Think IPM

Monday, November 30, 2009

Google Wave Invites : The Giving Season is upon us!

Google Wave has been in a very closed private beta since May 2009 but recently announced plans to bump the Beta up by 100,000 people.  My additional invites showed up right before Thanksgiving.

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I’ve been using Wave on and off for about a month and didn’t really ‘get’ it.  At first it just seemed like ANOTHER inbox to check in order to correspond with people.  For the first month or so, that was my experience.  I really did not have many people in my contact list and for the few I did have in my contact list, I did not have a need to collaborate with them.  Up until then, my normal email had been a superior contact tool.

After returning from the GestaltIT Tech Field Day in San Jose, many of us were eager to give Wave a test run as a platform for creating some collaborative posts for the event.  This little experiment has changed my view on Wave a bit.

Wave seems to be an excellent tool for :

  1. Event driven discussions with multiple people providing insight and suggestions for a conversation.  Wave allows people to view the conversation ‘as is’, rather than sifting through email to piece together the current status of things.  I could see this being useful for planning events, reunions, parties, get togethers, etc.. assuming all participants actually have access to and use Google Wave.
  2. Creating collaborative web oriented posts or articles.  I am not sure about actual documents since I haven’t figured out how to integrate Google Docs into it to export to a DOC file.
  3. Although real-time collaboration is allowed, I think this platform is best for staggered collaboration where people are visiting the wave, catching up and contributing.  Very similar to a private wiki of sorts.

One thing I would like to see in a later version of Wave is email alerting;  Although this seems a bit redundant since I am sure Google would like Wave to BE your Inbox, for me it is just another pointed tool for the above scenarios.   It takes a conscious effect to check in on the wave to see if there has been any updates to it.

If you’ve read this far down the page and still want a Wave invite, shoot me an email or drop a comment in the comments. :) I have 13 for now, first come first serve.

My Google Wave Address is CCostanVM @ GOOGLEWAVE.COM

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ALERT: ESX 4.0 to 4.0 Update 1 can cause an Unrecoverable system.

image I just saw this come across twitter.  (BTW: This is a GREAT example of why Twitter is a valuable technology tool if used correctly.)

Upgrading ESX 4.0 to Update 1 using Update Manager when there are 3rd party management agents in the Console will result in an UNRECOVERABLE system. 

Here is the official word from the KB as of now (11/25/2009 : 5 pm EST)

Upgrading ESX 4.0 to 4.0 U1 using Update Manager fails or times out and rebooting host results in a purple diagnostic screen

Symptoms

When attempting to upgrade ESX 4.0 to ESX 4.0 Update 1, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Update Manager (VUM) upgrade operation fails or times out at 33%.
  • Upon reboot, the host that was being upgraded displays a purple diagnostic screen with the following error:
    COS Panic: Int3 @ mp_register_ioapic

Who is affected
Customers using VMware vSphere 4 upgrading to Update 1 with 3rd party management agents running.

Solution

To avoid this issue, prior to the update, disable all 3rd party management agents running on the ESX 4.0.0 server before applying the update.

Note: The 3rd party management agents can be enabled after the upgrade is completed.

WARNING: Rebooting the host means the host has to be reinstalled because it is not recoverable after a reboot.
WARNING: If you have virtual machines running on local storage, they may not be retained if you reinstall ESX 4.0 as a result of this issue. Contact VMware Support for assistance in recovering those virtual machines.

The official KB is here : http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1016070 and is being updated as information is released; I would imagine a patch link will appear there when it is ready.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clean up your Event Logs! WinMgmt Event ID 40

Doing his very best to keep Event Logs everywhere pristine, Aaron Silber helps us knock out another pesky EventLog error :

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Not sure if this is an error that has something to do with machines created/deployed via Citrix Provisioning Services or just simply related to WMI and/or ASP.NET, most likely it is the latter, but I have seen it a few times now so I decided to research it. I had noticed some WMI errors which seem to talk about ASP stuff, of course my natural inclination is to ignore WMI stuff as I figure it is something to do with monitoring or reporting, and the ASP.NET stuff doesn’t help the cause as that equals web stuff to me, also something I am not really interested in (Web people, don’t take it personally).

In any case I poked around and found the following article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951683 which lists the exact message I was getting as well as a hotfix to fix it.

After applying the fix I noticed my old friend MSCORVW.exe running so of course I ran NGEN executequeueditems (see here if you don’t remember what this is all about) to force the finishing up of the .NET compilations.

Unfortunately this particular hotfix is not one that available via the web, you have to call to request it. Just be sure to reference KB article #951683 when calling Microsoft.

-Aaron

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NewSid, no more?!... Say it aint so!

