Ramblings From The Litter Tray of Life

Posts Tagged ‘ESX’

VMware ESX 3.5 and 64 bit OSs

Posted by graycat on 25 June 2010

Quite a few people out there make use of the excellent server virtualisation software produced by VMware so I thought I’d lay this tip out there for 64bit OSs.

It seems that VMware ESX 3.5 will not recognise your host server as being 64 bit compliant until you enable the right flags within the CPUs. In my case where I’m using a HP DL380 G5 which is 64 bit compliant then you have to enable Intel’s Virtual Threading (VT for short).

To do this, shutdown all of the hosted VMs and place the host into maintenance mode before shutting it down fully. Then boot back into the host BIOS (hit F9 after the HP splash screen). Once in the BIOS settings go down to “Advanced Options” and select Intel’s Virtual Technology / Threading. Exit out and here is the key point – you must full shut the server down.

This means all power cables out and left for a good 60 seconds at least! Miss this step out and you won’t get anywhere fast.

Once VT has been enabled spool the VM back up and create 64 bit virtual machines to your hearts content.

Extra tips:

  • I’ve heard that any VM created prior to this change will not register the change in CPU so will have to be created again.
  • Paravirtualisation should also be turned off. Whilst this should only affect the *nix kernels there have been reports of it messing with Windows OSs if set prior to initial build.
  • Anything prior to a G5 will most likely not be x64 compatible so no dice.
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Expanding a VMWare Array on HP kit

Posted by graycat on 2 May 2009

Greetings on this wonderfully sunny Saturday! Yes, it’s Saturday and Captain Graycat is being rushed into service once more!

[cue cut away to a battlefield somewhere on an unknown planet]

“Captain!” screams Major VMware with increasing urgency as he ducks incoming laser and projectile fire

“WHAT?” replies our intrepid hero, sparing only the most minute of attention away from his continued effort to track down that darn laser bunker. “Well, tracers work both ways, old boy” he mumbles as he drills a reply volley into the nest with alarming accuracy.

“Captain! We need an array expanding and you’re the only one for the job!” cries the Major in mild dispair as he throws himself down next to Capt. Graycat

“You need a what doing to who?” replies our slightly distracted hero.

“An array expanding! We’ve already sent in Lieutenant Ears but he just panicked and is now a gibbering mess.”

“Oh dear lord, not again.” mutters Graycat ducking into cover to discuss with the Major “Ok, what’s so difficult about this one that needs me?”

“It’s an impossible missing, sir! It just can’t be done on an HP system like that but we must have it or the battle is lost!”

“There isn’t a system built that I can’t give a good kicking to, son. Watch and learn!” cries our hero as he shoulders his firearm of knowledge and leaps over the cover to charge into his latest mission

“Wow, that’s some kinda guy” mutters Major VMware as he watches the legend that is Capt Graycat disappear into the fog of war and tries not to think about his slightly soiled underwear that requires changing very soon.

[cue cool opening credits to The Adventures of Captain Graycat]

Ok, so it’s not really all that glamorous but it does need doing every now and then. Expand an array as well as changing your underwear!

It’s a bit of a good news / bad news situation for us really. Good news – you can run ESX server on HP kit. Bad news – there are no plugins for HP kit so you can’t control it via the GUI.

According to HP support the only way you can do this is using their SmartStart CD so I’ll go through that method first.

  1. Download the latest CD from here (Link)
  2. Extract iso and then burn boot disc
  3. Shutdown all your VMWare machines, kick the ESX server into “maintenance” mode, slap the boot CD in and reboot
  4. When the HP SmartStart menus come up wander through to the Maintenance section and then Array Configuration Utility
  5. Have it scan for the controllers and pick the one you want (mine has an onboard P400 for the internal drives and a P800 for the MSA70 external array)
  6. You should now see some extra drives not included in your RAID array or logical disc. Select Extend on the right hand window and select the extra drives to add to the array
  7. Select Extend and enter the final RAID / logical partition size you want. There will be a maximum available size listed so I just plumped for that. (See later for array / logical drive sizes info).
  8. L0cate the save button, hit it and watch all the pretty lights flash as the array extends and expands to cover the new drives.

HP sugest that it’ll take 15 minutes per Gb so if like me, you’re got a 1Tb+ logical drive now well you’re going to be in for a bit of a wait whilst it sorts itself out.

You can check on the progress by selecting the logical drive and hitting “More Information” in the righthand window. It’ll then show you rhe progress at the bottom of that page.

Just one word of warning though – VMWare can not deal with logical drives larger than 2Tb, I’m told. So stay lower than this for the moment. I think it’ll be resolved for later versions though which’ll be great!

Another method I’ve heard of but don’t have the balls / skills to try is do ssh onto the ESX server itself, download the command line version of the Array Configuration Utility for Redhat linux and then use that to do the expansion. It looks viable but as ESX is not a “proper” linux installation (eg: wget is missing completely) and this is a production machine for me …. I’m going to leave that one to braver people than I!

Well, I’m off to check on my server and see how the expansion is going. Toodle pip!

