Resizing the PowerShell Console

Windows 10's support for high DPI displays is much better than previous iterations of Windows, but there are still some times it gets a bit confused. One such problem occurs when you have multiple high DPI displays or two displays of different sizes. If you move PowerShell console windows between displays or log back in after being logged out for a while, you can end up with a scrunched up PowerShell window. Nothing I had to deal with when all I had was a pair of standard FullHD monitors, but ever since I got my Surface Book, and connected it to a 28 inch 4k monitor, I've had periodic problems. Very annoying when your PowerShell window changes to 37 characters wide and 7 lines long!


The fix is to reset the window size. Now I can do this graphically (right click on the title bar, select Properties, and then the Layout tab), but that's a nuisance at best, and besides, the whole idea of using the GUI to fix a console just isn't right. The answer is to leverage the built-in $host variable:

$host | Get-Member

   TypeName: System.Management.Automation.Internal.Host.InternalHost

Name                   MemberType Definition
----                   ---------- ----------
EnterNestedPrompt      Method     void EnterNestedPrompt()
Equals                 Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)
ExitNestedPrompt       Method     void ExitNestedPrompt()
GetHashCode            Method     int GetHashCode()
GetType                Method     type GetType()
NotifyBeginApplication Method     void NotifyBeginApplication()
NotifyEndApplication   Method     void NotifyEndApplication()
PopRunspace            Method     void PopRunspace(), void IHostSupportsInteractiveSession.PopRunspace()
PushRunspace           Method     void PushRunspace(runspace runspace), void IHostSupportsInteractiveSession.PushRunspace(runspace runspace)
SetShouldExit          Method     void SetShouldExit(int exitCode)
ToString               Method     string ToString()
CurrentCulture         Property   cultureinfo CurrentCulture {get;}
CurrentUICulture       Property   cultureinfo CurrentUICulture {get;}
DebuggerEnabled        Property   bool DebuggerEnabled {get;set;}
InstanceId             Property   guid InstanceId {get;}
IsRunspacePushed       Property   bool IsRunspacePushed {get;}
Name                   Property   string Name {get;}
PrivateData            Property   psobject PrivateData {get;}
Runspace               Property   runspace Runspace {get;}
UI                     Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.PSHostUserInterface UI {get;}
Version                Property   version Version {get;}

OK, there's some interesting bits there, but the one that looks most promising is UI. So:

 $host.UI | get-member

   TypeName: System.Management.Automation.Internal.Host.InternalHostUserInterface

Name                    MemberType Definition
----                    ---------- ----------
Equals                  Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)
GetHashCode             Method     int GetHashCode()
GetType                 Method     type GetType()
Prompt                  Method     System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary[string,psobject] Prompt(string caption, string message, System.Collection...
PromptForChoice         Method     int PromptForChoice(string caption, string message, System.Collections.ObjectModel.Collection[System.Management...
PromptForCredential     Method     pscredential PromptForCredential(string caption, string message, string userName, string targetName), pscredent...
ReadLine                Method     string ReadLine()
ReadLineAsSecureString  Method     securestring ReadLineAsSecureString()
ToString                Method     string ToString()
Write                   Method     void Write(string value), void Write(System.ConsoleColor foregroundColor, System.ConsoleColor backgroundColor, ...
WriteDebugLine          Method     void WriteDebugLine(string message)
WriteErrorLine          Method     void WriteErrorLine(string value)
WriteInformation        Method     void WriteInformation(System.Management.Automation.InformationRecord record)
WriteLine               Method     void WriteLine(), void WriteLine(string value), void WriteLine(System.ConsoleColor foregroundColor, System.Cons...
WriteProgress           Method     void WriteProgress(long sourceId, System.Management.Automation.ProgressRecord record)
WriteVerboseLine        Method     void WriteVerboseLine(string message)
WriteWarningLine        Method     void WriteWarningLine(string message)
RawUI                   Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.PSHostRawUserInterface RawUI {get;}
SupportsVirtualTerminal Property   bool SupportsVirtualTerminal {get;}

Hmmm. Even more interesting stuff. I can tell I'm going to be doing some poking around in here! But, for our purposes, let's take a look at RawUI.

That looks the most promising:

$host.UI.RawUI | get-member

   TypeName: System.Management.Automation.Internal.Host.InternalHostRawUserInterface

Name                  MemberType Definition
----                  ---------- ----------
Equals                Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)
FlushInputBuffer      Method     void FlushInputBuffer()
GetBufferContents     Method     System.Management.Automation.Host.BufferCell[,] GetBufferContents(System.Management.Automation.Host.Rectangle r)
GetHashCode           Method     int GetHashCode()
GetType               Method     type GetType()
LengthInBufferCells   Method     int LengthInBufferCells(string str), int LengthInBufferCells(string str, int offset), int LengthInBufferCells(cha...
NewBufferCellArray    Method     System.Management.Automation.Host.BufferCell[,] NewBufferCellArray(string[] contents, System.ConsoleColor foregro...
ReadKey               Method     System.Management.Automation.Host.KeyInfo ReadKey(System.Management.Automation.Host.ReadKeyOptions options), Syst...
ScrollBufferContents  Method     void ScrollBufferContents(System.Management.Automation.Host.Rectangle source, System.Management.Automation.Host.C...
SetBufferContents     Method     void SetBufferContents(System.Management.Automation.Host.Coordinates origin, System.Management.Automation.Host.Bu...
ToString              Method     string ToString()
BackgroundColor       Property   System.ConsoleColor BackgroundColor {get;set;}
BufferSize            Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.Size BufferSize {get;set;}
CursorPosition        Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.Coordinates CursorPosition {get;set;}
CursorSize            Property   int CursorSize {get;set;}
ForegroundColor       Property   System.ConsoleColor ForegroundColor {get;set;}
KeyAvailable          Property   bool KeyAvailable {get;}
MaxPhysicalWindowSize Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.Size MaxPhysicalWindowSize {get;}
MaxWindowSize         Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.Size MaxWindowSize {get;}
WindowPosition        Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.Coordinates WindowPosition {get;set;}
WindowSize            Property   System.Management.Automation.Host.Size WindowSize {get;set;}
WindowTitle           Property   string WindowTitle {get;set;}