GoodBye NewSidI called this one back in February!
http://www.vmwareinfo.com/2009/02/duplicate-sids-big-deal-why-you-might.html and Aaron Silber sent me over this note to confirm it! :)

Looks like our old friend has been put to bed.

http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2009/11/03/3291024.aspx

A very good read, the bottom line is he says that after much investigating the local machine SID is exactly that, just local and is never used outside the machine, so there is no reason whatsoever to have them be unique; there is no chance that any machine could ever find out what another machine’s SID is.

Here is the final nail in the coffin, he says:

To my chagrin, NewSID has never really done anything useful and there’s no reason to miss it now that it’s retired. Microsoft’s official policy on SID duplication will also now change and look for Sysprep to be updated in the future to skip SID generation.”

Ouch.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Issues with Citrix’s ICA Client 11.2

Sam Jacobs dropped this quick note on me this week. image

“I have been noticing an increasing number of posts on the Citrix forums concerning issues with the 11.2 version of the ICA client.  One issue that has come up repeatedly, is the inability to launch applications with the 11.2 client if the FQDN of the WI site *is* in the user’s Trusted Site list!  I would recommend that clients refrain from deploying 11.2 until all the issues have been shaken out.”

Here is one of the threads that Sam was referring to:

Secure Gateway doesn't work added to Trusted Sites in IE 8

http://forums.citrix.com/thread.jspa?threadID=253897


Have you deployed 11.2 in your environment?  Let us know in the comments.

 

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Way cool ICA App Launcher!

Written by Aaron Silber :

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If anyone has recently upgraded their Citrix client you find (or not be able to find!) that Citrix has removed a lot from Program Neighborhood. As a matter of fact there is no Program Neighborhood anymore!

Citrix wants everyone to use the new Citrix client the Citrix Receiver.  If you’re like me and have you have held off upgrading because you don’t want to lose all of the PN features you’ve come to love, like being able to just put a server name in and launch a published app, fear not, upgrade away! Just download the this handy-dandy Citrix tool!

Citrix article: http://support.citrix.com/article/ctx122536

Direct link to download: 
http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/21636-102-641346/Citrix%20Quick%20Launch.zip

-Aaron

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Tech Field Day : Additional Notes

imageThe days here are Tech Field Day have been very packed and exciting.   

The conversations have been diving very deep into storage related discussions.  Not really my bag of tricks at that level but interesting for me none the less.  At the 3PAR building, 3PAR and Symantec Storage went into their presentations around their storage offerings.  One interesting thing that I took away from both presentations was some of the inherent problems and risks associated with ‘stock’ thin provisioning.  Issues with Oversubscriptions and free space reclamation that I was totally unaware of.  A fellow attendee who patiently explained the issues to me should be posting a more detailed explanation soon here
Keep an eye out on the Storage Architect if you are considering Thin Provisioning. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not recommend thin provisioned storage unless the underlying SAN can reclaim the deleted storage.

The day rounded out with a visit to the Computer History Museum! 40 Years of computer Artifacts. Very Cool!

Other vendors that presented to us were Ocarina Networks [Software Data compression and DeDupe] and Nirvanix [Cloud Provider].  Nirvanix is a competitor to Amazon S3 providing remote disk and storage and gave us the opportunity to use their service for free for 1 year. I plan to take them up on that! :)

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GestaltIT’s Tech Field Day Pictures courtesy of the Ugly Green Photographer!

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Tech Field Day : MDS Micro & Xsigo

imageThis was my first ‘Tech Field Day’.  I was not sure what to expect and at first it seemed like the beginning of a strange Technology Reality TV Show.  Everyone loaded up on a bus, most meeting for the first time only hours before and headed to a vague location for an unknown agenda.  I felt like someone might get voted off by the end of the day.  In reality, I have been incredibly surprised.  This is definitely a well run professional event.   The Attendees are all VERY SMART and excited to be here and the Sponsors seem equally excited to present to us.  It’s great to learn more about technology but it has been a welcome surprise to also meet the people whom I have been reading blogs and tweets from and put a name/face/personality to the avatar. :)

The day started off bright and early (7AM on the Bus!) and headed to the VMware Briefing Center.

imageFirst set of presenters : MDS and Xsigo ; Dense hardware and Virtualized I/O.  Something completely new to me.  Living in a software world, I don’t get into hardware so much. It was very interesting to see how VMware has used these exact technologies at major events including VMWorld 2009 where they used this gear configuration to run 30,000+ VMs for all their labs.

From the MDS Micro side, they showed off a very cool QuadV server.  Basically, it is a 2U 4 server chassis fully loaded for about 25k.  (If I heard them right.)  Of course fully VMware certified as an ESX host platform.   This allows for a very utilized efficient use of space and power.

