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Posts Tagged ‘esxi’

Force ESXi trial license to expire ahead of time

July 4th, 2014 No comments

I recently caught a question on Twitter from Steve Jin, asking if anyone knew how to force an ESXi host to expire it’s trial license for testing purposes.

This got me thinking a bit, and I initially thought the obvious solution would be to set the host’s system clock forward by 60 days for example. I quickly remembered though, that ESXi hosts always seem to count time toward their trial license time based on the number of hours they are powered up for. If you power your host down for a month, and power it back up again, you’ll still have the same amount of time left over on your trial license.

So the next thing I thought, was if I were building a product and protecting it with licensing, surely I would try to prevent people from tampering with the license files. So if someone were to tamper with a license, I could immediately deactivate it, or expire it. This is where I got the idea that worked for Steve’s use case – finding the license.cfg file, and entering some invalid data.

The exact solution, as Steve found, was to find the etc/vmware/license.cfg file on your ESXi host, and tamper with <epoc> the entry, causing the license to become invalid. At this point, any remaining trial license time is invalidated and your license enters an expired state.

 

lice-eval-expire-ESXi

Change the string highlighted above to some random entry, save the file, then reboot your host. Once rebooted, your trial period will have expired!

This could be really useful in some circumstances. Perhaps there is no clear documentation on how a host running VMs in your environment would react if a trial license expired, or you wanted to know how your 3rd party backup software would react to unlicensed hosts. Being able to easily test an expired license scenario can be really handy!

Working with the vCenter Server Simulator 5.5 – configuring custom ESXi hosts

October 18th, 2013 2 comments

Working with VCSIM (vCenter Server Simulator)

 

William Lam has done some excellent blog posts on using the simulator included with the VCSA (vCenter Server Appliance), to setup a simulated vSphere environment. Just the other day at VMworld Europe, he presented a session for vBrownBag entitled “NotSupported Tips/Tricks for vSphere 5.5“. In this session he introduced the new simulator, he dubs “VCSIM 2.0”, which is the latest iteration included with the VCSA 5.5 appliance.

I had previously had a brief look at the VCSIM included with 5.1, but after seeing its limited functionality, did not pursue its use for development testing. However, after learning about the features introduced in VCSIM “2.0”, I just had to take a further look…

To see how to setup and start VCSIM, have a read of Will’s blog post here. However, at a high level, this is what you need to do to start the simulator with defaults:

  • Deploy and fully configure the VCSA 5.5 appliance. Make sure DNS (forward and reverse) is working and the embedded database is properly configured, otherwise the vpxa service will have trouble intialising
  • Ensure you have no issues with the embedded DB being reset (i.e. don’t do this on a production VCSA!)
  • SSH in to the appliance
  • issue command: vmware-vcsim-start default

 

Customising the default VCSIM ESXi host model

 

Today, I needed to replicate a certain condition in our lab environment. Specifically, I needed the ESXi hosts to have 32 CPU cores. By default the ESXi hosts that are simulated have 8 cores. I did a bit of digging around in the /etc/vmware-vpx/vcsim/model folder and figured out which files were referenced when launching the simulator with the default option. By default, the host model in the ESX50 folder is used, so naturally, in order to configure custom ESXi hosts, we need to edit the files within this folder.

Initially, I found one file, “HostHardwareInfo.xml” and changed the CPU core count value to 32. This appeared to work – starting up the sim, and looking at the Web Client, I saw that the simulated hosts were now showing 32 CPU cores. I also changed the RAM up to 32GB (from the default of 16) just to test another option, and this was also showing up. However, upon loading up the MOB (Managed Object Browser), and navigating to the these hosts, I saw that the properties under the host summary->config->hardware were telling another story – they were still set to 8 cores and 16GB RAM. A little more digging revealed that another file, “HostListSummary.xml” also needed to be updated.

So in order to setup your custom ESXi host models for the default VCSIM profile, make sure you update both of these files.

