vrijdag, december 29, 2006

VMware: new patches available for ESX 3.0.1

There are a number of new patches available for your ESX 3.0.1 hosts:

ESX-2066306 Patch 12/28/06 Critical Patch
ESX-6921838 Patch 12/28/06 General Patch
ESX-8173580 Patch 12/28/06 General Patch
ESX-9986131 Patch 12/28/06 Security Patch

Check it out on http://www.vmware.com/download/vi/index.html

VMware: Roaming profiles and VMware tools

When using Citrix or Terminal Services with roaming profiles, you have to be aware of the fact that the following file C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\VMware\hgfs.dat causes roaming profile headaches in a virtual environment.

This is caused by the Shared Folders option (available in VMware Workstation) being activated during the installation of the VMware tools. This feature does not exist on an GSX/ESX host. However, even on ESX this feature can be "enabled" (not used) by selecting the Complete install option during VMware tools installation.

Check out the following VMware KB: https://xmail.xylos.be/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.vmware.com/support/kb/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1317

woensdag, december 27, 2006

Citrix: Shadow Key timestamps

Wilco van Bragt has written an article on the infamous Shadow Key timestamp. Normally, when you install an application, you have to set your terminal server into Change user /install (command line) or via Add/Remove programs so it will redirect all HKCU keys to a special place, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Terminal Server\Install\Software.

Only problem is that the timestamps on the server are, when installing a new Citrix server, more recent then the timestamps of the roaming profiles. When users log on, there roaming profile is older then the Shadow keys on the server. Example: Office 2003 signatures will be lost because the Citrix server rebuilds the HKCU! There are some tricks to avoid this (RDT/SDT tools, set server clock in the past, etc.)

Read the article here

Softgrid: Licensing models overview

Microsoft SA clients will be able to buy Vista Enterprise and Desktop optimalisation pack which will include Softgrid desktop clients. Desktop Optimalisation Pack will bundle products from Softricity, Winternals, ... other companies recently bought.

Pricing will be as low as 11$/desktop/year. Available from 17/Oct 2006, purchase open in January 2007! The current license form will exist till 30/06/2007.

A new version of Softgrid (version 4.5) is expected End Jan 2007. This version will be compliant with Vista.

vrijdag, december 22, 2006

VDI: a conversation with Citrix's Brian Nason and Sumit Dhawan about VDI and Project Trinity

Brian Madden has done an interview with Citrix on VDI/ Project Trinity. Check it out here

donderdag, december 21, 2006

VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Overview

Patrick Rouse (from Session Computing Solutions) has written an excellent article on VDI and the different vendors / approaches.

Check it out here!

Softgrid: Illustrated OSD tool

Tim has released an updated version of his Illustrated OSD tool:

This small tool allows you to explore the xml syntax of the OSD file in an interactive way. Place mouse over items in the OSD file below for a description of the item.

What's an OSD file?
Open Software Description: a standard format created by Microsoft as part of an obscure project to database software applications using XML. This format was discovered by Softricity long before their Microsoft relationship began. Softricity used this as a base and extended the DTD to meet their needs. A OSD formatted file is now used by SoftGrid as the shortcut description to a SoftGrid client on how to access a SoftGrid enabled application. These files use names that end in ".OSD" as the extension. In addition to this tool you may be interested in the updated SoftGridOSD Schema file in the Tools section of the website.

Don't forget to check out his video garden (Advanced Sequencing)!

Citrix: Agreement to Acquire Ardence

Citrix has aquired Ardence. Ardence makes it possible to stream an OS (!) & its applications. Main purpose is to add more Citrix servers in a farm on the fly.

donderdag, december 14, 2006

VMware: manual multipathing explained

ESX does not support dynamic multipathing. Therefore, manual multipathing must be configured on each ESX host. This is necessary, because if all datastores use the same path, I/O contention can appear. Example: as we are using an IBM DS 8000, we are able to use 8 targets (Storage Processors) on the device. An ESX host itself has 2 HBA’s (vmhba), so in total we have 16 paths to use.

A path is created by combining 3 components: HBA ID, target ID and LUN ID:

vmhbaX:Y:Z, where:

  • X is the HBA ID (example: vmhba1)
  • Y is the Target ID (example: vmhba1:0)
  • Z is the LUN ID (example: vmhba1:0:0)

It is therefore easy to calculate the optimal path (see screenshot below). For the best performance, make sure all paths are divided equally. In our example below, vmhba1 has 4 paths and vmhba2 has 4 paths. Each target has 1 path. There are 8 SAN LUNs configured. When additional LUNs are created, (example: LUN 8), target 0 will get 2 paths, etc.

  • Start the VI client & select a specific host
  • Go to Configuration => Storage and select a datastore
  • Click on properties => Manage paths
  • Make sure FIXED (active/active array) is selected
  • Use the results above to easily set a specific path (example: vmhba1:4:4)
  • Click on Change and select Preferred to activate this path
  • Repeat for all datastores/ESX host
  • Have fun :)

Citrix: Understanding context switches

Thomas Koetzing has written an excellent article on understanding context switches in a Citrix environment. He uses process explorer (and perfmon) to track problems.

Check it out here

woensdag, december 13, 2006

VMware: moving VMs between datacenters

Ever wondered how you could easily move a VM from one datacenter to another? Wonder no more! You can use VMware Converter (in beta now & free) to export & inject a VM from one VC/ESX host to another VC/ESX host on the fly. Converter is in fact a combination of VM Importer 2.0 and the good ol' P2V assistant.

This is great for DR purposes! The only drawback now is that Converter is still rather slow in importing/exporting VMs and the VM has to be shutdown before migration...

