March 28

Getting started with Edward Haletky’s (@texiwill) LinuxVSM

Note: I’m not overly happy with the way the graphics are behaving in terms of resolution. If you’re finding this hard to read – in think in future I will have to crank up the font size in PuTTy – and I’m looking for a modern WordPress theme as this is looking a little too much 2011 for my tastes.

My fellow vExpert Edward Haletky has github crammed full of useful stuff – and last week I spent most of my time getting to grips with his LinuxVSM. As ever I found this really interesting and is a bit of distraction from my main personal project. But like to follow where ever my passions and interest take me. As for myself I’m chatting with Alastair Cooke of about how Edward’s work could be incorporated into his AutoLab Project. Additionally, I”m looking at updating the UDA for the next release of vSphere – adding LinuxVSM to it, as well the deployment of nested homelab – that way the UDA can be used to deploy not just physical, but virtual ESX hosts.

Edward’s LinuxVSM is essentially a Linux version of VMware’s Software Manager. This is a sadly neglected Windows tool which hasn’t had any love from VMware since 2016. I tried downloading VMware’s Windows version and using it, but it didn’t work. In case you don’t know the “software manager” is meant to the ease the pain of downloading software from vmware.com. You can see the LinuxVSM as text-based, and scriptable version of VMware Software Manger allowing access to the main VMware’s VSM Metadata site.

So, using an ordinary personal MyVMware account LinuxVSM can:

  • Download practically almost any piece of software you need from vmware.com
  • You can “mark” a certain product suite as a “favourite” – and using cron LinuxVSM will update your repository with new version of software as they are released.
  • Your repository could be just a local .VMDK or else you could mount from the LinuxVSM to a CIFS or NFS share/export – and store your download on your NAS device.
  • Your account can be a personal  MyVMware account, and you do not need to be a customer account (although there are some bits that are not downloadable except for customers). For many of us this is a godsend. I’ve lost track of the number of “mailinator” accounts I’ve set up in effort to get hold of software from VMware – something I’ve experienced since 2003. Don’t forget you can use the VMUG Advantage to gain access to 1year NFRs if you are not in the vExpert club. VMUG Advantage is great – although sometimes its “downloads” lag behind what is available from the live site. So perhaps the real advantage of the VMUG Advantage are the licensing keys rather than the access to the media.

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March 20

Problems with Windows 10 (1703) and VMware Guest Customisation

This week I decided to try and help out a fellow vExpert who was having an issue with carrying out guest customisation on a Windows10 system. I’ve not done much with Windows10. And I’m keen to expose myself new problems and issues, and I like trying to fix issues. So I offered to help. We went ALL around the houses looking at the usual suspects – DHCP, Administrator credentials, DNS and so on. Turned out it was a problem with with Windows itself. In nutshell 1703 is “bad” for VMware Admins, but 1709 is fine.

I’d not seen the problem because my lab uses 1709…. and once my fellow vExpert had ditched the 1703 build of Windows10 the problem went away. To be honest the build difference was the LAST thing I checked. I went round all the houses – looking at the usual suspects…

The problem was this – put simply – when ever guest customisation was taking place the customisation was stalling and triggering the setting of Regional Settings/Keyboard and such like. It’s worth saying that Sysprep is always been crock of poop. It’s primarily designed for OEMs who ship PCs with Windows pre-installed, and need to “depersonalise” the build ready for shipping to customer. It was never intended really for customer deploying Windows NT/XP/7/8/10 en-masse least of all Windows Server.

It is however all we have – and so we have to work within its constraints – once reason to make sure if your VDI broker (aka Horizon or XenDesktop) has their own “Sysprep” – they are MUCH more functional and 1,000 times faster to process.

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March 16

Oracle Ravello Blogger Day 2018 (aka #RBD2)

Note: In classical antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods.

