Category: Hardware

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

Install Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Network Adapter Driver

As you know, I am using an Intel NUC as my Windows Server lab machine, where I run Windows Server 2019 and Hyper-V on. Many people asked me about how you can install the Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Network Adapter driver because there are no Windows Server 2019 drivers for it. My blog reader, Michael Williams, shared how you can install the Windows Server 2019 Network adapter drivers on the Intel NUC 8th generation.

Here are the simple steps you can follow to install the Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Network Adapter Driver:

  1. Download the latest PROWinx64.exe for Windows Server 2019 from Intel including drivers for the Intel® Ethernet Connection I219-V
  2. To manually install the network drivers, extract PROWinx64.exe to a temporary folder – in this example to the C:\Drivers\Intel\ folder. Extracting the .exe file manually requires an extraction utility like WinRAR or others. You can also run the .exe and it will self-extract files to the %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Temp\RarSFX0 directory. This directory is temporary and will be deleted when the .exe terminates.
  3. The driver for the Intel I219-V network adapter can be found in the C:\Drivers\Intel\PRO1000\Winx64\NDIS68.
    Extracted Network Drivers for Windows Server 2019 - Intel NUC PROWinx64

    Extracted Network Drivers for Windows Server 2019 – Intel NUC PROWinx64

  4. Open Device Manager right click on Ethernet Controller and select Update Driver.
    Device Manager Update Driver Ethernet Controller - Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Driver

    Device Manager Update Driver Ethernet Controller – Intel NUC Windows Server 2019 Driver

  5. Select “Browe on my computer for driver software”, and select “Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer”, now you can select Network Adapter.
    Update Driver

    Update Driver

  6. Click on “Have Disk…” enter the following path “C:\Drivers\Intel\PRO1000\Winx64\NDIS68.”

    Driver Location

    Driver Location

  7. Now select Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM (The I219-V version is not shown)
    Select the Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM

    Select the Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM

  8. And you are done.

Huge thank you again to Michael Williams for sharing that with us. I hope this short blog post provides you a step by step guide on how you can install Windows Server 2019 Network adapter drivers on the Intel NUC. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Mini Review

Surface Headphones 2 Mini Review

This week I just got my new Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, and since I got asked a lot about my first impressions, I want to share this mini-review. First, let me quickly tell you why I bought the Surface Headphones 2 since I also got the Surface Earbuds. I really like the first generation Surface Headphones, which I use in my home office or when I fly. However, they are pretty big, and when I go to the local office, I don’t feel like taking the large headphones with me, that is where the Surface Earbuds come in.

Surface Headphones 1 vs Surface Headphones 2

Surface Headphones 1 vs Surface Headphones 2

For me, the Surface Headphones are great because they are very comfortable, they connect to multiple devices at the same time. They also have great controls for noise cancellation as well as amplifying the sound around me, so I don’t have to scream during calls because I can’t hear myself talking.

Surface Headphones 2 Mini Review

Here are my impressions of the Surface Headphones 2:

  • The look and feel is mostly the same as the first generation. I like the dial controls to change volume and noise cancellation.
  • The Surface Headphones 2 also have buttons on the side, which allow you to pick up and end calls, skip to the next track, pause and resume music playback.
  • You get the same 13 levels of noise cancellation as on the first generation headphones, which is excellent. I also really like to amplify the sound around me, so I can hear myself speaking during calls, so I don’t scream into the microphone.
  • They are now available in a beautiful matt-black color.
  • They’ve been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.0 and now support Qualcomm’s aptX Bluetooth codec, which offers better audio quality.
  • I love that they connect easily to multiple devices at the same time. For example, I can have them connected to my Surface Laptop 3 to do Microsoft Teams calls and can easily just take a phone call on my Android phone.
  • That said, they are not Microsoft Teams certified. Don’t get wrong; for me, they work great with Microsoft Teams. However, some things just don’t work together. For example, the mute button on the Surface Headphones 2 does mute the microphone on the headphones, but that does not show in Microsoft Teams.
  • Bluetooth connection works great for me. I heard that others are having trouble with BT headphones like delay. I never experience this on the Surface Headphones 1 and Surface Headphones 2. But this can also heavily depend on your Bluetooth hardware on your computer, laptop, or phone.
  • The ear cups can now rotate 180 degrees.
  • They charge using a USB-C port and they come with an extra audio cable for devices you can’t connect using Bluetooth.
  • The On/Off button and the mute button stick out more, to make it easier to find them.
  • Battery life has also been extended from 15 hours to 20 hours (I was not able to test that yet, but for my workflow, the first generation was already good enough.
  • The voice of the assistant has changed and is much faster in some cases. I like that when you turn on your headphones, and the assistant tells you how much battery they have left, and to which devices you are connected to.

