Default proxy settings in .Net configuration files

In environments that provide access to the internet through a proxy .Net Assemblies might fail to access the services located on the internet. An easy way to overcome this is to configure the defaultProxy element  in the .Net configuration file for the assembly.

<configuration>
  <system.net>
    <defaultProxy>
      <proxy usesystemdefault="true"
        proxyaddress="http://192.168.1.10:3128"
        bypassonlocal="true" />
      <bypasslist>
        <add address="[a-z]+\.contoso\.com" />
      </bypasslist>
    </defaultProxy>
  </system.net>
</configuration>

The defaultProxy configuration element accepts an address, credentials an optional bypass list.

The configuration can also be inherited by .Net assemblies providing a COM interface if the defaultProxy is configured in the caller’s configuration file.

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Passing arguments to a Windows service installer class using in installutil

Passing parameters to an implementation of the Installer class of a Windows Service executable when installed by the installutil command line tool is pretty easy.

Simply add each parameter and value to the command line, like:

installutil.exe /param1=val1 /param2=val2 serviceexecutable.exe

Note: The parameter arguments needs to be in front of the executable. Otherwise the values will not be passed to the Installer class context.

The installer class implementation can access the arguments conveniently by the context.parameters collection.

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Dealing with virtual machines in Windows Azure using PowerShell

I’m a great fan of  Windows Powershell.

The Windows Azure CmdLets for Powershell are a handy and powerful collection of tools to configure virtual machines in Windows Azure. You could use the Azure portal though to create and configure virtual machines in Azure, but if you need spin up a lot of machines, the configuration can be much more convenient to setup Powershell scripts that do the job for you.

Here is a list of cmdlets I found most useful to create, update and delete virtual machines in Windows Azure.

Tipp: The examples might include values in UPPERCASE, those need to be replaced by real data, like credentials of subscription, storage names. 

First things first, download and Azure Subscriptions

First you need to install the Windows Azure Powershell, this can be done using the Web Platform Installer. If you need to know more about how to install and configure Windows Azure PowerShell follow this link.

After you’ve installed Windows Azure PowerShell it’s necessary to connect your Azure subscription to the Windows Azure Powershell. This is done by running the following command:

Get-AzurePublishSettingsFile

The command will open your default web browser and guide to the Azure portal. You will need to authenticate with your Microsoft Account.

You’ll be prompted to download and save a .publishsettings file.  The .publishsettings file contains a list of all subscriptions for which your Microsoft Account is an admin or co-admin, as well as a base64 encoded management certificate.

Windows Azure will automatically associate the newly created management certificate with every subscription for which your Microsoft Account is an admin or co-admin. (read more here)

After you’ve downloaded the setting file you need to import the file by running the following command:

Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile "PATH TO DOWNLOADED SETTINGS FILE"

To list all available subscriptions run:

Get-AzureSubscription

Set current storage

To create virtual machines you need to tell your Azure Subscription which Azure storage it should use. This is done by:

Set-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName "SUBSCRIPTION NAME" -CurrentStorageAccount "STORAGE NAME"

Browsing OS images and Datacenter locations in Windows Azure

To view Available OS Images just type Get-AzureVMImage. The following sample loads all images into the $images array and iterates through the array to print out the item index and name.

$images = Get-AzureVMImage
for ($i=0; $i -le $images.length-1;$i++) {Write-Host $i $images[$i].Imagename}

The following sample retrieves all images and pipes the result into the Where-Object cmdlet that returns just those images that have Windows in the imageName property.

Get-AzureVMImage | Where-Object {$_.ImageName -like "*windows*"}

To get a list of Datacenter Locations available in Windows Azure:

$locations = Get-AzureLocation
for ($i=0; $i -le $locations.length-1;$i++) {Write-Host $i $locations[$i].DisplayName}

Print only the names of the Azure Datacenter Locations using Select.

Get-AzureLocation | select Name

Creating a virtual machine using New-AzureQuickVM

To create a Quick VM, we need to name a unique service- and vm name. We need to provide a username and password for the administrator account and finally name the location where the system disk (VHD) should be placed in. Note: the current storage account and the location must fit together.

$mySvc="AZURE SERVICE NAME"
$vmName="HOSTNAME"
$myPwd="DEFAULT USER PASSWORD"
$username="DEFAULT USER NAME"
$image="OS IMAGE FROM CATALOG"
$location="AZURE DATACENTER LOCATION"
New-AzureQuickVM -Windows -name $vmName -ImageName $image -ServiceName $mySvc -Location $location -Password $myPwd -AdminUsername $username

Adding endpoints to the virtual machine

A virtual machine in Windows Azure is secured by an external firewall controlled by Windows Azure. To allow specific ports on the virtual machine to by accessible by the internet you need to configure endpoints for the virtual machines. Those endpoints are ports on the external firewall. Using port forwarding you can define which external ports should be open and to which internal ports requests should be forwarded.

Here’s a typical example using port 80 to allow access to a web server running on the virtual machine:

get-azurevm $mySvc $vmName | Add-AzureEndpoint -Name Web-HTTP -Protocol TCP -LocalPort 80 -PublicPort 80 | Update-AzureVM

This command is actually a concatenation of several cmdlets. First we get the virtual machine, then we add the endpoint and finally we perform an update of the vm. It needs a name, the protocol and the external and internal port to add an endpoint.