Cascadia Code in Windows Terminal

New Microsoft Code and Terminal Font Cascadia Code

Cascadia Code is the latest monospaced font shipped from Microsoft focusing on delivering an excellent font for command-line experiences and code editors like Visual Studio Code. The Cascadia Code font was first announced at the Microsoft Build conference in May 2019. And yesterday, Microsoft just released Cascadia Code version 1909.16 and it is available publicly on GitHub. Cascadia Code makes an excellent font for the Windows Terminal, and you can download it today.

It is the latest monospaced font shipped from Microsoft and provides a fresh experience for command line experiences and code editors. Cascadia Code was developed hand-in-hand with the new Windows Terminal application. This font is most recommended to be used with terminal applications and text editors such as Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

I took some time to install Cascadia Code font on my Surface Book 2 and it works great with application like Visual Studio Code and the Windows Terminal running PowerShell. To start using it, simply download the font, install it, and configure the application to use is. In the Windows Terminal app, open the settings.json file and change the font in the specific terminal profile.

VS Code Cascadia Code setting for Windows Terminal

VS Code Cascadia Code setting for Windows Terminal

  "profiles" : 
    [
        {
            "acrylicOpacity" : 0.5,
            "closeOnExit" : true,
            "colorScheme" : "VibrantInk",
            "commandline" : "C:\\Program Files\\PowerShell\\6\\pwsh.exe",
            "cursorColor" : "#FFFFFF",
            "cursorShape" : "bar",
            "fontFace" : "Cascadia Code",
            "fontSize" : 12,
            "guid" : "{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}",
            "historySize" : 9001,
            "icon" : "ms-appx:///ProfileIcons/{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}.png",
            "name" : "PowerShell Core",
            "padding" : "0, 0, 0, 0",
            "snapOnInput" : true,
            "startingDirectory" : "%USERPROFILE%",
            "useAcrylic" : true,
            "backgroundImage": "C:/Users/thoma/OneDrive/Pictures/Me/Thomas Maurer Logos 2016/WindowsTerminal/Black Cloud Robot.png",
            "tabTitle": "PowerShell Core "
        },

If you want to know more about customizing the Windows Terminal, check out my blog post. If you are optimizing and customizing your code editor experience, you should also have a look at my favorite themes for Visual Studio Code.

The font is open source and licensed under the SIL Open Font license on GitHub, so it is easy to contribute. Have you tried the Cascadia Code font, and what do you think about the new coding font? Do you like it? And if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

If you are looking for some other cool Microsoft coding projects, have a look at Azure Cloud Shell and PowerShell 7.



Ping Azure VM Public IP address

How to enable Ping (ICMP echo) on an Azure VM

This is just a very quick blog post because I got the question from a couple of people. In this blog post want to show you how you can enable ping (ICMP) on a public IP address of an Azure virtual machine (VM). First, just let me say that assigning a public IP address to a virtual machine can be a security risk. So if you do that, make sure you know what you are doing. If you need admin access to virtual machines only for a specific time, there are services like Azure Just-in-Time VM Access (JIT) and Azure Bastion you should have a look at. Now back to the topic, Azure by default denies and blocks all public inbound traffic to an Azure virtual machine, and also includes ICMP traffic. This is a good thing since it improves security by reducing the attack surface.

Azure Network Security Group Port Rules Deny All Inbound Traffic to Azure VM

Azure Network Security Group Port Rules Deny All Inbound Traffic to Azure VM

This also applies to pings or ICMP echo requests sent to Azure VMs.

Ping Azure VM failed

Ping Azure VM failed

However, if you need to access your application from a public IP address, you will need to allow the specific ports and protocols. The same applies to the ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) protocol. The ICMP protocol is typically used for diagnostic and is often used to troubleshoot networking issues. One of the diagnostic tools using ICMP is ping, which we all know and love.

What do I need to do to be able to ping my Azure virtual machines (VMs)

Overall we need to do two main steps:

Configure Network Security Group (NSG) to allow ICMP traffic

So here is how you enable or allow ping (ICMP) to an Azure VM. Click on add a new inbound port rule for the Azure network security group (NSG).