Citrix: free techie Videos

Citrix has released some free technical how-to videos:
  • Optimizing Printing in Presentation Server 4 environments
  • Configuring Policies in Presentation Server 4
  • Understanding and Designing Citrix Presentation Server 4 Farms
  • Deep Dive into Citrix Presentation Server SpeedScreen Technologies
  • Fundamentals of the Citrix Presentation Server Architecture
  • Licensing Essentials
  • Migrating your Microsoft Windows Terminal Servers to a Citrix Presentation Server Farm

Check them out here

VMware: Combining .lic license files

As you may know, the license server for VI3 (provided by FlexLM) can only use 1 license file. This file is called vmware.lic and is stored (latest version) in C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server. As the .lic file is a plain text file, it is easy to combine 2 .lic files into one.

The first part looks like this, don't touch it!:

SERVER this_host ANY 27000

Then you have the VC license:

INCREMENT PROD_VC VMWARELM 2007.03 permanent 1 \
VENDOR_STRING=licenseType=Server ISSUED=12-Jan-2007 \
NOTICE=FulfillmentId=1234 SIGN="1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 \
1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 \
1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234"

Now comes the fun part :)

  • Stop the VMware License server service via services.msc
  • Make a backup of your vmware.lic file
  • Open vmware.lic file with wordpad (NOT notepad)
  • As the license file uses increments, you can just copy/paste INCREMENT parts in the .lic file (in any order you would like). Example to combine an 8+8 license:

VENDOR_STRING=licenseType=Server;capacityType=cpuPackage \
ISSUED=21-Jan-2007 NOTICE=FulfillmentId=1234 SIGN="1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 \
1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 \
1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234"

VENDOR_STRING=licenseType=Server;capacityType=cpuPackage \
ISSUED=21-Jun-2007 NOTICE=FulfillmentId=1234 SIGN="1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 \
1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 \
1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234 1234"

  • Restart the VMware License server service
  • Go to VMware License server tools
  • Perform a status Enquiry in the Server Status tab to see if it has combined all available licenses (the screenshot shows 16 VC_ESXHOST licenses: succes :) )

VMware: ESX freeze on SAN Rescan

FYI: be very VERY careful when doing a rescan in the VI client. If you are using VI client 2.0.1 the rescan san will scan for both new storage adapters and new vmfs volumes at the same time which causes LUN thrashing and hangs the server. In version 2.0 it scans them one at a time. A bug report has been submitted to VMware. In the future just scan for either one at a time and you should be fine!

Tnx to Dan Pierson for the info...

maandag, december 11, 2006

VMware: VCB, TSM & VM groups

I am currently working on a VCB implementation for a very large customer (together with Geert Baeke). The customer uses TSM (Tivoli Storage Manager) to backup full .vmdk files.

TSM uses a pre-command to snapshot a list of VMs. However, this is a string in a small textbox. It works in the following format: pre-command <jobname> <VM1.FQDN> <VM2.FQDN> <...>. Needless to say this is very difficult to maintain and is error-prone. That's why I wrote a vbscript to replace the default pre-command.bat file and use a text file as VM list.

---------------------------------------------------------------Option Explicit
On Error Resume Next

Const ForReading = 1, ForWriting = 2, ForAppending = 3
Const TristateUseDefault = -2, TristateTrue = -1, TristateFalse = 0

Dim strVCBFile, strVCBList, strPreCmd, strJobName, objFSO, objShell, objFile, objStream, strStream

strVCBFile = "VCBList.txt"
strPreCmd = "pre-command.bat"
strJobName = "VMFullJob"
strVCBList = ""

Set objFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set objShell = CreateObject("Wscript.Shell")

If objFSO.FileExists(strVCBFile) Then
Set objFile = objFSO.GetFile(strVCBFile)
Set objStream = objFile.OpenAsTextStream(ForReading, TristateUseDefault)
Do While Not objStream.AtEndOfStream
strStream = objStream.readline
strStream = Trim(strStream)
strVCBList = strVCBList & " " & strStream
Wscript.echo strVCBList
'run the backup command
objShell.Run strPreCmd &amp; " " & strJobName & strVCBList
'do nothing
End If

Set objFile = nothing
Set objStream = nothing
Set objFSO = nothing


Additional steps to perform:

  • Create a pre-command.vbs with the above content
  • Create a VCBList.txt file that looks like this (use enter to seperate):
  • VM1.contoso.com-FullVM

  • Copy the pre-command.vbs & VCBList.txt in the folder where pre-command.bat is located (for TSM this is C:\Program Files\Tivoli\TSM\baclient)
  • Edit the scheduler to add the pre-command.vbs in the preschedule command window (via Edit -> Preferences and the scheduler TAB)
  • Do NOT forget to also set the post-command WITH THE SAME JOBNAME
  • Test :)

woensdag, december 06, 2006

Citrix: client 9.230 released

Citrix released an updated Citrix Presentation Server Client Package version 9.230. This is NOT a Vista release yet. Download it here

maandag, december 04, 2006

VMware: HA cluster configuration and DNS

Be aware of the fact that HA (High Availability) in VirtualCenter depends heavily on DNS: make sure all your ESX hosts (and VirtualCenter server) can ping all hosts by FQDN & hostname! If you fail to do this, the HA configuration will generate an error stating "an error occurred during configuration of the HA Agent on the host". Also, do not forget to check static WINS entries!

Citrix: Secure Gateway and HP PSP updates

A customer of ours had a problem with his Secure Gateway after the firmware and management software (HP Proliant Support Pack) where updated to the latest versions. The CSG and HPMHP (Management Homepage) use Apache as there default webserver, so a specific .exe file rotatelogs.exe gets replaced by HP.

