Upgrading Windows 10 2016 LTSB to 2019 LTSC

*Note 1* – This retains the Channel type.
*Note 2* – Requires a new Key.
*Note 3* – You can go from LTSB to SA, keeping files if you specify new key.
*Note 4* – LTSC versions.
*Note 5* – Access to ISO’s. This is hard and most places state to use the MS download tool. I however, managed to get the image and key thanks to having a MSDN aka Visual Studio subscription.

I attempted to grab the 2021 Eval copy and ran the setup exe. When it got to the point of wanting to keep existing file (aka upgrading) it would grey them all out… ūüôĀ

So I said no to that, and grabbed the 2019 copy which when running the setup exe directly asks for the key before moving on in the install wizard… which seems to let me keep existing files (upgrade) ūüôā

My enjoyment was short lived when I was presented with a nice window update failed window.

Classic. So the usual, “sfc /scannow”

Classic. So fix it, “dism /online/ cleanup-image /restorehealth”

Stop, Disable Update service, then clear cache:

Scan system files again, “sfc /scannow”

reboot make sure system still boots fine, check, do another sfc /scannow, returns 100% clean. Run Windows update (after enabling the service) comes back saying 100% up to date. Run installer….

For… Fuck… Sakes… what logs are there for this dumb shit? Log files created when you upgrade Windows 11/10 to a newer version (thewindowsclub.com)

setuperr.log Same as setupact.log Data about setup errors during the installation. Review all errors encountered during the installation phase.

Coool… where is this dumb shit?

Log files created when an upgrade fails during installation before the computer restarts for the second time.

  • C:\$Windows.~BT\Sources\panther\setupact.log
  • C:\$Windows.~BT\Sources\panther\miglog.xml
  • C:\Windows\setupapi.log
  • [Windows 10:] C:\Windows\Logs\MoSetup\BlueBox.log

OK checking the log…..

Lucky me, something exists as documented, count my graces, what this file got for me?

PC Load letter? WTF does that mean?!¬† While it’s not listed in this image it must have been resolved but I had a line that stated “required profile hive does not exist” in which I managed to find this MS thread of the same problem, and thankfully someone in the community came back with an answer, which was to create a new local temp account, and remove all old profiles and accounts on the system (this might be hard for some, it was not an issue for me), sadly I still got, Windows 10 install failed.

For some reason the next one that seems to stick out like a sore thumb for me is “PidGenX function failed on this product key”. Which lead me to this thread all the way back from 2015.

While there’s a useless comment by “SaktinathMukherjee”, don’t be this dink saying they downloaded some third party software to fix their problem, gross negligent bullshit. The real hero is a comment by a guy named “Nathan Earnest” – “I had this same problem for a couple weeks. Background: I had a brand new Dell Optiplex 9020M running Windows 8.1 Pro. We unboxed it and connected it to the domain. I received the same errors above when attempting to do the Windows 10 upgrade. I spent about two weeks parsing through the setup error logs seeing the same errors as you. I started searching for each error (0x800xxxxxx) + Windows 8.1. Eventually I found one suggesting that there is a problem that occurs during the update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 in domain-connected machines. It doesn’t appear to cause any issues in Windows 8.1, but when you try to upgrade to Windows 10… “something happened.”

In my case, the solution: Remove the Windows 8.1 machine from the domain, retry the Windows 10 upgrade, and it just worked. Afterwards, re-join the machine to the domain and go about your business.

Totally **** dumb… but it worked. I hope it helps someone else.”

Again, I’m free to try stuff, so since I was testing I cloned the machine and left it disconnected from the network, then under computer properties changed from domain to workgroup (which means it doesn’t remove the computer object from AD, it just removes itself from being part of a domain). After this I ran another sfc /scannow just to make sure no issue happened from the VM cloning, with 100% green I ran the installer yet again, and guess what… Nathan was right. The update finally succeeded, I can now choose to rename the PC and rejoin the domain, or whatever, but the software on the machine shouldn’t need to be re-installed.

Another fun dumb day in paradise, I hope this blog post ends up helping someone.

 

Upgrading Windows Server 2016 Core AD to 2022

Goal

Upgrade a Windows Server 2016 Core that’s running AD to Server 2022.

What actually happened

Normally if the goal is to stay core to core, this should be as easy as an in-place upgrade. When I attempted this myself this first issue was it would get all the way to end of the wizard then error out telling me to look at some bazar path I wasn’t familiar with (C:\$windows.~bt\sources\panther\ScanResults.xml). Why? Why can’t the error just be displayed on the screen? Why can’t it be coded for in the dependency checks? Ugh, anyway, since it was core I had to attach a USB stick to my machine, pass it through to the VM, save the file open it up, and nested deep in there, it basically stated “Active Directory on this domain controller does not contain Windows Server 2022 ADPREP /FORESTPREP updates.” Seriously, ok, apparently requires schema updates before upgrading, since it’s an AD server.

Get-ADObject (Get-ADRootDSE).schemaNamingContext -Property objectVersion
d:\support\adprep\adprep.exe /forestprep
d:\support\adprep\adprep.exe /domainprep

Even after all that, the install wizard got past the error, but then after rebooting, and getting to around 30% of the install, it would reboot again and say reverting the install, and it would boot back into Server 2016 core.

Note, you can’t change versions during upgrade (Standard vs Datacenter) or (Core vs Desktop). For all limitation see this MS page. The “Keep existing files and apps” was greyed out and not selectable if I picked Desktop Experience. I had this same issue when I was attempting to upgrade a desktop server and I was entering a License Key for Standard not realizing the server had a Datacenter based key installed.

