Archive for the ‘Virtualization’ category

VMware View 5.0 VDI vHardware 8 vMotion Error

September 20th, 2011

General awareness/heads up blog post here on something I stumbled on with VMware View 5.0.  A few weeks ago while working with View 5.0 BETA in the lab, I ran into an issue where a Windows 7 virtual machine would not vMotion from one ESXi 5.0 host to another.  The resulting error in the vSphere Client was:

A general system error occurred: Failed to flush checkpoint data

I did a little searching and found similar symptoms in VMware KB 1011971 which speaks to an issue that can arise  when Video RAM (VRAM) is greater than 30MB for a virtual machine. In my case it was greater than 30MB but I could not adjust it due to the fact that it was being managed by the View Connection Server.  At the same time, a VMware source on Twitter volunteered his assistance and quickly came up with some inside information on the issue.  He had me try adding the following line to /etc/vmware/config on the ESXi 5.0 hosts (no reboot required):

migrate.baseCptCacheSize = “16777216”

The fix worked and I was able to vMotion the Windows 7 VM back and forth between hosts.  The information was taken back to Engineering for a KB to be released.  That KB is now available: VMware KB 2005741 vMotion of a virtual machine fails with the error: A general system error occurred: Failed to flush checkpoint data! The new KB article lists the following background information and several workarounds:


Due to new features with Hardware Version 8 for the WDDM driver, the vMotion display graphics memory requirement has increased. The default pre-allocated buffer may be too small for certain virtual machines with higher resolutions. The buffer size is not automatically increased to account for the requirements of those new features if mks.enable3d is set to FALSE (the default).


To work around this issue, perform one of these options:

  • Change the resolution to a single screen of 1280×1024 or smaller before the vMotion.
  • Do not upgrade to Virtual Machine Hardware version 8.
  • Increase the base checkpoint cache size. Doubling it from its default 8MB to 16MB (16777216 byte) should be enough for every single display resolution. If you are using two displays at 1600×1200 each, increase the setting to 20MB (20971520 byte).To increase thebase checkpoint cache size:

    1. Power off the virtual machine.
    2. Click the virtual machine in the Inventory.
    3. On the Summary tab for that virtual machine, click Edit Settings.
    4. In the virtual machine Properties dialog box, click the Options tab.
    5. Under Advanced, select General and click Configuration Parameters.
    6. Click Add Row.
    7. In the new row, add migrate. baseCptCacheSize to the name column and add 16777216 to the value column.
    8. Click OK to save the change.

    Note: If you don’t want to power off your virtual machine to change the resolution, you can also add the parameter to the /etc/vmware/config file on the target host. This adds the option to every VMX process that is spawning on this host, which happens when vMotion is starting a virtual machine on the server.

  • Set mks.enable3d = TRUE for the virtual machine:
    1. Power off the virtual machine.
    2. Click the virtual machine in the Inventory.
    3. On the Summary tab for that virtual machine, click Edit Settings.
    4. In the virtual machine Properties dialog box, click the Options tab.
    5. Under Advanced, select General and click Configuration Parameters.
    6. Click Add Row.
    7. In the new row, add mks.enable3d to the name column and add True to the value column.
    8. Click OK to save the change.
Caution: This workaround increases the overhead memory reservation by 256MB. As such, it may have a negative impact on HA Clusters with strict Admission Control. However, this memory is only used if the 3d application is active. If, for example, Aero Basic and not Aero Glass is used as a window theme, most of the reservation is not used and the memory could be kept available for the ESX host. The reservation still affects HA Admission Control if large multi-monitor setups are used for the virtual machine and if the CPU is older than a Nehalem processor and does not have the SSE 4.1 instruction set. In this case, using 3d is not recommended. The maximum recommended resolution for using 3d, regardless of CPU type and SSE 4.1 support, is 1920×1200 with dual screens.

The permanent fix for this issue did not make it into the recent View 5.0 GA release but I expect it will be included in a future release or patch.