These were my quick first impressions of the Surface Headphones 2. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. If you want to know more, check out the Microsoft tech specs here.

Surface Headphones 2 Box

Surface Headphones 2 Box

Conclusion

Overall I like the Surface Headphones 2. They bring the great experience and features from the first generation Surface Headphones with a couple of improvements and a lower price. I hope you liked my Surface Headphones 2 mini-review. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, but I am not part of the Microsoft Surface team.



Connect Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine to Azure VPN

Connect Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine to Azure VPN

A couple of days ago I got a Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine, which is an all-in-one device with an access point, 4-port switch, and a security gateway. After the basic setup, I wanted to connect my Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine USG to an Azure VPN Gateway (Azure Virtual Gateway), using Site-to-Site VPN. In this blog post, I am going to show you how you can create a site-to-Site (S2S) VPN connection from your Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine to Azure Virtual Network Gateway.

Azure Virtual Network Gateway and Connection

I already have a virtual network in Azure with the address space 10.166.0.0/16, and I also deployed the Azure Virtual Network Gateway connected to that vNet. The next thing I did was to add a connection to the gateway.

Azure VPN Connection

Azure VPN Connection

You need the following:

  • Name for the connection
  • Set Connection type to Site-to-site (IPSec)
  • Create a local network gateway (basically the configuration of your local VPN gateway.
  • Define a shared secret

Configure Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine VPN connection

Now you can switch to your UniFI Dream Machine, which has an UniFI USG integrated. Under settings go to Networks and click on Create new Network

UniFi Network Azure VPN

UniFi Network Azure VPN

Here you configure the following:

  • Name of your VPN connection
  • VPN Type Manuel IPSec
  • Remote Subnets which is the Azure vNet address space (in my case 10.166.0.0/16)
  • Peer IP which is the public IP address of the Azure virtual network gateway
  • Local WAN IP
  • the pre-shared key (shared secret)
  • IPSec Profile: Customized
  • Key Exchange Version: IKEv2
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • Hash: SHA1
  • DH Group: 2

After that, the VPN will connect and the status of your Azure virtual network gateway connection will change to connected.

Dream Machine Azure VPN Connection

Dream Machine Azure VPN Connection

You can now reach your Azure virtual machine using the private IP address range.

Connected Azure VPN

Connected Azure VPN

I hope this was helpful and show you how you can connect a Ubiquiti Unifi Dream Machine (USG) to an Azure Virtual Network using a site-to-site VPN connection. If you want to learn more about Azure Virtual Network Gateways check out the following documentation:

If you want to know more about point-to-site VPN connection to Azure check out my blog posts:

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Home Office Setup 2020

My Home Office Setup 2020 – How does yours look like?

A couple of days ago, Microsoft and other companies recommended that people work from home (if they can) due to the Corona disease (COVID-19). Since I am part of a remote team, I work mostly from home when I am not traveling, and so let me share my home office setup 2020 with you. I did share my home office setup already in 2018 after we just moved. Since then, I have upgraded my home office with a couple of new things, which I believe make working from home even more productive and enjoyable.

