Archive for December, 2009

ESX 3.5.0 Update 5 Change in Serivce Console Memory

December 30th, 2009

You may know that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 Update 6 based ESX 3.x Service Console default memory allocation has been 272MB since its first release.  VMware Infrastructure 3 Advanced Technical Design Guide authors Ron Oglesby and Scott Herold discuss in their book about how Service Console memory requirements in ESX 3.x have become less of a factor in 3.x compared to 2.x since the Service Console has been stripped of some of its resonsibilities including VMM and hardware management.  They go so far as to say the default value of 272MB should be enough memory for most environments. I generally accept this theory, but for the record I have been on plenty of support calls where VMware recommends increasing Service Console memory to its maximum value of 800MB.  Many subscribe to maxing out Service Console memory as a best practice to avoid problems down the road and if nothing else, avoid a reboot for the memory change or rebuild to resize Service Console swap.  Service Console memory utilization will vary between environments and will influenced by 3rd party software which is installed in the Service Console such as anti-virus, hardware agents, backup agents, etc.  The number of vSwitch ports will also impact Service Console memory use.

Left to their own discretion, many have established their own build standards with respect to Service Console memory allocation.  Some will increase it.  Some will leave it at the factory default of 272MB.  I haven’t heard of anyone reducing Service Console memory usage but it can be lowered slightly down to 256MB.  Whatever you decide, be sure you adjust your Service Console swap accordingly.  While we’re on the subject, the assignable range of Service Console memory in ESX 4.0 is the same as 3.x (256MB – 800MB), however, the default Service Console memory assignment in ESX 4.0 is 400MB whereas it is 272MB in ESX 3.x.

While working in the lab on my VCDX design, I discovered that VMware has increased the default Service Console memory assignment to 512MB as of ESX 3.5.0 Update 5.  For those who configure and tune their ESX hosts manually, this is a non issue for you.  Continue to manually configure your ESX hosts.  Those with automated post build scripts using sed to change Service Console memory allocation, you’ve got a few changes to make to your scripts.  Basically, whereas sed used to look for 272MB values to replace, it must now search for 512MB values.  For example:

An ESX 3.5.0u4 post build script which increases COS memory from 272MB to 800MB:

cp /etc/vmware/esx.conf /etc/vmware/esx.conf.old
cp /boot/grub/grub.conf /boot/grub/grub.conf.old
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/272/800/’ /etc/vmware/esx.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/272M/800M/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/277504/818176/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf

Will become an ESX 3.5.0u5 post build script which increases COS memory from 512MB to 800MB:

cp /etc/vmware/esx.conf /etc/vmware/esx.conf.old
cp /boot/grub/grub.conf /boot/grub/grub.conf.old
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/512/800/’ /etc/vmware/esx.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/512M/800M/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/523264/818176/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf

 If you’ve got a mix of 3.5u4 and 3.5u5 hosts and you wish to use the same centralized post configuration script on each, the following script should cover both:

cp /etc/vmware/esx.conf /etc/vmware/esx.conf.old
cp /boot/grub/grub.conf /boot/grub/grub.conf.old
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/272/800/’ /etc/vmware/esx.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/512/800/’ /etc/vmware/esx.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/272M/800M/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/512M/800M/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/277504/818176/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf
/bin/sed -i -e ‘s/523264/818176/’ /boot/grub/grub.conf

I looked in the ESX 3.5.0 Update 5 release notes and did not see anything about a Service Console memory allocation increase.  My hunch is VMware realized they can reduce their volume of support calls and ultimately increase support revenue margin by granting the Service Console more memory out of the box.

The lab has once again fulfilled its purpose.  You test releases in your lab or development environment, right?  Right?  :-)

Happy Holidays

VMware Releases ESX(i) 3.5 Update 5; Critical Updates

December 5th, 2009

VMware apparently released ESX(i) 3.5 Update 5 dated 12/3/09, however it became available on Update Manager late this afternoon.  VMware is extremely poor at communicating anything but major releases, so to get the fastest notification possible about security patches and updates, I configure my VMware Update Manager servers to check for updates every 6 hours and provide me with email notification of anything it finds.  VMware doesn’t listen to me much when it comes to feature requests so I’ll shelve the ranting.

So what’s new in ESX 3.5 Update 5?  The major highlights are guest VM support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 (reminder, 64-bit only), as well as Ubuntu 9.04, and added hardware support for processors and NICs.  Before you get too excited about Windows 7, remember that it is not a supported guest operating system in VMware View.  Even in the new View 4 release, Windows 7 has “Technology Preview” support status only.

If you track the updates from VMware Update Manager, the 12/3 releases amount to 20 updates including Update 5, 16 updates of which are rated critical.  If you’re still a ways out on vSphere deployment, you’ll probably want to take a look at the critical updates for your 3.x environment.

Enablement of Intel Xeon Processor 3400 Series – Support for the Intel Xeon processor 3400 series has been added. Support includes Enhanced VMotion capabilities. For additional information on previous processor families supported by Enhanced VMotion, see Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) processor support (KB 1003212).

Driver Update for Broadcom bnx2 Network Controller – The driver for bnx2 controllers has been upgraded to version 1.6.9. This driver supports bootcode upgrade on bnx2 chipsets and requires bmapilnx and lnxfwnx2 tools upgrade from Broadcom. This driver also adds support for Network Controller – Sideband Interface (NC-SI) for SOL (serial over LAN) applicable to Broadcom NetXtreme 5709 and 5716 chipsets.

Driver Update for LSI SCSI and SAS Controllers – The driver for LSI SCSI and SAS controllers is updated to version 2.06.74. This version of the driver is required to provide a better support for shared SAS environments.

Newly Supported Guest Operating Systems – Support for the following guest operating systems has been added specifically for this release:

For more complete information about supported guests included in this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide: http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software.

•Windows 7 Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)
•Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit)
•Windows 7 Professional (32-bit and 64-bit)
•Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit and 64-bit)
•Windows 2008 R2 Standard Edition (64-bit)
•Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition (64-bit)
•Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition (64-bit)
•Windows 2008 R2 Web Server (64-bit)
•Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)
•Ubuntu Server 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Newly Supported Management Agents – See VMware ESX Server Supported Hardware Lifecycle Management Agents for current information on supported management agents.

Newly Supported Network Cards – This release of ESX Server supports HP NC375T (NetXen) PCI Express Quad Port Gigabit Server Adapter.

Newly Supported SATA Controllers – This release of ESX Server supports the Intel Ibex Peak SATA AHCI controller.

Note:

•Some limitations apply in terms of support for SATA controllers. For more information, see SATA Controller Support in ESX 3.5. (KB 1008673)

•Storing VMFS datastores on native SATA drives is not supported.