Saturday, February 18, 2012

Using Group Policy Preferences in a Windows 2003 domain without 2008 domain controllers

As most administrators would know, Windows 2008 domain controllers offers the new Group Policy Preferences which includes more than 20 new Group Policy extensions that expand the range of configurable settings within a Group Policy object (GPO).  I came across the need for this during a VMware View deployment when I wanted a simplified way of mapping printers as I wanted to get away from using vbs scripts or batch files.  The problem, as the title of this blog post states, is that the domain I was working with was still Windows 2003 and there were no 2008 domain controllers.  Due to the lack of 2008 servers, I was forced to use a Windows 7 desktop operating system virtual machine to deploy KMS and since I had already dedicated this virtual machine for KMS to serve as a server, I went ahead and used it to make the Group Policy Preferences available.

The first step is to install the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) from the following link:  http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=7887

Once you’ve installed the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), you’ll need to turn on the Remote Server Administration Tools by opening up Programs and Features then click on Turn Windows feature on or off:

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Within the Windows Features window, select Remote Server Administration Tools and Group Policy Management Tools:

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Continue by clicking OK to install the features.  Once complete, download the Group Policy Preferences in Windows Server 2008 Client Side Extensions for the operating system you’re using from the following link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/943729

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**Note: For the purpose of this example, we’re downloading Windows Vista, 32-bit edition because I’m installing this onto a Windows 7 32-bit operating system.

Once you’ve downloaded the file, proceed with installing it:

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Once installed, you should see it listed in your Programs and Features window:

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Now that you have the administrative templates installed open up the Group Policy Management from Administrative Tools:

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Once the Group Policy Management Console opens, you can proceed with creating a new policy and when you open up the Group Policy Management Editor, you should now see the Preferences, Control Panel Settings and Printers nodes under:

User Configuration –> Preferences –> Control Panel Settings –> Settings –> Printers

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I really like this simplified way of mapping printers rather than using scripts and having to configure the loop back settings of how the policy is applied.  What’s worth noting if you’re using this for your VMware View desktops is that if you have redirected printers left on (they’re on by default), your View desktops will most likely default to your redirected default printer and NOT the default printer you set in this policy.  If you want this changed, you can refer to one of my previous posts:

Disabling redirected printers for VMware View Virtual Desktops
http://terenceluk.blogspot.com/2012/02/disabling-redirected-printers-for.html

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