Monday, December 28, 2015

Deploying the first virtual server: Hydrogen.Unit34.co

Now that our Hyper-V host CARBON.Unit34.co has been setup up, we are now going to look at deploying our first domain controller. Our domain controller will be called Hydrogen and it will be deployed as a Hyper-V virtual machine on CARBON.

Start by logging into CARBON and starting the Hyper-V management console.


Setup the Virtual Switch


The first thing we are going to do is setup an external virtual switch so that our domain controller can communicate with devices on our physical network. In the Hyper-V management console, make sure CARBON is selected in the left pane. Then in the right pane, select Virtual Switch Manager. Create a new external virtual switch called Unit34.co.


Create a new Virtual Machine


While still in the Hyper-V management console, make sure CARBON is still selected in the left pane and then in the right pane, select New and then Virtual Machine. The New Virtual Machine Wizard will then open up. Follow the wizard and;
  1. Specify Hydrogen as the name of the virtual machine.
  2. Specify Generation 2 as the virtual machine type.
  3. Give the virtual machine 1024 MB of startup memory and check Use Dynamic Memory for this virtual machine.
  4. Connect the virtual machine to the virtual switch we created earlier, Unit34.co.
  5. Create a new virtual hard disk with 40 GB of space.
  6. Selected your Windows Server 2012 R2 installation media.

Once your virtual machine Hydrogen has been created, it should show up in the Hyper-V management console in the top-middle pane. Right-click on it and click Settings. Match the settings with the ones in the following screen shot.


Note that in the screenshot, we've removed the DVD drive. Don't do this until you have installed Windows Server 2012 R2.

Perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2


Boot the virtual machine and perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard (Server with GUI).

Since our virtual machine is running on a Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter host, we can use Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA). When prompted for a product key during Windows Setup, enter in the following AVMA key for Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard.

DBGBW-NPF86-BJVTX-K3WKJ-MTB6V

You can find other AVMA keys in the following TechNet article.

Once Windows Server 2012 R2 is installed, choose a password for the local Administrator account. We will use this account until domain accounts have been setup. As always run Windows Update after a clean install to make sure your system is fully patched.

In our next articles, we are going to look at installing Active Directory Domain Services, DHCP and DNS.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Deploying the first server: CARBON.Unit34.co

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I've selected the WD Sentinel DS6100 as my server for Unit34.co. In this post I'm going to walk through how I've set this up and then leave it up to you to adapt it to your server.

I've named my first server Carbon. Carbon will have a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 with the File and Storage Services and Hyper-V role installed. All other servers that we will deploy for Unit34.co will be deployed as Hyper-V virtual machines on Carbon. One of these Hyper-V virtual machines will be called Hydrogen. Hydrogen will be our first Windows domain controller.

Perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2


Start by performing a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 on your server. I've decided to go with the Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2012 R2 so that I can have unlimited activated instances of Windows 2012 R2 virtual machines. If you're using the WD Sentinel DS6100 as your server just like I am, I've written a guide for you here on how to perform a clean install of Windows Server on that server.

Before installing Windows, partitioned the boot drive of your server with the following schema. You can do this with diskpart. Install Windows on partition 4.

PartitionSizeTypeLabel
1300 MBRecoveryWindows RE tools
2100 MBEFISystem
3128 MBMSRMicrosoft Reserved
460 GBPrimaryWindows (C:)
5Remaining Disk SpacePrimaryHyper-V (D:)


Once Windows Server 2012 R2 is installed, choose a password for the local Administrator account. We will use this account until domain accounts have been setup. As always, run Windows Update after a clean install to make sure your system is fully patched.

Important notes about the WD Sentinel DS6100


After performing a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2, the LCD screen will not work and the system fan will spin at full speed. To fix this, you need to install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role and the WD components. Do not do this until you have domain joined your server to your domain!

If you install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role before a domain join, it will automatically convert your server to a domain controller and create a new domain. This is not what we want.

