by Michael Wheatfill
In Part 2 of the GTD with Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010 Series, I covered how to setup Outlook 2010 for the GTD system. OneNote 2010 is going to be our central hub for collecting and organizing our information. Here’s how to setup OneNote.
By default our OneNote layout looks as such. As you can see, the Navigation bar is collapsed on the left, and the page tabs are on the right.
Our GTD system will work best with a more fluid layout. We’re going to expand our Navigation bar so we can more easily navigate our notebooks, and we’ll move the page tabs over to the left so our all of our navigation is in one place. We don’t have to move the mouse to opposite ends of the landscape as we navigate through OneNote.
Set up your notebooks
How you setup your GTD system is purely subjective and will differ by individual. I’ve tweaked my OneNote setup little by little to come up with what I have today, and this works for me. I’ll detail how and why I organize mine the way I do which at the very least will give you some idea as to the organizational flexibility of OneNote. My setup works for me for one reason alone. I TRUST IT. I trust it because it’s simple for me to understand, and therefore, it’s easy for me to use. Don’t be afraid to refine OneNote here and there until you can fully trust and use your system.
I start off by creating two separate notebooks (Go to File –> New to create a notebook). I name these notebooks:
- GTD – A notebook for capturing, and referencing all my lists (projects, read/review, someday/maybe, etc.)
- Reference – A notebook to organize all my reference material
- Inbox – A section devoted to capturing information. I capture mounds of information daily without worrying about organizing it while capturing. Everything goes to the inbox. A single page or multiple pages, doesn’t matter. Same concept as a physical inbox, an email inbox, and of course, it’s a capture device.
- Projects – A section where I keep all my projects. Project Support Material (PSM) goes here as well, and I’ll explain later how I organize this.
- Lists – A section for me to keep lists that I review regularly. This could be an ad-hoc list or something I review daily. For example, I have a weekly review checklist of everything I need to process, and I have a goals list of my key areas I like to focus on in my personal and professional development.
- Read – Review – Usually weblinks, emails sent from Outlook, or other online material. Perodicals/news clippings generally go in a physical file, and books I want to read go on my someday/maybe lists.
- Someday – Maybe – Someday/Maybe lists and brainstorming for anything I might want to do someday.
- Page Templates – OneNote offers the ability to save layouts of pages for easy creation. I create basic project templates and daily notes templates. I’ll cover how to create these in a bit.
In my Reference notebook, I create the following section:
- Personal – This section holds all my personal information like passwords, license keys, employer information, etc. I password protect this section by right clicking the section and choosing Password Protect This Section…
In the Reference notebook, I then create some section groups, and additional sections within those section groups. If you aren’t familiar with section groups, they are basically sections that can hold, or nest other sections. To create a new section group, right click on an empty space in the Section bar and choose New Section Group.
I create the following section groups (bold bullet points) and sections within those section groups (sub-bullet points).
- 1 – General Reference
- A – F
- G – M
- N – S
- T – Z
- 2 – Technology Reference
- A – F
- G – M
- N – S
- T – Z
The General Reference section is for anything that isn’t technology related. Since my major focus at work is technology, and technology happens to be a hobby of mine, I have a separate section for Technology. If you were a graphic designer, you may have a reference section for Graphic Design. Create additional reference sections for reference material that is very focused, or has a large amount of information that may not fit in a general reference.
I also create a separate Work notebook, which is also reference, but contains reference material for each project I work on.
You may be wondering why there are sub-sections in the Reference section groups for A – F, G – M, etc. First, the easiest way for me to file in OneNote is to replicate how I file in my paper-based system. Alphabetically. I also find that it is easier to file and sort in sections that break up my information into more manageable sub-sections. Granted, OneNote makes it very easy to search content across pages, sections and notebooks, but it makes it easier nonetheless.
These sub-sections may not be necessary when the SortPages OneNote PowerToy gets updated for OneNote 2010. Until then it’s a tad difficult to organize pages alphabetically.
Sending information to your inbox
One of the most powerful features of OneNote is it’s ability to capture information in many different ways. At the most basic level, it’s a text editor. You also have the ability to capture information from Outlook, Internet Explorer, take screen clippings, audio recordings, and that’s just scratching the surface. For more information, see the OneNote 2010 Guide notebook that is created when installing OneNote.
With the numerous different ways of capturing information, it would be nice if we could dump all this information in our Inbox so we can process and organize it later. Well, we’re in luck because there is indeed a way to do this.
Go to File –> Options. Select Save & Backup. Click the Unfiled Notes Section and select Modify. Navigate to the GTD folder (in Documents\OneNote Notebooks by default) and choose the Inbox.one section. Then click Open.