Enable Ping ICMP in a NSG on an Azure VM

Enable Ping ICMP in an NSG on an Azure VM

Change the protocol to ICMP. As you can see, you can also limit the sources which can make use of that rule, as well as change the name and description. You can also use the following Azure PowerShell commands to add the inbound security rule to your NSG.

Get-AzNetworkSecurityGroup -Name "AzureVM-WIN01-nsg" | Add-AzNetworkSecurityRuleConfig -Name ICMP-Ping -Description "Allow Ping" -Access Allow -Protocol ICMP -Direction Inbound -Priority 100 -SourceAddressPrefix * -SourcePortRange * -DestinationAddressPrefix * -DestinationPortRange * | Set-AzNetworkSecurityGroup
Configure Network Security Group PowerShell

Configure Network Security Group PowerShell

Set up the operating system to answer to Ping/ICMP echo request

If you haven’t already configured the operating system that way, you will need to allow ICMP traffic, so the operating system response to a ping. On Windows Server, this is disabled by default, and you need to configure the Windows Firewall. You can run the following command to allow ICMP traffic in the Windows Server operating system. In the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, you can enable the Echo Request – ICMPv4-In or Echo Request ICMPv6-In rules, depending on if you need IPv4 or IPv6.

Windows Firewall Enable Ping

Windows Firewall Enable Ping

You can also run the following command to do that:

# For IPv4
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="ICMP Allow incoming V4 echo request" protocol="icmpv4:8,any" dir=in action=allow
 
#For IPv6
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="ICMP Allow incoming V6 echo request" protocol="icmpv6:8,any" dir=in action=allow

After doing both steps, you should be able to ping your Azure Virtual Machine (VM) using a public IP address.

Ping Azure VM Public IP address

Ping Azure VM Public IP address

I hope this helps you be able to ping your Azure VMs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Windows Terminal Background Acrylic Opacity

How to Change the Windows Terminal Background Image

As you may know, Microsoft released a new Windows Terminal, which is currently in preview. However, it has some great new features, and a lot of people are currently trying it out. Now I got a lot of questions about how you can change the background of the Windows Terminal. So I decided to write a quick blog post about how you can configure and customize the Windows Terminal background image. There are multiple ways you can do this. And you can not only change the color or use a background image, but you can also change the opacity, and if it should use the acrylic Windows effect.

Customize the Windows Terminal Background Image

First open the settings of the Windows Terminal app, which will open a JSON file, where the settings are stored.

Windows Terminal Settings

Windows Terminal Settings

This will allow you to customize the settings and colors of the terminal. Every console has a so-called profile, which you can modify. Let’s start with adding a background image.

        {
            "acrylicOpacity" : 0.5,
            "closeOnExit" : true,
            "colorScheme" : "VibrantInk",
            "commandline" : "C:\\Program Files\\PowerShell\\6\\pwsh.exe",
            "cursorColor" : "#FFFFFF",
            "cursorShape" : "bar",
            "fontFace" : "Consolas",
            "fontSize" : 12,
            "guid" : "{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}",
            "historySize" : 9001,
            "icon" : "ms-appx:///ProfileIcons/{574e775e-4f2a-5b96-ac1e-a2962a402336}.png",
            "name" : "PowerShell Core",
            "padding" : "0, 0, 0, 0",
            "snapOnInput" : true,
            "startingDirectory" : "%USERPROFILE%",
            "useAcrylic" : true,
            "backgroundImage": "C:/Users/thoma/OneDrive/Pictures/Me/Thomas Maurer Logos 2016/WindowsTerminal/Black Cloud Robot.png",
            "tabTitle": "PowerShell Core "
        },

With the “backgroundImage” value, you can set a specific image as the background.

"backgroundImage": "C:/Users/thoma/OneDrive/Pictures/Me/Thomas Maurer Logos 2016/WindowsTerminal/Black Cloud Robot.png"

Opacity

You can use the “backgroundImageOpacity” to set the opacity of the for the background image, and this is super helpful when you have a full background image.