BINGO! I see BufferSize and WindowSize, and I know from the GUI Properties page that those are the relevant settings, but just to verify:

$host.UI.RawUI.BufferSize | get-member

   TypeName: System.Management.Automation.Host.Size

Name        MemberType Definition
----        ---------- ----------
Equals      Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)
GetHashCode Method     int GetHashCode()
GetType     Method     type GetType()
ToString    Method     string ToString()
Height      Property   int Height {get;set;}
Width       Property   int Width {get;set;}

$host.UI.RawUI.WindowSize | get-member

   TypeName: System.Management.Automation.Host.Size

Name        MemberType Definition
----        ---------- ----------
Equals      Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)
GetHashCode Method     int GetHashCode()
GetType     Method     type GetType()
ToString    Method     string ToString()
Height      Property   int Height {get;set;}
Width       Property   int Width {get;set;}

And there we have it.  Both of them can be retrieved and set.  So, I came up with a little script, Set-myConSize, that lets me restore the window to its default size, or set it to a new size if I'm doing something that needs a bit of window size tweaking.

Resets the size of the current console window
Set-myConSize resets the size of the current console window. By default, it
sets the windows to a height of 40 lines, with a 3000 line buffer, and sets the 
the width and width buffer to 120 characters. 
Restores the console window to 120x40
Set-myConSize -Height 30 -Width 180
Changes the current console to a height of 30 lines and a width of 180 characters. 
.Parameter Height
The number of lines to which to set the current console. The default is 40 lines. 
.Parameter Width
The number of characters to which to set the current console. Default is 120. Also sets the buffer to the same value
    Author: Charlie Russel
 Copyright: 2017 by Charlie Russel
          : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
   Initial: 28 April, 2017 (cpr)
     $Height = 40,
     $Width = 120
$Console = $host.ui.rawui
$Buffer  = $Console.BufferSize
$ConSize = $Console.WindowSize

# If the Buffer is wider than the new console setting, first reduce the buffer, then do the resize
If ($Buffer.Width -gt $Width ) {
   $ConSize.Width = $Width
   $Console.WindowSize = $ConSize
$Buffer.Width = $Width
$ConSize.Width = $Width
$Buffer.Height = 3000
$Console.BufferSize = $Buffer
$ConSize = $Console.WindowSize
$ConSize.Width = $Width
$ConSize.Height = $Height
$Console.WindowSize = $ConSize

One quick comment on this script -- you can't set the BufferSize to smaller than the current WindowSize. With a Height buffer set to 3,000, that's not likely to be a problem, but if you don't want scroll bars on the bottom of your console windows (and you do NOT, trust me!), then you need the console WindowSize.Width to be the same as the BufferSize.Width. So if your reducing, you need to change the WindowSize first, then you can reduce the BufferSize. If you're increasing width, you need to do the buffer first.


Finally, I set an alias in my $Profile:

Set-Alias Resize -Value Set-myConSize


Getting the Free Disk Space of Remote Computers Revisited

Several years ago, I wrote a fairly simplistic script to get the free disk space of remote computers. It wasn't all that sophisticated, but it got the job that I needed done, so I shared it here on my blog, since I thought others might find it useful. Which, based on the number of hits here, and the comments, they did. However, based on some of those comments, it had a problem for some users.


The problem was that I used Write-Host in it. That was fine for me, because I only used it to write to my screen. But it's a bad practice to be using Write-Host unless you really need to manipulate screen colours. The reason it's a bad practice is that it prevents any sort of redirection! This meant that those users who wanted to capture the result of the script in a file were horked, because Write-Host will ALWAYS write to ( ... wait for it...  )


The Host. You can't redirect it. The fix, of course, is easy -- use Write-Object instead, which is what I should have done in the first place.


While I was in the process of making that change, I thought it would be nice to add in a basic Get-Help page for it, which was trivial. But then it occurred to me that I really should let it handle pipeline input, allowing me to use other PowerShell commands to select the group of machines I wanted the free disk space on, and then pipe that result directly to Get-myFreeSpace.


Seemed like a good idea, but it turned out I had to almost completely rewrite the script to use the Begin{}/Process{}/End{} syntax. Accepting pipeline input is not as simple as just saying you do in the Parameter statement, you need to actually process that input. The result is the new, improved version of Get-myFreeSpace.ps1 shown below. (If you care about how I got to this script in the first place, do check out the original post, here. There's some useful information there about the whole process. )


Gets the disk utilization of one or more computers

Get-myFreeSpace queries an array of remote computers and returns a nicely formatted display of 
their current disk utilization and free space. The output can be redirected to a file or other 
output option using standard redirection. 

Gets the disk utilization and free space of all drives on the local host. 

Get-myFreeSpace -ComputerName Server1,Server2
Gets the disk utilization and free space of all drives on the Server1 and Server2

(Get-VM -Name "*server*" | Where State -eq 'Running' ).Name | Get-myFreeSpace
PS C:\>(Get-VM -Name "*server*" | Where-Object {$_.State -eq 'Running').Name | Get-myFreeSpace

Gets a list of running VMs with Server in their name, and passes it to Get-myFreeSpace to process for 
their current disk utilization. The first version of this example uses PowerShell v5 syntax, while 
the second version uses the older syntax that works on earlier versions. 
.Parameter ComputerName
An array of computer names from which you want the disk utilization


    Author: Charlie Russel
 Copyright: 2017 by Charlie Russel
          : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
   Initial: 26 Nov, 2014 (cpr)
   ModHist: 29 Sep, 2016 -- Changed default to array of localhost (cpr)
          : 18 Apr, 2017 -- Changed to use Write-Output,accept Pipeline,added man page,  (cpr)
     $ComputerName = @("localhost")

Begin {
   if ($Input) {
      $ComputerName = @($Input)
   Write-Output ""
   # Save ErrorActionPreference so we can reset it when we're done
   $eap = $ErrorActionPreference

Process {
   $ErrorActionPreference = 'SilentlyContinue'
   ForEach ( $Computer in $ComputerName ) {
      Write-Output "Disk Utilization for Computer $Computer is: " 
      Get-WmiObject  -ComputerName $Computer -Class Win32_Volume `
         | Format-Table  -auto `
               Expression={"{0:N0}" -f ($_.FreeSpace/1GB)};`
            @{Label="% Free";`
               Expression={"{0:P0}" -f ($_.FreeSpace / $_.Capacity)};`
               Expression={"{0:N0}" -f ($_.Capacity / 1GB)};`
            @{Label="Volume Label";`
      } #EndForEach
} #EndProcessBlock

End {
   # Reset ErrorActionPreference to original value
   $ErrorActionPreference = $eap

And there you have it. A new and improved version of one of the most popular scripts I've ever posted here. You can use it to get the disk utilization on your current machine, or any list of remote computers to which you have the rights to run WMI against.