Rename the server to CARBON


After performing a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2, the first thing we want to do is rename our server to CARBON. You can do this during the domain join however we recommend you take care of this early. To rename your server;
  1. Log onto CARBON with the local administrator account, Server Manager should automatically start once logged in.
  2. Select Local Server on the left-hand side in Server Manager.
  3. Bring up the System Properties window by clicking on the computer name in the main pane.
  4. To rename your server click Change and then enter in CARBON for the computer name.
  5. Click OK to confirm the name change. You'll need to restart your server before it will take effect.

Configure NIC teaming (or not)


The WD Sentinel DS6100 has two gigabit network ports we would like to take advantage of. There are a few ways to take advantage of this. The first is to dedicate one port to CARBON and the other port to the virtual machines that CARBON will be hosting. The second is to configure the networks ports into a team which is what this article is going to do. To configure NIC teaming;
  1. Log onto CARBON with the local administrator account, Server Manager should automatically start once logged in.
  2. Select Local Server on the left-hand side in Server Manager.
  3. Open the NIC Teaming window by clicking on NIC Teaming in the main pane.
  4. The NIC Teaming window has three panes. In the TEAMS pane, select the TASKS drop down menu and then select New Team.
  5. Enter Ethernet Team as the team name and select Ethernet and Ethernet 2 as member adapters.
  6. Under Additional properties, make sure the following is configured.
    • Teaming mode: Switch Independent
    • Load balancing mode: Dynamic
    • Standby adapter: None (all adapters Active)
  7. Press OK to create the NIC team.

Install and configure the Hyper-V role


The File and Storage Services role is installed by default on all Windows Server 2012 R2 installs. Before CARBON can host virtual machines like our domain controller, the Hyper-V role needs to be installed. To install Hyper-V;
  1. Log onto CARBON with the local administrator account, Server Manager should automatically start once logged in.
  2. Under the Manage menu on the top right, select Add Roles and Features.
  3. Go through the wizard by clicking Next until you get to the page, Server Roles. Leaving everything in the other pages on its defaults is fine for now.
  4. When prompted to include the management tools for Hyper-V, click on Add Features to add the management tools.
  5. Continue through the wizard until Hyper-V is installed.

Earlier when we performed a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2, you may have notice that we created partition call Hyper-V. This is where we are going to store our virtual machines. Once Hyper-V is installed change the following default directories in the Hyper-V settings.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Understand the network design for Unit34.co

One of the intentions of this blog is to take a typical home network and evolve it into a sophisticated Windows domain, called Unit34.co. For most people, their typical home network will look like this;

  • A single subnet (such as 192.168.1.0/24)
  • A router that provides DHCP, DNS, NAT and firewall services
  • Internet access

In this post, we're going to look at some of the aspects of the typical home network and do the planning for the changes required for Unit34.co. Networking knowledge is essential.

Planning your subnets


Most home networks are not very large and will most of the time have one router and one subnet. This isn't going to change for Unit34.co. We're going to start with one subnet but we will plan for more than one. The table below is the subnet we'll be using for Unit34.co for both IPv4 and IPv6. We recommend that you do not use the default subnet configured on your router for your Windows domain.

IPv4IPv6
Domain NameUnit34.coUnit34.co
Network Address192.168.34.0FD00:0:0:34::
Broadcast Address192.168.34.255-
Subnet Mask / Prefix Length/24/64
First Usable Address192.168.34.1FD00::34:0:0:0:0
Last Usable Address192.168.34.254FD00::34:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF:FFFF
Total Usable25318,446,744,073,709,551,616

In future, we are planning to expand our Windows domain to multiple Active Directory sites. For these sites, we are going to use the third octet of the Class C private address 192.168.x.0/24 to indicate the subnet.

Assigning IP address to your hosts


We'll be using DHCP to assign IP addresses on our network but as with most networks, there will be hosts that will require an static IP address. The three most important one for Unit34.co are listed below. Remember to add any that are unique to your network.