Windows Terminal Background Image Opacity

Windows Terminal Background Image Opacity

You can add the following value to configure the opacity.

"backgroundImageOpacity" : 0.2

Acrylic effect

You can also configure the Windows Terminal to use the Acrylic effect in Windows 10 for the background. This will combine the acrylic effect with the background image.

Windows Terminal Background Acrylic Opacity

Windows Terminal Background Acrylic Opacity

Just set the following value to the settings.

"useAcrylic" : true,
"acrylicOpacity" : 0.5

Here is a full config you can have a look at, with all the settings enabled.

Profile

Profile

Let me know if that helps you to set, change, and customize the background image of the Windows Terminal. You can read more about the new Windows Terminal on the official blog. And if you want to know more about how you can run Azure Cloud Shell in the terminal, check out my blog post. If you have questions, let me know in the comments.



Run Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Run Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Windows Admin Center is a locally deployed, browser-based app for managing servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs. If you ever asked yourself if Windows Admin Center (WAC) runs on Windows Server Core, the answer is yes. Run and install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core, simply copy the MSI installer to the Windows Server, or download it directly. If you are running Windows Server in a Hyper-V virtual machine, PowerShell Direct and be very handy to copy files using the VMBus from the Hyper-V host to the virtual machine.

Copy Windows Admin Center MSI to Windows Server Core VM PowerShell Direct

Copy Windows Admin Center MSI to Windows Server Core VM PowerShell Direct

Download Windows Admin Center (WAC) from here. You can simply use the following commands on your Hyper-V host to copy a file using PowerShell Direct.

$cred = Get-Credential
$s = New-PSSession -VMName WindowsServerInsider -Credential $cred
Copy-Item -Path .\WindowsAdminCenterPreview1908.msi -ToSession $s -Destination "C:\Users\Administrator"

Now you can run the MSI installer for Windows Admin Center. There is also an unattended option for WAC on Windows Server Core. You can find more about installing WAC here.

Install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

Install Windows Admin Center on Windows Server Core

After the installation has finished you can now remotely access the Windows Admin Center web portal form your workstation. However, if you install the new Microsoft Edge Insider Preview, which runs on Windows Server Core as well. You can access the console form your local machine. Don’t do that in production, but it is great if you are running demos or you need to troubleshoot the installation.

Install Microsoft Edge on Windows Server Core

Install Microsoft Edge on Windows Server Core

You can download the Microsoft Edge Insider from here. Thanks to Jeff Woolsey for the tip.

If you want to know more about Windows Admin Center check out my blog post and the Microsoft Docs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. By the way, also make sure that you check out the Windows Admin Center Hybrid features, which allows you to easily connect Azure services.



Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

How to Save Money on Azure using Azure Reservations

I wanted to quickly share something which existing for quite some time but talking with customers still a lot of people don’t know about it yet. And since yesterday the Azure team also shared some news on it, so it is the perfect time to have a look at Azure Reservations (Azure Reserved VM Instances or Reserved capacity). Usually, you pay Azure services in a Pay-As-You-Go model, which gives you the pricing flexibility and agility you expect from the cloud. But, a lot of customers have services like virtual machines or databases which need to run continuously for the next years. With purchasing reservations for these Azure services, you give the Azure team visibility into your one-year or three-year resource needs in advance, and this allows the Azure team to be more efficient with capacity planning. In return, reservations will give you back these savings to you as discounts of up to 72 percent.

The significant change which was announced yesterday is that there are now monthly payment options available for Azure reservations. Which means you can now pay reservations upfront or on a monthly basis. You can find more information about Azure Reservations on Microsoft Docs.

Azure Reservations Chart

Azure Reservations Chart

No worries, you can mix Azure reservations for your predictable capacity needs, with the Pay-As-You-Go model for your unpredictable capacity needs. While purchasing reservations is only a few simple steps in the Azure portal, we also understand that your workload and application needs may change, and exchanging reservations is easy. You can even cancel your reservation at any time and get the remaining months returned for a termination fee.

Azure Reservations are currently available as Azure reserved instances (RIs), for Windows and Linux virtual machines. As well as Azure reserved capacity for Azure data services, like Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. But there are also a lot of other services available.