This is it, this is my Home Office Setup in 2020

Here is a quick view at my desk setup:



Surface Pro X Windows 10 on ARM WSL 2

How to Install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM

This is just a quick blog post about the experience on running the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) on Windows 10 on ARM, which comes on devices like the Surface Pro X. Since I got many questions from developers and IT Pros about the Surface Pro X and how it can handle different workflows on Windows 10 on ARM, I decided to write a blog post, on how you can install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM and the Surface Pro X.

Requirements

You need a device that runs Windows 10 on ARM like the Surface Pro X. Yes, WSL 2 works on the Surface Pro X, and you can run Ubuntu 18.04, which comes as an ARM compiled distro. But you will need to install at Windows Insider build (19041 or higher, also known as Windows 10 20H1 or Windows 10 version 2004). And yes, if you are running an Intel or AMD based machine, you can also install and run WSL 2 on Windows 10.

Install Windows 10 on ARM Windows Insider Build

Install Windows 10 on ARM Windows Insider Build

To run Windows 10 Insider Builds, you can go to Settings, Update & Security, and the Windows Insider Program and join the program. If you get asked to choose the Ring, you will need to select the Insider Slow Ring. You will need to reboot your machine and check for updates, to install the Windows Insider builds.

Install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM

To install the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2), you need to follow these tasks.

  • Enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux Optional feature (WSL 1 and WSL 2)
  • Install a distro for the Windows Subsystem for Linux
  • Enable the ‘Virtual Machine Platform’ optional feature (WSL 2)
  • Configure the distro to use WSL 2

Enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux and Virtual Machine Platform

Windows 10 on ARM Control Panel WSL2

Windows 10 on ARM Control Panel WSL2

You can enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and the Virtual Machine Platform feature in the Control Panel or with PowerShell.

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux
 
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform

These commands will need a reboot of the machine.

Install a Linux distro for the Windows Subsystem for Linux

If you don’t already have installed a WSL distro, you can download and install it from the Windows 10 store. You can find more here: Crazy times – You can now run Linux on Windows 10 from the Windows Store.

Install Ubuntu ARM WSL 2 Windows Store on the Surface Pro X

Install Ubuntu ARM WSL 2 Windows Store on the Surface Pro X

If you want to run a full Ubuntu virtual machine on Windows 10 Hyper-V, you can check out my blog post.

Set WSL distro to use version 2

After you completed the first two steps, you will need to configure the distro to use WSL 2. Run the following command to list the available distros in PowerShell:

wsl -l -v

If this command doesn’t work with the -v parameter, you don’t have the right Windows 10 build installed.

To set a distro to WSL 2, you can run the following command:

wsl --set-version DistroName 2
Convert to WSL 2

Convert to WSL 2

You can also set WSL 2 as the default. You can also run the command before you start the Linux distro for the first time, which will give you faster setup speeds.

wsl --set-default-version 2

To find out more about installing WSL 2, check out the Microsoft Docs page.

After you have enabled WSL 2 you can see that WSL 1 was running kernel version 4.4.0.

WSL 1 Kernel Version

WSL 1 Kernel Version

 

WSL 2 is running Linux kernel version 4.19.84

WSL 2 Kernel Version

WSL 2 Kernel Version

You can also see, that this is an ARM version of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu ARM

Ubuntu ARM

Conclusion

I hope this helps you and gives you a quick overview on how you can install WSL 2 on Windows 10 on ARM and the Surface Pro X. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and check out the WSL 2 FAQ. The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 Kernel is also open-source, you can follow the project on GitHub.

By the way, you can now also start using Docker Desktop together with the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 and even use WSL 2 on Windows Server.