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How to Create a Template in ESX without Virtual Centre

Posted by graycat on 2 October 2008

One of the great things about using ESX server (or any other virtual server host really) is that you can deploy new servers really quickly and easily. In the VMWare offering you have to buy the Virtual Centre add-on which is aimed at managing multiple virutal host servers. Unfortunately if you’re in the situation where you don’t have or can’t get this and are stuck with the “basic” ESX licence then you could be a bit stuck when it comes to cloning or creating template machines.

Fear not though! Here is a handy little guide on how to achieve that same objective using only ESX and the p2v converter.

Step 1 – Create a Template in ESX without Virtual Centre

  • Obtain a copy of windows 2003/2008 (Please note: In order for ESX to run 64 bit guess O/S the hosts
  • Hardware bios cpu setting must be set to use Virtualization Technology.) See below
  • Launch Vmware Infrastructure client and connect over to the ESX server
  • Right click the ESX server and chose to create new virtual machine
  • Select Typical under virtual machine creation
  • Call the Virtual machine WIN2K3-TEMPLATE
  • Select a local vmfs partition if one has been setup, or chose a vmfs partition on external storage.
  • Select the appropriate Guest Operating System, either 2003 or 2008 etc..
  • Select 1 cpu (This can be changed in the future)
  • Select 256 for memory (This can be increased in the future)
  • Select no nics (This can be increased in the future)
  • Set the virtual disk size to 10 gig

Step 2 – Creating Client Virtual Server Image

  • Right click the server and choose edit settings
  • Select CD/DVD to use either client device, host device or data store iso, remember to select connected and connect at power on. Insert OS cd into ESX host, local client pc that you have connected to ESX from, or point CD drive to OS iso.
  • Click on Ok
  • Power on the virtual machine and install Windows
  • Customise Windows as per clients builds, please do not install any applications such as SQL or Exchange.
  • Install clients Anti Virus software (If mcafee don’t load epo agent, but load virus scan)
  • Install vmtools and enable hardware acceleration.
  • Load latest Microsoft Patches and Anti Virus definitions.
  • Install BGinfo (This displays server information on the server’s desktop.
  • Open Notepad and type in “.LOG” without quotation marks, save this file as MOD.LOG and place in the all users startup folder. This file will open each time an administrator logs onto the server and stamp the date and time. Should be use for admin to note down changes made to the server (Change Control). Remember to select save as type “all files” otherwise will stamp the file MOD.LOG.TXT
  • Enable Remote Desktop
  • Rename the administrator account to admin_local or to the clients preferred local admin name
  • Change the admin_local password
  • Run a disk defrag
  • Create a folder on the servers C: drive called “Sysprep”
  • Download sysprep and extract the contents to the Sysprep folder on the C: drive
  • Run Setupmgr.exe
  • Select create new
  • Select Sysprep setup
  • Select windows version
  • Select No, do not fully automate the installation
  • Type in Organisation name
  • Display leave at default
  • Select correct time zone
  • Enter product key
  • Leave the “use the following computer name” box blank
  • Select prompt the end user for password
  • Select typical Networking components
  • Select workgroup and leave name as workgroup
  • Click next on Telephony
  • Specify regional settings (Chose UK) and tick customise the default regional setting and click on custom and select UK
  • Click next to languages
  • Click next to network printers
  • Click next to run once
  • Click next to additional commands
  • Please enter a Identification string “Virtual Tech Solutions Ltd, Build %date% Gold Server Image Version 2.1” please replace with clients details
  • Click finish
  • Check that a file in C:\Sysprep\sysprep.inf has been created
  • Double click on sysprep.exe in the C:\Sysprep folder and select shutdown mode as Shutdown and click reseal. The Virtual Server will now switch off. PLEASE DO NOT POWER ON THIS VIRTUAL SERVER!!!!

Step 3 – Use Vmconverter to Copy the Template to a new Virtual Server

  • Launch Vmconverter
  • Select Convert Virtual Machine
  • Select Vmware Infrastructure Virtual Machine
  • type in the ESX servers IP address where the template resides
  • Enter username and password
  • Click next
  • Select the template server and click next
  • Select convert all disks and maintain size and click next
  • Select destination type as Vmware Infrastructure Virtual Machine
  • type in the ESX servers IP address where the template resides
  • Enter username and password
  • Click next
  • Type in the new servers name, click next
  • Select the target ESX server again, click next
  • Select the target VMFS partition to create the new virtual server from template on, click next
  • Select 1 nic and correct network
  • Don’t customise the guest, click next
  • Select power on new virtual machine after creation and select finish.
  • Check conversion process and once finished log onto the ESX server and access the new servers console and complete the setup wizard.

In case you’re using HP Servers, you may need to enable Virtualisation on them like this:

  • Restart server
  • enter to RBSU and
  • select F9 to enter the ROM-Based Setup Utility (RBSU).
  • Select Advanced Options > Processor Options.
  • Enable Intel Virtualization Technology

And that’s how it’s done. I know it’s a bit of a long post but once you’ve set the template server up it really is very easy to create a new server from it. On average it takes about 15 mins from start to finish to deploy a new server using this method. Not bad considering it’s free, huh? 🙂

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