ConfigMgr Toolkit 2012 R2–Collection Evaluation Viewer

April 16, 2014 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I have blogged about the DP Job Queue Manager. Today we will have a further look into another great utility in the Configuration Manager 2012 R2 toolkit: the Collection Evaluation Viewer (CEViewer.exe).

The main purpose of the Collection Evaluation viewer is to assist in troubleshooting issues related to collection evaluation. We will now test drive the tool in a lab to further explore the possibilities.

In case you did not download the toolkit yet, it is available here. The installation is really straightforward and we will not outline those details during this post. Instead we will fire up the utility straight away.

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Before doing anything else I would recommend to first have a look at the last tab entitled about Collection Evaluation. This tab contains details on how to collection evaluation process runs and will help you to better understand the other queue tabs.

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Now that we have some insights on how the queuing works, lets go to the first tab and provide the connection details to connect to the primary site. Connection details are shown at the bottom of the window.

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Moving on to the Full Evaluation tab – this is where things become interesting. When looking specifically into performance issues the columns Run Time (Seconds) and Percent will be the most interesting ones: the first one logs how long the last evaluation took and the Percent column shows the percentage of evaluation time for this collection over the total (all collections) evaluation time. This should help you spot problematic collections straight away.

Additionally we can also find more details about the last time the collection was evaluated, when the next evaluation time will be, and what the result of the last evaluation was in regards to membership and when that change took place.

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The Incremental Evaluation tab show information similar to the Full Evaluation tab, but this time for collections that have the incremental evaluation setting enabled. Also here we can easily spot problematic collections based on the Run Time and Percent columns.

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The All Queues tab gives a complete overview of the different queues. Before taking the screenshot above I triggered a membership update on a few demo collections. As this is a manual action the collections are listed in the manual update queue. Notice that an estimated completion time is listed for both collections of which the membership is currently being evaluated.

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The remaining (color-coded) tabs each represent a different queue. The screenshot above for to the manual update queue and lists a set of collections for which I had triggered a membership update. Here we can see the estimated run time and estimated completion time for each of the collections.

The remaining tabs are for the queues for new collections, collections with full updates or collections with incremental updates and work in the exact same way.

To finish up this post I would like to add that this tool can only be used with Configuration Manager 2012 R2. It will not work with previous versions. On an SP1 site we were able to connect to the site but when browsing to any of the other tabs in the tool it errors out as shown in the screenshot below.

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That concludes our overview and test drive of this very interesting tool in the Configuration Manager 2012 R2 Toolkit. I hope this information was useful and will encourage you to download the toolkit and start using these tools.

Until next time!

Tim

Implementing Configuration Manager 2012 R2 Cumulative Update 1

April 10, 2014 Leave a comment

This post outlines the implementation of Cumulative Update 1 for Configuration Manager 2012 R2 in a lab environment. Note that this update is applicable for R2 only, if you are currently still running Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 please refer to my previous blog post on implementing Cumulative Update 4 for ConfigMgr SP1.

The detailed description and download link for this Cumulative Update  are available here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2938441/en-us .

The CU is applicable directly to the following components:

    • CAS
    • Primary Sites
    • Secondary Sites
    • SMS Provider(s)
    • Console(s)

    Additionally it contains updates for the following components:

    • CAS
    • Primary Sites
    • Secondary Sites
    • SMS Provider(s)
    • Consoles
    • Clients

    The lab infrastructure on which we will implement the CU is rather small: a standalone primary site with the site database and all site system roles installed on a single server. Additionally there is one remote Distribution Point. There are no secondary sites.

Primary Site

A CU implementation needs to be done from top to bottom so we start with the site server first.  Make sure there are no console connections open and then run the installer with elevated privileges.

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The installation wizard is started:

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Click Next on the welcome screen.

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Accept the license terms and click Next.

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Review all checks and click Next.

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Leave the option to install the update for the console and click Next.

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Leave the option to update the Site Database and click Next.

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As part of the setup process Configuration Manager can create packages to update other components part of the environment. Leave the options to have these packages created and click Next.

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Leave the default options for the first Update Package and click Next.

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Leave the default options for the update package for consoles and click Next.

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And finally also leave the default options for the remaining packages for clients. Click Next.

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Review the setup summary and click Install to kick off the installation.

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Installation progress is shown.

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If you are interested in what is happening under the hood make sure to have a look at the installation log files in the %windir%\temp directory.

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Click Next once all steps have been completed successfully.

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Click Finish and restart the server.

In ARP there should be two entries indicating that the Cumulative Update was installed on the system: one for the site server and one for the console. Both are shown in the screenshot below:

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Also in the registry the CU level for the site can be verified:

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When opening the About Configuration Manager window from the console the version should show 5.0.7958.1203

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Remember that at one point we opted to have packages created to implement the CU on other components. These packages are now available in the Software Library workspace:

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Do not forget to distribute the content for these packages to your Distribution Points. This is not something that is done automatically!

