Enterprise Customers Upgrading Recast Server 3.2 to 4.0

Upgrading from 3.2 to 4.0 has some special steps to get you upgraded. Due to the large infrastructure changes, and new features in 4.0, a simple upgrade, migrating settings just isn’t possible.

Items that don’t migrate: permissions/roles, lab manager profile (now renamed Kiosk manager), and Builder actions.  In order to help recreate them in 4.0, we recommend you document the permissions and export the lab/kiosk and Builder items before the upgrade. Then load them into a 3.2 standalone enterprise install afterwards, so you can reference them when you recreate them on 4.0.

Good news, future releases will be the simple upgrade. Before going much further, the official docs for the Installation of 4.0 are here, along with detailed info.

Lets do a quick reminder of the backend differences:

Recast Enterprise Server 3.2 Control Panel
Enterprise Server 4.0 Admin Center (Browser Based)

Starting the Upgrade, if running on the same server, you’ll notice right off the bat additional Pre-Reqs are needed to support 4.0.
Pre-Reqs:
Recast Server requires a domain joined Windows Server 2008 R2 or later server for installation with IIS enabled, the .NET Core Hosting Bundle needs to be installed, and a SQL Server Express (or better) server needs to be available. If the .NET Core Hosting Bundle was installed before IIS was installed, you will need to repair the .NET Core Hosting Bundle installation.

On my Recast 3.2 Server, before starting the upgrade, I already installed SQL Server 2017 Express LocalDB and SQL Server Management Studio [OPTIONAL] to manage the Database. I also installed the IIS Feature. [which was already installed because this server doubles as a ConfigMgr Management Point]

Now I’ll install the other Pre-Reqs, clicking the Link brings up the website, launching the installer, then checking the box and clicking “Install”

Now that .Net Core is installed, re-launch the Installer, and follow the Prompts

I choose to re-use the Cert from when 3.2 was installed.
Reminder, I’m using SQL Express on local machine, if you use Remote SQL, you’ll need to change this. Make sure you read the words on the dialog boxes.

Make sure the “Test SQL Connection” returns “Success”

After installing, you can see 3.2 is no longer installed. The 4.0 Installer removed 3.2.

After the Install is finished, it will prompt for Reboot, which is highly recommend. If you don’t and you launch the web console, you’ll find yourself quite annoyed at the behavior of being prompted over and over again for creds. Just reboot and save yourself a little frustration.
Once rebooted, go ahead and launch the Browser Based Console (From any machine that can connect to port 444 on the Recast Management Server)

Things to Note:

Community Tool: ConfigMgr Prerequisites Tool

If you have any questions, or want to discuss your upgrade or install before you make the jump, please contact support and schedule a time to cover them.

Right Click Tools 4.0 – Kiosk Manager

In Recast Enterprise Right Click Tools, if you’re familiar with 3.2, and you’re looking through 4.0, you will notice that Lab Manager is no longer there. Fear not, the feature sets you’ve come to rely on are still in 4.0, but separated out in to two feature subsets: Kiosk Manager & Unified Write Filter. We’ll focus on Kiosk Manager in this post.

Kiosk Manager is a way to apply several settings to a machine or group of machines to lock it down, or turn it into a single use machine… like a kiosk, for example. 🙂

First, create a Profile using “Manage Profile”

A list of options, if you check the box, additional dialog boxes will be presented

For this example, lets display all of the options.

Choose the account that will automatically Logon to the Machine.
Here you can Replace the Shell, with any application you’d like, perhaps a Testing Application, or Browser.
Lets set the Computer to reboot automatically after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Choose which folders you’d like to delete on restart, from a pre-selected list or custom.
Here enable a Whitelist feature, and choose which sites you’d like to allow. It already has some presets you can add [Pearson], or create your own.
Here you can disable keys on the keyboard.
Setting the volume to a specific level, or even mute.

Now that we have a Template, lets apply it to a machine and see what happens. Right click on the machine, and go to “Apply Profile”

You can deploy the profile now, or schedule it for later, like after classes are done today, but before they come in for testing tomorrow.