New Plan

I didn’t look at any logs since I wasn’t willing to track them down at this point to figure out what went wrong. Since I also wanted to go Desktop Experience I had to come up with any alternative route.

Seem my only option is going to be:

  1. Install a clean copy of Server 2016 Desktop, Update completely). (Run sysprep, clone for later)
  2. Add it as a domain controller in my domain.
  3. Migrate the FSMO roles. (If I wanted a clustered AD, I could be done but that wouldn’t allow me to upgrade the original AD server that’s failing to upgrade)
  4. Decommission the old Server 2016 Core AD server.
  5. Install a clean copy of Server 2016 Desktop, Update completely). (The cloned copy, should be OOBE stage)
  6. Add to Domain.
  7. Upgrade to 2022.
  8. Migrate FSMO roles again. (Done if cluster of two AD servers is wanted).
  9. Decommission other AD servers to go back to single AD system.

Clean Install

Using a Windows Server 2016 ISO image, and a newly spun up VM, The install went rather quick taking only 15 minutes to complete.

Check for updates. KB5023788 and KB4103720. This is my biggest pet peve, Windows updates.

RANT – The Server 2016 Update Race

As someone who’s a resource hall monitor, I like to see what a machine is doing and I use a variety of tools and methods to do so, including Resource Monitor, Task Manager (for Windows), Htop (linux) and all the graphs available under the Monitor tab of vSphere. What I find is always the same, one would suspect high Disk, and high network (receive) when downloading updates (I see this when installing the bare OS, and the disk usage and throughput is amazing, with low latency, which is why the install only took 15 minutes).

Yet when I click check for updates, it’s always the same, a tiny bit of bandwidth usage, low disk usage, and just endless high CPU usage. I see this ALL THE TIME. Another thing I see is once it’s done and reboot you think the install is done, but no the windows update service will kick off and continue to process “whatever” in the background for at least another half hour.

Why is Windows updates such Dog Shit?!?! Like yay we got monthly Cumulative updates, so at least one doesn’t need to install a rolling ton of updates like we did with the Windows 7 era. But still the lack of proper reporting, insight on proper resource utilization and reliance on “BITS”… Just Fuck off wuauclt….

Ughhh, as I was getting snippets ready to show this, and I wanted to get the final snip of it still showing to be stuck at 4%, it stated something went wrong with the update, so I rebooted the machine and will try again. *Starting to get annoyed here*.

*Breathe* Ok, go grab the latest ISO available for Window Server 2016 (Updates Feb 2018), So I’m guessing has KB4103720 already baked in, but then I check the System resources and its different.

But as I’m writing this it seems the same thing is happening, updates stalling at 5%, and CPU usage stays at 50%, Disk I/O drops to next to nothing.

*Breaks* Man Fuck this! An announcer is born! Fuck it, we’ll do it live!

I’ll let this run, and install another VM with the latest ISO I just downloaded, and let’s have a race, see if I can install it and update it faster then this VM…. When New VM finished installing, let a couple config settings. Check for updates:

Check for updates. KB5023788 and KB4103723. Seriously?

Install, wow, the Downloading updates is going much quicker.¬† Well, the download did, click install sticking @ 0% and the other VM is finishing installing KB4103720. I wonder if it needs to install KB4103723 as well, if so then the new VM is technically already ahead… man this race is intense.

I can’t believe it, the second server I gave more memory to, was the latest available image from Microsoft, and it does the exact same thing as the first one.. get stuck 5%.. CPU usage 50% for almost an hour.. and error.

lol No fucking way… reboot check for updates, and:

at the same time on the first VM that has been checking for updates forever which said it completed the first round of updates…

This is unreal…

Shit pea one, and shit pea 2, both burning up the storage backend in 2 different ways…. for the same update:

Turd one really rips the disk:

Turd two does a bit too, but more just reads:

I was going to say both turds are still at 0% but Turd one like it did before spontaneously burst back in “Checking for update” while the second one seem it moved up to 5%… mhmm feel like I’ve been down this road before.

Damn this sucks, just update already FFS, stupid Windows. *Announcer* “Get your bets here!, Put in your bets here!” Mhmmm I know turd one did the same thing as turd 2, but it did complete one round of updates, and shows a higher version then turd 2, even though turd 2 was the latest downloadable ISO from Microsoft.

I’m gonna put my bets on Turd 1….

Current state:

Turd 1: “Checking for Updates”… Changed to Downloading updates 5%.. shows signs of some Disk I/O. Heavy CPU usage.

Turd 2: “Preparing Updates 5%” … 50% CPU usage… lil to no Disc I/O.

We are starting to see a lot more action from Turd 1, this race is getting real intense now folks. Indeed, just noticing that Turd one is actually preparing a new set of updates, now past the peasant KB4103720. While Turd 2 shows no signs of changing as it sits holding on to that 5%.

Ohhhh!!! Turd one hits 24% while Turd 2 hit the same error hit the first time, is it stuck in a failed loop? Let’s just retry this time without a reboot.. and go..! Back on to KB4103720 preparing @ 0%. Not looking good for Turd 2. Turd 1 has hit 90% on the new update download.

and comming back from the break Turd one is expecting a reboot while Turd 2 hits the same error, again! Stop Windows service, clear softwaredistrobution folder. Start update service, check for updates, tried fails, reboot, retry:

racing past the download stage… Download complete… preparing to install updates… oh boy… While Turd one is stuck at a blue screen “Getting Windows Ready” The race between these too can’t get any hotter.

