How to survive in the ever-changing IT world

How to survive in the ever-changing IT world

How to survive in the ever-changing IT world is something that all IT professionals and developers want to figure out. No matter how junior or senior you are, no matter what level of expertise you have, it is a challenge for everyone. At least if they are honest to themselves and others.

The IT world changes at a very fast pace and longevity of technology seems to be a distant pipe dream. The only thing that has tenure it IT seems to be considered legacy and tech debt. But is that always the case? There is flip side to fast paced changes. The faster things change the shorter they last.

The faster things change the shorter they last

Today’s IT world is changing extremely rapidly in terms of technologies used, hardware and software lifecycle management, trends, and hypes. I have always said IT looks a lot like fashion-driven show business.

Everyone strives to keep up with these changes, both individuals and organizations. Can they in the end, or will we outrun ourselves? If we can at what cost? Quality, longevity, minimal viable products, bugs, journeys instead of products, etc.

The skill sets needed to make this happen are grown and groomed, not produced at will. All this while investing in education and training is often only lip service as the requirements change so fast, the willingness to do so is diminished. And as such we make our problems even bigger.

Join us for a chat

How to survive in the ever-changing IT world
Register here Upcoming Webinar: How to Survive in The Ever-Changing IT World – VirtualMetric – Infrastructure Monitoring Blog

Find out in a chat with Yusif Ozturk (Co-Founder and Chief Software Architect at
@VirtualMetric) and me how we view and think about these challenges. Companies must ensure their software is using up-to-date technologies and finding the best talent experienced with modern technologies. You need to adapt pretty fast so that you can survive. When a company creates a new software product and develops a new solution, everything changes in a short time. There are new programming languages, new frameworks, and new technologies coming to the market. One of the challenges that organizations face is the fast technology shifts, new skills needed, new experienced staff, etc. Maybe you will find some insights on how to survive in the ever-changing IT world.

SecretStore local vault extension

What is the SecretStore local vault extension

The SecretStore local vault extension is a PowerShell module extension vault for Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretManagement. It is a secure storage solution that stores secret data on the local machine. It is based on .NET cryptography APIs, and works on Windows, Linux, macOS thanks to PowerShell Core.

The secret data is stored at rest in encrypted form on the file system and decrypted when returned to a user request. The store file data integrity is verified using a cryptographic hash embedded in the file.

The store can be configured to require a password or operate password-less. Requiring a password adds to defense-in-depth since password-less operation relies solely on file system protections. Password-less operation still encrypts data, but the encryption key is stored on file and is accessible. Another configuration option is the password timeout, which by default is 15 minutes for automation purposes you can use Unlock-SecretStore to enter the password for the current PowerShell session for the duration of the timeout period.

Testing the SecretStore local vault extension

Below you will find a demonstration script where I register a vault of the type secret store. This is a local vault extension that creates its data and configuration files in the currently logged-in user scope. You specify the vault type to register by the ModuleName parameter.

$MySecureVault1 = 'LocalSecVault1'
#Register Vault1 in secret store
Register-SecretVault -ModuleName Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore -Name 
$MySecureVault1 -DefaultVault

#Verify the vault is there

#Add secrets to Vault 1
Set-Secret -Name "DATAWISETECH\serverautomation1in$MySecureVault1" -Secret "pwdserverautom1" -Vault $MySecureVault1
Set-Secret -Name "DATAWISETECH\serverautomation2in$MySecureVault1" -Secret "pwdserverautom2" -Vault $MySecureVault1
Set-Secret -Name "DATAWISETECH\serverautomation3in$MySecureVault1" -Secret "pwdserverautom3" -Vault $MySecureVault1

#Verify secrets

Via Get-SecetInfo I can see the three secrets I added to the vault LocalSecVault1

SecretStore local vault extension
SecretStore local vault extensionThe three secrets I added to vault LocalSecVault1

The configuration and data are stored in separate files. The file location depends on the operating system. For Windows this is %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\PowerShell\secretmanagement\localstore. For Linux and MacOS it is $HOME/.secretmanagement/localstore/

SecretStore local vault extension
The localstore files

As you can see this happens under the user context. Support for all users or machine-wide context or scope is a planned future capability, but this is not available yet.
Access to the SecretStore files is via NTFS file permissions (Windows) or access control lists (Linux) limiting access to the specific user/owner.

Multiple Secret stores

It is possible in SecretManagement to register an extension vault multiple times. The reason for this is that an extension vault may support different contexts via the registration VaultParameters.