So we apply the Library Profile, Deploy it Immediately, it will reboot the machines to apply, which is also a good reason to schedule it.

When you apply a Template, the machine will reboot to apply the Template. So, keep that in the back of your mind.

After the reboot, the machine performs the auto-logon with the account information provided, it then launches the replacement shell, in this case, Chrome.

Auto Logon & Launches Chrome in FULL Screen Mode. No Start Menu.

So, it had some of the desired effects, but since we’re using the whitelist, it only shows the content of the items added to that list, apparently many of the graphics are hosted under a different domain name. Open “Developer Mode” in Chrome, and grab the other URLs that are needed, and an update to the WhiteList Tab in the Template.

So we’re going to add a few more entries from the RecastSoftware Site that we see in Developer Mode.

After you make a change to the template, you have to RE-Apply it.

Now the machine will apply the updated template, reboot, and have your changes applied.

There we go, that looks better. Auto Logon to Chrome Browser with the Default Website set to RecastSoftware.com and the user is blocked from making modifications. If the Kiosk is left unattended for 30 minutes, it reboots to a fresh state.

To get the most out of Kiosk Manager, leverage GPO to set lock screen settings, power options, and other control features.

Announcing Right Click Tools 4.0 – What’s New Overview

Recast Software recently released Right Click Tools 4.0. Updates include minor enhancements to the Community edition and an entire infrastructure overhaul to the Enterprise edition. Here’s a quick overview on what’s new:

  • Architecture Improvements:
    • Recast Proxy, adds Multi-Domain / Workgroup Support
  • Kiosk: Manage Kiosk devices quickly via custom templates you can create inside the tool. [Blog Post]
  • Unified Write Filters: Lock down a machine, controlling which areas of the drive are write-able, and which ones revert each reboot.
  • Builder: Used for automate repetitious console actions. [Blog Post]
  • Action Tools
    • System Information Update
      • Adds Windows 10 Build info
      • Adds Battery Info Tab
  • Dashboards: Quick view of your environment’s status for Software Updates, LAPS & Bitlocker.
    • Export to CSV, allows you to easily capture the data for further manipulation and reporting.

Deep dive blog posts will be coming for each of those new features soon, so stay tuned!

What does this mean for Community edition users? It means that the powerful tool set continues to evolve with each release. As for the Enterprise customers, there was a lot of movement under the hood in this release. Nearly a complete re-write of the code base to help align future development with an agile work flow, allowing a more rapid release cadence. Along with architecture improvements, you’ll see drastic changes in Builder. If you used it before, you’ll really appreciate the update to this automation engine.

Expect upcoming blog posts to cover these updates in further detail and examples of how to leverage them.

In the meantime, download Right Click Tools 4.0 today and test drive the new features (receive 30 days of Enterprise free when you download the tools).

RecastSoftware.Com

Announcing Right Click Tools 4.0 – Whats New in Builder

Recast Software recently released the new 4.0 version of the Right Click Tools. This is the first in a series of deep dives of updated features within the new version.

Let’s start with updates to a favorite automation platform: Builder. So what is builder exactly? Builder is a Framwork for creating your own Right Click Tools. It has all of the actions available at your finger tips, which you can merge with PowerShell scripts and create very powerful automation runbook type automations. Take a look:

On the left you have a list of the Custom Actions you’ve created. The Middle area is your “Work Board”. You start with a single “Starting Point”, where you can create parameters, and pick the output you want to display. The Right side contains the list of actions you can choose from. Find the one you’re looking for, drag it from the options pane to the work board, draw your arrow and apply the parameters. No code needed. If you’re familiar with the Right Click Tools, then you’re already part way there.

Here are a couple examples. While these are pretty simple, it does give you a glimpse of the possibilities. Example 1 is a tool that will Add a user to a local group or Remove a user from a local group. We’ve set the default local group as administrators. Scenario, you need to grant someone local admin rights on a workstation (or group of), for a manual software install. Then when they are done, you want to remove them again.