Host NameIP AddressDescription
R0192.168.34.1Our network router called R0 (Router 0).
Carbon192.168.34.251A physical server running File and Storage Services and Hyper-V. The one used in this blog is a WD Sentinel DS6100.
Hydrogen192.168.34.254A virtual machine running on our Hyper-V host Carbon. Hydrogen will be our Active Directory domain controller, DHCP and DNS server.

DHCP and DNS services will be provided by your router until we set up our first domain controller. We'll continue to use the router to provide Network Address Translation (NAT) and firewall services. At this point we do not need to open any ports or define any rules for these services.

Get information from your Internet Service Provider (ISP)


Make sure you know your external IP address assigned to you by your ISP which ideally should be static. You'll also need to know the IP addresses of your ISP's DNS servers so that our domain controller can forward DNS lookups. Alternatively you can use the Google Public DNS servers 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Selecting a server for Unit34.co

To keep this simple, I'm going to start by introducing the server that I have selected to host the Unit34.co domain in my own home. It's the Western Digital Sentinel DS6100. The DS6100 is marketed as a server with storage solution, an ideal first-server for small to medium sized businesses. I have the 8 TB version.


I've chosen the DS6100 because it is the most powerful, space-saving, energy efficient server I could afford. It's ideal for the home environment due to its small footprint and quiet operation. Most importantly it has enough grunt for several virtualized workloads and doubles as a NAS. Check out the specs below.

  • Intel Xeon E3-1265L V2 2.5 GHz Quad Core processor
  • 16 GB RAM - Upgradable to 32 GB
  • 2x 2.5" boot drives configured in RAID 1
  • 4x 3.5" hot-swappable drive bays
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 4x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1x VGA port
  • 2x DC-in power supply ports

Now when selecting a server, the biggest challenge I found was getting all the features I needed at a reasonable cost. As this was going into a home environment, I was keen to keep all the hardware I needed to a minimum, ideally to one box. At the low end of the scale, you have your Network Attached Storage (NAS) and micro server solutions for your average consumer and on the upper end, you have your desktop pedestals and rack mounts for the professionals. You will be looking for something in between as a 'prosumer'.

Rather than tell you to get DS6100 or what server to get, I'm going to instead tell you what our server is going to be used for and leave it up to you based on that to select a server suitable to you. You can use the specs of the DS6100 as a guide. Our server will be the primary server for the Unit34.co domain and will be used for two main purposes. The first is as a file server and the second, as a virtual machine host. Our server will be running 24/7.

Servers and Roles


Our plan for Unit34.co is to deploy one physical server and virtualized all the others. In my case I will be deploying the WD Sentinel DS6100 as my physical server with Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter installed with plans to upgrade to Windows Server 2016 when released. On this server which I've codenamed Carbon, there will be two server roles installed. They are the File and Storage Services role which is installed by default and Hyper-V.

From then onwards, we'll be deploying servers as Hyper-V virtual machines on Carbon. The most important of these is our domain controller named Hydrogen. The table below is my initial plan for the servers we are going to deploy on our Unit34.co domain. Some of these may be able to be further consolidated.

Server NameRoles
CarbonFile and Storage Services and Hyper-V
Hydrogen / Nitrogen / OxygenActive Directory Domain Services, DHCP Server, DNS Server
CobaltWindows Deployment Services and Windows Update Services
NickelActive Directory Certificate Services, Print and Document Services
CopperNetwork Policy and Access Services, Remote Access, Desktop Services and Web Server (IIS)
ZincWindows SQL Server
ScandiumSystem Center Configuration Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Naming Scheme


Servers on the Unit34.co domain are named after elements from the periodic table. We've deliberately picked names of elements that are common or well-known and have tried to avoid as much as we can, the names of elements that sound similar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Installing WD Components

In our previous exercise, we showed you how to clean install Windows Server 2012 R2 on a WD Sentinel DS6100. Unfortunately on a clean install, the LCD of the DS6100 stops working and the system fan runs at full speed (and it's quite noisy). You'll also lose the dashboard that provides an overview of your system's health including the state of your RAID volumes. In this article, we're going to show you how to restore these functionalities on a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 by installing Western Digital components.