I hope you find this script useful, and I'd love to hear comments, suggestions for improvements, or bug reports as appropriate. As always, if you use this script as the basis for your own work, please respect my copyright and provide appropriate attribution.

How to tell if you’re running on Windows Server Core

I have a bunch of scripts I use when I'm building a lab to install "stuff" (that's the Technical Term we IT Professionals use) that I need to manage and work with a virtual machine. Now, when I build from a SysPrep'd image, that's not an issue, but if I have to build from an ISO, I want to automate the process as much as possible. So I have a couple of Setup scripts I run that install gVim, HyperSnap (my screen capture tool), and various other things.

As I was building a new lab this week, I realized that those scripts were all designed to deal with full GUI installations, and had no provisions for not installing applications that make no sense and can't work when there's only a Server Core installation. So, time to find out how I can tell if I'm running as Server Core, obviously. A bit of poking around, and I came up with the following:

$regKey = "hklm:/software/microsoft/windows nt/currentversion"
$Core = (Get-ItemProperty $regKey).InstallationType -eq "Server Core"

(You could do that as a single line, obviously, but I broke it up to make it easier to see on the page. )

The result is stored as a Boolean value in $Core, and I can now branch my installation decisions based on the value of $Core. (Note there ARE other ways to determine whether you're running on Server Core, but they appear to all be programmatic ones not well suited to the avowedly non-programmer IT system administrator types like me. )

PowerShell: Rename an Active Directory User

This came up at work the other day. Another admin had attempted to rename an AD User account and it had only partially gotten renamed -- the SAM Account, Name and Display name were all correct, but the old user name was still showing up in a couple of places, including the login screen. The user was not happy, so I was asked to fix it, and provide a script that would handle it correctly. I poked around a bit and found the issue - even if you set all of the obvious properties correctly (and the other admin had missed UPN), it still won't show correctly on that logon screen -- you need to actually rename the AD object itself. So, after I fixed the problem user's account, I wrote up a script to solve the problem for the next time. I chose to use a CSV file as the input, but you could easily re-work this to work off either a CSV file or a set of command-line parameters. But honestly, I don't ever want to have to enter that many command-line parameters for a simple script. Especially if I have more than one to change.


The script uses Get-ADUser with the old name, then pipes it to Set-ADUser, and finally pipes it to Rename-ADObject to finish the process.  I even gave it basic help. :)

Renames the Active Directory users
Rename-myADUser reads a CSV file to identify an array of users. The users are then renamed to the new name in Active Directory.
Renames the AD Accounts of the users in the default "ADUsers.csv" source file
Rename-myADUser -Path "C:\temp\ChangedUsers.txt"
Renames the AD accounts of the users listed in the file C:\temp\ChangedUsers.txt"
.Parameter Path
The path to the input CSV file of format:

The default value is ".\ADUsers.csv".  
    Author: Charlie Russel
 Copyright: 2017 by Charlie Russel
          : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
   Initial: 03/09/2017 (cpr)
     $Path = ".\ADUsers.csv" 

$ADUsers = @()
If (Test-Path $Path ) {
   $ADUsers = Import-CSV $Path
} else { 
   Throw  "This script requires a CSV file with user names and properties."
$PDC = (Get-ADDomain).PDCEmulator
Write-Verbose "The PDC Emulator has been identified as $PDC"
Write-Verbose " "

ForEach ($User in $ADUsers ) {
   Write-Verbose "Modifying $user.OldSam to $user.NewName" 
   Sleep 3
   Get-ADUser -Identity $User.OldSam -Properties * | `
   Set-ADUser -Server $PDC `
              -DisplayName $user.DisplayName `
              -EmailAddress $User.EmailAddress `
              -SamAccountName $User.SamAccountName `
              -GivenName $User.GivenName `
              -Surname $User.Surname `
              -UserPrincipalName $user.UserPrincipalName `
              -PassThru | `
   Rename-ADObject -NewName $user.NewName -Server $PDC -PassThru

Building a Lab in Hyper-V with PowerShell, Part 4

Creating a new forest

In the previous sections of this series, I've covered how to build VMs using PowerShell, but labs aren't much good if they don't actually have any structure. So, let's create a new forest and domain to manage our labs. I'm going to assume for this post that you've gotten started already and created a new Windows Server 2012R2 or Windows Server 2016 virtual machine. For this, it can be a graphical install or a Server Core installation and either Server Standard or Datacenter. Since we're going to be using only PowerShell to create the forest, there's no need for a GUI.