Use the following workaround:

  1. Locate the rotatelogs.exe file for Secure Gateway. This file is normally located in the C:\Program Files\Citrix Secure Gateway\bin folder.
  2. Rename the rotatelogs.exe executable (for example, rotate.exe).
  3. Open the http.conf file located in the C:\Program Files\Citrix\Citrix Secure Gateway\conf folder. To do so, perform the following procedure:
    1. Open a command prompt window.
    2. Navigate to the C:\Program Files\Citrix\Citrix Secure Gateway\conf folder from within the command prompt.
    3. In the command prompt window, type notepad httpd.conf to open the httpd.conf file.
      : The httpd.conf file is hidden. You cannot open the file unless you use a text editor.
  4. Create a backup of the file (for example, httpd.conf.bak).
  5. Modify the httpd.conf file and replace rotatelogs.exe with the new executable name (for example, rotate.exe).
  6. Restart Secure Gateway (for the new changes to take effect. Process Explorer should reflect the new changes).
  7. After performing the changes, set the HP Management Homepage Service to Automatic (or the other third-party application).
  8. Restart the system and test against the problem.

vrijdag, december 01, 2006

VMware: memory reservations and swap files

I just wanted to point out that there is a strong correlation between the memory reservation and the swap file (.vswp).

By default, no reservations are made and the .vswp is created with (in our case) 2 Gb, because we allocated 2Gb to the Virtual Machine:

This reservation can be changed in the resource allocation window of a particular VM:

Once this is set to the maximum value, the .vswp file will be 0 (as shown in the screenshot below)

The size of the VM swap space .vswp file is the allocated VM RAM - the reservation.

vrijdag, november 24, 2006

Microsoft: password policy limitations

I sometimes get asked what the limitations are for the default password policy in a Windows AD domain. Here goes:
  • You can only enforce one password policy per domain
  • Password Never Expires: If selected, the password for this account never expires. This setting overrides the domain account policy. Generally, it's not a good idea to set a password so it doesn't expire because this defeats the purpose of having passwords in the first place. But it is useful in combination with service accounts
  • Should be applied on the ROOT domain container

VMware: VMworld 2006 presentations

The presentations & audio recordings from VMworld are available at http://www.vmware.com/vmtn/vmworld

Microsoft: Windows Virtualization Session

Baeke had a sneak preview on the new Longhorn virtualization ESX wannabee. All in all, it looks very promising! Check his post here

donderdag, november 23, 2006

General: To Virtualize Applications or not

Ruben Spruijt has written an excellent article (in dutch) on application virtualization. He compares Softgrid, SVS and Citrix Streaming and their (dis)advantages. Download the article here (in pdf format).

Citrix: Web Interface 4.5 available now

As mentioned in the title: the all-new Web Interface for Citrix has been released. You can download it on http://www.mycitrix.com

Version 4.5 of WI introduces the following new features:
  • Web-based Self-Service Password Reset support for Password Manager 4.5
  • Password expiration notification
  • Application streaming support for the soon-to-be-released streaming product (Project Tarpon)
  • Built-in support for Active Directory Federation Services
  • Published application URLs – drag and drop app icons from the web page to your desktop, or add applications to your IE Favorites list!
  • Enhanced rebranding support from within the Access Management Console
  • Supports SSL encryption of Configuration Manager traffic

  • Based on .NET 2.0

VMware: how big can VM snapshots grow?

Ever wondered how big a VM snapshot (redo file) could grow? It seems that snapshots can only grow to a max of the size of the original VMDK, and never larger. Multiple changes to the same block are only stored once. So the snapshot for a 30GB VMDK could ultimately grow as big as 30GB if every block changes needing a total of 30GB.

VMware: VMotion Info tool

I found a very interesting & easy to use tool to check CPU compatibility of your ESX hosts via VirtualCenter.

Interested in knowing if all your physical ESX servers are the same? VMotion Info will help you find out. The application gathers the important system information from your hosts and puts this in one single overview.

Check it out on Run-Virtual. Install, connect to your VirtualCenter & enjoy! .NET Framework 2.0 is required to run!

woensdag, november 22, 2006

HP hardware: c-class blades & ESX

I recently visited a Citrix conference in Antwerp. There was a very technical session on the new HP c-class blades. I can only imagine the things you could do with this hardware setup in an ESX environment. 16 HH blades in a small 10 U enclosure, in combination with a 2 socket, quad-core CPU blade. A true datacenter-in-a-box. The thing that really did stand out is HP Virtual Connect or the ability to virtualize hardware (say HBAs or NICs) inside the enclosure. Finally, true plug-and-play of a blade can be achieved in this way.Cool!

HP Virtual Connect for the HP BladeSystem c-Class

HP has addressed connectivity as part of an overall virtualization strategy. HP Virtual Connect technology works with other virtualization technologies – such as virtual machines, clients and storage to make a fully virtualized environment a reality.

HP Virtual Connect pools and abstracts the LAN and SAN connections to servers and virtual machines in the HP BladeSystem to provide ultimate server flexibility and eliminate time intensive management processes.

HP Virtual Connect – Breaking down barriers to change

HP Virtual Connect modules for HP BladeSystem make LAN and SAN connections available to a pool of up to 64 servers, allowing administrators to define a server’s I/O connections to independently manage blade servers and their connectivity. Connections and configurations between server blades and the LAN and SAN can then be deployed at the click of a button, and migrated to another server bay instantly – all without disturbing the LAN or the SAN settings or administrators. Provisioning and maintenance time are slashed, productivity is improved, and customers gain the ability to more easily pool server resources.

VMware: physical switch load balancing

One of the most difficult (and almost undocument) features of ESX is to configure your switch for assisted load balancing for a VM Network vswitch with more then 1 pNICs. You should be aware of the fact that ESX supports 802.3ad Static only (EtherChannel).

In essence, you need 2 things:
1. A load balancing schema on your switch port group, based on the switch configuration. The trick here is to setup your vSwitch load balancing policy to be compatible.