We created a new Builder Template, drag the “Add Local Group Member” Action onto the board, then drag an arrow from the Start Node to the Add Local Group Member action. When you click on the Arrow, it turns blue so you know it’s the active object, and shows you the required information that needs to be provided. This means this information will need to be created on the Start Node. Let’s create Parameters that the Right Click Tool Admin User will provide as input.

So we’ve added an Input Parameter, type string and called it Member Name, we’ll repeat this process for the other required fields. For the next two fields, I’ll also add default values, since most of the time, they will probably be what you want to input anyway.

Ok, now that we’ve made our input parameters, it’s time to map them.

Once you click on the Arrow, it will turn blue and show the list of Required Input Parameters. Click the Required Parameter (in this case Computer Name), and match it to the Available Parameters. Now that we have that done, lets finish connecting the Parameters.

Choose Parameter Mapping
Choose the Node that has the Parameters Available (Start Node)

Alright, at this point, we have our parameters all mapped and this tool Should work… so lets try it out!

On our test machine PC03, lets see who is in the Local Admin Group:

From the Console, Right Click -> RCT Runner

Lets you choose Now or Schedule

Then click Finish and see what happens… Looks like it worked!

And guess what, the Dialog didn’t lie, the Machine shows the account was added to the Administrators Group:

Ok, so now we confirm that part work, lets go back and add the “Remove” feature.

We added the “Remove Local Group Member”, and added the “Arrow” to connect the Start Action to the Remove action. The setup is the same as the “Add Local Group Member”, it requires the same parameters. But now we need a way to let the Runner know which “Path” to take, Add or Remove. So we’ve added a Boolean (Check Box) to the form and named it accordingly. Then we just have to set the conditions on each action. Run “Add” if Checked, Run “Remove” if UnChecked.

Ok, now lets run it again… but this time we use it to remove the account

Oh good, it worked

Double checking the computer, yep, garytown is now removed from administrators:

And Confirmed it works on entire collection… at least if the machines are on:

Ok, Example 2, using a PowerShell Script as an Action

View : Tabbed Results.

On the Start Action, Added a Parameter “Notes” For Example, which we will pass into the PowerShell Script.

You can see that there is a Parameter in the Script called “Notes” which will actually pull the Parameter set when you run the action into the script.
Then click on “Show Progress Stream” and check the box:

Enable “Check Box” on Show Progress Stream
When you run the Action you Created, you’ll see results, and anything you specified in the script as output will show up:

As we just demonstrated, RCT Builder has potential for you to automate tasks, or create new actions that might be unique to your environment.

Give it a try by downloading the latest 4.0 release from Recastsoftware.com.

Posted on RecastSoftware.com

Right Click Tool Highlight: System Information – Collection Mode

In a previous post we talked about one of my favorite tools, System Information. We’ll guess what… it gets even better. You can run the tool on an entire collection!

This will give you a nice quick overview of the machines. This view allows customization and adding / removing columns.

I’d often run the WOL tool on the collection first and give it a couple minutes before running this tool, but then I’d run this to get a nice overview. As you can see in my image, a few issues stand out right away that I need to spend some time looking into, a couple of which I wasn’t actually expecting to see. So perhaps a future post in troubleshooting the CM Client is coming. 🙂

Ways I’d use this report.

  • Was the machine on?
  • Was someone logged on to machine?
  • Check Cache Size
  • Check Cache “levels”

Here’s a scenario, a new BIOS came out, I tested on my 1 test machine, (successfully), and wanted to test on another machine or two… well.. the old adage was true.. “I don’t always test, but when I do, I test in Production”. I used to have a collection for Each Model of Machine, and a collection that would list all machines of that model with a down-level version of the BIOS… see how I did it in this old Post HERE.

I’d right click on the collection, find a couple … “volunteers” (Computers On, No User logged On) and use the Rurun Deployment Right Click Tool to trigger the update. I’d use the Right Click Tools “Ping System” to watch it reboot and come back up, then I’d use the System Information Right Click Tool on the device to see if it now had the new version of the BIOS installed.