Turd one is now at 5989 from 2273. While Turd 2 stays stuck on 1884. Turd 2 managed to get up to 2273, but I wasn’t willing to watch the hours it takes to get to the next jump. Turd 1 wins.

Checking these build numbers looks like Turd 1 won the update race. I’m not interested in what it takes to get Turd 2 going. Over 4 hours just to get a system fully patched. What a Pain in the ass. I’m going to make a backup, then clear the current snap shot, then create a new snapshot, then sysprep the machine so I can have a clean OOBE based image for cloning, which can be done in minutes instead of hours.

END RANT

Step 2) Add as Domain Controller.

Wow amazing no issues.

Step 3) Move FSMO Roles

Transfer PDCEmulator

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole -Identity "ADD" PDCEmulator

Transfer RIDMaster

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole -Identity "ADD" RIDMaster

Transfer InfrastrctureMaster

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole -Identity "ADD" Infrastructuremaster

Transfer DomainNamingMaster

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole -Identity "ADD" DomainNamingmaster

Transfer SchemaMaster

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole -Identity "ADD" SchemaMaster

Step 4) Demote Old DC

Since it was a Core server, I had to use Server Manager from the remote client machine (Windows 10) via Server Manager. Again no Problem.

As the final part said it became a member server. So not only did I delete under Sites n Services, I deleted under ADUC as well.

Step 5) Create new server.

I recovered the system above, changed hostname, sysprepped.

This took literally 5 minutes, vs the 4 hours to create from scratch.

Step 6) Add as Domain Controller.

Wow amazing no issues.

Step 7) Upgrade to 2022.

Since we got 2 AD servers now, and all my servers are pointing to the other one, let’s see if we can update the Original AD server that is now on Server 2016 from the old Core.

Ensure Schema is upgraded first:

d:\support\adprep\adprep.exe /forestprep

d:\support\adprep\adprep.exe /domainprep

run setup!

It took over an hour, but it succeeded…

Summary

If I had an already updated system, that was already on Desktop Experience this might have been faster, I’m not sure again why the in-place update did work for the server core, here’s how you can upgrade it Desktop Experience and then up to 2022. It does unfortunately require a brand new install, with service migrations.

Edge, why so many instances?

Another short n sweet one, today I noticed there were over 10 instances of edge when I open the browser:

So, I did a quick Google search and I found someone with the same question, luckily outside the usual rubbish answer from officals, there was a really helpful comment by a Volenteer Moderator by the name of “¬°Firedog” I’ll give them double props for using an upside-down exclamation point in their name.

“That isn’t anything to be alarmed about. Which pages open when you launch the program are set under When Microsoft Edge starts at ‚čĮ (Settings and more) > Settings > Start, home and new tabs. Each tab will have at least one process associated with it, and the browser itself will have several more. You can see what all these processes are by pressing Shift-Escape in the browser (you can also select Browser task manager from the page’s window control – Alt-Space, or right-click on the title bar). ”

Sure enough when I had the system focus (I clicked) on my Edge browser and then pressing “Shift-Escape”:

I thought that was pretty neat, didn’t know about that one.

The Alt+Space was a neat lil menu, good one in there was customize toolbar.

WinRM on Server Core

Prerequisites

  • AD with a Enterprise CA
    Why? For easier Certificate management, if you want step by step details using self sign, you can read this blog post by Tyler Muir. Thanks Tyler for your wonderful blog post it was really help to me.
  • Server Core (2016+)
  • A Certificate Template published and available to client machines

Now you *Technically* don’t need a template, if you were using self signed. However there are some prerequisites to the Certificate. According to the official Microsoft source it states:

“WinRM HTTPS requires a local computer Server Authentication certificate with a CN matching the hostname to be installed. The certificate mustn’t be expired, revoked, or self-signed.”

If you have a correct cert but not for the type of server auth you will get an error:

Which is super descriptive and to the point.

Implementation

Basic Implementation

If you don’t have a Server Authenticating certificate, consult your certificate administrator. If you have a Microsoft Certificate server, you may be able to request a certificate using the web certificate template from HTTPS://<MyDomainCertificateServer>/certsrv.

Once the certificate is installed type the following to configure WINRM to listen on HTTPS:

winrm quickconfig -transport:https

If you don’t have an appropriate certificate, you can run the following command with the authentication methods configured for WinRM. However, the data won’t be encrypted.

winrm quickconfig

Example:

On my Core Server domain joined, using a “Computer”/Machine Template certificate.

powershell
cd Cert:\LocalMahcine\My
Get-Certificate -Template Machine

ensure you exit out of powershell to run winrm commands

winrm quickconfig -transport:HTTPS

Congrats you’re done.

Advanced Implementation

Now remember in the above it stated “If you don’t have a Server Authenticating certificate, consult your certificate administrator. If you have a Microsoft Certificate server, you may be able to request a certificate using the web certificate template ”

That’s what this section hopes to cover.

There’s only one other pre-req I can think of besides the primary ones mentioned at the start of this blog post.

Once these are met, request a certificate from the CA and ensure it’s installed on the client machine you wish to configure WinRM on. Once installed grab the certificate Thumbprint.

Creating the listener using the certificate ThumbPrint:

winrm create winrm/config/Listener?Address=*+Transport=HTTPS '@{Hostname="<YOUR_DNS_NAME>"; CertificateThumbprint="<COPIED_CERTIFICATE_THUMBPRINT>"}'

Manually configuring the Firewall:

netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="Windows Remote Management (HTTPS-In)" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=5986

Start the service:

net start winrm

Issues

Failed to create listener

Error: “The function: “HttpSetServiceConfiguration” failed unexpectedly. Error=1312.

