Archive for November, 2008

What’s up with the broken Windows Search?!

November 15th, 2008

Can someone please explain to me why the search function in Windows hasn’t worked reliably since about Windows 2000 or Windows 98? It got exponentially worse with the release of Microsoft’s “Desktop Search”.

See below. I’m looking for the location of a file called wuauclt.exe. The “Desktop Search” feature, which when installed, replaces the default built in Windows Search, can’t find the file:

search1

I have to resort to the old faithful command prompt search to find what I’m looking for:

search2

This is beyond stupid.

VMware Server 2.0 installation error

November 15th, 2008

I ran into an installation error this afternoon with VMware Server 2.0 on Windows Server 2003 R2.  It was a dialog box that popped up and said “The System Administrator has set policies to prevent this installation“.  The error prevents the installation from proceeding and offers only one course of action which is to click “Ok” and the installation terminates.

The workaround is as follows:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. gpedit.msc <enter>
  4. Drill down to Computer configuration
    1. Windows Settings
      1. Security Settings
        1. Software Restriction Policies
  5. Right click Software Restriction Policies
  6. Choose Create New Policies
  7. On the right hand side, right click Enforcement
  8. Choose Properties
  9. Down below, choose All users except local administrators
  10. Click OK
  11. Close Group Policy
  12. Open a Command Prompt
  13. Run the command gpupdate /force <enter>
  14. When local group policy is finished updating, re-run the VMware Server 2.0 setup

Microsoft focus on features and marketing talk; delivery a secondary objective

November 15th, 2008

Looking for the SCVMM 2008 management pack? It doesnt exist much to the contrary of the documentation. Microsoft marketing is five steps ahead of the development team. That’s old news.

I’m so glad I’m not a Microsoft virtualization customer. What a let down it must be at times. Want to put Hyper-V and VMware pricing head to head? This is what you get. These are the soft details price comparisons don’t reveal. This is what Microsoft isn’t going to openly admit at the booth. For my dollar, today’s innovative features are what count.

Anyway, that’s quite enough press for Microsoft on my blog. Read the rest at VCritical.

He sed / she sed

November 14th, 2008

Sed (Stream EDitor) is a powerful Unix and Linux utility which has the ability to parse text files and make changes.  It’s practically a gold mine for scripting.  Fortunately, this utility has been part of the modified Red Hat Enterprise Linux service console (COS) in VMware ESX current and previous versions.  Used in my deployment scripts, it serves me well for the purposes of rapidly standing up new or rebuilding existing ESX hosts.

Admittedly, I don’t have a real strong Linux background.  My foundation has been primarily Microsoft Windows, and before Windows, Microsoft DOS and Commodore 64/VIC-20 BASIC programming which actually did provide me a nice basis for command line going forward.  When I began building ESX hosts, I soon discovered scripting was where it’s at for efficiency and more imporantly consistency.  I learned the use of sed by borrowing snippets of example code available on the internet and VMware Community forums.  By the way, the sed rabbit hole goes very deep.  I’ve only learned the find/replace function of it to get me by for ESX scripting which is just the tip of the iceberg.

I learned something about sed recently that probably would have helped me during my learning process of sed a while back.  The majority of sed examples found on the internet (and probably in the man pages) use a forward slash / as the delimiter.  This is because the / is natively used in ed, more, and vi.  What I discovered is that any character can actually be used as a delimiter.  This would have been helpful for me to know earlier because some of the scripting I do involves Linux paths which of course make use of the forward slash.  Adding an additional forward slash for sed scripting made for an awful lot of forward slashes in one line and at times made my eyes hurt.  Similar to building a complex Microsoft Excel formula whith a lot of parentheses and trying to keep track of the number of open parens versus the number of close parens. 

Let me show a few examples and maybe you can see what I’m talking about.

Here’s one line of an actual script I use to add the full path display in the COS (there are three / delimiters in this example, see if you can find them):

sed -e “s/\\h \\\W/\\h \\\w/g” /etc/bashrc.old > /etc/bashrc

Forward and backwards slashes that butt up against each other are commonly reffered to as “the picket fence effect”.  In the example above, for my sanity I could have chosen a different delimiter, such as an underscore, so that the script looked like this instead:

sed -e “s_\\h \\\W_\\h \\\w_g” /etc/bashrc.old > /etc/bashrc

Here’s another example which prevents the VMFS2 module from loading at startup on ESX3 hosts:

sed -e “s/echo \”vmfs2 vmfs2\”/\#echo \”vmfs2 vmfs2\”/g” /etc/init.d/vmware.old > /etc/init.d/vmware

More picket fence, not quite as bad though.  Maybe this time I use use the asterisk as a delimiter so that it looks like this instead:

sed -e “s*echo \”vmfs2 vmfs2\”*\#echo \”vmfs2 vmfs2\”*g” /etc/init.d/vmware.old > /etc/init.d/vmware

So it boils down to choosing the right sed delimiter for the line of code you’re working with.  Kind of like choosing the right bottle of wine for your meal, and choosing the right cigar for afterwards.