Yes, that’s right Right Click Tool inside a Right Click Tool! How handy is that?

Using a combination of Right Click Tools, I could do several tests on “Pilot / Volunteer” computers with no user impact, all remotely.

I’d also like to see the overall “Cache Health” of a random sampling, I’d confirm that machines were getting the right Cache size via Policy, and look for any “odd” things… like an empty cache for example..

The System Information Tool, a great tool to give a collection overview and status of a large number of machines.

Posted on RecastSoftware.Com

Right Click Tool Highlight: System Information – Device Mode

Over the past 7 years of being a ConfigMgr admin and having the Right Click Tools at my finger tips, one of them stands out as my most used tool: System Information. I’d consider this single Right Click Tool a Swiss Army Knife in your pocket.

You can run this tool on both individual Machines or on entire collections, as shown above it was run on my HP Laptop Device. This tool has made improvements overtime, and I’m quite sure will continue to have tweaks in the future.
As you see, you get a nice overview of the machine, both OS & Hardware info in the General Tab. I’d often use this to confirm the BIOS Version right after I’d push a deployment to the test machine. Since this is data is pulling straight from the machine, you get instant results without having to wait for Hardware Inventory.

The Add/Remove Programs tab gives you a listing of the “Legacy” Applications installed. I’d often use this to remove rough / unapproved apps. The Rough app issue became much smaller once we setup AppLocker, but we still had some devs with local admin rights who liked to abuse things. This too is a nice spot check to make sure a machine updated Chrome / etc with the latest version you’re deploying. IT also provides the Uninstall String if available. I’d use this often to grab uninstall strings for scripting uninstalls to push out.

Windows Update, you guessed it, shows a list of installed updates, then allows you to link to the KB. Once again, I’d use this to confirm my ADRs were pushing updates to my Test group and that it was getting installed without having to wait for reporting to catch up. Also if you get a report from your security team of a machine missing patches, you can confirm / deny pretty quickly.

Services Tab gives a list of all Services, with options to Stop (If Running), Start (if Stopped) and set the Startup Type. This is handy when troubleshooting client issues, and you need to stop a service while you do some remote troubleshooting. This was also helpful if I was looking at a known-issue machine I received a ticket on, I could look for rouge services, perhaps malware, or look for services that should be running and aren’t, and vise-versa.

Drivers tab.. yep, as you can see the tab names are pretty self explanatory. I found this handy to confirm that a machine would get the drivers applied that I had in my driver packages for OSD / IPU.

User Profiles Tab shows a list of all profiles. I’ve seen machines with hundreds of profiles (Computer Lab Machines / Shared PCs). Now you can use GPO to have profiles auto clean up after X days, and I’d recommend doing that for several situations. I found this tool handy when I was trying to manually clean up a machine with low disk space. Your Service Desk will probably find this helpful too, they can remove their own profile from machines after they remoted to machines to assist users, or resolve issues.

Quickly check which users are in which groups, and remove someone if needed. Once again, handy on machines as a quick confirmation no funny business is going on with the admin group.

Lastly, the Battery Page. Ever think about kicking off a large deployment on a laptop and was like… sure hope it’s plugged in or has a lot of battery, take a quick glance here to make sure you’re not causing a bigger problem by kicking off that deployment (Rerun Deployment Right Click Tool).

Bonus Tips… COPY & PASTE.. EVERYTHING. Pastes really nicely into Excel as well.

Personal Pros: It gets information real-time by connecting to the machine and pulling back the info, so it’s not limited to waiting on hardware inventory.

Personal Cons: It’s Real-time, meaning if the machine is off, no data. Typically this wasn’t a huge deal, WOL (using another Right Click Tool) would wake the machines up and I could get the info.


Overall, I love this tool and use it a ton as a CM admin (often being 3rd tier support for Service Desk) and back when I was on the Service desk. This one tool pretty much gives you a complete picture of the machine in question with the ability to do some basic tasks all in one spot.