While still in the Options screen, select the Send to OneNote tab. By default, when you send content to OneNote from Outlook, IE or another program, a dialog box will prompt you for a location in OneNote to place the content. Since we are implementing GTD, we are going to make it as easy as possible to capture information, knowing that later we will be processing and organizing it.
For Email messages, select the drop-down menu and choose Set default location… In the dialog box that appears, select Inbox in the GTD Notebook and click OK. Repeat this step for all the remaining items in the Outlook Items area and the Other Content area. Click OK to save the settings.
Setting up page templates
Now we want to setup some page templates so when we are creating new pages to capture our daily notes, or setting up a new project, we save ourselves some time and also implement a bit of structure for our pages.
Page templates are quite easy to create. You will basically create a new page, make some content and format it to your liking, and then save it as a template which can be reused over and over.
First, navigate to the Page Templates section and create a new page. You’ll want to create a framework for your template, and you can use some tools to help you out. New in OneNote 2010 is text styles. These allow you to very quickly create some headings. Type some text, highlight, and the select the style of your choice from the Styles section of the ribbon:
I’ve created the following pages. You can use these for ideas, or create your own.
|Daily Notes and Links||Simple Project||Detailed Project|
That rounds out the setup for OneNote. As you may notice, there isn’t really anything fancy. Tags aren’t used in my system as they are in other GTD systems. I love them and find them very valuable, but haven’t found a need to use them yet.
Stay tuned as we continue on to using our newly setup GTD system based on Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010. We’ll dig in to how we collect, process and organize all of our information using this software to help implement the GTD methodology. Thanks for reading!
By Michael Wheatfill
In Part 1 of the GTD with Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010 Series, I covered the high level overview of my GTD system. This post will focus on getting Outlook 2010 setup appropriately so you can start processing, organizing and doing with Outlook and OneNote.
GTD Next Action Contexts – Using Outlook Categories
The first thing we’ll cover is setting up our Next Action contexts. In the GTD methodology, contexts are used to break up our Next Actions into distinct areas where we actually “do” our Next Actions, such as @Computer, @Home, @Phone, etc. In Outlook, we can use the Categories feature (introduced in Outlook 2007) to break our Next Actions up into these contexts. It’s very easy to customize Categories, and here’s how to do it.
Start by clicking the Categories button in the Tags section of the Outlook ribbon. Select All Categories… from the drop down menu.
Unless you have customized these previously, your Categories will be populated with quite a few pre-created categories. These work for some, but what I end up doing is deleting all of them. Yes, ALL OF THEM. 🙂 But don’t worry, we’ll create our own custom categories and we’ll always have the option of refining these later by creating new categories, modifying them or deleting them.
Here’s what my Categories looks like. You’ll notice I have two distinct groupings; Those that start with the @ symbol and those that start with “Contacts’”. I like to categorize my contacts, and if you do to, feel free to create some Contact categories. However, right now, we are focusing on our Next Action categories, and you guessed it, these start with the @ symbol.
Now, you’ve seen my Categories, and these work for me. One of the great things about GTD is it’s flexibility to fit an individual, and you can create different categories to fit your individual needs. I personally like to keep mine as simple as possible, and I’ve narrowed mine down to a set that fits my needs pretty well.
Let’s get into how to create our categories!
If you are like me, you’ll want to start with a clean slate. You can skip this step if you are apprehensive about deleting anything, and go watch an episode of Hoarders…maybe you have some electronic hoarding tendencies…just kidding. 🙂 There is no bulk way of going about this, so select a category, click the Delete button and confirm the deletion by pressing the OK button in the dialog box that pops up.
It’s ok, these can always be created again!
Once you have a clean slate, let’s get started creating our Categories to match our GTD contexts. To create a category, click the New… button, type a name for the category (I like to begin mine with the @ symbol, which keeps them at the top if I have other categories listed.
Next, select your favorite color (chartreuse, periwinkle, gray…). You also have the option of assigning a shortcut key from CTRL + F2 to CTRL+ F12. If you find this makes you more productive and you don’t like using the mouse if you don’t have to, then these shortcuts are for you. Click OK when you are done.
Alright, first category down. Repeat the steps above to create the rest of your categories. Remember these categories represent your Next Action contexts. You may already have context that you use, or you may be starting out for the first time. If you are starting out for the first time, my suggestion is to start simple. More contexts can always be included in your system as you refine it and fit it to your liking.
Get Your Next Actions Where You Can See Them
With this GTD implementation, Next Actions are created, reviewed, organized and completed in Outlook 2010. One of the key features that help us with these tasks was introduced back in Outlook 2007 and is called the Outlook To-Do bar. Folks, if you haven’t been introduced to the To-Do bar, then allow me. To-Do bar, folks, folks, this is To-Do bar.