Update 12/23/11: VMware released five (5) non-critical patches last week.  One of those patches is ESXi500-201112401-SG which permanently resolves the issues described above.  Full patch details below:

Summaries and Symptoms

This patch updates the esx-base VIB to resolve the following issues:

  • Updates the glibc third party library to resolve multiple security issues.
    The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project ( has assigned the names CVE-2010-0296, CVE-2011-0536, CVE-2011-1071, CVE-2011-1095, CVE-2011-1658 and CVE-2011-1659 to these issues.
  • When a hot spare disk that is added to a RAID group is accessed before the disk instance finishes initialization or if the disk is removed while an instance of it is being accessed, a race condition might occur causing the vSphere Client to not display information about the RAID controllers and the vSphere Client user interface might also not respond for a very long time.
  • vMotion fails with the A general system error occurred: Failed to flush checkpoint data!error message when:
    • The resolution of the virtual machines is higher than 1280×1024, or smaller if you are using a second screen
    • The guest operating system is using the WDDM driver (Windows 7, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2008, Windows Vista)
    • The virtual machine is using Virtual Machine Hardware version 8.
  • Creating host profiles of ESX i 5.0 hosts might fail when the host profile creation process is unable to resolve the hostname and IP address of the host by relying on the DNS for hostname and IP address lookup. An error message similar to the following is displayed:
    Call"HostProfileManager.CreateProfile" for object "HostProfileManager" on vCenter Server"<Server_Name> failed.
    Error extracting indication configuation: [Errno- 2] Name or service not known.
  • In vSphere 5.0, Thin Provisioning is enabled by default on devices that adhere to T10 standards. On such thin provisioned LUNs, vSphere issues SCSI UNMAP commands to help the storage arrays reclaim unused space. Sending UNMAP commands might cause performance issues with operations such as snapshot consolidation or storage vMotion.
    This patch resolves the issue by disabling the space reclamation feature, by default.
  • If a user subscribes for an ESXi Server’s CIM indications from more that one client (for example, c1 and c2) and deletes the subscription from the first client (c1), the other clients (C2) might fail to receive any indication notification from the host.

This patch also provides you with the option of configuring the iSCSI initiator login timeout value for software iSCSI and dependent iSCSI adapters.
For example, to set the login timeout value to 10 seconds you can use commands similar to the following:

  • ~ # vmkiscsi-tool -W -a "login_timeout=10" vmhba37
  • ~ # esxcli iscsi adapter param set -A vmhba37 -k LoginTimeout -v 10

The default login timeout value is 5 seconds and the maximum value that you can set is 60 seconds.
We recommend that you change the login timeout value only if suggested by the storage vendor.

Professional VMware BrownBag Group Learning

September 19th, 2011

Snagit Capture

If you weren’t already aware, VMware vEXPERT Cody Bunch has been hosting a series of BrownBag learning sessions covering topics from VCP4, VCAP4-DCA, and VCAP4-DCD exam blueprints, in addition to VCDX topics.  A number of individuals from the VMware community have been lending Cody assistance in leading these sessions.  I’ll be stepping up to the plate this Wednesday evening, 9/21 at 7pm CDT to help out.  I’ll be covering VCAP4-DCD exam blueprint objectives:

  • 1.1 Gather and analyze business requirements
  • 1.2 Gather and analyze application requirements
  • 1.3 Determine Risks, Constraints, and Assumptions

If you’re thinking of attempting the VCAP4-DCD exam or if you’re preparing for the VCDX certification, this session is for you.  Again, details below, sign up today – it’s free!

Updated 9/21/11: The live session is complete but you can download the recorded version at the Professional VMware link above.  I’m also embedding a link to the SlideRocket presentation for as long as my trial account is active (through the beginning of October).

Rogue SRM 5.0 Shadow VM Icons

September 13th, 2011

Snagit CaptureOne of the new features in VMware SRM 5.0 is Shadow VM Icons.  When VMs are protected at the primary site, these placeholder objects will automatically be created in VM inventory at the secondary site.  It may seem like a trivial topic for discussion but it is important to recognize that these placeholder objects represent datacenter capacity which will be needed and consumed on demand if and when the VMs are powered on during a planned migration or disaster recovery operation within SRM.  In previous versions of SRM, the placeholder VMs simply looked like powered off virtual machines.  In SRM 5.0, these placeholder VMs get a facelift to provide better clarity of their disposition.  You can see what these Shadow VM Icons look like in the image to the right.

Each SRM Server maintains its own unique SQL database instance in order to track current state of the environment.  It does a pretty good job of this.  However, at some point you may run into an instance where once SRM protected VMs are no longer protected (by choice or design), yet they maintain the new Shadow VM Icon look which can yield a false sense of protection.  If the VMs truly are not protected, they should have no relationship with SRM and thus should not be wearing the Shadow VM Icon.  I ran into this during an SRM upgrade.  I corrected the rogue icon by removing the VM from inventory and re-added to inventory.  This action is safe to quickly perform on running VMs.

