Think IPM

Monday, August 31, 2009

CloneZilla – Free Cloning software

imageI  just recently had to roll an XP image to 30 isolated PCs in my daughter’s school.  No network connections (These PCs were in the classrooms).  The thought of installing XP on each of these machines and then installing and configuring applications over a weekend (Gratis) was not an appealing thought.  Enter open source project CloneZilla.  This free alternative to Norton’s Ghost or TrueImage Acronis is very fast and full featured considering it’s price!  After doing some quick research on the project, I was able to burn a LIVECD iso of CloneZilla and create an image of a fully configured XP machine in about 5 minutes.   I leveraged my USB passport device as a repository for the image.  Once done, I just plugged the Passport into the next machine and blasted the image down. (4 minutes to restore a 3 GB image from the Passport drive).  Very impressive!

I was also able to blast the image down to a VM running in Workstation without issue.  I did have to run my BartPE CD though to correct a driver BSOD on the VM.  After that, no issues at all.  If you are in need of a free cloning solution, I’d recommend you check out CloneZilla.

 image image

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lock Down your View Connection Servers

MTHammer sent me this quick question and answer related to the View Connection Servers.  :) image

Q: With View, do you need the File Replication service available, or is that “whole issue” somehow managed at the DCs.  I know it’s required for the usual AD info there, but don’t know how ADAM data are replicated…

Answer : 

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc783121(WS.10).aspx....

Service dependencies

ADAM does not require the DNS service or the File Replication service (FRS). Clients address ADAM directly, using the name or Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer on which ADAM is running, along with the communication port number used by the ADAM instance. Because ADAM does not require or rely on domains or domain controllers, ADAM replication does not require FRS.

So basically, if you are looking to streamline the server or harden it by reducing its attack surface, these are some easy ones.

 

 

 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

They grow so quickly! … Windows 2008 VMDKs that is!

 Jeff Miller confirmed for me that after growing your VMDK for your favorite Windows 2008 Server VM, you can quickly and easily use Windows Disk Manager to grow you drive to use the full capacity.  This works with both data *AND* boot drives.  Previously with boot drives, Diskpart or Gparted would have been used to complete the task.

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First Shut your VM down and extend the VMDK.

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Power up and verify that Windows Disk Manager now sees the larger disk.  Newly added space will be unallocated.

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Right Click on your Disk and Choose Extend Volume.

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Select the maximum values to grow the drive to the edge and click next to finish the operation.

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Congratulations on your newly grown drive. Thanks for the Screenshots Jeff!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New VMware View Version - Say that 5 times!

image Although not totally NEW – It’s been out for about a month; VMware View 3.1.1 Build version 175957 is out.   The release notes can be found here.   The  sort of normal point release that you would expect.  New Manager, new Agent, new Client. 

The preferred upgrade path for me would look something like this :

  • Upgrade Manager – Seems pretty straight forward ; Be sure to upgrade all brokers including replicas and security servers.
  • Upgrade Agent – If you are using composer, upgrade the agent in the master images, recompose and redeploy and if you have private images, script your deployment.
  • Upgrade Clients – Script deployment for FAT clients.  Manually upgrade the Thin Clients and if you ThinApp’d the client, just replace the EXE. :)

While working with John Simon, we used his Active Directory policies to push down a STARTUP to the Private images that would silently upgrade the agent upon boot up.  You can hack together a script for yourself from the example below.  The Script checks the registry for the Build Number and if it does not find the latest (175957), then it will run the EXE upgrade package.  Since the script runs on startup, we don’t bother suppressing the reboot.

@echo off
set key="HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\VMware, Inc.\VMware VDM"
set DspName=Not Found
for /f "Tokens=2*" %%a in ('reg query %key% /V BuildNumber^|Find "REG_SZ"') do (
set DspName=%%b
)
if /i "%DspName%" NEQ "175957" goto :vdmup
@echo Version Found
GoTo :End
:vdmup
@echo Old Version
@echo Upgrading VMD

\\<ServerShare>\VMware-viewagent-3.1.1-175957.exe /s /v /qn

 

reg query "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\VMware, Inc.\VMware VDM" /v BuildNumber >> c:\vma.txt
GoTo :End
:End
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Final release and End of Support for VMware ESX 3.0.2

If you are still running ESX 3.0.2, You’re patching schedule just got a little easier. :) No more patches will be released for 3.0.2 from this point on.  Obviously, if you are still running 3.0.2, you should follow VMware’s suggestion and upgrade to AT LEAST 3.5 although I’d probably just right to 4 assuming your hardware is capable and you don’t have any SRM or VIEW implementations holding you back.  (Currently vSphere does not support SRM or VIEW).