Surface Pro X User Review

Surface Pro X – First Impressions and Review

I just got my brand new Surface Pro X two weeks ago, and since then, I spent a couple of days with it and started to use it as my daily driver. Since I got a lot of questions around the device, how I am using it, and what the limitations are, I decided to write this short blog post. There are many reviews out there from a lot of professional reviewers who focus more on specifications and restrictions to run all possible workloads. In my Surface Pro X review, I try to share my first impressions and write a short review of how the device works for me. Here is a brief review and my first impressions on the Surface Pro X, which is more focused on my use case and what I think the device is good for as well as where you might hit some limitations.

My First Impression 👓

I want to spend a couple of words on the first impressions I had on the Surface Pro X when I opened the box. Don’t get me wrong, all the Surface devices had an excellent built quality and design, but I have the feeling that the Surface Pro X is on the next level. It is hard to describe why, but the design and the details make it feel a real premium device.

Surface Pro X Body

Surface Pro X Body

On the software side, I was trying to stick with ARM64 apps as much as possible, and with the new Microsoft Edge Insider Canary version, I have almost all the apps I need. With the ARM64 apps, the performance is excellent, with no issues at all. Even emulated x86 32-bit apps like Visual Studio Code run very well for my personal tasks. However, I am not sure what the impact on battery life is if you run these apps most of the time. If you have a Surface Go, which I like very much, I can tell you that the Surface Pro X is way faster.

Why I love the Surface Pro X ❤

After using the Surface Pro X for more than a week, I can say this might be my favorite Surface device ever made. Don’t get me wrong; it can’t run 100% of the workloads I need, like containers and Hyper-V, for example. But for that, I also have my Surface Book 2, which runs all workloads and also provides a larger 15-inch screen.

Surface Pro X vs Surface Pro 7

Surface Pro X vs. Surface Pro 7

However, I was traveling, writing, and presenting a lot in the last couple of days, and I love the weight (774g), the size (287 mm x 208 mm x 7.3 mm), and the 13-inch screen in a 12-inch chassis with very thin bezels. It is very convenient to travel with since it provides the form-factor of a Surface Pro with the kickstand, but it also adds a 13-inch screen. The screen is bright, and the 13-inch display with the 3:2 aspect ratio is fantastic for productivity. The Surface Pro X is also 1mm thinner than the Surface Pro 7, which doesn’t sound like much, but you can feel the difference.

Enabled by the custom Microsoft SQ1 processor, one thing I completely underestimated is the possibility of having an always-on device. If you open up the Type Cover or start the Surface Pro X, it is instantly on and available. With Windows Hello, you are logged in immediately, and you can start working. When you close it and put it in your bag, or you leave it overnight, the battery doesn’t really drain much — speaking about battery life, which seems to be great so far, I get enough out of the machine for a travel day or a day at a conference. Another great feature the new Surface devices have is that they all come with fast-charging, which allows us to charge the machine very quickly.

Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 7

Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 7

The Surface Pro X also comes with a 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video and a 10.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4k video. Since I started to work more with video, having great cameras for recordings and Microsoft Team calls, and great audio with dual far-field studio mics, recording videos and doing conf calls works excellent. The 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium are surprisingly good.

Connectivity Qualcomm

Connectivity Qualcomm

I am also pleased about the connectivity options, the Surface Pro X comes with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.0 and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE Modem with nanoSIM and eSIM support. This is my first tablet with LTE support, and I like to have that option to be always connected. All of the wireless adapters are now coming from Qualcomm, and I didn’t have any Wi-Fi or Bluetooth issues; everything worked fine and at full speed.

The Surface Pro X also comes with two USB-C ports and a Surface Connect port, which means you can use your existing Surface adapters and chargers.

Alcantara Type Cover

Alcantara Type Cover

I am not sure if the Surface Type Cover for the Surface Pro X is different from the Surface Pro 6 and 7; however, for me, it somehow feels different. The typing experience is excellent, and I love the track-pad. I also got a couple of questions around the new Surface Slim Pen, which you can store in the Type Cover and supports wireless charging. For me, I even like it better than the existing Surface Pen. That said, I am mostly using the Surface Pen to take notes or using the Whiteboard app, and for that, it works great.