I’ve always said that much of the fun of this career I have chosen is the opportunity to learn something new every day and put it to practical use.  Today has been no exception.  Some days are more fun to learn than others.  It depends on the conditions and circumstances…

Make VirtualCenter highly available with Microsoft Cluster Services

November 12th, 2008

When VirtualCenter was first introduced, many could make the argument that VC was simply a utility class service that provided centralized management for a virtual infrastructure. If the VirtualCenter Management Server (VCMS) was rebooted in the middle of the day or if the VC services were stopped for some reason, it wasn’t too big of a deal providing the outage didn’t interrupt a key task such as a VMotion migration or a cloning process.

Times are changing. VirtualCenter is becoming a fairly critical component in the VI and high availability of VC and the VCMS is becoming increasingly important. Several factors have contributed to this evolution. To identify just a few:

  • Virtual infrastructures are growing rapidly in the datacenter. The need for a functioning centralized management platform increases exponentially.
  • Increased and more granular VC alerting capabilities are relied upon to keep administrators updated with timely information about the load and health of the VI.
  • The introduction of more granular role base security extended Virtual Infrastructure Client or Web Access deployment to more users and groups in the organization increasing dependability on VC and visibility of downtime.
  • The exposure of the VC API/SDK encouraged many new applications and tools to be written against VC. I’m talking about tools that provide important functions such as backup, reporting, automation, replication, capacity analysis, sVMotion, etc. Without VC running, these tools won’t work.
  • The introduction of plugins. Plugins are going to be the preferred bolt on for most administrators because they snap in to a unified management interface. Obvious dependency on VC.
  • The introduction of new features native to VC functionality. DRS, HA, DPM, VCB, Update Manager, Consolidation, snapshot manager, FT, SRM, etc. Like the bullet above, all of these features require a healthy functioning VCMS.
  • The Virtual Datacenter OS was announced at VMworld 2008 and is comprised of the following essential components: Application vServices, Infrastructure vServices, Cloud vServices, and Management vServices. I don’t know about you, but to me those all sound like services that would need to be highly available. While it is not yet known exactly how existing VI components transform into the VDC-OS, we know the components are going to be integral to VMware’s vision and commitment to cloud computing which needs to be highly available, if not continuously available.

VirtualCenter has evolved from a cornerstone of ESX host management into the the entire foundation on which the VI will be built on. Try to imagine what the impacts will be in your environment if and when VirtualCenter is down now and in the future. Dependencies may have waltzed in that you didn’t realize.

A single VCMS design may be what you’re used to, but fortunately there exists a method by which VC may be made highly available on a multi-node Microsoft Cluster. This document, written by none other than my VI classroom training instructor Chris Skinner, explains how to cluster VirtualCenter 2.5.

If you’re on VirtualCenter 2.0.x, follow this version of the document instead.

Update:  Follow up post here.

Blog maintenance

November 12th, 2008

A few housecleaning and upgrade tasks in the past 24 hours:

  1. Banned several IP addresses for brute force attacking the FTP server.  This should increase available bandwidth and response time.  This is a problem I’ve been dealing with since I brought the server online many years ago.  It’s a game of cat and mouse.  New attacks will continue to occur almost daily which is to say on a daily basis I could be banning new IP addresses.  I’m not sure I have that kind of time but I’ll check sporadically.
  2. Banned two .MPG cataloging sites for referring boatloads of traffic my way for the sole purpose of downloading model railroad .MPG clips probably in the hopes that the .MPG clips are something other than model railroading related.  Their intentions seem clear to me.  This should increase available bandwidth and response time.
  3. Removed all model railroad .MPG cilps from the web server.  This should increase available bandwidth and response time.
  4. Upgraded GD Star Rating from version 1.0.1 to 1.0.2.  Bug fixes and new features.  I’m still seeing one bug with the product and have provided feedback to the author.  Ratings are bells, whistles, and clutter and I’m half tempted to just get rid of them.
  5. Installed WP Super Cache.  This should increase available bandwidth and response time.

Please let me know if you see any funk that may be caused by serving static/cached pages instead of dynamically rendered PHP WordPress pages.

VMware Communities using Hyper-V Quick Migration during business hours?

November 12th, 2008

The VMware Communities are down this morning for what I’m hoping is unplanned maintenance. Hopefully they get all of the kinks worked out.

If it was planned maintenance (the outage message does mention “system upgrade”), VMware, please – not during business hours.

vmwmaint