Category Archives: SCCM

in-line script execution time-out…

Had this recently on a machine we were upgrading to Win 10 1909. Initially it looked as though there was an issue detecting the application being installed correctly but on closer inspection, the AppDiscovery log file revealed that the same timeout issue was happening on several applications. Googling about there were quite a few posts on how later versions on ConfigMgr now incorporated a client property to change the script timeout setting but this sadly appeared not to be the case. Other posts suggested a script that could be run at server level to fix this. Not really the short-term fix I needed to sort my issue as it would doubtless take weeks to get the change through at work.

Then I found what I needed – a client-side script which I have now lost the source to, so really sorry if this came from you. I’m happy to set the record straight and link as needed. In any case, I do have the script itself, see below. This wil set the timeout to 1200 seconds (from the 60s default). This fixed my issue. I would imagine this could be added to the start of a task sequence if required. Note it’s a VBScript…old skool.

On Error Resume Next
strQuery = "SELECT * FROM CCM_ConfigurationManagementClientConfig"
Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:\\" & "." & "\ROOT\ccm\Policy\Machine\ActualConfig")
Set colItems = objWMIService.ExecQuery(strQuery, "WQL")
For Each objItem in colItems
objItem.ScriptExecutionTimeOut=1200
objItem.put_()
Next

Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:\\" & "." & "\ROOT\ccm\Policy\Machine\ActualConfig")
Set colItems = objWMIService.ExecQuery(strQuery, "WQL")
For Each objItem in colItems
If 1200 = objItem.ScriptExecutionTimeOut Then
WScript.Echo "True"
Else
WScript.Echo "False"
End if
Next 

Timed out waiting for CcmExex service to be fully operational

The mis-spelling above is intentional BTW, this is how it appears in the SMSTSLOG.log file. Typically a task sequence will be ticking along then something will happen after which the above error is displayed, almost always when it is trying to install either a ConfigMgr package or a ConfigMgr application (ie not a command-line). This is because the client isn’t actually required to execute, for example, a Powershell command line, but it must be initiated if a package or application is called on.

Ultimately, in my experience, this always comes down to one issue – an inability to reach the Management Point. There maybe various reasons for this and one such reason is described here.

However in my case this wasn’t the problem. Following a task sequence upgrade to 1909, I found all our laptops failing with this same error. These laptops were all on the internal network (ie not connected via VPN/DA, etc). If I logged on locally, I found that while I was able to ping machines, I was unable to reach shares from other machines on the network. Something was very wrong with networking (and obviously why the build was failing).

Running an IPCONFIG /all revealed that the broken laptops were all trying to use the IP/HTTPS Tunnel Adapter Interface. This synthetic interface is typically used for Direct Access which these laptops were certainly not using at the time. On further investigation, if I removed the group policies the laptops inherited for the duration of the upgrade I was then able to complete the upgrade without issue.

THE SOLUTION

The group policies are causing the tunnel adaptor to become active albeit briefly (haven’t got to the bottom of why this happens BTW). Unfortunately the adaptor isn’t able to communicate with the MP as it should. Then I read an article about a bug found in the 1909/2004 OS’s. You must ensure this patch (Oct 2020 update) is applied to the installation media prior to upgrade. Essentially, the certificates were disappearing causing the communication problem with the Tunnel adaptors on the laptop models. Once the patch was added, all was well.

Configmgr client application stuck at 0% downloading

I’ve been meaning to do a quick blog about this issue for some time now especially as I have witnessed this incredibly frustrating problem at two separate clients during roll-outs, particularly OS deployments that also require updated applications, etc. A Google search will reveal many different ‘fixes’ for this issue, most common of which tends to involve re-installing the ConfigMgr client. Indeed this is an approach I took first time round and usually seemed to work but it isn’t really a fix as such.

In the latest instalment, this approach just didn’t work at all so I needed to find what else was causing the issue. If I left the offending application to time out – this might take several hours btw – I could usually restart it and it would go ahead and download. However this was still unacceptable.

SOLUTION

Turns out the answer, with hindsight, was the same in both instances – too many policies. Essentially in both circumstances, the machines experiencing the issue had a lot of applications and/or task sequences deployed to them. Task sequences in particular usually have many steps and this seems to flood the client causing it to display this ‘stuck at 0%’ behaviour. Try removing the machine from all unnecessary collections, leave for an hour or so for the machine to expunge any of the old deployments and try again.

This still feels like a Microsoft issue to me but until it’s addressed this is the workaround.

OneDrive needs your attention. Onedrive can’t sync now please try again later.