As you can see to our right, the To-Do bar shows upcoming calendar appointments on top, and tasks arranged by categories beneath the appointments. Now, before you ask, I’m sure my To-Do bar looks a tad different than yours, or isn’t shown at all. That’s ok, because I’m going to show how to modify your layout to show the To-Do bar, and customize the To-Do bar to your liking.
First, the To-Do bar isn’t any good if we can’t see it. So to get this bad-boy out in the limelight, let’s do the following. First, go to the ribbon up top (where all the fancy icons are) and choose the View tab. In the Layout section, select to To-Do bar drop-down button and make sure the Normal option is selected. Now we have our To-Do bar front and center…err…right.
Now, the default To-Do bar is a bit too busy for my tastes. It comes by default with a mini calendar called the Date Navigator which I don’t find all that useful personally. I like to simplify my interface, giving the most room for my appointments, or hard-landscape, and my Next Actions (categorized tasks). To customize what is displayed on the To-Do bar, head back to the View tab, click the To-Do bar drop-down menu and check or uncheck any of the following options:
- Date Navigator
- Task List
- Quick Contacts
Ok, now we have our To-Do bar customized, we have one last step to make sure it’s displaying correctly for our GTD system.
The To-Do bar may organize your tasks by start-date or due-date by default. This isn’t the best sorting option for our GTD system, so we’ll organize it by Categories. This breaks our Next Actions into the proper contexts we’ve assigned them. Our in strict Outlook speak, this sorts our To-Do items (tasks, flagged mail, etc.) by category.
To do so, click on the left column header in the To-Do bar and select the option for Categories. It’s magical.
Wrappin’ It Up
Ok, I’ve covered the basic setup for getting Outlook ready for Getting Things Done. I have a few more advanced setup tricks to cover and I will detail these when we get to processing our inbox in an upcoming post…aren’t you excited? Before I go, I want you to think for a moment about how you organize your mail.
We all in some way or another create a folder structure that works for us as individuals. This could be as simple as one folder for email we’ve read (some use the Trash) or as elaborate as complex nested groups of folders and sub-folders to organize and categorize our mail. When using Outlook with GTD, our folders are there for one thing. Keeping reference material. In many business environments, this could mean ALL mail is kept for compliance and audit trails, but it is still reference material (some day I may need this email…). I urge you to think about, or even rethink how you organize your email, and setup a system that works for you.
I’ve gone from a very complex system to a rather simple system, and this decision is primarily based on Outlook 2010 enhancements. The search and indexing features are phenomenal, so I find I don’t have to file email sent to me by a certain person, or about a certain subject. I can simply type in a word or two, maybe the sender’s name and what the email was about, and generally I can find the email I was looking for in a matter of seconds. A second feature, called search folders, allows me to setup pre-defined search criteria, and these folders are populated with email that meets the search criteria. Now I can dump the thousand emails for one project into a single project folder, and if I need to, use Search Folders to dynamically group mail as I see fit.
I’ll cover these features as we get into the processing and organizing posts, but for now, if you don’t have an organizational system for email, or you are thinking yours are too complex, keep in mind that simple is often better, and new features in Outlook only make it easier for you to file your email efficiently, and find it again quickly.
In the next post we’ll get OneNote setup for our system, so we can get busy and use our tools to actually DO stuff instead of reading ridiculously long-winded blog posts.
See you soon!
May 11, 2010
By Michael Wheatfill
Hey GTD’ers. There are several blogs out there that describe how to utilize Outlook and OneNote to implement the Getting Things Done methodology. The most popular of the bunch is a collection of posts over at 7Breaths that covers OneNote 2007 and briefs on it’s integration with Outlook 2007.
The release of Office 2010 brings quite a few neat features that can be used to make you more productive and organized if you currently use Outlook and OneNote or if you are just starting out with Getting Things Done.
This blog post will give a brief overview of my system, which pulls many ideas from the the 7Breaths implementation, and adds my own twists and ideas for making my system work for me.
I use Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010 as the main tools for managing my GTD system. Since I spend most of my time at work on my computer, and the technologies I work with as an IT consultant are Microsoft centric, it makes sense for me to use an electronic GTD implementation with applications I’m familiar with and happen to love…isn’t that why we choose the GTD tools we do?
Keep in mind my system is not entirely electronic. I have physical inboxes, filing cabinets and notebooks at home, at work, and a portable system that fits in my laptop bag. Don’t forget one of the most important tools in any GTD system…the ubiquitous capture device. No technology here, just a small Moleskine reporter notebook I take with me everywhere.
