How to get Windows Live Installer to work behind a firewall and proxy

If you are like me and obsessed about security, then you might find that your PC is sitting behind a firewall with no direct outbound web access. That is other than through an proxy server of some sorts like the Linux based squid.

What happens is the Window Live Installer (WLInstaller.exe) searches your computer for installed Windows Live programs and then fails to check for and download the new versions. Why? Because it ignores the default proxy settings you’ve configured under Internet Explorer. To solve it simply execute proxycfg -u to import proxy settings from current user’s Microsoft Internet Explorer manual settings and try the installer again.

[tags]Windows Live Installer,Windows Live,howto[/tags]

When Hyper-V on Server Core actually sucks

After seeing a post that the Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V bits are now feature complete in the form of Release Candidate 0 (RC0), I decided its time to get a machine up and running to play with it.

I decided to go with a Server Core installation instead of the usual Full installation and it was great, I ended up at a command prompt after installation, reboot and logging on for the first time. So I proceeded to type in the following commands to configure Hyper-V:

bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto
start /w ocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V

A reboot later and my server is now enabled with the Hyper-V role. One problem, how do I configure a virtual machine? It seems like the only way is from another Windows Server 2008 machine running the Virtual Machine Manager. This kind of sucks big time as I don’t have another one to play with. Apparently Windows Vista will be able to run the Virtual Machine Manager at some point but right now it looks like my lean and mean Hyper-V server is going to have to become a bloated full installation.

[tags]Windows Server 2008,Hyper-V,virtualization,rant[/tags]

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 out now

Internet Explorer 8 Beta logo Just announced at MIX’08, Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 is available for download after the keynote completes. It looks like they’ve added some very cool new features with sites like Ebay and Facebook already taking advantage of them. I kinda like the idea of having my friend’s status updates available on my toolbar at the click of a button, apparently this is called a WebSlice. See the list of new features here.

One of the cool new features is finally the standard compliant rendering with a button to enable IE7-like emulation for older sites. HTML5 and CSS3 are all included. Oh and the speed is apparently greatly improved.

[tags]Internet Explorer 8[/tags]

Silverlight, Nokia and Apple

Microsoft Silverlight logo Well things seem to be picking up for Microsoft’s Silverlight technology. I enjoyed Silverlight 1.0 but detest JavaScript so my attention immediately turned to the Silverlight 1.1 Alpha build that came out last year at MIX’07. Awesome stuff, managed code in the browser with a lightweight multi-platform plug-in that doesn’t require much skill-up for the developer.

In the interim I’ve noted some interesting stirrings on the web, namely that Nokia has announced support for Silverlight on its Series 60, Series 40 and Internet tablets. This is a totally awesome thing, finally a managed code execution environment built on the .NET Compact Framework for mobile devices other than Windows CE powered devices.

Espoo, Finland – Nokia today announced plans to make Microsoft Silverlight available for S60 on Symbian OS, the world’s leading smartphone software(1), as well as for Series 40 devices and Nokia Internet tablets.  Adding support for Silverlight will extend opportunities for developers to create rich, interactive applications that run on multiple platforms in a consistent and reliable way.

Next in the way of news is an article quoting Apple’s Steve Jobs where he proclaims that the hugely popular iPhone mobile device won’t be getting Flash or Flash Lite technologies as they don’t perform well enough even on the desktop never mind the mobile device. I could agree more.

Turning back to the iPhone, don’t expect support for Adobe’s Flash technology anytime soon. The full-blown PC Flash version “performs too slow to be useful” on the iPhone, and a mobile version called Flash Lite “is not capable of being used with the Web,” Jobs said. Without an option that falls in between, it sounds like Flash is not going to be supported on the iPhone until the performance of the underlying hardware improves.

So the big question on everyone’s lips is when are we going to be getting the recently announced Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1 build. Most people are expecting it later today during the MIX’08 keynote in Las Vegas. Personally I’m chomping on the bit waiting for the announcements. It really does mean a completely new era for application development.

[tags]Silverlight,Nokia,Apple,MIX07,MIX08,Symbian[/tags]

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 CTP, February 2008

The latest and greatest CTP of SQL Server 2008 (code-named Katmai) is now available for download and testing. This is commonly referred to as CTP6 and is the first update since CTP5 in November 2007. You can download the CTP6 bits over here.

To find out what is new and changed in SQL Server 2008 I suggest you take a look at the February 2008 version of Books Online (BOL). I’m really keen to try out the new DATETIME2, DATETIMEOFFSET, DATE, TIME, GEOGRAPHY, GEOMETRY and VARBINARY(MAX) FILESTREAM data types. Not to mention the ability to pass tables as parameters to stored procedures and the addition of Virtual Earth support directly in the database. This isn’t to be confused with the new spatial data types and spatial index support though.