About the WD Components


The WD Sentinel DS6100 out of the box comes with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials preinstalled. If you've clean installed Windows Server Standard or Datacenter, you'll need to install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role first before installing the WD components. The WD components integrate with and don't work without the Windows Server Essentials Experience.

The WD components are located in the C:\WD folder on an out-of-the-box DS6100. Hopefully you would have grabbed a copy or backed up before you performed a clean install.


Perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2


In our previous articles, we showed you how to backup your DS6100 and how to perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2. If you haven't done so already, it would be a good idea to read those articles and go do them first. Also remember to make a copy of the folder C:\WD and keep it safe. We will need its contents later.

We also recommend running Windows Update after a clean install of Windows to make sure your system is fully patched.

Install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role


The Windows Server Essentials Experience role can only be deployed in an Active Directory domain environment. If your server is not a member of a domain, installing the Windows Server Essentials Experience role will also install Active Directory Domain Services and make it a domain controller. Avoid this by domain joining your server first.

To install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role, start Server Manager, under the Manage menu select Add Roles and Features.

Press 'Next' until you are on the Server Roles page. Select the role Windows Server Essentials Experience.


When asked to add features required for Windows Server Essentials Experience, press 'Add Features'.


Continue to press 'Next' to skip though all the pages until you reach the Confirmation page.


On the Confirmation page, press 'Install' to start the installation if the Windows Server Essentials Experience role.


Install the WD components


After installing the Windows Server Essentials Experience but before configuring it, install the WD components. Copy the WD folder that we backed up earlier to C:\WD and install the following.
  1. LpcDriverSetup.msi
  2. WDSMbusDriverSetup.msi
  3. PCHThermalDriverSetup.msi
  4. WDSystemConfigSetup.msi
  5. WDProductConfigService.msi
  6. WDBonjourSetup.msi
  7. WDAfpSupportSetup.msi
  8. WDHealthMonitorSetup.msi
  9. WdLcdSetup.msi
    Note: Run WdLcdSetup_PreInstall.bat before installing WdLcdSetup.msi.
  10. WDSoftwareUpdateProvider.msi
  11. WdStorageSetup.msi
  12. WDMonitorSetup.msi
  13. WDBranding.msi
  14. WDHomePageSetup.msi
  15. WDSUSetup.exe
    Note: Run C:\Windows\system32\pkgmgr.exe /iu:IIS-CGI after installing WDSUSetup.exe.
Once all the components have been installed, restart your server. If you would like to know more about these components, you can examine the batch files WdInstall.bat and post_oobe.bat also in the WD folder.

Configure Windows Server Essentials


After installing the WD components and restarting your computer, the LCD and the system fan should be working correctly. To get all the other components working such as the dashboard, you will need to configure Windows Server Essentials.

Open up Server Manager and click on the notification icon. You should then see a link titled Configure Windows Server Essentials. Click on that link and follow the wizard.


Once Windows Server Essentials has been configure, your clean install of your DS6100 with Windows Server 2012 R2 will just be like how it was out-of-the-box.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2

In this exercise, we are going to create a Windows installation media that allows you to perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 onto a WD Sentinel DS6100. Before getting started, there are a couple of things we would like to mention.

First, if you have any data on your DS6100 you want to keep, back it up. Clean installing an operating system includes wiping your hard drives. We also highly recommend backing up the recovery image in the recovery partition of the DS6100. We have written a guide on how to do this here.

Second, do this at your own risk. Clean installing Windows on your WD Sentinel DS6100 is not something supported by Western Digital. After a clean install on a DS6100, the LCD screen won't work and the system fan will run at full speed. To get these components working, you'll need to install the Windows Essentials Experience role in Windows Server 2012 R2 and the WD components that make them work.

With those things out of the way, let us look at how to perform a clean install of Windows Server 2012 R2 on a WD Sentinel DS6100.

Grab a copy of the Windows Server installation media


Copy the content of your Windows Server 2012 R2 media into a working directory on your computer such as C:\WorkingDir\Win2012R2. We are going to modify the install.wim file in the install media by adding the RAID drivers required by the WD Sentinel DS6100.


