Posts Tagged ‘View’

VCA4-DT and VCP5 Exam Reviews

January 6th, 2012

With 2011 wrapped up and the holiday festivities over with, I decided to kick off 2012 by sitting a few new VMware certification exams.  Before I get into the details of the exam experience, I must extend my sincere appreciation to the new testing center I tried out – New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Eagan, MN.  It’s a new facility, friendly staff, state of the art equipment, AND THEY ALLOW COFFEE IN THE EXAM ROOM!  I’m locked on to this facility for all future exams.

Ok, VMware Certified Associate 4 – Desktop, otherwise known as VCA4-DT.  Thursday morning, 70 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes if I remember right. Time isn’t much of a factor on this exam as it has been in past exams I’ve sat.  Unfortunately I failed by a narrow margin. 289/500 (300 is the passing mark).  Not passing was a bummer since I’ve only failed one other exam and that was 14 years ago.  The reality was that I hadn’t had enough View Administrator seat time to recall what was being tested.  I can’t go into specifics but I will say that having a photographic memory of the View Admin console will go a long way to get by this exam.  I’ve managed a tiny View 4.6 and now 5.0 environment in my lab but I haven’t spent countless hours in the console on a day to day basis which is what I think is really required.  That makes sense – after all it is an Administrator role based exam.  My hope was that brushing up on the blueprint objectives and reading Mike Laverick’s Administrating VMware View 4.5 book cover to cover the night before the exam would have been enough to get by.  It wasn’t.  No fault to Mike of course, his was a fine book.  I planned short on the preparation, rolled the dice, and.. well you know by now what happened.  It was a humbling experience but at the same time it’s an effective method to learn more.  After I get back from Dell Storage Forum London I’ll plan on hitting the lab and ultimately finishing the exam the proper way.  After that, I’ve got my sights set on VMware Certified Professional 4 – Desktop (VCP4-DT) which I may already be better prepared for.

On to the VMware Certified Professional 5 or VPC5.  Friday morning, 85 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes.  I reached the end of the exam with 14 minutes left to review marked questions – I had quite a few.  I don’t know why – I rarely change my answer when reviewing questions.  I mark the questions with the intent that there may be a better answer which comes to me later on in the exam but it rarely happens and I believe statistics prove that on average, first instinct is going to be the better or correct answer.  I’ll be honest, dwelling on yesterday’s fail did a number to my confidence level but I had no choice but to push forward studying the blueprint for a solid 8 hours last night into the wee hours of the morning.  Granted, the VCP5 exam should be higher on the difficulty level, but the infrastructure content maps quite a bit better to my expertise that VMware View administration does.  I had seen some comments from others that the VCP5 exam didn’t contain much along the lines of Configuration Maximums type questions.  Based on that, I didn’t spend much time in the vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums document.  I brushed up on HA, DRS, and although I have little hands on working experience with the appliance based bolt ons like the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, or Auto Deploy, I tried to pick up as much as I could on those areas.  On exam difficulty, the content came easier to me based on familiarity.  For most of the exam I was pretty well within my comfort zone.  As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist at Dell Compellent, the storage related questions aren’t quite the level of difficulty they once were.  There was a pretty good blend of easy/medium/difficult questions, and also a few which I felt were worded poorly enough such that I knew the correct answer either way, but interpretation of the question is going to determine a right or wrong answer.  Results on this exam were better – 406/500 (300 passing).  There were plenty of questions on the other vSphere products I talked about earlier such as the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, and Auto Deploy. While I feel I did answer a few of those questions correctly, the remainder is likely what accounts for the majority of the points I missed on the exam.  By the way, if you’re not using vSphere Update Manager on a regular basis to assist in upgrading your environment, you should be, and you’ll want to know that product for this exam as well.

Have a great weekend and for those attending Dell Storage Forum London next week, I hope to meet up with you.

Enabling VMware View PCoIP Copy/Paste

November 22nd, 2011

Last month, I started the thread VMware View 5.0 copy/paste operations problem on the VMware Community forums looking for some expertise on a problem I ran into with View 5.0 and PCoIP. I could use the copy/paste function successfully going from my desktop PC to the VDI session. However, the problem was that I could not copy/paste in the opposite direction from the VDI session to my desktop PC. I tried the following entries in the .vmx file of the VDI session:

isolation.tools.copy.disable = false

isolation.tools.paste.disable = false

Update 8/18/15: VMware KB describing VM and host level configuration Clipboard Copy and Paste does not work in vSphere Client 4.1 and later (1026437)

The added configurations above didn’t resolve the issue in any way so I removed them. As the forum thread progressed, some individuals recommended using the VMware View provided GPO templates. Taking a look in the directory c:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\extras\GroupPolicyFiles\ on the View Connection Server, I found several Active Directory Group Policy templates.SnagIt Capture

The required policy can be found in the pcoip.adm template. It’s called Configure clipboard redirection (note that for this to work, virtual channels must not be disabled. You can read more about View PCoIP General Session Variables here). I configured the policy for Enabled in both directions and applied the computer portion of the policy to the OU where the VDI session computer account object lives (I disabled the user portion of the GPO).

After forcing GPO updates on the VDI session and reconnecting a few times, copy/paste still didn’t work from the VDI session to my desktop PC. It wasn’t until after a reboot of the VDI session that the policy took effect and copy/paste worked bidirectionally.

