Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Getting the Job Done - Despite the UI

Most IT Pros are likely to want to manage various setting within Windows - both on Windows 10 and Windows Server (with the Desktop Experience!) - things like power management, a network setting, etc. Doing so means in many cases means weaving one's way through the UI to hit some window to facilitate the issue at hand. For example, if I want to set the DNS server IP address on a NIC, I have to figure out how to get, eventually to the Network Connections applet, from where I can select the NIC and make the change.

One might say. just do it with PowerShell. PowerShell is great for routine things - automation makes sense. But for one-off issues, the GUI is often just faster and easier. The issue is navigating the Windows UI. The migration of things form the Control Panel into Settings has not helped.

Almost all of the lower level applets you need to manage Windows from the UI are available to you by running a specific program. For example, to get to the Network Connections applet, just run ncpa.cpl. And if you run it from PowerShell, there is tab completion of the applet's name.

There are around 40 commands you can fun to do useful things. These commands are implemented as *.CPL and *.MSC programs. You can discover then for your self by running this:

Get-Command *.CPL, *.MSC
Here's what you should find:

Command Name What Is It?
appwiz.cpl                   Uninstall or Change A Program
azman.msc                    Authorization Manager
bthprops.cpl                 Bluetooth & Other Devices
certlm.msc                   Certificate Manager for Local Computer
certmgr.msc                  Certificate Manager for Current User
comexp.msc                   Component Services, Event Viewer, Services 
compmgmt.msc                 Computer Management, System Tools, Storage and Services
desk.cpl                     Display layout
devmgmt.msc                  Device Manager 
DevModeRunAsUserConfig.msc   Start Menu Configuration
diskmgmt.msc                 Disk Management
eventvwr.msc                 Event Viewer
Firewall.cpl                 Firewall Manager
fsmgmt.msc                   Shared Folder Management
gpedit.msc                   Local GPO Editor
hdwwiz.cpl                   Device Manager (again!)
inetcpl.cpl                  Internet Properties
intl.cpl                     Region Settings
irprops.cpl                  InfraRed - on systems with IR
joy.cpl                      Game Controller
lusrmgr.msc                  Local User Manger
main.cpl                     Mouse Properties
mmsys.cpl                    Sound Properties
ncpa.cpl                     Network Interface properties
perfmon.msc                  Performance Monitor
powercfg.cpl                 Power Configuration
printmanagement.msc          Printer Manament
rsop.msc                     Resultant Set of Policy
secpol.msc                   Local Securityh Policy
services.msc                 Services
sysdm.cpl                    System Properties
TabletPC.cpl                 Tablet and Pen Settings
taskschd.msc                 Task Scheduler
telephon.cpl                 Phone Location Information
timedate.cpl                 Time and Date
tpm.msc                      Trusted Platform Module
WF.msc                       Defender Firewall
WmiMgmt.msc                  WMI Management
wscui.cpl                    Security and Maintenance

Enjoy

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Installing the Cascadia Code Font (using PowerShell)

In a recent article, I wrote about the new font Microsoft has created, Cascadia Code. I just love the new font and am using it with PowerShell, VS Code and more. I also use it in a variety of VMs, so automating the download and installation is important.

It turns out that downloading and installing a new font is relatively straightforward, like this:

# Install Cascadia Code
# 1. Download Cascadia Code font from GitHub$DLPath = 'https://github.com/microsoft/cascadia-code/releases/'+          'download/v1911.20/Cascadia.ttf'$DLFile = 'C:\Foo\Cascadia.TTF'Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $DLPath -OutFile $DLFile
# 2. Now Install it $Font = New-Object -Com Shell.Application$Destination = (New-Object -ComObject Shell.Application).Namespace(0x14)$Destination.CopyHere($DLFile,0x10)
Simples as they say.

One thing - the URL download path is hardcoded. You may need to adjust it going forward. Maybe someone can show me how to work out the latest version programmatically. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

PowerShell 7 Preview 6 ships - Get It Now!

The PowerShell team have released another preview of PowerShell 7. This release, which I expect to be the final preview before release of PowerShell 7 early in 2020, comes with a number of fantastic new features. Over on the PowerShell blog, super-star Steve Lee notes the cool features. A total smorgasbord of wonderfulness. Read Steve's excellent post here: https://devblogs.microsoft.com/powershell/powershell-7-preview-6/.

One particular feature that caught my eye was the improvements in Test-NetConnection. As many of you know, Ping.Exe, which has been around pretty much since the dawn of IP  (as in TCP/IP). uses ICMP echo request/reply. Due to ICMP attacks, many organisations turn off ICMP - thus using Ping would show no system, even though port 80 is open and working just fine. Test-NetConnection allows you to both ping (eg using ICMP) as well as test the connection to a specific port This is a huge improvement, although the command is very slow due to it being based on WMI.

