Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Paranormal activity afoot on the interweb

November 8th, 2008

Unless AWStats is lying to me, ghosts of operating systems past have been invading the basement where I host this blog, as recent as the past few days.  Take a look at some of the operating systems still crawling around the internet these days.  Good Lord.  Geek Squad, if you’re done fooling around in court with Mark Russinovich and Microsoft, you still have a few upgrades left to perform for your lagging consumers:

ghostos

Let’s look at a some:

  • Windows XP – Well this is still a fairly current enough OS considering the Vista fiasco, and, that’s how I roll.
  • Windows CE – That’s pretty cool.  Trio?  Chip PC thin client?
  • Windows Server 2003 – I’m flattered my site is informative enough to be browsed on a server somewhere.  I could be a jerk and get some poorly written java applets served up but I gotta surf my own site too so I’ll keep it clean.
  • Windows 2000 – Your support ends soon my friend.  Hopefully you’re on Service Pack 4 at least.
  • Windows NT – A solid OS, but we’re starting to get a tad brave.
  • Windows Me – I didn’t know anyone was still running on this garbage two weeks after it was released.  What did you do to receive this punishment?
  • Windows 98 – Another pretty solid OS that I spent at least a few years on, but it’s time to upgrade.  Go to Best Buy and visit the Geek Squad.
  • Windows 95 – A major breakthrough in Windows technology and generally a fun time, but I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience.
  • Windows 3.xx – Seriously… you are my hero!  But why?  Using Trumpet Winsock?  Contact me with a digital photo of your Windows 3.xx setup and I’ve got P4 desktop hardware in my basement that has your name on it.  Offer valid while supplies last. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 years of age or older to participate. No software pre-installed. Your routable internet IP address must be supplied to prove you are the Windows 3.xx hits in my web logs.
  • ?Unknown? – I find it interesting that unknown operating systems handily beat out all versions of Linux combined.  It looks like Linux isn’t actually ready to take over the Windows desktop – again.

That’s it for now.  I’d better get rolling here.  Looking out the window I see Linux users with torches and pitchforks coming up my street.  I must get back to my 24 hour BCP exercise.  Problems need troubleshooting.  Heckfire, let’s categorize this as Virtualization.  I mentioned the lab.  Hopefully the readers will get a chuckle out of it.  Maybe someone will win the P4 desktop.

VMware earns multiple Redmond Triple Crown awards

November 8th, 2008

The November 2008 issue of Redmond magzine, the independent voice for the Microsoft IT community and formerly known as Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine, is bubbling over with VMWare virtualization news this month.  They have announced the 2008 Reader’s Choice Awards Triple Crown achievers.  The prestigious Triple Crown award is described by Redmond as follows:

“To recognize the dynasties in our annual Readers’ Choice competition, Redmond is introducing the “Triple Crown,” a new award for products that have won (at least) three Readers’ Choice honors in a row.”

VMware GSX Server (retired but replaced by the free VMware Server) won the Triple Crown in the “Best Virtual Server Product” category as well as taking “ISV Winner” honors.  Redmond goes on to explain GSX easily won over Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 which was the only other product in the category.  No surprises there.  Like today’s comparison of VMware ESX and ESXi to Microsoft Hyper-V, GSX Server was years ahead of Microsoft in terms of development.

VMware Workstation dominated the more competitive “Best Virtual PC Product” field (5 products) and, like VMware GSX Server, was also named “ISV Winner”.  Microsoft Virtual PC for Windows, a technology Microsoft bought its way into by purchasing from Connectix in February 2003 along with Virtual Server, was honorably mentioned as a runner up.  Microsoft came to the realization that the product they had been developing was not capable and started over from scratch.  VMware’s latest Workstation 6.5 offering is sure to continue embarrassing the competition with features like Unity and enhanced record and reply technology.

Read more about Redmond’s virtualization category and other categories here.

The same issue also contains three other VMware related articles:

  1. Maritz:  VMware’s Answer to Microsoft?”  An interview with VMware CEO Paul Maritz whom they labeled “The Microsoft Menace” on the issue’s cover.
  2. VMware Wants It All” Editor In Chief Doug Barney talks about VMware’s future technology announcements and contemplates how they will fit together and will they work?
  3. Cisco and VMware Collaborate on Next-Gen Data Center” The companies’ new products could change the virtualization game.

Microsoft Windows x64 (64-bit) and the VI

November 4th, 2008

32-bit computing is still very much alive, well, and very much supported today which may be one of the primary reasons you have not investigated 64-bit yet or invested the time it takes to migrate your software and/or servers to 64-bit architecture.  Part of the adaptation process is learning and understanding the underlying mechanics behind a technology to be sure it makes good sense from an economical, roadmap strategy, and business need standpoint.  I think 64-bit is one of those technologies that is so deep and covers so much territory that there is a chance for the spread of misinformation. 

As VMware Administrators, at one point or another our careers intersect with Microsoft Windows technologies.  For some like myself, the Windows experience is a daily tradition.  Everyone who is running VirtualCenter is using Microsoft Windows as both the server and client platform.  VMware Update Manager users are using Windows.  License Manager runs on Windows.  Even those without VirtualCenter are probably using the Virtual Infrastructure Client which runs on Windows.  My point is that although this is mainly a VMware virtualization centric blog, we can’t completely ignore Windows.  Understanding the benefits that 64-bit Windows technologies provides might help our virtual infrastructures run faster and more efficiently.  In the long term, I think it’s going to allow our VI to scale up.