Interested in giving it a try? Download Right Click Tools and test drive the System Information Tool and over 80 others.

Posted on RecastSoftware.com

Right Click Tools Highlight: Advanced Collection Information

Another one of my Top 10 Right Click Tools is Advanced Collection Information. Right now you’re thinking, ha, that tool is obsolete, in 1906, ConfigMgr now gives a list of collections a machine is in the lower pane. At first glance, you’d be right, however, once you launch the tool and take a closer look, you’ll see some additional useful information.

  • Collections: List of all Collections the machine is in, along with the folder location of said collection and the collection ID.
  • Collection Variables: List of Variables applied to the machine from the collection it is in. Useful to confirm / troubleshoot when these variables are used in a Task Sequence, like enabling Debug Mode in 1906.
  • Maintenance Windows: List of Maintenance Windows that are applied to this machine. Ever wonder why or why not a deployment didn’t run when expected, could be a Maintenance Window. Execmgr and status messages will help point to this, as they will say the deployment is ready, but waiting for an available maintenance window.
  • Power Plans: I didn’t grab a screen capture, I’ve actually never used CM to create Power Plans, but if I did, I’d find this tab useful. 🙂

So hopefully you can see, while ConfigMgr continues to add features and enhance the UI, Right Click Tools add value to the ConfigMgr Console and make the ConfigMgr admin’s life easier.

RecastSoftware.com

Status Messages and a Nifty Right Click Tool

This week, I wanted to highlight another nifty little tool, which is great for troubleshooting and reporting. Before I tell you which one it is, I’m going to talk about something instrumental in ConfigMgr, but not something we often think about, Status Messages.

What are Status Messages: In System Center Configuration Manager, status messages are the universal means for components to communicate information about their health to the System Center Configuration Manager administrator. Status messages are similar to Windows NT Events; they have a severity, ID, description, and so on. Microsoft Docs

If you want to go info deeper details about the messages themselves, Microsoft Docs has you pretty well covered. So what do I use them for? Personally, I live in a world of Task Sequences and Deployments, and while Status messages can tell you so much more, I find them primarily useful to keep me notified about a deployment for a machine is doing.

Several canned CM reports rely on status message data to surface data about Deployments. This is very helpful when trying to do near-real-time reporting. You can Monitor deployments, like see which step of a Tasks Sequence a machine is on, how many machines have started a Deployment, or worse, how many have failed a deployment.

Downside of Status Messages, requires network connectivity. This is fine most of the time, but lets say you have deployments running while a machine is offline (Powered On, but not connected to the network). Guess what, you aren’t getting those status messages, but that deployment is going, or not going, and you have no idea. You won’t really know until it comes back online, and you get updates via Hardware Inventory.

So, yeah, the reports are great, and when monitoring large deployments of machines, you’ll want to use the reports, but when you’re troubleshooting, and are focusing on one machine, I just want to stay in the console, where all my tools are. That’s when this nifty Recast Right Click Tool comes in, All Status Messages / Device Status Messages.

From a Deployment

This will show all Status Messages from ALL computers for that deployment, which can get busy, but also help in tracking down patterns.

From a Device

You can see here that it’s pulling back all the Status Messages for this specific machine. I also noticed that the upgrade task sequence has been failing on this machine, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. It’s nice that there is so much info in the Status Messages.

To be clear, the Config Manager Status Message Viewer is built into ConfigMgr, you can pull up this same data without the Recast Right Click Tools. What Recast Right Click Tools provide is a shortcut to this Viewer, that pre-populates the Viewer with the deployment info or Computer name, saving you a step and making it easily accessible. Much of what the Right Click Tools do is surface information, and shorten processes to get to data, enabling the admins to be more effective in their roles. This is another great example of a tool that reduces the “mount of clicks required to access this data, and also putting it front and center as a reminder when I right click on a machine, that this data is available.

RecastSoftware.Com

ReLAPS, bringing visibility to an overlooked security necessity.