In P.6 this has been re-implemented using not WMI but .NET. And the results are pretty awesome! Here is what it looked like in PowerShell 5.1:


But take a look at the performance of PowerShell 7 P6:


That is a pretty significant improvement! And by way of comparison, using Ping.Exe would have taken over 3 seconds!

This is another example of how PowerShell 7 is set to become a worthy successor to Windows PowerShell 5.1. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Displaying Errors in PowerShell 7 - It Gets Better

In a recent blog post, I described the new approach taken in PowerShell 7 to displaying errors. In that post, I concentrated on the new look and feel of error messages as well as the use of $ErrorView built-in variable. One thing I missed in that post was the new look for run time errors.

To demonstrate the new method of displaying run time errors, consider this script:


Ok - nothing overly exciting but that's not the point. The script should generate two errors.

In Windows PowerShell (OR if you are running PowerShell 7 with $ErrorView set to "NormalView"), running this script looks like this:


That old familiar Wall of Red Ink! Hard to see the wood for the trees. But you can see the information if you read.

Now - PowerShell 7,. if you are set $ErrorView to "ConciseView" and rerun the script you still get the terrors (or course!), but PowerShell displays them like this:


I hope you'd agree this is a great improvement in displaying runtime errors. And you can always use the new Get-Error command to get all the nitty-gritty if you need it.

As I said in that prior post, I have always loved how PowerShell displays error messaged. I have enough practice to read through that first Wall of Red Ink to see the errors quickly and easily. PowerShell 7 just makes significantly easier. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Viewing Errors in PowerShell 7 - Improving on Greatness

As a very long time PowerShell fan, I've always been impressed with the way PowerShell displays errors that occur in scripts or at the command line. PowerShell users are well-acquainted with the "Wall of Red Ink, as I call it:


But once you get over the visual shock and start to actually READ the error message, you begin to appreciate how good these error message actually are. They tell you what the error is and where it happened. I have long evangelised how good these messages are, once you learn to read them. B

But that is not to say things can't be improved. And indeed, in PowerShell 7, you'll find some nice improvements. NB: This blog post is being written using the latest build of the day. By the time PowerShell 7 ships, things may look the same - or different. As an aside, the daily build of PowerShell 7 in incredibly stable - hats off to the engineering team for managing that!

So in PowerShell 7, we have a new built-in variable and a new way of displaying errors. The Variable is $ErrorView which holds an object of the type: System.Management.Automation.ErrorView. This variable can hold one of three values: NormalView, CategoryView, ConciseView. With PowerShell 7, any time an error message is to be displayed, you see different views based on the value of $ErrorView.

A value of  'NormalView' results in the traditional display. But the new default setting, ConciseView, results in just the error message itself, like this:


For day to day use, ConciseView is awesome. BUT, I hear you say, where's all that detail gone. Do you HAVE to use the $Error error record collection?  NO - there's now a cmdlet for that: Get-Error.


With Get-Error you get ALL the error information inside each error record all expanded out nicely. ALL the information without having to expand error records to get to the exception details, etc.

This new feature allows you to limit the Wall of Red Ink to a Line Of Red Ink, and get the error information when you need more details.

What a great new feature!


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

PowerShell 7 Preview 5 Ships

The PowerShell team has shipped another Preview release of PowerShell 7, dubbed Preview 5 (aka P5). P5 both brings great new features and takes us a big step closer to the release of PowerShell 7. Steve Lee posted details of what is in PowerShell V5 in a blog article.

For me there are a couple of notable additions:

The new Pipeline Chain Operators allow conditional execution of commands depending on whether the previous command succeeded for failed:
##  The code:
"Hello" && "There"
# # Produces
Hello
There
## The code
"Hello" || "There"
## Produces
Hello
I suspect we'll see a lot of code starting to use this. But: be careful I suspect a lot of 3AM confusions unless usage is well documented in your scripts.

An interesting feature is the New PowerShell Version notification. When you run PowerShell (P5 or later), during startup PowerShell detects that a newer version is available for download. 


Another cool feature added is adding emphasis to the output of Select-String. Select-String enables you to parse strings using regular expressions. With P5, the matches of the regular expression is highlighted like this:


My favourite new feature is the new condenses error view combined with the Get-Error cmdlet that expands the error report (it is a lot easier than $Error[0] | FL * -Force). Here is an example of what you are going to see:


Why does this matter?
That is one of my favourite questions - after all, it;'s a preview so why should you care? Well for a start, PowerShell 7 is shaping up to be aa huge improvement on the PowerShell experience with Windows PowerShell 5.1. I use it today in my day to day operations and find all the myriad of improvements large and small (I LOVE the CD - feature). If you are using Windows PowerShell today, you should download the Preview (or, if you are brave, the daily build) and start to experiment. 