  • src-mac, dst-mac, src-dst-mac = MAC hash
  • src-ip, dst-ip, src-dst-ip = IP hash
For Cisco catalyst switches, issue the show etherchannel load-balance command. This should result in something like src-dst-ip.

2. VLAN trunk port on your switch when using different VLANs (VST mode) for your Virtual Machines

To achive this, you need to configure your switch(example for a catalyst running on IOS creating an etherchannel for 3 pNICs):

interface port-channel1
description VMware ESX - Trunk A
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 100,200 (= VLANs to be assigned)
switchport mode trunk
switchport nonegotiate (=ESX does not support DTP (dynamic trunking protocol). So when you configure a trunk port, set it to nonegotiate)
spanning-tree portfast trunk
interface GigabitEthernet1/1
description VMware ESX - Trunk A - NIC 0
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 100,200 (= VLANs to be assigned)
switchport mode trunk
switchport nonegotiate (=ESX does not support DTP (dynamic trunking protocol). So when you configure a trunk port, set it to nonegotiate)
spanning-tree portfast trunk
channel-group 1 mode on
interface GigabitEthernet1/2
description VMware ESX - Trunk A - NIC 1
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 100,200 (= VLANs to be assigned)
switchport mode trunk
switchport nonegotiate (=ESX does not support DTP (dynamic trunking protocol). So when you configure a trunk port, set it to nonegotiate)
spanning-tree portfast trunk
channel-group 1 mode on
interface GigabitEthernet1/3
description VMware ESX - Trunk A - NIC 2
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 100,200 (= VLANs to be assigned)
switchport mode trunk
switchport nonegotiate (=ESX does not support DTP (dynamic trunking protocol). So when you configure a trunk port, set it to nonegotiate)
spanning-tree portfast trunk
channel-group 1 mode on

There is however a whitepaper available on the VMware site. Download it here

dinsdag, november 14, 2006

Citrix: Comparing Longhorn WTS to Citrix PS Application Publishing

Katie Poepke..I mean Koepke has an excellent article on Application Publishing. She compares Longhorn Terminal Services Remote programs to Citrix Presentation Server Published applications. Check it out on the BrianMadden website

Citrix: Session Sharing Explained

Patrick Rouse wrote a very interesting article on Citrix session sharing & how you can enable/disable this feature when publishing desktops or applications. Check it out here!

vrijdag, november 10, 2006

Visio stencils for hardware

I just discovered a great place to download a lot of hardware-related visio stencils. Check it out: http://www.visiocafe.com

woensdag, november 08, 2006

Announcing Process Monitor v1.0

The sysinternal guys released a new tool: Process Monitor.

Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity. It combines the features of two legacy Sysinternals utilities, Filemon and Regmon, and adds an extensive list of enhancements including rich and non-destructive filtering, comprehensive event properties such session IDs and user names, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, simultaneous logging to a file, and much more. Its uniquely powerful features will make Process Monitor a core utility in your system troubleshooting and malware hunting toolkit.

Process Monitor runs on Windows 2000 SP4 with Update Rollup 1, Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista as well as x64 versions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.

Check it out here

dinsdag, november 07, 2006

VMware: Setting Regional settings for a template

An annoying thing while deploying a template in VirtualCenter is the fact that the regional settings are always defaulted to English-US. VirtualCenter uses the following files to run a sysprep on a template machine:
1) VMware VirtualCenter 2.0\scripts\gensysprepinf.vbs
2) VMware VirtualCenter 2.0\scripts\autoprep.wsf

These are the steps to follow (this example is for Belgium):
  • Make a backup of both files
  • Decrypt the files mentioned above. By default, they are encrypted
  • Edit gensysprepinf.vbs
    • find the following string:
      if mProductID <> "" then
      outStr = outStr _
      & " ProductID=" & mProductID & vbCrLf
      end if
    • add the following part AFTER the string just mentioned:
      outStr = outStr _
      &vbCrLf _
      &"[RegionalSettings]" & vbCrLf _
      &amp;" LanguageGroup=1" & vbCrLf _
      &" SystemLocale=00000813" & vbCrLf _
      &" UserLocale=00000813" & vbCrLf _
      &" InputLocale=0813:00000813" & vbCrLf
    • Save it in the appropriate directory (VMware VirtualCenter 2.0\scripts\gensysprepinf.vbs)

  • Edit autoprep.wsf

    • Find the string <script language="VBScript.Encode" src="gensysprepinf.vbs">
    • Alter the string to <script language="VBScript" src="gensysprepinf.vbs">
    • Save the file in the appropriate directory (VMware VirtualCenter 2.0\scripts\autoprep.wsf)
    • Done

You can generate your own country codes by downloading the sysprep tools from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads and running setupmgr.exe

maandag, november 06, 2006

VMware: Extending partitions with GParted

Baeke has an interesting article on extending the Windows system partition with a free tool called GParted (Gnome Partition Editor). It can be downloaded here.

zondag, oktober 29, 2006

VMware: Bitvise Tunnelier

Bitvise Tunnelier is a great SSH and SFTP client for Windows. It's like putty and Veeam FastSCP (and much much more!) all-in-wonder. And most importantly... it free!.
Check it out on http://www.bitvise.com

Citrix: CPS 4.5 Technology Preview Available For Download

The next version of Citrix Presentation server (Project "Ohio") is now available for download as a technology preview on http://www.mycitrix.com.

Health Monitoring & Recovery
Monitors the health of many Presentation Server components and reports any failures instantly. If a component fails, it can be configured to trigger an action to the server.

Configuration logging
Logs any changes made to the farm to a database and provides reporting capabilities.

Non-administrator client installation
Allows end users without administrative rights to install a client.

SpeedScreen Progressive Display
Provides an aggressive compression algorithm for graphic-intensive applications, through a connection policy, to improve the performance and responsiveness of these applications.

Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) support
Extends the value of Microsoft’s Active Directory and Identity Federation technology by allowing Presentation Server-hosted applications to participate in federation trusts. Without Citrix, ADFS can only be used with Web Applications.

Application streaming
Provides applications to be packaged and delivered to Presentation Server without having to install them in every server.

dinsdag, oktober 10, 2006

Citrix/WTS: debug user logons

If you ever experience slow/erratic logins, you can use the userenvdebuglevel (a dword value in the registry). No reboot is necessary.

This will create a userenv.log file in the Windows/debug/usermode directory. It is really helpful to determine delays in login processes!

See also:

Citrix/WTS: UPHClean "reminder"

Just to remind everybody about it: ALWAYS install UPHClean on a Citrix/WTS server.

The User Profile Hive Cleanup service helps to ensure user sessions are completely terminated when a user logs off. System processes and applications occasionally maintain connections to registry keys in the user profile after a user logs off. In those cases the user session is prevented from completely ending. This can result in problems when using Roaming User Profiles in a server environment or when using locked profiles as implemented through the Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP.
See the link in my toolbox to download it!

Citrix: Web Interface 4.5 preview

Thomas Koetzing has a short article on the new Web Interface 4.5 features. Check it out on his website

woensdag, oktober 04, 2006

BriForum Europe 2006

So we finally arrived at BriForum 2006 in Darmstadt. I'm really excited about it & I will post some more details later!

zaterdag, september 30, 2006

Softricity: Softgrid 4.1 released!

SoftGrid 4.1 is the first post-acquisition product release and represents a significant milestone in the Softricity roadmap. This release aligns SoftGrid with other Microsoft technologies and practices.

Key enhancements in SoftGrid 4.1
  • New server management console: upgraded to MMC 3.0

  • New reporting engine, based on the Report Viewer of SQL Server Reporting Service (and deprecated the previous reporting engine based on Crystal Reports)

  • Enhanced logging to enable server monitoring via Windows event logger (and deprecated the old monitoring solution based on SNMP agent)

  • Removed license key requirement from the server to align with Microsoft standards

  • Multiple bug fixes

maandag, september 25, 2006

WTS: Longhorn server enhancements for Terminal Services

Windows Server "Longhorn" introduces new functionality in Terminal Services to connect to remote computers and applications. Terminal Services Remote Programs completely integrates applications running on a remote terminal with users’ desktops such that they behave as if they were running on an individual user's local computer; users can run programs from a remote location side-by-side with their local programs.

Terminal Services Web Access permits this same flexibility of remote application access via Web browser, granting an even wider variety of ways user can access and use programs running on remote terminals. And Terminal Services Gateway allows user to access remote terminals and remote terminal programs in a firewall-friendly manner.

HP Proliant: checking the RPM speed in HPMHP

You can check your SCSI disks' RPM (10k or 15k) on the HP management homepage. Just go to on your server and click on Storage. Pick your Smart Array controller. On the left, you will see the "physical drives" item. Click on a disk to see more specs.

Citrix: ICA Client 9.2 Receives "Protocol Driver Error" when Connecting through CSG 3.0

A customer of mine had problems connecting to an external CSG (Citrix Secure Gateway). He received the error message "Protocol Driver Error" for some unknown reason. This is a known issue with the new Citrix 9.2 client version. I solved the issue by installing the previous version, 9.15.

The other solution is to patch your Secure gateway. For more info, see the following tech article on Citrix support

zondag, september 24, 2006

VMware: ESX Server 3.0.1 patch in October

The much rumored minor update for ESX Server 3.0.1 has been finally confirmed: VMware announced ESX Server 3.0.1 will be released in October, but the only feature mentioned is 64bits support for some Windows, Linux and Solaris editions.

Vmware.com states:
"The next release of VMware Infrastructure 3 is coming in October with VMware ESX Server 3.0.1, which incorporates full support for certain Windows, Red Hat, SUSE and Sun 64-bit guest operating systems. This feature is yet another innovation from VMware and offers customers increased performance, cost savings and a smooth transition to next generation 64-bit applications."

Tnx to virtualization.info for the news!

zaterdag, september 23, 2006

WTS: Some old & new terminal services commands

This is rather useful:
Here is a TS -commands-list for you all to enjoy!

Softricity: Altering the content directory to a global UNC

Hi all,

I would like to share this one with you:
Recently, I installed 2 VAS servers (Virtual Application Servers) and shared the database with a SQL server. So, from that moment on all config was shared between my 2 VAS servers (SR-VAS01 and SR-VAS02). But then I realised that, without using NLB you could not "share" the content directory between them. You always had to point to 1 of the VAS servers. So I installed a 3rd fileserver with a shared content directory (sr-fs01).

OK, here's what I did:
  • First, change the LOGON account for the Softgrid server service from Local system to a service account (I used svc_softricity as the service account)
  • Create a share on your fileserver named content and give read permissions (NTFS and share) to this service account
  • In the Softgrid Management Console, rightclick the server name and select system options. Change the default content path to \\sr-fs01\content

  • Change the path in the registry key HKLM\SOFTWARE\Softricity\SoftGrid Server\CurrentVersion\SOFTRICITY_SOFTGRID_CONTENT_DIR to the UNC path (\\sr-fs01\content)

  • Have phun!

donderdag, september 21, 2006

Citrix: Web Interface Session timeout

If you open the Web Interface, log in and start an application, it will log you out after a default period of 20min.

