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Last Thursday Microsoft announced that the next version of the Windows operating system, Windows 7, will ship in Europe without the Internet Explorer 8 browser installed. This new version of the operating system will, like the XP and Vista versions sold without the Windows Media Player, will only be available in the European Union. What prompted this decision? Well, it seems that Opera Software ASA filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming that Internet Explorer was monopolistic and did not give users a choice in which browser they wanted. Microsoft has been down this road before with the lawsuit over the Windows Media Player that is normally bundled with Windows and rather than deal with a protracted legal fight they decided to simply ship a version of Windows 7 that will not include IE8 (or any other version of IE) in it.

This will give the end user a true choice as to which browser they wish to install — IE8, Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, Google’s Chrome, or Apple’s Safari. So how is the EC responding to this move by Microsoft? You would think that they would hail it as a victory, right? Actually…no. The EC moved quickly to criticize Microsoft’s decision

In a statement issued late Thursday night in Brussels, the EU regulator said it “notes with interest” Microsoft’s announcement and would “shortly decide” the outcome of its own case. But it didn’t seem confident that offering the operating system without Internet Explorer was the complete answer to its concerns that computer users lack “genuine” choice in browsers.

“Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less,” the EU said in its statement.

(Hodgsen, Jessica and Charles Forelle, “Windows is to Drop Browser in Europe,” Wall Street Journal Online, June 12, 2009)

What I can’t understand is how the EC can claim that Microsoft’s move provides less choice. Users in Europe will be able to buy Windows without any pre-installed browser and be able to install whatever browser that they want. Another scenario is where the system vendors — HP, Dell, Acer, etc — will pre-install the browsers for the end user based on the choice they make when they buy the system or sell systems with multiple browsers installed. Any way you slice it Microsoft’s move allows for more consumer choice. But apparently that’s not good enough for the EC.

Perhaps what they want is for Microsoft to install competitor’s products into the Windows operating system and then sell it for them? That seems to be the case since the EC indicated that it would rather see Microsoft offer consumers a choice of browser rather than remove IE8 from the operating system (“E.U. Criticizes Microsoft Plan to Remove Browser“, The New York Times, June 12, 2009). It’s hard to tell what would satisfy the European Commission. What I don’t see is the EC going after Apple for bundling the Safari browser in MacOS X? Or bundling iTunes into MacOS X and leveraging that in iPod sales. Or the EC going after Google as being monopolistic in Internet search. The move last Thursday by Microsoft may not even eliminate the possibility that the EC will levy a fine against the company as the “investigation dates to 1996 — which means it [the EC] still could levy substantial fines for the 13 years during which the browser was integrated, even if it finds that the separation allays its concerns going forward” (Hodgsen, Jessica and Charles Forelle, “Windows is to Drop Browser in Europe,” Wall Street Journal Online, June 12, 2009).

Microsoft is doing the right thing in the EU market in order to meet the EC’s concerns. It would be nice if the EC would acknowledge that and move forward.

(a small caveat here: this is solely my personal opinion and does NOT, in any way, reflect the opinion of my employer)

I’ve been playing around (in my copious free time šŸ˜‰ ) with other methods of connecting to and managing Server 2008 Core. One of the things I’ve wanted to do was to be able to SSH directly to Server 2008 Core and have the same command line capability as I do on the console. To that end I did a quick search for similar work and found the following article at TechRepublic about installing an SSH server in Windows 2008. The difference that I wanted to do was to install it in Server Core rather than the full-blown version of 2008.

Like David Davis over at TechRepublic I decided to start with FreeSSHd as my SSH server. The first thing I needed to do was to get it onto the Server Core VM. Rather than downloading it to my desktop and then transferring it to the Server Core VM I decided that would rather download it directly to the Server Core machine. In order to do that I needed wget that would run on Windows. I used the wget binary I downloaded (to my desktop) from Bart Puype in Belgium. Once I copied wget to C:\Windows\System32 I used it download the FreeSSHd.exe binary from FreeSSHd.com.

To install freesshd, just run the freesshd.exe program and it will start up the install wizard. A couple of items to note — on Server Core do not bother with creating a Start Menu item for FreeSSHd and don’t bother with creating a desktop icon either. One of the problems that I encountered when I installed FreeSSHd on Server Core was that I could not configure the SSH server since the task bar icon did not appear on the right (as should be the case since there is no task bar in Server 2008 Core). To configure FreeSSHd I had to edit the freesshdservice.ini file in the C:\Program Files\freesshd directory (the default location for the installation).

A small point to note. Server 2008 Core’s firewall is on by default (even if it’s a domain joined machine) and the policy is to block all inbound connection attempts but to allow outbound connections. After installing FreeSSHd I needed to modify the firewall and decided to use netsh to do so. The command I used was

netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="SSHd" dir=in action=allow protocol=TCP localport=22

Very simple…I love netsh šŸ™‚

Another problem I ran into was getting the NT authentication to work. I did manage to get the password authentication working but I wanted to tie the FreeSSHd server into the Windows authentication. I’m still not 100% sure as to where the problem lies with the NT authentication integration and will investigate it further.