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Combining the Azure Reserved VM Instances and the Azure Hybrid Benefit, you even can save up to 80 percent. To learn more about Azure RIs or reserved capacity, check out the following pages:

To find out more about reservations, check out the Azure reservations page. You should also have a look at the lastest new options like the Azure Dedicated Host and VMware solutions on Azure. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Prepare and pass a Microsoft Azure Certifciation Exam Microsoft Learn

How to Prepare and Pass a Microsoft Azure Exam

There are many good reasons to become Microsoft Azure Certified and take the Microsoft Azure exams. If you are reading this blog post, you might already have decided that you want to take a Microsoft Azure exam and get a certification. Since I passed a couple of the Azure exams, I would like to share how I prepared for these exams and passed. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to pass them as well.

Passing exams is all about having the right strategy and preparation.

Choose the right Azure exam and certification ☁🎓

To begin with, make sure you choose and pick the certification path and exam which is right for you. There are a lot of different exams and industry certifications out there. Microsoft’s approach of role-based certifications are aligned to relevant market and industry job-roles, to make it easier to find the right one. It makes a lot of sense to pick the right one for you, depending on where you are in your career and where you’re going. I wrote a blog post to give you an overview and pick the different Azure exam certification paths.

Identify the certification of your interest to find the required exams. To browse all the Microsoft Certification exams, check out the official website.

Start Small 🤏

If you are not 100% sure where and with which exam to start, I recommend that you start small by taking the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals exam. This will help you understand how Microsoft exams work by not being too deep into technology. Having experience taking Microsoft exams helps you to focus on the actual topics and not on the testing process. Also, make sure that you have a look at these special offers, you can find more information on special offers further down.

Know the exam content, read what is measured 📏

First thing after and during picking the exam is to see what is asked during the exam. Every Microsoft exam page lists the “skills measured” in the exam. This list is usually very accurate and helps you to focus and study the right content. The page itself even lists available training and courses to prepare for the exam.

Microsoft Azure Exam Page - Skills measured and Prepare for exam

Microsoft Azure Exam Page – Skills measured and prepare for the exam

Understand the question types ❓

Understanding the exam formats and question types before taking the exam can help you a lot. Microsoft does not mention which question types for exam formats are exactly in each exam, but you can find a list of exam and questions samples here in this YouTube playlist. Understanding what questions types will be coming in your exam, will make it easier for you to answer them and get the most point per question.

Take free hands-on learning courses on Microsoft Learn 🎓

Microsoft Learn was introduced at Ignite 2018 as a free learning platform for a lot of different Microsoft technologies, not just Azure. Microsoft Learn provides you with various learning paths depending on your job role or the skills you are looking for. Most of the learning paths give you a hands-on learning opportunity so that you can develop practical skills through interactive training. And it is free! You get instant in-browser access to Microsoft tools and modules, no credit card required.

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn 🎓

Up your game with a module or learning path tailored to today’s IT Pro, developer, and technology masterminds and designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Hands-on experience 💪

The best way to learn and pass the Microsoft Azure exams, or basically to learn anything, is most of the time through real hands-on experience with the technology. While Microsoft Learn gives you some free hands-on learning modules, there is also an Azure free account. The Azure free account will provide you with 12 months of free Azure services. You can find out more here. Make sure you dive into the skills measured and try the tutorials in the Microsoft Docs.

Read the Microsoft Docs 📄

Next, to Microsoft Learn and Hands-on experience, this is one of my main recommendations to prepare for a Microsoft Azure exam. Read the Microsoft Azure Documentation. Trust me on this, Azure and the topics which come up in the exams are very well documented. As mentioned, read the skills measured on the exam page, look up the specific Microsoft Docs pages and read through them and try out the tutorials.

Microsoft Docs Azure

Microsoft Docs Azure

Video courses and training 📽

There are a lot of different video training courses out there, which allow you to do video-based Azure exam preparations. To mention a couple of them like LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, Whizlabs, ITPro.TV, Udemy, A Cloud Guru and many many more! Just browse through the different offers and read the review to find the best match for you. There are also a lot of Microsoft Learning Partners which offer online courses.

