Think IPM

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Licensing the Free ESXi

imageSo lots of my clients are beginning to look at Hyper-V and the idea of trying out the free Hypervisor from Microsoft in their development environments. I put it in quotes since it is not exactly FREE since you need a Windows 2008 R2 license but I digress (and yeah; many of you have EAs with MS so go ahead and call it free Smile). (Thanks for the correction Matt). I’ve noticed that because of this new interest in getting a low cost entry hypervisor, I have been having more conversations about ESXi and the free licenses available for it.  What I have noticed is that many people don’t realize that VMware has a completely free version of ESXi available for download and use.  Many customers only think of Hyper-V or XenServer when evaluating the free hypervisor sets.  So here is the deal with ESXi free.

When you first go to VMware and download the ESXi bits, you will install it with the base Evaluation version.  This will give you access to EVERYTHING for 90 days as if you purchased an Enterprise Plus license.  You can connect, manage and configure it all via vCenter at that point.

Once you have completed the installation and configuration of ESXi, you then need to switch it over to a permanent free license.  You can simply grab this from the VMware website.  You will have to create a quick account and give up some marketing info but after that, you can get all the free ESXi licenses you want. 

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License in hand, connect your VI client to the ESXi host and pop in the permanent license.  After applying, you will notice the feature list drop significantly.

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I do wish that there was some sort of vMotion included in the free license similar to the Live Migration available in Microsoft’s Hyper-V but without a ‘free’ base version of vCenter to manage it all, it’s unlikely to happen.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Patch Tuesday causes issue with VMware View Windows 7 connections.

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Looks like a recent patch from Microsoft has caused some view clients to stop connecting.  VMware is aware of the newly discovered issue and is advising customers to not install the MS Security Patch.  If the patch was installed already, the work around is to uninstall.  More information can be found on VMware’s Support pages.

http://blogs.vmware.com/kb/2011/02/windows-7-view-client-issue-with-microsoft-patch.html

“As part of our commitment to letting you know about emerging issues, we want to mention an issue a few VMware View users are running into after applying a Microsoft patch.

The Knowledgebase Team has prepared KB article: Unable to connect from the Windows 7 Client to the View Connection Server after installing the patch in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 2482017 (1034262), and an alert has been placed on the Support page to alert customers of this issue.

This Knowledge Base article will be updated if new information becomes available (you can subscribe to RSS feeds on individual KB articles for this purpose). If you have been affected by this, please read the KB.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. If you know how to spread the word to your friends and colleagues, please do so. “

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

P2Ving MS-DOS Machines …

imageToday I got a chance to P2V some DOS machines for a client looking to virtualize some VERY old, seldom used, but important enough to keep accounting data.  You know the ones; the big beige machines that are stored in some wiring closet and only taken out a couple of times a year for historical reasons.

For this particular task, I turned to CloneZilla and a USB 1 TB Western Digital Disk.

  1. Since the machine was so old, I was unable to boot from Flash so I burned CloneZilla onto a CD.  Boot from CD.
  2. This particular machine had 2 physical drives in it so I would have to use CloneZilla to make two separate disk image files.
  3. After cloning both disks to image on the Western Digital drive, I fired up VMware Workstation. (for ease of use)
  4. Ran the CloneZilla RESTORE process from the Western Digital files to my newly created VM with 2 virtual drives.
    1. I ran into an issue with CloneZilla complaining about the partition table on the secondary disk so I proceeded by choosing the option to NOT create a partition table.  Choosing this allowed the imaging process to restore correctly.
  5. After successfully booting the DOS box, I headed over to Zamba's VMware page which had a great collection of DOS utilities.  The most important being DOSIDLE.  MSDOS Virtual Machines will NOT idle the CPU by default and will consume the hosts processor.  The DOSIDLE will allow your DOS VM to be a good Virtualization Citizen. clip_image004
    1. I used WinImage to create a virtual floppy disk (.flp) to copy the Utilities up to the DOS machine since there was no native CDROM support.  A good old fashion floppy disk would have worked on the SOURCE machine prior to imaging as well.

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Long Live DOS. clip_image004[1]

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Pesky vCenter ADAM Error

Recently on a Windows 2008 R2 vCenter 4.1 build, I ran across a strange error that was flooding my daily health check report. (vCheck5 – Virtu-Al)

Active Directory Web Services encountered an error while reading the settings for the specified Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services instance. Active Directory Web Services will retry this operation periodically. In the mean time, this instance will be ignored. Instance name: ADAM_VMwareVCMSDS

After some searching around a bit, I ran across a pretty simple answer on another blog:
(http://thesaffageek.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/active-directory-web-services-encountered-an-error-while-reading-the-settings-for-the-specified-active-directory-lightweight-directory-services-instance-active-directory-web-services-will-retry-this/)
I opted for a shorted post title. ;)

In a nutshell, to rid your logs of this error, you need to verify that there is a PORT SSL DWORD decimal value of 636 (HEX).  My default installation had a blank REG_SZ value instead.  The full key path to the value is HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ADAM_VMwareVCMSDS\Parameters.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Subject: Drop IO Replacement?

