Think IPM

Friday, April 15, 2011

All good things come to an end; i.e. Forced change.

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This is the notice I got the other day when I fired up my Firefox browser.  Sxipper has been the password manager I have used for the past couple years now and have grown COMPLETELY dependent on it.  So much in fact, that when the newest version of Firefox (4) was released, and Sxipper was found to be incompatible, I decided against the Firefox upgrade.

Of course with the now imminent demise of the Sxipper servers, I am forced to upgrade and find a new password manager.  For those that are interested, I chose LastPass.  It seems to meet most of my password manager requirements while still remaining free.  They do happen to have a premium edition (which includes some multiple platform options) and maybe this post will generate enough ad clicks to pay for/justify it. (So be sure to visit the sponsors above!) Smile  In any event, it seems like a good piece of software and replacement for Sxipper.

The reason I decided to blog about this is because it made me think about how the longevity of a software package or a company should probably play a part in the decision making process when choosing between various solutions.  As more and more services move up into the cloud and your data becomes more and more scattered, events like the one to the left will become increasingly annoying. :|

It was only a few short months ago I mourned Drop.IOs untimely death. 
(http://www.vmwareinfo.com/2011/02/subject-drop-io-replacement.html)

Feel free to rant in the comments if you’ve also had a good piece of software decide to shut it’s doors.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Troubleshooting Tip: Run your Script in the SYSTEM context

imageAaron Silber sent over a quick Microsoft troubleshooting tip for Windows 2003 servers:

Here is a cool little tip I picked up from Microsoft tech support while working at a client recently. I was having an issue with a machine startup script working properly and had put in all sorts of pauses and various piping to log files, but really needed to be able to just “see” what was going on. Additionally, every time I would go to make a change, I would have to wait for the machine to reboot, run the shutdown script and go through the whole boot process, a real pain indeed. One of the issues I was having was that the scripts were working fine when I test ran them after I logged in.

The first thing I thought of was to set the policy to run the machine scripts visible, this helps out a little, but is still not great for troubleshooting.  So here is the tip; one thing to think about is that when the scripts are running they are in the SYSTEM context which is not a real user that you can do a runas or log in with, sooooo,
here’s what you do; Run the following command:

C:\> AT 3:50PM /INTERACTIVE CMD

Make sure to set the time to about 1 minute ahead of the current time, what this will do is launch a CMD prompt as the SYSTEM user. From this command prompt, anything that you do will run as the system account, so you can test out drive mappings, scripts, permissions, etc. (Keep the pauses of course)

Unfortunately the ability to create interactive tasks in Windows 7 /2008 is done via the Scheduled Tasks applet (GUI), once I have a chance, I’ll see if I can find a CLI equivalent but I doubt it will be as simple or elegant.

See ya!
Aaron

If you have a 2008/7 solution, Let us know if the comments.  Thanks for sharing Aaron!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

VMware Fling : ThinApp’d vSphere Client

imageFinally!  I’ve been wishing for this for a WHILE now and VMware has finally come through.  Straight out of VMware Labs is a ThinApp’d version of the vSphere Client.  ThinApp in my opinion is one of those great little pieces of software that gets no love.  Partially because it gets no publicity or recognition.  If more people knew about it and what can be done with it, more people would use it.  It has always irked me that VMware did not distribute ThinApp’d versions of their own utilities to increase exposure to this gem.

That’s all history now though.  VMware Labs (which produces internally home grown ‘side’ projects that are not officially supported by VMware) has released a ThinApp’d vSphere 4.1 Client.

http://labs.vmware.com/flings/thinapp-vpshere

No more installing the vSphere client on Desktops, vDisks, XenApp servers or Windows servers.  Just download the EXE and drop it on the machine.  Double click and run.  No install required!  All settings and personalization are stored neatly and portably in your windows profile application data directory.  Of course, the ThinApp’d version is identical to the installed version with the exception of it being completely install free and portable.

Check it out to get a flavor for the goodness that is ThinApp and let’s hope VMware begins to officially distribute their utilities and clients in this neat packaged format.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Creating an ESXi Installer on a USB flash key.

So you’ve read the unconfirmed warnings/rumors of ESX being end of life’d in the next version and you’ve decided to take the plunge and are about to install ESXi!  GREAT!  But you are not quite ready to run the system from a USB or SD card just yet.  You still want to install ESXi onto a classic RAID 1 hard drive set.  I guess I get it.  RAID 1 gives you the warm and fuzzies knowing that if there is a failure of 1 component (i.e. drive) the other will pick up the slack until morning.  Fair enough.  I don’t have the energy to argue the merits of non moving parts in a USB/SD solution.

One catch though ; The fancy new servers you ordered do not have a DVD/CDROM Drive!  No problem, just take the USB key you were going to use for the OS and create a USB ESXi installer key.  The whole process is very straightforward and easy.

Step 1) Download the latest ESXi installer ISO.

Step 2) Download UNetBootin and fire it up.

Step 3) Point UNetBootin to your downloaded ESXi installer ISO and to your USB drive.

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Step 4) Go boot your server from said drive and enjoy the magic of ESXi and USB drives. Smile

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