Zen Moments

My district has owned a massive software package called ZenWorks (fondly known as Zen) for several years before I arrived there. It does all kinds of cool things like roll out group policies, provide remote control and reimage workstations. The last network admin tried to deploy it and abandoned it because of its complexity.

After discovering that the kiddies were bypassing the content filter by adding proxy settings to their browser, I knew I had to do something. I was pretty sure the desktop staff wasn’t going to make any attempt to lock down browser settings, so I knew it was time to do it from a central location. I cracked open the massive manual I bought a year ago (the size of the LA phone book) and started reading.

Upon completing the installation and getting all the snap-ins sorted out, the first thing was to get the workstations imported; you can’t do anything until they are all safely in a central location. What I did not figure out right away is the need for a DNS entry for zenwsimport ; once that was in place, the workstations started registering like mad….all 845 of them!

Policies were next, and one of my colleagues was kind enough to send his group policies file. I made a few changes to it and saved it in what I thought was the correct place on the server. With a test laptop next to me I kept applying the policies to it, but it would not take. After several hours of combing through Google, I went to use my command line to try something and it was gone. At that moment I realized that I had unwittingly applied the policy to my own computer …duh. Back to the knowledgebase to learn how to remove an unwanted policy; it ended up being as simple as creating a blank policy and re associating it, but sometimes the simple things take a while to figure out.

Rolling out the policy to select workstations for testing purposes was made more difficult by the fact that the desktop people rarely bother to rename the machines something recognizable after imaging. I had to actually go out and make a list of machines for my test group in spite of repeated attempts to get them to settle on a naming convention. The handful of test machines worked fairly well and I am almost ready for a full scale rollout of group policies.

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