Windows: Windows 2012 Sysprep for Vagrant readiness

Many developers like to use Vagrant from HashiCorp to standardize the workflow of virtual machines: creation, running, destroying, taking snapshots, etc..

Usually Vagrant is used for Linux hosts, but it also works with Windows as long as you prepare the template properly.

In a previous article I went over the detailed steps to create a template image for Windows 2012 server using Sysprep.  Consider this the second part in that series, where Vagrant has specific additional requirements.

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Ubuntu: Standing up a Windows 2012 instance on Ubuntu using Sysprep

In the world of Linux containers where deployment takes on the order of seconds, even the best-case scenario for spinning up a new Windows host can seem like an eternity.

Clearly, you don’t want to wait for the entire Windows install process each time you bring up a Windows guest OS.  Even automated, this would take 15+ minutes and all it would deliver is a base, non-patched, non-customized system.

Windows Sysprep allows you to build a base Windows template with any patches, customizations, and files that you want in a base system.  And then any subsequent guest OS created with that template will inherit all those template basics.

I wrote this article to give developers a peek into how these templates are created so they can influence the base images that their Operations teams generate.

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Ansible: Managing a Windows host using Ansible

Ansible is an agentless configuration management tool that helps operations teams manage installation, patching, and command execution across a set of servers.

Ansible was started as a Linux only solution, leveraging ssh to provide a management channel to a target server.  However, starting at Ansible 1.7, support for Windows hosts was added by using Powershell remoting over WinRM.

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GoLang: Cross Compiling for Linux and Windows platforms

A nice feature of the Go language is the ability to build binaries for multiple platforms directly from a single source system.  As an example, even from a development Windows 7 32-bit machine, you can build binaries for both 64 bit Linux and Windows 2012 Servers.

Before Go 1.5, you needed a compiler for the target architecture, but now that the entire tool chain is written in Go, building for multiple architectures is easy.

And unlike other languages where additional external libraries need to be copied or downloaded on the target system, Go dependencies are generally statically linked [1,2,3,4] into a single binary which makes portability that much easier.

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Logstash: Testing Logstash grok patterns locally on Windows

elastic-logstash-fwIf the logs you are shipping to Logstash are from a Windows OS, it makes it even more difficult to quickly troubleshoot a grok pattern being sent to the Logstash service.

It can be beneficial to quickly validate your grok patterns directly on the Windows host.  Here is an easy way to test a log against a grok pattern:

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Sending SMTP Mail from Windows Using PowerShell

When working from the Windows command line, you can do a quick test to validate your SMTP connectivity using PowerShell:

 

c:\> Powershell -executionpolicy bypass

PS c:\> Send-MailMessage –to <TO> –from <FROM> –subject "testing123" –body "this is a test" –smtpserver <SMTPServer> -port 25

And if the mail server is accessed over TLS/SSL with SMTP authentication enabled:

PS c:\> Send-MailMessage –to <TO> –from <FROM> –subject "testing456" –body "this is a secure test" –smtpserver <SMTPServer> -port 587 -UseSsl -Credential (Get-Credential)

This is easier than going down to telnet, which is typically not installed on a modern Windows host: Continue reading “Sending SMTP Mail from Windows Using PowerShell”