If you want to know more about the Surface Pro X Specifications, you can find them here.

What do I run on the Surface Pro X 💻

For me, the Surface Pro X is a great travel and work device. The small form-factor, weight, and the 13-inch display combined with all the Surface features like the touch-screen, Surface Slim Pen, kickstand, and many more, make it a great productivity device. I mostly use it for office tasks, mail, web browsing, note-taking, and doing presentations, and the Surface Pro X is excellent in doing all of that. Especially the mobility and always-on feature combine with the connectivity make is a fantastic device for me.

Surface Pro X with Slim Pen

Surface Pro X with Slim Pen

What I use and what works fine:

  • Office Desktop Apps (Office 365, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Excel) ARM version
  • OneNote ARM version
  • Microsoft Edge Insider (Edge based on Chromium) ARM version
  • Visual Studio Code Emulated x86 32-bit version
  • PowerShell
  • Microsoft Whiteboard App

What I am missing for my workflow:

  • An ARM version of Microsoft Teams, I am currently using the web version of teams and installed it as a progressive web application (PWA), which works great. You can also install the 32-bit version. However, this impacts performance and battery life.
  • Camtasia to do screen recordings
  • A native ARM64 version of Paint.NET. I am currently using the emulated 32-bit version from the Microsoft Store, which works well, but again I would like to see a native ARM64 version with more performance and better battery life.
Install MS Teams PWA

Install MS Teams PWA

I also connect my Surface Pro X to the Surface Docking station, which works great, and it powers to of my monitors.

Limitations and things to consider 🧱

The Surface Pro X runs Windows 10 on ARM, and this is not comparable to Windows RT or Windows 10 S. Windows 10 on ARM can currently run ARM64 apps or emulated x86 32-bit apps. So you can install your Windows applications as long as they are not 64-bit. Something to consider is that applications which are not compiled for ARM64, run emulated. This can have an impact on performance in battery life. In my use case, I run from time to time Visual Studio Code, which doesn’t seem to be an issue or have an impact on battery life. Some of the applications you are using today might are x64 apps. For example, a couple of Adobe apps or others, these apps can currently not run on Windows 10 on ARM. However, Adobe and others are working on bringing and compiling applications to ARM64, so they can run natively on the Surface Pro X and other ARM Windows devices.

Another limitation for me is that I can’t run Hyper-V on Windows 10 on ARM. That means I can’t use it for all my workloads and demos I do with virtual machines and containers. However, that isn’t a big problem, since I am doing more powerful tasks like this on my Surface Book 2 or maybe in the future on a Surface Laptop 3. But yes, you can run the Windows Subsystem for Linux and the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2).

  • Drivers for hardware, games and apps will only work if they’re designed for a Windows 10 ARM-based PC. For more info, check with the hardware manufacturer or the organization that developed the driver. Drivers are software programs that communicate with hardware devices—they’re commonly used for antivirus and antimalware software, printing or PDF software, assistive technologies, CD and DVD utilities, and virtualization software.
    If a driver doesn’t work, the app or hardware that relies on it won’t work either (at least not fully). Peripherals and devices only work if the drivers they depend on are built into Windows 10, or if the hardware developer has released ARM64 drivers for the device.
  • 64-bit (x64) apps won’t work. You’ll need 64-bit (ARM64) apps, 32-bit (ARM32) apps, or 32-bit (x86) apps. You can usually find 32-bit (x86) versions of apps, but some app developers only offer 64-bit (x64) apps.
  • Certain games won’t work. Games and apps won’t work if they use a version of OpenGL greater than 1.1, or if they rely on “anti-cheat” drivers that haven’t been made for Windows 10 ARM-based PCs. Check with your game publisher to see if a game will work.
  • Apps that customize the Windows experience might have problems. This includes some input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and cloud storage apps. The organization that develops the app determines whether their app will work on a Windows 10 ARM-based PC.
  • Some third-party antivirus software can’t be installed. You won’t be able to install some third-party antivirus software on a Windows 10 ARM-based PC. However, Windows Security will help keep you safe for the supported lifetime of your Windows 10 device.
  • Windows Fax and Scan isn’t available. This feature isn’t available on a Windows 10 ARM-based PC.

