OMSA configuration files – finally posted.

I’ve finally got around to uploading and saving the Dell Configuration and Dell alert script files that will assist in obtaining alerts when Dell Servers detect a problem. The script files are pretty self explanatory – the conf.bat file configures the alerts on the server, dellalert.bat gets activated and sends and email to your email address or pager/sms email address.

Note that for easy transfer from client site to client site, it’s probably best to set the mailserver parameter to be the mx record of your mail server (assuming you allow smtp out from client machines) – this way it’s one less thing to change when deploying at client sites.

For more information check out the OMSA configuration section of this blog although the main post with instructions is at Dell Open Manage Server Administrator OMSA Alert Setup Updated.

Download the Configure OMSA Batch File zip file here

OneNote 2010 webapp now live.

I’m a big fan of OneNote as it makes it really easy to take notes during meetings and presentations. I was pleased to see that the OneNote Web App is now online, allowing you to save OneNote notebooks to the web (on Microsoft’s SkyDrive) which then means you can edit them in a browser – without needing OneNote on the machine.

I uploaded the OneNote notebook that I made whilst upgrading my Dell Mini10v a couple of weeks to triple boot XP, OSX and Windows7 and was pleased with how things have turned out. I’ll be using this functionality to create an upcoming blog post on how to do the triple boot – having the notebook on the web means I can update and work on the blog post from any computer – I’m not tied to my home desktop which hosted the original notebook.

Note that you do need to “share” the notebook by going to the File/ New/ Web or going to File/Share/ Web as appropriate.  Keeping the document in your personal folder means it is kept private – as long as nobody  else finds the url.

Thanks to The Office Blog for the heads up and see an Introduction to OneNote Web App for more details.

Quick way to get BIOS information without rebooting

If you want to get the BIOS version of a pc without rebooting or the Dell service tag then use the following useful command(s)
wmic bios >c:\temp\1.txt
notepad c:\temp\1.txt

The reason I pipe to 1.txt and then display in notepad is that the formatting looks all messed up in a dos prompt due to line wrapping but looks ok in notepad. The BIOS version and service tag will be displayed (among other things).
This beats my previous preferred method when doing remote support of going to Dell’s support site, going to warranty information and then loading their activex component to detect the hardware information.
Update: You do need to have admin rights to run this command.

Dell Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) alert setup – updated

Further to this post on how to set up Dell Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) for alerts I have amended the configuration files required to correctly configure OMSA.
I discovered that Dell’s documentation is incorrect and that running a batch file in an alert directly does not work – you need to call it with cmd.exe BUT you do not (normally) need to provide the path to cmd.exe – I have therefore changed the alert commands (shown in the extended entry).
I have also amended the dellalert.bat file as I also found that blat would not always work as there is no working blat profile when called from OMSA and there is no obvious way of setting a profile up. You could add the setup into dellalert.bat, trigger an alert and then remove the setup. Alternatively blat can have the mail server and the sender name provided in the dellalert.bat. This makes installation easier as all you need to do is copy the blat files to the windows directory. Again the updated dellalert.bat is in the extended entry.

Dell’s omclean to remove Open Manage remnants

If you ever get a problem with Dell Open Manage failing to install because previous components are already installed AND you can’t remove the old components as the setup program will not initialize, take a look in the support\omclean directory and double click omclean. Click ok if it prompts you with the same errors that you got when you tried to uninstall from add/remove programs. You will be prompted to reboot at the end of the process. I’m not sure if clicking the ok button forces a reboot, but you can click the close button and the machine won’t reboot. At that point in time the offending software is no longer listed in add/remove programs.  Arrange a reboot when convenient and install the new version of Open Manage, – 5.5 came out earlier this month. (omclean is also bundled in this download)

Inspiron has arrived.

My new Dell Inspiron arrived this afternoon at work so I spent a few minutes unpacking the machine. I’m still undecided as to use Windows2008, Vista or XP on the machine – I have licence’s for all three OS’s but because of the nature of this machine being a virtual/test server I’ll be rebuilding it several times in virtual and physical modes so I’m still debating this decision.

Out of the box it looks pretty nice – the case has white sides and a silver front top – I’m used to the dell machines being black boxes so this is a pleasant change.  On boot up I’ve confirmed that my Norwood Micro monitor IS weird – it doesn’t like to stay switched on when a machine is booted up and switches itself off either at POST or at the actual reboot stage which means that I rarely get to see the POST screen and the F1 to continue buttons. This happened on the previous machine but I had never really had a chance to try it on another machine to see if it was the monitor or the computer – it’s definitely the monitor!