Outlook is my central hub for collecting and organizing emails, tracking my “hard landscape”, and managing my Next Actions. The screenshot below shows a brief overview of where I spend most of my time, in the Mail view. This gives me the ability to process my inbox, organize my inputs, view my upcoming appointments and get a snapshot of my Next Actions.
Outlook is essentially used for the following workflows in the my GTD system:
OneNote captures all of my thoughts and notes each day, keeps my projects, support material, Someday/Maybe lists, and provides a place to store all of my electronic reference material. Here’s a screenshot of my OneNote landscape.
OneNote plays the following roles in my GTD system:
- Collection – Collects random thoughts, links, anything I want to remember, meeting notes and brainstorming
- Processing – Everything I capture is scanned and reviewed for possible Next Actions, Projects, Someday/Maybe’s, reference, or perhaps is deemed trash. Being the environmentally conscious person that I am, this information goes straight to the Recycle Bin (yes, OneNote has a recycle bin)
Let’s not forget the Operating System – Windows 7
In any electronic GTD system, the OS definitely plays a role. Of all the information that I process and organize on a daily basis, not all of it can live in Outlook or OneNote (well, it’s possible it can, but just not practical). Some of this information comes in the form of documents, executables, pictures or video. I use the Windows 7 file system to organize this information as well.
My goal was to make my file system reference as easy as possible, and something I didn’t have to relearn how to use when doing something outside of Outlook or OneNote. Windows 7 makes things simpler with the default profile folders, folder link favorites, Libraries and fast search functionality out of the box.
To make organization easy to use and understand, I basically mirrored my organizational approach from OneNote. As you can see from the screenshot below, the folder structure looks pretty similar to the OneNote screenshot above:
Now when I have support material and reference that needs to live outside of Outlook and OneNote, I can easily find it using a mirrored context as opposed to remembering where the corresponding folder lives in relation to my information in OneNote or Outlook.
My goal with this blog post is to give you a quick snapshot of what my system looks like. The intention was not to deep dive into the details of setup and functionality. Hang tight though! That is exactly what I plan on getting into in the upcoming Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010 GTD series.
Thanks for reading and happy GTD’ing!
May 29, 2009
Getting things done and takin’ notes…
I stumbled upon a blog the other day called 7Breaths with the tagline “Decide it. Do it.” This blog is focused on “Getting things done each day”, or just “Getting Things Done” (GTD for short). He started blogging about integrating GTD and OneNote back in 2007, which means I haven’t been “Getting things done” for a while now. Well, it’s time to start, and one of the things on my list is to blog more. Well, here it is!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with GTD, as I was, here’s a Wikipedia page you can read through. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done.
The blog author named Rob, has a great workflow he designed where he uses OneNote 2007 and it’s tight integration with Outlook 2007 to “GTD”. He has detailed this workflow in several sequential blog postings which can be found here. The thing that excited me most about this is I use OneNote 2007 to track all my notes. Also, I would consider my approach to productivity sub-par, and I’m always looking for ideas to streamline how I “GTD”. Integrating technology and productivity couldn’t be more exciting for me!
In addition to OneNote 2007, Outlook 2007 is used to manage appointments and projects. Additional blog postings on the subject can be found here.
In closing, for those of you that need a productivity boost and are looking for a tool to help with that, check 7Breaths out. If you are already as productive as can be, but want to learn a few OneNote 2007 tricks, and you deem this a worthy way to spend your time, then check out 7Breaths!
May 28, 2009
I was in the market for a new lab server at home that I could run VMWare ESXi or Hyper-V on, which would support my virtualization needs. I wanted to go with server-class hardware, and decided that the HP ML350 G5 would be the best fit for me now, and allow for some future growth/expansion.
I know a lot of you out there are looking for a solid lab server to setup at home or in the office, and for a personal purchase, I would consider this a middle of the road purchase as far as cost/performance goes.
My journey started and was encouraged by a guy named Simon who runs the Techhead blog which I highly recommend you visit if you are looking into purchasing a virtualization lab server. (a big thanks to my buddy John M. for sending me the link for Techhead). Simon is a VMWare guy, and his blogs relating to HP ML series servers detail his experience with the ML110/ML115 models. Regardless of the virtualization solution/hypervisor you choose, he has a great deal of information on these ML series servers. And if you choose to go the VMWare ESX route, he will put your mind at ease that these servers will work perfectly with ESX.
If you are looking for a cheap server-class system with a warranty and the flexibility of being fully supported by VMWare, I highly recommend the ML110/ML115 servers. However, I needed a bit more ‘oomph’ and decided to go with the ML350 G5 which supports up to 32GB of RAM, two Quad-core processors and 8 SFF (small form factor [2.5”]) or 6 LFF drives.
