etc.

# Check for run as administrator

function Test-Admin {
    $currentUser = New-Object Security.Principal.WindowsPrincipal $([Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent())

if ((Test-Admin) -eq $false)  {
    if ($elevated) {
        # tried to elevate, did not work, aborting
    } else {
        Start-Process powershell.exe -Verb RunAs -ArgumentList ('-noprofile -noexit -file "{0}" -elevated' -f ($myinvocation.MyCommand.Definition))

# Set Execution Policy (if not already GPO'd)
Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Force

# Download the newest files from their various sites (requires internet access)
msg * /w First we download Slack, Zoom, and SupportAssist, then this will install Firefox, GoToAssist, Chrome, Adobe Reader, AnyConnect, Sophos, Slack, Zoom, and SupportAssist.
$progresspreference = 'silentlyContinue'
Invoke-WebRequest -OutFile C:\Downloads\slack.exe
Invoke-WebRequest -OutFile C:\Downloads\zoom.exe
Invoke-WebRequest -OutFile C:\Downloads\dell.exe
msg * The Downloads Have Finished. Now Installing software.

# Similar process to the .bat file; installs the MSI and EXE files
Start-Process msiexec.exe -Wait -ArgumentList '/I "\\schfile01\public\helpdesk\_OtherApps\Firefox\Firefox Setup 71.0.msi" /qn'
Start-Process msiexec.exe -Wait -ArgumentList '/I "\\schfile01\public\helpdesk\_OtherApps\GoToAssist_Remote_Support_Unattended_TT_Unattended.msi" /qn'
Start-Process msiexec.exe -Wait -ArgumentList '/I "\\schfile01\public\helpdesk\_OtherApps\Chrome\GoogleChromeStandaloneEnterprise64.msi" /qn'
\\schfile01\public\helpdesk\_OtherApps\AcroRdrDC1902120058\setup.exe | Out-Null
Start-Process msiexec.exe -Wait -ArgumentList '/I "\\schfile01\public\helpdesk\_OtherApps\Cisco\anyconnect-win-4.8.01090-core-vpn-predeploy-k9.msi"'

# Installs the downloaded files from the first steps. Does NOT delete them afterwards
cd C:\Downloads\
./slack.exe | Out-Null
./zoom.exe | Out-Null
./dell.exe | Out-Null
\\schfile01\public\helpdesk\_OtherApps\SophosSetup.exe | Out-Null
msg * Installs complete!

msg * /w Please set the date and time
Start-Process "ms-settings:dateandtime"

msg * /w Run Windows Updates
Start-Process "ms-settings:windowsupdate"

Ramblings Of An IT Person