Emulating OEM Partitions with DISKPART

Sometimes I get tired of trying to find pristine systems in our Computer Depot to test out system imaging scenarios. The main reason I need clean, un-touched systems is that no one wants to subject their production computer to experimental re-deployment. However, another frequent need for fresh systems is that we need computers with the OEM utility partition still in tact so that we can ensure that new images will apply consistently to different partition schemes.

Enter DISKPART, WinPE, and VMWare. We now can create fake OEM partitions on virtual machines, and redeploy on demand without disrupting anyone’s routine.

Here is the procedure:

  • Boot VM Guest to WinPE ISO file (you can use a WDS Discover image)
  • When WinPE is loaded (with or without WDS discovery client), press SHIFT-F10
  • At the command prompt, type diskpart, then follow this script:
  • select disk 0
  • clean
  • create partition primary id=DE size=78 (Partition ID “DE” is a Dell OEM partition. DISKPART will hide it for you automatically.)
  • select partition 1
  • format fs=fat quick
  • To verify your partition, enter display partition

Repairing sites with “stsadm -o export”

We had a rather awful public relations fiasco with a Sharepoint site over the past three weeks. Users replying to existing posts in discussion board web parts always receive “User not found” errors (their replies get posted, but they get no notification of this). I was almost incapable of getting help from Microsoft on this (after burining many hours trying to resolve the issue on my own).

Ultimately, the support engineers concluded that the site had experienced some corruption of security profiles. They were hesitant to use their internal tool for purging security profiles from the site for fear that this would create other problems. Ultimately, they recommended using stsadm -o export with the -includeusersecurity flag to create a backup of the site. (“Export” is different from “Backup” in that it does not create a full backup of the site… it just backs up the content.) We then use “import” to restore the backup file to a new, blank site. Using this process, new security profiles are created but site content stays the same.

Here is the full procedure for rebuilding a site using stsadm:

CPU Smackdown! Throttling rogue threads on Terminal Servers

I am most pelased today to have done something positive for our Terminal Server environment. By using the fine freeware product “Threadmaster” I have been able to throttle back those rogue Approach.exe applications on the Terminal Servers to use no more than their fair share of the CPU.

Threadmaster can be downloaded here:
Config is easy… run the small CMD file to install the Threadmaster service, then use REGEDIT to tune the product. All settings are in HKLM:SYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesThreadMasterParameters. Set a default per-thread CPU threshold, and add applications that you want to have different rules to the “Applications” subkey.