VMworld 2011 Recap at Nexus Information Systems 9/14

September 12th, 2011

Couldn’t make the big show? No problem!

Join me at Nexus Information Systems Sept. 14th as we recap VMworld 2011! VMworld 2011 took place August 28th – Sept 1st with over 170 unique Breakout Sessions and 30+ Hands On Lab topics offered across four days. We’ll be covering our thoughts on the direction of VMware virtualization, the buzz we observed from the VMware community, and highlights of ecosystem vendors (with a special message from Dell Compellent & others). We’ll cover some specifics on:

  • VMware vSphere 5.0
  • vCloud Director 1.5
  • View 5.0
  • SRM 5.0
  • Tech Previews – AppBlast & Octopus


Wednesday, September 14, 2011 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (CT)

Nexus Information Systems
6103 Blue Circle Drive
Hopkins, MN 55343

Lunch will be served

Sign up today!

Sponsored by:

The 9/11 Post

September 10th, 2011

Snagit CaptureMy memory isn’t what it used to be but there are a few experiences in the past which remain clear in my mind.  The first time I met the person who would eventually become my wife. The birth of my daughter. The first time I saw VMware ESXi at a Minneapolis VMUG meeting.  September 10th, 2001 and of course what followed the next morning.  A lot of people have a 9/11 story.  I have mine.  Tomorrow being the 10 year anniversary, I’ll share it here as requested.

In 2001 I worked as a Systems Engineer for a large bank based out of Minneapolis, MN.  One of our datacenters was located in Columbia, MD which is situated between Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C.  We were re-IP’ing the datacenter the weekend before 9/11 so I had spent the prior week on site making the final preparations for the long weekend ahead which I would also be involved in.

As I recall, it was a pretty long weekend working around the clock.  Par for the course when we had to deal with the finicky attitude of Microsoft SQL Server clusters.  We got through it and Monday morning arrived.  I would usually stick around through mid day Monday for this type of activity to make sure we were out of the woods, then fly out in the afternoon or early evening.  There were no issues to speak of but I hung out with my Maryland co-workers until the last possible minute I had to leave for the airport.  This was my normal routine.  At this point in time there was no reason to arrive at the airport two hours early.  There weren’t security checkpoints & the associated lines to deal with.  However, I had cut it way too close this time and was going to miss my flight.  I didn’t know it at the time but arriving late and missing my flight would allow me a brush with fame opportunity.

Snagit CaptureAt this time it’s probably 5:30pm EDT.  I worked with the ticketing agent to find a later flight out.  Fortunately there was a later flight, I believe it was the last out of BWI.  I checked my bag and made my way to the gate for the long wait.  The portion of the airport where my gate existed was fairly empty.  I was doing the long walk thing to one of the last gates.  As I’m walking, a young guy who had gotten off a plane is walking towards me from the opposite direction.  From a distance he’s tall and has a baseball cap on.  As we passed each other, I got a closer look.  One thought immediately entered my mind as he was walking away “He looks like Travis Pastrana (a pro motocross Suzuki rider).”  The DUH moment followed “Travis and his parents live in Maryland.”  When you eat, sleep, and breathe motocross, you follow motocross and pro riders closely. You know these things.  I spun around and called out his first name “Travis!” from 20 feet away.  We talked for about a minute.  He was a nice guy and autographed a full spread poster of him performing a lazy boy contained in a motocross magazine I happened to be carrying in my laptop bag.  Then we went on our respective ways.  I called my wife (girlfriend at the time) and told her she’d never guess who I just met.  I spent the rest of the evening smiling.  I would always remember that particular day (but not necessarily the date September 10th itself), as one of the best days in my life.  The following day would be one of the worst.

Tuesday morning I woke up and drove to work in downtown Minneapolis.  As I waited at the intersection of 11 Street to turn right onto Hennepin Avenue, the frantic reports started coming in over the radio.  For me, that’s where I was when 9/11 happened – at that intersection making a right turn, trying not to believe what I’m hearing on the radio.  The details of that event are known by all and don’t need repeating here.  I had a difficult time grasping what had happened, how they could have happened.  I thought about how close I had been to one of the sites the night before.

