Microsoft releases load simulation tools for desktops


Microsoft has released their Remote Desktop Load Simulation Tools which have nothing to do with Remote Desktop in the RDP sense.  Instead, the tools are designed for 32-bit and 64-bit server capacity planning and performance/scalability analysis.  According to Microsoft:

In a server-based computing environment, all application execution and data processing occur on the server. Therefore it is extremely interesting to test the scalability and capacity of servers to determine how many client sessions a server can typically support under a variety of different scenarios. One of the most reliable ways to find out the number or users a server can support for a particular scenario is to log on a large number of users on the server simultaneously. The Remote Desktop Load Simulation tools provide the functionality which makes it possible to generate the required user load on the server.

Supported operating systems are:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based Systems
  • Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V

(Notice the lack of Windows 2003 support?)

A minimal test environment requires:

  1. Target Remote Desktop Server
  2. Client Workstations
  3. Test Controller Host

Find Windows system uptime from the command line


Here’s a quick and easy way of checking how long a Windows server or workstation has been up, via the command line.  It pipes the results of Net Statistics Workstation into find.  Run the following from a command prompt:

net statistics workstation | find /i “statistics since”

The results will look like

Statistics since 8/12/2009 11:08 PM

Which shows the machine has been up since 11:08pm on August 12, 2009.

Howto: Do not display the name of the user who has locked a Windows computer or server


Normally when a Windows workstation or server is locked, you’ll see something similar to the following Windows Security message:  

This computer is in use and has been locked.
 
Only DOMAIN\USER (user name) or an administrator can unlock this computer.
 
To not show the name of the user who has locked a computer, the following can be defined in a workstation level GPO
 
Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options\Interactive logon: Display user information when the session is locked.
 
There are three choices if you enable this policy:
 
  • User display name, domain and user names (default setting)
  • User display name only
  • Do not display user information
 
Besides being able to apply this to Active Directory GPOs, this setting appears in the local security policy on my Windows XP SP3 VM.  The setting is not available on my XP SP2 laptop, but I see from KB837022  there is a hotfix that corrects this problem in XP SP2.


Alternatively, the following DWORD can be created in the registry of XP SP2, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 machine to accomplish the same thing:
 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system\DontDisplayLockedUserId
 
User display name, domain and user names = 1
User display name only = 2
Do not display user information =3
 
You need to restart the machine for the change to take effect.
 
You may also be interested in the related Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options\Interactive logon: Do not display last user name setting. This security setting determines whether the name of the last user to log on to the computer is displayed in the Windows logon screen.

If this policy is enabled, the name of the last user to successfully log on is not displayed in the Log On to Windows dialog box.  If this policy is disabled, the name of the last user to log on is displayed.

Windows 2008 Schtasks error: User credentials are not allowed on the local machine


Last week I attempted to add a scheduled task to my Windows 2008 server using schtasks.exe. The syntax I used was:

schtasks /create /S server /U DOMAIN\ACCOUNT /P password /SC daily /ST 15:00 /TN BkupIIS /TR c:\scripts\bkupiis.cmd

I received the following message from schtasks.exe:

User credentials are not allowed on the local machine

The task scheduler log file shows the following error:

Task Scheduler failed to start “\BkupIIS” task for user “DOMAIN\ACCOUNT”. Additional Data: Error Value: 2147750687.

The secret to successfully scheduling the task is to use /RU and /RP instead of /U and /P.

The syntax that should be used to create the scheduled task is:

schtasks /create /S server /RU DOMAIN\ACCOUNT /RP password /SC daily /ST 15:00 /TN BkupIIS /TR c:\scripts\bkupiis.cmd

Reference: http://brianagibson.blogspot.com/2008/08/hmc-45-domaincachetask-scheduled-task.html

Using Winsat.exe in Windows Server 2008 as a performance benchmarking tool


Microsoft has the Windows System Assessment Tool (Winsat) available for download that can assess a computer’s ability to run Windows Vista.  This tool provides a wealth of information on you hardware’s horsepower, plus it’s scriptable. It’s designed to run under Windows Vista, but can be run under Windows Server 2008 as well.  Here’s how to do it.

 1. Dowload the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor utility
 
2. Use Universal Extractor’s (uniextract) MSI method to extract the files from the .msi package
 
3. Copy winsat.exe to the c:\windows\system32 directory on the Windows 2008 server
 
4. Open an elevated command prompt and change to the c:\windows\system32 directory.  There’s many different hardware components you can benchmark, but the following example benchmarks sequential reads on drive C:
 
winsat disk -seq -read -drive c
 
See the Technet command reference for Winsat for details on all tests winsat can perform, such as:


Assessment Description
winsat dwm Assesses the ability of a system to display the Aero desktop effects.
winsat d3d Assesses the ability of a system to run Direct 3D applications, such as games.
winsat mem Assesses system memory bandwidth by simulating large memory to memory buffer copies.
winsat disk Assesses the performance of disk drives.
winsat cpu Assesses the performance of the CPU(s).
winsat media Assesses the performance of video encoding and decoding (playback) using the Direct Show framework.
winsat mfmedia Assesses the performance of video decoding (playback) using the Media Foundation framework.
winsat features Enumerates relevant system information.
winsat formal Runs a set of pre-defined assessments and saves the data in an XML file in %systemroot%\performance\winsat\datastore.

Fix: 503 Service Unavailable when accessing content on Windows Media Services 2008 server behind load balancer


I have three Windows 2008 Media servers that I’ve had issues with getting to work behind our F5 BigIP load balancer.  When we took packet traces, HTTP GET requests from the Media Player client have been responded to with 503 Service Unavailable.  

You can read all about this particular issue at the Random on Window Media blog.  The solution ended up being applying the KB960372 hotfix, which was apparently released March 13, 2009.  The hotfix KB article doesn’t exist as of today, but Random’s post suggests it will show up eventually.
[update 04-08-2009]
KB960372 is now available.
 
 
The WMS 2008 x64 hotfix can be found at