Archives for category: VMware

Sluggish VMware Console

I have been meaning to post this simple fix for a while now but I’m been ridiculously busy over the past several months.  I hope to get back into the routine of blogging again more frequently.

Anyway, after I installed Windows Server 2008 R2 on a few VMs that I created, I noticed that video performance was sluggish when using the VMware Console.  This is an easy fix but it’s a pain.  Here’s what I did to resolve the issue.

Update the Driver to Fix It!

  1. Login to Windows Server 2008 R2 on the VM.
  2. Click Start and in the search box type either compmgmt.msc or Computer Management–whichever one that you like.
  3. In the Computer Management console select Device Manager.  In the center pane (or right pane if you do not have the Actions pane open), expand Display adapters.
  4. Right-click on the display adapter that appears and select Update Driver Software… from the context menu.
  5. Select Browse my computer for driver software.
  6. In the Search for driver software in this location: box, type or browse to: C:\Program Files\Common Files\VMware\Drivers\wddm_video.  Click the Next button.
  7. The search should find the VMware SVGA 3D (Microsoft Corporation – WDDM) driver.  Click the Close button and Yes to restart the computer.

Perform these steps after you have installed VMware Tools.

DELL PowerEdge T310

Just received a new DELL PowerEdge T310 server that will eventually reside in a new office we are opening in Austin, TX.  This server will be the first of a new strategy that I am implementing for all of our branch offices.  The new strategy is simply to configure the servers as ESXi servers, manage them through VMware vCenter and install 2-3 VMs on the servers.  We have 1 server at each of our branch offices acting as Domain Controllers, file servers, print servers and SCCM distribution points.  I’d like to separate these roles across multiple servers and the best way to do this is via virtualization.

A Few Hardware Specifications

  • Intel Xeon X3450 2.66 GHz Quad-Core processor
  • 16GB 1333MHz Dual Ranked RDIMM memory
  • PERC H200 Adapter Internal RAID Controller for Hot Plug Hard Drive
  • RAID 1 – SAS6iR/H200/PERC6i/H700 (SAS/SATA Controller)
  • 2 1TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5″ Hot Plug Hard Drive
  • Redundant 400W power supply
  • Baseboard Management Controller
  • Intel Gigabit ET Quad Port NIC in addition to the dual 1GB integrated NIC

In this guide, I’m going to present the steps that I took to configure the server for use in production.

Powering Up

After connecting everything to the server and powering things on press F2 to enter System Setup.  I had to change the System Time so double-check this.  The most important thing to check in here is to go to Processor > Virtualization Technology and make sure that it is Enabled.

Using the DELL Unified Server Configurator (USC)

The DELL Unified Server Configurator (USC) is a new feature that I have yet to use as this is the first system that I have configured with it installed.  The USC is an “embedded configuration utility that enables systems and storage management tasks from an embedded environment throughout your system’s lifecycle,” (DELL Unified Server Configurator User Guide, p.7).  Sounds cool to me! To enter the USC press F10 System Services at the DELL logo during system boot. Note:  Unfortunately, I was unable to take full advantage of these features because this server was ordered without a DRAC card–blah!

RAID Configuration

Entered into the SAS Configuration Utility by pressing CTRL+C.  Found the default settings to be sufficient. Volume was configured with RAID 1 by default so we should be good to go here.

Remote Access Configuration

This is a feature that I do not use and currently have no use for so I press CTRL+E to enter into the configuration utility and disable this feature.

VMware vSphere Hypervisor 4.1 Update 1 (formerly ESXi)

Many of you already know that VMware renamed the free hyper-visor from ESXi to Hypervisor 4.1.  I downloaded the ISO for the latest version of the Hypervisor and burned to  a CD.  Booted into and ran the VMware ESXi 4.1.0 Installer.  Pretty much chose the default settings here as the Hypervisor is pretty easy and straight forward to install.

Press F2 after installation is complete to Customize System.  Configured a root password and then Configure Management Network.  Basically all I need to configure here is the IP address.  Since I’m not shipping the system just yet, I will let DHCP take care of all of the IP settings.  Once it gets on its destination subnet, I will configure static network settings for the server.

After the IP address has been set, I launch the vSphere Client and attempt to connect to the IP address.  The client informs me that my current client needs to be upgraded first so I perform the upgrade (which took quite some time).  After the vSphere Client was installed I connected to the ESXi server just fine.  Piece of cake!

 

Thanks to VMware Technical support on this one, thought I’d share the solution with you all.

