Convert WMV to QuickTime

Windows media files suck. The fact that you have historically not been able to easily convert WMV files to QuickTime sucks even more. I can’t count the times I’ve been banging my head against the wall wishing I could turn a WMV file into something more reasonable.

It will set you back $50.00 , but I have to say that the new Flip4Mac plugin for QuickTime rocks because it allows a WMV to QuickTime conversion with just one step. No more lowering one’s self to the lowest common denominator and using WMV files just because everyone is. We can finally encode video the way we want without having to use a windows application to do the intermediary conversion.

Recovering From a Stuck Symantec Ghost Virtual Boot Partition

It seems that when you manage a bunch of machines with Symantec Ghost, you always end up with one or two that, for whatever reason, get stuck in the Ghost Virtual Boot Partition, and can’t boot back into windows. This can be really frustrating because you usually know what went wrong, and need to get back into Windows to fix the problem.

The good news is that setting the machine is really easy once you know how. I went through years of booting into DOS, and running fdisk from a floppy whenever this happened to me before I realized that fixing it is just a simple command that exists on the Ghost Virtual Partition.

Here is how it is done:

  • Stop Ghost and go to a DOS prompt:
  • If running the Ghost DOS client, NGctdos.exe, type Ctrl+X
  • If running the Ghost executable, Ghost.exe, type Ctrl+C
  • Change to the Ghost directory.
  • Type cd Ghost
  • Type ngctdos -hide

This last command hides the Ghost Boot Partition, makes the Windows partition active, and restarts the computer. You can then move on to fix the problem with minimal fuss, and get on with distributing the virus known as “Windows”.

Joining Samba Domains with Symantec Ghost

Because Symantec Ghost expects that everyone is going to use a “real” Active Directory Domain Controller, it fails when trying to automatically join samba domains, and I’ve always had to visit each machine after imaging it to manually join the newly imaged system to our domain. Needless to say, this is annoying when you manage over 300 systems.

Luckily, Alan Baker (who does not have a blog for me to link to) has managed to come up with a solution… For this, he is my hero of the month!
Here is how you do it… The trick is to create a post image command in your Ghost task that calls a little application called netdom.exe. You can add this file to your image and call it locally if you wish, or you can put it on a server and execute it using a UNC.

  • Download netdom.exe by clicking here. It is included in the Windows Support Tools package.
  • Modify your Ghost Distribute Task, click on the “Execute Command” Tab and add the following command, modifying it for your environment:

C:\Path\To\netdom.exe JOIN %computername% /Domain:Your_Domain /UserD:YourDomainAdmin /PasswordD:YourDomainAdminPassword /UserO:LocalMachineAdministrator /PasswordO:LocalMachineAdministratorPassword /REBoot

  • If you will be calling netdom.exe using a UNC, the command will look something like this:

\servername\sharename\netdom.exe JOIN %computername% /Domain:Your_Domain /UserD:YourDomainAdmin /PasswordD:YourDomainAdminPassword /UserO:LocalMachineAdministrator /PasswordO:LocalMachineAdministratorPassword /REBoot

This should save you a lot of time…. I know it has for Alan and I! Again, Thanks to Alan Baker for figuring this out, and sharing the info with me.

Migrating your Ghost control console

While my job mostly has me working with Solaris and Mac OSX systems, I’m occasionally forced to go slumming and deal with Windows. What can I say, we can’t always like every aspect of our jobs. Anyhow, yesterday I had to move our Symantec Ghost control console from one box to another. Sadly, it’s not just a matter of installing the software on a box with the same name, and I was forced to jump through a couple of hoops.

First you need to install the software as usual on the new PC and the copy three files from the original PC. In order to do this the Ghost server needs to be stopped on both the source and target PC in the following manner:

1) Issue the command “C:\Program Files\Symantec\Ghost\ngserver” -uninstall on both PCs to stop the server.
2) Copy the files C:\Program Files\Symantec\Ghost\privkey.crt, pubkey.crt and C:\Program Files\Symantec\Ghost\DB\SYMANTECGHOST.DB to the corresponding directories on the target PC.
3) Issue the command “C:\Program Files\Symantec\Ghost\ngserver ” -install on both PCs to restart the server.

There will now be an exact copy of the console on the other workstation.

Finally, make sure the new system has the same name as the old one. I really wish there was a way to have the clients communicate with more than one instantiation of the control console, but I’ve not been able to find a way to do this yet.