The files to update your default ESXi model

The files to update your default ESXi model

 

Here is the small change I made to increase the Host core count to 32 cores.

<cpuInfo>
    <numCpuPackages>2</numCpuPackages>
    <numCpuCores>32</numCpuCores>
    <numCpuThreads>4</numCpuThreads>
    <hz>2999654793</hz>
 </cpuInfo>

And the data reflected in the MOB:

ESXi Host Hardware Summary

 

Changes as seen in the vSphere Web Client:

vSphere Web Client Host Hardware Summary

Make sure you backup these files before changing them, so that you can roll back if you need to. There are other ways of creating your own profiles for the simulator, but I could not find any documentation on how to create custom hosts. The only bits I could find were relating to creating your own datastores. You can also use the default profile template to create your own profile in it’s entirety, and this is a better long term solution, however to get things up and running quickly with the default profile, the above works nicely.

Note that all properties and methods pertaining to each managed object found in the API appear to be set up and created when using the VCSIM, so this makes a great development/testing/lab tool. Kudos to VMware for releasing this with the VCSA, and thanks to William Lam for pointing it out and blogging about it!

Adding vCenter Server to Active Directory domain and disconnecting ESXi hosts issue

January 6th, 2013 3 comments

The other day I came across this issue, it was quite late at night so it took me a little longer than I would have liked to realise what the issue actually was.

I had a vCenter 5.0 server which had not been joined to the local Active Directory domain. My goal was to get this added to the rest of the AD domain. After adding the vCenter server to the domain, rebooting, and checking that all the VMware services had started up correctly afterwards, I connected the vSphere client and saw that all the ESXi hosts were in a disconnected state.

At this point I tried right-clicking a host and manually connecting it – this worked, but only 60 seconds or so, and then it disconnected again. Whilst it was connected it was manageable, and of course all the VMs on each host were still fine. I tried restarting management agents on a host and retrying the procedure, but this didn’t help either. My next step was to reboot an ESXi host that didn’t have anything critical running. Still nothing at this point.

So I decided to consult the VMware vpxd log files on the vCenter server. Consult this VMware KB article to see where to find these logs.

Before opening the latest vpxd.log file, I tried the reconnect on a host again using the vSphere client, and watched for the disconnect. At the exact time I noticed the host appear disconnected again, I noted down the time on the system clock, then opened the vpxd logs to navigate to this time and take a look. Here is what I found:

2013-01-04T00:00:22.121Z [02504 warning 'Default'] [VpxdInvtHostSyncHostLRO] Connection not alive for host host-28
2013-01-04T00:00:22.121Z [02504 warning 'Default'] [VpxdInvtHost::FixNotRespondingHost] Returning false since host is already fixed!
2013-01-04T00:00:22.121Z [02504 warning 'Default'] [VpxdInvtHostSyncHostLRO] Failed to fix not responding host host-28
2013-01-04T00:00:22.121Z [02504 warning 'Default'] [VpxdInvtHostSyncHostLRO] Connection not alive for host host-28
2013-01-04T00:00:22.121Z [02504 error 'Default'] [VpxdInvtHostSyncHostLRO] FixNotRespondingHost failed for host host-28, marking host as notResponding
2013-01-04T00:00:22.126Z [02504 warning 'Default'] [VpxdMoHost] host connection state changed to [NO_RESPONSE] for host-28

This clearly shows the issue and points to it being a connectivity issue of some sort. Looking up these specific errors led me over to this VMware KB article, and it was at this point that it suddenly dawned on me – with the late night I had carelessly overlooked the Windows Firewall. Of course, Windows Firewall has settings for Windows Domains too, and of course this server had just joined the domain, so existing Firewall policies in place for vCenter that were previously on “public” settings, were now not enabled for “Domain”.

Timing the issue also revealed that it was 60 seconds before hosts disconnected again. So the issue here was that port 902 used for the host heartbeat between vCenter and the ESXi hosts was being blocked on the vCenter firewall. Unblocking this by simply enabling the rule for “Domain” fixed the issue and as soon as that was applied, all hosts reconnected by themselves. Of course I also took the time to ensure other vCenter firewall exceptions were correctly configured.

