Project Honolulu Technical Preview 1802 is out with lots of new features

Microsoft released a new Windows Server Insider Preview today, build 17093, but alongside of it, the company also announced a new Technical Preview of Project Honolulu. Technical Preview 1802 is the first to be released since December 19 when build 05002 was offered.

It's entirely possible that the "lightweight browser-based customer-deployed platform and solution for Windows Server management scenarios for troubleshooting" might be getting ready for general availability. Previous Previews have used build numbers, but it's now structured in a way that reflects Microsoft's usual version numbering, which shows the year and month, so 1802 would mean February, 2018.

There's quite a bit that's new in this build:

Release Summary

In this release, much of the work was under the hood – performance improvements, accessibility, and support for high-availability deployments.

New in UI, we’ve rolled out a new settings experience – select the gear icon in the upper right of the window to check it out! The link to extension manager lives there, as well as additional settings that are described below.

Another new feature is tagging – added based on feedback we’ve heard from customers who use Honolulu to manage many machines that they would benefit from the ability to organize connections to help sort and filter.

In the Server Manager solution, you may notice that we’ve enabled some feature detection logic – for example, if you are managing a machine that does not have the Hyper-V role, you won’t see the Virtual Machines or Virtual Switches tool. Or, if you are managing the localhost, you won’t see Remote Desktop or PowerShell. This logic has not yet been added to all tools (ex. Storage Replica will always be displayed.)

Finally, many of you may be happy to hear that we’ve added Hyper-V host settings. You can find them inside settings on the server overview tool.

Performance

We took the new tree control that was added to Files and Events last release and updated the rest of the tools in the Server Manager solution.

Accessibility

Starting with the Shell/Navigation and data table, we have begun implementing accessibility features such as support for keyboard navigation and screen readers. We will expand on these features in subsequent releases.

High-Availability

You can now deploy Project Honolulu in a failover cluster for high availability of your Honolulu gateway service. We’ve provided 3 PowerShell scripts that enable you to easily install, update, or uninstall Project Honolulu onto an existing failover cluster. You’ll need a Cluster Shared Volume to persist data across the cluster, but the scripts will install Project Honolulu and configure certificates on all the nodes. By deploying Project Honolulu on a failover cluster, you can ensure that you are always able to manage the servers in your environment. See the HA deployment guide for setup instructions and link to the scripts.

Settings – Localization

The language drop-down menu is no longer disabled! Honolulu is in the process of being localized, so if you are multi-lingual, please experiment with non-English languages. If your OS or browser is configured to a supported language, Honolulu should automatically select that language. When installing, the MSI will be localized to the Windows region language setting, not the input language.

Please let us know if you discover text that has been translated incorrectly.

Settings – Access

This section only applies when you are running Honolulu as a service on Windows Server. Here you can define security groups (either Active Directory, or local machine groups) for both user and administrator access to Honolulu.

Previously, to access the Honolulu service, users were required to have logon access on the gateway machine. Now you can configure your environment in such a way that users can access the Honolulu service without the rights to log on to the gateway machine.

The default behavior is unrestricted; any user that navigates to the gateway URL will have access to the Honolulu interface. Once you add one or more security groups to the users list, access is restricted to the members of those groups. If you want to enforce the use of smartcard authentication, you can specify an additional required group for smartcard-based security groups. In this case, a user will have access if they are in any security group AND a smartcard group.

On the Administrators tab, you define the security groups that will have privileges to change Honolulu settings. Smartcard groups work the same way here as for the user list. The local administrators group on the gateway machine will always have full administrator access and cannot be removed from the list. The administrators list supports the same AND condition for smartcards groups as the users list.

Tagging

To help you manage your list of connections, we’ve added the ability to assign tags to each entry in your connection list. Honolulu remembers the tags that you have previously used for easy selection. You can assign tags when adding a single connection or importing a list of connections.

As you'd expect, there are also some known issues to be aware of:

Roles & Features – If you check multiple rows, then click the button to clear the selection, the items will remain checked in the UI, but have successfully be deselected on the back end. To reselect, you must manually uncheck and recheck the item, or refresh the page. [1802-15409823]

Access Settings – When you add or remove a security group, it can take a few minutes for the access control to be applied. [1802-15377945]

If you encounter other issues, please post on the Project Honolulu space in the Windows Server Community for Insiders.

Microsoft didn't provide an expiration date for the new Project Honolulu build. If you want to download it, you can find it on the Windows Server Insider Preview download page here.

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