For the Xsigo, The hands on demo was GREAT.  Although not a real deep dive, it give us a chance to play with the interface and allowed me to relate the slides to actual real world situations.  For starters, I love that the Xsigo interface is embedded in the vCenter client (notice the button on the top bar).  Being the virtualization guy that I am, I like using VC as my central console for management.  The more visibility and management that I have in the VI console, the better.  

From what I gathered from the Xsigo demos, the product further abstracts the hardware from the base OS (ESX hosts in our demo).  For example, I was able to add an additional NIC and HBA to an ESX4 host without rebooting the host!  Cool! Apparently, the appeal of this product is it’s ability to reduce and maximize overall connections and do this abstraction of hardware (MACs, WWNs, etc).  Not sure if it is a ‘Must Have’ for a VI environment unless you are running super dense machines [VMWorld].  Definitely a ‘Nice to Have’ though.

Check out some of the screenshots below :

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GestaltIT Tech Field Day!

image Tomorrow night I am heading out to Silicon Valley to attend an invitation only Tech Field Day organized by GestaltIT.  Never heard of Tech Field Day?  Understandable, this is the first one!  Organized by GestaltIT’s founder, Stephen Foskett and inspired by the HP Tech Field Day, this will be a unique event to which independent bloggers like myself, will be given up close and personal access to some great hardware, software and services provided by a select few vendors.  I would imagine the hopes for the companies are to expose people via social media to their products and services in a very targeted way.  The hope for me is to learn about some new tech and meet some fellow bloggers and engineers to learn a few new tricks from!  I am really looking forward to this event!

The 2 day event starts tomorrow and already there has been significant buzz about it within our virtual blogosphere.  Here’s the skinny on it :

I’ll start with the Attendees :
This will be my first opportunity to meet most in real life but have been reading many of their blogs for a while and get a feeling that this will be a very technical group. Stephen has pulled together a group of people from varied technical backgrounds (Networking, Storage, Virtual) and geographic locations (East Coast, West Coast, England and Australia to name a few)!

Rich Brambley          
VM /ETC Gestalt IT           RBrambley               Chris Evans    The Storage Architect Gestalt IT       ChrisMEvans
Greg Ferro                
EtherealMind Gestalt IT   EtherealMind           Bas Raayman  Renegade’s Technical Diatribe          BasRaayman
Rod Haywood           
Musings of Rodos              Rodos                      John Hickson Studio Sysadmins                               StudioSystems
Greg Knieriemen      
Storage Monkeys              Knieriemen              John Obeto    Absolutely Windows                           JohnObeto
Devang Panchigar     
StorageNerve Gestalt IT   StorageNerve           Nigel Poulton Ruptured Monkey                              NigelPoulton 
Ed Saipetch              
Breathing Data Gestalt IT EdSai                       Robin Harris  StorageMojo                                       StorageMojo
Simon Seagrave        
TechHead                         Kiwi_Si                   Rick Vanover  Virtualization Review Tech Republic RickVanover
Stephen Foskett      
GestaltIT                           Sfoskett

I am very excited to meet and hang with this group.  Browse through the blog list above and you will notice a very diverse set of people.  Hopefully I can hold my own within this group.   You can follow the real-time tweets from everyone at http://twitter.com/TechFieldDay/tfd1-attendees

Next up (in no particular order) the Sponsors:
Although, lesser known companies for me and I am excited to find out what each can bring to a virtual environment.  Personally, I am very interested in seeing Data Robotics’ DroboPro which is a low cost VMware Certified iSCSI SAN since I am currently in the process of rebuilding my lab.  (These would be AWESOME take homes! [Hint, Hint])

Data Robotics Nirvanix Ocarina
symantec-logo-72dpi Xsigo 3PAR Logo MDS Micro

The following sponsors will not be presenting, but they have offered to provide support for other portions of the event:

bhava_communications_medium TechValidate Logo Truth in IT VMW_09Q3_LOGO_Corp_K

Finally the Agenda:

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Boot Options for a Citrix Provisioning Services Target

Provisioning Services Targets can boot from PXE, CDroms or Hard Drive Boot code.  This boot code tells the bare metal target where to go to receive it’s streamed Operating System (vDisk).  Chris Hahn sent over a short punch list on how to boot from Hard Disk.

Putting the boot code on the hard disk in 7 easy steps. 

