Posts Tagged ‘Windows’

Update VMware Tools via Windows System Tray

May 31st, 2012

A Windows platform owner may inquire why he or she is unable to update an Out-of-date VMware tools installation using the VMware Tools applet in the system tray.  Clicking on the Update Tools button either produces an error similar to Update Tools failed or nothing at all happens.

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Although the option to update VMware Tools is generally available via the system tray, the functionality is disabled by default in the VM shell.  The solution to the issue can be found in VMware KB 2007298 Updating VMware Tools fails with the error: Update Tools failed. Edit the virtual machine’s vmx file.

Shut down the virtual machine and add the following line to the virtual machine’s .vmx configuration file via Edit Settings | Options | General | Configuration Parameters:

isolation.tools.guestInitiatedUpgrade.disable = “FALSE”

Power on the virtual machine.  From this point forward, a VMware Tools update can be successfully performed from within the guest VM.

VMware Workstation & Fusion Christmas In August Sale!

August 2nd, 2011

30% off through August 4th! All boxed and shrink wrapped copies of VMware Workstation (for Windows & Linux) and VMware Fusion (for Mac) must go!  Hurry while supplies last!  Use promo code PREHOLSALE at checkout for your 30% discount.  Mention boche.net and it is likely that nothing additional will happen.

8-2-2011 11-12-56 PM

USB Thumb Drive Not Recognized – 3 Fast Beeps

July 27th, 2011

No Earth-shattering material tonight.  In fact this tip isn’t even VMware/virtualization related other than the fact that the problem came up while working in the lab.  It has been several months since the last article I wrote under the “General” category which contains no VMware/virtualization content.

Anyway, I was working in the lab when…

My Windows 7 OS would no longer recognize my USB thumb drive.  Inserting the thumb drive into any of the USB  ports produced three quick USB-style beeps.  Having cut my x86 teeth in the days when A+ certification amounted to quite a bit, the three beeps told me something wasn’t right from a hardware standpoint but with a hint of driver hence the USB audio indicator.  I was mildly concerned because I sometimes carry data around on this drive which hasn’t been backed up or cannot be quickly reproduced.  A warm reboot of the OS produced no joy.  Neither did a power off.

Back in Windows Device Manager, the device was shown as disabled with an option to re-enable.  This did not work however.

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This being a USB device which can easily be reinstalled, the next step was to uninstall the driver by right clicking on the device and choosing Uninstall (notice the “down arrow” depicted on the device indicating it is disabled):

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After the uninstall of the driver, I unplugged the USB thumb drive, waited a few seconds, plugged it back in, and immediately heard the friendly USB sound I had been wanting all along.  Windows 7 went through a device discovery process, installed drivers, and I was on my way.

New Diskeeper White Paper: Optimization of VMware Systems

June 28th, 2011

diskeeperDiskeeper Corporation reached out to me via email last week letting me know that they’ve released a new white paper on optimizing VMs.  I’m making the three page document available for download via the following link:

Best Practice Protocols: Optimization of VMware Systems (416KB)

Scripted Removal Of Non-present Hardware After A P2V

June 11th, 2011

After converting a physical machine to a virtual machine, it is considered a best practice to remove unneeded applications, software, services, and device drivers which were tied to the physical machine but no longer applicable to the present day virtual machine.  Performing this task from time to time manually isn’t too bad but at large scale, a manual process becomes inefficient.  There are tools available which will automate the process of removing unneeded device drivers (sometimes referred to as ghost hardware).  A former colleage put together a scripted solution for Windows VMs which I’m sharing here. 

Copy the .zip file to the virtual machine local hard drive, extract it, and follow the instructions in the readme.txt file.  I have not thoroughly tested the tool.  No warranties – use at your own risk.  I would suggest using it on a test machine first to become comfortable with the process before using it on production machines or using on a large scale basis.

Download: remnonpresent.zip (719KB)

network bandwidth transfer.xlsx

March 19th, 2011

SnagIt CaptureMany years ago, before I got involved with VMware, before VMware existed in fact, I was a Systems Engineer supporting Microsoft Windows Servers.  I also dabbled in technology related things such as running game servers like Quake II and Half-Life Counter-Strike on the internet.  One area where these responsibilities intersected was the need to know the rate at which data could traverse a rated network segment in addition to the amount of time it would take for said data to travel from point A to point B. 

At that point in time, there wasn’t half a dozen free web based calculators which could be found via Google search.  As a result, I started an Excel spreadsheet.  It started out as a tool which would allow me to enter a value in KiloBytes, MegaBytes, or GigaBytes.  From there, it would calculate the amount of time it would take that data to travel across the wire.  This data was useful in telling me how many players the Counter-Strike could scale to, and it would provide an estimate for how much the bandwidth utilization was going to cost me per month.  I also used this information in the office to plan backup strategies, data transfer, and data replication.

