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Howto Reboot/Shutdown Windows Server 8

I can't believe I am actually writing this...with all the major changes Win8/Win8 Server are bringing one would never think they would change how you shutdown or restart, right?  Well we are wrong...

You can't just click Start->Shutdown anymore, old schoolers might remember this one:


Focus needs to be on the desktop (minimize all other windows, or click on the wallpaper so focus is on the desktop) then hit Alt+F4 to see a familiar window:

Windows Key+C

This is the "Charms" shortcut key.  Charms is a Microsoft term for these icons that appear when you hit Windows Key+C:

Then Click Settings:

Now you can click Power & select Restart or Shutdown.



Howto Install VIB Patches on ESXi Hosts Without Update Manager

So you find yourself in a position where you need to update one (or more) of your hosts but don't have vCenter Update Manager around to assist.  In my case trying to get Windows Server 8 CP working....It's not terribly difficult, you simply:

  1. Download the patch - you can download patches direct from VMware @ the Patch Portal
  2. Open a datastore with enough freespace to store the patch via your vSphere Client (Right-Click->Browse on a datastore)
  3. Upload the patch you downloaded (should be a .zip file)
  4. SSH into the host
  5. Execute the command "esxcli software vib install /vmfs/volumes/<DATASTORE-NAME>/<PATCH-NAME>.zip"  - replacing the <DATASTORE-NAME> and <PATCH-NAME> appropriately.

This command can take some time to execute for large patches.

When it's done you should get some text like below, remember to pay attention to this text so you know if you need to reboot your host or not.


Dell Management Center Plugin for vCenter Overview/Install Guide

Dell introduced this plugin awhile back, it's actually a Virtual Appliance you import into vCenter.  The plugin inside vCenter is actually an Adobe Flex (Flash-based) app that gets embedded into your vSphere Client, so ensure you have Flash installed on the machine(s) you wish to use this plugin from.

Overview of Features

  • Update BIOS/Firmware on Dell ESXi hosts from vCenter
  • Checks for updates automatically and alerts you when there are updates available
  • Can leverage an established Dell Repository to avoid data duplication--if you are a heavy Dell shop you should know what this is
  • New vCenter Alarms for Dell Hardware
    • These Alarms can even trigger hosts to go into maintence mode to evacuate VMs from that particular host if the hardware event is critical (in a DRS enabled cluster of course)
  • Supports Dell's Proactive Systems Management
    • Works without (the God-awful) SilverStreak to automatically create support cases with Dell when issues arise
  • View Warranty information of your Dell hosts
    • Allows you to configure a proxy, if your environment requires one
  • Bare metal deployment of ESX/ESXi servers
    • This leverages Dell Lifecycle Controllers and iDRACs to provision Dell servers somewhat auto-magically.
    • First you create a Hardware Profile from a Reference Server--(configures boot order, BIOS settings, iDRAC settings, RAID config)
    • Then you create a Hypervisor profile--You point at an ISO, and configure the vCenter, destination container (data center or cluster), and even a host profile for you enterprise plus users.
    • Note you can "white-list" service tags so only those hosts you define can be used by the plugin to deploy against.
  • OSMA Launcher
    • So you can launch directly to your OSMA web console to connect to an OSMA agent on an ESXi host
  • Appliance Upgradable
    • Does not require replacement by deploying a new OVF when a new version comes out


    WhatsUp: Dell Server Hardware Status Monitor

    WhatsUp v14 added some nice new active monitors to monitor fans, power supply and temperature for Dell Servers.  However that doesn’t cover everything else, Memory, CPU, Chassis Intrusion, HDD, RAID Controllers, etc.  We found the simplest way was to simply monitor for the LCD color of the Dell server.  Yes, we are sure the OID that we are looking at isn’t actually LCD color, but we like to think that it is.  The OID is actually for drsGlobalSystemStatus--which if it's not 3, then there is a problem and the LCD is amber to reflect that.  Below is how you can setup this active monitor for WhatsUp:

    First you need to configure SNMP on your DRAC, this screenshot shows the steps:

    Once you have SNMP configured on your DRAC you can setup the SNMP Active monitor in WhatsUp as follows:

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    vCenter Orchestrator Trouble: Server service fails to start – service terminated with service-specific error Incorrect function

    I was setting up a new instance of Orchestrator inside my lab and came across this issue.  the Orchestrator Server service would not start, andi nside the vCenter Orchestrator Configuration webpage, we don't have any output in the log--so we investigate the Windows logs...

