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Set default logon domain via Group Policy

October 4, 2010 5 comments

How many of us have had a call that someone could not log on to their computer, only to find that they were trying to log on to the local machine instead of the domain? Worse yet, what if you have a forest with multiple domains?

Server 2008 and Windows Vista, Windows 7

If you are the lucky administrator of a Windows 2008 or 2008 R2 Active Directory with just Windows Vista and Windows 7 clients then your job is easy. There is a group policy found in Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Logon called “Assign a default domain for logon“. Enable this policy, enter your domain’s name and you are finished.

Server 2003 and Windows XP

However, what if you are one of the many who still run an older version of  Active Directory or happen to have tens, hundreds or thousands of those faithful Windows XP clients operating? You will need to create a script and set it in the machine startup scripts of your Group Policy Object (GPO).

Let us examine the following script courtesy of Microsoft’s Knowledge Base Article 555050:

Dim sDomName
Set oWshShell = CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)
sDomName = “TEST-DOMAIN”
oWshShell.RegWrite “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\DefaultDomainName”, sDomName

Create this script in notepad and save it with a .vbs extension, for example DefaultDomainScript.vbs.

  • sDomName is just a variable that holds your domain’s NETBIOS name which in this case is TEST-DOMAIN. Change this to whatever your domain name actually is.
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\DefaultDomainName is a registry key of the client machine that we want to set. This key will be set to the value of sDomName.

Now you need to open the Group Policy Management Editor of one of your Domain Controllers and choose to edit or create a Group Policy Object that applies to the Organizational Unit (OU) containing those computers you want to affect. If for some reason you have not organized your domain into OUs or you want to affect every single PC on your domain, then edit the Default Domain Policy.

Expand Computer Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Scripts (Startup/Shutdown) and double click on Startup. Under the Scripts tab, click on “Add…” and then “Browse…”. You will be provided with a dialog box. Copy and paste the startup script you created into the dialog box and open it. You do not need to provide any parameters in the second text entry box.

That’s it! Your clients will use the script at their next restart. Microsoft’s article suggests running GPUPDATE on a domain controller as well, but I have personally found this step not really necessary as the changes tend to propagate quickly enough on their own.

Just how well does the script work? It works well, but there is one little flaw. If the user hits CTRL+ALT+DEL to  log on as soon as the machine completes booting, then the script will not have time to set the default domain. This should generally not present much of an issue unless the systems use sandboxing software such as SteadyState that undo session changes upon restart.

Nonetheless, this can help reduce at least some of those calls by users trying to log on to the wrong domain.

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Student Laptop Programme

October 2, 2010 6 comments

On Wednesday 29th September 2010, the Ministry of Education of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago began distribution of laptops for students entering secondary school for the first time. The initiative cost TT$83 million (approximately US$13 million) in direct acquisition costs but I am unable to locate any information on the cost allocated for training of the teachers and (presumably) improved infrastructure at the schools.

Based on my research, a summary of the machines would be follows:

  • 20,300 HP 425 Notebook Computers with Windows 7
  • 14″ LED-backlit display
  • 2.2 GHz AMD Athlon II Dual-Core Processor
  • 320 GB, 7200 RPM Hard Drive
  • 3 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 802.11b/g/n Wireless and Bluetooth radios
  • 9 cell battery
  • Carrying case
  • Microsoft Innovative Suite (MSIS) including Microsoft Office
  • Remote tracking and remote-wipe capability
  • Warranty, “Food and Beverage Damage” and spare parts warehoused in T&T

Unlike other classroom laptop projects around the world, T&T students will be permitted to take these laptops home and use them on their own time. Under the government’s plan, in the next five years all secondary school students will be equipped with a laptop computer. I am unsure what the government may have in mind for those students who choose to pursue the additional two years of Form 6 schooling.

While the general public argues over the merit of this project, there are some factors that IT Professionals, Educators and Market Analysts must bear in mind now that the initiative has become reality.

Brand Recognition: An entire generation will grow up on HP and Microsoft products. This is marketing at its best – by offering products at a massive discount today, an entire generation – and their parents – will become likely return customers in future. For those involved in PC supply and repair, expect a larger customer base in a few short years and an increase in HP products on the market. Developers and administrators can expect no reduction in the demand for Microsoft products and platforms. Perhaps it is time to start ramping up those SharePoint and Office Web Apps deployments.

Social Networking: As it is, we Trinis are on the social media bandwagon and it may be reasonable to expect a further significant increase in T&T Facebook and Twitter accounts in the coming  years. It is no secret that teenagers and young adults represent a significant market segment and now they will have laptops en masse.  I recall creating a Facebook advertisement targeted at Trinidadians and Tobagonians aged 16-34. When I entered these criteria into Facebook’s advertisement builder, it provided me an estimated reach of over 248,000 persons. This was a few months ago before any laptop distribution. Webmasters, App Developers, Business Strategists, Advertisers, take note!

Bandwidth: Internet access for teachers and students will be provided via the government’s Wide Area Network (WAN) known as GOVNETT. It is claimed this will have no impact on residential and commercial customers but I am skeptical: The speeds offered by ISPs are increasing – just recently my 10 Mbps cable package made a leap to 25 Mbps. However, my actual browsing and download speed has not really reflected this change. It suggests to me that our links to the outside world may be in need of an upgrade, particularly with a large number of students jumping on board. From what I can find, GOVNETT uses   the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) and I would consider it poor design if there is no backup connection via a second ISP.

Training: Teacher education programmes will need to place a greater emphasis on using technology in the classroom. It simply will not do for the students to better understand the technology than their educators. The workforce is going to change. For several years now, employers have been increasingly asking for their workers to be computer literate. In order to stay relevant, older generations must return to the classroom and ensure that their ability to use the tools of the digital era are in line with their experience in their respective fields.

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Hello world!

October 1, 2010 1 comment

Welcome to the IT Log Blog! Here you will be able to read IT tips and tricks, news and developments as related to Information Technology.

Categories: Uncategorized
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