One significant ad as yet not fully addressed issue with PowerShell 7 is around Cmdlet Coverage. There is no use in a fantastic shell if the cmdlets you use do not work, The change from using the full .NET framework to using .NET Core means that many cmdlets just do not work (and many never will).

The Windows Compatibility module provides partial relief. For example, you can easily use it to load the Server Manager module to allow you to manage Windows Features (i.e. on a Windows Server system). But some modules are not supported this way. For example, the WSUS module is not usable with Windows Compatibility. It's easy to say that the WSUS cmdlet design was poor (it relies on method calls vs using actual cmdlets) - but you are not going to be able to manage WSUS with PowerShell 7 for some time. But this IS a work in progress and I am certain the PowerShell team are taking the feedback on board to enable a better solution to backwards compatibility (although in some cases, the real solution is for the cmdlet designers to re-implement their cmdlets using .NET Core).


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

PowerShell 7's Ternary Operator

The PowerShell 7 team have just released a new PowerShell 7 Preview build. This contains a new, and interesting, new operator, the ternary operator.

This operator is, in effect, a short cut to If/Else. Thus, instead of:

$Message = If ($IsWindows) {"Is Windows"} Else {"Is NOT Windows"}
The Ternary operator allows you to simplify


$Message = $IsWIndows ? "Is Windows" : "Is NOT Windows" 

So a cool new feature coming to PowerShell 7. It is available in the latest Preview but as an Experimental feature. Experimental features in PowerShell 7 are features you turn ON and OFF as you like. By default, experimental features are turned off until you turn them on. To view them and turn them on is simple - just use Get-ExperimentalFeature and Set-ExperimentalFeature like this. 


A relevant question is whether you SHOULD use this operator. For simple things, such as the snippets above, it does enable a more compact script. at the expense of potential confusion by folks not versed in the new syntax. It may not pass the "Three AM test" (ie can you easily and simply work out a bug in this code when woken up at 3 in the morning?). 

Additionally, in my testing, this operator is sometimes a little faster than the old fashioned approach, but there is not a lot in it:

So a new operator, which you have to enable explicitly. It does offer some small performance gains in some cases. Coming soon to a Powershell 7 near you!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Cascadia Code - A New Font On The Block

Microsoft has released a new font, called Cascadia Code. See Thomas Maurer's article for the details.

But so what? Well - this is a font to use in PowerShell or VS Code. Or any Development Environment. It just makes the code easier to read. Here's a look at the font itself:


And here's what it looks like in PowerShell 7's console:


I like it!

To get the font, get it at the Github Repo:https://github.com/microsoft/cascadia-code/blob/master/CascadiaCode-Regular-VTT.ttf

Enjoy

Monday, August 26, 2019

ForEach-Object -Parallel - Comes to PowerShell 7 in P.3

The latest preview edition of PowerShell 7 (itself due for full release at end of Sept or thereabouts) contains a long-awaited feature - the ability to run invocations of a given script block in parallel natively.

An example: Suppose you had a script that used WMI remotely to gather/update information on a number of remote servers. Instead of doing the required operations on one server at a time, running each invocation of the script block in parallel. The ability to run script blocks in parallel has been a huge reason many folks use Workflows (which are not part of PowerShell 7). Foreach -Parallel does away with the need to use workflows just to get parallelism.

Consider the following snippet:

'Non-parallel' $Sb1 = { 1..100 | foreach-object { start-sleep -Milliseconds 100 }} Measure-command { ICM -ScriptBlock $Sb1 } $len = 0

In this sample, you run a script block 100 times. Admittedly the actual script block is not all that exciting but it's an operation that is being done in each iteration of ForEach-Object. The output shows this:

With the third preview of PowerShell 7, the ForEach-Object cmdlet has two new parameters. The first -Parallel which says to run things in parallel. The second, -Throttlelimit tells PowerShell how many separate parallel invocations are allowed. 

Let's rerun that script block but using parallelism and varying the throttle limit:



As you can see, without parallelism, this "script" takes 11.07 seconds. With parallelism, the script takes 4.93 seconds (using throttle limit of 4), 3.70 seconds (throttle limit of 8) and just 2.92 seconds (throttle limit of 12). My system is a dual-processor 6-core system by way of comparison. If you try this, you may get different results depending on your hardware.