    In the system log all you see is Error: The VMware vCenter Orchestrator Server service terminated with service-specific error Incorrect function..

    Poking around we come across a log file @ C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\Orchestrator\app-server\bin\wrapper.log which sheds some light on the problem:

    Your first thought might be disk space, did a log run away? No that isn't the case--Java Heap refers to memory, looking inside the wrapper.conf from the command above we find more information.

    Java has to allocate 2Gb of RAM on startup. My VM only had 1.5Gb, that looks like the issue--this is what you get for ignoring the Minimum System Requirements (assuming your running Orchestrator on same server as your vCenter).  Increase the RAM on your VM and this error should be gone. vCenter Server should have a minimum of 3Gb of RAM.


    vSphere Client: Keyboard Shortcuts

    My most favorite keyboard shortcut in the vSphere Client is Ctrl+Shift+F - It's like Google for vCenter. It flips to the search box and allows you to find VMs, Templates, Datastores, Networks, Hosts, Clusters, Folders,etc.

    vCenter Navigation Shortcuts

    These shortcuts are for when you are in the a VM's Console

    Shortcut Description
    Ctrl+Shift+V Switches to VM and Templates
    Ctrl+Shift+H Switches to Hosts and Clusters
    Ctrl+Shift+D Switches to Datastore
    Ctrl+Shift+N Switches to Networking
    Ctrl+Shift+F Switches to Search - THE shortcut to remember
    Ctrl+Shift+E Switches to Events
    Ctrl+Shift+L Switches to Licensing
    Ctrl+Shift+M Switches to Maps
    Ctrl+Shift+O Switches to System Logs
    Ctrl+Shift+P Switches to Host Profiles
    Ctrl+Shift+R Switches to Roles
    Ctrl+Shift+S Switches to Sessions
    Ctrl+Shift+T Switches to Scheduled Tasks
    Ctrl+Shift+U Switches to Customization Specifications Manager
    Ctrl+Shift+I Opens vCenter Server Settings
    Alt+Home Switches to Home
    Ctrl+Tab Cycles forward through tabs
    Ctrl+Shift+Tab Cycles backward through tabs
    Alt+Arrow Left/Right Shortcuts for the Forward/Back buttons at the top left of the vSphere Client

    VM Console Shortcuts

    These shortcuts are for when you are in the a VM's Console

    Shortcut Description
    Ctrl+Shift+Insert Sends Ctrl+Alt+Delete
    Ctrl+G Transfers mouse and keyboard input from the local machine to the virtual machine (same as clicking in the window) great for when you don't have a mouse handy
    Ctrl+Alt+Enter Full Screen VM
    Ctrl+Alt Unlocks mouse/keyboard from VM console window, also exists full screen mode
    Ctrl+Shift+X Exit VM Console

    New Item Shortcuts

    Use these shortcuts to create new things in vCenter

    Shortcut Description
    Ctrl+N New VM
    Ctrl+A New vApp
    Ctrl+H New Host
    Ctrl+L New Cluster
    Ctrl+O New Resource Pool
    Ctrl+F New Folder
    Ctrl+D New Datastore

    VM Shortcuts

    These shortcuts are for when you select a VM or are in the a VM's Console

    Shortcut Description
    Ctrl+B Power On VM
    Ctrl+E Power Off VM
    Ctrl+T Reset VM
    Ctrl+Z Suspend VM
    Ctrl+D Shut Down Guest - Requires VMware Tools
    Ctrl+R Restart Guest - Requires VMware Tools
    Ctrl+P Add Permission to VM
    Ctrl+M Add Alarm to VM


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    Orchestrator Workflow: Change vCPU Count

    I guess the guys behind vCO missed including this workflow in the default install--(hey they had to miss one after making so many hundreds--right?)