Good hook of a title right? Here’s why I say that, LAPS (Local Admin Password Solution) has been around for several years, and I’d be willing to bet, a lot of orgs haven’t implemented it yet (total guess here, no actual data, other than my twitter survey shown below). Good news, many have, as I had at a previous employer. It’s simple to setup, and greatly reduces a previously easily exploitable attach vector. LAPS … mitigates the risk of lateral escalation that results when customers use the same administrative local account and password combination on their computers . -Microsoft

So there you have it, you have it setup, if not, see previous post, now you move on with your operational duties and focus on what fire your manager throws at you today. Why is that? Who seriously did client health for LAPS once it was setup? Who confirmed it was working on all end points? I certainly didn’t, I had “bigger fish to fry”. But as with any implementation, you need to check up on it from time to time. This shouldn’t be a surprise, you do this with the ConfigMgr Client, you monitor Client health, perhaps even implemented auto remediation scripts. You probably monitor your AV / Anti-Malware system, IDS, Disk Encryption, etc. So why not LAPS?

So the team at Recast Software created a nifty dashboard for you to monitor your LAPS “health”. This is included in the Enterprise version of the Right Click Tools. Here is an image from their Documentation, has a bit more date than my little lab:

ReLAPS Security Tools screenshot

Why I like this is because I’m already in the CM Console every day, to have a dashboard for LAPS, to keep it visible and at the front of our minds, I find this highly useful. It only takes a few seconds, pull it up, check my stats, and move on. If I find an anomaly, I can start looking into it.

What else do I like? Glad you asked, I like that I can look up the passwords here. No need to make a special package for my Service Desk Techs to be able to lookup passwords, they already have the CM Console, now I just grant them permissions to this feature and they now have a powerful tool for when they need to look up these passwords for their support needs.

Is that all? Nope, I like that I can export this list to CSV file, and provide it to the Security Team / Audit Folks, who want to confirm compliance.

Currently in version 4.0, this dashboard is querying AD to see which computers have a LAPS password. In 4.1, additional features are planned to be incorporated into this dashboard, which will require additional permissions, but I’ll cover that once it’s released.

So how do you set this up? I’ve got the Right Click Tools Enterprise license and setup the Recast Management Server, what are the permissions I need to allow my Service Desk to view this dashboard? What permissions are required to allow my Service Desk the ability to view the passwords?
I’m going to go over that, building off of my last post where I setup LAPS and created AD Groups with different permissions for LAPS. Assumptions before continuing: You have Specific AD Groups you want to grant permissions to.

First, in my Lab, I have my Service Desk Tier 1 -3 Support positions have different access to the CM Console. I want all of them to have the ability to see the Dashboards and pull up the passwords.
In CM:

Before I add any permissions, this is what the Dashboard would look like without the proper permissions: (Using Service Desk Tier 1 User)

So now we know what it looks like when you don’t have rights, lets add some permissions. In Recast Management Server, I’ve created a ReLAPS role with just permissions for the ReLAPS console.
Testing with 3 “Rights” from the options.. getting close…

Ok, this looks better: (Still using a Service Desk Tier 1 User)

So what does this look like in the Recast Management Server Console?

Created a ReLAPS Role with minimum requirements for ReLAPS console.

GetADComputer, GetADComputerWithLAPSData, GetADComputers,GetADContainers

Then added the LAPS Read Only Group, and assigned it to the ReLAPS Role:

Ok, now you can rest easy knowing your Service Desk has the ability to do the only tasks you want them to do, and no more. Sure, you probably already granted them far more rights to use other tools already, but hey, if you find you have a need to only allow users to view that Dashboard, you will now know how.

In a future post, once Right Click Tools 4.1 is released, I’ll be creating an updated post with the additional permissions required. I’m also thinking about going into scoping LAPS, ie allowing Server Admins to only see Server LAPS passwords and Service Desk to only see Workstation LAPS passwords. Let me know if this is something of interest.