The things we'll need to have identified before we start are:

  • Server IP address
  • Server name
  • DNS namespace for the root domain of the forest
  • Domain name for the root domain of the forest
  • DNS Server type (AD-integrated or standalone)

Set Server IP Address

We need set our server to a fixed IP address. While not absolutely required, I think it's a really bad idea to not do this. And, since our lab doesn't yet have DHCP in it, you need to anyway. (We'll add a DHCP server in the next installment. )

To configure the network adapter for a static IP address, I need to know either the interface alias (name) or the interface index. To get those, use Get-NetAdapter from a PowerShell window. (Note: if you're doing this on a new Windows Server Core installation, you can open a PowerShell window with Start PowerShell.exe at the command prompt. To start a PowerShell window automatically for this user, at logon, see my May post. )

Get-NetAdapter | Format-Table -AutoSize Name,Status,IFIndex,MacAddress

Name       Status ifIndex MacAddress
----       ------ ------- ----------
Ethernet 2 Up           3 00-15-5D-32-0A-02
Ethernet   Up           5 00-15-5D-32-CE-02

Which tells us that the DC has two network adapters, and the one that is on the Local-10 switch (from New-myVM.ps1) is at an ifIndex of 3, while the one on the "199 Network" switch has an ifIndex of 5. Now, we'll set the static IP addresses for these two adapters. First, the NIC on Local-10:

# Set IPv4
$NIC2 = Get-NetAdapter -ifIndex 3
$NIC2 | Set-NetIPInterface -DHCP Disabled
$NIC2 | New-NetIPAddress -AddressFamily  IPv4 `
                         -IPAddress `
                         -PrefixLength   24 `
                         -Type Unicast `
# Set IPv6
$NIC2 | New-NetIPAddress -AddressFamily  IPv6 `
                         -IPAddress      2001:db8:0:10::2 `
                         -PrefixLength   64 `
                         -Type Unicast `
                         -DefaultGateway 2001:db8:0:10::1

# Set DNS Server Addresses to self
Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceIndex  $NIC2.ifIndex `

#Now, for the 199 Network, which I use for internal communications between lab hosts, I want to set a pure IPv4 address with no IPv6, so instead of setting an IPv6 address for the NIC, I'll disable it with Disable-NetAdapterBinding.

$NIC = Get-NetAdapter -ifIndex 5

# Disable IPv6
Disable-NetAdapterBinding -Name $NIC.Name -ComponentID ms_tcpip6

# Set IPv4 to
$NIC | Set-NetIPInterface -Dhcp Disabled
$NIC | New-NetIPAddress -AddressFamily IPv4 `
                        -IPAddress `
                        -PrefixLength  24 `
                        -Type Unicast
# Set DNS to self
Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceIndex  $NIC.ifIndex `

(Note: Set-NetAdapterBinding is not available on Windows 7/Server 2008 R2)


Set Server Name

Next, let's set the name of the server to match our naming conventions for this lab. We do this now, knowing it will force a reboot before we go any further.

Rename-Computer -NewName trey-dc-02 -Restart -Force

This will give the computer a new name and restart it.


Create Forest and Install AD-integrated DNS

Now that we have static IP addresses for our network adapters, and we've set the name of the server, we can go ahead and create our AD forest. First, we install Active Directory and update the PowerShell Help files with:

Install-WindowsFeature -Name AD-Domain-Services -IncludeManagementTools
Update-Help -SourcePath \\labhost\PSHelp

This installs the ActiveDirectory and ADDSDeployment modules that we'll need to create the forest. Now, we promote the server to be the first domain controller in the new forest. Before we do the actual install, we test to make sure we don't have any issues with Test-ADDSForestInstallation:

Test-ADDSForestInstallation `
       -DomainName 'TreyResearch.net' `
       -DomainNetBiosName 'TREYRESEARCH' `
       -DomainMode 6 `
       -ForestMode 6 `
       -NoDnsOnNetwork `
       -SafeModeAdministratorPassword (ConvertTo-SecureString `
                                                  -String 'P@ssw0rd' `
                                                  -AsPlainText `
                                                  -Force) `

Even though this is a brand new forest in an isolated lab setting, it's still a good practice to test before you actually deploy. And it doesn't cost all that much time or annoyance. I've included the SafeModeAdministratorPassword parameter to avoid the prompts for it. This is a lab, not real life. :) Also note that we're setting the forest and domain modes to Server2012R2. If you need earlier versions of domain controllers in your lab, you can set the mode accordingly.

The results of the test are as expected:

WARNING: Windows Server 2016 domain controllers have a default for the security setting named "Allow cryptography
algorithms compatible with Windows NT 4.0" that prevents weaker cryptography algorithms when establishing security
channel sessions.

For more information about this setting, see Knowledge Base article 942564

WARNING: A delegation for this DNS server cannot be created because the authoritative parent zone cannot be found or it
 does not run Windows DNS server. If you are integrating with an existing DNS infrastructure, you should manually
create a delegation to this DNS server in the parent zone to ensure reliable name resolution from outside the domain
"TreyResearch.net". Otherwise, no action is required.

Message                          Context                                  RebootRequired  Status
-------                          -------                                  --------------  ------
Operation completed successfully Test.VerifyDcPromoCore.DCPromo.General.3          False Success

With that confirmation, we can go ahead and finish creating the forest and configuring DNS with the command:

Install-ADDSForest `
     -DomainName 'TreyResearch.net' `
     -DomainNetBiosName 'TREYRESEARCH' `
     -DomainMode 6 `
     -ForestMode 6 `
     -NoDnsOnNetwork `
     -SkipPreChecks `
     -SafeModeAdministratorPassword (ConvertTo-SecureString `
                                                  -String 'P@ssw0rd' `
                                                  -AsPlainText `
                                                  -Force) `

You'll notice that the options here match our test pass, except I chose to bypass a second test. If you want to keep your SafeMode Administrator password private you can eliminate that parameter and you'll be prompted at the command line. When this finishes and the server has rebooted, you can log in with the TREYRESEARCH\Administrator account and the local Administrator password you had before you promoted the VM to be a domain controller.  This may or may not be the same as the SafeModeAdministratorPassword you set during the installation.

Nested Hyper-V Networking

As I was trying to configure a new lab setup that takes advantage of nested Hyper-V so that I can build a lab to do Hyper-V host clustering, I ran into a problem with networking. Everything looked good on the "host1" virtual machine, but the domain controller I created for TreyResearch.net that runs as a nested VM on host1 couldn't connect to anything outside of host1. Which would end up being a pain fairly quickly. But after a good bit of poking around, I found the solution - either enable MAC Address Spoofing on host1, or configure a NAT switch on host1. For most of us, the MAC Address Spoofing is the simplest solution and works just fine. But if you're in a public cloud scenario, you'll likely have to go the NAT route.

