upgrades

My friend and fellow WHS MVP Sam Wood from Tentacle Software has just published a very long and detailed article on Automating Windows Server Solutions Add-In Package Builds to Support In-Place Upgrades. If you are a developer, or thinking of developing add-ins for WHS 2011, this is a must read.

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This is how Sam starts the article:

The Windows Server Solutions SDK gives us some great new functionality for deploying Add-In packages:

  • A proper upgrade process
  • Signing
  • Client installers that can be automatically applied to any joined PCs
  • EULA support
  • Localization support

But, because there’s no such thing as a free lunch, the new functions come with added complexity. As I’ve discussed previously, in order for you Add-In to support in-place upgrades there are a bunch of properties that need to be changed whenever you build a new version of your Add-In:

  1. Package Version in AddIn.xml
  2. ServerBinary File Version in AddIn.xml
  3. Product Version in your installer project (<product>.wxs if you’re using WiX)
  4. Assembly File Version and Assembly Version in AssemblyInfo.cs for any changed assemblies

It’s really easy to forget one of those and break the upgrade process. So, how do we take the pain away?

What follows is my solution for build automation with WSSX files. This is only what works for me, and there are certainly other ways to accomplish the same thing, so feel free to offer your methods in the comments below.

This is going to be a long one so go grab a coffee!

[button link="http://blog.tentaclesoftware.com/archive/2011/07/01/automating-windows-server-solutions-add-in-package-wssx-builds-to.aspx" style="info" window="yes"]Read the rest of the article here[/button]

Windows7_v_print

Microsoft announced yesterday that Europe would get the “proper” version of Windows 7 and not the horribly reduced E version as previously stated!

For those of you who haven’t been following this, the E version of Windows 7, just for Europe, would not have contained Internet Explorer, because apparently the 7 or so users of a browser called Opera wouldn’t be happy. Opera complained to the European Commission about Microsoft. I didn’t see them complaining to them about Apple with their Safari browser though, but that’s another story!

This also means that existing users of Windows Vista in Europe will be able to upgrade to Windows 7, where as with the E version there was no upgrade path and Vista owners would need to do a clean installation.

Anyone who has pre-ordered the Windows 7 E version will get the PROPER version instead :-)

16

Most of us have a laptop that probably came with an 80GB or 120 GB hard drive. It has almost certainly crossed your mind to upgrade the drive when a company like Newegg has 250GB to 500GB laptop drives for $79.99. I know for me, upgrading seems like a pain and I do not want to take the time to mess with it. Please read on to see how WHS can make your hard drive replacement as painless and as fast as possible.

Equipment Needed:

Replacement Hard Drive

Recent WHS backup of the PC

Windows Home Server Restore CD and CD drive

USB Drive (with network drivers, optional)

3 Beers (discretionary but recommended as always)

A recent “Lost” episode

Background

I am going on a short holiday tomorrow to see my sister and taking her 13 year old step-daughter an old Dell GX60 SFF OptiPlex that I have had sitting around the office. Sounds simple enough right? Not quite. It only has an 30GB hard drive. WTF? Her iTunes music alone is probably going to be over 30GB! Why the small drive Uncle Tim? I have never needed more drive space since it was connected to the network and WHS hosts my music and videos. It is a small form-factor so there is no room for a second drive inside the case. What else do you want for free? Oh, you want a monitor, keyboard and mouse too? Crap.

I want to take one of my 500GB IDE drives out of one of my old (and now obsolete?) NAS drives and drop it in the case. The hardware replacement will be easy but what about all of the software? What about the settings, drivers and programs? Service Pack 3 takes about an hour alone to upgrade. No way! I am leaving in the morning and I am running out of time. In addition, the wife is packing the car by herself tonight for the trip tomorrow so I need to do this the fastest way possible!

Dell GX60 with replacement drive

Hard Drive Replacement and Data Transfer Solutions

If I replace the drive I will have four choices for the existing data and programs:

  1. Load Windows and reformat, install programs, files and updates.
  2. Use the File Transfer Wizard (but I have to load Windows on the new drive).
  3. Use the Backup Wizard to transfer (but I still have to load Windows on the new drive to restore from the Backup).
  4. Use the Windows Home Server backup feature and Restore CD.

I’ll take door number four Monty. Viva Windows Home Server!

Backup Verification

Ok, so the GX60 is running and connected to the WHS network. It has been a while since my last backup but we know that WHS only tracks the changes so it should not take that long to run one more backup before I begin. I will start the backup and head to the fridge for a cold one. Where is that damn mini fridge?

Windows Home Server Backup Screen

Mental note: Make some noise and move a few things towards the garage so the wife will know I am helping pack and not cramming to finish this article before we leave.

The backup is done in 8 minutes. Thank you WHS!

Drive Installation

Now that the back up is complete I will power down and replace the drive. You can see that with the GX60 the case is easy to open and the drive replacement is very simple. Your installation will be different of course.