Remember that CTPs should preferably be installed on test machines or virtual machines. If however you want to use it with Visual Studio there are updates necessary for both Visual Studio 2005 Support for SQL Server 2008 CTP and Visual Studio 2008 Support for SQL Server 2008 CTP.

[tags]SQL Server 2008,Katmai,CTP[/tags]

Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 RTM

Windows Server 2008 RTMs with zero defects. Both the Windows Server and Windows Vista teams released new builds today. The much-awaited Windows Server 2008, formerly known by the code-name Longhorn Server, was released to manufacturing today, as was the highly anticipated service pack 1 update to Windows Vista.

If you are running Windows Vista you can expect to possibly see the service pack sometime in March as is described here:

Here’s the timing for SP1 availability for current Windows Vista users:

  • In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update (in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) and to the download center on microsoft.com.  Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1.  If Windows Update determines that the system has one of the drivers we know to be problematic, then Windows Update will not offer SP1.  Since we know that some customers may want to update to SP1 anyhow, the download center will allow anyone who wants to install SP1 to do so.
  • In mid-April, we will begin delivering Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Vista customers who have chosen to have updates downloaded automatically.  That said, any system that Windows Update determines has a driver known to not update successfully will not get SP1 automatically.  As updates for these drivers become available, they will be installed automatically by Windows Update, which will unblock these systems from getting Service Pack 1.  The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience.
  • The remaining languages will RTM in April.

Windows Server 2008 I presume will be available from the various distribution channels on or after the 27th of February (official launch date). I can’t wait to try out the awesome new virtualization feature called Hyper-V.

Well done to the two teams at Microsoft for what I’m sure will be two awesome deliverables.

[tags]Longhorn Server,Windows Server 2008,Windows Vista[/tags]

Linux running under Virtual Server 2005

image Recently we decided to put up a virtual Linux server in one of our hosting environments. The host machine is a Windows Server 2003 x64 edition running Virtual Server 2005 R2 x64 SP1. We chose to install CentOS 5.1 which is community Linux distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The installation went perfectly fine but I noticed that the system time was going way too fast. So the first thing I did was configure ntpd to synchronise the system time with an NTP time source. Unfortunately after about 12 hours the time was still about 40 minutes out, obviously traditional time synchonisation was not going to cut it. After a bit of searching I found this knowledge base article on the Linux kernel 2.6 clock source. I set the kernel option clock=pit which configures the Linux kernel to use the programmable interrupt timer, only to find that now the clock was too slow. Could it get any worse!

Then I recalled that Microsoft had been working on virtual machine additions for Linux and that one of the features was time synchronisation. Unfortunately they only officially support Red Hat and SuSE Linux so I took a long-shot and installed them anyway. I had to manually force install the RHEL RPM but it worked and now the time is perfectly synchronised with the host server – which of course is already NTP synchronised to the hosting environment’s NTP server.

[tags]Virtual Server 2005,Linux,CentOS,NTP,time synchronisation[/tags]

The Lone Server

image I just have to take my hat off to the Microsoft Windows Server team. If you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you go take a peek at the The Lone Server Story featuring a humourous take on the last Windows Server 2003 server serving the microsoft.com website. Make sure you watch the video (or the longer version) as its rather funny how Microsoft can rip their own products off with comments like “babysit total losers like Windows ME”.

The only error I picked up in the video is the dude calling himself Windows Server 2000, it should be Windows 2000 Server.

[tags]Microsoft,Windows Server 2003,Windows Server 2008,humour[/tags]

Nasty critters must die

Sometimes Windows can be a complete pain, well Windows XP specifically. Today my colleague presented me with an spy-ware issue on his PC that he needed help with removing. After trying the usual tools like HijackThis it became clear that this little critter wasn’t going to be going away that easily.

I believe there were actually two on his machine stored as C:\WINDOWS\system32\jkkjjge.dll and C:\WINDOWS\system32\ddcyx.dll. According to HijackThis both were loaded into Internet Explorer as Browser Helper Objects (BHO) and the first one was being loaded under winlogon.exe as well. Trying to fix them with HijackThis didn’t work as they were monitoring the registry and simply replaced the keys as they were deleted. As the one was loaded under winlogon.exe it wasn’t a case of just killing the winlogon.exe process as its a critical system process. Trying to get Windows to delete the files on reboot didn’t work either.

That is where my new favourite utility came in. Its called IceSword and its really powerful. It allows you to search the running processes for loaded modules loaded and then to attempt to unload the module from the process. In this case the winlogon.exe process resulted in an automated system shudown which was quickly aborted with shutdown -a on the command prompt. I then noticed that the ddcyx.dll module was loaded by lsass.exe process so I killed that as well. IceSword also allowed me to forcibly delete the files off disk. A reboot and a cleanup using HijackThis resulted in a clean machine once again.

[tags]spy-ware,virus,utility,windows,IceSword,HijackThis[/tags]