Monday, December 31, 2012

How to normalize special characters in filenames for Owncloud

This year is almost over. During the holidays I have spent a few hours working on that new on-premise cloud solution that is Owncloud (which I deeply suggest you to try).

The idea behind it is to give people the possibility to access their personal data from any internet point (be it your PDA, an internet point, your Android mobile phone or your work PC) and to share files, folders, pics, movies, documents with other people (friends or colleagues) in a nice and swift web interface.
Owncloud web interface
The problem many people are facing is that files and folders names containing special characters (such as é, à, ç, ù, ü) are very badly handled by Owncloud when it's installed on a Windows platform (be it Windows 7, Windows 2008 or even Windows 2012).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Intel G530 NAS performance - part 3

I keep the momentum of testing my newly built NAS and I am focusing today on improving the performance of my SSD drive. Let me remind you that this system is running Windows 2012 Server and therefore most of what has been told/written about SSD performance improvement under Windows 2008 R2 applies but must sometimes be reconsidered because a few changes have been made in the last Microsoft OS version.

Let's start describing the steps you took under Windows 2008 R2 and see if they still apply under Windows 2012.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to configure external storage for Owncloud in Windows

Most of the people I know who have tried Owncloud as a personal cloud solution (in alternative to Dropbox) have been discouraged by the difficulties they encountered setting up pre-existing folder as online content for a new Owncloud instance running on a Windows server.

In fact when you install Owncloud a new empty database instance is created and the theory is that you have to move all your files to it or accept the idea or setting up a new tree from scratch.

Fortunately there is another way, which is mounting one or more folders to Owncloud to get them shown in the web interface. This procedure is a tricky one mainly due to the fact that no Windows-specific procedure has been published until now.

The only information that can be found is limited to:
So that's why today I am writing this post for those who have Owncloud instance running in a Windows environment and are willing to mount their existing folders into it.

Intel G530 NAS performance - part 2

While in the previous post I focused on generic network access to my NAS over a gigabit network, in this post I will detail the results I got using the hard-disk utility HDTune to measure the performance of my four local disks. The results are pretty stunning, and they highlight the difference in transfer rate and access time between conventional HDD and new solid state drives (SSD).

Model Min transfer rate MB/s Max transfer rate MB/s Avg transfer rate MB/s Access time ms Burst rate CPU usage %
Crucial M4 64GB 289.7 349.4 336.3 0.1 112.6 12.8
WD Caviar Green 2TB 5400 RPM 54.2 117.8 89.2 13.1 150.7 6.2
WD Caviar 500GB 7200 RPM 38.9 83.6 67.9 20.3 118.8 5.4
Samsung HM320JI 320GB 5400 RPM 32.5 70.5 54.2 18.4 80.7 4.3

The Crucial M4 SSD (plugged on a SATA III port) performs very well and confirms my expectations from this kind of device. Of course I did not need such a performance in a NAS, but I wanted in my build for three reasons which are its low power consumption, it's coolness and it quietness (due to the absence of moving parts).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Intel G530 NAS performance - part 1

As you have read here, I have recently installed my new home NAS. I think it's a good idea to share the performance I get in order to allow other NAS-owners to compare their results. My build is based on the following parts:
  • Intel Celeron G530 processor undercloked to 1.6 GHz
  • 8 GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 underclocked to 1066 MHz 
  • MSI Z68 motherboard with integrated Gigabit NIC
  • Crucial M4 64GB SSD
  • 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 5400 RPM
  • 500GB Western Digital WD5000AAKS 7200 RPM
  • 350 GB Samsung HM320JI 5400 RPM
  • OS: Windows 2012 Server
In this first test I have used CrystalDiskMark 3.0.2 to test raw sequential read and write performance over a gigabit network.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Low power NAS/File server build

Hello folks! I am here today to share a new computer adventure! Two months ago, pushed by the desire of getting rid of one the old energy-inefficient computer that I used as a NAS, I started to explore the possibility to upgrade to a newer, faster and more thrifty (in terms of watts) configuration.

At the beginning I thought I could just replace one or two parts, but then I quickly realized my better option was just to take no prisoners and thrash all the parts that I had except the uATX microtower case and the external USB drives.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Event ID 4006 on Windows 2008 R2

A customer of mine phoned me today to tell me that all of its Windows 2008 R2 servers where coming up with blank desktops when they logged in with their domain administrator account.

After a few question, they told me that the affected server where new Windows 2008 R2 servers recently joined to a Windows 2003 domain.

Fortunately for me this is an old issue that I have met before, so I am here to share my solution which differs from the one proposed by Microsoft on Technet.

As explained on Technet, if you have a security group policy applied, it could happen that the Interactive account and the Authenticated Users group are remove from the local Users group.

It this happens, an event 4006 is looged in the event log upon login:

Log Name: Application
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Winlogon
Event ID: 4006
Level: Warning
User: N/A
Computer: W2K8SERVER
Description:
The Windows logon process has failed to spawn a user application. Application name: . Command line parameters: C:\Windows\system32\userinit.exe.

The solution proposed by Microsoft is to add the Authenticated Users group and Interactive account to the local Users group.

For me, the best thing to do on Windows 2008 servers is to disable UAC. The problem will be solved and you won't have to bother again about those painful security alerts which are most of the time unneeded on server platforms.

To disable UAC in a centralized manner, let's set up a new Group Policy.

Remember that starting from Windows Vista, you must use RSAT to create new GPOs.

So, in RSAT, move to Organizational Unit which contains your Windows 2008 servers and click on 'Create a GPO on this domain and link it here'.

When the Group Policy Management Editor pops up, move to 'Computer Configuration', 'Policies', 'Windows Settings', 'Security Settings', Local policies/Security options' and set the three following policies as shown here:
  • User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode: Elevate without prompting
  • User Account Control: Detect application installations and prompt for elevation: Disabled
  • User Account Control: Run all administrators in Admin Approval Mode: Disabled

GPO to disable UAC
Close the Editor to save and reboot your Windows 2008 servers twice. After the first reboot these settings will be applied but another reboot is required for the settings to become completely active.

I hope this post helps you. Do not hesitate to share your experience with this issue and to confirm that this solution has worked for you.

For more information about UAC, check this other posts: Disabling UACDisabling UAC part 2 and Windows 2008 R2 folder security issue and UAC.

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