I recently had this while uploading thousands of photographs to my ODfB account. Essentially, you’ll set it syncing (perhaps overnight) and then come to it in the morning and you’re presented with the error message, “OneDrive can’t sync now, please try again later”.

I tried resetting the app (onedrive.exe /reset), re-starting, reinstalling, nothing worked. Turns out, there is a limit to how much data you can upload per day.

The Solution

The setting you want lives in the ClientPolicy.ini :

For ‘standard’ (personal) OneDrive, go to: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\OneDrive\settings\Personal\ClientPolicy.ini.

For OneDrive For Business (ODfB) OneDrive, go to: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\OneDrive\settings\Business1\ClientPolicy.ini.

Please note, depending on your OneDrive setup and number of accounts, the Personal/Business folder name may change.

Open the ini file in notepad and change MaxClientMBTransferredPerDay from its current value to something higher. I found that I needed to change this value to 50000000 in my case. It appears that simply setting it to ‘0’ doesn’t work for infinite, either.

One other observation: occasionally, I noticed OneDrive would appear to change this value back to what it was and fail again. Just repeat the procedure above and it will carry on.

Hope this helps.

Unable to license Office 365 ProPlus

I don’t know quite how widespread this issue is but it’s something I have had some trouble with on and off since I updated my OS to Server 2019 last year. That said, I’m not saying this is an issue limited to this OS; indeed I have seen it on other OS’s too.

The issue is this : Word will ask you to sign in and after entering your email address, it will freeze for 5 minutes before returning you to the (unlicensed) state you were previously in. Similar with Outlook – you enter your email address and the white password box appears but appear blank and freezes for 5 mins before returning you to the previous (unlicensed) state.

There are a number of things that you might try (including full uninstall/reinstall in desperate cases) but I’ll show you a couple of things you should try before doing this (or calling Microsoft, as they will ask you to do this too, more likely than not).

First – Remove previous license information

  1. Open C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16
  2. From a cmd prompt, type cscript .\OSPP.VBS /dstatus
  3. This will give you a list of previous license keys used. Remove all these using cscript ospp.vbs /unpkey:<5 digit code>

Second – (if the above doesn’t work) Disable Modern Authentication.

Open up regedit and navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Common\Identity

Add a new DWORD value called EnableADAL with a value of 0.

Open up Outlook and it should now present you with a password window you can actually use. Word/Excel etc should open up as expected.

For a little more info on Modern Authentication in Office 365 see here.

Phased deployments not deploying

AKA…

Exception: System.ArgumentNullException: Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: objectID
at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.PhasedDeployment.Application.Deploy(IDatabaseOperation databaseOperation, List`1 phases, String phasedDeploymentID, String objectID)
at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.PhasedDeployment.PODRuleEngine.EvaluatePhasedDeployments(SqlConnection connection)

I was testing a phased deployment the other day and couldn’t get it to work for the life of me. Although the phased deployment appeared under the Phased Deployments tab for the Office 365 application I was targeting, a corresponding deployment didn’t appear for the phase 1 collection under the Deployments tab.

I took a look at the SMS_PhasedDeployments.log on the site server and all I could see was the error message above. I would also see it repeat about every 2 minutes as below.

It kept mentioning there were two phased deployments it was trying to evaluate, but there were no other phased deployments set. There is a well-known bug when a task sequence can get locked and the admin will typically go into the db and remove the offending ID locking the task sequence from the database. Well it turns out this is a similar issue with an equally similar solution.

SOLUTION:

  1. Go into the ConfigMgr (sorry, Endpoint Manager!) DB and find dbo.PhasedDeployment, right-click the table and click Select Top 1000 rows.
  2. Identify the offending Phased Deployment from the list and copy the PhasedDeploymentID.
  3. Click New Query from the toolbar and type:

DELETE FROM dbo.PhasedDeployment WHERE PhasedDeploymentID='<PhasedDeploymentID>'

I would be inclined to delete and recreate your original phased deployment (from the console!) to be sure of a clean deployment but technically you be good from here on.

Simple Configurable Front End SCCM

The business of adding a front end for a PXE-driven SCCM OS build is generally a pretty important consideration if you want to specify some basic information prior to deployment. It’s also something that I’ve felt has never been properly addressed by the SCCM development team. To be fair you could argue it’s not their job to do this but with more functionality being adding to every single aspect of SCCM in every new release, it does feel like something that probably should be looked at in the future.

For now, there are plenty of examples of great front ends on the internet – look up ‘Pretty Good FrontEnd’ by Johan Arwidmark or ‘Pretty Good Front End Clone’ by Maik Koster. These two have been around donkey’s years. One of my favourites is Nicolaj Andersen’s very neat ConfigMgr Front End which offers a whole world of features. Additional infrastructure is necessary to accommodate this however, in the form of web services.