Resolution: Ensure the machine actually has the key required for the certificate.  See Reference Three in this blog for more details.

Not Supported Certificate

Error: “The requested certificate template is not supported by this CA”

Resolution: Ensure you typed the Certificate template name correctly. If so, Ensure it is published to the CA signing the certificate.

References

Zero

official Microsoft source

One

Straight to the point command references at site below:
ITOM Practitioner Portal (microfocus.com)

Two

Another great source that covers manual setup of WinRM:
Visual Studio Geeks | How to configure WinRM for HTTPS manually

Three

When using the MMC snap in pointed to a ore server certificate store, and generated the cert request, and imported the certificate all using the MMC Snap cert plugin remotely. Whenever I would go to create the listener it would error out with “The function: “HttpSetServiceConfiguration” failed unexpectedly. Error=1312.¬†

I could only find this guys blog post covering it where he seems to indicate that he wasn’t importing the key for the cert.

Powershell WinRM HTTPs CA signed certificate configuration | vGeek – Tales from real IT system Administration environment (vcloud-lab.com)

This reminded me of a similar issue using Microsoft User Migration Tool and the Cert store showing it had the cert key (little key icon in the cert mmc snap in) but not actually being available. I felt this was the same case. Creating the req from the client machine directly, copying to CA, signing, copying signed cert back to client machine and installing manually resolved the issue.

My might have been able to just use the cert I created via the MMC snap in by running

certutil ‚Äďrepairstore my¬†<serial number>¬†

I did not test this and simply create the certificate (Option 2) from scratch.

Four

“The requested certificate template is not supported by this CA.

A valid certification authority (CA) configured to issue certificates based on this template cannot be located, or the CA does not support this operation, or the CA is not trusted.”

This one lead me down a rabbit hole for a long time. Whenever I would have everything in place and request the certificate via powershell I would get this error. If you Google it you will get endless posts how all you need to do is “Publish it to your CA”, such this and this

it wasn’t until I attempted to manually create the certificate (Option 2) did it finally state the proper reason which was.

“A certificate issued by the certificate¬† authority cannot be installed. Contact your system administrator.
a certificate chain could not be built to a trusted root authority.”

I think checked, and sure enough (I have no clue how) my DC was missing the Offline Root Certificate in it’s Trusted Root Authority store.

Again all buggy, attempting to do it via the Certificate Snap in MMC remotely caused an error, so I had to manually copy the offline root cert file to the domain controller and install it manually with certutil.

This error can also stem from specifying a certificate template that doesn’t exist on the CA. Hence all the blog posts to “publish it”.¬† HOWEVER, in my case I had assumed the “Computer” template (as seen in MMC Snap in Cert tool) is only the display name, the actual name for this template is actually “Machine”

Five

I just have to share this, cause this trick saved my bacon. If you use RDP to manage a core server, you can also use the same RDP to copy files to the core server. Since you know, server core doesn’t have a “GUI”.

On windows server core, how can I copy file located in my local computer to the windows server? – Server Fault

In short

  1. enable you local drive under the Resources tab of RDP before connecting.
  2. open notepad on the RDP session core server.
  3. Press CTRL+O (or File->Open). Change file type to all.
  4. Use the notepad’s file explorer to move files. ūüėÄ

Six

Another thing to note about Core Server 2016:

Unable to Change Security Settings / Log on as Batch Service on Server Core (microsoft.com)

Server Core 2016, does not have added capability via FOD

Thus does not have secpol, or mmc.exe natively. To set settings either use Group Policy, or if testing on standalone instances or Server Core 2016, you’ll have to define to security policies via a system with a GUI installed, export them and import them into core using secedit.

¬Į\_(„ÉĄ)_/¬Į

Microsoft Certificate Auto-enrollment

Source: Certificate Autoenrollment in Windows Server 2016 (part 3) – PKI Extensions (sysadmins.lv)

Thanks to Vadims Podans for his detailed write up.

Source 2: Basic: How to set up automatic certificate enrollment in Active Directory – Druva Documentation

Source 3 (Official): Configure server certificate auto-enrollment | Microsoft Docs

Overview

Autoenrollment configuration in general consist of three steps: configure autoenrollment policy, prepare certificate templates and prepare certificate issuers. Each configuration step is described in next sections.

Pre-requirements

  • Working AD
  • Enterprise CA
  • Proper Permissions (This post assumed domain admin rights)

Setup

Configure Autoenrollment Policy

  1. Start Group Policy editor. In Active Directory environment, use Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc). In workgroup environment, use Local Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc);
  2. Expand to
 Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Public Key Policies
  1. Double-click on¬†Certificate Services Client ‚Äď Auto-enrollment;
  2. Set Configuration Model to Enabled;
  3. Configure the policy save settings:
  4. Repeat steps 2-5 for User Configuration node.

*Note 1* You technically don’t *NEED* a policy, the minimum you do need is the registry settings the policy defined. The reason for the policy is obliviously for scalability purposes. The key it defines is:

Key: SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Cryptography\AutoEnrollment
Value: AEPolicy
Type: DWORD

Of course HKLM and HKCU will be used depending on which one was defined in the policy, so if you want user auto enrollment ensure the registry is defined in the HKCU. If you want machine auto enrollment ensure it is defined in HKLM.