Grab a copy of the Marvell 94xx SAS/SATA RAID Controller driver


The DS6100 uses a RAID controller in which Windows Setup and Windows Server 2012 R2 does not have the driver for. In order for Windows to see the boot drives in your DS6100, you will need inject a RAID controller driver into the Windows install image.

On a DS6100, go to the directory C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository and copy the files in the folder with the name beginning with mvs94xx.inf_amd64. The four files in this folder contain the driver for the Marvell 94xx SAS/SATA RAID Controller which is used on the DS6100. Copy these files to the directory C:\WorkingDir\mvs94.xx.inf_amd64 on the same computer you have copied your Windows installation media to.


Note that you can use the same files to inject the RAID driver into your Windows PE bootable USB which you will make later in this guide.

Inject the RAID controller driver into the installation media


Create a new folder called mount under your working directory (C:\WorkingDir\mount). Then open a command prompt as an administrator.


Run the following three commands to inject the RAID controller driver into the first image (Index:1) inside install.wim.
  1. Dism /Mount-Image /ImageFile:C:\WorkingDir\Win2012R2\sources\install.wim /Index:1 /MountDir:C:\WorkingDir\mount
  2. Dism /Image:C:\WorkingDir\mount /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\WorkingDir\mvs94xx.inf_amd64\mvs94xx.inf
  3. Dism /Unmount-Image /MountDir:C:\WorkingDir\mount /Commit
Since there are 4 images in total on a Windows Server 2012 R2 install media, repeat the steps for each of the other images (Index:2-4). Below is a list of what index is which image.
  1. Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard (Server Core Installation)
  2. Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard (Server with a GUI)
  3. Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter (Server Core Installation)
  4. Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter (Server with a GUI)

Create a Windows PE bootable USB and run Windows Setup


Using our previous guide, create a Windows PE bootable USB with the RAID controllder drivers injected. Once done, copy the folder C:\WorkingDir\Win2012R2 to the root of your Windows PE bootable USB. To boot your WD Sentinel DS6100 using USB, plug it in to one of the USB ports on the back of the DS6100 and turn it one while pressing and holding the recovery button. Once Windows PE has loaded, change the working directory to the Win2012R2 folder on the USB and run setup.exe.


Proceed to install Windows as you normally would by following the Windows Setup wizard.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Transitioning to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard from Essentials

The WD Sentinel DS6100 comes preinstalled with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and is aimed at small businesses as a first-server solution. Windows Server Essentials has a 25 user limit. If you have the correct licensing, you can transition from Windows Server Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, unlocking the all the features in the Standard edition such as a higher user limit and Hyper-V.

To perform the transition (sometimes called "transmog"), open a command prompt on your server and enter in the following command.

Dism /Online /Set-Edition:ServerStandard /AcceptEula /ProductKey:<Product Key>


In our example, we are using a publicised KMS Client Setup Key. Remember to use your own product key. The transmog process takes several minutes. For more information about this process, you can see the following articles from TechNet;
  1. Transition from Windows Server 2012 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 Standard
  2. Transition from Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard

Monday, September 21, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Backing Up and Restoring the Recovery Partition

Computers from most manufactures today will likely come with a hidden recovery partition. In recent versions of Windows, Microsoft included an option to backup this recovery partition to an external drive, allowing a user to perform a factory reset even when the recovery partition has been deleted or corrupted.

On a WD Sentinel DS6100 you may have notice that this option is missing. It's not supported on Windows Server. In this exercise, we are going to look at backing up and restoring the recovery partition on a DS6100 with Windows PE so that you can perform a factory reset. This process also applies to the WD Sentinel DS5100.

Creating a Windows PE bootable USB


In a previous article we outlined how to create a Windows PE bootable USB and boot it on a WD Sentinel DS6100. Follow the steps in that article and create your own Windows PE bootable USB with a 8 GB or larger USB.

We're using script-based approach to backup and restore the recovery partition of the DS6100. On your Windows PE bootable USB, create a folder named WDFactoryRestore. We're going to put our recovery image and scripts in that folder.