Choose instructor-led courses and learning partners 👨‍🏫

As you can see, there is a lot of self-study learning materials out there to prepare and pass the Azure exams. However, the classroom experience can be super beneficial and efficient, especially with the right trainer. You can find a list of official Microsoft Learning Partners with Microsoft Certified Trainers depending on your country here. A lot of them offer different courses for different technologies and in combination with in-person or online training.

Books 📚

If you prefer to learn and prepare for an exam using books, Microsoft offers books written by the experts at Microsoft Press. There are some excellent books which will help you learn more and prepare and pass the Microsoft Azure exams. However, if you get a hard copy of the book, it won’t be updated in the future, to reflect changes in the technology or in the exams.

Take a practice exam 📝

Some of the exams also have official practice exams available. These are great to see where in the learning process you are standing and on which topics you need to spend a little bit more time. I highly recommend that you only do the official practice exams and don’t use brain dumps. Besides cheating on the exam and yourself, brain dumps are often simply wrong and contain a lot of mistakes. You can find Microsoft official practice tests here.

Study groups 👩‍🎓👨‍🎓

If you have a couple of colleagues, friends, or people you met at an Azure User group meetup, it can help to build a study group. Study groups don’t just help you to get more structure in your learning. They also help you to gain a new perspective on the study material and reduce procrastination.

Relax 🏝

Make sure on the day of the exam you are relaxed. Have enough sleep and no stress and other appointments directly and before the exam, which could make you run into a potential time issue. Make sure you arrive early at the test center, to have enough time and no need to rush so that you can focus on the exam itself.

Take the exam online 💻

Taking Microsoft exam at home

Taking a Microsoft exam at home

Sometimes it is difficult to find a test center which is close to you, or they don’t have time slots available. To make it easier, you can also take an exam online by using at-home testing. For example, Person Vue offers an online proctoring service called OnVUE, which allows you to take the exam from home or your office. I take almost every exam online these days, which saves me a lot of time. However, it also comes with a couple of requirements. For example, you will need to have a room where no other person can walk in and no monitor or other things close by which cloud make it possible to cheat. You can find more about taking the exam online on the Microsoft Learning page.

Special Offers 💵

Microsoft also has a great set of Microsoft Learning special offers like student discounts and exam replays. Exam replays allow you to retake the exam if you don’t pass it the first time. This can make your exam experience way more relaxed. It is worth checking out the special offers to see if there is one for you.

Getting started! 🧪

Are you also interested in becoming Microsoft Azure Certified? Check out my blog posts about why you should become Microsoft Azure Certified and how to pick the right Azure exam certification path. And have a look at my Azure exam experience with the different Azure exams.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can prepare and pass for a Microsoft Azure Certification exam. In my next blog about the Microsoft Azure Certification exams, I will give you some tips for taking the exam itself. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Microsoft Cloud Advocacy Methods and Practices Team

Update on my job in the Azure Cloud Advocacy team – Methods and Practices

Today I want to take the time to give you a look at the latest changes in our Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocacy organization. It is precisely 7 months since I joined Microsoft in the Cloud Advocacy team in Cloud + AI. Our AzOps team, led by Rick Claus, with the focus on the success of IT Pros, is now part of Donovan Brown’s new organization called Methods and Practices within Microsoft’s Developer Relations. Rick Claus wrote a blog about the latest changes for the team, which I am excited about.

This team was specifically pulled together to span the operations spectrum of folks who specialize in all types of infrastructure architecture, DevOps practices, DevSecOps specialties, virtualization platforms, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) principles and more. Regardless if you are on-prem only, hybrid or a cloud native team or organization, if you work in some form of IT operations space supporting your technical infrastructure used by internal end users, external customers or development teams – there are resources here for you to connect with.

Check out the video of Rick Claus and Donovan Brown having a chat about the reorg as well as the future of the Methods and Practices team.

So far it has been a great time in the Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocacy team, and I am really looking forward to work in that amazing team. If you have any questions about our team, let me know in the comments.