*Note 2* Vadims doesn’t cover what each value represents, or what possible values are available. I was only able to find this source on it which made the following statements:

“Hi,
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731522.aspx

The two checkboxes (point 7) control the value of AEPolicy
0 = non
1 = second
6 = first
7= both selected”

Configuring Certificate Templates

This section covers how to configure certificate templates.

Default settings

The following are the default settings:

  • Both domain administrators from the root domain, and enterprise administrators for fresh installations of Windows Server 2003 (and newer) domains may configure templates.
  • Certificate template ACLs are viewed in the¬†Certificate Templates¬†MMC snap-in.
  • Certificate templates can be cloned or edited using the¬†Certificate Templates¬†MMC snap-in.
  • Certificate Template need to be published before they can be used.
  • Authenticated Users have Read permission on the Template. (Leave it be)

Creating a new template for the autoenrollment of Web Server Cert

In this exercise we will create certificate template that will be intended for Server Authentication usually for a web server (IIS). As the additional requirement, the certificate will be stored on the server. To create a new template for autoenrollment for a web server:

  1. Log on to a computer where ADCS Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) are installed with Enterprise Admins permissions;
  2. Press Win+R key combination on the keyboard.
  3. In the Run dialog box, type certtmpl.msc, and then click Ok.
    The Certificate Templates MMC snap-in may also be invoked using the Certification Authority MMC snap-in by selecting the Certificate Templates folder, right-clicking, and then selecting Manage.
  4. In the console tree, click Certificate Templates.
  5. In the details pane, right-click the Web Server template, and then click Duplicate Template.
  6. The Compatibility tab of the new template properties dialog box appears. Configure compatibility settings to minimum OS version that will consume this template and minimum OS version of CA server that will issue certificates based on this template. (In my Lab Server 2016, and client Windows 10)
  7. On the General Tab, Give it a name, Do not publish in AD. If you want more info on these 2 checkboxes read Vadims guide on creating a smart card cert.
  8. Click the Request Handling tab. This tab is used to define how the certificate request should be processed. Use default settings in this tab.
  9. Switch to Cryptography tab:
    I use Key Storage Provider, RSA, 2048, Requests can use any provider.
  10. Switch to Subject Name tab. This tab is used to define how the subject name and certificate properties will be built.
    *IMPORTANT* Check off “Use subject information from existing certificates for autoenrollment renewal requests.
  11. Switch to Security tab. This tab is used to define which users or groups may enroll or autoenroll for a certificate template. A user or group must have the Read, Enroll, and Autoenroll permissions to automatically be enrolled for a certificate template.
    In our case any web server computers joined to the domain will be granted Read, Enroll, Autoenroll permissions.

Publishing the Certificate Template

When certificate template is prepared for autoenrollment, it must be added to Enterprise CA server for issuance. This section will describe how to add certificate template to CA for issuance by using Certification Authority MMC snap-in. For examples using certutil, and Powershell see Vadims post.

*Note* Standalone CA does not support certificate templates

Configuring CA using MMC

The most convenient way to add certificate template to CA is to use Certification Authority MMC snap in:

  1. Log on to CA server or computer with Remote Server Administration Tools installed with CA Administrator permissions;
  2. Press Win+R key combination on the keyboard;
  3. In the¬†Run‚Ķ¬†dialog, type ‚Äúcertsrv.msc‚ÄĚ;
  4. If necessary, click on root node, then press Action menu and select Retarget Certification Authority to connect to desired CA server;
  5. When connected, expand CA node and select Certificate Templates folder. You will see certificate templates supported for issuance by this CA.
  6. In Action menu, select New and Certificate Template to Issue menu. In the opened dialog, select target template and press Ok to finish. Ensure that certificate template is listed in Certification Authority MMC console.

Request and Issue Initial Certificate

Now with all the pre-reqs in place. All one has to do is log into the domain joined machine and request a certificate. In our example since we picked Serve 2016 and recipient as Windows 10, the template is saved as a version 4 template.

*Note* Version 3 and 4 templates do not show up under the CA’s web enrollment option.

If everything was done correctly on the client side Certificate snap in for the machine you should be able to see the template listed:

Fill in a common name, and a couple DNS names fields to make browsers SAN requirements happy. Once filled the Enroll option should be available.

Testing and Validating

Well now that we got that, not sure how to test it getting renewed outside of the time going by…

I did discover this command by searching for an answer:

certutil ‚Äďpulse

Well that’s doesn’t tell me much… wonder what the office MS source has to say…

Real mature Microsoft… This isn’t new either here’s a bit more deatiled answer from good ol TechNet (RIP).

“Certutil -pulse will initiate autoenrollment requests.

It is equivalent to doing the following in the CertMgr.msc console (in Vista and Windows 7)

Right-click Certificates , point to All Tasks , click Automatically Enroll and Retrieve Certificates .

The command does require that

– any autoenrollment GPO settings have already been applied to the target user or computer

– a certificate template enables Read, Enroll and Autoenroll permissions for the user or a global or universal group containing the user

– The group membership is recognized in the users Token (they have logged on after the membership was added”

This action is available only when you right click the very top “Certificates” node, not the sub folders node under the Personal folder.

So again I wasn’t sure how to validate it will work when time comes, as running the above action in certmgr simply only gave me the option to enroll in the computer certificate template all the other templates were marked as “unavailable” even though I manually enrolled the cert above without issue. Which made me wonder if there’s a difference between auto renewal of a certificate and auto enrollment.

I found this post from a “field¬† Engineer”¬† which seemed to conclude that they are tied together in some form.