I’ve expanded its capabilities slightly over the years as well as scaled it up to handle the volume of data we deal which has increased exponentially.  In addition to the functions it performed in the past, I added a data conversion section which translates anything to anything within the range of bits to YottaBytes.  It performs both Base 2 (binary) and Base 10 (decimal) calculations which are maintained on their own respective worksheet tabs.  I prefer to work with Base 2 because it’s old school and I believe it is the most accurate measure of data and conversion.  To this point, WikiPedia explains:

The relative difference between the values in the binary and decimal interpretations increases, when using the SI prefixes as the base, from 2.4% for kilo to over 20% for the yotta prefix.  This chart shows the growing percentage of the shortfall of decimal interpretations from binary interpretations of the unit prefixes plotted against the logarithm of storage size.

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However, Base 10 is much easier for the human brain to work with as the numbers are nice and round.  I believe this is how and why Base 10 became known as “Salesman Bytes” way back when.  I’ll be darned if I can find a reference to this term any longer in Google.

Long boring story short, this is a handy storage/network data conversion tool I still use from time to time today when working with large or varying numbers.  For those who don’t have a preferred tool for whatever use case, you’re welcomed to use the one I created.  A few notes:

  • Due to the extreme length of two of the formulas in the workbook, I had to upgrade it to Excel 2007 format at a minimum which is the reason for the file extension of .xlsx.
  • The data transfer section assumes the most optimal of conditions, no latency, etc.

Download network bandwidth transfer.xlsx (22.6KB)

Q: What’s your Windows template approach?

November 7th, 2010

Once upon a time, I was a Windows Server administrator.  Most of my focus was on Windows Server deployment and management. VMware virtualization was a large interest but my Windows responsibilities dwarfed the amount of time I spent with VMware.  One place where these roads intersect is Windows templates.  Because a large part of my job was managing the Windows environment, I spent time maintaining “the perfect Windows template”.  Following were the ingredients I incorporated:

Applications    
Adobe Acrobat Reader Advanced Find & Replace Beyond Compare
Diskeeper MS Network Monitor MS Resource Kits
NTSEC Tools Latest MS RDP Client Symantec Anti-Virus CE
MS UPHClean VMware Tools Windows Admin Pack
Windows Support Tools Winzip Pro Sysinternals Suite
Windows Command Console BGINFO CMDHERE
Windows Perf Advisor MPS Reports GPMC
SNMP    

 

Tweaks    
Remote Desktop enabled Remote Assistance disabled Pagefile
Complete memory dump DIRCMD=/O env. variable PATH tweaks
taskmgr.exe in startup, run minimized SNMP Desktop prefs.
Network icon in System Tray Taskbar prefs.  
C: 12GB D: 6GB  
Display Hardware acceleration to Full*    
     
* = if necessary    

 

VMware virtualization is now and has been my main focus going on two years.  By title, I’m no longer a Windows Server administrator and I don’t care to spend a lot of time worrying about what’s in my templates.  I don’t have to worry about keeping several applications up to date.  In what I do now, it’s actually more important to consistently work with the most generic Windows template as possible.  This is to ensure that projects I’m working with on the virtualization side of things aren’t garfed up by any of the 30+ changes made above.  Issues would inevitably appear and each time I’d need to counter productively deal with the lists above as possible culprits.  As such, I now take a minimalist approach to Windows templates as follows:

Applications
VMware Tools

 

Tweaks    
C: 20GB VMXNET3 vNIC Activate Windows
wddm_video driver* Disk Alignment Display Hardware acceleration to Full*
     
* = if necessary    

 

In large virtualized environments, templates may be found in various repositories due to network segmentation, firewalls, storage placement, etc.  As beneficial as templates are, keeping them up to date can become a significant chore and the time spent doing so eats away at the time savings benefit which they provide.  Deployment consistency is key in reducing support and incident costs but making sure templates in distributed locations are consistent is not only a chore, but it is of paramount importance.  If this is the scenario you’re fighting, automated template and/or storage replication is needed.  Another solution might be to get away from templates altogether and adopt a scripted installation which is another tried and true approach which provides automation and consistency, but without the hassle of maintaining templates.  The hassle in this case isn’t eliminated completely.  It’s shifted into other areas such as maintaining PXE boot services, maintaining PXE images, and maintaining post build/application installation scripts.  I’ve seen large organizations go the scripted route in lieu of templates.  One reason could simply be that scripted virtual builds are strategically consistent with the organization’s scripted physical builds.  Another could be the burden of maintaining templates as I discussed earlier.  Is this a hint that templates don’t scale in large distributed environments?

Do you use templates and if so, what is your approach in comparison to what I’ve written about?