Backing up the Recovery Partition


Our strategy to backup the recovery partition is to simply use Robocopy to copy the recovery image that is already in the recovery partition of the DS6100. By default, the recovery partition is not assigned a drive letter. You'll need to assign it a drive letter before we can use Robocopy.

Open a command prompt as an administrator and run Diskpart. Use the following commands to assign the recovery partition the drive letter "R".
DISKPART> select disk 0
DISKPART> select partition 5
DISKPART> assign letter="R"
DISKPART> exit


Now copy the recovery image that is in the recovery partition by entering the following command into the command prompt.

Robocopy R:\Recovery D:\WDFactoryRestore\Recovery /mir
(where D: is the drive letter of the USB)

After Robocopy finishes, you should have now backed up the recovery image of your DS6100 to your Windows PE bootable USB. If you would like to remove the drive letter you just assigned to your recovery partition, run the following commands in Diskpart.
DISKPART> select disk 0
DISKPART> select partition 5
DISKPART> remove
DISKPART> exit

Restoring the Recovery Partition


By now you should have a Windows PE bootable USB with the folder WDFactoryRestore on it. Inside that folder should be another folder called Recovery containing the actual recovery image of your DS6100.

Create two scripts and place them inside the folder WDFactoryRestore. Name the scripts CreatePartitions-UEFI.txt and FactoryRestore.bat.


CreatePartitions-UEFI.txt


The first script is a Diskpart script that wipes and partitions the boot drive of the DS6100. If this script looks family to you, you may have seen it here on TechNet. It's exactly the same script.

Copy and paste the following into CreatePartitions-UEFI.txt to create the script.
rem == CreatePartitions-UEFI.txt ==
rem == These commands are used with DiskPart to
rem create five partitions
rem for a UEFI/GPT-based PC.
rem Adjust the partition sizes to fill the drive
rem as necessary. ==
select disk 0
clean
convert gpt
rem == 1. Windows RE tools partition ===============
create partition primary size=300
format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows RE tools"
assign letter="T"
set id="de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac"
gpt attributes=0x8000000000000001
rem == 2. System partition =========================
create partition efi size=100
rem ** NOTE: For Advanced Format 4Kn drives,
rem change this value to size = 260 **
format quick fs=fat32 label="System"
assign letter="S"
rem == 3. Microsoft Reserved (MSR) partition =======
create partition msr size=128
rem == 4. Windows partition ========================
rem == a. Create the Windows partition ==========
create partition primary
rem == b. Create space for the recovery image ===
shrink minimum=15000
rem ** NOTE: Update this size to match the size
rem of the recovery image **
rem == c. Prepare the Windows partition =========
format quick fs=ntfs label="Windows"
assign letter="W"
rem === 5. Recovery image partition ================
create partition primary
format quick fs=ntfs label="Recovery image"
assign letter="R"
set id="de94bba4-06d1-4d40-a16a-bfd50179d6ac"
gpt attributes=0x8000000000000001
list volume
exit

FactoryRestore.bat


The second script is a script we've written. It runs the script above with Diskpart, copies the recovery image back into the recovery partition and applies the recovery image to the system partition. It essentially restore all the partitions and data on the boot drive of the DS6100 back to how it was out of the factory.

To create the script FactoryRestore.bat, copy and paste the following into FactoryRestore.bat.
rem == FactoryRestore.bat ==
rem
rem This script performes a factory restore of a
rem WD Sentinel DS5100 / DS6100 from a captured image.
rem
Diskpart /s CreatePartitions-UEFI.txt
Robocopy .\Recovery R:\Recovery /mir
Dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:".\Recovery\All_os.swm" /SWMFile:".\Recovery\All_os*.swm" /Index:1 /ApplyDir:W:\
bcdboot W:\Windows

To actually perform the factory reset, boot the DS6100 into Windows PE, change the working directory to the WDFactoryRestore directory on the Windows PE USB and run FactoryRestore.bat. We recommend testing the restore process on another computer or virtual machine before you decide to wipe your DS6100.