Firstly, I would like to give John Troyer and Amy White a great big thank you for the invite to attend RBD2 at Oracle’s global HQ at Redwood Shores, CA. I’ve driven past Oracle’s offices on the 101 to/from SFO on a number of occasions and wondered what it was like up close. I want to especially thank Amy for her “herding of cats” by pulling a cabal of the industry’s top bloggers around the globe into one day. Initially, I was surprised to be included in those ranks. As you know I’ve been out-of-the-loop for a while. And it’s my hope this event marks an end to my hiatus and a return to my usual output and engagement. As you might guess it’s been quite journey. The best part is, its only just begun.

Secondly, I would like to thank the OCI – Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Team (Map OCI to AWS or GCP as equivalent acronyms) and Ravello Team (although I feel the distinction between the two will, as time goes by, become increasingly blurry). Bringing a larger group like this is not a small undertaking – and I see it as a measure of their commitment to the community that they are staging events like this – as well as giving all vExperts complementary access to their cloud – an offer I will be taking up shortly as a supplement to my homelab. My only regret was brain-fading in the late afternoon as we went thru two customer-case studies – by then I was rather battling the jet lag.

Right. Thank you’s done. Now to the meat and potatoes. I made copious notes during the event, and we were given access to a raft of PPTs as well as a roadmap which was under NDA. Only the roadmap is off limits. As it is I had a feeling that the Oracle folks were watching their words closely – which suggests there something brewing which is off-road map… I’ll dip in those later when I see something worthy of note – as often it’s the overall impression that stays clearer in the mind. Who knows maybe Oracle will buy VMware, but only once VMware has bought Microsoft after its merger with Redhat… :p

Anyway, I’m just gonna riff here and see where it takes me. And then when I’m done I will look at those PPT’s see if that inspires me more than just to copy and pasting slides into a blogpost for some visual relief…

Ravello isn’t just about running vSphere in a nested configuration on top of a cloud. So I’ve been out of the loop for a while, and wasn’t at RBD1. Before I took my gap year, Ravello had just been acquired. And the general consensus was – that just like a HP acquisition “That’s the end of them then”. Some acquisitions have habit of disappearing into the corporate matrix and never being seeing again. Yet, later when folks ask “why did we buy these people” – everyone who made decision have gone, and those left – just look blankly.

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March 12

London VMUG – 22nd March 2018

Erm, that’s “Next Thursday” to you and me! I’ll be there. Train tickets paid for at £81. The cheapest ticket gets me in for 9.45am, and then I have to cross London. So I won’t be there for the 10am kick off. I’ll sneak in at the back…

Register here at this unfeasibly long URL – https://community.vmug.com/events/event-description?CalendarEventKey=7471e78b-02f7-4112-9d97-b07813569eed&CommunityKey=0433de49-138a-4270-bc83-b64b8ea303a7&Home=%2fevents%2fempages%2fregistration%2fselect-registrants

Just in case your not sure where it is..
Dates on a beer mat for the future…
The Agenda

 

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February 21

Multi-Site/Multiple vCenters and Enhanced Linked Mode Configuration in vSphere 6.5 U1

Note: As ever before you begin – make sure the FQDNs of your proposed PSC and vCenter are listed in DNS – and reserve your IP addresses accordingly. The vCenter install validates your IP/DNS configuration and won’t let you proceed until its correct.

WARNING: Please pay close, close attention to your FQDNs as during the process built-in certificates are created which if you subsequently correct/change hostname will be invalid.

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 14.15.02.png

In this scenario – I wanted the appearance of multiple vCenters across many sites – and wish to link them together for ease of administration – and the sharing of licensing repositories. This ensures licenses can be assigned freely around the organisation – and not be “locked” to specific site location. This more distributed model is not supported with the “embedded” deployment type – where the vCenter and PSC service reside in the same instance – and seems to have been introduced with vSphere 6.5 U1. So I would have two PSC and vCenters one for New York and the other for New Jersey.

There now 8 supported topologies for multiple vCenters and “Enhanced” Link Mode – and 3 depreciated one as well. Far too many possible permutations for me to cover – so I would seriously considering studying the documentation in full. I would recommend starting https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2147672 which gives a good round-up of all them.