For those of you wondering, the main reason I totally ruled out Dell’s PowerEdge 2900/2950 offerings was because of the extremely loud fans and initial startup costs associated with purchasing one of these servers. I’ve heard the fans are ridiculously loud on the PE line, where the ML350 is much quieter and geared for the open layout home/office scenario. In addition, some of you may like to build your system from the ground up. I didn’t choose that route because number one, I’m lazy, and number two, I liked the 3 year on site support offered with the machine I purchased.
Our budgets and needs all vary, but mine are capped right around the $2000.00 mark. I needed a server that supported a number of concurrent running VM’s, so I wanted to start out with a Quad-core processor, at least 16GB of RAM, and to be able to load up the server with some fast SAS disks (storage constraint is what I’ve found to be the #1 bottleneck in VM performance).
My purchases all came by way of EBay. I decided EBay was the most cost efficient route, especially with the server purchase. All items I purchased were through Buy It Now, and I went with reputable sellers with feedback above 99%. My purchasing experiences with all three sellers has been great. Prompt responses to questions, willing to negotiate on price/shipping, and very fast shipping. I got a slaying deal on the ML350 through budgetservers. The price for this exact model on HP’s site is $1689.00. As you will see from my price breakdown below, I got the server for much cheaper.
Highlighting what I liked about the server, I found the most useful features to be:
- A 2.33ghz Quad-core processor, with support for an additional Quad-core processor
- Support for 32GB of RAM
- E200i with 128MB of battery backed write cache RAID controller (Supports RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5)
- Integrated Lights-Out port
- VMWare ESX is fully supported
In addition to the server, I purchased the following:
- 16GB of RAM (4x4GB buffered ECC)
- 4 x 146.8GB Seagate Cheetah 15k.5 SAS drives
The server comes with 2GB of RAM pre-installed, so the additional RAM will bump me up to 18GB. I decided on the 15K RPM SAS drives because I got such a great deal on the lot of four. Otherwise I may have opted to go with four WD Caviar Black 7200RPM SATA2 drives. Aside from drawing twice as much power, I think I will enjoy the added I/O and throughput the SAS drives will give me in RAID-0. In case you are wondering why I’m choosing RAID-0, which provides no fault tolerance, in my home lab I don’t need much in the way of redundancy and don’t want to forfeit the IO overhead that RAID 10 or RAID 5 would impose. My 1TB SATA drive that the host will be running on can be partitioned to provide ample space for backing up my most important VM’s.
Here’s a price breakdown of the bits needed to assemble the server, along with links to the EBay items (if applicable).
|Item||Price (including shipping)|
|HP ML350 (P/N 458246-001)||$1065.00|
|16GB RAM (4x4GB)||$369.00|
|4 x 146.8GB 15K SAS drives||$422.00|
More to come
I’m away from home for a bit, so I hope to make it back to assemble everything that has arrived. I have yet to decide between Hyper-V or ESX/VSphere, so my next posts will detail which I have decided on and what makes most sense for me. I also hope to provide some performance benchmarks as well as real-world results for you folks to give you an idea of what kind of performance you can expect out of a machine like this (I’m excited to find out myself). The one thing I find out there is a lot of specs on home servers, but not many results on what kind of performance they can expect from a particular setup. So I aim to give you guys one perspective based on the gear that I’ve assembled.
Until then, I hope this post has provided you with an interesting angle on building a home lab with server-class hardware for just over $1800.00. And like I mentioned previously, for much cheaper alternatives, check out the Techhead blog for information on the ML110/ML115 models.
May 28, 2009
Like many of you out there using OneNote 2007, I paste a lot of web snippets into my OneNote Notebooks. I myself like to have the same font size , type and color for all my notes that I’m taking. However, OneNote’s default option when pasting text is to match the source formatting of the copied text. This means that OneNote will try and match the font size, type and color of the website you are copying from. When pasting from a myriad of different websites, my notes tend to look more untidy than normal (my notes are always a tad messy).
One of the biggest gripes is the lack of the Format Painter toolbar button that is present in most other standard Microsoft Office apps.
The almost omnipresent Format Painter tool is non-existent in Microsoft OneNote 2007. 😦
In a nutshell, this handy little tool tool allows us to replicate the font and paragraph formatting of some source text that we target in the current document, and select the text we want to format identically to the source text.
Maybe this feature will arrive in Office 2010 (we’ll get a sneak peak when the Tech Preview becomes available), but for the time being, a lot of us resort to good ‘ol fashion text formatting.
For those of you that like to shave a bit of time off of your note taking, here’s a tip to help you corral your pasted text and have it behave like you want it to, by default!
