Q

Programming languages for Windows; resources for Windows administrators

As a server administrator managing a local OU within a large domain and no permissions to DC and GPO like EA, what tools or scripts should I use to audit or monitor changes in real-time to my OU such as Groups Modified or Computers Removed? I want to know what other users are doing to my OU by keeping a log. Can you share any good practical WMI or VP scripts that you use for AD and Windows XP/2000/2003 daily? What is the best long-term programming language to learn for Windows XP/2003/Vista environments (e.g., VBScript, Java script, Perl, Python, VB, C#)? And what is your own preference? Microsoft keeps sending out too many security patches and hotfixes that drive me crazy. Will we see an end soon like XP-SP3 and be done with? Will we see Vista as a whole lot better security with less patches than XP? What benefits are in Vista to force the upgrades? Other than Microsoft Resource Kits books, can you give me a few recommended technical books on Windows XP, 2003, Vista and WSH, WMI, Perl, Python, VB programming? Other than Microsoft's Web site to search for Knowledgebase technical help, are there other Web sites that are great for Windows administrators?

As a server administrator managing a local OU within a large domain and no permissions to DC and GPO like EA, what tools or scripts should I use to audit or monitor changes in real-time to my OU such as Groups Modified or Computers Removed? I want to know what other users are doing to my OU by keeping a log.

Can you share any good practical WMI or VP scripts that you use for AD and Windows XP/2000/2003 daily?

What is the best long-term programming language to learn for Windows XP/2003/Vista environments (e.g., VBScript, Java script, Perl, Python, VB, C#)? And what is your own preference?

Microsoft keeps sending out too many security patches and hotfixes that drive me crazy. Will we see an end soon like XP-SP3 and be done with? Will we see Vista as a whole lot better security with less patches than XP? What benefits are in Vista to force the upgrades?

Other than Microsoft Resource Kits books, can you give me a few recommended technical books on Windows XP, 2003, Vista and WSH, WMI, Perl, Python, VB programming?

Other than Microsoft's Web site to search for Knowledgebase technical help, are there other Web sites that are great for Windows administrators?

Wow, lots of questions! In no particular order.

Most of the useful WMI/VB scripting resources that I use are the two Don Jones books (Managing Windows with VBScript and WMI is published by Addison-Wesley and Microsoft Windows Administrator's Automation Toolkit by MSPress); they're really quite outstanding. I also recommend the Technet Script Repository on the Microsoft Web site, as well as Alain Lissoir's homepage.

As far as which scripting language to learn, everyone has their favorite. I use VBScript because I came from a VB background, but many of my colleagues swear by Perl and Python. If you have a developer background, you might also want to look at the new Express Editions of Visual Studio, as the .NET framework contains many classes and methods useful for exposing Active Directory functionality.

Security patches. I think that security patches are going to be an inevitable part of life as the bad guys keep finding new and innovative ways to break our stuff. I've been fairly pleased with the move towards "Patch Tuesday" as a way to keep the patch management process under control, and you should look at deploying a managed solution such as WSUS or Shavlik's HFNetChk to help you automate the process if you have not already.

My favorite Windows Web sites? Off the top of my head, JSIInc.com, the list-serv hosted at ActiveDir.org, Paul Thurrott's WinSupersite.com to keep apprised of more news-related developments and Daniel Petri's MCSEWorld.

This was first published in December 2005

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