VMware’s “Linked Mode” feature has a number of names – from Linked Mode to Enhanced Linked Mode, to now it being also called “Hybrid Link Mode”. Most of the changes have come about as the company pivots away from vCenter’s historical Microsoft Windows roots, to being purely a Linux based Virtual Appliance. However, In 2017, VMware announced a partnership with Amazon to extend vSphere functionality into Amazon Datacenters and integration with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. This development prompted VMware to modify linked-mode functionality to also include management of assets in Amazon’s cloud. Hence “Hybrid” mode is now the favoured term. Hybrid mode in its full functionality is only available for those who have both vSphere on-premises and a vSphere subscription with Amazon. Whatever its name – linked mode addresses a scenario for where multiple vCenter persist for geographical or political reasons – and it has been decided to provide one-login identity to both systems.

It’s entirely possible that you may wish to install another vCenter at different site or location. In this configuration I had a single PSC Domain (vsphere.local) and single Active Directory Domain (corp.local) – but with two SSO sites – one called New York, and the other called New Jersey.

In our case I have two different vCenters and PSC in two different sites – however, they will part of the same SSO domain and linked together. The KB article referenced at the beginning of this section outlines this accordingly – although in my case there will for the moment just one vCenter under each PSC.

RtaImage.png

1 Single Sign-On domain 1 Single Sign-On site 2 or more external Platform Services Controllers

This configuration is not without limitations:

  • In the event of a Platform services Controller failover the vCenter Servers will need to be manually repointed to the functioning Platform Services Controller.
  • vCenter Servers attached to higher latency Platform Services Controller may experience performance issues

New York: PSC – Establishing the SSO Domain

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February 19

Lalala… America… Lalala… America

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading out the States. It will be my first trip across the pond since I attended VMworld in 2016, and had brief but memorable vacation in Shenandoah region of West Virginia. I’m in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area and the guest of Ravello – who as you recall were acquired by Oracle some time ago. If your a vExpert you might interested to know that team at Oracle Ravello Free Lab Program for vExperts will continue again this coming year. I’ll be there because as their team to host Oracle Ravello Blogger Day 2018 (aka #RBD2). It’s a day long event scheduled for March 8, 2018 hosted at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores, CA. The event will be educational, so I hope to share what I learn on the day with my readers here – and I hope to able catch-up with many of my friends from the community too. As you might know Revello developed what is called the HVX hypervisor – a hypervisor designed to run in a virtual machine – which then allow other hypervisors to run with it – this “nested configuration” is something that has been popular in the world of homelabbers for sometime – but it was Revello who made it commercial available. The concept allows you to folk lift an entire vSphere environment that maybe running on a bare-metal setup – and have it run nested. I know a number of people who switched to in preference to having to maintain and operate physical environment at home. That appears to be just the start – and the company has developed the ability to do this without the VMware ESXi component.

Given the distances involved I opted to spend the week out in the area – mixing catching up friends, a little site seeing (I’ve got an idea to visit the Museum of Computing – as its one of those things I’ve never had the time to do whilst I was out there before)  – as well catching up with my former colleagues from VMware. On the Tuesday I will be meeting a friend and former colleague of mine from my time in the hyper-convergence team at the VMware campus. If anyone wants to hook-up and say hi on the day – and catch-up it would be my pleasure to see you there.

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February 16

Fun and Games with the Platform Service Controller and vCenter in vSphere 6.5 U1

This week I had a run in with the PSC and vCenter in vSphere 6.5 U1. I’m ashamed to admit it was really all my fault – being a bit fat-fingered and hasty in my inputting – I put a bump name in DNS, and then a bum name in the installer as well. That result in SSL certificate mismatches and errors…

So I seriously needed to clean out the guff I’d created and try again. There are couple of KB articles and blogpost that cover this scenario. I found I need to do four step. My life was made easier by enabling SSH on all the appliances along the way – and of course switching to the “Bash” prompt after logging.

