Change Listening Port for RDP

In Windows 7 (and previous versions for that matter), you can change the port that RDP listens on for new Remote Desktop connections. To do so you would fire up regedit and then browse to the following key:
Here, you would change the PortNumber to a new decimal value that is the port you wish to listen on. Save, reboot and you’re good to go.

Windows 7: Disable USB Storage

In a number of environments, especially MPAA or DoD environments (in the US we rank nuclear bombs right up there with pilfered copies of unreleased movies, especially ones that cost a lot of $ to make), users should not be able to mount any local removable storage. While Group Policy is typically the best way to keep users from mounting said storage, you can also do so without assigning GPOs. Simply make the permissions on the following files set to Deny (assuming your c:Windows directory = %SystemRoot%): C:WindowsInfUsbstor.pnf C:WindowsInfUsbstor.inf You may also need to add the System account to the Deny list for those files, but in my experience you don’t always need to do so.

Making Windows 7 Icons Transparent

I have to take a lot of screen shots. Therefore, most of my computers tend to have a white background (they used to be the xman the machine was named after but alas, I’m older and now they computers are all named after Backyardigans;). Sometimes it’s hard to see your icons in Windows 7 on a white background though. If you grapple with this too then consider doing what I did and making the icons transparent. To do so, locate the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced registry key and make a dword key called ListviewShadow with a value of 00000001. Or:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced] “ListviewShadow”=dword:00000001
To set it back, make that 1 into a 0. As always, don’t forget to backup the registry before you do anything at all to it. Enjoy!

Programatically Clipboarding in Windows

My last article showed how to interface with the clipboard in Mac OS X. Windows 7 comes with the same feature, but instead of pbcopy it’s simply clip. Since you don’t ls, we’ll pipe the output of dir into the clipboard: dir | clip Enjoy & no more complaining that I like one platform more than the other – you know who you are!

Vista & Windows 7 Optimizer

There are a variety of simplistic tasks that can be performed to optimize a Windowz box. Disabling unneeded services and protocols is a great start, but there are tons of other little things here and there. Vista Services Optimizer (works on Windows 7 & Vista) is a nice little tool for those who don’t have the time nor inclination to mess around with it too much. Nice tool at a great (free) price #thingsthatsounddirtybutaren’t

Windows 7 HomeGroup

HomeGroup is a new home security feature of WIndows 7. HomeGroup resemble how you protect your home (an analogy I use in the Mac OS X Security book as well): Keep the outside doors locked and keep the interior doors unlocked (unless you’re on the crapper). HomeGroup can be initiated by any Windows 7 version other than Home Basic and Starter editions. Any Windows 7 machine can join a HomeGroup though and it is not a backwards compatible feature, meaning that if you’re still running Windows 95, 98 or Millineum don’t bother to upgrade (you probably can’t read this site anyway). But 2K to Vista, you gots’ta upgrade to play (not that this one feature is worth the upgrade). Provided all the computers that will be in your inner ring are running Windows 7, the new HomeGroup feature of Windows 7 allows you to share specified resources with others who join the HomeGroup by having each join using a password – a password that is different from the one to join the wireless network. Guests can access the network for Internet, or other untrusted access, without being given the password to join the HomeGroup. I’m not sold that anyone will allow guests to access the Internet in this fashion but I can see scenarios where it could happen (do people still have LAN Party’s). To setup a HomeGroup, click on the HomeGroup link at the bottom of the Network and Sharing Center. Then, click on the Create a HomeGroup button, selecting which Libraries to share to the inner circle (HomeGroup) by checking or unchecking the boxes. Click on Next to create the HomeGroup and distribute the provided password, or reset it in the Network and Sharing Center. Next, from each client, join the HomeGroup and then click on HomeGroup and then sharing options to control which resources to share from your computer. Now about the crapper comment from earlier, you can specifically exclude files in the inner ring as well. So if you’ve shared out a resource you do have the ability to get a little more granular with your controls. It’s not 802.1x, but for a little home tinkering security whatnot, it’s not half bad… File sharing still works pretty much the same, which means you can do almost all of this without using the “HomeGroup” feature, but it does make it a little easier for those new to sharing resources!