Fortunately for those who have not yet rolled up their sleeves and gotten dirty with 64-bit, there’s an IT Architect by the name of Helge Klein who has written an absolutely fantastic seven part series entitled “Windows x64 – All the Same Yet Very Different” in terms that I think most of us can understand.  Even if you’re not a big fan of Windows, some of the content is universal and applies to many platforms.  If you maintain a 3-ring binder of good stuff you’ve found on the internet, I think this series would belong there.

SSL integration with VirtualCenter

November 4th, 2008

ssl1

Are you tired of seeing the Security Warning splash screen when launching the Virtual Infrastructure Client to connect to VirtualCenter?  Do you feel a sense of guilt clicking the Ignore button or checking the “Do not display any security warnings for…” box?  Are you flirting with real world dangers or risking termination for fostering a less secure virtual infrastructure?  Would you like to correct the situation the right way by integrating SSL certificates and securing VIC/VirtualCenter communication at the same time?  Here are the step by step instructions (originally created by VMTN forum member astrolab and refined by myself).

In this exercise, I’ll be using a Microsoft Active Directory integrated enterprise certificate authority (CA) to generate a certificate for the VirtualCenter host which resides in the same AD domain.  We’ll begin with the assumption that the enterprise CA has already been built as well as the VirtualCenter Management Server (VCMS).  We will also assume that the enterprise CA is listed as a Trusted Root Certification Authority on the client that will be connecting to the VCMS via the VIC.  To validate this in Internet Explorer, choose Tools|Internet Options|Content|Certificates|TRCA tab

  1. Download and install Win32 OpenSSL Light onto the VCMS http://www.slproweb.com/products/win32openssl.html
  2. Back up the existing RUI.CRT, RUI.KEY, and RUI.PFX files located in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\SSL\
  3. Generate an RSA private key and a certificate-signing request (the openssl binary comes from the installation of Win32 OpenSSL Light in step 1 above)
    1. From a command prompt, change to the C:\openssl\bin\ directory and issue the command openssl genrsa 1024 > rui.key
    2. From a command prompt, change to the C:\openssl\bin\ directory and issue the command openssl req -new -key rui.key > rui.csr
      1. Provide the appropriate information.  Your Name/Common Name is the FQDN of your VCMS (ie. servername.domain.com)
  4. Request a certificate from the Microsoft enterprise CA
    1. In an IE browser, browse to http://enterprise_ca_domain_controller/certsrv/
    2. Click Request a certificate
    3. Click advanced certificate request
    4. Click Submit a certificate request by using a base-64-encoded CMC or PKCS #10 file, or submit a renewal request by using a base-64-encoded PKCS #7 file
    5. Open the rui.csr file with MS wordpad and copy the entire contents (including the BEGIN and END lines) into the “Saved Requst” field of the certificate request in the web browser.  Alternatively, you can click the “Browse to insert” link to simply attach the rui.csr file
    6. Change the Certificate Template to Web Server
    7. Click the Submit button
    8. On the next screen, choose “Base 64 encoded” and click the “Download certificate” link
    9. When prompted, save the certificate to C:\openssl\bin\  with the file name rui.crt
  5. Create a .pfx (personal individual exchange) file for rui.crt on the VCMS
    1. From a command prompt, change to the C:\openssl\bin\ directory and issue the command openssl pkcs12 -export -in rui.crt -inkey rui.key -name VCMSFQDN.domain.com -out rui.pfx
  6. Move rui.cft, rui.key, and rui.pfx from C:\openssl\bin\ to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\SSL\
  7. Disconnect all ESX hosts from the VCMS (you can safely leave the guest VMs running or whatever state they are in).  This step needs to be done because after the VCMS loads the new certificates, it will not be possible to gracefully shut down the VMs from the VIC, though it could still be done through RDP or COS.  It’s best to perform this step to avoid future headaches.
  8. Stop the VMware VirtualCenter Server service
  9. From a command prompt, change to the C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\VirtualCenter Server\ directory and issue the following command to re-encrypt the VCMS database password):  vpxd -p (when prompted, type the password used for the VCMS database)
  10. Start the VMware VirtualCenter Server service
  11. Reconnect all ESX hosts
  12. The steps are complete, but there is one important note going forward that deals with the inherent behavior of certificates and our certificate request outlined above:  Use the Virtual Infrastructure Client to connect to the VirtualCenter Management Server using the FQDN (ie. server.domain.com).  You can connect to the short NetBIOS name of the VCMS but at that point your connection won’t be covered by your certificate and you’ll once again receive the Security Warning dialogue box shown at the beginning of this article.

Microsoft Windows Add or Remove Programs terminology clarified

October 26th, 2008

A look at “Add or Remove Programs” on a Microsoft Windows machine reveals a list of installed software and Microsoft Windows Updates.  To the right of each program are details on installation size, use frequency, and date last used.  I rarely use the information on the right hand side because I’ve found it to be unreliable.  Take a peek at the example below.  Adobe Acrobat, a program I use often for reading and creating .PDF files is listed as being used “frequently”, yet I apparently haven’t used Adobe Acrobat since 12/23/2005, which was around the time this machine was built.

arprog1

Well what exactly does the term “frequently” mean then?  Below are the defintions from Microsoft. 

arprog2

Things are so much clearer to me now.  Well, not really.  Arbitrary definitions from one Microsoft developer are just that, arbitrary and potentially meaningless to the next person.  The reality of it is this is a broken feature that I’ll venture guess has behaved this way since Windows 2000 (I recall the screens being similar or identical).  Added shame is this misinformation comes from a Windows Server.  One would think this type of information would be easily gathered and reliably reported on a server class operating system.