To enable Nested Hyper-V, shutdown host1 and then run the following command on the top level host:

Set-VMProcessor -VMName host1 -ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $True

Start host1 and install the Hyper-V role with:

Install-WindowsFeature -Name Hyper-V -IncludeAllSubFeature -IncludeManagementTools

Once the reboots finish on host1, enable MAC Address Spoofing on the network adapter(s) of  host1:

Get-VMNetworkAdapter -VMName host1 | Set-VMNetworkAdapter -MacAddressSpoofing On

And you're done.

Configuring Windows Server 2016 core as a DHCP Server with PowerShell

As I mentioned last time, I'm setting up a new domain controller and DHCP server for my internal domain on Windows Server 2016 Core, and I'm exclusively using PowerShell to do it. For both the DHCP Server and AD DS roles, we need to configure a fixed IP address on the server, so let's do that first. From my Deploying and Managing Active Directory with Windows PowerShell book from Microsoft Press, here's my little very quick and dirty script to set a fixed IP address:

# Quick and dirty IP address setter

Param ([Parameter(Mandatory=$True)][string]$IP4,
$Network = "192.168.10."
$Network6 = "2001:db8:0:10::"
$IPv4 = $Network + "$IP4"
$IPv6 = $Network6 + "$IP6"
$Gateway4 = $Network + "1"
$Gateway6 = $Network6 + "1"

Write-Verbose "$network,$network6,$IP4,$IP6,$IPv4,$IPv6,$gateway4, $gateway6"

$Nic = Get-NetAdapter -name Ethernet
$Nic | Set-NetIPInterface -DHCP Disabled
$Nic | New-NetIPAddress -AddressFamily IPv4 `
                        -IPAddress $IPv4 `
                        -PrefixLength 24 `
                        -type Unicast `
                        -DefaultGateway $Gateway4
Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceAlias $Nic.Name `
$Nic |  New-NetIPAddress -AddressFamily IPv6 `
                         -IPAddress $IPv6 `
                         -PrefixLength 64 `
                         -type Unicast `
                          -DefaultGateway $Gateway6

ipconfig /all

I warned you it was a quick and dirty script. But let's quickly look at what it does. First, we get the network adapter into a variable, $Nic. Then we turn off DHCP with Set-NetIPInterface, and configure the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses with New-NetIPAddress. Finally, we use Set-DnsClientServerAddress to configure the DNS Servers for this server.


Next, let's join the server to the TreyResearch.net domain with another little script. OK, I admit, you could do this all as a simple one-liner, but I do it so often that I scripted it.

Joins a computer to the domain
Joins a new computer to the domain. If the computer hasn't been renamed yet, 
it renames it as well.
.Parameter NewName
The new name of the computer
.Parameter Domain
The domain to join the computer to. Default value is TreyResearch.net
Join-myDomain -NewName trey-wds-11
Join-myDomain dc-contoso-04 -Domain Contoso.com
     Name: Join-myDomain
   Author: Charlie Russel
Copyright: 2017 by Charlie Russel
         : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
  ModHist:  9 Apr, 2014 -- Initial
         : 25 Feb, 2015 -- Updated to allow name already matches
Param ( [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,Position=0)]
        [String]$Domain = "TreyResearch.net"

$myCred = Get-Credential -UserName "$Domain\Charlie" `
                         -Message "Enter the Domain password for Charlie."

if ($ENV:COMPUTERNAME -ne $NewName ) {
   Add-Computer -DomainName $Domain -Credential $myCred -NewName $NewName -restart
} else {
   Add-Computer -DomainName $Domain -Credential $myCred -Restart

After the server restarts, log in with your domain credentials, not as "Administrator".  The account you logon with should be at least Domain Admin or equivalent, since you're going to be adding DHCP to the server and promoting it to be a domain controller.


To add the necessary roles to the server, use:

Install-WindowsFeature -Name DHCP,AD-Domain-Services `
                       -IncludeAllSubFeature `

Next, download updated Get-Help files with Update-Help. Once you've got those, go ahead and restart the server, and when it comes back up, we'll do the base configuration for DHCP to enable it in the domain, and create the necessary accounts. Creating scopes, etc., is the topic of another day. Probably as part of my Lab series.


First, enable the DHCP server in AD (this assumes the $NewName from earlier was 'trey-core-03'. )

Add-DhcpServerInDC -DnsName 'trey-core-03' -PassThru

And, finally, create the necessary local groups:

# Create local groups for DHCP
# The WinNT in the following IS CASE SENSITIVE
$connection = [ADSI]"WinNT://trey-core-03"
$lGroup = $connection.Create("Group","DHCP Administrators")
$lGroup = $connection.Create("Group","DHCP Users")

This uses ADSI to create a local group, since there's no good way built into base PowerShell to do it except through ADSI.


Finally, we'll use my Promote-myDC.ps1 script to promote the server to domain controller. Again, I could easily do this by hand, but I'm building and rebuilding labs often enough that I scripted it. I'm lazy! Do it once, use the PowerShell interactive command line. Do it twice? Write a script!

Tests a candidate domain controller, and then promotes it to DC.
Promote-myDC first tests if a domain controller can be successfully promoted,
and, if the user confirms that the test was successful, completes the
promotion and restarts the new domain controller.
Promote-myDC -Domain TreyResearch.net

Tests if the local server can be promoted to domain controller for the
domain TreyResearch.net. The user is prompted after the test completes
and must press the Y key to continue the promotion.
.Parameter Domain
The domain to which the server will be promoted to domain controller.
    Author: Charlie Russel
 Copyright: 2017 by Charlie Russel
          : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
   Initial: 05/14/2016 (cpr)
   ModHist: 02/14/2017 (cpr) Default the domain name for standard lab builds
     [string]$Domain = 'TreyResearch.net'

Write-Verbose "Testing if ADDSDeployment module is available"
If ( (Get-WindowsFeature -Name AD-Domain-Services).InstallState -ne "Installed" ) {
   Write-Verbose "Installing the ActiveDirectory Windows Feature, since you seem to have forgotten that."
   Install-WindowsFeature -Name AD-Domain-Services -IncludeManagementTools
   Write-Host ""

If ( (Get-WindowsFeature -Name AD-Domain-Services).InstallState -ne "Installed" ) {
   throw "Failed to install the ActiveDirectory Windows Feature."