Note: If you are running RAID 1 on your boot drives, after performing the restore process, you may find that you will need to take out one of the boot drives in order to boot your DS6100. You can put the drive back in later, the DS6100 will rebuild it as part of the RAID 1 array again.

Friday, September 18, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Booting Windows PE on a USB

Windows PE (Preinstallation Environment) is a minimal operating system designed to prepare a computer for Windows installation. In this exercise we are going to create a bootable Windows PE USB to be used on a WD Sentinel DS6100. You may use this USB for example to install a different version of Windows, capture an image or perform a factory restore.

Download and install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK)


For this exercise we're using the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10. You can download Windows ADK for Windows 10 from here.

Run adksetup.exe. When you get to the part where you select the features you want to install, select Deployment Tools and Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE). We only need these components for this exercise.


Grab a copy of the Marvell 94xx SAS/SATA RAID Controller driver


The DS6100 uses a RAID controller in which Windows PE does not have the driver for. In order for Windows PE to see the boot drives in your DS6100, you will need inject a RAID controller driver into the Windows PE image.

On a DS6100, go to the directory C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository and copy the files in the folder with the name beginning with mvs94xx.inf_amd64. The four files in this folder contain the driver for the Marvell 94xx SAS/SATA RAID Controller which is used on the DS6100. Copy these files to C:\mvs94.xx.inf_amd64 on the computer you have Windows ADK installed.


Create the Windows PE image and bootable USB


Run the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment command prompt as an administrator. The shortcut should be in your Start menu after you install ADK.


To create a new Windows PE image for your DS6100 with the RAID controller driver injected, enter the following commands.
  1. copype amd64 C:\WinPE_amd64
  2. Dism /Mount-Image /ImageFile:C:\WinPE_amd64\media\sources\boot.wim /Index:1 /MountDir:C:\WinPE_amd64\mount
  3. Dism /Image:C:\WinPE_amd64\mount /Add-Driver /Driver:C:\mvs94xx.inf_amd64\mvs94xx.inf
  4. Dism /Unmount-Image /MountDir:C:\WinPE_amd64\mount /Commit
Once you have created your Windows PE image, copy it onto a USB with using the MakeWinPEMedia script.

     MakeWinPEMedia /ufd C:\WinPE_amd64 D:

Make sure you substitute 'D:' with the driver letter of your USB.

Boot the WD Sentinel DS6100 off the USB


Although there are boot options you can configure in the UEFI BIOS of the DS6100, there is no option in there to boot from USB. To boot off your Windows PE USB, you need to press and hold the Recovery button on the back of the DS6100 while turning it on with the USB plugged in. Windows PE will load after a while.


Note: We've tried to boot the DS6100 using a NTFS formatted USB and have found that it doesn't work. FAT32 works best. You may also find that booting off the USB 2.0 ports work better as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

WD Sentinel DS6100: Performing a Factory Restore

To perform a factory reset on a WD Sentinel DS6100, press and hold the Shift key before restating your server. Windows will then reboot into the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).



Once in Windows RE, select the Troubleshoot option. Behind the Troubleshoot option, Western Digital placed an option here to factory reset your DS6100. Press WD Factory Restore to start the factory reset.


A script will then run to perform the factory reset. You will need to confirm that you want to continue. Once done, your DS6100 will reboot.


Please note that this process also works for the WD Sentinel DS5100 and ONLY works when you have not messed with the default factory partitions. Outside of this process, there is no official way to factory reset your DS6100. If you have lost your recovery partition, you'll need to contact Western Digital for help. In a later post, we'll look at backing up and restoring your recovery partition on a DS6100.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Take a screen capture in Windows 10

Windows 10 has several built-in ways for you to take screenshots of your computer. Some of these ways are also applicable to other versions of Windows.

Print your screen


The easiest way to take a screen capture of your computer is to simply press the Print Screen (PtrScn) key on your keyboard.