1)      Boot up a machine in private mode with a local disk with no data on it

2)      Create a small partition at the beginning of the local disk (I used 100mb)

3)      Run BDM.exe from the XA or XD machine (you can just browse to the executable on the Provisioning Server over the network)

4)      Run through the BDM wizard and set the appropriate IP settings (use verbose mode also so you can see what is going on during the boot process if there are any problems)

5)      At the end of the wizard, select the appropriate partition to write the boot code to.  It should look something like this –

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6)      From Disk Management, set the partition as active.

7)      Reboot.  The server should now boot using the boot code on the hard drive.

 

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Cryptic Windows error codes no more!

Written by Aaron Silber:

This tip has been written by many out there on the big World Wide Web, but figured it was worth repeating, just in case you haven’t seen it.

Ever find yourself looking at an Event Log error message hoping that it will provide a real answer to a problem only to find it referencing some hex number?

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Great, now what do I do with this you may be asking yourself. Well this little tip in many cases can lead you to your next step!

The key here is the status code, which will be in hex, in this case 704.

Open up Calculator and choose Scientific mode (unless you’re one of those math geeks that can do hex├áDecimal conversion in your head!)

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As soon as you change the mode from hex to decimal you will get 1796, stay with me, we are getting there.

Next, open up a command prompt and type in:

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Now we have a real message and something to look into! This printer was looking to create a custom Port.

This tip should work on almost any windows error codes otherwise you are probably dealing with a custom app I imagine.

- Aaron

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

vSphere - disable device hot plug on version 7 VMs

Great tip from Chris Hahn :

To disable hot plug on a vSphere VM, add the following line to the VM configuration parameters  : devices.hotplug false

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Why would you want to do this?

With device hotplug enabled, a user that logs into a hardware version 7 VM will have the safely remove hardware icon appear in the taskbar.  From here they can disconnect the NIC or SCSI controller, which will  crash the VM in many cases.  So a regular user logging into a Hosted Desktop (View, XenDesktop, or XenApp) VM could potentially open this and crash the virtual machine. With device hotplug disabled, these devices no longer appear in safely remove hardware.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slow VMs using Citrix Provisioning Services using VMXNet3 NIC driver

image Chris Hahn made some interesting networking observations recently at a client : 

I was testing provisioned XP desktops at [CENSORED] today, and I noticed that the provisioned XP VM performance seemed very slow, though no timeouts were showing up in the target device systray application.  I had been using the new VMXNet3 network adapter, which is included with vSphere.  I switched back to the old “flexible” adapter (vlance / vmxnet), and boot times were noticeably improved.  For now I would suggest not using the VMXNet3 adapter, and check which adapter you are using if you are seeing performance issues.

Boot times (from virtual disk found PXE boot message to Windows Login screen)

XP SP3 using VMXNet3 nic – 53 seconds

XP SP3 using flexible nic – 15 seconds

Has anyone used the other types of NICs available(VMXNET 2 or the E1000)?  Let us know in the comments.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Citrix XenApp : Unwanted Event Log Entry : DCOM Event ID 10016 Error

imageHere is a nice write-up from Jacques Bensimon with a follow-up by Aaron Silber on creating a new Citrix console MMC.

On the subject of unwanted event log entries, another one (from Citrix this time) is a DCOM event 10016 that shows up on all servers in a PS/XA farm every time a non-Administrator uses the management console (e.g. Help Desk personnel or anybody with access to the Citrix console who is not a local Admin on every farm server).  It is the result of the “Diagnostic Facility Extension” to the “Citrix Access Management Console” MMC snap-in which gets activated every time the console is launched and causes some underlying OS debug facility (only available  to Administrators) to be queried on every server.  There is apparently no way to grant the necessary permission to non-admins, so the best answer is to create a custom MMC console with the “Citrix Access Management Console” snap-in but with the “Add all extensions” box unchecked (in the Extensions tab) and all extensions unchecked except for “Presentation Server Extension”.  This has everything anybody really needs to manage a farm (applications, sessions, processes, etc), loads a little faster, and keeps the event log clear.  As an added benefit of using this custom console, since it no longer invokes the “My Knowledge Extension”, you can now use “LOCALHOST” as the only entry in the discovery server list without having to put up with the “The My Knowledge feature will be unavailable” message every time you open the console.  [This issue by the way has been cleverly resolved by Citrix in XA 5 for Windows Server 2008 … by getting rid of the “My Knowledge” feature entirely! J]

 

Additionally, if you copy this newly created mmc file that you just created to “C:\Program Files\Common Files\Citrix\Access Management Console – Framework” and make sure to name it cmi20.mmc (I would recommend renaming the original) and wipe out any %AppData%\CitrixMMC folder that exists (or at least the mmc (ok they are actually .msc) files), then this new, customized version of the MMC will be used for all of the default AMC icons, on the ICA Toolbar and in the Start Menu!

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