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Blog Posts by Nico_K

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Hard Disk Health overview

Problem: you need to be sure all hard disks on your systems are ok but you don't have a health monitoring system in place.

Microsoft does not have the right software in place, so you need to improvize.

Under Linux you simply use a smartctl -H to get all informations, so simply do it like that.

My test env does only have x64 capable physical systems, so I only use x64 OS. If you use x32 OS, you need to modify it a little bit.

1. Download the smartmontools for Windows here: http://www.netpower.fr/smartmontools

2. create a distribution to install the tools silently: "smartmontools-win-6.2-1.exe /silent"

2a. if you want also to create an automatic email with the errors (which should not be nessesary as we have the info inside the KBox, so we can use reporting to get an overview) you could also use -f for sourcemailaddress, -t for destination and -s for the smtp-server)

3. create a custom inventory rule: ShellCommandTextReturn(cmd /c "C:\Program Files (x86)\smartmontools for Windows\bin\smartctl" -H /dev/sda|findstr result)

With smartctl you can also read out many other stuff out of the hard disk, even behind most of the raid controllers.

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K2000 best practices

Prerequisites:

  1. NIC need to be able to PXE (fixed or via USB dongle)
    1. BIOS configuration
    2. Dongle needs to support PXE (Startech 7500 USB to Ethernet Dongle is supported)
  1. Not possible via WLAN/Bluetooth
  2. DHCP server needs to be configured correctly
    1. KACE internal DHCP server is suitable
    2. Options 66 (FQDN of the K2000 or RSA), 67(k2000.0)+ 244(IP of the K2000 or RSA) need to be set
    3. Client needs to be in the same subnet like the K2000 or RSA

 Deployment:

  1. Client boots to the  KBE-Boot Environment
    1. Via PXE
    2. KBE from boot media (flash media/USB thumb key)

http://www.itninja.com/blog/view/deploying-images-from-usb-devices-with-the-kace-2000

  1. KBE mounts the K2000
    1. KBE needs only two drivers: network + storage for the questioned system
    2. KBE queries kgetdhcp 66 and kgetdhcp 244 to get the correct IP
    3. KBE mounts the drivers \\k2000\drivers\ as drive Y:
    4. If this fails possibly a driver is missing https://support.software.dell.com/kb/111717
  1. KBE runs the interactive GUI or if started as automated task directly the SI/Image
  2. KBE runs the Pre-Install Tasks
    1. Create partition(s)
    2. Format the partition(s)
    3. Install MBR for questioned OS
    4. Get/Set Computername if needed

http://www.kace.com/support/resources/kb/article/get-set-computername

  1. KBE runs the Installation (SI/Imaging) including Mid-Install Tasks
  2. Reboot, the client boots from HDD
  3. OS runs the Post-Install Tasks
    1. Install Agent
    2. Automatic inject the drivers so no yellow question mark is in device manager anymore

                 i.      For Dell systems: enable the driver feed and download the drivers for that system

                ii.      For systems which are not in that feed: http://www.itninja.com/blog/view/driver-feed-builder

  1. Modify the firewall to allow the agent
  2. Scripts for all stuff you may need
  3. Installing software should be done by the K1 if possible

Typical issues:

Before testing on a client please try always in a virtual environment to be shure that the installation itself works fine

  1. Client don’t boot the KBE
    1. Review this table for Dell systems: http://www.itninja.com/blog/view/bios-pxe-boot-issues
  1. Review the BIOS config of the client (boot from NIC with PXE)
  2. Review the settings of the DHCP server (the settings must not have a space in it (esp. at the end!)
  3. Client boots the KBE but is not able to mount the K2000
    1. Check if the KBE got a correct IP

                i.      Type ipconfig /all

               ii.      If no IP: clean out all drivers for the KBE and download the KBE driver pack and install it   https://support.software.dell.com/kb/111717

              iii.      Recache the drivers and rebuild the KBE

              iv.      If this don’t fix: inject on the same way the needed network + storage drivers

               v.      Recache and rebuild

  1. Post Install Tasks not working correctly
    1. Use the runonceex converter http://www.itninja.com/blog/view/k2000-postinstall-task-converter
    2. If a batch is started, use call call batch.bat
    3. If a vbs is started, use cscript cscript vbscript.vbs
    4. If you use a post install task use start /wait
    5. Attachments must be smaller than 2GB due to a limitation of the box
    6. If you use 3.6 or newer: remove all call, cscript, start /wait and the runonceex-converter, as this was only needed prior to 3.6 since with the 3.6 a new task scheduler is in use which does not need it anymore. You can use the K2 advisor to check your installations. It will show you possible problems: http://www.itninja.com/blog/view/k2-advisor 
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Deploying systems with Realtek NIC and WLAN fails during installation of the WLAN card

Problem:
Need to install systems out of the driver feed
When creating the own driver feed the installation of the WLAN driver causes the NIC driver to reset, which breaks the connection to the K2 which failing the post installation tasks

Tested configurations:
self grown PC with RTL8168 and TP-Link TL-WN851ND, W7 x64, W8 x64
Inspiron 5721 (17R) with Realtek PCIe FE and Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230, W7 x86
Latitude E6530 without the built in driver feed
self grown driver feed (Driver harvester and double driver tested)
Scripted installation and imaging tested

Observations:
If the WLAN is deactivated (or not installed) the post install tasks run through.
If the WLAN is activated, the installation breaks during the driver feed is installing the WLAN card.
The E6530 installs fine with the built in driver feed but fails to install 1 out of 5 times with the same errors.
It seems that the Realtek NIC causing this issue

Solution:
1. (simple solution) install without activated WLAN card and install it via a MI with the K1000
2. (more complex solution) create a post installation for this WLAN driver only
    Capture the questioned driver with driver harvester or dd and install the driver with pnputil using this command line:
    xcopy "\\drivershare of the K2000 or a file server" %windir%\inf\wlan\ /E /H /Y /I /Q /V pnputil.exe -a %windir%\inf\wlan\oem61.inf
    
    A reboot is nessesary directly after this action to make the WLAN driver work

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Backup corrupted, what can be done

As everybody knows, the backup of the K1000 (and K2000 too) consists of two files:

kbox_dbdata.gz which holds the database itself and is simply a zipped dump of the database in one file

kbox_files.tgz which holds all stuff which was uploaded to the box (kbots, MI, Scripts etc) which is a zipped tar-archive, which consists all files unzipped

Both files are needed to restore the box to a older version.

Normally you test the backup to be shure that all is fine.

But what to do, if you have only a corrupted backup?

There are some tools for fixing (if possible) the backup files.

Please be aware: as the backup is corrupted you will never be able to restore all files!

http://filerepair.sourceforge.net/ is freeware, runs for a long time, and is able to repair the tgz, the gz file could be repaired too but I wouldn't bet much money on that.

Got reports http://www.sysinfotools.com/recovery/archive-recovery.html would also help, but never tested it, as it costs money. If the demo is working correctly, may be tested.

http://www.datanumen.com/atr/ will help in full version. In the Demo it only shows if the archive can be repaired.

The best chances you may have if you have a Linux box.

A simple tar xifvz FILE will ignore most errors (usually the EOF error)

Also zcat would work great:

At first you should rename it to .tar.gz

then run zcat kbox_files.tar.gz > kbox.tar If it breaks here, you are _REALLY_ doomed.

untar the kbox.tat using tar xif kbox.tar

If you have results (each way) repack the archive and upload it to the box.

Hopefully you will have most of the files remaining.

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