Pressing this key in Windows 10 copies an image of your screen to the clipboard where you can then paste the image into any application you want such as Microsoft Paint. Pasting an image in Microsoft Paint for example allows you to save the image as a PNG file.


If you don't want to capture your whole screen, you can capture your active window by pressing and holding the Alt key and then pressing the Print Screen key. Alt + PtrScn will copy an image of your active window to the clipboard.

Another useful key combination to help you capture screens on your computer is Windows + PtrScn. This key combination in Windows 10 captures an image of your whole screen and immediately saves it as a PNG file in your Pictures folder under a directory called Screenshots.


If you are using Windows 10 on a tablet without a keyboard, you can also take a screen capture by pressing the physical Windows button + volume down. This method also saves a PNG file into your Pictures folder.

The Snipping Tool


Windows 10 and other previous versions of Windows also comes with this great tool called the Snipping Tool. With the Snipping Tool, you can capture different aspects of your screen, circle or highlight parts of it and save, or email it straight from the tool. You can find the Snipping Tool in Windows 10 under Start -> All apps -> Windows Accessories.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Windows 10: How to boot into Audit Mode

In a previous post, we installed Windows 10 and left you off at the out-of-box experience (OOBE). OOBE is the term given by Microsoft to the experience you get when you normally buy a computer and turn it on for the first time. OOBE runs a user through setting up their computer for first use.


Now let's say you're building a new computer for someone else and you have just installed Windows. You want to install additional features or drivers and test out the Windows configuration first before delivering the computer. You also want your end-user to go through OOBE. What do you do?

Boot into Audit Mode


Windows has this feature called Audit Mode. Audit Mode allows you to bypass OOBE and Windows Welcome to install applications, add device drivers, configure Windows and test your installation with the built-in Administrator account. Once complete, use the System Preparation Tool (sysprep) to prepare your computer for delivery.

To boot into Audit Mode, press Ctrl+Shift+F3 while on the first screen in the out-of-box experience.

Press Ctrl+Shift+F3 here to reboot into Audit Mode.

The computer will then reboot into Audit Mode and automatically login to the built-in Administrator account.


Once logged in, you will see that the System Preparation Tool is ready for you. You can ignore this for now. Install the applications and device drivers you need to and configure and test your Windows installation.


Once done, use the System Preparation Tool to prepare the system to boot back into OOBE. You can choose to reboot the system or shut it down, either way when the computer comes back on, the user will be in OOBE. Check the Generalize checkbox to remove system specific information such as product-keys and specific hardware configurations. This is useful if you are creating an image for deployment on multiple computer in your IT environment.

The end-user will need to enter a product key and agree to the license terms if you Generalize the system.


Windows 10: Installation

In this article, we are going to look at a clean install of Windows 10. This process is pretty much the same as all the other installations of Windows and Windows Server since Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Almost all of the screens look exactly the same as those in previous versions.

To clean install Windows, start by booting your computer with your installation media. Windows Setup will begin and one of the first screen you should see is one where you are required to choose your regional settings. Once done click Next.


Press Install now to start installing Windows. Please note on this screen you also have the option to Repair your computer. We're not going to be covering the latter option in this article.


When asked for your product key, enter your product key. This screen will not appear if your installation media has a product key incorporate in it, for example if using the Enterprise installation of Windows.

If you previously upgraded this computer to Windows 10 during Microsoft's free upgrade period for Windows 10, you can press Skip. When Windows is installed, it will activate automatically.


Before you can continue, you must accept the Microsoft Software License Terms.


If you are preforming a clean install of Windows, select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).


Select the hard drive and volume you want to install Windows on. In our example we only have one hard drive where 100% of the space is unallocated. If we selected this drive, Windows will automatically create all the volumes we need to install Windows. If there are existing volumes on your computer, you may want to delete all of them first in order to perform a clean install.


After pressing Next, Windows will now install.


Your computer may restart a few times during the installation process.


Once the installation process for Windows 10 is completed, you will be presented what Microsoft calls the out-of-box experience (OOBE).

The start of the Windows 10 out-of-box experience (OOBE).