Posts Tagged ‘Virtualization’

LAN party!

December 3rd, 2008

Once or twice a year, I like to pack up the truck with computer equipment and head to a LAN party. Last weekend, a friend of mine at work hosted his annual “After Thanksgiving LAN Party”. We got together Saturday morning and set up. We played games and ate comfort food throughout the day, into the evening, and past midnight (this is the usual schedule). Games played were Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament 2004, and Battlefield II Special Forces. The Team Fortress 2 dedicated server was virtualized with VMware Workstation 6.5 – it ran flawlessly. Thank you Brad for putting on a great time as usual!

Pictures:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27th, 2008

For those that celebrate, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Travel safely. For the first time in ten or more years, I’m not working the Friday after Thanksgiving. I’ll be relaxing at home on Friday, probably rebuilding my gaming PC. Saturday I’ll be network gaming all day at a buddy’s house (the Team Fortress 2 dedicated server naturally runs inside a VMware VM, what else would you expect from me). Sunday night I’ll be with the Minnesota Vikings as we host Sunday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.

And before anyone becomes gravely concerned about my developing blogging habits, I’m not blogging at 6am Thanksgiving morning. I’m leveraging the WordPress scheduled posting function. It’s actually Tuesday evening right now and I’m on the bus ride home. With any luck, I’m fast asleep when this post goes live.

Build a network boot disk for VMware guest VMs

November 25th, 2008

A person recently asked me via Email how to create a bootable MS-DOS diskette with networking capability for use in VMware guest VMs. Rather than privately isolate the knowledge in an email conversation, I figured the least I could do after going through the steps is to share it in a blog post so that it may be cataloged in Google for everyone’s benefit.

There are several methods to creating a network boot disk. Some easier. Some more difficult. In the interest of time and leveraging the innovation of others, I’ll turbo charge today’s procedure by using Bart’s Network Boot Disk. Frankly I’m not interested in modifying network boot disk files by hand which was one of the purposes behind Bart’s solution – making the creation of boot disks easier. Note, to use this procedure, you admit to owning a Microsoft Windows 98 operating system license.

Here are the steps:

  1. Create the boot disk by following the instructions here.
  2. Download the BFD full package v1.0.7 file.
  3. Extract bfd107.zip to a temporary folder (I’ll use c:\temp\ for this example).
  4. Good news – the driver used by VMware (the AMD PCNet Family Ethernet Adapter NDIS pcntnd.cab) is already included in the default list of drivers bundled in the bfd107.zip file above. This is a perfect working example of why VMware chose to virtualize the AMD PCNet Family adapter. It’s ubiquitous nature allows it to be supported by every VMware guest operating system on the support list. By virtue of the fact that VMware supports most of the popular/common Windows and Linux operating systems, you’ll find that VMware networking works with nifty utilities like Bart right out of the box.
  5. As the instructions indicate, open a command prompt, go to the BFD directory (in this example, c:\temp\) and execute the command bfd msnet and follow the instructions on screen. This step will create the actual floppy diskette.
  6. The network boot diskette is ready to use with VMware. Use it to boot a guest VM.
  7. I found that booting from the #3 menu item labeled “Boot without emm386” worked well with ESX 3.5.0 Update 3:
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  8. Accept the following default prompts assuming they are applicable to your environment:
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  9. Configure the “Logon as”, “Password”, “Workgroup”, and “Domain” as necessary:
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  10. The network boot disk will complete its boot up process, connecting your MS-DOS VM to the network with the given parameters. A quick net view displays the shares of a Windows server on the network:
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  11. A net use command maps a C: network drive to the network Windows server share and a dir command displays the share contents:
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Well that’s about it. At this point, you’re on the network, ready to dump or capture an image, or whatever it is that you needed a network boot disk for. Don’t forget you can transform the physical floppy diskette into a virtual floppy image by using a utility such as WinImage by Gilles Vollant. This allows the VM to boot much more quickly and it allows you to avoid the use of the dying technology of physical floppy disks altogether.

Update: Roger Lund posted another method on his blog using the Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk that looks just as quick and easy.  Check out Roger’s solution.