“The Autoenrollment Group Policy has to be enabled for this feature to work. This feature will also work on certificates issued prior to enabling it.”

However no other details. From what I can tell.. The command certutil -pulse triggers the following Scheduled Task:

Microsoft\Windows\CertificateServicesClient\SystemTask

Which AFAIK will only trigger certificate issuance on certs destined to expire, how close to expiry? I’m not sure, there was the option in the template to log @ 10% remaining. I’m not sure that’s the threshold it uses to trigger a certificate renewal.

I’m not sure if there’s a specific parameter you can set to tell it to renew a certificate before this expiry time.

If you know please leave a comment.

Final Note… Ensure you enable the auto rebind feature introduced in IIS 8.5 and later. I’ve had this bite me.

Azure AD and the ADConnect

*Note this is not supported. Installing Azure AD Sync on a Core server but it appears it does work.

Here’s what I did, I found this MS doc for reference:

  1. I followed this to guide me to make the “primary” tenant.
    no, I did not check either checkbox, **** em!
  2. I read this content to understand the tenant hierarchy.
  3. I added a custom domain (zewwy.ca), it said, sure no problem no federation issues, just verify. (Create a TXT record on the registrar to verify you own domain.)
    *refresh the page and the status will update accordingly.
  4.  I proceeded to download the Azure AD Connect msi file via the provided link after adding the custom domain.
  5. Install: (This was on Server 2016 Core)

2015.. interesting…

Click Accept Next.

Enter the Credentials from Step 1 (or enter the credentials provided by your MSP/CSP/VAR.

Enter the credentials of the local domain, enterprise admin account.

If you wish to do a hybrid Exchange setup check the second checkbox, Not sure how to configure this later but I’m sure there is a way. At this time that was not part of this post’s goals.

There was one snippet I missed, it appears to install a SQL express on the DC.

Then it appears to install a dedicated service.

This is Ground Control to Major Tom…

This is Major Tom to Ground Control… You’ve really made the grade!

They got all my passwords!

wait … it worked…. like what? No Errors?… No Service account creations? It actually just worked?…

Goto azure portal login, use my on prem credentials… and it logged me in….

I’m kind of mind blown right now. Well Guess on the next post can cover possibly playing with M365 services. Stay tuned. ūüėÄ

Disable Automatic Detect Settings via GPO

Hello everyone,

If you found this blog post, chances are you are trying to disable this setting:

Well let me tell you, it was not as easy as I thought.

*Expectations* go into GPMC, create a GPO, find a predefined option to deploy and done.

*Reality*… Try Again.

First off, a huge shout out to the IT Bros for some help in understanding some nitty gritty’s

In short:

  • They use GPP or IEAK11 to set the setting, and define the properties.
    -In this blog post I do too, but I do it differently, for reasons you’ll see.
  • The Proxy Setting is usually a user defined setting, but there is a GPO option to change it to machine based setting.
    -Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer. Enable the policy Make proxy settings per-machine (rather than per user).
    -It was not described how to set the proxy setting, or define the proxy server address after setting this option. (If you know the answer, leave a comment.)
  • The green underscore for the IE parameter means this setting is enabled and will be applied through Group Policy. Red underlining means the setting is configured, but disabled. To enable all settings on the current tab, press F5. To disable all policies on this tab use the F8 key.
    -This is relevant when making IE option changes via the built in GPP for IE options.
    -I found the F5/F8 to enable/disable options was global, all or nothing, and only worked on some of the tabs, not all of them.
    -Defining IE options this way felt more like a profile or multiple options, and not granular enough to define just a single option. (This is the main reason for this blog post.)

All super helpful, but I didn’t want to do it this way as I only wanted to make a change to the one and only setting, I was hoping to do it without having to figure out the complexity of the IE options GPP “profile”.

I eventually stumbled upon the TechNet thread that ultimately had the answer I needed. A couple things to note from this thread, which is also covered by the IT Bros.

  • The initial “Marked as Answer” is actually just the option to lock down the changing of the IE LAN Settings, Automatically Detect Settings. It does not disable it.
  • The setting is enabled by default ON a non configured machine, or non-hardened domain joined machine.
  • The actual answer is simple a Reg Key that defines the setting. (Thanks Mon Laq)
  • The Reg Key in question is volatile (It disappears after setting it, there seems to be no official answer as to why, if you know please a comment).

Which leads to why do this in the first place if it appears to be such a hassle to set? Well for that it came down to answer by “raphidae” on this TechNet thread, which lead to this POC of a possible attack vectore, which apparently allows credential stealing even from any locked machine.

I unfortunately haven’t been able to test it, I don’t have the devices mentioned in the blog, but maybe any laptop can do the same just less conspicuous.

Anyway…. Long story short, to achieve the goal will have to be done in two parts.

  1. Deploy a User based GPO (GPP to be exact) that will push the required registry key.
  2. Deploy a GPO to lock down the changing of that setting.
    *NOTE* From testing the end user has the ability to write/change the keys that the GPP pushes down to the end machine user settings to. The GPO simply greys out the options under the IE options area. It does not prevent the changing or creating of the registry DWORD. (I wonder if changing to machine settings could lock this down? Leave a comment if you know.)

So creating the GPO (Assuming a pre-created GPO, or create a new dedicated one):

In the GPO navigate to: User Configuration -> Preferences -> Windows Settings -> Registry.