One of the biggest drawbacks to FreeSSHd is that there is very little (re: almost none) documentation that covers the freesshdservice.ini file. You need to read the forums over at freesshd.com in order to get a sense of what the settings are for the file and what specific changes to the file cause in the overall operation of the server. I hope to get that put together and posted here this summer as I think others will find it useful.

To get the password authentication working I installed FreeSSHd on a Windows Server 2003 system and then created the users I wanted there and copied over the relevant portions of the freesshdservice.ini file to the one on the Server 2008 Core VM. Then, to restart the service I would just issue the commands: net stop freesshdservice and net start freesshdservice and I was good to go. As you can see from the last capture in the gallery below I was able to connect to the server and log in using the account I had created on the Server 2003 system and copied over to the freesshdservice.ini file on the Server 2008 Core VM.

In the future Iā€™m going to try some of the other freely available SSH servers and see if they provide an easier integration into Server 2008 Core.

It took a little effort to figure it out along with some research but I’ve finally managed to move the SUSDB from the SQL Server instance running on my System Center Configuration Manager VM back over to the WSUS VM with SQL Server 2005 Express Edition. Essentially I followed a combination of procedures that can be found at the following links:

In essence I did the following procedure:

  1. Install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition SP2 on the WSUS VM
  2. Stop “Update Services” on WSUS VM (to avoid updating and locking the SUSDB on the SQL Server 2005)
  3. Stop “IISAdmin” service on WSUS VM (this also stops the World Wide Web Publishing Service, the Windows Remote Management (WS-Management) service, and the HTTP SSL service)
  4. On the SCCM VM, stop the “IISAdmin” service (as above that also stops three other dependent services)
  5. Detach the SUSDB on SQL Server 2005 – this can be done using either the SQLCMD command line interface with the ‘sp_detach_db’ command or the SQL Server Management Studio
  6. With the SUSDB database detached, copy it from it’s current location (under SQL Server 2005 SP2 it’s found in C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\Data) to the appropriate directory on the WSUS VM (the default location for the data files with SQL Server 2005 Express is the same as the full SQL Server)
  7. Once the SUSDB (and the attendant log file) has been copied over, attach it to the SQL Server 2005 Express instance. To do this I used the SQL Server Express Management Studio as shown i the pictures below
  8. Adding SUSDB to SQL Server 2005 Express

    Adding SUSDB to SQL Server 2005 Express

  9. After attaching the database to the SQL Server 2005 EE I then followed through with the steps outlined in the >WSUS Support Team’s blog: How to migrate your WSUS Windows Internal Database to SQL Server 2005 Express Edition. Except that in this case I don’t think I really needed to add the NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE account as a login on the SQL Server 2005 EE instance since the WSUS software and the SQL Server were on the same VM.
  10. Nevertheless, I added NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE to the SQL Server 2005 EE logins as shown below
  11. Adding NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE to SQL Server 2005 EE Logins

    Adding NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE to SQL Server 2005 EE Logins

  12. I discovered that you also needed to add the NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE as a user in the actual SUSDB. This is subtle point that is not made clear by the WSUS Team Blog on this issue in their post. To do that you need to go to the actual database (in this case SUSDB) and under -> Security -> Users you create an account for the NETWORK SERVICE account.
  13. Addint NETWORK SERVICE as a user on SUSDB

    Addint NETWORK SERVICE as a user on SUSDB

  14. You also need to add NETWORK SERVICE to the webService role in SUSDB as shown below
  15. Adding NETWORK SERVICE to webService role in SUSDB

    Adding NETWORK SERVICE to webService role in SUSDB

  16. Finally, I changed the SqlServerName registry key in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Update Services\Server\Setup from the original SQL Server 2005 system (winsrv-ca) to the WSUS server (SCCM). However, because I went from a SQL Server 2005 system to a SQL Server 2005 Express Edition database I had to append the instance name (in this case SQLExpress) in order to get the MMC snap-in to work.

A bit of a sidenote — the name of my WSUS server virtual machine is SCCM and the name of the machine running the System Center Configuration Manager software is actually winsrv-ca. It’s kind of confusing but I had already installed WSUS on the virtual machine SCCM before I decided that adding System Center Configuration Manager would be pretty much an overload on that one machine. That’s why I ended up installing Configuration Manager on winsrv-ca and not SCCM…but I had already modified AD to point to SCCM for WSUS services so I found it less troublesome to just leave the names as they are)

Finally, the job is done. Yes, I realize that it’s probably not a big thing but I wanted to see if it could be done. Most of the sites out there talk about migrating the WSUS database either from the Windows Internal Database (SQL Server Embedded Edition) to a SQL Server 2005 system or from an older SQL Server 2000 database to a SQL Server 2005 database. I haven’t seen anyone who tried to go from a full blown version of SQL Server 2005 to a SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (which, in many cases is more limited that the Windows Internal Database that WSUS can use). Anyway, it was fun…with a few snags along the way…but fun nontheless.

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