The following weekend I loaded up the truck to race at Mazeppa.  There was such a poor turnout due to the week’s events that the races were cancelled and for those that stuck around, we just practiced the entire day.  A small and inconsequential example of how the events 9/11 would impact the future.  By the grace of God, I didn’t lose any of my own loved ones, friends, or co-workers but when I see the faces of the innocent people who lost their lives, I can’t help but feel a connection to each of them.  I’ve watched interviews of so many who suffered the loss of family members and I absolutely cannot comprehend how they dealt with it.  I pray that those who passed on and their family members who remain receive love and comfort from God.  It will be an emotional morning at church tomorrow as we join together in a special service of remembrance.

My daughter started kindergarten last week.  I also have a three year old boy.  In time they will learn about 9/11 and will inevitably talk about it and/or ask my wife and I questions about it.  I hope that it is the type of event they will only have to learn about through history books.  Tomorrow I’ll pray for peace and hope that my children and my children’s children can grow up in a better world.

On a creepy side note, for the first part of my tenure at the bank, each time I traveled to the Columbia site, a national level tragedy occurred:

  • Columbine High School tragedy – 4/20/99
  • 9/11 tragedy – 9/11/01
  • Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy – 2/1/03

I no longer work for the bank and as such, no longer travel to this site.

Add some color to your ESXi shell

September 7th, 2011

A few days ago I wrote a piece about Tech Support Mode in ESXi 5.0 for those who prefer to use it.  I’m going to compliment it a bit with a small trick which may appeal to your visual senses.  Since the dawn of ESX and ESXi, we’ve been working inside a Service Console and ESXi Shell respectively which defaults to an off-white foreground character set on a black background.  This can be changed in the following file using vi as the editor:


By adding the line shown below, the default shell prompt can be modified.  For the purposes of this writing, the goal is not to change the prompt itself (although this is where you’d do it), but rather to change the color of the prompt.  Normally, only the color of the prompt would change and all text that followed would default back to the stock foreground color.  The trick is to modify the prompt so that the color-set sequence is modified, and is not closed – rather it is left open so that that the foreground color of the prompt bleeds into all of the text the follows it.  The mechanics behind it as well as common color codes are described here.  I like the color Cyan.

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In the example above, I’ve added the following new line to /etc/profile:

PS1=’\[\e[1;96m\][\u@\h \W]\$\[\e[1;96m\] ‘

Bold High Intensity Cyan comes from the string 1;96m which you’ll see defined in two spots in the line which I added.  After saving /etc/profile and re-establishing the ESXi shell connection, the change takes effect:

Snagit Capture

I’m a little happier at the command line now and sometimes it is the little things that help get me through the day.

New View Client for iPad Sneak Peak at VMworld 2011

September 3rd, 2011

Wednesday night I bumped into VMware Product Manager Tedd Fox at the Palazzo pool side party. You may remember Tedd as the man behind the VMware View Client for iPad. He invited me to stop by the VMware EUC booth for a look at “something”.  The following day I met up with him at the booth.  He grabbed his second generation iPad, I rolled camera, and he showed me some never before seen footage of the next release of the VMware View Client for iPad expected to be released within the next few weeks to both iPad generations.

This particular release sports security minded features as well as enhancements to improve ease of use.  Following are some notes on what Ted talked about during the demo of his production environment:

  • Blurred thumbnails of previously opened desktop connections
  • Certificate checking
  • Three native levels of security: High, Medium, and Low
  • Embedded RSA Soft Token
  • The above keyboard toolbar has been modified to display most of the commonly used function and arrow keys above the keyboard instead of on a separate “floater” which consumed valuable display real estate
  • Plugging in the video out dongle converts the iPad into a Macbook pro sized trackpad and keyboard
  • Release expected within the next few weeks in the App Store
  • Will be compatible with Apple IOS 5
  • An Android version (minus presentation mode) will be made available at the same time, in addition to Cisco Cius

Following is a video capture of the demo and below that a static image of presentation mode trackpad and keyboard:

Tedd didn’t have video dongle at the time of the interview but he did follow up with an email showing what presentation mode trackpad and keyboard looks like on the iPad:

SnagIt Capture

I’d like to thank Tedd and VMware for their time and the exclusive demo.  As a gen 1 iPad owner who already has gotten a lot of mileage out of the View Client for iPad + View 4.6 and now 5.0 beta, I’m pretty excited about this release and future developments.  The iPad and other comparable tablets are convenient for conferences such as VMworld because of apps like the one Tedd develops.  Just Enough Device to access email, access my calendar and schedule, access my home lab remotely while in a VMworld session.