Quick question … I need to give someone a file … do you know of anything similar to DropIO that I can use?

Quick answer … Use the Public folder feature in Dropbox.  You can send someone a web link to the file.  (Dropbox is up to 2GB so it’s even better).

I used to use Drop.IO a lot!  I loved that service.  Needed to send someone a quick file that was too big for email, you could hit this site, set up a quick upload and share out the file to anyone you wanted to with a browser.  Dead simple.  Until they took the service down. (http://blog.drop.io/2010/10/29/an-important-update-on-the-future-of-drop-io/).  Bought by Facebook and basically shut down.  So much for relying on a cloud based service.  (Del.icio.us will be the next service I whine about).

Luckily with just about any cloud service that has a decent amount of use, take one away and two more pop up to fill the demand.  My Drop.IO replacement turned out to be DropBox.  Every free 2GB DropBox account comes with a Public folder that will associate a web link with any file you place in that folder.  So now I basically drop the file in my Public DropBox folder on my laptop, wait 10 seconds, right click on the local file and choose Copy Public Link.  Couldn’t be easier.  File size is limited to your available DropBox storage.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Date/Time on your RecoverPoint Appliance

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Here are some timely tips from Jeff Miller for all you RecoverPoint Appliance owners. Winking smile

How to view the time of your RPA
SSH into your RPA (as a user, not boxmgmt)
type set_time_display
select 1 for local
type get_current_time

How to set NTP server on RecoverPoint versions 3.x +:
Use NTP menu option from the boxmgmt menu.
Make a list of all Consistency Groups (CG). Take note on which RPA each CG is running.
Note! This is an extremely important step as the information will be used to restore Consistency Groups to the proper RPAs.

Connect to the RPA GUI and move all groups off the RPA you wish to correct the NTP time on.
Login as boxmgmt user to the target RPA.
Select [2] Setup
Select [8] Advanced options
Select [13] Set time via NTP or [9] Set time via NTP
Set the NTP server (IP address).

Perform the same steps if needed on other RPAs ensuring that the consistency groups are moved off the RPA before applying the setting.
Re-balance the Consistency Groups across RPA's as noted earlier.

Verify the time on your RPA is correct.

-Thanks for the Tips Jeff!

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trivial FTP – Not so Trivial in a Citrix Provisioning Environment.

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If you have played around with Citrix Provisioning services, you will quickly realize that the TFTP Service can be a pretty big single point of failure.  The TFTP service is typically installed on the Provisioning Servers and is responsible for sending down a bootstrap .BIN file during the PXE boot process that helps the machines begin their streaming boot process.  The .BIN file contains various configuration settings and a list of available Provisioning Servers within the environment for the clients to retrieve their vDisks from. 

Here is a quick overview of the flow:
A client machine boots up and does a PXE boot.  A defined DHCP scope responds with an IP address and option 66 that tells the machine the IP address of the TFTP server.  The client machine contacts the TFTP server to download the .BIN file and proceeds to stream down it’s OS from one of the available Provisioning servers.
The issue with the DHCP option is that it will only accept a SINGLE entry.  If you point it towards one of the Provisioning Servers hosting the TFTP service, you’ve effectively BROKEN the Provisioning HA capabilities (at least if the one server you define goes down).

So how do we ensure proper High Availability for the TFTP service?
If you have a Citrix NetScaler, you are COVERED! Although any hardware based load balancer will probably work just as well.  Basically, you need to set up a VIP for your TFTP service.
When using the NetScaler, the TFTP service can be checked for availability and functionality at regular intervals on all available provisioning servers. If there is issue or an outage on one of the servers or services, it will be automatically removed from the load balancing list maintained by the NetScaler.  Rather than configuring the DHCP option to point directly to a TFTP server, a NetScaler vServer could be created and its Virtual IP address would be used to provide the level of redundancy we need for enterprise solutions. You can get more information on configuring the NetScaler at the Citrix KB : CTX116337

If you haven’t sprung for a NetScaler or similar hardware load balancer yet, you can use a DNS Round Robin solution.  For this, a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) can be configured within the DHCP option 66. The DNS Round Robin entry will contains a list of multiple IPs instead of a single IP. In this scenario all systems corresponding to the IPs configured, are used rotationally, so if you experience an outage on one system, the other systems should respond next time.  Setting automatic reboots within the BIOSes of the target machines will ensure that they keep requesting IPs until they receive a working TFTP server. To minimize the impact of an outage, short DNS time to lives (TTLs) for the FQDN can be configured.
DNS Round Robin isn’t the greatest solution but the price is good for the added level of protection you will get and better than nothing at all.

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