The Issue

So the issue is/was that I would create a virtual machine from a template which had the Windows 7 O/S installed on it.  VMware uses the built-in sysprep for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 so there is no need to edit anything on the vCenter Server.  I used Customization Specifications to configure the cloned machine.

Well, it appears as though at the Workgroup or Domain step of the Customization Specifications Wizard you must used the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) in the Windows Server Domain box.  You also must use a <username>@fqdn (ex. jdoe@contoso.com) in the Specify a user account that has permission to add a computer to the domain box.

Go here for the official VMware KB Article:  Windows 2008 guest customization fails to join deployed virtual machine to Active Directory domain

Upgrade Changes

I was recently troubleshooting another unrelated issue within our virtual infrastructure and needed to login to an ESX server via the Service Console.  I use Putty as my SSH client.  This was the first time that I had logged into the Service Console via SSH since the ESX 4.1 upgrade several months ago.

When attempting to login with the lower privileged account that I had been using since the day I installed ESX I received an Access Denied message from the console.

According to the vSphere Upgrade Guide on pg. 69, “After upgrading to ESX 4.1, only the Administrator user has access to the service console. To grant service console access to other users after the upgrade, consider granting the Administrator permissions to other users.”

In Simple Terms

Unfortunately, they don’t tell you exactly how to fix this.  All you have to do is add that particular account to the local root group on the particular ESX server.

Step-by-Step

  1. Launch the vCenter Client software and login to the ESX host using the root credentials; not the vCenter Server.
  2. Select the ESX host and click on the Local Users & Groups tab.
  3. Right-click on the user and select Edit (or add the user if it doesn’t exist).
  4. Under Group Membership find the root group and click the Add button.

Now the user can login via SSH.

Now, Now VMware Let’s Be More Accurate

VMware ThinApp marketing slightly deceptive

VMwares not so accurate marketing message

A few weeks after writing How to ThinApp Smartstation?, I began pilot testing the ThinApp’d SmartStation to a small group of end users here at the firm.  Man was I unpleasantly surprised at just how limited ThinApp is.  There are a few “gotchas” specific to SmartStation that I would like to share that I had to learn the hard way.

SmartStation 4.5 is not supported on Windows 7 64-bit

This I knew going into the ThinApp process but the way that VMware has marketed the product, you’d think that this should not be an issue.  You’d think that it should work regardless of the O/S that the application is being deployed to.  WRONG! I filed a support request because I could not get my SmartStation ThinApp to work on Windows 7 64-bit.  The Support Technician informed me that:

Applications That ThinApp Cannot Virtualize ThinApp cannot convert some applications into virtual applications and might block certain application functions.  In those cases you must use traditional installation technologies to deploy some application types.

– Applications that do not natively support the deployment operating system:  If an operating system does not support the native installation of an application, that operating system is not a supported ThinApp deployment platform for that application.

And there you have it.  This information can also be found in the VMware ThinApp User’s Guide (which I must have overlooked). Read the rest of this entry »

The Situation

I always love the day after I push Software Updates to servers.  It gives me an opportunity to hone my troubleshooting skills a bit.  This morning when doing the usual putting out fires routine, I discovered that the VMware VirtualCenter Server service was not running.  So I rebooted the machine and still the service would not run.  So I figured that maybe the database is not up and running yet, when the vCenter service is trying to run.

I consider this because I was able to run the service manually after the server had completely come up.  So I figured I should put in a dependency for the VMware VirtualCenter Server service to run after the SQLExpress service is up.  Please note that SQLExpress is on the same virtual machine as the vCenter Server installation. Read the rest of this entry »

Read This Update First

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Please be sure to read How to ThinApp SmartStation Part 2 first before proceeding.  There are some interesting limitations that I discovered during pilot testing that you should be aware first.  Your environment could be different than mine with a different set of requirements so your mileage may vary with this approach.  Good luck!

The SmartStation Dilemma

Many small-to-mid-sized brokerage firms like the one that I work for utilize an application called Thomson Financial SmartStation.  This application is a behemoth of an application that needs to be installed on just about every computer on our network.  Brokers utilize the application to get real-time quotes, do market research and execute trades of all kinds.  This application is the main tool utilized by our core business and without it we’d be considered self-clearing which would add a lot of administrative overhead to the work that we do.

But with many applications that are this large in size, updates to the application come very and I mean very slowly.  For example, the application didn’t support Internet Explorer 7 (that’s not a typo) until Summer of 2010!  Thus, we had to run Internet Explorer 6 on a vast majority of our workstations because of this.   This application is also the main reason why a movement to Windows 7 won’t occur until they complete the web-based version of the application (a move most applications made a long time ago). Read the rest of this entry »