Write-Verbose "Testing if server $env:computername can be promoted to DC in the $Domain domain"
Write-Host ""
Test-ADDSDomainControllerInstallation `
      -NoGlobalCatalog:$false `
      -CreateDnsDelegation:$false `
      -CriticalReplicationOnly:$false `
      -DatabasePath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
      -DomainName $Domain `
      -LogPath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
      -NoRebootOnCompletion:$false `
      -SiteName "Default-First-Site-Name" `
      -SysvolPath "C:\Windows\SYSVOL" `
      -InstallDns:$true `
Write-Host ""
Write-Host ""
Write-Host ""

Write-Host -NoNewLine "If the above looks correct, press Y to continue...  "
$Key = [console]::ReadKey($true)
$sKey = $key.key

Write-Verbose "The $sKey key was pressed."
Write-Host ""
Write-Host ""
If ( $sKey -eq "Y" ) {
   Write-Host "The $sKey key was pressed, so proceeding with promotion of $env:computername to domain controller."
   Write-Host ""
   sleep 5
   Install-ADDSDomainController `
      -SkipPreChecks `
      -NoGlobalCatalog:$false `
      -CreateDnsDelegation:$false `
      -CriticalReplicationOnly:$false `
      -DatabasePath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
      -DomainName $Domain `
      -InstallDns:$true `
      -LogPath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
      -NoRebootOnCompletion:$false `
      -SiteName "Default-First-Site-Name" `
      -SysvolPath "C:\Windows\SYSVOL" `
} else {
   Write-Host "The $sKey key was pressed, exiting to allow you to fix the problem."
   Write-Host ""
   Write-Host ""

This uses a little trick I haven't talked about before -

$Key = [console]::ReadKey($true)
$sKey = $key.key

This reads in a single keystroke and gets the value of the key. Because of the way this works, "Y" and "y" are equivalent. Useful to give yourself a last chance out if something doesn't look right, though obviously you'll want to remove those bits if you're creating a script that needs to run without interactive input.


Building a Lab in Hyper-V with PowerShell, Part 1

Setting the MAC Address Range on a Hyper-V Host


Today I want to start a new series of posts on building a lab environment in Hyper-V, primarily using Windows PowerShell to do initial configuration. For some things, you'll need to use a non-PowerShell tool, such as SysPrep or even the Hyper-V Manager. But the vast majority of the process is going to be pure PowerShell. And, to be clear, this is exactly how I build labs. I do very little checkpointing (snapshotting), preferring to rebuild to a known point rather than assuming I've gotten the right snapshot. And with a good set of scripts, and properly configured .VHDXs for source files, that's not really hard.


To understand how I build the base environment, you'll need to understand some assumptions I make and why. The first thing I do is configure the MAC address range for the lab host in Hyper-V. This avoids potential conflicts with other machines that might be on the network, especially since I'm going to be manually configuring all the MAC addresses for the VMs I create to allow me to easily configure DHCP reservations for all VMs. All of which makes keeping track of things much, much easier.


When Hyper-V hands out MAC addresses dynamically, it creates a range that begins "00-15-5D". This is the Microsoft IEEE Organizationally Unique Identifier, and is used for all Hyper-V generated MAC addresses unless we do something to change that prefix. Don't, you risk conflicting with some other company's range of addresses.


The next two pairs in the MAC address range are based on the current IPv4 network address(es) on the host itself if we don't manually configure them.  For lab environments, I usually set the first pair (fourth pair overall) to C8, C9, or CA, depending on which host machine I'm on, and the next pair to a number related to the IPv4 network that will be the primary network for core VMs in the lab. So, when I use a simple 192.168.10/24 network, I set that 5th pair to 0A. This gives me a MAC address range from 00-15-5D-C8-0A-00 to 00-15-5D-C8-0A-FF unless I need a larger range. If I'm going to have multiple networks and multiple NICs on lab VMs, I'll set a larger MAC address range.


To set the MAC address range on a Hyper-V server, you could use the GUI, but where's the fun in that. Instead, use the Set-VMHost cmdlet, thus:

Set-VMHost -MacAddressMinimum 00155DC80A00 `
           -MacAddressMaximum 00155DC80AFF `

Now, I set my new VM script to default to this range as well, and I edit the CSV file that creates DHCP addresses to the same range. But more on setting fixed or reserved IP addresses and configuring DHCP later in the series.  Next up, we'll start building the parts of New-myVM.ps1.

PowerShell: Sending password expiration notices via GMail – Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, I showed you how to identify users whose password was about to expire. Then in Part 2 of the series, I took that list of users and sent email to them using gmail-hosted company email. This third part of the series pulls all that together into a single script, complete with comment-based help. As always, this and all my scripts are copyrighted, but you're welcome to use them as the basis for your own scripts. However, I do appreciate attribution. Thanks, and enjoy.

Sends a "Password Expiring" warning email through TreyResearch's gmail. 
Send-TreyPasswordExpiryNotice first creates a list of accounts whose password will expire in the 
near future (default is 1 week). It then emails the users to warn them that their password will expire soon. 