Match Destination Formatting and Setting the Default Paste Behavior
When you paste your text into OneNote, observe the little icon, called the Paste Smart Tag, that appears in the lower left-hand corner of your pasted text. Click the icon, and in the drop down menu that appears, select Match Destination Formatting.
OK, you aren’t done quite yet. If you would like for OneNote 2007 to match the destination formatting every time you paste text from different sources, you can set it as the default, instead of clicking the Paste Smart Tag every time you paste!
All you have to do is click the Paste Smart Tag icon again and select Set as Default Paste. Now every time you paste text from different web pages or documents, it will match your original formatting you had set in OneNote.
Note: If you move on and start formatting the text, or typing additional text, the Paste Smart Tag will disappear. You’ll need to use the Smart Tag as soon as you paste your text if you want to manipulate these options.
Now, a few more things. By default, OneNote 2007 running on Vista will format your notes with 11pt Calibri. I happen to like the defaults, however, if you want to change your default font for note taking, you have the option to do so.
Changing the Default Font
To change the default font, on the menu bar, select Tools –> Options. In the Options window, select the Editing category. You can now change the default font type, size and color for taking notes in OneNote. In the example below, I changed mine to another Windows Vista font, called Cambria, with the size of 12 pt. This is a serif type font, as opposed to the san-serif Calibri font.
Other Formatting Options
I understand not everyone reading this will like the Match Destination Formatting option. If you noticed on the Paste Smart Tag menu, there is one additional option called Keep Text Only. This option removes all formatting and uses the default font options. What do I mean by all formatting you ask? It removes bold, italics, font sizes, table formatting, etc. It just pastes a blog of unformatted text.
I actually use this feature quite often. And here’s why.
- Sometimes I don’t need or like the formatting of text that I’m pasting in. I’d rather throw it all away, and format the plain text if I need to do so.
- I can easily get rid of the of the “Pasted from” citation OneNote automatically adds to all information copied from the web or Office documents. Do you ever notice that at the bottom of text you paste? It looks something like this:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE this feature and it cuts out the task of including a link to the text I’m citing. However, I don’t use it all the time, and I can easily get rid of it using Keep Text Only in the Paste Smart Tag options, as opposed to selecting the “Pasted from” reference and deleting it every time I copy information into OneNote.
Enjoy your note taking with OneNote!
Today we will explore the new client deployment method offered in System Center Configuration Manager 2007 called Software Update Point Based Installation. This new method of client deployment has proven to be one of the easiest, most efficient, and reliable forms of client deployment. This topic has been covered by Richard Dixon, Sr. Systems Engineer at Microsoft, Details for obtaining 100% ConfigMgr Client Installation & Reach and by Kim Oppalfens, SMS MVP, Sccm 2007 client agent deployment using Software updates
Software update point based client installation publishes the Configuration Manager 2007 client to WSUS, in fact, the software update point in SCCM, as an additional mandatory software update. This method of client installation can be used to install the ConfigMgr 2007 client on computers that do not already have the client installed, or to upgrade existing ConfigMgr 2007 clients. In addition, if a client is uninstalled for any reason, the client will be reinstalled at the next Windows Update Agent scan. This ensures that your servers and workstations are always able to be managed by Configuration Manager.
To use software update point based installation, you must use the same WSUS server for both client installation and software updates. This server must be the active software update point in a primary site. For more info, check out How to Create and Configure an Active Software Update Point.
- WSUS and a Software Update Point configured as an Active SUP
This information is not covered in this post, however, here are some helpful links to assist you in getting your SCCM installation configured for Software Update Point client installation.
- Group Policy Object to configure WSUS settings for clients
- Organizational Unit to link a Group Policy Object to
- This OU will contain the computer objects you want to push the ConfigMgr clients to via the Software Update Point client installation
- Configuration Manager ADM Templates
- Can be found on the ConfigMgr 2007 installation media in the "\TOOLS\ConfigMgrADMTemplates directory" (The latest ADM templates can be found in the same directory in extracted Service Pack installation directories)
- These templates allow you to provision site assignment and client installation properties that will be located in the registry prior to the client being installed.
Here is a high level overview of what you must complete to deploy clients via Software Update Point Based Installation. It’s actually quite simple.
- Configure the Windows Update GPO
- Configure Client Assignment and Installation Properties GPO (this is optional, I’ll explain why later)
- Publish the ConfigMgr 2007 client to the Software Update Point (WSUS)
Yes, that’s it! We’ll add one more step to this, but that is only to verify our configuration and test a deployment on a pilot machine.