So why create another? Well I’m certainly not pretending to  set the world alight with some kind of ingenious new approach but I always felt there was just a little too much fiddling about with most of the solutions I saw elsewhere. What I wanted was something I could ideally just drop straight into my WinPE image which would just work.  There are certainly features I could add (and may indeed do so if enough people ask) such as ability to remove certain sections, eg, domain, OS, etc. However in an effort to keep things simple I have left this for now.

The Front End

This is a typical illustration of what it looks like in my lab. Most aspects are configurable via a small ini file (yes I know it’s a bit 90’s but let’s face it, it’s a damn sight easier to use than an xml file for this kind of thing). The ini file below is configurable for the OUs in your environment, the domain (or domains) and even colour and font size. One area I went a little off the beaten track is the ability to select different images you want to use in your task sequence. This is great in my lab as I often want to test stuff out on different OS’s and will routinely add a new image when necessary to my tried and trusted task sequence.  As such I’ll detail this a little more.

If you want to use the same task sequence but have different images available in that sequence, you can enter them in the ini file. Just be sure to enter the appropriate option/filter in appropriate task sequence step. For example, in the image above we have  a number of different OS’s which relate to separate images. Under the INSTALL section of your task sequence you might have one or more separate steps to Install Windows 10, Install Server 2016, etc. On each of these steps, click Options and add a Task Sequence Variable condition, eg:

TS VARIABLE: OSDImage Equals <Windows 10 1803>

It is important that the text in the OS box above equals the OSDImage value of your condition. 

Of course, you can just add a description in the Config.ini file instead and have one image step in your task sequence with no condition set and all will be well. I suspect this is what most people will want. The option to do it this way is just there if you want it.

CONFIG.INI

Typical Config.ini settings below. This file must always exist in the exact same folder as the NewFrontEnd.exe executable.

:: [ORG_UNIT] - Enter all OUs you want displayed in format OU=Dept, OU=Org, DC=domain, DC=suffix one after the other.
:: [DOMAIN] - In most cases, this is more for show but can be used to build a workgroup machine too if WORKGROUP is specified underneath the primary domain.
:: [OS] - If your task sequence can build more than one image, add it here, eg Windows 10 1607 LTSB. Then add a task sequence variable condition called OSDIMAGE and equal it to the image name in your TS.

:: [MISC]
:: LOGO, recommended max size is approx W:120, H:120 for a font size of 8-10
:: BACKGROUND, Enter standard OS colour names, eg Red, DarkRed, Marroon, MidnightBlue, etc
:: FONTSIZE, recommend, 8-10 but it will go bigger. Seems to jump in 2s, eg, 8,10,12, etc. This has a bearing on the size of the form.
:: FONTCOLOR (American spelling, sorry) see BACKGROUND, above.
:: SMSTSPREFERREDADVERTID, If specified, enter the Deployment ID of the task sequence you want to run. This will override any other advertised task sequence either 'available' or 'required' and the wizard won't show.

:: HIRESDISPLAY, If HIRESDISPLAY=True the size of the form is increased so it doesn't get 'scrunched up' on the display. This has been tested against a Surface Pro 4.

:: NOTE - [ORG_UNIT], [DOMAIN] and [OS] should all have at least one value (ideally) so the interface has something to show. Settings under [MISC] can be removed or ignored by adding a semicolon before the setting.

[ORG_UNIT]
OU=Workstations,OU=Bondynet,DC=BONDYNET,DC=org
OU=Servers,OU=Bondynet,DC=BONDYNET,DC=org
OU=Secure Workstations,OU=Bondynet,DC=BONDYNET,DC=org

[DOMAIN]
BONDYNET.org
WORKGROUP

[OS]
Windows 10 1803
Windows 10 1607
Windows Server 2016
Windows 2012 R2
Windows 10 1607 LTSB
Windows 7
Windows 8.1
Windows Server 2008

[MISC]
LOGO=logo-3.png
BACKGROUND=LightSteelBlue
FONTSIZE=8
FONTCOLOR=Black
SMSTSPREFERREDADVERTID=PR120019

WinPE Setup

So how do you get this working in WinPE?

  1. Create a share somewhere and drop NewFrontEnd.exe, Config.ini and your company logo png into it (and/or possibly RunFEUI.vbs – see end of post)
  2. In SCCM go to your chosen boot image, right-click | properties | Optional Components. Select Microsoft .NET (WinPE-NetFx). This is a C# application so it needs this option available in your boot image binaries.
  3. Select the Customisation tab. Under Prestart Command Settings enter “X:\sms\PKG\SMS10000\NewFrontEnd.exe”
  4. Select Include files for the prestart command
  5. Select the share you created above with the files in for the source directory.