To increase this time do the following:
  1. Open the web.config file in the MetaFrame directory on the web server. Enter the following line at the first system.web section:
    <sessionState timeout="120" />

  2. Open the IIS Manager on the web server, and open the properties of the CitrixWebInterfaceAppPool. On the Performance tab change the value of the worker process time out to a value greater or equal to the value in web.config

woensdag, september 06, 2006

HP Insight Manager Agents for VMware ESX Server

Here is a small tutorial on configuring the Insight Manager Agents for VMware ESX Server

1) Go to the HP website and search for HP Insight Manager Agents for VMware ESX Server
2) Download the Agents
3) Open WinSCP and upload the .tar file you just downloaded to the (for example) /home/<username> folder
4) Log into putty with your normal user account and issue the su command to become root
5) Issue the following command to unzip the contents:
tar -zxvf hpmgmt-7.5.1a-vmware.tgz.
This will create a new subdirectory home/<username>/hpmgmt/751
6) You must enable the firewall port for the `hpim' service (2381) for accessing the System Management Homepage. The `snmpd' service should be enabled in the firewall for the Insight Manager agents to communicate properly with the hp Systems Insight Manager. These ports can be enabled by using the "esxcfg-firewall" command in the service console, or by answering 'y' when prompted by the installation script.
7) To read the readme.txt, you can issue the following command on the command line: cat README.txt
8) After reading the README.txt and to begin the installation, issue the command ./installvm741.sh –install
9) Follow the wizard, when asked for the public string enter (if you use this string) public 2 times (it will not be visible), and be sure to have the HP SIM server's IP or FQDN. Always answer Y when asked to activate the port 2381 (HPMHP) & Snmpd deamon.
10) To check if the configuration has succeeded, log in to the HP System Homepage https://<esx server>:2381/. You should see the servername on the right side.

maandag, september 04, 2006

The hunt for the bad print driver

I read a great article (and great tools :) ) to troubleshoot and find the one print driver that is driving your SBC servers mad.

Check it out in Stefan Vermeulen's article

VMware: ESX Server to allow 3rd party storage add-on integration

This is great news! Apparently, VMWare wants to allow third party software vendors to run their propriety multipathing and load balancing software within the vmkernel!
Currently, you only have the option to do a failover, not loadbalancing.

To read more, go to virtualization.info

Reattaching the MASTER DB in SQL Server

I decided to post a small tutorial on restoring a SQL server by means of the master.mdf database. Here goes:

- Install & stop SQL Server 2000
- Move the master.mdf & mastlog.ldf files to the new location
- Open regedit and go to the following key:
- Adjust the paths in the following screenshot

- Restart SQL Server services
- Done :) All user & system db's should be showing up.

zondag, augustus 27, 2006

HP SmartStart - Supported OS for Assisted Installation

SmartStart assisted installation supports the following operating systems:
  • Windows 2000 (Standard, Advanced Server and Small Business Server)
  • Windows 2003 (Standard, Enterprise, Small Business Server and R2)
  • Windows Server 2003 for x64 editions (Standard and Enterprise)
  • Novell NetWare 5.1, 6.5 and 6.6
  • SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 9 (X86 and AMD64/EM64T)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (X86 and AMD64/EM64T)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 (X86 and AMD64/EM64T)
View the updated OS supported list.

ESX 2.5: expanding RDM LUN's

We got a question from a customer about disk expansion in combination with RDMs in ESX 2.5. Check it out on Baeke's blog!

woensdag, augustus 23, 2006

Adding a Generic SCSI Device in Vmware/GSX Server

To add a Generic SCSI device in Vmware GSX/Server, you should follow the guidelines in the article you can find on http://www.vmware.com/support/gsx3/doc/devices_genscsi_gsx.html

Citrix: Make autocreated printers available to Admins/Power Users

As you may already know, all client printers are visible to Local Administrators/Power Users. However, it is not possible to manage these printers without taking ownership (via Security tab). You get an "Access Denied".

You can, however, set a global flag to enable managebility. Use regedit and do the following:
- Add a registry key on the server: HKLM\Software\Citrix\Print
- Add a REG_DWORD with the value "DefaultPrnFlags"
- Set the bit to 0x00004000
- Reboot

This feature is also covered in the Citrix Advanced Concepts Guide, available here

Citrix EMF UPD driver improvements & limitations

I listened to a webcast this evening presented by Gary Barton, a principle design engineer and the father of all UPD drivers in Citrix since the beginning. It was very interesting indeed!!!

To summarize, a few screenshots of the presentation:

Performance inmprovements by using the new EMF UPD III printer driver:

EMF limitations:

Tips & Tricks on Printing troubleshooting:

Citrix autocreation errors/info/warnings in event log

Some people may find this interesting: normally, a failure to auto-create a client printer will result in your eventlog filled with warning/info/error messages.
To avoid this, use regedit and do the following:
- Add a registry key on the server: HKLM\Software\Citrix\Print
- Add a REG_DWORD with the value "DefaultPrnFlags"
- Set the bit to 0x08000000
- Reboot & your event log will be clean (from now on) :)

This feature is also covered in the Citrix Advanced Concepts Guide, available here

maandag, augustus 21, 2006

SNMP settings for HP Homepage

Sometimes you get the "System Model: unknown" when installing the PSP (Proliant Support Pack) after installing the OS (without using SmartStart).
You should install the SNMP service first via Add/Remove Windows Components and configure it like in the following screenshots:

vrijdag, augustus 18, 2006

Citrix R02 Hotfix Rollup Pack released

Citrix just released the new R02 Hotfix Rollup Pack for servers running Windows Server 2003 with one of the following installed:
  • Citrix Presentation Server 4.0
  • Presentation Server 3.0 with Service Pack 2005.4
  • Citrix Access Essentials 1.5
  • Citrix Access Essentials 1.0

Before installing this hotfix rollup pack, you must uninstall the following hotfixes, if present, from Add/Remove Programs on the Control Panel. Failing to do so may lead to system inconsistencies:
  • PSE400W2K3029
  • PSE400R01W2K3004
  • PSE400R01W2K3053

Download it here.

