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.