Posted on RECASTSOFTWARE.COM

Overview of Microsoft LAPS (Local Administrator Password Solution)

The “Local Administrator Password Solution” (LAPS) provides management of local account passwords of domain joined computers. Passwords are stored in Active Directory (AD) and protected by ACL, so only eligible users can read it or request its reset.” – Microsoft. Basically, it reduces the risk of having a default (backdoor perhaps) local administrator & default password on your machines by having each machine use a different complex password for the account. Before LAPS, most organizations had a generic local admin ex: ORG_LocalAdmin, with the same password on each machine ex: ORG_P@ssword. Problem with that is, if a machine was compromised, the malware / hacker could move laterally among all your machines gathering more and more data to deepen the security breach. With LAPS implemented, you remove that attach vector, if one machine is compromised, the ability to move laterally to another machine is greatly reduced.

There are quite a few guides out there, and the Microsoft Docs are pretty good too. I didn’t do extensive searching before creating this post, so note that this may be redundant.

In this Walk-Through, I’ll cover

  • Downloading LAPS
  • Create Source Folders
  • Create End Point Installer Application
  • Deploy LAPS Application to End Points
  • Extend AD Schema (From Domain Controller)
  • Setup LAPS AD Groups and Permissions
  • Manually Install LAPS Admin Client
  • Verify Permissions and Read / Reset Access
  • Basic Enable of Group Policy
  • Tests to confirm Permissions are working

Things I’m not covering

  • The Why’s behind each step. Much of the details and reasons why you have to perform these steps are already documented well in the Microsoft “LAPS_OperationGuide” which is part of the download, and quite honestly, that’s what I’m using as I create this Walk Through, so I suggest you look over that before you even start.
  • Every Deployment Scenario. This is a generic and SIMPLE Lab, while much of this is the same for any environment, each environment is different, each organization is setup differently. LAPS setup will probably require multiple teams involvement (AD / CM / Deployments / GPO)

Things to Consider beforehand

  • Active Directory Structure (OUs with Workstations)
  • Who will have Rights to READ the LAPS Password
  • Who will have Rights to RESET the LAPS Password

Client Deployment:

Download LAPS Client & Docs from Microsoft: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=46899

I’ve downloaded all of the Files into a “LAPS” directory then created a new folder to move the MSI Files into.

In the CM Console, Create a new Application. Point it to the x64 version of the MSI

Once you choose the MSI can Next, it will pull the information for the Application from the MSI

As you click Next, you’ll come to General Information, I added “Microsoft” as publisher, and changed /q to /qn

At this point, just click Next, leaving the defaults until it completes and you click Close. You’ll now have the Local Administrator Password Solution application in your console. We just need to make a couple tweaks. In the Properties of the application, click on Deployment Types Tab, choose the Deployment and click Edit, go into Requirements an add the x64 for versions of Windows in your Environment.

At this point, we have the App, lets get it deployed to the workstations. Since you’ve added the logic into the app, you can safely deploy it to your all workstations. NOTE, this is when knowing your environment, you deploy to the appropriate collection. Perhaps you have a business reason to not deploy it to all workstations. Just use best practices for deployments (Maintenance windows, etc). Rest of this example is just generic.

I left Scheduling set to defaults, User Experience , Alerts all defaults

Infrastructure Setup:

Admin Client / LAPS Management Client

So now that the Client is being deployed, lets get the infrastructure setup. First we’ll switch over to a client test machines / or your typical admin workstation. Lets get the LAPS Client Installed along with the Management Tools. Once you kick off the installer (Double click the MSI), click through the first couple screens to get to the “Custom Setup”, once here Enable all options.

Go ahead and let it install. We’ll need to grab some of the items it installed and we’ll copy them back out to our source server for easy access.

Go to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions, here you will grab the AdmPwd.admx file, and the AdmPwd.adml file from the en-US subfolder. I created a folder called GPO_ADMX in my source location to copy them to.

Also, Copy the AdmPwd.PS folder from the PowerShell Modules: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Modules

You’ll need those later.