    Simple little workflow, thought I'd post it up to save anyone the trouble of recreating...


    Change vCPU Count Workflow (1406)

    vCenter Orchestrator Setup


    • Licensed vCenter Server - This can be an evaluation license
    • Service Account to perform LDAP Lookups (vco-service is used below)
    • Active Directory Security Group for vCenter Orchestrator Admins (vCOAdmins is used below)
    • Microsoft SQL Database (vco is used below)
    • Credentials for an account with access to above Microsoft SQL Database
    • Service Account that is a member of the vCenter Orchestrator Admins Group (vCOAdmins group, vco-service is used below) - yes this can be the same account as your LDAP lookup account

    Installation Guide:

    1. Start Service
    2. Navigate to IP:8282
    3. Login with user vmware password vmware
    4. Select Network on the left
      1. Select IP address to bind to
      2. Confirm rest of settings on page (adjust ports if any conflict with other software on the orchestrator host)
      3. Click Apply changes at the bottom right
      4. Network should now have a green bubble next to it, proceed
    5. Select LDAP on the left
      1. Select Active Directory from the dropdown if it's not already selected
      2. Enter your primary & secondary LDAP hosts (domain controllers) note: secondary is optional
      3. Enter your LDAP root path, if your domain is requeny.lan enter: dc=requeny,dc=lan
      4. For username enter user@domain ex: vco-service@requeny.lan
      5. Password- this should be obvious
      6. Enter your User lookup base path: (where all your users are located, ex: cn=Users,dc=requeny,dc=lan (this would point to the Users OU in active directory)
      7. Enter your Group lookup base path: (where all your groups are located, ex: cn=Users,dc=requeny,dc=lan (this would point to the Users OU in active directory)
      8. Enter the path to your vCO Admins Group, ex: cn=vCOAdmins,cn=Users,dc=requeny,dc=lan
      9. Hit apply changes, if all your settings are correct LDAP should now have a green bubble next to it, but before continuing click the Test Login tab at the top and attempt to login with a user in the vCOAdmins group
      10. If that test login worked, proceed on
    6. Select Database on the left
      1. Select SQLServer from the dropdown
      2. Enter the username for SQL database (note, don't prefix with domain, or use use@domain format here, just the username)
      3. Password - this should be obvious
      4. Database host IP address or DNS name - hostname of SQL server ex: sql01
      5. Port: 1433 - MSSQL default, change it if your SQL server isn't listening on the default port
      6. Database name: this is the name of the database that has been created on your SQL server ex: vco
      7. Instance name: whatever your instance name is, ex: sqlexpress
      8. Domain: your AD domain here, use the NetBIOS name here, ex: requeny
      9. Hit apply changes, if all your settings are correct you will get an error under Validation results that says: Database connection successful.  No schema found.  Please initialize database.  What this means is your connection worked, however there are no tables in the database.
      10. At the top you should see a new link Install the database, click that (this should only take a couple of seconds)
      11. You should now have a green bubble next to Database, proceed on
    7. Select Server Certificate
      1. If you don't have a certificate CA, select Create certificate database and self-signed server certificate
        1. Enter what your info in the next few boxes, examples below:
        2. Common name: orchestrator
        3. Organization: requeny
        4. Organizational Unit: basement
        5. Country: US
        6. Click Create at the bottom right
        7. Server Certificate on the left should now have a green bubble next to it, proceed onto step 8 below
      2. If you do have a certificate CA, you can follow my other post on what to do if you use Microsoft Active Directory: Certificate Services
        1. Once server certificate has a green bubble next to it, proceed onto step 8 below
    8. Select Licenses
      1. You can either enter a vCenter Server license manually, or Orchestrator can connect to your vCenter Server and read the license on it's own.
      2. To connect to a vCenter Server and read the license:
        1. Check the use vCenter Server license radio button
        2. Enter the hostname of your vCenter Server
        3. Enter the port of your vCenter Server Web Services (443 by default)
        4. Path: leave default
        5. Enter username & password of an account that can read license data from vcenter
        6. Click submit
        7. If you receive an error about 'SSL certificate is missing for this host read my other post on fixing this SSL error
        8. Licenses should now have a green bubble next to it, proceed
      3. To manually enter a vCenter Server license
        1. Check the Add vCenter Server license manually radio button
        2. Enter your vCenter Server serial number (remember you must enter a standard edition serial, foundation doesn't include Orchestrator)
        3. Enter the name of your License owner
        4. Click apply changes on the bottom right
        5. Licenses should now have a green bubble next to it, proceed
    9. Select Plug-ins (yes we skip Startup Options for now)
      1. Enter credentials for a user in the vCO Admin group
      2. Username ex: vco-service
      3. Password - this should be obvious
      4. Click Apply changes at the bottom right
      5. Plug-ins should have a green bubble next to it, as well as Startup Options at this point
      6. Check the plugins you want to enable/install.  Leave the defaults and ensure vCO WebOperator & vCenter Server are checked, then hit apply changes again
      7. You'll notice the status next to many of the plugins is: Will perform installation at next server startup.
    10. Select Startup Options
      1. Click Install vCO server as service (This will install the Windows Service for vCenter Orchestrator)
      2. Now click on Start Service to startup vCenter Orchestrator (vCenter Orchestrator typically takes upwards of 30 seconds to start, you can use the refresh link to check the status)
      3. If you have any problems starting the service, click on Log on the left, and set the logging drop down to All then click Apply changes on the bottom right, go back and start the service again and then check the log for any errors
    11. Open the vCenter Orchestrator Client from the Start-Menu and login!
      1. Don't forget to use your domain login DOMAIN\username
      2. Don't forget to be a member of the VCOAdmins group so you can login.
      3. If you want to install the client elsewhere use the installer in the vCenter Server ISO @ vCenter-Server\vCO\vCenterOrchestrator.exe

