Think IPM

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

VMware SRM: VMs recover with Offline RMD Volumes.

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Jeff Miller sent over this handy write up involving VMware’s Site Recovery Manager and Windows 2008 R2. 

Windows Server 2008 (enterprise and datacenter) has introduced a new default disk policy that causes a long delay to boot a server while using SRM to bring servers online.  The SAN policy determines whether a newly discovered disk is brought online or remains offline and whether it is made read/write or remains read-only.  The default setting of forcing all SAN disks to remain offline the first time a disk is discovered can cause applications like Exchange and SQL to take a very long time to fail, which in turn will cause the server a very long time to get to a login prompt.

In order to reduce the time it takes to bring servers online, change this setting from the default of offline to online on your servers.  RecoverPoint will replicate these changes to the DR site and now SRM is able to bring the server online quicker and get applications online quicker.  Prior to this small change, the servers would take a very long time to come online because services such as Exchange and SQL would take a very long time to timeout before we were able to login to the server, online the disk and reboot again.

Here are the steps to check to see what your current setting is:

open up a command prompt

type diskpart

type san

if it is currently says SAN Policy : Offline Shared

then you will need to type the following to resolve this

SAN POLICY=OnlineAll

You may also want to add this into your unattended build or into your VMware templates to ensure that you don't run into this again in the future.

Editors Note: If you are running SRM, you’ll want to take Jeff’s advice and pop this policy into your templates for good measure.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Citrix XenApp 6 Bug : Black screen during logon

Chris Hahn sent over this quick warning message for users of XenApp 6.  A potential bug with 11.x and 12.x windows clients accessing a Citrix XenApp 6 server.

 

When logging, there is no logon progress dialog for Published Applications until the login process completes.  For Published Desktops, there is just a black screen.  More information in depth conversation on this topic can be found on the Citrix Forums.

Unfortunately according to Citrix, to fix this, both a new client (12.1), and server side patch is required which have not been released yet.*
*(As of 09/2010)

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Interesting Citrix XenDesktop issues. Some Solved, Some Not.

Recently, I have been pretty heavily involved in Citrix focused solutions with my head buried in various issues.  Citrix XenDesktop, XenApp and Provisioning servers.  Everything but the Hypervisor has been part of the Citrix provided solutions.  The hypervisors of choice are still VMware vSphere at all of my clients. 

The first issue I ran into was on the DDC.  Citrix’s Desktop Delivery Controller piece that directs users to their waiting desktops for their VDI solution.  After installing the latest DDC software on a Windows 2003 x64 bit server (yeah – Citrix *still* doesn’t support its DDC on Windows 2008 R2 – Boo!), I was receiving the following error below : Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller does not have the required licenses present on the license server.

Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller does not have the required licenses present on the license server.

Really?!? I had all of my licenses on the licenses server and the servers were actively checking the licenses in and out of the FlexLM. (Side note to Citrix – Please get rid of the FlexLM!).  In fact, everything was working great (users logging in and out without issue) but on the consoles of the DDCs, this error was queuing up every fifteen minutes flooding the event logs and making console logon times annoying (clicking through dozens of popup errors to log in).  Most times, this error message points to a specific issue related to the mismatch of the product version installed and the actual licenses installed.  Not the case for me.  If it had been, my user logins would have also been affected.  My error seemed to be a fake error message that although annoying did not interfere with operations.  I opened up a case with Citrix and after numerous transfers and escalations, a private hotfix was provided to fix my issue.  The fix included a new Wsxica.dll.  This library includes routines for Citrix to verify that a user has rights to a published application.  I’m assuming it also verifies licensing as well.   Reference Case # 60365220 if you at the end of your rope and think this might help.

The second issue involved using XenDesktop 4 to a physical Windows 7 machine with multi monitors.  Even after following the Citrix Administration guide for this scenario, it just isn’t working correctly.  The mouse seems offset (up to half the screen) from where the pointer actually is.  The resolution of the remote VDI session is all screwed up and the session is unusable.  With a single monitor target, such as a VM, the XenDesktop Session works perfectly.  I am still waiting on this one from Citrix.  The case is open but has not been resolved yet.  If you are successfully using XenDesktop to a Windows 7 multi-monitor solution, please let me know in the comments.

Back to troubleshooting.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Creating a Windows 2008 R2 Server without that pesky 100 MB System Reserved Partition.

imageIf you are thinking about using Citrix Provisioning Services Server with Windows 2008 R2 server, you are going to want to eliminate the 100 MB System Reserved Partition at installation.  If you are not using BitLocker on your servers, it will only give you headaches.   Below are the quick and easy steps to head off a potential headache.

 

1. Once Setup is loaded, press Shirt + F10 keys at the first setup screen (which allows selection of language, keyboard and locale). A Command Prompt window will be opened.