Sunday, August 18, 2019

Many Things Go Well with PowerShell 7 - But Not All!

Introduction 

I am currently working on a PowerShell 7 book for those nice people at Wiley (https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/PowerShell-7-and-NET-Core-3-0-for-IT-Pros-by-Thomas-Lee-author/9781119644729). I'm meant to finish up by December and have the book out in 2020. For me, one of the key questions around PowerShell 7, in the Window space at least, is how well PowerShell 7 can be used to manage an enterprise. If it can, then IT Pros can move towards it with increasing confidence.

PowerShell 7, at the time this is written is at Preview-3 stage with an expectation of shipping sometime in September. If you find I am wrong on any of the points below please let me know. This is a work in progress as we approach PowerShell 7 RTW.

What Works and What Doesn't

In working on the book, I have found that commands, modules, and .NET classes fall into 3 distinct bands:
  • Stuff that works. 
  • Stuff that can work using WindowsCompatibility module
  • Stuff that does not work and probably won't work 

Stuff that works is, well, stuff that works. Most of the basic day to day commands/modules work fine. Which I think is to be expected. A big win here is that the ActiveDirectory module works great (although sadly, the AD Deployment module does not work natively).

The Windows Compatibility module (WCM) is a solution to some compatibility issues. WCM uses a combination of implicit remoting and PowerShell remoting sessions. For each module you want to use - you use Import-WinModule to load the commands in the current PowerShell session. WCM, under the cover, creates a remoting session into PowerShell 5.x on the local machine and imports the underlying module using implicit remoting. Thus you can import the ADDeployment module using this technique and access the commands natively.

Stuff that doesn't work and never well should be a small subset of overall PowerShell functionality. An example is workflows - these depend on Windows Workflow Foundation and thus far at least, there is no interest in porting the necessary .NET classes to .NET Core.

While I never say never, I think if you want to use anything that doesn't work today - you either stick with PowerShell 5.x for the foreseeable future or evaluation alternatives.

Stuff that Doesn't Work and May Never Work

Here is my list of PowerShell 5.x features that are (probably) not ever going to work in PowerShell 7:
  • Workflows - Workflows in PowerShell depends on the Windows Workflow Foundation and that is not in .NET Core. As far as can be told at the time of writing, this is not going to happen. See the release notes at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/scripting/whats-new/breaking-changes-ps6?view=powershell-6.
  • PowerShell Snap-ins - Snap-ins was an earlier approach to add-ins, but were replaced by Modules in Windows PowerShell 2.  Some Microsoft modules were affected but these are being updated. In many cases, you can convert the Snap-in into a module - but many modules delivered by third parties may not be so easy to modify. If you are still using an old snap-in, consider migrating it to a module. 
  • Desired State Configuration - this too is not going forward. At least not yet. Having said that, there might be some updates on this shortly. We'll see.
  • Windows Update - the issue here is that much functionality of WSUS is delivered via methods, not via cmdlets. The WSUS object methods do not work via Windows Compatibility. It turns out that the module also makes use of SOAP which causes more issues with future support. This is unlikely to be supported in PowerShell 7.
  • Best Practices Module - I would have expected this module to have been fully supported.

Things That Work Using the Windows Compatibility Module

There are a number of Windows PowerShell cmdlets and modules which are not supported natively in PowerShell 7 but can be used by way of the WindowsCompatibility module. You load these modules using the Import-WinModule command.

The modules I've found that do not work natively in PowerShell 7 but do work with Windows Compatibility Module include:

  • ADDSDeployment module 
  • AppLocker module
  • BITSTransfer module
  • ConfigCI module
  • DFSR module
  • DHCP Server module 
  • GroupPolicy module
  • IscsiTarget module
  • MsDtc  module
  • NetworkController module
  • NetworkControllerDiagnostics module
  • NetworkLoadBalancingClusters module
  • ServerManager module
  • Storage Replica module
  • The *-Computer commands in Microsoft.PowerShell.Management specifically Add‑Computer, Checkpoint-Computer, Remove‑Computer, and Restore-Computer commands.
  • The *-Counter commands - these are used to obtain Windows performance counters.
  • The WMI cmdlets. I was kind of surprised at this - but still, the CIM cmdlets are just a better way to leverage WMI.
NB: this is a work in progress. I'll update it as I find out more:
1. (20/8) Removed Print Management from a list of modules that do not work - all seems fine with Preview.2 and beyond
2. (21/8) Updated modules that need remediation. 
3. (21/08) Retested and updated based on Preview 3.
4. (2/09) Added issue with Windows Update, added BITS module to remediated list.









Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The End Of My Era

For me, today is a sad day. At least in some ways. Today is the end of my career as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. My MCT  credentials lapse today and as I stopped taking/passing exams, I am no longer able to renew.  So this is the end of my 26+year road as an MCT and the end of my 51 year career in IT, largely focused on Microsoft technologies.

I first got excited about computers in 1968, when I found that the job of an operator paid something like $.50/hour more than washing dishes – and was way cleaner. After a degree from CMU in Computer Problem Solving (what the hip call AI today). I spent three years working both in tee US and the UK for Comshare. They were a time-sharing company and were, in effect, at the beginnings of the Cloud.

After several years as an OS developer, I took a sabbatical for 7 months. The high point of that trip was seeing Mt Everest over my shoulder from 18192 feet.


After returning, I joined Arthur Andersen and a few weeks later was in Chicago at a training event when I read about the launch of the PC and was blown away by the potential of the PC. Within days of the announcement, I was bugging our partners to invest. Looking back, I became one of the first DOS trainers in the world!  During the 1980s I taught to a variety of audiences on subjects including PCs, DOS, dBase, Word and Windows. I left Andersen in 1988 and launched my own company specialising in a combination of training and direct mail. in 1992 – One cool client was The Savoy Hotel Group which was a lot of fun.

I discovered NT (as an early beta tester) and began doing NT training in 1993 – teaching at SkyTech in London. Happy memories. I also taught for Learning Tree. Their NT and TCP/IP courses were awesome.  I then became an MCT at the very opening of the programme and until today I have remained an active MCT (MCT ID 6851).

Those early days were very different from today. To become an MCT you had to attend an evaluation session (often dubbed Shelia York’s Day Of Hell). I failed my first attempt – I was just told to turn up and was never given the relevant information. Second time around I nailed it and became both one of the first MCTs and one of the first MCSEs in the world.  You also had to attend a trainer prep course for any course you wanted to re-deliver – I taught a lot of these in my time which was a real honour to do this training.

I was also active first on MSN, then in the newsgroups, when there were newsgroups. I loved being able to help other MCTs. Like many MCTs, I  spent time working for Microsoft both in Redmond and Europe. As an MCT I served on a couple of advisory boards too. Perhaps the most meaningful for me was the Certified Learning Consultant initiative – requiring learning partners to have suitably qualified learning consultants on staff.

As many of the early MCTs will know, I have a passion for quality. Even when I all too often fall short myself. Such is life. When Lutz Ziob joined Microsoft Learning, he quickly outsourced much of the work that had previously been done internally (with LOTS of contractors – some of them awesome). The outsourcing made sense, unfortunately, the quality of what was produced was incredibly bad. I started a discussion about quality which I am glad to say had a major effect. One thing the discussion surfaced was that students often rated the courseware far better than the MCTs did. If nothing else, this proved the value of the MCT.

I have many happy memories: meeting Bill Gates and getting him to sign my Windows 95 Gold CD.


I also met Steve Ballmer on a couple of occasions. Here’s one:


In my travels, I have had many adventures, lost luggage, horrible rooms, cancelled/rerouted flights. I even spent an evening in jail in Turkey during a military revolution. I have also had the good times – flying Concorde, staying in the Savoy, and eating at the Tuna House. A precious memory was being in the room when Jeffrey Snover launched PowerShell and waving a $20 at him saying I’ll buy it.

So now it's over. I enter full retirement with a mixture of relief(I made it!) and sadness.







What a long strange trip it's been. Thanks for all the fish

Monday, July 22, 2019

Windows Forms - working in PowerShell 7 Preview2

One long-anticipated feature of what is soon to be PowerShell 7 is the use of Windows Forms. Technically, it is the .NET Framework that provides for form handling, but with the latest Preview.2 of PowerShell 7, this is now possible!

Here is a Windows Forms-based script that now works just fine in Powershell 7 Preview 2.

First, here is the code:

# Get-Shares Windows Forms Script
#

# Load System.Windows.Forms
Add-Type -Assembly System.Windows.Forms

# Get PowerShell version details
$Maj = $PSVersionTable.PSVersion.Major
$Min = $PSVersionTable.PSVersion.Minor
$Ver = "$Maj.$Min"

# Create form
$Form = New-Object Windows.Forms.Form 
$Form.Width = 750
$Form.Height = 650
$Form.Text = "My First Windows Forms Application - PowerShell Version $ver"

# Create a "computer name" label control and add it to the form
# Set label location, text, size, etc
$Label1 = New-Object Windows.Forms.Label
$Label1.Location = New-Object Drawing.Point 50, 50
$Label1.Text     = "Computer Name:"
$Label1.Visible  = $true
$Form.Controls.Add($Label1)