    vCenter Orchestrator Trouble: SSL exception, ‘SSL certificate is missing for this host’

    Here you are trying to setup vCenter Orchestrator and you get this error: SSL exception, 'SSL certificate is missing for this host'

    What vCenter Orchestrator is saying is that it doesn't have the certificate installed for that host, unlike other apps/programs, Orchestrator doesn't offer an option automatically install these certificates upon inital connection.  You have to first add the certs then connect to the host, to do this: (refer the screenshot at the bottom if your stuck)

    1. Login to your vCenter Orchestrator Configuration Webpage: (http://vCenter-Orchestrator-Hostname:8282) - default user/pass is vmware/vmware
    2. Select Network from the left column
    3. At the top you'll see a tab for SSL Certificate, click that
    4. You can either import the SSL certificate from a file, or from a URL--URL is the easiest as you just enter the hostname and Orchestrator installs the certificate
    5. In the URL box, just enter your vCenter hostname, then click Import to the right of that text box
    6. You'll see the certificate details displayed if everything looks alright click Import at the bottom
    7. Repeat this process for each vCenter you plan to use Orchestrator with
    8. Go back to whatever step you were trying to do when you got the error: SSL exception, 'SSL certificate is missing for this host' and try it again, this time it should work successfully
    (Click to enlarge)

    Building a Cost-Effective vSphere ESXi 5.0 Home Lab: Part 2

    So it's been awhile since my last post on Building a Cost-Effective vSphere ESXi 5.0 Home Lab--I have been playing with this system now for a few weeks and am loving it--I've ordered parts for a 2nd system and might spring for a 3rd...Remember that the chip on this motherboard supports AMD-V, so you can do practicably everything except for VMDirectPath I/O with this system.

    I've been running upwards of 7 VMs on it at once and have had no real problems.  Yes ready times can get high, but I've never had them over 30% under that kind of load.  Again this is a home lab, and somewhat high ready times don't effect anything except a couple extra seconds here or there when I am doing something intensive.

    This little box rocks for a home lab, the key thing to remember is that it IS a home lab--run everything with 1vCPU and minimal amounts of ram assigned.  (I don't have a single VM over 1Gb of RAM assigned).  The biggest slow down in my experience with this system comes from swapping on local storage--not CPU contention.  (I haven't connected this to my OpenFiler box yet)