Coupla Things – PowerShell and MD5 sums for MS’s MOSS 2007 VPC files

1) PowerShell

If you are involved in Systems Maintenance and the systems are Windows-based (pref. OS: Windows Server 2003+), you owe it to yourself to check out Microsoft Windows PowerShell. This is a .NET 2.0 shell, yes, but architected from the ground up to enable automation, and it enables all sorts of WMI-interfaces and reflection and so on. Very neat stuff. Go look, go play, go have fun. It’s free, as long as you don’t mind installing .NET 2.0. Also, if you like what you can do at the command line, but are more comfortable with GUI, check out the free project/software PowerGUI, which uses PowerShell’s objects’ reflection to provide a very flexible, extensible PowerShell GUI. You can even easily extend the interface with plugins and tied actions (written in PowerShell) and can easily share those with the import/export functionality.

2) Microsoft’s Office SharePoint Server 2007 VHD

I have finally made time to download this thing (over a couple of hours). It comes in 6 rar parts of 700 MB (the last part is more like 516 MB). I have said before that MS is great at providing downloads and crap at providing things that UNIXers and Crypto nuts have provided for years: Checksums. Why are these helpful? a) You can tell whether anyone’s fiddled with the bits since the original provider uploaded them or b) You can tell whether the bits you were intended to download are the ones you got. This kind of thing is helpful in determining, as in this case, whether you need to re-download the whole 6 part 2 hour festival or just one part. I have downloaded the parts. I am about to uncompress them, and when I do, if successful, I will post the checksums here for each part:

WIN03_MOSS_V1.part01.exe – Size: 734,003,200 bytes – MD5 Sum: 68b5470c605320228f588abe13af4e62
WIN03_MOSS_V1.part02.rar – Size: 734,003,200 bytes – MD5 Sum: 5a309da7ab473921a808298ff293b7fe
WIN03_MOSS_V1.part03.rar – Size: 734,003,200 bytes – MD5 Sum: ddd98c59425b704c37fc43bacacdc418
WIN03_MOSS_V1.part04.rar – Size: 734,003,200 bytes – MD5 Sum: 5549c847e02481ff3eebab2a43f9df3e
WIN03_MOSS_V1.part05.rar – Size: 734,003,200 bytes – MD5 Sum: e423cddc6064aa95624b398ecfeebcfb
WIN03_MOSS_V1.part06.rar – Size: 624,600,967 bytes – MD5 Sum: 64c0d290a32e8f445a3f8992d64198a0

Running the exe and answering the EULA in the affirmative yielded the following four files (unpacking took about 30 minutes on my 2.0 GHz non-hyper threaded Centrino with 2 GB of RAM):

Distributable VHD Image EULA.doc – 101,376 bytes – MD5 Sum: 9a5d93625bd1b42a9e7b65c7e52c8bea
ReadMe.htm – 37,435 bytes – MD5 Sum: 44196d20e67c174cd809734aa79eefe4
WIN03_MOSS.vhd – 10,968,818,688 bytes – MD5 Sum: 6ec5e3d177b1682c28815fd6a2f0e401
WIN03_MOSS.vmc – 14,516 bytes – MD5 Sum: c15ba5b037ceec9d1a4efdce44a99193

Now, these MD5 sums are only what I’m calculating on my end. I can’t guarantee to you that the files are not messed with. I can only tell you that it’s a reasonable certainty that if your MD5 sums match mine, you and I are looking at the same sets of files.

Anyhow, with all that, the files seem to be working properly with Virtual Server (though I must admit I’m new to Virtual Server 2005).

A good MD5 summing utility for Windows GUI (that lets you set a Send To target) is Nullriver’s winmd5sum. It takes a lot less time to sum a small file than a big one. The 10 GB vhd took about 5 minutes.

What is wrong with you Microsoft Only people? – Checksum utilities for verifying large files

So today I am downloading the 2007 Office Beta 2 installs (and whoever heard of paying $1.50 for 5 download tries? I sort of understand, but if it were really just covering bandwidth fees, I should think it would be a lot lower). I note that the download listings/product key e-mails do not come with checksums for these large files.

The files are all in the 75 MiB – 250 MiB range. In UNIX-land, people would as part of the normal posting process just provide checksums. But in Windows-land apparently this is not done. Why not?

