Revelations in Automation. Making my job easier with Active Directory. ~ Ask The Admin

Monday, June 30, 2008

Revelations in Automation. Making my job easier with Active Directory.

SmashTheComputer I gave my office desktop a new lease on life today with a badly needed re-formatting instead of beating it with a bat.

Formatting is always a good thing (provided you have a reliable backup) and this time it caused me to have a revelation.

Don't worry kids, The Admin isn't going to get all religious on you.

Relax. Deep breathe. Are we ready to continue?

When my clean install of Windows XP SP3, booted up all brand spanking new, off of my ghost image - it was so...

I wanted to say empty or naked but the word clean kept coming to mind.

I am a technological pack rat.

There I said it - I keep everything. Lets just say my 300GB drive wasn't cutting it in the end.

There was so much crap on my machine installed, not installed, Zipped, RARed, TARed and in file formats you have never seen...

Even with my machines specs all maxed out she still felt sluggish.

This time around I decided to install just the basics like office 2003, and Mcafee. Anything else I can run in a virtual machine. And let's be realistic almost everything has a web interface nowadays.



So why don't I have a Imaging server, a monitored install OU with script happy GPO's that do...

Well... they should do everything!

Why do I have to physically install an image, then configure a machine before I deploy it?

I must have been a chump that's why! We couldn't have the Admin being a chump, now could we? Isn't that what Active Directory is for?

And there's my revelation.

I got a little caffeine in me and started writing batch files. Time to de-chumpify. Batch files that can automate network setups (don't tell the junior admins they might be out of a job!) I configured RIS on my 2003 server and got into it.

Scripts to copy my host file, scripts to kick off the Mcafee install, scripts to move its OU and record information about the machine. Group policy handles the Office apps and system configurations depending on what test OU it came from.

It was whiteboarding in my head already and I started coding. Testing. Coding. Rebooting. Testing cursing testing asking for help and then getting it going.


I am not a programmer in any sense of the word - I can script and pseudo code but my only problem was I didn't declare my fucking variables. My DB Admin saw the problem right away and added on a few finishing touches of his own.

Local administrator accounts on our domain machines have a way of not being what they are supposed to be so that got scripted. Shortcuts, favorites and a few customizations.

We now have a RIS server, images, a NewComputer OU. A script that joins the new machine to the domain, reboots it moves it's OU. Installs office, Mcafee and forces Windows to update. Adds my local administrator accounts, disables the guest account.


All in a days work.

This may not seem like a lot of work that justifies scripting. But think about it in blocks of 100 between myself and two other IT guys...

Not as pretty eh?! I should have thought of this sooner!

A Rube Goldberg machine of sorts each piece knocking over the next. Setting something in motion to hit a final goal. (Much better than the usual sports analogy eh?)

What do you guys do to make your lives as an Admin easier?