Right click and Add new Registry Item, Ensure you pick the HKCU class.
Ensure Path = SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings
Type = DWORD
Value Name = AutoDetect
Value Data = 0

In the end it should look like this:

Given the GPO is configured in an OU that contains all your users, it should apply to the machine and you should see the checkbox for “Automatically Detect Settings” be turned off.

The second step now requires making another setting change, since this one is machine based I deploy it (link it) to an OU that contains all the end users workstations. (Again if I could figure out how to change this setting making it a machine based setting instead of user, you could simply the deployment to be all targeted at machines and not both users and machines.)

Anyway the second GPO:

This time drill down to: Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Internet Explorer -> Disable changing Automatic Configuration settings. Enable

Ensure machine are in the OU in question, and gpupdate /force on the end machines. The final result will be like the first picture in this blog post. Again this option really only greys out the UI, it does not in fact prevent users from adding the required key in regedit and having the option change anyway.

Hope this post helps someone.

*FOLLOW UP UPDATE* This alone did not stop the WPAD DNS queries from the machine. Another mention was to stop/disable the WinHTTPProxySrv. When checking this service via Services.msc it appeared to be enabled by default and greyed out to change the startup type or even to stop it. I found this spiceworks post with a workaround.

To test on a single workstation edit the following registry key:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinHttpAutoProxySvc

“Start” DWORD

Value = 4 (Disabled)

Sure enough rebooting the machine the service shows to be off and not running. So far checking packets via Wireshark shows the WPAD queries have indeed stopped.

*Another Update* I am unaware if these changes actually prevents the exploit from working as I’m unsure if option 252 for DHCP still allows for the exploit to run. This requires further follow-up, validation.

Activating Windows Offline

Story

Quick Story here, Installed a copy of Server 2019. System is completely offline, how to activate it?

I found a couple guides to help along the way, and even a nice thread post.

Issue

Main thing I found was a command to get your started:

slui 4

To my dismay I was greeted with a greeting, much like the thread poster:

"Can't activate Windows by phone."

If you keep reading there are other potential reasons for activation to fail, but that usually happens afterwards with a dedicated error code. E.G Attempting to activate a evail edition, or using a MAK key instead of a retail one, or using the wrong key with the wrong edition (Standard vs Datacenter).

In the first example it makes sense, as well as the last one. In my case I was using the proper image downloaded from VLSC with the key from the same web portal, So I knew I was good on the first and second examples. The middle example of requiring the use of a retail key didn’t seem right, as I would assume any version would suffice. *NOTE* At this point I was merely assuming, as I couldn’t fully verify my key as I wasn’t utilizing a VMAT server. Again this is an offline activation.

Solution

Now for my realization, I had made yet another assumption, and that was I’d assume slui 4 would provide a pop-up that would allow you to enter your product key before starting, and the error message doesn’t exactly convey that with an incorrect error message of: “Can’t activate Windows by phone.”

When in reality it should have simply stated “Please set a product key first”.

as it turns out you have to use: Windows Software Licensing Management Tool and can be accesses via elevated command line using slmgr.vbs.

Yes that’s right a Visual Basic script. ;P.

C:\Windows\System32> slmgr.vbs /ipk <Key>

/dli (This will show basic license and activation information.)
/dlv (This will show detailed license and activation information.)
/xpr (This will show the current expiration date of the license installed which is most useful when using a KMS key with a local KMS activation server on the network.)
/upk (Be careful with this one as it will uninstall your current license key.)
/cpky (Also be careful with this one as this removes license key information from the registry.)
/ipk *****-*****-*****-*****-***** (This will change your license key to the one entered. If there was no key entered previously this command will also attempt to activate the license based on the license key type.)
/ato (This will force an online activation immediately. This could be useful if you have already entered the new key but was not online with either the KMS server for the network or unable to reach Microsoft’s activation servers.)

After doing this, then running slui 4 again, I was prompted with a screen asking me to select my Region. I then proceeded to use a Phone to call the toll free number provided and follow the IVR prompts to get a confirmation ID.

After entering the confirmation ID, I successfully activated Windows Offline. I did note one thing, that I told the IVR I did not have a smartphone so I did not get the web link as mentioned by others in the comment area. You can save this link and use it to do offline activations without calling in to the phone number from another machine that is online. If I manage to get this link I will share it as the commenters in that other post did not do the same.

Hope this helps someone.

 

Check if Someone is Remoted into a Computer

Let’s say you have a shared workstation, and you’d liek to check if someone is using it without connecting first and having the “someone is already using the workstation”, or interrupting them in the first place.

I found this and I just have to make a super quick short post about it since it blew my mind.

Why it blew my mind.

  1. It’s been around for along time.
  2. It’s native to Windows.
qwinsta /server:RemoteMachine

That’s literally it from here. Admin not needed on local or remote machine, just need remote access to remote machine from my quick testing.

Cheers!

WSUS Cleanup Unused Updates

How I got here

I needed to swap a disc, for a storage array to rebuild the logical volume.

Check, “disk is not authentic” **** off HPE. Workaround (disable sensors, no thanks). Fix 1, get authentic disk, not happening. Fix 2, move to alternative storage.