It might look like this:

Inside of a Dell GX60 showing the IDE drive

Or this:

Drive replacement on a Dell Latitude

Make sure if you are using a drive that had prior data on it that you delete ALL of the data and any partitions that may have been on the replacement disk. If you have not done this you can do it when we get to the Disk Manager during the Restore process. We will verify this AGAIN when we get to the Disk Manager during the Restore process. If your replacement drive is new then you should not have any issues.

Mental note: Put the Restore CD in the drive before I power it off so I am ready once I turn back on the PC.

Booting from the Restore CD

I have replaced the drive and am ready to boot up. I have the Restore CD in the computer and I press the power button. Here we go…power on and F12. F12 again. Flippin F12. F12 yet again. Good job with the F12 cause I am at the boot screen. Choose the CD Boot option.

Boot Device Menu Screen

Make sure you know if your PC has over 512 MB of RAM. WHS will ask you before you start the Restore process.

WHS Restore RAM Screen

Let the Restore process begin.

WHS Restore Progress Screen

The Restore Process

Follow the prompts on the screen to start with the actual Restore process. The Restore process is interactive until you actually start to copy data.

WHS Restore Detect Hardware Dialog Box

It is possible that your PC will not find the network or your server once you start this process. This may scare you at first but it is ok. You may be able to click on Continue and go ahead with the process. If it does not let you continue then you will need to have the network driver. I had to install the drivers on my Restore. When WHS asked me for the network driver I went to another computer on my network, looked up the Dell website, downloaded the driver for the GX60 and put it on a USB drive. If you do not have another computer to use during this process you may want to do this as a precaution ahead of time.

WHS Restore Network Driver Screen

I copied the drivers to a little USB drive on another computer. I then took the USB drive, plugged it in to the GX60 and clicked on the Scan button.

WHS Restore Install Drivers Screen

WHS found the drivers and continued on as expected. Make sure you unzip or decompress the driver files before you put them on the drive so WHS can find the drivers.

My drivers installed without any issues.

Once you can connect to the server the Restore can start.

WHS Restore Wizard Screen

Enter your WHS password and click on Next.

WHS Restore Password Entry Screen

Choose which computer to Restore.

WHS Restore Computer Choice Screen

Choose from which backup date you want to Restore.

WHS Restore Backup Date Screen

If your drive is brand new then continue to read on, if not then skip to the next section.

If the Drive is NOT Initialized (a brand new drive)

While I am Restoring the GX60, I am at the same time replacing the drive on my laptop with a brand new drive. This section is for the new drive. If your drive is new you will get the following error:

WHS Restore Initial Partition Error

You can then click on the Run Disk Manager button to format the new drive.

WHS Restore Disk Manager Option Screen

Once in the Disk Manager application you should see your new drive. Right mouse click on the drive and do a Quick Format.

WHS Restore Disk Manager

Mental Note: If you choose a full format be prepared to add another hour to your Restore experience.

Once the format is complete you can continue on with the Restore process. Verify the Source Volume and the Destination Volume and click on Next.

WHS Restore Source Volumes

If Drive was previously Initialized (or came from another device)

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT - If your drive had already been formatted or in another device you should still need to run the Disk Manager. Look at the Destination Volume on the right. If it shows “New Volume” then you should be good to go. If it shows anything else use the Run Disk Manager button and view any additional partitions that may be left on the drive. The drive must be new or reformatted with Disk Manager for the computer to boot up after the Restore. Please check this before continuing. Seriously.

Once you have deleted any old partitions and formatted the drive you need to verify the Source Volume and the Destination Volume similar to what is shown below:

WHS Restore Source Volume Dialog Box

Click on Next one final time to verify the Source Volume and Destination Volume.

Source Volume Dialog Box

Click on Next, relax and let the good times begin.

Now that WHS Restore is on autopilot it is time for another beer. Expect about an hour to complete the Restore. I would not rely on the timer as any real indication of time. My timer and progress bar seemed to be possessed. I am going to go watch my latest recorded episode of Lost. Be back in an hour.

WHS Restore Progress Bar

Upon my return the GX60 is ready to go with the larger hard drive. In addition, due to the intricacies of time travel while writing, I have also completed my laptop Restore to a new drive. Viva Window Home Server.

Notice the difference on the two Restore Dialog Boxes below. Besides the fact that they were done two weeks apart (love that time travel) you will see the Restore Summary Volume notations are different. The laptop was a new drive while the GX60 was from another device. Even though the Restore completed if you did not format the drive the computer will have issues starting up and you have to use your Windows CD to fix it. This will take hours and defeat the purpose of using WHS to Restore to a new drive. It happened to me. Seriously.

The GX60 completed with the used drive.

WHS Restore Completed Screen for the GX60

The laptop completed with the new drive.

WHS Restore Completed Screen for the D505

The “entire” process for the laptop hard drive took 86 minutes while the GX60 took a little longer with the network drivers. The Window Home Server saved hours of time in this upgrade. Viva WHS!

I hope this article was helpful and I wish you luck on your drive upgrades!

See you next Friday night.

Timothy Daleo

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