This initial version runs interactively only. 
Sends a warning notice to all TreyResearch users whose password will expire in the next 7 days or less.
Send-TreyPasswordExpiryNotice -Logging
Sends a warning notice to all TreyResearch users whose password will expire in the next 7 days or less, and 
creates a log file that is echoed to the console at the end. 
Send-TreyPasswordExpiryNotice -DaysWarning 14
Sends a warning notice to all TreyResearch users whose password will expire in the next 14 days or less.
Send-TreyPasswordExpiryNotice -DaysWarning 5 -Logging -Testing -Verbose
Does NOT send a warning notice to TreyResearch users, but rather processes the first user and sends a notice
to the admin user(s) and writes to the log file. The -Verbose switch will make it additionally chatty.
.Parameter DaysWarning
The number of days advanced warning to give users whose passwords are close to expiration. 
The default is 7 days or less. 
.Parameter Logging
Switch to enable logging. Logs are written to C:\Temp\emaillogs.csv. When this switch is true, 
Send-TreyPasswordExpiryNotice outputs a table with a list of accounts due to expire as well as 
writing to a log file. 
.Parameter Testing
Switch to enable testing. When enabled, email is sent to a list of Admin users and only a single account is processed. 
    Author: Charlie Russel
  ThanksTo: Robert Pearman (WSSMB MVP),Jeffrey Hicks (PS MVP)
 Copyright: 2016 by Charlie Russel
          : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
   Initial: 06 Sept, 2016 (cpr)
          : 09 Dec,  2016 (cpr) -(Ver 1.5) -- Reworked: Only process users who need reminding. Formatting changes
     $DaysWarning = 7, 

#Set parameters for gmail.
$smtpServer  ="smtp.gmail.com"
$SMTPPort    = 587
$from        = "IT Notification <it-notification@TreyResearch.net>"
$AdminUser1  = "Charlie.Russel@TreyResearch.net"
$AdminUser2  = "admin.user2@TreyResearch.net"
$AdminUser3  = "admin.user3@TreyResearch.net"
$externalUser= "external.account@example.com"

# Cast this to a list of strings to allow for multiple test recipients
[string[]]$testRecipient = $AdminUser1,$AdminUser2,$AdminUser3

 This uses a stored password sitting on a local hard drive. This is a reasonably
 secure way to work with passwords in a file, and is ONLY accessible by the user that created 
 it. Create the password with: 
   PSH> Read-Host -AsSecureString | ConvertFrom-SecureString | Out-File $home\Documents\TreyPW.txt

 See blog post at: http://blogs.msmvps.com/russel/2016/10/04/powershell-get-credential-from-a-file for
 full details. 

 Alternately, simply prompt for the credentials here with Get-Credential.


$TreyUsr = "charlie.russel@TreyResearch.net"
$TreyPW = Get-Content $Home\Documents\TreyPW.txt | ConvertTo-SecureString
$Cred = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList $TreyUsr, $TreyPW

# Check Logging Settings 
if ($Logging) { 
   $logFile = "C:\Temp\emaillogs.csv"
   if (! (Test-Path "C:\Temp") ) {
      Write-Verbose "No C:\Temp directory, so creating one..."
      New-Item -Path "C:\" -Name Temp -ItemType Directory

    # Remove Logfile if it already exists
    If ( (Test-Path $logFile)) { 
      Remove-Item $logFile 
    # Create CSV File and Headers 
    New-Item -Path $logfile -ItemType File 
    Add-Content $logfile "Date,Name,EmailAddress,DaysLeft,ExpiresOn,Notified" 

# System Settings 
$textEncoding = [System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8 
$date = Get-Date -format "MM/dd/yyyy"

# Explicitly import the Active Directory module, but get rid of the noise if it's already loaded. 
Import-Module ActiveDirectory 4>$NULL

# Use the following to query the domain for who the PDC Emulator role holder is. 
$TreyDC = (Get-ADDomain -Identity "TreyResearch.net" -Credential $Cred).PDCEmulator

# Send a cc: to myself or a list of users
$AdminUser = "charlie.russel@TreyResearch.net"
$cclist = @($AdminUser)

# Do calculations outside the ForEach loop whenever possible
$maxPasswordAge = (Get-ADDefaultDomainPasswordPolicy -Server $TreyDC -Credential $Cred).MaxPasswordAge
$today = (get-date) 

# Notice this doesn't get Expired or NeverExpires users. Don't want to send them emails.  
$TreyUsers = Get-ADUser -filter * `
                    -properties Name,PasswordNeverExpires,PasswordExpired,PasswordLastSet,EmailAddress `
                    -Server $TreyDC `
                    -Credential $Cred `
         | where { $_.Enabled -eq $True `
             -AND  $_.PasswordNeverExpires -eq $False `
             -AND  $_.passwordexpired -eq $False `
             -AND  $_.EMailAddress `
             -AND  (($today - $_.PasswordLastSet).Days -ge ($MaxPasswordAge.Days - $DaysWarning))
<# Get notification credentials. Prompt with Get-Credential if not using stored creds. 
$gCred = Get-Credential -UserName "it-notification@TreyResearch.net" `
                        -Message  "Enter Password for IT-Notification account"
$gUsr = "it-notification@TreyResearch.net"
$gPW = Get-Content "$Home\Documents\itnotificationsPW.txt" | ConvertTo-SecureString
$gCred = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential -ArgumentList $gUsr, $gPW

# Now, we start to do the work. 
foreach ($user in $TreyUsers) { 
    Write-Verbose "Processing user $user"
    $Name = $user.Name 
    $Email = $user.emailaddress 
    $SAM = $user.SAMAccountName
    $sent = " " 
    $passwordSetDate = $user.PasswordLastSet 
    Write-Verbose "$SAM last set their password on $PasswordSetDate"

    $expiresOn = $passwordSetDate + $maxPasswordAge 
    $DaysLeft = (New-TimeSpan -Start $today -End $Expireson).Days 
    if (($DaysLeft) -gt "1") { 
        $MessageDays = "in " + "$DaysLeft" + " days." 
    } else { 
        $MessageDays = "today!" 
    # Email Subject Set Here 
    $subject="Your password will expire $messageDays" 
    Write-Verbose "$Name`'s password will expire $messageDays"
    # Email Body Set Here, Note You can use HTML, including Images. 
    # This uses PowerShell's here-string. 
$body =@" 
Dear $name, 
<p>Your TreyReseach.net Active Directory Domain credentials <b>will expire $messagedays</b> 
Please update your credentials as soon as possible! <br> </p>
<p>If you are using a Windows domain joined system and are connected to the intranet, 
press ctrl-alt-delete and select change password. Alternatively, if you are outside of the 
network, connect to the corporate VPN and reset your password with the same process.<br> </p>
<p>If you are not using a Windows based system, ensure you are on the intranet or connected to 
the corporate VPN.  Proceed to https://password.TreyResearch.net <https://password.TreyResearch.net> 
and reset your password.<br> </p>
<p>This process will also sync your newly created AD password to your Gmail password. Please 
allow up to 5 minutes for replication of the passwords to occur.<br><br> </p>
<p><br><b>Problems</b>? <br>Please open a Service Desk request by clicking on the 
Help Agent icon on your system. If you are NOT running a Help Agent, please contact a member
of the IT Team for instructions on how to install the agent. It is a strict TreyResearch 
company policy that all company-owned systems run the Help Agent. <br></p>
<p>Thanks, <br>  
IT Team