Alt storage available. Begin migration process (multiple ways to accomplish this, not in scope of this post). Good time to clean up source data, in this case WSUS update files. Lets clean them up…

Should be easy, eh? Open WSUS -> Options -> Server Cleanup Wizard -> Check  (Unused updates and update revisions)

Reality:

**** off Microsoft…. OK let’s see what Google has for me today….

Rabbit Hole Begins

Classic Adam with some suggestions, as mentioned here and here, same help suggestions as follows:

“* Make the following “Advanced Settings” for WSUS Application Pool in IIS:
– Queue Length: 25000 from 1000
– Limit Interval (minutes): 15 from 5
– “Service Unavailable” Response: TcpLevel from HttpLevel
* (Stop IIS first) Edit the web.config ( C:\Program Files\Update Services\WebServices\ClientWebService\web.config ) for WSUS:
– Replace <httpRuntime maxRequestLength=”4096″ /> with <httpRuntime maxRequestLength=”204800″ executionTimeout=”7200″/>
* Adjust the private memory limit.
– If you have WSUS Automated Maintenance (WAM), from the WAM Shell run:
.\Clean-WSUS.ps1 -SetApplicationPoolMemory 4096
– If you don’t have WAM, edit the pool’s configuration directly to change it to 4194304 (4GB)”

To stop IIS “issreset /stop”

Seems his copy n paste answer to this problem. Well I did all the above, and same results. Let’s try a reboot maybe that helps make these settings apply (doubt it). Nope same error. these changes did nothing to resolve the problem.

Same results. However as noted by the OP in the second link, in which Adam tell the OP to follow his guide on validating something in the SUSDB. However this simply links to his “Reinstall WSUS guide” in which he states you need SSMS “To tell if the WID carries more than the SUSDB database, you‚Äôll need to install SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and connect to the WID instance to browse the databases.”

Installing MSsqlcmd

Nah SSMS is heavy you can also use “Microsoft¬ģ Command Line Utilities for SQL Server” for WSUS on 2016 I recommend version 14 along with (I bleieve is needed) ODBC Drivers (at time of this writing version 17, required Visual C++ 2017 redist)

*correction ODBC 17, did not work, installed wanted ODBC driver 11 for some reason.. this one. (FFS)

and…

are you shitting me.. what gives… Someone already blog posted about this..

Grab version ODBC version 13.1!

OMG it worked, it somehow hardcoded to check for only this particular version of ODBC, unreal… lets move on.

To help guide me in its use I followed this blog post. Thanks mavboss.

Install Visual C++ 2017 Redist.

Install ODBC drivers (AFAIK enable ODBC Driver for SQL Server SDK, during install wizard, MAKE SURE v13.1!!)

Install MSsqlcmd (v14 at the time of this writing, yes, even though the wizard picture states v13)

Holy Sheeeshh, k let’s see if we can connect to the WID…

Connecting to the WID with SQLCMD

cd "c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\Client SDK\ODBC\130\Tools\Binn"
SQLCMD -E -S np:\\.\pipe\MICROSOFT##WID\tsql\query

Ehhh look at that, ok next part the queries mentioned in the initial second link share…

Ehhhh, well its going, but its taking a long time, I can see why the timeouts were extended in the app pool section…

one thing I noticed was when you run the wizard CPU goes up but does not max out, maybe a few spikes here n there. Running this stored procedure pins the CPU at 100%. will report how long this takes…

hour n 30 minutes later the process is still going…. Oi… publishing for now will update this post when new info is discovered. For now this is no answer to the problem, just a hold up to the end of the rabbit hole.

Over 3 and a half hours later it completed :O. I was just about to figure out how to cut it off when right when I was thinking about it the process dropped in CPU usage and some disk usage went up :O

And amazingly got a result from the cmd prompt. Me being the lazy guy I am, had no interest in counting the number of results, so I took the results saved them in text file in a shared file folder. Then opened it on my main work station and pasted it into excel.

Jeeeeeeeee le weeez, over 8000 results, no wonder WSUS kept crashing, plus the 5 to 15 minute timeout wouldn’t help for shit with it having taken nearly 4 hours to complete the query. OK now…. how am I going to clean this up. I have a feeling it’ll be best to write a SP myself, or at least a generalized query to delete some of these in bulk, maybe start off with 10 items and work up to 100 items at a time, even at 100 it’ll take 80 runs to clear them all….

Nutty, I don’t think removing one item will make the front end work like it did for the OP, however I’ll try to manually delete some…

That took about a minute… that times 8000… uhhhh

That’s going to take way too long… researching the stored proecdure in question I found this Blog post.

I ran the indexes mentioned but found no improvement in running the SP.

little more looking into sqlcmd, was able to determine how I could run the SP per numbered line…

SQLCMD -S np:\\.\pipe\MICROSOFT##WID\tsql\query -Q "use SUSDB; exec spDeleteUpdate @localUpdateID=69691;"

Time to write a powershell script to help bulk run this task. The linked Blog shows how SQL script, but that script itself builds a table from the Stored procedure “getObsoleteUpdateToDelete” which took 4 hours so I don’t want to run that again, since I already saved the results in a txt file.

I should be able to use PowerShell to easily iterate each line of the text file (adjust the number of items within the source file) to do the bulk operation. ūüėÄ

Let’s do this…

PS C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\Client SDK\ODBC\130\Tools\Binn> foreach($line in Get-Content 'C:\temp\New folder\list.txt'){write-host "removing $line"; SQLCMD -S np:\\.\pipe\MICROSOFT##WID\tsql\query -Q "use SUSDB; exec spDeleteUpdate @localUpdateID=$line;"}

… This one liner script allows me to run the cleanup on as many or as little updates as needed, simply add each update ID per line within the line.txt file. Done. Simple!

It took literally day’s almost a week, of slowly updating my list file and running the for each command to remove all the records from the database. Then finally opened up that WSUS wizard ran the cleanup wizard and….

Ooo no way finally! what a Pain that was. But got it done. No SSMS required.