Now, these steps you can do from your workstation (and should), but to make sure I had connection and rights, I did it from my actual Domain Controller. You’d typically do this from an admin machine with proper credentials, as your DC’s should be CORE and not even have a desktop experience. You typically never want to actually log onto a DC. But this is lab, and I’m just making a demo.

Modify the AD Schema

On the Domain Controller, copy the AdmPwd.PS folder you uploaded to your source into the local module repository on your DC, then launch Admin PowerShell Console. In this image, you can see I tried to Import-Module before I had copied the files onto the DC, after the copy, the command runs correctly:

Run the command: Update-AdmPwdADSchema:

In my lab, you can see it successfully added 2 attributes and modified one class.

Hopefully you considered a few things before starting this Journey, like which OU the workstations are in that you want to apply this to, and who do you want to have permissions? For my lab, it’s pretty easy, I have 1 Master OU setup for WorkStations, and all other workstations fall into Sub OUs of that Master OU.

At this point, it’s nice to check and see who has rights to view that info in AD. In your PowerShell console, type “Find-AdmPwdExtendedrights -identity <OU Name> | Format-Table

As you can see, rights are pretty clean, I’m ok with those folks having rights to LAPS.

Now, in AD, lets setup a Read & Reset Group, to grant access to LAPS. I’ve created two groups: LAPS Read Only & LAPS Reset PWD:

Now we need to grant Machines the ability to update it’s own password, we we grant access to the “SELF built-in account” for all machines in the Workstation OU: Set-AdmPwdComputerSelfPermission -OrgUnit <OU Name>

Next we need to grant users rights to look up that information, this is where those groups come in. We’re going to give “LAPS Read Only” rights to Read LAPS Passwords: Set-AdmPwdReadPasswordPermission -OrgUnit <OU Name> -AllowedPrincipals <FQDN Group Name>

We’re going to give “LAPS Reset PWD” rights to Reset LAPS Passwords: Set-AdmPwdReadPasswordPermission -OrgUnit <OU Name> -AllowedPrincipals <FQDN Group Name>

We’re also going to confirm it did something using the Find.. command:

Now, in AD, you can nest the groups you want in your LAPS Security Groups to have access:

For my Lab, I have Service Desk Tier 1 & 2 Read only, and Tier 3 can Reset.

Group Policy
You’ll need to copy the ADMX & ADML files you copied to your source folder into your Group Policy Central Store, which can be located here: \\FQDN\SYSVOL\FQDN\policies

Now you can Launch Group Policy and create your LAPS Policy. For this Demo, I’m going to create a new simple Policy, but you can always add it into one you already have. The new GPO is set to defaults, except I disable User Policies, as this will all be machine based, no point in having it look for user policies:

I’ve setup the basic settings to make this work with my lab. In my lab, I have a local admin account on the computer besides the disabled default, which is named “MyLocalAdmin”, which is the account I want LAPS to manage:

OK, that’s it, you have it all setup. Now it’s time to confirm you get the results you wanted

  • Permission Tests
    • Standard End Users (Should have No Rights)
    • Service Desk Tier 1 (Should have Read Access)
    • Service Desk Tier 3 (Should have Read / Reset Access)

Test 1: Standard User:

No access to view or reset LAPS password

Test 2: Tier 1 Service Desk:

Can Read Password but Not Reset Password

Test 3: Tier 3 Service Desk:

We learn from this test, Reset Permissions does not include Read. So, unless you have a need for a group to be able to reset this password, and not read it, I’d nest the LAPS Reset PWD group inside of the LAPS Read Only Group

Nested the LAPS Reset PWD group inside of the LAPS Read Only Group

Test again:

Can both Read & Reset the LAPS Password

Now we have the desired results, Tier 3 Support can both Read & Reset the LAPS password.

I hope you found this LAPS overview useful, and hopefully provided additional information not found in other ones. The main reason I’ve writing this, is for Part 2, configuring Recast Management Server User / Groups to view ReLAPS (LAPS) Dashboard in the CM Console. Stay Tuned!

Posted on RECASTSOFTWARE.COM