I hope this fixes the print spooler crashes :)

maandag, augustus 14, 2006

Add /usr/sbin to user's PATH

  • Check what your current path is by typing echo $PATH
  • PATH=$PATH:/usr/sbin
  • export PATH
  • To add that PATH to a specific user(s), add the line(s) to /home/user/.bash_profile
  • Done :)

Service Console memory sizing in ESX 3.0

I read a very interesting statement on VMTN Discussion forums on Service Console memory sizing:


"No, there should be no need to increase the size of the Service Console to run an increased number of VMs. The reason for doing that in previous releases is that part of our virtualization system ran in the Service Console and it required more memory with an increased number of VMs, thus obligating you to increase the amount of memory allocated to the Service Console. However, with 3.0, all of our virtualization infrastructure has been moved into the VMkernel, which means the Service Console is now essentially unaffected by the number of VMs you run.

So, the only reason you'd need to increase the amount of Service Consolememory is if you're running some memory-hogging app in it (such as a hardware monitoring tool or such)."

See this thread for more info!

donderdag, augustus 10, 2006

Short tutorial: ESX 3.0 cluster in-a-box with RDM

Hi guys,

I decided to write a small tutorial on clustering (in a box) with RDM on ESX 3.0.
What you need:
  • 1 ESX 3 server :)
  • 2 virtual nodes with the same config:
    • 2 virtual NICs, 1 to an external switch, 1 to an internal switch with no external pNICs
    • min. 2 virtual hard drives, on a separate virtual LSI Logic SCSI controller
  • A small LUN to use as the Quorum disk (100 Mb)

Each VM node should be configured with a separate LSI logic controller, 2 extra Hard disks (pointing to a Raw LUN, quorum and resource) and an extra "heartbeat" NIC. The SCSI controller should be set to "Virtual" when using a cluster-in-a-box (on 1 ESX server).

The extra harddisks are mapped directly to a SAN/iSCSI LUN via RDM in virtual compatibility mode (non‐pass‐through RDM).

For the first node, use the add hardware wizard to add the extra disk and select "Mapped SAN LUN" to make a .vmdk disk that points directly to the RAW LUN (instead off a new/existing .vmdk disk on a VMFS datastore).

On the compatibility mode, select "Virtual".

Make sure that you choose SCSI (1:0) and NOT (0:0)!

For the second node, follow the same procedure, but choose "Use an existing virtual disk" and point it to the .vmdk file created for the other node (should be something like "[iscsilun4-DS] Sr-Node1/Sr-Node1_1.vmdk"). Use the exact same config (SCSI (1:0) for the quorum disk, etc.).

That's about it! The rest of the configuration is a default cluster setup.

For extra info, consult this PDF on clustering

dinsdag, augustus 08, 2006

Microsoft reduces Softricity Licensing pricing by almost 85%

See the following article on Brian Madden's website for more info. This could mean serious competition for Altiris' SVS!

donderdag, augustus 03, 2006

Avoid Delayed Write Failed in Windows 2k/2k3 on ESX

For the Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 guest operating systems, you may want to increase the standard disk TimeOutValue so that Windows will not be extensively disrupted during failover.

1. Select Start > Run, type regedit.exe, and click OK.
2. In the left panel hierarchy view, double-click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, System,
CurrentControlSet, Services, then Disk.
3. Select the TimeOutValue and set the Data value to x03c (hexadecimal) or 60 (decimal). By making this change, Windows waits at least 60 seconds, for delayed disk operations to complete, before generating errors.
4. Click OK and exit the Registry Editor program.

Resizing Windows 2003 system partition in Vmware

I came across a cool article explaining how to extend a Win2k3 System partition the "cheap-ass" way, by using Diskpart.exe.

Definitly check it out here!

woensdag, augustus 02, 2006

Citrix users see all printers

A customer had the following problem: for some reason, all users could see all other users printers in a CTX session. This is because the user(s) belong to a group that is a member of the local Power users or Administrators group. So watch out for this one!

Citrix "special" users explained

A brief explanation on Citrix special users:

ctx_smauser is the account used by Presentation Server's new print subsystem. You will find that many printing functions fail if this account doesn't have the correct rights.

ctx_configmgr is used by the Web Interface's central configuration service to allow you to copy WI config from one server to another.

vrijdag, juli 28, 2006

HP drivers compatibility guide - Citrix

HP and Citrix have updated their driver compatibility overview for july 2006. You can download it on the printingsupport website.

donderdag, juli 27, 2006

HP Proliant and Compaq MPS Table BIOS Settings for ESX Server

I read an interesting article on ESX on proliant servers:


HP ProLiant servers (and pre-merger Compaq ProLiant servers) require specific BIOS settings in order to run VMware ESX Server. These settings ensure that the physical hardware can be addressed properly and consistently by the VMkernel. Use of BIOS settings with values other than those identified below may result in operational instability.


On HP ProLiant servers (and pre-merger Compaq ProLiant servers), the BIOS may not fully populate the PCI interrupt routing entries in the MP Configuration Table (part of the Intel MultiProcessor Specification) if the MPS Table Mode setting within the BIOS is incorrect. An incomplete MP Configuration Table may result in failure of an initial installation of ESX Server, failure to complete the boot process, or instability during normal operation.

For stable operation on these systems, ESX Server requires a BIOS MPS Table Mode setting of Full Table APIC. With the exception of the specific systems referenced below, the following BIOS settings must be applied in order if available:

  1. System Options > OS Selection: Select Windows 2000.

  2. Advanced Options > MPS Table Mode: Select Full Table APIC.

  3. When presented with multiple Windows options (Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows .NET, and so on) select Windows 2000. If both BIOS settings are available and can be modified, both must be set correctly. You should confirm these settings after any BIOS upgrade operation.

