Some DFS Diagnostics and How to Make Dfsutil.exe Portable

There was a question recently about whether DFS was setup and working properly.

Well, let me back up.  There was a problem where an application dumped a file into a file share, but for some reason, the users were unable to see that file for up to an hour after it had supposedly been dumped into the file share.  And that file share was part of a DFS replication group.  So maybe the users were having to wait on DFS replication for some reason.  DFS was suspected, but we were short on evidence and facts.

So the users were in another geographical location, in another Active Directory site.  I wanted to see which DFS replication partner was the active target from the perspective of those clients in the other site.  For example, think of when you look at the following dialog box:

All well and good, but I needed to do this through the command line... via remote administration.

And the client was Windows 7, and it did not have Powershell remoting enabled, nor did it have RSAT (Remote Server Admin Tools) installed.

So if I wanted to check this DFS information on my own machine, which does have RSAT installed, I'd simply type:

C:\> dfsutil /PktInfo

And that will dump out lots of historical DFS target info like so:

C:\> dfsutil /PktInfo
12 entries...
Entry: \Server01\SiteB\Files
ShortEntry: \Server01\SiteB\Files
Expires in 89 seconds
UseCount: 0 Type:0x1 ( DFS )
   0:[\Server02\Legacy] AccessStatus: 0 ( ACTIVE TARGETSET )
   1:[\Server03\DFSRoot\Accounting\SiteB\Files] ( TARGETSET )
Entry: \Server01\SiteB\Files ShortEntry: \Server01\SiteB\Files Expires in 97 seconds UseCount: 0 Type:0x1 ( DFS ) 0:[\Server02\Files] AccessStatus: 0 ( ACTIVE TARGETSET ) 1:[\Server03\DFSRoot\Accounting\SiteB\Files] ( TARGETSET )

And so on... but I need to see things from the perspective of a client at that other site.

So the first thing I will do is... use psexec to enable Powershell Remoting on one of the remote clients!

psexec \\pc01 powershell.exe -Command "Enable-PSRemoting -Force"

Why? Because I will bootstrap you into the new decade kicking and screaming if I have to, that's why!

Secondly, I need to transfer dfsutil.exe (and dependencies) to the destination PC.  I don't want to install the entire RSAT on the remote client just to run this single test. The only hitch here is that you must use the version of dfsutil.exe that comes from the Remote Server Administration Tools that was meant for that version of Windows. So for instance, I couldn't transfer my version of dfsutil.exe to the destination PC, because the destination PC was Windows 7 and my workstation was Windows 8.1. I had to find a Windows 7 workstation with RSAT already installed as the source.  Also, you need to transfer the language file, dfsutil.exe.mui, into System32\en-US\.  So:

dfsutil.exe     -> \\pc01\c$\windows\system32\dfsutil.exe
dfsutil.exe.mui -> \\pc01\c$\windows\system32\en-US\dfsutil.exe.mui

Now I was ready to use Enter-PSSession to start a remote session on the PC and use dfsutil to run the diagnostic test.


I'm back, and I brought along with me my newest creation: BausButton. (Pronounced Boss Button.)

This little Windows app sits innocuously in your notification tray.  When you hit the hotkey, whatever window has focus at that moment disappears.  The window disappears and the task bar icon (if any) also disappears. Hit the hotkey again and the window reappears.  See... a boss button... for when the boss walks in and you need to quickly hide whatever you were looking at.

But there's more. It's got password protection. If you have set a password previously, then BausButton will challenge you before it un-hides the hidden window.  Passwords are salted and then hashed with SHA256. (A new random salt is generated upon each new "installation" of the app.)

By default, the "boss button" is mapped to the "Scroll Lock" key, but you may customize the hotkey by editing the BausButton registry key.


The "HideKey" value corresponds to the virtual key-codes defined by Microsoft, which you can find right here. So for instance, if you wanted to change the hotkey to the space bar, you'd change the HideKey registry value to 0x20 (decimal 32.)

If you ever just want to reset everything, just close the app, delete the whole BausButton registry key, then restart the app.

Some screenshots:

When no window is hidden, the BausButton icon is colored in.

When a window is hidden, the BausButton icon is transparent.

If you click the icon, you get a very simple menu. If you exit the app, any hidden window will automatically be unhidden before the app exits, and if a password is set, you will be challenged for that password before the app exits, and if you get the password wrong, the app just won't exit.

Here's the signed binary. Let me know what you think.

(Update 8/14/2015: v1.0.1 - Fixed password dialog focus problem.) (144 KB)