 

Secondary Sites

If there are any Secondary Sites in your environment the next step is to implement the CU on those sites. The server update package can be used to automate this. To target the site servers a collection can be built which is populated based on the following query:

    • select SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceID,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceType,SMS_R_SYSTEM.Name, SMS_R_SYSTEM.SMSUniqueIdentifier,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceDomainORWorkgroup,
      SMS_R_SYSTEM.Client from SMS_R_System inner join SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS_64 on SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS_64.ResourceId = SMS_R_System.ResourceId where SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS_64.DisplayName = "System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Secondary Site Setup"

    Consoles

    As part of the implementation process on the site server the locally installed console was updated as well. Any remote consoles in the environment can be updated using the console upgrade package which was automatically created during the installation process.

    To build a collection containing the machines with the console installed the following query could be used:

  • select SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceID,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceType,SMS_R_SYSTEM.Name, SMS_R_SYSTEM.SMSUniqueIdentifier,SMS_R_SYSTEM. ResourceDomainORWorkgroup,SMS_R_SYSTEM.Client from SMS_R_System inner join SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS on SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS.ResourceId = SMS_R_System.ResourceId where SMS_G_System_ADD_REMOVE_PROGRAMS.DisplayName = "System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Console"

Clients

Last but not least also the clients within the environment need to be brought up to the level of the Cumulative Update. There are multiple approaches to accomplish this; one method could be to deploy the client update packages which were also created automatically during the implementation process.

As there is a package per processor architecture we will also create matching collections to target our deployments. This is an example query for a collection containing all 64-bit clients with a client version not equal to CU1:

  • select SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceID,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceType,SMS_R_SYSTEM.Name, SMS_R_SYSTEM.SMSUniqueIdentifier,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceDomainORWorkgroup,
    SMS_R_SYSTEM.Client from SMS_R_System inner join SMS_G_System_SYSTEM on SMS_G_System_SYSTEM.ResourceID = SMS_R_System.ResourceId where SMS_R_System.ClientVersion != "5.00.7958.1203" and SMS_G_System_SYSTEM.SystemType = "X64-based PC"
    The query for the collection with 32-bit clients is identical; just replace “x64-based PC” with “x86-based PC”.
    A client with the CU installed should have the following version displayed in the properties:

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And the updated components:

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That concludes the work in our lab. I hope this post gives you a good overview on how you could implement the Cumulative Update in your environment.

Until next time!

Tim

Cumulative Update 1 for System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager released!

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Microsoft has released Cumulative Update 1 for System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. This update contains all previously released updates and hotfixes for Configuration Manager R2.

Full details and download information can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2938441/en-us 

Note that next to fixing issues, the CU also introduces some changes for Windows Powershell. These changes are documented in a separate KB: 2932274

I will be test driving this CU in my lab shortly so stay tuned for more information.

ConfigMgr Toolkit 2012 R2 – DP Job Queue Manager

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

One of the new server tools in the Configuration Manager 2012 R2 Toolkit is the Distribution Point Job Queue Manager (DpJobMgr.exe). This tool helps the Configuration Manager administrator in managing, monitoring and troubleshooting content distribution throughout his environment.

Lets have a closer look at the tool and how it can be used.

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On the connect tab the Primary Site Server name needs to be specified before clicking on Connect. Connection status and results are shown in the bottom left corner. Make sure the connection is successful before moving on.

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The overview tab shows a list of all Distribution Points within our lab environment. Note that the locally installed Distribution Point on the site server is not displayed and also not taken into account in the Total Distribution Points count.

You can opt to manually refresh the list if you are in the process of doing content deployments. Alternatively the tool can auto-refresh the list based on a set interval. Note that the default interval is 2 minutes. You cannot set a value lower than those 2 minutes.

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The Distribution Point info tab displays details about the ongoing content transfers. Once the transfer is completed, the entry for that content is removed from the list. The progress column seems to be updated at a slow pace and as a result I found that smaller content was distributed even before any percentage was ever displayed.

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Managing jobs is done from the next tab. Here you can change priorities in the queue and also cancel any distribution jobs that are ongoing.

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The last tab is the help tab. This tab is purely informational and displays some general help information.

Now in a lab off course the amount of content to be distributed and DP’s to be targeted is very low. In large enterprise environments where there is much content and many Distribution Points to be targeted I believe this will be a very helpful utility.

Important: this tool only works with Configuration Manager 2012 R2 and is not compatible with previous versions. On an SP1 site for example we were able to connect to the site but while retrieving data the tools throws multiple errors like the one displayed below:

DPQueueMgr_SP1_Error

 

Until next time!

Tim

ConfigMgr 2012 R2 Initial Updates Sync Fails: Failed to set Subscriptions on the WSUS Server

March 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Recently I encountered an issue in my lab during the initial Software Updates synchronization. The sync failed and as a result no updates were available in Configuration Manager. This blog post describes the issue and how to resolve it.