At first, it might seem that this means we can create multiple SecretStores but that is not the case. The SecretStore vault currently operates under the scope of the currently logged-on user at a very specific path. As a result, it confused me when I initially tried to create multiple SecretStores. I could see all the secrets of the other stores. Initially, that is what I thought happend. Consequenlty, I had a little security scare.. In reality, I just register different vault names to the same SecretStore as there is only one.

$MySecurevault2 = 'LocalSecVault2'
$MySecureVault3 = 'LocalSecVault3'

#Register two more vaults to secret store
Register-SecretVault -ModuleName Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore -Name $MySecurevault2 -DefaultVault
Register-SecretVault -ModuleName Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore -Name $MySecureVault3 -DefaultVault

#Note that all vaults contain the secrets of Vault1
#Add secrets to Vault 2
Set-Secret -Name "DATAWISETECH\serverautomation1in$MySecureVault2" -Secret "pwdserverautom1" -Vault $MySecureVault2
Set-Secret -Name "DATAWISETECH\serverautomation2in$MySecureVault2" -Secret "pwdserverautom2" -Vault $MySecureVault2
Set-Secret -Name "DATAWISETECH\serverautomation3in$MySecureVault2" -Secret "pwdserverautom3" -Vault $MySecureVault2

#Note that all vaults contain the secrets of Vault1 AND Vault 2
SecretStore local vault extension
Note that every registered local store vault beasically sees the same SecretStore as they all point to the same files.

Now, if you think, that multiple SecretStores per user scope are a good idea there is an open request to support this: Request: Multiple instances of SecretStore · Issue #58 · PowerShell/SecretStore (

KeePass SecretManagement extension vault

KeePass SecretManagement extension vault

The SecretManagement and SecretStore can work with SecretManagement extension vault modules. These can be found in the PowerShell Gallery using the “SecretManagement” search tag. Some example are:

I use KeePass and as such, the KeePass SecretManagement extension vault is the one I will demonstrate. First of all, install the module. Note that I chose to use the most recent beta version, which is 0.9.2-beta0008 at the time of writing this blog post.

Install-Module -Name SecretManagement.KeePass -AllowPrerelease

Naturally, if you haven’t installed SecretManagement and SecretStore modules yet, you must now really do that to be able to play with them.

Install-Module Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretManagement, Microsoft.PowerShell.SecretStore

Now that has been taken care of we can start testing the KeePass SecretManagement extension vault.

Using the KeePass SecretManagement extension vault

I created a demo KeePass .kdbx file in which I stored some example user names with their passwords. This file has a master password. You can also use a key or the Windows user account if you want to do so.

Our demo .kdbx file

Now I will register the KeePass file as a Vault

Register-KeePassSecretVault -Name 'WorkingHardInITKeePassVault' -Path 'C:\SysAdmin\Authentication\workinghardinit.kdbx' -UseMasterPassword
KeePass SecretManagement extension vaultRegister the KeePass Vault

As you can see this prompts you for the KeePass Master Pasword.

Keepass Master Password
Enter the Keepass Master password for: C:\SysAdmin\Authentication\workinghardinit.kdbx
Password for user Keepass Master Password:

Now that is done, I will unlock the KeePass secret vault so I can use it in automation without being prompted for it. By default, it remains unlocked for 900 seconds (15 minutes). This is configurable.

Unlock-KeePassSecretVault -Name 'WorkingHardInITKeePassVault'
Unlock the KeePass Vault, by entering the store password and, if not opened yes the KeePass master password
$FCcreds = Get-Secret -Name 'FC Switch 01'  -Vault 'WorkingHardInITKeePassVault'
$FCSwitchUser = $FCcreds.GetNetworkCredential().UserName
$FCSwitchPwd  =$FCcreds.GetNetworkCredential().Password
write-Host -foregroundcolor Green "FC Swicth 01 username $FCSwitchUser has $FCSwitchPwd for its password"
KeePass SecretManagement extension vault
We grab the username for the FC Switch 01 entry in the KeePass secret Vault.

Note that the entry for the secret is a network credential. As result, we can use the properties of the credential object to obtain the username and password in plain text. That is to say, we can (and should) use the credentials directly. You do not need to show or use the password in plain text. I did this here to show you that we got the correct values back.

Credentials ready to use.

Updating and adding secrets

Currently, updating the secrets with is not supported.

Let’s hope that theu allow updating and document using the hash table to enter metadata better in the future.

We need to first remove the existing one for now and re-enter the information. We’ll see how this evolves

Remove-Secret -Name 'FC Switch 01' -Vault 'WorkingHardInITKeePassVault'
$FCcreds = Get-Credential -UserName 'fcadmin'
Set-Secret -Name 'FC Switch 01' -Secret $FCcreds -Vault 'WorkingHardInITKeePassVault'

Finally, the good news is that there is also a PowerShell KeePass module that you can use for that sort of work. So you have the means in PowerShell to do so. See Getting Started · PSKeePass/PoShKeePass Wiki (


That was fun, was it not? The SecretManagement and SecretStore modules are going places. I hope this helps and happy scripting!