Special thanks goes out to the community members who helped me get this sorted: wponder, srodenburg, SrinivasM, cmarkus, and Linjo. You and all of the others who make up the VMTN Community are an asset to VMware and to those seeking assistance.

Linked-clone lifecycle in VMware View 4.5 and later

November 16th, 2011

Remote connectivity to the lab is key when I’m on the go – a situation I find myself in more frequently.  In years past, the remote solution was hardware/software VPN endpoints, and then Citrix Presentation Server. Given my involvement with VMware, for the past year plus I’ve been a full fledged, trial by fire, eat my own evangelist food, View hobbyist.  What’s not to like about it?  It’s VMware based.  It’s secure.  It supports multiple connectivity protocols.  And it works absolutely great with my iPad (well, I’m talking about the remote desktop connectivity via PCoIP, not so much the Adobe Flex admin console for the View Connection Server).

One HUGE feature that View has touted since version 3.0 is Linked Clones which carry with it the positive attributes of space efficiency and fast provisioning.  Linked Clones are where some of the more advanced features and capabilities start to appear, such as View Composer.

VMware KB Article 1021506 has some great information in it surrounding linked clones, View Composer, Active Directory machine account passwords, and some of the common operational processes tied to it such as guest provisioning and customization, Refresh, Recompose, and Rebalance.  I find it to be a great reference.

A few excerpts on the operational pieces along with my notes:

Active Directory machine account passwords

While a linked clone is powered on and the View Composer Agent is running, the View Composer Agent tracks any changes made to the machine account password. In many Active Directory environments, the machine account password is changed periodically. If the View Composer Agent detects a password change, it updates the machine account password on the internal disk that was created with the linked clone. During a refresh operation, when the linked clone is reverted to the snapshot taken after customization, the agent can reset the machine account password to the latest one.

Refresh

In View 4.5, a refresh triggers a revert operation to the snapshot that was taken after customization was completed. This approach allows View to preserve the customization performed by Sysprep.

jgb: A Refresh should be run on a regular basis to reclaim valuable shared storage space.  As linked clone guests in the pool continue to run on an ongoing basis, storage consumption grows for each VM, much like a snapshot of a VM which is left open for a long period of time.  However, in this case, much of the data is transient and disposable which is what a Refresh will purge.  This data is stored on what’s called the Disposable Disk. The Disposable Disk contains data such as the Windows pagefile, Windows temporary files, Temporary Internet Files, and VMware log files.  It is not uncommon to run this Refresh on a nightly basis.  This is of particular importance on arrays which support auto tiering and especially sub LUN tiering at the block or page level because this meta data will most likely be consuming Tier 1 storage.

Recompose

A recompose operation lets the administrator preserve the View Composer persistent disk and all user data inside this disk while changing the OS disk to a new base image and snapshot. With recompose, an administrator can easily distribute OS patches and new software to users.

jgb: Net result is the deployed VMs in the pool are deleted and redeployed to the pool for the assigned users.

Rebalance

The rebalance operation redistributes linked clones among available datastores to take advantage of free storage space. In View 4.5, there is no other supported way to move linked clones from one datastore to another.

VMware View Client for iPad 1.2 Released

October 23rd, 2011

Back in September during the VMworld 2011 US time frame, I wrote New View Client for iPad Sneak Peak at VMworld 2011 which talked about an upcoming release and some of the new features to be expected for VMware’s tablet based View client.  I saw a tweet from Tedd Fox tonight that the new client has been released.  In checking the Apple App Store, indeed it has.

The new version is 1.2 and it boasts the following features and updates:

  • Optimized for VMware View 5 with improved performance
  • Support for iOS 5 including AirPlay
  • Presentation Mode for use with external display and AirPlay
  • Embedded RSA soft token simplifies login to desktop
  • Background tasking to move between Windows and iOS apps
  • Updated look and feel
  • Integrated online help
  • Buffered text input for multibyte text entry
  • Now in French, German, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese
  • Bug Fixes

SnagIt Capture

Requirements: Requires iPad iOS 4.2 or later.

I just upgraded and right away I noticed the new interface as well as some advanced finger gestures I hadn’t seen before (these may or may not be new).

The next thing that I noticed was that I could multitask!  This is the feature I’ve wanted the most personally.  I can now stop in the middle of a session, switch to another application or exit out to the iPad desktop and the View desktop connection remains established when I go back to it.

If you have in iPad, go grab your free copy.  I don’t have an Android but I’m hearing a version was released for that platform as well.

Thank you VMware and Thank you Tedd!

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:

Cause

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).

Resolution

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 (cve.mitre.org) 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.

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.

Application Troubleshooting Tools and Tips for VMware ThinApp

May 11th, 2011

Well over a year ago, I was introduced to a fantastic repository of VMware ThinApp tools, tips, and troubleshooting methods.  While some of the content may be dated (it was created nearly a year before I came across it), I suspect the bulk of it is still relevant to some degree today.  It comes to us from VMware’s ThinApp blog by a gentleman named Dean Flaming.

Application Troubleshooting Tools and Tips for VMware ThinApp

See also:

How to Make a ThinApp Application Package

Application virtualization is an integral VDI component with the encapsulation power, streaming, and flexibility it has to offer.  VMware was not first to market with the technology but they recognize these benefits and have integrated ThinApp application delivery into VMware View, strengthening the desktop portfolio.  Give it a try – it’s pretty cool stuff!