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Ansible playbooks for managing an elementary school IT infrastructure (mostly Windows desktops)
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wakeonlan.yml

README.adoc

Using Ansible to manage Windows desktops

As part of this project the following modules have been implemented: - wakeonlan - wait_for_connection - win_defrag - win_product_facts - win_shortcut - win_wakeonlan

Configuring the system for Powershell Remoting

The following actions have to be taken to enable WinRM Powershell remoting.

Enable WinRM

Start Powershell (Run as Administrator) and run the following command:

WinRM qc

Answer yes on each question asked.

Allow Powershell script execution

Start Powershell (Run as Administrator) and run the following command:

Set-ExecutionPolicy

Enter the policy to be used: Bypass

Answer yes when asked to change the policy.

(Or use proper client certificates, which we plan to do)

Allow Powershell remoting for Ansible

Start Powershell (Run as Administrator) and run the following command:

ConfigureRemotingForAnsible.ps1 -CertValidityDays 3650 -EnableCredSSP

Enable Wake-on-LAN (WoL)

In order to automatically turn on systems when doing maintenance, we configured the systems to support Wake-on-LAN. Most systems are configured this way automatically, however in some cases they need specific changes to make them work as we like.

BIOS settings

Boot the system using the F1 key pressed to enter the BIOS.

Inside the (Lenovo) BIOS go to Startup > Automatic Boot Sequence and move the Network entries down using the minus key (-). Ensure that the first entry is the local boot disk.

Save the configuration using the F10 key and select Yes.

Windows settings

No specific configuration is needed to make Wake-on-LAN work on the Lenovo systems in Windows 10.

Using Ansible

More information is available from: http://docs.ansible.com/ansible/intro_windows.html

Capabilities

The following things we can manage using Ansible today:

  • Turn on systems (using Wake-On-Lan)

  • Collect information from the system (e.g. Name, MAC address, IP addres, hardware) into a CSV

  • Manage energy settings

  • Apply system updates

  • Installing and removing software (incl. everything from Ninite)

  • Enable/disable system services

  • Apply/merge registry settings

  • Customize desktop icons

  • Defragment filesystem(s)

  • Install printer drivers and configure printers

Still need to be implement:

  • Missing automation

    • Customize start menu (disable tiles, change start menu settings)

    • Customize task bar (pinning apps in task bar in specific order)

    • Customize system tray

    • Customize desktop icons (position desktop icons)

  • Missing facts

    • Disk information (size, free-space) using win_disk_facts

  • Security

    • Limit headphone loudness for children

    • Run applications as another user with unknown password (should be possible now)

Instructions

Existing Ansible playbooks are available from: https://github.com/crombeen/ansible

Turning on desktops using WoL

$ ansible-playbook -k wakeonlan.yml

Collect information (creates inventory in CSV format)

$ ansible-playbook -k collect.yml

Manage software

$ ansible-playbook -k provision.yml
$ ansible-playbook -k software.yml
$ ansible-playbook -k cleanup.yml

Manage system configuration

$ ansible-playbook -k config.yml
$ ansible-playbook -k desktop.yml

Manage local users

$ ansible-playbook -k users.yml

Manage RDP and OneDrive

$ ansible-playbook -k rdesktop.yml
$ ansible-playbook -k onedrive.yml

Run everything

$ ansible-playbook -k site.yml

Problems

Here is a list of problems today:

  • Often command line desktop management was an afterthought in Windows, not designed with it in mind.

  • A lot of (desktop) manipulations require registry edits because out-of-the-box cmdlets do not exist.

  • Hard to predict how registry modifications will survive Windows 10 updates.

  • Powershell is a big improvement over cmd.exe, however it feels like Perl 4 (1993) more than anything modern (encountered various inconsistencies and design issues).

  • Since we have Windows 10 Home OEM licenses, Microsoft’s solution (Active Directory and Group Policies) is not an option, and we prefer open tooling and manageable actions.

  • Microsoft disables WinRM on every Windows 10 upgrade (every 6 months)

Resources

More resources related to Powershell and Ansible-integration below:

Ansible

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