Configure Windows Update Group Policy Object
This step will configure the WSUS URL that clients will use to contact the Software Update Point and install the ConfigMgr 2007 client. It is important that the WSUS server is the same WSUS server used as the Configuration Manager Software Update Point, and that the SUP is configured as the Active Software Update Point. View the links in the Requirements section above for more information on how to do this.
Ensure there are no other GPO’s that configure WSUS settings that are applied to the clients. If clients receive policies from multiple GPO’s that configure WSUS settings, the client will generate GPO Policy Conflicts and will not be able to install the client via Software Updates. This could adversely affect the application of Software Updates via Configuration Manager.
- Create a new GPO and link it to the OU that contains the computer objects you wish to deploy the ConfigMgr client to.
- Navigate to Computer Configuration > Windows Components >Windows Update
- Configure the following options
- Specify intranet Microsoft update service location
- Configure Automatic Updates (optional)
- Set the intranet update service for detecting updates notes
- Use an FQDN if configured, if not, use the NetBIOS name
- You will need to prepend http:// and append the port number that WSUS is configured to use (80 or 8530 in Configuration Manager deployments)
- To verify the port number WSUS is running on, reference the IIS Admin console and look at the properties of the WSUS web site Example: http://WSUSServer.domain.com:80
Set the intranet statistics server to the same value unless the statistics server is located elsewhere. Use same format as above.
- OPTIONAL CONFIGURATION: Configure Automatic Updates
- This is an optional configuration and is not required to install clients. By default, a scan will run at 3:00am everyday. To override this default option, configure the following:
- Configure automatic updating: 4-Auto download and schedule the installation
Set the Schedule install day and Scheduled install time value
Verifying the settings on the client
- Remember this is a computer configuration GPO and will only apply to computer objects in the OU and child OU’s that the GPO is linked to.
- On the client, open up a command prompt and run the command gpupdate /force
- Open the Registry Editor (Start –> Run –> regedit.exe) and navigate to the following key:
Configure Client Assignment and Installation settings via Group Policy
If you have not extended the Active Directory schema, or you wish to assign client installation properties via Group Policy to ensure that clients not able to query Active Directory for site assignment information, you can use Windows Group Policy to provision client installation settings to computers in your site. These settings will automatically be applied to any software update point based client installations.
Additionally, it is useful to use the Client Assignment Group Policy template as a method to ensure that your clients are always assigned to the appropriate site. If a client unexpectedly is assigned to another site, Group Policy will override this setting and assign the client to it’s correct site.
Importing the templates
- Locate the ADM Templates in the following directory of the ConfigMgr 2007 installation media: "\TOOLS\ConfigMgrADMTemplates” directory (The latest ADM templates can be found in the same directory in extracted Service Pack installation directories)
- Import the Templates in Group Policy by opening the Group Policy Object Editor, expanding Computer Configuration, right-clicking Administrative Templates and choosing Add/Remove Templates. Click Add and browse for the ConfigMgr 2007 ADM templates.
- The templates will be imported into Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Configuration Manager 2007 –> Configuration Manager 2007 Client
If you cannot see the properties of the imported administrative template, this might be because the filtering options for your Group Policy editor are preventing these from being displayed. Specify less restrictive filter options to display these properties. For instance, in the Filtering options dialog box of the Windows Group Policy Object Editor, clear the checkbox Only show policy settings that can be fully managed.
Configure Client Assignment
This policy configures site assignment for Configuration Manager 2007 clients. The Site Assignement Retry Interval (Mins) specifies how frequently the client attempts to assign to the site. The Site Assignment Retry Duration (Hours) specifies how long the client attempts to assign to the site before failing. Additional information can be found at How to Assign Configuration Manager Clients to a Site
- Open the Configure Configuration Manager 2007 Site Assignment Properties dialog.
- Click Enabled
- Type the site code you wish to assign in the Assigned Site text box
- Site Assignment Retry Interval: How often the Group Policy setting will activate and check site assignment
Site Assignment Retry Duration: How long a client will attempt to reassign until successful or until it is reassigned to the site code specified in the GPO.
Verifying client settings
You can check the following settings in the registry on the client to verify the GPO applied successfully: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SMS\Mobile Client. You may need to run the command gpupdate /force on the local client to see this policy take effect immediately.
- GPRequestedSiteAssignmentCode = <your site code>
- GPSiteAssignmentRetryDuration(Hour) = <Retry Duration (hours)
- GPSiteAssignmentRetryInterval(Min) = <Retry Interval>
Configure Client Installation Properties
Enabling this policy supercedes the client deployment properties configured in the Configuration Manager console under Client Push Installation and uses Group Policy to configure client deployment properties. For more information on assigning client properties using Group Policy, see How to Provision Configuration Manager Client Installation Properties using Group Policy.