Coolest VMware video training trailer ever

November 19th, 2008

If nothing else gets you excited about VMware virtualization, this video by Elias Khnaser should.  It seriously looks like a good DVD for the whole family.  I’ve asked Elias for the Blue-Ray version.

Quick hit: Why choose VMware?

November 18th, 2008

Why Choose VMware web page – There’s a lot of marketing FUD clogging the channels.  VMware would be irresponsible if they didn’t have theirs.  Seriously, you need information like this to make an informed decision on what virtualization solution is best for you and/or your business.

6 Reasons to Choose VMware fact sheet – These are good discussion points for use in your bosses office, on the bus or train, waiting at the airport, at a VMUG, on a first date, in a confessional booth, etc.

VMware launches referral program

November 18th, 2008

This evening, VMware launched a campaign that encourages grass roots promotion of VMware products through word of mouth, email, website, and blog widgets. A buyer taking advantage of the promotion receives special discounts on select VMware products. Then, VMware is rewarding its loyal followers with cash, gift cards, or donations to charity for qualifying referrals.

You can find my particular referral widget on the right hand side of this page (look for the VMware logo and a white background. You can’t miss it).

Read more about the announcement here.

Make VirtualCenter highly available with VMware Virtual Infrastructure

November 17th, 2008

A few days ago I posted some information on how to make VirtualCenter highly available with Microsoft Cluster Services.

Monday Night Football kickoff is coming up but I wanted follow up quickly with another option (as suggested by Lane Leverett): Deploy the VirtualCenter Management Server (VCMS) on a Windows VM hosted on a VMware Virtual Infrastructure cluster. Why is this a good option? Here are a few reasons:

  1. It’s fully supported by VMware.
  2. You probably already have a VI cluster in your environment you can leverage. Hit the ground running without spending the time to set up MSCS.
  3. Removing MSCS removes a 3rd party infrastructure complexity and dependency which requires an advanced skill set to support.
  4. Removing MSCS removes at least one Windows Server license cost and also removes the need for the more expensive Windows Enterprise Server licensing and the special hardware needs required by MSCS.
  5. Green factor: Let VCMS leverage the use of VMware Distributed Power Management (DPM).

How does it work? It’s pretty simple. A virtualized VCMS shares the same advantages any other VM inherently has when running on a VMware cluster:

  1. Resource balancing of the four food groups (vProcessor, vRAM, vDisk, and vNIC) through VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) technology
  2. Maximum uptime and quick recovery via VMware High Availability (HA) in the event of a VI host failure or isolation condition (yes, HA will still work if the VCMS is down. HA is a VI host agent)
  3. Maximum uptime and quick recovery via VMware High Availability (HA) in the event of a VMware Tools heartbeat failure (ie. the guest OS croaks)
  4. Ability to perform host maintenance without downtime of the VCMS

A few things to watch out for (I’ve been there and done that, more than once):

  1. If you’re going to virtualize the VCMS, be sure you do so on a cluster with the necessary licensed options to support the benefits I outlined above (DRS, HA, etc.) This means VI Enterprise licensing is required (see the licensing/pricing chart on page 4 of this document). I don’t want to hide the fact that a premium is paid for VI Enterprise licensing, but as I pointed out above, if you’ve already paid for it, the bolt ons are unlimited use so get more use out of them.
  2. If your VCMS (and Update manager) database is located on the VCMS, be sure to size your virtual hardware appropriately. Don’t go overboard though. From a guest OS perspective, it’s easier to grant additional virtual resources from the four food groups than it is to retract them.
  3. If you have a power outage and your entire cluster goes down (and your VCMS along with it), it can be difficult to get things back on their feet while you don’t have the the use of the VCMS. Particularly if you’ve lost the use of other virtualized infrastructure components such as Microsoft Active Directory. Initially it’s going to be command line city so brush up on your CLI. It really all depends on how badly the situation is once you get the VI hosts back up. One example I ran into is host A wouldn’t come back up. Host B wasn’t the registered owner of the VM I needed to bring up. This requires running the vmware-cmd command to register the VM and bring it up on host B.

Well, I missed the first few minutes of Monday Night Football, but everyone who reads (tolerates) my ramblings is totally worth it.

Go forth and virtualize!