If you want to, add a background, click OK  and you’re done. After the update distribution points wizard has completed, double check the Last Update information in the bottom section of the SCCM console to ensure the time matches the time you ran the wizard and everything has updated as it should. This is important as it hasn’t usually finished updating just because the wizard progress bar has completed.

.

For The Adventurous.

One of the neat things about using the above method is that there is no ugly command prompt in the background as it brings up the front end interface. However the downside of this is that all the files are inside your WinPE image so if you want to update them you have to go through the above process once again which is both time consuming and laborious. One solution though is to simply point to a script that will map a drive to a share that exists elsewhere on your network and execute the files from there instead. This facilitates updating the files on the fly.

In the zip file included below, there is a file called RunFEUI.vbs. Simply open it and edit it to fit your environment (ie edit line 4 with the appropriate drive mapping and account).

DOWNLOAD HERE:

NewFrontEnd_v1.2

Please ask any questions or suggestions for improvements in the comments below.

[*** UPDATE ***]

I have added a new variable, HIRESDISPLAY=True. If you have a Surface or another slate type device, it is common to see forms get squashed up. Set this if you need a larger form to display.

Office 365 Client Updates Not Showing Up in SCCM Summary as ‘Required’

Had a tag-team of problems with Office 365 Client updates and this one reared its ugly head just a I managed to successfully get the O365 updates syncing successfully.

The Problem

Under Software Library|Office 365 Client Management|Office 365 Updates none of the client updates were checking in as ‘required’. Given that the O365 client on 5000-odd machines was at version 16.0.8201.2207 (v1705) this seemed odd to say the least. Everything was set correctly in SCCM for O365 Client Deployment so the summary screen should theoretically be showing that the whole estate needed at least every version beyond this.

The Solution

After some considerable digging I discovered that for updates to work in SCCM, the CDNBaseUrl and the UpdateChannel settings in the registry MUST BE IDENTICAL. In my case, whoever had packaged the application had a bogus entry in the UpdateChannel setting that made no sense. I copied the CDNBaseURL setting (something along the lines of http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/492350f6-3a01-4f97-b9c0-c7c6ddf67d60) into the UpdateChannel setting, restarted the Microsoft Office Click-To-Run service and ran an update scan and update deployment policy refresh from the SCCM control panel applet. Immediately O365 client updates showed up as required. This can be checked under the following ConfigMgr report:

Compliance 8 – Computers in a specific compliance state for an update (secondary)

I then set up a GPO to push this URL out to the estate and watched the count increase.

Failed to download file- “http://officecdn.microsoft.com/xxx/xxx.cab” from internet. Using proxyserver – 0. Error = 12029

This one caught me out recently. Scenario:

All http://officecdn.microsoft.com is whitelisted and available, definitely no issue there.

  • All other updates seem to come down fine.
  • There are no ADR rules at all in place.
  • Running a full sync produces the error below:

My client downloads updates through a proxy server and naturally the correct details for the proxy were in place on the Site System Settings under Site System Roles. Also the checkbox for Use a proxy server when synchronizing software updates was checked under the Proxy And Account Settings tab under the Software Update Point Properties role.

SOLUTION:

Despite the fact that ADRs were NOT created or used in any way, it transpired that the checkbox Use a proxy server when downloading content by using automatic deployment rules also had to be checked. Once this was selected, O365 updates started syncing.

 

PXE only works for X number of clients; DHCP works fine

Difficult to pick a snappy title for this so suggestions welcome!

Anyway, I had an issue recently where we needed to load test 100+ machines, all booted from PXE. All machines were fresh out the box and all ethernet adaptors were fully registered in SCCM in the ignore list. In short, there was no reason for any machine not to PXE boot as expected. All went well until the 29th machine and then every machine thereafter refused to PXE boot. However, they did still receive an IP address. Additionally, the message Server response timeout E-18 flashed up very quickly before booting from the SSD.

Digging a little further, the machines that were able to PXE boot fine had to receive an IP address between .2 and .31 to work. Any IP after just refused to work.  Having accepted that all was well from a firewall perspective, I was forced to concede that the problem was somehow local.

Solution:

To cut a long and boring story short, the problem turned out to be a mis-configured subnet mask on the PXE server, in this case 255.255.255.224 instead of the 255.255.255.0 that it was supposed to be. The PXE server itself was allocated an IP within the range of PXE bootable clients and anything outside the range didn’t work. So easy when you know but one expects the basics to be correct so it took a while to track down. Hopefully this will provide some more ideas for anyone else who finds themselves with a similar issues.