2. Run Diskpart

3. Type in the following commands:

list disk (to show the ID number of the hard disk to partition, normally is Disk 0)

select disk 0 (change 0 to another number if applicable)

clean

create partition primary

select partition 1

active

format fs=ntfs quick

exit

4. Continue installation as usual. Remember to just highlight and select the partition just created when come to partition screen.

Enjoy! Smile

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Provisioning Windows 2008 R2 Servers with Citrix PVS. Damn you System Reserved Partition!

So you have built out a new XenApp 6 Server complete with application installations on Windows 2008 R2 Server and are now ready to add it to the Provision Services ServerGreat!  Open up Disk Manager and you will notice that there is a small 100 MB partition (System Reserved) that has been installed into your server. Not So Great.  This is the default installation for Windows 2008 R2.  This partition is normally used for BitLocker capabilities on the server.  The issue is that this partition is not compatible for a Provisioned Server.  Doing a regular image to a vDisk (Using XenConvert) will result in a ‘Please insert System Disk” message when trying to boot that vDisk.

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Fortunately, there is a way to transfer over the boot files and remove the System Reserve partition.  These instructions were extracted from this Windows 7 post (Which will also give you issues if provisioning for XenDesktops).

  1. Assign a drive letter to the System Reserved partition.  I used S.
  2. Unload the BCD registry hive by running the following command:
    reg  unload  HKLM\BCD00000000
  3. Copy the bootmgr file from the System Reserved partition to the C: Partition.
    robocopy  S:\  C:\  bootmgr
  4. Copy the Boot folder from the (booting) partition to the C: partition.
    robocopy  S:\Boot  C:\Boot  /s
  5. To update the copied BCD file so it will boot correctly, run the following command:
    bcdedit  /store  c:\boot\bcd  /set  {bootmgr}  device  partition=C:
  6. Remove the Drive letter (S:) from Disk Manager and Reboot.
  7. Once the System Restarts (Booting from the C: drive now), you are now free to delete the System Reserved partition.image
  8. With only 1 active Volume now, you can assign a vDisk (in my case V) and proceed with your XenConvert imaging.  Be sure to use Volume to Volume.SNAGHTML133c650

Of course, it is best to avoid all of this by building your Windows 2008 R2 provisioning source server with just the single Partition.  Find those instructions here.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

iDevices. iPad Skins, Cracked iPhones and iPhone Cases.

A little off topic Friday today.  But you know, it’s my blog and all. ;)

My wife’s iPad which we pretty much use around the house was starting to look a little beat up (See Pic 1).  The kitchen table spills and such had not been nice to the iPad and I started to think it might be a good idea to get a skin for it before some REAL damage occurs.  Today, the iLuv Flexi-Clear case came in the mail.  The wife chose pink.  You can check out the pics below.  The silicone case was about 25 bucks and fits REALLY WELL.  Gives great grip to the iPad and is still thin enough to fit into the Belkin carrying sleeve we already had for the iPad.

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Yesterday, Marcos Velez sent over some heart breaking pictures of his cracked iPhone.  While walking down the street, his iPhone dropped about 2 – 3 feet to the sidewalk and cracked the indestructible Gorilla Glass they use on the phones.  Obviously, like me, his two options are $199.00 for a replacement screen or suffer through the sadness.

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Lastly, I finally got the free case(s) from Apple for my iPhone4.  I went with the Griffin Silicone Grip case.  It fits the phone pretty good but sometimes the edge gets in the way when I am typing and reaching for the spacebar.  I have to see if I am going to keep it or go back to the less intrusive hard plastic case from iDeal Cases.  The hard plastic cases are great but are slippery since they are plastic.  Setting them on a car Dashboard (for GPS) works much better with a silicone case.  The first two black cases are from Apple’s giveaway program (first being the silicone and second a hard plastic case) and the last one is the clear case from iDeal Cases (Only $15 bucks!). Since it doesn’t wrap around the front of the screen, it doesn’t interfere with my finger typing.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

High Priority Emails? Not on the iPhone!

Since switching over to the iPhone, I have noticed some features that I sorely miss from my Blackberry.  None of them deal breakers for me though but still quite annoying.  One that came up the other day was the iPhone’s lack of support for Level 1 notifications and High Priority emails.  With my Blackberry, I could designate a list of senders that when receiving an email from, would cause my Blackberry to vibrate or otherwise alert me.  Same for messages designated as ! High Priority.  iPhone treats all mail equally.  However, it does treat SMS messages differently.  SMS Text me and my iPhone immediately alerts me.

To mimic the desired Blackberry behavior on the iPhone, I turned to Outlook Rules.  I created a pretty simple server side rule. When a message comes in marked as High Importance, forward the message to my Cell Provider’s Email to SMS gateway address. (Check here for a Cell Provider list).  The end result is a nice SMS Buzz on my iPhone whenever someone sends me a High Priority email.  Of course you can also go even more granular on the rule if desired.  Since this is a Server Side Rule, it is processed on the Exchange Server and Outlook does not need to be running.

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