Linux AD computer object operating system values


So, why am I dealing with Linux AD computer object operating system values? OK, here is some background. In geographic services, engineering, etc. people often run GIS and CAD software from various big-name vendors on Windows Servers. But it also has a rich and varied open source ecosystem driven by academic efforts. Often a lot of these handy tools only run in Linux.

The Windows Linux Subsystem might be an option for client-based or interactive tools. But when running a service I tend to use Ubuntu. It is the most approachable for me and, you can buy support for it in an enterprise setting if so desired or required.

To keep things as easy as possible and try to safeguard the concept of single sign-on we join these Ubuntu servers to Active Directory (AD) so they can log with their AD credentials.

Pre-staging computer objects

When joining an Ubuntu server to AD it partially fills out the Operating System values.

Not too detailed and only partially filled out.

However, we tend to pre-stage the computer accounts in the correct OU and not create them automatically in the default Computer OU when joining. In that case, the Operating System values seem to be left all blank. We can fix that with PowerShell.

Don’t worry, the screenshot is from my lab with my fictitious Active Directory forest/domain. You also have a lab right?

Linux AD computer object operating system values
Fill out the operating system info for pre-staged computer objects of Active Directory joined Ubuntu servers

Actually we need PowerShell Core

Now, this all very good and well, but how do we find out the values for the operating system. During deployment, we know, but over time they will update and upgrade. So it would be nice to figure out those values automatically and remotely.

PowerShell Core to the rescue! With PowerShell Core, we can do PowerShell Remoting Over SSH to run a remote session on our Linux server over SSH and get all the information we need. To make this automation-friendly you must certificate bases authentication for your SSH connection. Setting that up can be a bit tricky, especially on Windows. That is a subject for a future blog post I hope. You can also use the SecretStore to securely store the AD automation account credentials. Note that I also use a dedicated automation account on all my Linux systems for this purpose. Here is a “quick & dirty” code snippet to give you some inspiration on how to do that for Ubuntu.

#Grab the AD automation account credentials - please don't use a domain admin for this.
#Use a dedicated account with just enough privileges to get the job done.
$Creds = Get-Credential -UserName 'DATAWISETECH\dwtautomationaccount'
#Connect to a remote PowerShell session on our Linux server using certificate authentication.
#Setting this up is beyond the scope of this article but I will try to post a blog post on this later.
#Note you need to configure all Linux servers and desktops with the $public cert and allow the user to authenticate with it.
#We use a cert as that is very automation friendly! You will not get #prompted for a password for the Linux host.
$RemoteSession = New-PSSession -Hostname GRIZZLY -UserName autusrli
#Grab the OS information. Note that $PSVersionTable.OS only exist on PowerShell Core.
#which is OK as that is the version that is available for Linux.
$OS = Invoke-command -Session $RemoteSession { $PSVersionTable.OS }
#Grab the OSVersion.VersionString.
$VersionString = Invoke-command -Session $RemoteSession { [System.environment]::OSversion.VersionString }
#Clean up, we no longer need the remote session.
Remove-PSSession $RemoteSession
#Sanitize the strings for filling out the Active Directory computer object operating system values.
$UbuntuVersionFull = ($OS | Select-String -pattern '(\d+\.)(\d+\.)(\d)-Ubuntu').Matches.Value
$OperatingSystem = $UbuntuVersionFull.Split('-')[1] + " " + (($UbuntuVersionFull.Split('-')[0])).Substring(0, 5)
#Grab the Active Directory computer object and fill out the operating system values.
$Instance = (Get-AdComputer -Credential $Creds -Identity GRIZZLY -Server datawisetech.corp)
$Instance.OperatingSystem = $OperatingSystem
$Instance.OperatingSystemVersion = $VersionString
$Instance.OperatingSystemServicePack = $UbuntuVersionFull
Set-AdComputer -Instance $Instance

That’s it! Pretty cool huh?!


While you cannot edit the Linux AD computer object operating system values in the GUI you can do this via PowerShell. With Windows, this is not needed. This is handled for you. When joining Ubuntu to Active Directory this only gets set if you do not pre-stage the computer accounts. When you do pre-stage them, these are left blank. I showed you a way of adding that info via PowerShell. The drawback is that you need to maintain this and as such you will want to automate it further by querying those computers and updating the values as you update or upgrade these Ubuntu servers. Remote PowerShell over SSH and PowerShell Core on Linux are your friends for this. Good luck!