Sunday, March 29, 2009

VMware & Changes on the PCI bus

All the ESX servers at work are IBMs. In fact most all the x86 servers in the datacentre are IBMs. Heck, even quite a lot of our training is sourced through IBM.

I thought I had blogged about vmnics changing ID/name earlier on in the same manner as on this blog from SysAdminHell, but must have been mistaken. One of my first (bad) experiences with ESX was having to go in and undertake the same procedures as in that blog.

That blog entry only suggests that moving the physical NIC card causes the problem. My experience is that any change on the PCI bus can cause the vmnics to be renamed.

Perhaps that is only a problem with IBMs. Or perhaps not!

RVTools #6 version 2.4.1

Yet another new version! WooHoo!

This one is just a bugfix for the filtering features, where the absense of a cluster could cause a crash  if the right (?! wrong ?!) circumstances.

Friday, March 27, 2009

VM Reference Card

I've known about the excellent VMReferemce Card for a while now.

I've just printed the latest version out. It is amazing that all that information can be fitted onto two sides of A4.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fracking KVM

I started 3 ESX v3.5 ESX servers and followed two of them through the boot boot sequence via a KVM.

They both hung at
starting console mouse services...
The Virtual Center server showed them as uncontactable.


Luckily that is after the ssh service is started so I was able to ssh in and
service gpm stop
cd /etc/rc3.d
and for each service after S85gpm I started the service by hand. At which point they were visible in Virtual center Server. Hurrah!

Post Mortem:
  • Why only two of the three?
  • Was it the version of ESX?
  • What was the commonality?

Well, it wasn't the version of ESX. The two ESX servers which hung were running different builds of v3.5!

The common feature was that I had monitored the boot of the servers via the KVM. The server that hadn't been monitored had booted without issue. So I ensured the KVM was connected to a Windows system and from Virtual Center Server, I issued reboots to the two ESX servers which had hung and went outside for ten minutes to bite my fingernails. I needed a clean reboot anyway.

When I came back, the servers had rebooted successfully.

So the problem had been the KVM system we have.

Perhaps I should not have been surprised. Lets just say it is rumoured at work that when Noah installed a KVM on the Ark, he dismissed the system we've got as too antiquated!

So it goes!

Enable ssh on ESXi

I was about to write a quick blog entry on how to enable ssh access to an ESXi server, but I did a quick google around and there are already a number of blog entries out there, including on:
and many others. It is such a frequently asked question that VMware should enable ssh by default.

What is interesting, to me anyway, is that this search brought two new (to me) vm help sites. Although at work, we always use hw on the HCL I realise some people do not have that luxury.

And that's that!

RVTools #5 version 2.4

A new version! WooHoo!

I upgraded immediately, of course.

Actually I tried an install first, but there was the same trek to the "Add or Remove Programs" Control Panel applet to remove the currently installed version before installing the new version.

It looks identical to the previous version. The only differences are that at the bottom of a number of tabs is a button to perform specific actions relevant to that tab, i.e. on the vCD tab unmounting the CD/DVD, and on those tabs each line has a selection box so that the action can be applied to one or more of your VMs.

I'm guessing Rob is going to go further along the line of adding actions to the interface. In general I like the idea and I am interested to see how he'll change the UI to accommodate those changes. At the moment the tabular interface is fine, but with more functionality it will be difficult to make it all easily accessible!

Bottom line: still on the immediate download & install list!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Subversion tutorial

There is a good introduction to subversion on the Smashing Magazine blog.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tideway in the datacentre.

Tideway would probably say that the datacentre was their natural environment. And after talking to them and reading their website it really looks that way. And the larger the datacentre  the better.

At work we've been negotiating a contract with a new datacentre provider (dcp). We're moving datacentres later this year! However, we are asking the dcp to provide us with a heck of a lot in terms of monthly, quarterly or annual reports.

The purpose of these reports is to ensure that anything that has changed was changed under the company change control procedure. And is known about. I was thinking that a lot of what we were asking for from the dcp could be generated by a tool like Tideway.

The ability/facility to identify the current configuration as a starting baseline and then track future changes at appropriate periods in the future is really what we're looking for. And judging by their client list it is what a number of other companies are after too. 

Whilst in the current times, I understand that every company needs to have revenue to continue, I'm not sure that I think that Tideway's silver service is worth considering. It seems to me to be the sort of information that any IT dept. ought to be able to generate themselves with simple iterative scripts, ping and a knowledge of the networks in use.

The higher level of service provisions should be much more of interest to a company. Providing much more of the sort of information it would be difficult to associate together otherwise.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Google Chrome Crash

Google Chrome crashed on me yesterday. Took about eight tabs I'd have liked to have had bookmarked with it.

A good feature of Firefox that I'd like to see a future version of Chrome provide is the restore session option on startup. Since suffering this crash, I've been wondering whether it was OS, FireFox or plugin instability that caused the FireFox developers to add the "restore session" facility. 

I managed to resist trying Chrome out for two months after it was released, but it is now my favourite, although at work I will sometimes have Chrome, Firefox and IE all in use at the same time!

The main feature that caused me to try chrome out was speed. Firefox had been getting slower and slower. That is partly my fault. I open tab after tab, but am slower to close them. Perhaps as a result of this characteristic I am also increasingly suffering from Firefox crashing on me.

I like that Find is restricted to the tab upon which it is first opened.

I'm slightly bemused that sometimes the contents of a page will take some time to be displayed when you change from tab to tab. Perhaps that is a peculiar to the way I set up my PCs, although I suspect not.

A really neat feature that I've just come across, is the ability to move tabs between Windows. Just grab the Tab and drag it to the other Windows. Bob's your uncle! Its a feature I like as it enables you to reorganise your tabs without resorting to plugins like FireFox.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

eclipse + Accurev = 42 ??

I downloaded the latest jre to use with eclipse. Yes, Accurev had installed a jre, and once upon a time I would have used that jre. Or at least would have tried to use that jre.

There are times where I try to keep the total tools install as small as possible and others where I try to keep each tool as self-contained as possible. At the moment I am going through the latter type of phase. So one jre for eclipse and a different one (different version) for Accurev.

Eclipse reminds me greatly of Rational Rose. As eclipse was developed at IBM Canada and Rational are an IBM company maybe that is no surprise.

To many, perhaps most, people the comparison will be seen as a complement. I'm not sure I mean it as one. I have very mixed feelings about Rose.

So I'm using eclipse with the Accurev bridge for eclipse and Accurev. Accurev is an excellent tool and the Accurev bridge certainly works well. It seems to be by far and away the easiest SCM integration to add to eclipse. The subvserion integrations in particular require far more work.

But at the end of the day, you are still using eclipse.

VirtualBox Shared Folders

Shared Folders on VirtualBox would be fantastic if it wasn't such a PITA to access them the first time on XP.

Setting one up is easy, but accessing it is something else. At first I thought they weren't working on XP. Indeed others have come to the same conclusion!

Some quick googling brought me to the following blog. Huzzah! A solution. 

Now, carefully click on the expand icon (expand icon) right next to My Network Places. Make sure you click exactly on the expand icon. If you accidentally clicked on My Network Places, you ruined everything and you will have to go back and start all over again.

I'm not sure what the difference was thought to be by Microsoft design team. From a user perspective I'm struggling to think of anything else I would want explorer to do for me at this point. Perhaps one of the team has blogged about it, but... Well, now I know.

Given the age of the blog the documentation ought to be considerably clearer than it is.

So it goes!