On the hardware, you need to be aware of is that the black color looks great, but it also picks up a lot of fingerprints. I also don’t like it too much that the Surface Connect port (for charging and connecting the docking station) moved a little up on the side. I think the reason for this is that the bottom of the tablet is just too thin. This is not a big deal, but just something to be aware of.

Conclusion 📝

The question is, should you buy it? And my answer is, it depends. Again I love the hardware and how it works together with Windows 10 on ARM. If you are looking for a machine, which can do what you need to do, then it is a no-brainer. If you are running 64-bit apps, for example, some of the Adobe applications, you might want to may go with a Surface Pro 7 or Surface Laptop 3.

For me personally, the Surface Pro X is a great companion to my Surface Book 2 or the Surface Laptop 3. Depending on what I need to do, I only travel with my Surface Pro X, because it is light and brings all the advantages of the Surface Pro form-factor. If I am traveling for a longer period of time, I will also bring my Surface Book 2 with a large 15-inch screen, as a mobile workstation.

Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3

Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3

If I am traveling, I can use the Surface Pro X as a secondary screen.

Surface Pro X Box

Surface Pro X Box

I hope this review gives you a couple of impressions about the Surface Pro X and why you should or shouldn’t get it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Just to make sure, in case you didn’t know, I am a Microsoft employee working in the Azure Engineering team. I am not evolved in the Surface product at all.

By the way, this review was written on the Microsoft Surface Pro X.



Ruggedized Azure Stack

Ruggedized Azure Stack at the extreme Edge

Azure Stack is part of Microsofts Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge offering, and extends Azure services not only into your datacenter, but also on into more challenging remote locations. Today, Dell EMC and Microsoft announced the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack, a ruggedized and field-deployable product for Azure Stack.

Tactical Azure Stack is the first and only ruggedized Azure Stack product available for tactical edge deployments. Based on our proven all-flash Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, it brings an Azure consistent-cloud to operating environments with:

  • Limited or no network connectivity
  • Fully mobile, or high portability (“2-person lift”) requirements
  • Harsh conditions requiring military specifications solutions
  • High security requirements, with optional connectivity to Azure Government, Azure Secret, and Azure Top Secret

This new offering demonstrates how Dell EMC leveraged our server design expertise and our exclusive partnership with Tracewell Systems to develop a new platform that expands Azure Stack use cases. For customers, it provides a familiar environment and consistent experience for Azure-based services in the field. In addition, Tactical Azure Stack incorporates Dell EMC features including automated patch and update capabilities, PowerEdge hardware management, and integration with Isilon, CloudLink, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Customers also benefit with one call to Dell EMC for service and support of the entire hardware stack.

 

The product’s core components are identical to our currently shipping all-flash Data Center Azure stack offering. For cloud operators, developers and tenants, there are no differences between the Tactical Azure Stack and Data Center Azure Stack. Our industry exclusive firmware update automation and Dell EMC services and support are all consistent whether you’re running in a comfortable data center or in a harsh, mobile, or forward deployed environment.

 

The management case includes the hardware lifecycle host, 25GbE Top of Rack switches, as well as the baseboard management switch. Additional “core” transit cases, each holding two T-R640 scale unit servers can be added up to the full node limits of Microsoft Azure Stack. At just 41.5” high, and 25.6” operating depth, the Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack unlocks a wide variety of use cases for government, military, energy and mining applications. It can also be ideal in forward deployments and mobile environments in marine, aerospace and other conditions that require MIL-STD 810G compliance.

The availability of these ruggedized Azure Stack systems, enable a lot of new scenarios, and I am looking forward to see what is next.