Anyway, the machine booted up into XP (at a poor 800*600 default) and it was time to remove America Online, AOL Coach, AOL Connectivity Services, Browser Address Error Redirector, Earthlink Setup Files, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar, Internet Service Offers Launcher, MusicMatch, NetZeroInstallers, Realplayer Basic, SearchAssist and finally Viewpoint Media Player. Note that I wasn’t given the option to optout of this preinstall – I’d already declined Works and trial versions of Symantec Antivirus. First stop was PCDecrapifier to remove most of these and the rest were manually removed. Then it was time to run Windows Updates – all 39 of them. Come on Dell – you really should have a machine that is patched *reasonably* up to date before it shipping it to customers.

Update Interestingly the “500gb” drive ends up as 453 usable by the time you take the Mb marketing rounding, 39mb FAT partition for the Diagnostics tools and 3.3gb for the system image partition.

After two reboots the Dell support center software came up and asked me if I wanted to periodically sendmy data to Dell – I don’t think so! However this led to a page to download various drivers and updates etc. I was pleased to see that the BIOS didn’t need updating – mine was shipped with 1.0.12 (that came out on 3/17/2008). At a quick glance it doesn’t look like anything else needs updating – however about 20 minutes later the Dell alerts gave me tips about turning on the firewall (already was), deleting the temp files etc etc. One of the links was the Vista Readiness test. This machine failed due to the graphics – it only has the built in graphics card so no surprises there really.

At this point I installed synergy so I only had to use one mouse and keyboard to update the computer and post this blog entry

The Flash player was next to be updated, again this was prompted in the Dell alerts, but no alerts about the old version of Quicktime or Adobe Reader that was preinstalled.

Virtual Server for home use.

Thanks to a tip off from Ed Bott, I have ordered a nice Dell Dimension 2.4 GHz quad-core CPU (Intel Q6600), 3GB of RAM, and a 500GB drive, for $499 although I paid an extra $20 to get Windows XP Pro. I wanted to get the 64 bit version but Dell won’t sell it to me so I’d have buy the media which is going to be expensive or put my Vista or Windows2008 server software on to host my vm’s. Hopefully this machine will have enough processor and memory to allow me to run at least a couple of vm’s at the same time so I can get more experience in W2k8. At this price it was very tempting to buy a few of these machines but I restrained myself to just one. This is going to be used purely for work and training purposes so I should be able to deduct it in my taxes next year too which is an added bonus.

Dell Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) alert setup

Update – this post is slightly out of date – please see my updated Configuring Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) page.

As mentioned in a previous post, we have several Dell servers that have Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) setup and one of the features of this software is the ability to setup alerts whenever an issue is detected by the built in monitoring system.  In the new version, 5.3, even more alerts have been enabled – mainly in the area of storage management.  To edit this setup you typically go to the website hosting the Server Administrator, log in and then set up all the alerts. Each alert is setup individually and takes several mouse clicks. One to open up the alert, one to select the alert process’s, another to click apply and then another to click the Go Back to Alert Settings.  This is really inefficient and obviously takes a very long time to set this up on multiple servers. The process described in the extended entry below describes how you can set this up, quickly and efficiently by importing the same settings to your servers each time they are set up. Little customization needs to be done on each server but full instructions are provided.

Note- this post is slightly out of date – please see my updated Configuring Open Manage Server Administrator (OMSA) page.

Dell Firmware and software update DVD

If you have several Dell servers (or even just one server) then I would highly recommend downloading the Systems Management Dell DVD. Inserting this DVD in the server drive will then show you a list of all the firmware, drivers and software that needs to be updated on the server. This is a great tool for ensuring that your Dell server is up to date and you don’t need to download all the patches each time on the server or even worry about where they are located on the Dell website. I find it really difficult to work out which files are needed and this DVD is really helpful. Included on the DVD is the OpenManage 5.3 suite of software that came out fairly recently. Note that if you install it then you will want to go back to the alerts page as there maybe new alert categories.

I know IBM do a similar service as I used to use it when installing Netfinity servers and I assume HP does too.

Incidentally I found out about this by subscribing to the Dell Technical Update Subscriptions

Dell OpenManage failing to start

If the Dell Openmanage console fails to open with a “page cannot be found” and the DSM SA Connection Service fails to stay running, then remove the Dell Openmanage software and then run the omclean utility in the openmanage\support\omclean directory. Reboot when prompted and then reinstall the OpenManage console and everything should work. This took 1.25 hours to work out with Dell tonight. I’m glad we got it fixed and hopefully this will help others.