    # If Testing Is Enabled - Email Administrator 
    if ($testing) { 
        $email = $testRecipient 
        $Subject = "PasswordExpiration Test Message"
        $cclist = $AdminUser2,$externalUser

   # Send Email Message 
    Write-Verbose "$SAM's password is due to expire in $DaysLeft which is less than the "
    Write-Verbose "DaysWarning Parameter setting of $DaysWarning days."

    # I've left this as a straight output to the host. If you want it quieter, make it a Write-Verbose
    "Sending Email Message to $email using $gUsr account"
    Send-Mailmessage -smtpServer $smtpServer `
                     -from $from `
                     -to $email `
                     -cc $cclist `
                     -subject $subject `
                     -body $body `
                     -bodyasHTML `
                     -priority High `
                     -Encoding $textEncoding `
                     -UseSSL `
                     -port $SMTPPort `
                     -Credential $gCred 
    $sent = "Yes"  # Used for logging
    if ($Logging) {
        Add-Content $logfile "$date,$Name,$email,$DaysLeft,$expiresOn,$Sent"  
   if ($Testing) {
       "Sleeping 5, then breaking so we only process a single record"
       Sleep 5

If ($Logging) { 
   # Use the logging file to display a table of the accounts about to expire. 
   $expiringAccts = Import-Csv -Path $logfile
   $expiringAccts | Sort-Object -Property ExpiresOn `
                  | Format-Table -AutoSize `
                           width=7}, `
                    @{Expression={(Get-Date -Date $_.ExpiresOn -Format 'MMMM dd')};`
                           Label="Expires On:"}

ETA: Minor bug fix (-Identity instead of -Identify. Sheesh!)

PowerShell: Sending password expiration notices via GMail – Part 1

In a perfect world, users would never forget their password, and never forget to change it before the expiration date. But we don't live in that perfect world. I covered how to unlock AD accounts earlier in this post, but now I'd like to talk about how to first find the users whose accounts are about to expire, and then email a warning to them. It turns out to be a fairly big script, so I'm going to break it up into a couple of posts. In this first post, I'll cover how to identify the users whose password will expire in the next n days. Then in the next post, we'll send them an email via the company's GMail account. Finally, in the third post in this series, I'll pull the whole thing together into a complete script, with comment-based help.


The process to find the users breaks down into several component parts:

  • Get domain credentials
  • Connect to the AD DS domain
  • Do some Date arithmatic
  • Query Active Directory for the users whose passwords will expire

The first part, getting domain credentials, you can use a simple Get-Credential if you want to be prompted every time, or store the credentials securely in a file, as I described here. Notice that I don't suggest that you should simply log in as a Domain Admin and run the script with your domain credentials - that's because I much prefer to always run as a limited user.


After we have those credentials, we connect to the Active Directory domain and query it for the MaxPasswordAge property of the domain.

$ADCred = Get-Credential -UserName TreyResearch\Domain.Admin `
                         -Message "Enter the domain admin's password"
$PDC = (Get-Domain -Identity 'TreyResearch.net' `
                   -Credential $ADCred).PDCEmulator
$maxPasswordAge = (Get-ADDefaultDomainPasswordPolicy `
                         -Server $PDC `
                         -Credential $ADCred).MaxPasswordAge

Next, we're going to have to do some Date arithmetic. Rarely fun, but needs must. We'll start by getting some initial values. Our final script will assume a week of warning, but we'll want to be able to change that with a DaysWarning parameter:

      [int]$DaysWarning = 7)

And we'll need to know today's date, that's easy:

$today = (Get-Date)

The other bit of information we need is the number of days since the user last set their password. We query for all users (-Filter *), but then discard all the ones we don't need, storing (in $TreyUsers) only those whose password will expire between now and the DaysWarning value. We don't need to do anything with those users whose password is set to never expire, nor do we care about users whose password has already expired. They won't be able to read any emails we send them anyway. :) While we're getting a list of these users, we need to get some properties that aren't returned by default when we use Get-ADUser. We'll use the -Properties parameter to specify those.

$TreyUsers = Get-ADUser -Filter * `
                        -Server $PDC `
                        -Credential $ADCred `
                        -Properties Name,`
                                    EmailAddress `
      | Where-Object {$_.Enabled -eq $True `
          -AND $_.PasswordNeverExpires -eq $False `
          -AND $_.passwordexpired -eq $False `
          -AND $_.EMailAddress `
          -AND (($today-$_.PasswordLastSet).Days -ge ($MaxPasswordAge.Days-$DaysWarning))

Whew, that looks a right mess. But it's not as bad as it looks. I've tried to make it as efficient as I could, taking advantage of PowerShell's 'short-cut' processing. Yes, I have to query AD DS for all the users, but I quickly stop processing the user if their account is disabled, their password never expires, or their password has already expired. That gets us down to only those users who are actually active. On those, we do a bit of date math. This is slightly complicated by the PasswordLastSet and MaxPasswordAge properties which return an object with more information than we need or want. All we really want is the Days property of those values.


The math here is a bit convoluted, so let's work through it. First ($today-$_.PasswordLastSet) is the number of days since the user set their password. The users we want to send an email to are those for whom that is greater than, or equal to,  MaxPasswordAge-DaysWarning.


How does that work? Let's assume we have a policy that says you need to change your password at least every 90 days, and I want to start warning users a week ahead of time.  Therefore, MaxPasswordAge-DaysWarning is equal to 83 days. So we only want to send warnings to those users who set their password more than 83 days ago.


Next time, we'll send each of those users an email, warning them that they need to change their password.