ESX EOS LETTER

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Check out LogMeIn Central Beta

If you are reading this, you probably spend more time than you want doing gratis computer work for family and friends. :) If you haven’t discovered the free LogMeIn.com service, you might want to check it out NOW!  LogMeIn allows you to remotely connect to a PC over the internet and do a screen sharing session.  Very useful for diagnosing and fixing non-network related issues remotely.  Things I like about LogMeIn include the price (FREE) and the ability to access a computer without user acceptance.  This allows me to tell friends to ‘Just leave the computer on tonight’ and I can get to it at my leisure.   Works through most corporate firewalls and is SSL secure.  You do have to initially install an agent on the computer you wish to control and register it with your master account.

Beta testing of the new LogMeIn Central has started and the interface is very nice.  (See below)

image

New features include the ability to remotely send the client to a PC over the internet (assuming someone is on the other end ready to assist with the acceptance process).

The new Deployment link feature allows you to create a deployment link that the user can access to install the LogMeIn software for free.  Once installed the new computer will show up in your lists of computers under your control.  Very nice for remote phone support.

For me, LogMeIn has been a great time saver and has allowed me to help friends and family pretty easily.  A great service for FREE.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Configuring a Network share for VMware Data Recovery (vDR)

Now that you have dutifully followed John Simon’s clever documentation on installing vDR, you’ll need to give your little appliance some storage space to dump those backups too.  Network shares are a flexible, easy fit for this.  Once your dumps are on the share, you can easily schedule your tape software to swoop in and ship them to tape.  Depending on the type of network share, replication to your Disaster Recovery site is another logical step.  But it all begins with the Network storage, so let’s get to John’s doc.

  1. Enter the IP address or case sensitive name of the data appliance and click Connect:
    VMware DATA Recovery Image
  2. Enter your VirtualCenter password and click OK:
  3. At the getting started wizard enter the domain admin service account that will be used to connect to vCenter and authenticate and click next: 
  4. Click the button to Add Network Share:
    VMware DATA Recovery Image
     
  5. Enter the information in the popup window to add a network share
     ****NOTE**** The URL for the share MUST USE the IP address for the server and NOT the hostname of the server as it is NOT supported.
    ALSO you MUST NOT put a domain before the user name as that is NOT supported either: 
  6. Verify your share is added and click Next: 
    VMware DATA Recovery Image
  7. Verify information and Leave the check box to create a new backup job to create the vCenter server backup and click Close: 
  8. When Backup Job 1 pops up, expand your vcenter all the way down to the vm level. Check the box next to the vcenter01 server and click Next:  Virtualcenter Backup
  9. Select destination for backup which is our Network Share we attached and click Next:
      VMware DATA Recovery Image
  10. Create a backup window to cover business hours when you DO NOT want a backup to occur. Each machine will back up once per day during available times only. Click Next to continue:
    VMware DATA Recovery Image
  11. Determine the policy that works for your corporate policy (for our example we will use the FEW option) and click Next to continue: VMware DATA Recovery Image
  12. Verify all information and click Finish to Complete the job:
    VMware DATA Recovery Image
  13. Verify that your jobs are created:
    Summary Screen
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to install the VMware Data Recovery Appliance (vDR)

Once again John Simon has sent me some very thorough documentation from our recent engagement with VMware’s Data Recovery Appliance.  If you have seen some of John’s earlier documentation, you’ll know how detailed he gets with his screenshots. :) After some initial bumps during implementation, vDR has been steadily backing up his environment like a champ.  Check out John’s doc below :

Prerequisites and assumptions:

- The user has the vSphere version 4 client and is attached to the new VCenter server.

- There is predetermined space on the SAN for backup storage.