The Issue

When examining the wsyncmgr.log the following entry is logged:

  • Sync failed: WSUS update source not found on site PS1. Please refer to WCM.log for configuration error details.. Source: getSiteUpdateSource

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As indicated in the previous error log, more information was to be found in the WCM.log. This is a screenshot of that log file:

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This particular entry was indicating something was failing with the Subscriptions:

  • Failed to set Subscriptions on the WSUS Server. Error:(-2147467259)Unspecified error

The entry logged just before that one points us further into the right direction:

  • Subscription contains categories unknown to WSUS and SUP has no upstream server.~  Please either unsubscribe the unknown categories or import into WSUS an upstream package containing them.

Workaround

The WCM.log entries refer to specific categories that are unknown – but do not specify any further details. I suspected there was an issue with the classifications and products that were enabled by default in the Software Update component configuration.

To work around this issue I followed these steps:

  1. Go to the Software Update Component properties and deselect all Products and Classifications which are enabled out-of-the-box.
  2. Force the Software Update Synchronization to run. Monitor the WCM.log and WsyncMgr.log to validate the synchronization is now running successfully. Note that no updates will be synchronized at this point, but the products and classifications catalog will be synched as part of the process.
  3. Enable the required Products and Classifications that were disabled previously, and run the synchronization again.
    Once I went through these steps the synchronization was working fine again:

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Hope it helps!

Tim

Looking back at Safer Internet Day 2014

February 12, 2014 Leave a comment

SID2014 As a member of the Microsoft Extended Experts Team (MEET) I had the opportunity to enroll as a volunteer for the Safer Internet Day 2014. Through this initiative I have delivered 3 sessions about safe and responsible internet use to a total of 63 students at 2 different schools.

The event took place last week Tuesday, and looking back at that day I can only describe it as a fantastic and very meaningful experience. I was truly amazed by the interaction of the students during these sessions. As a result my biggest issue in fact was to be able to deliver all content during a 60 minute timeslot. Students giving up their afternoon break to keep talking was just another indicator they found the session content really interesting.

I was surprised to see that almost every student had a personal device (computer, tablet, Smartphone …) to go online with … even at such a young age. At the same time I was happy to see and hear that many of them are actually already very much aware of the dangers and pitfalls that exist online. Many of them gathered that knowledge through similar initiatives coming from organizations like Child Focus.

The positive feedback received from the students and their teachers afterwards are truly rewarding and confirm that this is a fantastic initiative. An initiative which I hope to be part of again in the future.

Categories: Various Tags:

Configuration Manager Support Center – a first look

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

A few days ago Microsoft has released a new tool called the SC2012 Configuration Manager Support Center. This post describes the installation steps and some findings and experiences while test driving this new tool in a lab environment.

Installation

Before beginning the installation make sure the .Net Framework 4.5 has been installed. You can download it here.

After extracting the content we downloaded from Microsoft Connect there are 3 files:

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There are a few known issues with the current beta release, so I recommend reading the releases notes first to learn about them. Run the cmsupportcenter.msi with administrative permissions and walk through the installation wizard as follows:

  1. Click Next on the welcome screen.
  2. Accept the License Agreement and click Next.
  3. Choose a Setup Type, I opted for the Typical setup.
  4. Click Install to start the installation.
  5. Click Finish when the installation is complete.

Upon successful installation the following items are listed in the start menu:

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Support Center Features

This is what Support Center looks like when launching it:

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Notice that we are connected to the local host. Through the menu options there is also the possibility to connect to a remote machine. You will need to specify the hostname of the machine and optionally also any required credentials.

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Now lets walk through all the available tabs.

First tab is the data collection tab. When clicking the start collection button the tool starts gathering information from the client system. The data gathering process only takes about a minute to complete. At that point you will be prompted to save the data (in a .zip file).

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We can use the second utility Support Center Viewer to analyze the zip file. More information on this later in this post.

Second tab in the Client Details tab. The only option available here is to load or refresh the data. This tab just gives an overview of some basic client information:

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The third tab is the Client Policy tab. Here you have the options to load the local client policy, request and/or evaluate the policy and the capability to listen for policy events. If you enable the listener you can flip open the bottom pane for more details.

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The fourth tab is related to Content on the client. Similar to the policies we also have the option to load or refresh the data. This tab gives us details about what has been deployed to the client. In the example below we see detailed information on one of our lab applications.

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Next tab we can explore is the Troubleshooting tab. Upon clicking the Start Troubleshooting button a series of tests is conducted.

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Once the tests are complete you can individually select each one and click the view log button to see more detailed information about the test. The example below is taken from the step that verifies Client Registration.

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The last tab is the troubleshooting tab. Here we can open log files for further analysis. The functionality here seems similar to the CMTrace utility. There are search and filter options and also highlighting of specific entries.

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The tool also includes the capability to modify the client logging configuration and to open groups of log files related to a specific troubleshooting area.  There are 3 groups: Application Management, Client Registration and Policy.

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Support Center Viewer

Using the Support Center Viewer utility we can analyze the results from the data collection we did earlier. When launching the utility it will immediately show a dialog box to browse to the .zip file saved earlier. It shows detailed information on the Client Configuration and the System and allows further analysis of the logs files that were retrieved.

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That concludes the first test drive of this new utility in our lab. Although I only had a chance to look at all the features at a glance I am sure this will be a helpful utility during future troubleshooting.

Until next time!

Tim

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