For the HP ProLiant DL 740 and DL 760 servers specifically, set the OS Selection BIOS setting to Linux to allow for proper operation when hyperthreading is enabled. The remainder of the BIOS settings, and the order in which they are applied, are as specified above.

If any BIOS setting is incorrect, you may see one or more messages in /var/log/messages or /var/log/vmkwarning on the Service Console similar to the following:
  • May 11 22:36:30 esx101 vmkernel: 0:00:00:00.00 ALERT: Chipset: 303: no PCI entries - Check BIOS Settings

  • May 11 22:36:30 esx101 vmkernel: 0:00:00:00.000 cpu0) ALERT: Chipset: 433: no PCI entries in MPS table - check BIOS settings

  • May 11 22:36:30 esx101 vmkernel: 0:00:00:00.000 cpu0) WARNING: IOAPIC: 986: no PCI entry for busID 2 busIRQ 8 - trying ISA irq 15

You may also see unnecessary hardware interrupt sharing, which is explained in detail in knowledge base article 1290 at www.vmware.com/support/kb/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1290.

You may need to use the ROM-Based Setup Utility (RBSU), SmartStart CD, or other BIOS configuration tool to make these adjustments. Hewlett-Packard's Web site includes extensive documentation on how to adjust BIOS settings on HP and Compaq systems, including generalized RBSU guides which may be found at search.hp.com/query.html?qt=title%3A%22ROM-Based+Setup+Utility+User+Guide%22.

The "OS Selection" section of the HP RBSU User Guide notes that, in certain circumstances, adjusting the OS Selection BIOS setting may result in an automatic change of the MPS Table Mode BIOS setting (emphasis added):

The OS Selection option allows you to select the primary OS for the server. A list of supported OSs for the server displays on the menu, with the ROM defaulting to Microsoft Windows 2000 when the server supports it. Default server Multi Processor (MP) settings and PCI Hot Plug reservation settings are automatically set based on the OS selected.

Although an automatic change may occur, the individual BIOS settings should be confirmed explicitly if you intend to use this system with VMware ESX Server. For additional assistance in making these changes, please contact HP Technical Support.

Unlimited virtualization rights for Windows 2003 Datacenter edition


"In October 2005, Microsoft announced unlimited virtualization rights would be available with the Datacenter Edition of Windows Server code name “Longhorn,” but decided to make these virtualization rights available with Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition based on customers’ requests to make licensing easier and more cost-effective for large-scale virtualization."

Great news! Now it makes sense to buy a big machine as an ESX host!

zaterdag, juli 22, 2006

iSCSI tutorial for ESX 3.0 with WinTarget

Hi guys,

I decided to write a small tutorial on iSCSI configuration with ESX 3.0. I used the Sofware Initiator build into the latest ESX 3.0 to configure a small iSCSI testenvironment with WinTarget (recently bought by Microsoft).

Ok, here's how I did it:
- First, install f.e. Windows 2003 server on a dedicated iSCSI box. I used an old Proliant 1600. After the initial config, install WinTarget on it. You now have 2 options:
1) use a complete volume as an iSCSI LUN
2) use a file as an iSCSI LUN
I used both for testing :)

- Configure a host(s), f.e. esx1 and esx2 with the appropriate IQN name (i used iqn.1998-01.com.vmware:esx1 for example) and add the freshly configured devices/disks

- DO NOT configure the software iSCSI configuration via the VI client, but use the tips in Mike's Service Console guide.

  • Create a VMKernel switch (via Add networking)

  • Remember to set the default gateway for the newly created VMKernel switch

  • Use the commandline to enable the vmhba40 (Software iSCSI initiator) and add the IP of your iSCSI target.

    • Use the command esxcfg-swiscsi –d and esxcfg-swiscsi –k to disable & kill all iSCSI processes

    • Next, use the command esxcfg-swiscsi –e to enable it

    • Use vmkiscsi-tool -D -a vmhba40 to add the iSCSI target's IP address

    • Now try executing vmkiscsi-tool -l -T vmhba40 to see if it recognizes the iSCSI target. It will tell you "No targets are configured" if it does not see anything

    • Now is the time to fire up your VI client & do a rescan (in Configuration => storage adaptors)

    • Create a VMFS

    • Done :)

You can also use f.e. Openfiler (Beta 2 version), Fedora Core, etc.
Just try it, you will like it!

Greetz, Vince

Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI)

I read an interesting article on http://www.brianmadden.com on VDI (or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). Check it out here

donderdag, juli 20, 2006

Sys/Winternals on the way to Microsoft!

Mark & his world-famous free tools (regmon, filemon, handle, etc.) have been acquired by Microsoft! See this link for more info.

dinsdag, juli 18, 2006

vrijdag, juli 14, 2006

VirtualCenter 1.4 is available for download

As stated in the title :) VC 1.4 is now available for download on the vmware site. It includes some bugfixes.

Intro in to Longhorn Terminal Services

Microsoft has a very interesting recorded session on all new TS features that will be included in Longhorn Server.

Features include:

  • SSL TS Gateway

  • Web Interface

  • Seamless applications & application publishing

The session can be viewed here

donderdag, juli 13, 2006

HP - G5 servers are available!

The new G5 (Generation 5) server lines are made available on the HP website (http://www.hp.com). Check them out! There are a lot of new features, including:

  • Dual core CPU's

  • New SmartArray controllers (SAS/SATA!)

  • The brand new SAS (Serial Attached Scsi) drives

  • PC2-5300 fully buffered RAM

  • 1066 Mhz FSB technology

  • An last but not least... The all new design

Check out the new DL380 G5!

VMware Server released

Vmware just released the final build of there FREE Vmware Server. This is a direct competitor of M$ Virtual Server 2005 and is a replacement for the Vmware GSX server.

See http://www.vmware.com for more info!