# Create a text box to get computer name and add to form
$Text1 = new-object windows.forms.textbox
$Text1.Location = New-Object system.drawing.point 150, 50
$Text1.Text     = "Localhost"
$Text1.Visible  = $true
$Form.Controls.add($text1)

# Create a label to output stuff
$Label2 = New-Object Windows.Forms.Label
$Label2.Location = New-Object Drawing.Point 50, 100
$Label2.Width    = 750
$Label2.Height   = 360
$Label2.Text     = ""
$Label2.Visible  = $true
$Form.Controls.Add($Label2)

# Create a button to get the shares
$Button1          = New-Object Windows.Forms.Button
$Button1.text     = "Push To Get Shares"
$Button1.width    = 150
$Button1.location = new-object drawing.point 350, 50

# Define Getting Shares Button Click handler
$Button1_OnClick = {
  $Label1.Text = "Getting Shares"
  $Shares = Get-CimInstance WIn32_Share -ComputerName $Text1.Text
  $Label2.Font = [System.Drawing.Font]::new('Courier New', 10)

  $Label2.Text = "Shares on $($Text1.Text):`n"
  Foreach ($Share in $Shares) {
    $Name = $Share.Name
    If ($Name.Length -gt 17) {
      $name = $($Name.substring(0,17)+'...').padright(16)
      }

    $Path = $share.Path
    $Label2.Text += "{0,-20}  {1}`n" -f $Name, $Path
  }
  $Label1.Text = "Computer Name:"
}
    
# Add the script block handler
$Button1.Add_Click($Button1_Onclick)    
$Form.Controls.Add($button1)

# Now create a button to close window
$Button2          = New-Object Windows.Forms.Button
$Button2.Text     = "Push To Close Form"
$Button2.Width    = 150
$Button2.Location = New-Object drawing.point 160, 550

# Define Button Click handler
$Button2_OnClick = {
  $Form.Close() 
}

# Add the script block handler
$Button2.Add_Click($Button2_Onclick)    
$Form.Controls.add($Button2)

# finally, show the form as dialog box.
$Form.ShowDialog()


And here you can see the results. First against first a work station:


And here a DC



Success. A working Windows.Forms script that runs great on Windows PowerShell now runs fine in PowerShell 7 Preview.2 (and beyond into infinity....)



Monday, July 01, 2019

Windows Terminal Is Here (in Preview) and it Rocks!

In Windows, PowerShell and CMD.Exe both run inside a console. That console is where programs interact with a command line application. The console inside Windows has not had a lot of love, although has improved of late. But that has just changed big time with the release of the Windows Terminal. If you are running Windows 10 - just go the Windows Store and get it - it's free.

The installation does a great job of detecting the console applications including CMD.EXE, PowerShell.Exe, PWSH.EXE, and the versions of WSL you are running, By default, the terminal installer does not find PowerShell 7.

Configuration of the WIndows terminal is, today, done via hand editing the Profiles.JSON file. On My workstation, this file is: C:\Users\tfl\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.WindowsTerminal_8wekyb3d8bbwe\RoamingState\profiles.json - You may need to adjust it based on your userid.

To enable PowerShell 7,. I just added a new section at the top of the profiles section inside the profiles.json file. I added the following:

 {
   "acrylicOpacity": 0.75,
   "closeOnExit": true,
   "colorScheme": "Solarized Light",
   "commandline": "C:\\Program Files\\PowerShell\\7-preview\\pwsh.exe",
   "cursorColor": "#FFFFFF",
   "cursorShape": "bar",
   "fontFace": "Consolas",
   "fontSize": 12,
   "guid": "{61c54bbd-c2c6-5271-96e7-009a87ff4442}",
   "historySize": 9001,
   "icon": "ms-appx:///ProfileIcons/{61c54bbd-c2c6-5271-96e7-009a87ff44bf}.png",
   "name": "Windows PowerShell 7.0.0 Core Preview",
   "padding": "5, 5, 5, 5",
   "snapOnInput": true,
   "startingDirectory": "%USERPROFILE%",
  "useAcrylic": false
  },

If you wish to add PowerShell 7, as I do, you need to do is to ensure the guid value inside this profile block is unique. You can just munge an existing GUID, as I did, or use New-Guid cmdllet create one know to be unique.