Checksums are extremely useful for making sure that the bits you expected to transfer over the network are the ones you got. You can see that this would be useful for both file content verification in the sense of “did I lose any bits along the way that would corrupt my install and can I know it before trying to install and have it fail?” But it’s also useful in the sense of making sure that the bits you want me to download are the same ones I want to get, and assuring that no 3rd party attackers did a man-in-the-middle attack, substituting trojan horses and other nasty things into the install instead. Okay, granted, private key encryption technology would be better than a simple checksum, but a checksum would still be better than nothing, which is what I get when I pay $1.50 to download the damned things.

With that in mind, let me introduce you to NullRiver’s winMd5Sum. This is a free and easy to use utility that allows you to create MD5 checksums on files and also to compare pre-generated checksums to the ones you generate on your end to check the download. Go use it. You’ll like it. While you’re at it, tell your download hosts (Microsoft too, please) that you’d like it if they’d start using it or some similar process to help you verify your large file downloads.

For posterity, I’m going to post the MD5 checksums I’ve got so far for my Office 2007 Beta 2 downloads (from Microsoft via the License Technology Group) [This assumes that each binary isn’t especially constructed for each product key – I guess we’ll see]:

  • Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007 – OFS32-EN.IMG – 14,796,544 bytes – MD5: 4ba65c890b6c86158666b41c3652d2bb
  • Microsoft Office Groove 2007 – OG-EN.EXE – 220,111,048 bytes – MD5: ba497c8610ae774b4f3af92755e83bf7 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 – OON-EN.EXE – 231,814,328 bytes – MD5: 95750f6b8c48c602b39c4b1271913398 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager – BCM-EN.EXE – 252,769,672 bytes – MD5: 9cb44475cfbbbebb7c84eced9ef6e437 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 – OPPLUS-EN.EXE – 461,881,224 bytes – MD5: 7fc65a38b6bd9dce0563afea2c5b9a93 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office Project Professional 2007 – OPP-EN.EXE – 210,237,736 bytes – MD5: 50c1f917637de95c9aa72114e6385acb [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 – SPD-EN.EXE – 236,994,544 bytes – MD5: 94fe6551b52ef1d38556d76677966073 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 – Enterprise – SPS32-EN.IMG – 308,555,776 bytes – MD5: 0db4750dd73faca499fc5df95c7f63b3
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Search – OSS-EN.IMG – 231,387,136 bytes – MD5: c1c2b5ed9c0a31c48fb59afe3fb29919
  • Microsoft Office Visio Professional 2007 – OVP-EN.EXE – 293,966,312 bytes – MD5: 4259e1f323509e8392143e20416490f5 [Works fine]
  • Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services [v3] – SharePoint_setup.exe – 78,849,224 bytes – MD5: 51cd9f824bb5b6bfc90b96f0de956a1b

This is the complete list of the downloads I paid for.

Also, FYI, here is the link for the Beta 2 Technical Refresh download.

Here’s the file info for that download:

  • Microsoft Office 2007 Beta Two Technical Refresh – office2007b2tr-kb000000-fullfile-en-us.exe – 518,733,856 bytes – MD5: 9ad077c27fb279516b8636e43c3e0463 [Works fine]

I haven’t verified that all of these files work, but I have verified that the total file size is the same as was originally reported when I initiated the download, which is as close as you can get without MD5 or other checksum tools. I’ll note by striking the item out if for some reason the download is corrupt. Also, when I say [Works fine], I mean that it installed fine with all options installed to run on the drive. I won’t say that the actual programs installed worked fine, as they are in Beta.

Product Testimony – Acronis TrueImage 9.x

I don’t do Product plugs/testimonies for kickback, but only because/when products seem to truly deserve accolades.

Anyway, the version of Acronis TrueImage that I own is the Home version, but based on that, I’d definitely consider it for enterprise use too.

TrueImage is a disk imaging tool, and item-by-item recovery tool as well. You can back up an entire partition to a compressed archive and later, if you wish, mount the archive as a logical device, browse it and restore only what you wish. It features data verification, partition information restores, etc. It seems also to handle backup/restore cycles to disparate sizes (including downsizing, assuming the target device has enough room for the actual storage required by the files in the archive) gracefully and well.

Like any utility of this nature, you’re probably not going to use it day to day unless restoring disk images is 25% or more of your job description, but it’s very useful to have when you need it, and a good all-around way to keep a backup of, say, your system drive on, say, an external USB drive, in case you need it.

Since it also does both Full and Incremental operations, you can conceivably update your backups as often as once a day or more often.

This would even, with some training and relatively clueful users, be a good way to manage data/system recovery on a per-user basis, I think.

I’m very happy with it.