Windows – Windows to Go – Portable Windows on an external disk

“Windows To Go” is a portable windows environment that Microsoft developed. While Microsoft says they are no longer developing this, it is still available for use on recent versions of windows 10. For the Microsoft overview see: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/planning/windows-to-go-overview

I have used this to specifically create “portable” windows environments that boot most hardware from an external SSD drive. I say portable meaning that with “windows to go”, the windows OS installed on the external drive drops back into a setup mode when it detects that it is being booted on different hardware. This setup mode at boot time then tries to bring in the needed hardware drivers auto-magically for the new hardware this disk is being booted on. This is largely successful on most hardware as long as the network driver is sufficient to get a network connection. I have booted the very same Windows to Go disk without having to install anything new on Dell precisions, Dell optiplexes, Apple iMacs, Apple mac minis, Apple Mac Pros, etc.

While there is a built in process to create a “Windows to Go” disk in Windows 10 (type “Windows to Go” in the start menu search box), I have most recently been using the free utility Rufus to build these disks directly from our institutional windows ISO. Rufus can be found at: https://rufus.ie/ and below is a screen shot of the settings I have been using.

You will also need a copy of the Windows ISO for your institution, and, if applicable, your windows activation key. (We use KMS servers at Williams to serve our Windows and other MS software license activations so we don’t need to hand out the windows activation keys!)

Anyway, with Rufus, your Windows ISO, and a fast external SSD drive (Samsung T3) use these settings to create your portable windows environment on a bootable external disk:

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MacOS – Disabling Sleep option from Finder menu

We find that if people manually sleep a mac running Mojave (10.14.5) from the Finder menu that mac is then nearly impossible to wake up. So, at least on lecterns, I am using this command to disable the sleep menu item –
defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.PowerManagement.plist SystemPowerSettings -dict SleepDisabled -bool YES

For more details see:
https://derflounder.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/disabling-the-sleep-command-in-the-apple-menu/

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MacOS – Script – Getting the logged in user

loggedInUser=$( scutil <<< "show State:/Users/ConsoleUser" | awk '/Name :/ && ! /loginwindow/ { print $3 }' )

For more details see:
https://scriptingosx.com/2019/09/get-current-user-in-shell-scripts-on-macos/

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Windows 10 – Creating Image for Windows to Go external disks

In 2018 we started using “Windows to Go” on externally boot-able disks to provide the “windows” half of a dual-boot mac. To make this work you need to do the following …

1) Purchase really fast external SSD drives of sufficient size. We choose 250 GBs Samsung T3 drives like:
https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/memory-storage/portable-solid-state-drives/portable-ssd-t3-250gb-mu-pt250b-am/

2) Create your windows environment on a computer that has a removable internal SSD drive. Check this carefully before you begin as most new hardware is coming with SSD system drives soldered to the motherboard! Also be sure that your image is “sysprepped”! See additional tips on preparing a system for imaging/cloning at: https://sites.williams.edu/lj1/labs/windows-10-imagining-tips/

3) Once sysprep has run and shutdown the system, remove the internal hard drive from the computer. Using a sata to usb hard drive docking station like: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sata+to+usb+Hard+Drive+Docking+Station&i=electronics&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
Mount the sysprepped, internal drive on a different computer that has Microsoft WAIK installed. (Use the version of WAIK that matches the Windows version you are cloning!)

4) Attach another external SSD drive just regularly formatted for windows data. This will be a “Scratch” drive.

5) Run Windows update on your computer for any updates that could interrupt your process!

6) Set your Power and Sleep settings to NEVER sleep either computer or display. This process can take a long time!

7) Now determine all your drive letters. I will use C:\ for the current system where everything is attached, E:\ for the internal drive to take an image from in the drive dock, and S:\ for the scratch disk.

8) Create some directories. You will want to create:
C:\MyImageDir …. to receive the wim image you will be creating
S:\Scratch …. to hold the scratch files

9) With WAIK installed, the internal drive from your system to be cloned, and your scratch drive all attached ….
Find the Windows Kits in the Start Menu then open “Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment” with right-click and “Run as Administrator”. This opens a command window with elevated privileges.

10) To create the wim image in the opened command window you opened above, enter this command:

DISM /Capture-image /ImageFile:C:\MyImageDir\MyImage.wim /CaptureDir:E:\ /Name:"SomeNameForMyImage" /ScratchDir:S:\Scratch\

11) Wait a really, really long time ! Eventually you will see “Saving Image …” with a percentage in that command window.

12) Once that wim image is complete, you can use it as input to the Windows To Go disk creation process.

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Mac – Installing Spartan ’18 from JAMF

To install Spartan ’18 with a network license server correctly as a push from Jamf:

1) First create a package that installs the Spartan ’18 application to the /Applications folder and push that from Jamf
2) Create a script (example below) that calls the licensing script in that application
3) Create a policy to push the packaged application and then run the script

#!/bin/sh
cd /Applications/Spartan\ 18.app/Contents/Resources/Support
pwd
echo “running ./cliinstall.sh –network-server=lm3.williams.edu”
./cliinstall.sh –network-server=lm3.williams.edu

(You will want to change the network-server address to the correct address for you installation)

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Windows – Setting Application Defaults

With windows 10 you have to create an xml file with the file associations you want and then import that using group policy …
see: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/windowsinternals/2017/10/25/windows-10-how-to-configure-file-associations-for-it-pros/

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Chrome – Understanding Browser Policy Management

There are several ways to manage policies in Chrome on highly managed computers. See:
https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/9037717

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Mac – Use PMSET for Sleep timers and Power Management

On the Mac there are a number of ways to control the sleep timers.  Some seem to work better than others.  For Mojave (MacOS 10.14.x) I have switched to using the command peset.

peset -g      shows a list of settings

peset -a       allows you to change those settings

Example:

bash-3.2# pmset -a sleep 120

bash-3.2# pmset -a displaysleep 120

bash-3.2# pmset -a disksleep 120

bash-3.2# pmset -g

Additional details on this are available at:
https://eclecticlight.co/2017/01/20/power-management-in-detail-using-pmset/

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