Since I plan to use Pwsh 7 mainly, I also wanted the default shell to default to using PowerShell 7. That also involves updating the Profiles.JSON file. At the top of the file, in the Globals section, change the value of the defaultProfile to the GUID of Pwsh 7. Mine looks like this


{
 "globals" : 
  {
   "alwaysShowTabs" : true,
   "defaultProfile" : "{61c54bbd-c2c6-5271-96e7-009a87ff4442}",
   "initialCols" : 120,
   "initialRows" : 30,
 ... etc


Once I have set these values in the Profile.JSON file, my terminal looks like this:


And away we go. There is far more you can do with the JSON file and I sure hope that by release later this year, there is a GUI to help configure the settings. I don't mind in the least having to deal with the JSON file and can live with this for now. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

What PowerShell Commands Do You Use Most Often?

I saw this question in a twitter thread. And a good one it is too. My immediate reaction was: Get-Module, Get-Command, Get-Help, and Get-Member. But those are my most  valuable. So what were my most USED? Turns out there’s a script for that:

PS [C:\foo> ]> Get-MostUsedCommands
Count Name
----- ----
1442 git
832 cd
578 ls
353 f
243 cc

I have uploaded this script to the Spiceworks script library at https://community.spiceworks.com/scripts/show/4644-get-the-most-used-powershell-commands - Feel free to download that code and play with it!

But if you are impatient and want the code, here it is:

Function Get-MostUsedCommands {
   <#
.Synopsis
    Gets most used PowerShell commands
.DESCRIPTION
    Uses the parser and command history to construct a list of the
    most used commands and returns a sorted list. The -TOP parameter
    tells how many results to return.
    Based on a tweet by @stevenjudd
.EXAMPLE
    PS [C:\foo> ]> Get-MostUsedCommands

  Count Name
   ----- ----
    1442 git
     832 cd
     578 ls
     353 f
     243 cc
.EXAMPLE
    Another example of how to use this cmdlet
.INPUTS
    Inputs to this cmdlet (if any)
.OUTPUTS
    Output from this cmdlet (if any)
.NOTES
    Works in Windows PowerShell 5.1, PowerShell 7 Preview 1.
#>
   # Define the parameters
   [CmdletBinding()]
   Param (
     [Alias("GMUC")]
     $Top = 5 # top number of results to return 
   )

  $ERR = $null
   [System.Management.Automation.PSParser]::Tokenize((Get-Content (Get-PSReadLineOption).HistorySavePath), [ref]$ERR) |
     Where-Object { $_.Type -eq 'command' } |
       Select-Object -Property Content |
         Group-Object -Property Content |
           Sort-Object -Property Count, Name -Descending |
             Select-Object -Property Count, Name -first $Top
}         

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Using PSEdit from the PowerShell Console - There's a script for that!

The PowerShell ISE has a neat built-in function, PSEDIT. It brings one or more files up into exit windows. I used to use this a lot (in the days before I discovered VS Code!). The PSEDIT function used the $PSISE object to add the files into edit windows. But this does not work from withing the PowerShell console.

But as ever, there's a script for that!  Just add the following function definition into your PowerShell 5.x console:

Function PSEDIT {
[CmdletBInding()]
param([Parameter(Mandatory=$true)]$filenames)
foreach ($filename in $filenames) {
dir $filename | 
  where {!$_.PSIsContainer} |
     %{
        start-process $Pshome\powershell_Ise.exe $filename
      }
   }
}

Once you restart PowerShell, you now have that command avaialble in the console.

Of course, in PowerShell 7, this function does not work since there is no PowerShell ISE V7. In PowerShell 7, you should be using VS Code. Once you install VS Code, typing Code $FileName just works as you would expect - and either start a new instance of VS Code with that file or add the file to an open instance. Very civilised - and another reason I love VS Code.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

First Steps with With PowerShell 7

In my last blog post, PowerShell 7 Is Here - Getting Started, I showed how you can install PWSH 7 and associated tools. I have had some good feedback on that post so it all seems to work (today!).

Having run the Install-PWSH7 script, which you can find at: https://community.spiceworks.com/scripts/show/4638-install-powershell7, you should now have PowerShell 7 Preview 1 on your system.

The first thing to notice is that the executable is now pwsh.exe. Also, the home directory, aka $PSHOME is now: C:\Program Files\PowerShell\7-preview. What this provides is a mechanism to run multiple versions of PowerShell side by side. On my system, I have PowerShell 5.1, 6.2 and 7.0. If you use the MSI to install PowerShell 7, the installer updates your environment path so you can easily find PWSH.EXE.

The next thing to notice is that there are a lot fewer modules immediately available. Since PowerShell 7 is installed in a different folder, modules you may have with PowerShell 5.1 are not visible. One thing I had to do was copy over my personal modules.