- You have an open console to the vCenter server with the ISO connected to the CD drive with the Data Recovery install.

- The Data Recovery ISO is exported to a directory where you can access the files from the CD.

- An available routed IP accessible to the ESX servers.

- Access to DNS.

- A service account with full admin rights to servers and vCenter to use as the backup account.

- Network Share where backups will be written.

  1. Select an IP to use for you virtual data recovery appliance that is on a VLAN that is accessible to your ESX hosts.
  2. Open DNS administrator from Administrative Tools:
  3. Select new host A record:
  4. Enter the name of the Virtual Data Recovery appliance and the IP chosen and click the Add Host button. Then Close DNS manager and return the vSphere Client:
  5. Run the option from the splash screen to install Data Recovery:
     VMware Data Recovery
  6. Click Next to continue:
    Data Recovery
  7. Click Next again:
    clip_image008
  8. Check the circle to agree to the license terms and click Next to continue:
    clip_image009
  9. Click Next again:
    clip_image010
  10. Verify installation is complete and click Close:
    clip_image011
  11. Launch the vSphere Client:
    VMware vSpere Client
  12. Login with full admin credentials:
  13. Click on the VMware Data Recovery icon under Solutions and Applications from the Home screen: vSphere Home  Screeen
  14. Click on File – Deploy OVF Template:
    Deploy OVF Template
  15. Select the Deploy from file option and click Browse:
    clip_image019
  16. In our example the file is in e:\iso\datarecovery\datarecovery\vmwaredatarecovery-ovf\, browse to the file, highlight and click open: clip_image020
  17. Verify Information and click Next:
    Verify
  18. Verify information and click Next:
    clip_image024
  19. Name the appliance and select the folder in which it will be installed (for our example the name will be VDRAPP01 and the Folder will be Virtual Appliances): image
  20. Select LUN to install appliance to (for our example CX4-LUN7) and click Next to continue:
    Choose your SAN storage LUN
  21. Select the cluster to install the appliance to (for our example New York Production): 
    image
  22. Select default network and VLAN and click next to continue (for our example 10.0.x.x network is chosen): 
    image
  23. Review information and click Finish to begin the install: 
  24. Verify deployment is successful and click Close:
    clip_image035
  25. Click on Home to return to the Home screen then choose hosts and clusters:
    clip_image037
    VMwARE vSphere Client
  26. Locate the virtual appliance and power it on through the console. When prompted click on Configure Network: clip_image041
    This screen can also display DHCP networking information if your segment has DHCP on it.  
  27. Answer No to the first prompt to use DHCP:
    clip_image043
  28. Enter the IP Address X.X.X.X : 
  29. Enter Netmask X.X.X.X : 
  30. Enter Gateway X.X.X.X : 
  31. Enter Primary and Secondary DNS X.X.X.X : 
  32. When prompted for a proxy server answer NO: 
  33. Review information and enter Y for Yes to accept:
  34. Be careful not to change the default TimeZone.  We have experienced weird issues attributed to this.
  35. Restart the appliance and verify it boots then close the console:
    image
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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Great Debate : Citrix vs. VMware

If the Blogosphere was a campaign trail, then ‘The Thilla in California’ would have been the first primetime debate!  And Chris Wolf did a great Bob Schieffer job at moderating. 

Citrix’s Simon Crosby and VMware’s Scott Drummonds recently participated in a 40 minute debate on their respective Hypervisor’s performance hosted by the Burton Group.  Like the televised Presidential debates of the past, I think this did little to sway people from either camp.  If you are a VMware fan, you will have been proud of Scott’s performance and if you were a Citrix fan, Simon did not disappoint!   However, if you were an undecided, the debate just reinforced the fact that you need to look at each side on your own and see how their offerings apply to your particular situation.  As a technology and political debate geek, I did enjoy the back and forth between combatants defending and deflecting jabs and barbs by the other all while remaining very cordial and professional.  I do hope to see more of these considering the head to head nature of the technology offerings. 

You can view the debate at Burton Group’s Website.

image

I assume that like the Ralph Nader campaign of 2008, Microsoft Hyper-V just wasn’t a serious enough contender at the time to warrant debate representation. :)

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