I started the process by log in on to one of my functional PSC’s using SSH….

1.) Run cmsso-util command on a functioning PSC to clean out the bum PSC and vCenter references

cmsso-util unregister –node-pnid vcnj.corp.local –username administrator@vsphere.local –passwd VMware1!

cmsso-util unregister –node-pnid vcnj.corp.local –username administrator@vsphere.local –passwd VMware1!

2.) Shutdown the bum virtual appliances

3.) Run the vdcleavefed to really clean out the bum PSC and vCenter references. Despite running cmsso-util the ghostly remains of failed deployment haunted the web-client – indicating they were still there… vdcleavefed allowed me to remove the properly…

/usr/lib/vmware-vmdir/bin/vdcleavefed -h psnj.corp.local -u administrator -w VMware1!

/usr/lib/vmware-vmdir/bin/vdcleavefed -h vcnj.corp.local -u administrator -w VMware1!

4.) Delete the bum virtual appliances

Note: For future reference – it was these two KB articles stitched together that helped me resolve the issue.

https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2106736

https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2114233

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February 14

Finding the vSphere 6.5 U1 ZIP Administration Guide bundle

This week I had a need to download the official PDF guides to vSphere 6.5 U1. I like having the guides offline because Apple’s Spotlight can index them and make them available for search queries – but also if you in a place where internet access is restricted you can use the offline docs to lookup stuff.

The official landing page for documentation around vSphere is located here:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/index.html

The documentation is in a html and pdf.

Recently VMware has moved all its ‘administration guides” online in a HTML format called “VMware Docs Home” – https://docs.vmware.com/. It is still possible to download an “offline” PDF copy as single .ZIP file. But they have rather “tucked” it away where its tricky to find.  If you need it – it can be found under a node called “Archive Packages”. These links down a single .ZIP file containing all the PDFS

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 09.01.56.png

You can download a zip file of all vSphere documentation as a zip file using this link which is current as of today, 14th Feb, 2018….

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/vsphere-documentation-65u1.zip

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February 11

Restoring a backup of MediaWiki to Bitnami MediaWiki

This week I caused to restore a backup of a mediawiki implementation to a local VM of Mediawiki. I got sent a backup of the database and the image files, and opted to use the pre-package Bitnami Mediawiki Virtual Appliance. Standing up the VM was a relatively easy matter – but the restore of the database took me sometime to crack. I was massively assisted by the Mediawiki formums – in particular Ciencia Al Poder. Who single-handedly reinvigorated my belief in community support models, and was pivotal in getting me up and running.

The Bitnami Mediawiki VM can be downloaded as an .OVA and deployed to a virtualization platform of your choice:

https://bitnami.com/stack/mediawiki/virtual-machine

1.) Record the Bitnami MediaWiki Accounts:

One thing I struggled with was locating all the login. So I’ve brought them all together here. Both the “user” and “root” accounts share the same autogenerated password that’s printed to the console at first boot.

  • To Login to the Virtual Console – username: bitnami password: bitnami
  • To Login to the MediaWiki webpage: username: user password: console screen
  • To Login to PhpAdmin: username: root password: console screen

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October 17

Free Cisco CCNA Lab Guide (neil@flackbox.com)

My good friend, Neil Anderson has been bizzy again. He’s found the time to write a free Cisco CCNA Lab Guide. Readers  can use it to pass the CCNA exam or as a configuration reference for Cisco routers and switches. There’s a few free guides online but they all cover old out of date exam topics and aren’t great quality, which I guess isn’t surprising when they’re being given away for free. So Neil wanted to produce a guide which is more complete (350+ pages), up to date, better quality and simple to use than all the paid guides out there, but which people can use completely for free. He also has put together a video course, but the PDF stands alone as a complete lab guide which could really help your audience further their careers.

The guide can be found over at this URL: http://www.flackbox.com/cisco-ccna-lab-guide

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