Windows Server 2008 R2

Can you say virtualization? How about “better together”? Do you care about Hyper-V or Windows 7 integration right now? If the answer to either question is yes (and in my experience that’s not always actually the case) then you will want to check out R2. One of the biggest new features in R2 is one that VMware has had for about 5 or so years in Live Migration, the ability to move a virtual machine, while it’s running (assuming the application in use supports the ability to do so and that you’re using Clustered Shared Volumes). This includes failover in Cluster Node Connectivity Fault Tolerance. SC VMM, or System Center Virtual Machine Manager in 2008 R2 is more useful than ever in that you can get a dashboard of what you have in motion and move guests between hosts from a single console. You can also more rapidly provision virtual machines with Channels and saved hardware profile templates. Microsoft also fine tuned their application publishing environment, RemoteApp, their terminal services proxy, now called Remote Desktop Services Gateway) and and tweaked RDP to include a number of new Windows 7 like features. While all of this new stuff is great to have, Microsoft is still not going to give VMware much of a run for their money as ESX jumped a whole new level forward with vSphere. Having said that, Hyper-V becomes more mature with each release and is now fully integrated into Windows Server. R2 also supports remotely connecting to another servers Server Manager console, which will likely reduce the number of times you’re establishing Remote Desktop connections to hosts. It also has a Best Practices Analyzer for each service and a new rev of PowerShell (along with a number of PowerShell commandlets wrapped in GUIs). But Charles, you said Windows 7? Sure I did. R2 adds DirectAccess and BranchCache, two new ways to have remote accessibility for remote clients (rather than using a VPN) and remote workers respectively. Windows Deployment Services also got a bit of a feature boost, namely to ease the migration path into Windows 7. There’s also some new AD stuff. Authentication Assurance for Active Directory Federated Services allows for certificate mapping to OUs. djoin.exe can leverage an xml answer file for joining a client into Active Directory while it’s offline. In addition to exe’s there’s also a number (more than 75) of new commandlets for PowerShell. There’s also a recycle bin for those objects you really didn’t mean to delete and finally, a Active Directory Administrative Center, which is pretty much a commandlet wrapper that provides for task-based support administration (I’m on the fence about this one still). IIS 7.5 is also pretty notable. It has new tie-ins for the newly mentioned next release of SQL Server and an automator-like task generator (another wrapper around PowerShell). Not that I’ve been able to test but apparently I can now use 256 logical processors and 32 with Hyper-V). There’s also new failover options (which I haven’t fully explored so I’ll not go into further detail on those yet), an unattended installation feature and more granularly defined cluster node behaviors in this latest generation of IIS. PS – Terminal Services is now known as Remote Desktop Services.

Making Windows 7 Look Like Mac OS X

Not sure if it is kosher to actually distribute a theme pack for Windows 7 that makes it look like Mac OS X.  But in lieu of doing so I can explain how it is done.  Basically, take your images from the icons of Mac OS X and copy them into files, copy them to Windows and assign them as icons.  Once you’re done, set the background to one from, let’s say, Mac OS X and make your icon placement similar.  Then, export your theme pack by going to the Appearance & Personalization Control Panel for Windows 7 and clicking on Personalization.  Under My Themes, right-click on the theme and then click on Save Theme for Sharing.  You can then move the theme between Windows systems without much fanfare.  Have fun and drop me  a link if you make one, ’cause it’s more than likely better than mine…

Windows 7 in October

If Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard will be shipping in September then the earlier the better. The arrival of Windows 7 will come on October 22nd. Likely less than a month after Snow Leopard, Windows 7 is what many companies have been waiting for to get migration projects lit up. While there are a number of new features, few are more important to companies than the fact that it is very capable of running on new or old hardware alike. Windows 7 adoption shouldn’t stop you from buying now though, if you’re in the market for a new machine. Microsoft announced that it will include a Windows Upgrade Option for new machines sold until that time, where they will provide free upgrade licensing from Vista to Windows 7.