The next thing I found is that some modules do not load naturally. So for example, you can not just use Import-Module to import the ServerManager module. The solution to this is to use the Windowscompatibility module you can find on the PowerShell Gallery. Amongst other things, this module uses implicit remoting to access Windows PowerShell cmdlets from PowerShell7, for those modules that are not compatible directly. 

An example of using this is the Get-EventLog cmdlet. By default, running this cmdlet results in errors. But by using the Import-WinModule Microsoft.PowerShell. Management command you can access the windows event log, like this:


For more information on this module, see https://github.com/powershell/windowscompatibility.

So far, the following modules need to be loaded using Import-WinModule:
  • ServerManager
  • ADDSDeployment (and even then some cmdlets do not work properly).
  • DHCPServer
And finally, there are some things that are either not going to be supported or, arguably, are broken. So far, Windows.Forms, DSC and Workflows are not supported. Support for forms should come in later releases, prior to RTM.

With respect to Active Directory, I've worked out how to promote a server to be the first DC in a new forest but so far, I can not add a second DC to that initial domain. Still playing with that.

Another thing I found that is, arguably broken, is that the System.IO.DirectoryInfo object, returned from Get-ChildItem/GetItem cmdlets has changed the way it returns the parent directory. In PowerShell 5.1, the Parent property is just a relative path,, whereas in later versions this property returns the full path.  This will break some scripts. 



Sunday, June 02, 2019

PowerShell 7 Is Here - Getting Started

Like many IT Pros, I’ve been waiting on the first builds of PowerShell 7. Late last week Steve Lee on the PowerShell team inside Microsoft published a road map to PowerShell 7. And on Friday I finally got access to the code! YEAH. It took some playing around with the code, but I now have a basic development environment up and working. And of course, there’s a script for that.
The environment for PowerShell 7, at least for me, includes downloading the latest build and installing Visual Studio Code as my main IDE. Here’s my getting started script:
# 1. Fix Execution polity then install latest versions of Nuget and PowershellGet
Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Scope Process -Force
Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Force
Install-PackageProvider Nuget -Force |
  Out-Null
Install-Module -Name PowerShellGet -Force –AllowClobber 


# 2. Setup C:\Foo to hold stuff. ignore the error if it already exists,

#    then set location to C:\Foo
New-Item -Path C:\Foo -ItemType Directory –EA 0
Set-Location -Path C:\Foo

# 3. Install PowerShell 7

#    For now, load the preview version.
#    Based on: https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2019/03/how-to-install-and-update-powershell-6/
$URI = "https://aka.ms/install-powershell.ps1"
Invoke-RestMethod -Uri $URI |
  Out-File -FilePath C:\Foo\Install-PWSH7.ps1
C:\Foo\Install-PWSH7.ps1 -UseMSI -Preview -Quiet


# 4. Download and save Install-Vscode script from PSGallery

Save-Script -Name Install-VSCode -Path C:\Foo

# 5. Now run it and add in some popular VSCode Extensions

$Extensions = "Streetsidesoftware.code-spell-checker",
              "yzhang.markdown-all-in-one",
              "davidanson.vscode-markdownlint"
$InstallHT = @{
   BuildEdition = 'Stable'
   AdditionalExtensions = $Extensions
   LaunchWhenDone = $true}
.\Install-VSCode.ps1 @InstallHT 

# 6. Install WindowsCompatibility module

# the ServerManager module
Install-Module -Name WindowsCompatibility -Force

In step 1, I update the execution policy, and install the latest versions of the NuGet package provider and get the latest PowerShellGet module. Windows 10 ships with older versions of these tools so updating them is a good thing to do. With step 2, I create a  local folder, C:\Foo, which is where I put stuff.  Feel free to change either or both of these steps to suit your needs. IN step 3, I download and run a script to install PowerShell 7 on the local system.  The code here is a slightly more long-winded (but possibly more easily understandable) version of a one-liner posted by @Steve_MSFT. 
In step 4, I download a script that installs VSCode and in step 5, I run the script. This installs the latest stable version of VSCode along with three useful extensions. Adjust this list as appropriate.                 
Lastly, in step 6, I install the WIndowsCompatibility module – which is going to be useful in order to use PowerShell 7 to support a wider set of modules/cmdlets.  I plan to highlight this in coming blog articles.
Now that you have PowerShell 7 land VSCode, you need to set VSCode to a) use your colour scheme of choice then set the version of PowerShell you want VS Code. On my workstation, here’s how that looks:
So now that you have both PowerShell 7 and VS Code installed, it’s time to start getting used to the new version. My next post is going to be around installing AD, and the issues arising (along with solutions where possible).