For more information on client installation properties, please see About Configuration Manager Client Installation Properties.
- Open the Configure Configuration Manager 2007 Client Deployment Settings dialog.
- Click Enabled
Type the Client Installation Properties that you want CCMSetup to use when installing the client.
When CCMSetup is run from the command line without any installation properties, it will query the registry for these settings first, then will attempt to query Active Directory.
Verifying client settings
You can check the following settings in the registry on the client to verify the GPO applied successfully: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\ccmsetup. You may need to run the command gpupdate /force on the local client to see this policy take effect immediately.
- SetupParameters = <client installation properties>
Publish the Configuration Manager 2007 client to the WSUS server
- In the Configuration Manager console, navigate to System Center Configuration Manager / Site Database / Site Management / <site code> – <site name> / Site Settings / Client Installation Methods.
- Right-click Software Update Point Client Installation, and click Properties.
- To enable client installation, select the Enable Software Update Point Client Installation check box.
If the client software on the Configuration Manager 2007 site server is a later version than the client version stored on the software update point, the Upgrade Client Package Version dialog box will open. Click Yes to publish the most recent version of the client software to the software update point.
Verifying publishing is successful to the Software Update Point
- To verify the latest version of the ConfigMgr client has been published to WSUS, look for the following entry in the ConfigMgr log file called WCM.log (located in <SCCM install dir>\Logs\WCM.log)
- successfully published client with id <GUID> and version <Version of client>
- Example: successfully published client with id a331d4c8-8ba4-4791-a35f-9fa475a7a0d4 and version 4.00.6221.1000
- The version can be compared to the version that is listed in the Software Update Point Client Installation dialog in the ConfigMgr Console
- Client Versions: RTM – 4.00.5931, SP1 – 4.00.6221
Beginning Client Installation
Client installation will begin when the next scheduled scan starts on client machines. The default value is every day at 3:00AM, however, this may be different if you have configured the Configure Automatic Updates Group Policy setting covered in the Configure Windows Update Group Policy Object above. This section will help you force the Windows Update Agent scan and verify the install is successful. This is useful in a test installation or pilot deployment.
you can force the scan by running the following command on the client machine:
- To verify wuauclt.exe is running, view the process in Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc)
- If there are no preceding updates, the Configuration Manager install should start within several minutes.
- You can verify the install has started by viewing the Task Manager and looking for the running process ccmsetup.exe
- Also, the following directory is created when the ConfigMgr setup initiates: %windir%\System32\ccmsetup
- Event Viewer logs entries are written by the Windows Update agent
Source: Windows Update Agent Category: Installation Event ID: 18
Installation Ready: The following updates are downloaded and ready for installation. This computer is currently scheduled to install these updates on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 5:05 PM: – Configuration Manager Client Installation
Source: Windows Update Agent Category: Installation Event ID: 19
Installation Successful: Windows successfully installed the following update: Configuration Manager Client Installation
Verifying a successful installation
- CCMSetup logs provide more details on the status of the client installation
- They can be viewed at %windir%\ccmsetup\ccmsetup.log
- Use a log parser like trace32.exe available in the Configuration Manager Toolkit or the SMS 2003 2 toolkit
- Look for the log entry called "Installation succeeded"
- You can view what installation properties were used for the install by looking for the log entry:
- "MSI PROPERTIES are"
- Example: MSI PROPERTIES are SMSSITECODE=<Site_Code> SMSSLP=<SMS_SLP> CCMHTTPPORT="80" CCMHTTPSPORT="443" CCMHTTPSSTATE="0" CCMFIRSTCERT="0" INSTALL=ALL
- These installation properties are found by the client querying AD. If your machines aren’t able to query AD, or you want set these ahead of time, you can provision them by using GPO ADM templates covered in the section Configure Client Assignment and Installation settings via Group Policy above.
- It is important to note this installation method requires that Site Boundaries are created and that the client being installed fall within the site boundary entries. When a client queries AD, it uses Site Boundaries to determine which site to connect to. In order to bypass this requirement, provision client installation properties ahead of time using Group Policy.
- You can verify the client was successfully installed by opening the Configuration Manager applet in Control Panel and checking the settings. You will see the Assigned Site and Management Point the client is using.
On Windows XP machines, BITS 2.5 is a pre-requisite to install the ConfigMgr clients. If BITS 2.5 is not installed, it will be installed automatically during the ConfigMgr setup routine. This may reboot clients automatically, then start the ConfigMgr installation. If BITS 2.5 is pre-installed, the ConfigMgr installation will not require a reboot. If a restart for computers without BITS 2.5 is not desired, pre-deploy BITS 2.5 before the Configuration Manager client installation