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Policy Mishmash

Last week drove down to my client’s office to swap my current laptop with a new laptop. The laptop arrived at my desk looking shiny and new. But it had a hidden devil inside.

Microsoft has wide range of domain and local policies which an administrator can enable. These policies can include things like hiding the C: drive, disabling the control panel, password expiry, disable command prompt, disable mmc and many other things. Well this PC came configured with many of these policies turned on. After a half-hour of attempting to use the machine as I am accustomed, I gave up. I left the machine there and took the old one back with me. The story doesn’t end there.

The next day I opened the laptop in my office and discovered the the policies that were on the new – abandoned – laptop, had been applied to my current laptop. Apparently the tech had logged into the domain using my credentials and the policies got applied. It took a while but I managed to get some items working again. Its a bummer not having a command line…but I an get around a bit of it by creating a batch (.bat) file and putting a ‘prompt’ command to have it pause so I can view the results.

I’ve asked for some of the policy to be relaxed in my case – I can’t see the ODBC control panel – but no word yet. The policy is controlled by the Information Security Team of my client, so they will need convincing of the changes.

One major achievement I have made is getting the Konica-Minolta Bizhub 250 MFP better integrated into my wife’s office. This MFP has a scanner, printer and copier functions. Getting scanning working was important as the wife often needs to send documents electronically to government offices. It wasn’t that easy either!

I had a quick setup manual but this didn’t do anything but tell me how to setup the IP address. Luckily I had enough brains to open the printer’s webpage where I was able to find some information and, after some searching on the internet, setup a scan-to-SMB for the copier. This all worked brilliantly, documents scanned to a share on a Windows machine saved in PDF, perfect! But for some reason I could not save to a share on our Linux-based file server. A look into the logs showed the scanner logging in, but then disconnecting for some strange reason. Obviously a strange incompatibility, which I haven’t been able to debug or get working.

I was able to get around this limitation by setting up vsftpd on the file server and using the scan-to-FTP functionality of the scanner (phew!). On the server I setup a special userid for FTP and created within its home directory a symbolic link to the folder where the scans are to be dropped. The scandrop folder exists within a share already created for my wife’s employees. Genious! And its fast as well. Now the wife can scan documents and send then through her internet fax account.

After all that, getting the printer functionality working was breeze.

Now what I found I really needed was getting CUPS working on my other linux box. For some strange reason my main Windows box cannot access certain sites (the scanner’s website is one of them) so I flip over the Linux box and use firefox. This problems seems to also include my bank’s website. Strange. So until I figure out what’s causing this, I will need to print from my linux machine. Next blog will be about all that.

I’m on a mini-holiday right now so expect a break of about three weeks of the next blog.