 

 

To fix, I just enabled the Domain profile that the firewall rule applies to.

 

Lastly, when examining VMware log files and settings, you may come across references to VMs, Hosts, or other VMware “objects” named as “host-28” or “vm-07” for example. These are VMware’s way of keeping reference of objects by what is called a MoRef, or “Managed object reference”. You may know host-28 as esxi03.yourdomain.local for example, so I thought I would include a handy tip for working out the Managed Object Reference name of an ESXi host to help with those vpxd.log diagnostics. Let’s say you find an interesting error mentioning moref “host-28”. You don’t know which host this is, so you can use PowerCLI to work out the morefs of hosts in a cluster and then match up the reference to the actual host name. Use this bit of script to achieve this:

 

Get-VMHost | Sort Name | Select Name,@{Name="MoRef";Expression={$_.ExtensionData.MoRef}}

Working out the MoRef of hosts using PowerCLI

 

 

ESXi Host Backup & Restore GUI Utility (PowerCLI based) updated to 1.2

December 29th, 2012 No comments

A quick post today to just mention that I have updated my ESXi 5.0 / 5.1 Host Backup & Restore GUI utility to version 1.2.

 

There are a couple of improvements in 1.2 based on feedback received in the comments I have received about the utility. The main improvement introduces a function in the script which backs the GUI to check that ESX hosts are valid before attempting to backup or restore these. You can check the utility out over on it’s page here.

 

Updates (29-12-2012) – version 1.2:

  • Added ESX/ESXi host validation into utility – will now test that the host is valid and either connected or in maintenance mode before attempting backup or restore (See the script’s new “Check-VMHost” function for those interested)
  • Minor UI improvements

 

ESXi 5 Host Backup & Restore GUI Utility updated to 1.1

October 9th, 2012 No comments

This little host backup utility I created back in February 2012 has been receiving quite a bit of attention, and has already managed to get over 2000 downloads.

 

Someone recently asked the other day if it was possible to restore a configuration file to a new host (i.e. new hardware). With version 1.0 of my utility, this was not possible due to mismatches that the PowerCLI cmdlet finds (i.e. MAC addresses on NICs etc… on the new hardware when compared to the existing backup). However, the Set-VMHostFirmware cmdlet allows the use of a -Force paramter, so I set about updating the utility to allow for this.

 

Here is a quick list of changes in version 1.1

  • Allows restore to new hardware (tick the “Force restore to new hardware” checkbox). Please note that I have only very briefly tested this on virtualised ESXi hosts – it works, but I am not sure how networking configurations are applied to NICs and differing physical NIC orders – so it is best to test this thoroughly in a dev/test environment before using anywhere else!
  • Tested against single ESXi hosts as opposed to connecting to vCenter first.
  • Updated labels to neaten up a bit – connection box now shows that you can connect to single hosts or vCenter
  • Tested on ESXi 5.1

 

You can download version 1.1 from the same page as before: ESXi 5 Host Backup & Restore GUI Utility

 

 

My VMware vSphere Home lab configuration

September 5th, 2012 8 comments

I have always enjoyed running my own home lab for testing and playing around with the latest software and operating systems / hypervisors. Up until recently, it was all hosted on VMware Workstation 8.0 on my home gaming PC, which has an AMD Phenom II x6 (hex core) CPU and 16GB of DDR3 RAM. This has been great, and I still use it, but there are some bits and pieces I still want to be able to play with that are traditionally difficult to do on a single physical machine, such as working with VLANs and taking advantage of hardware feature sets.

 

To that end, I have been slowly building up a physical home lab environment. Here is what I currently have:

Hosts

  • 2 x HP Proliant N40L Microservers (AMD Turion Dual Core processors @ 1.5GHz)
  • 8GB DDR3 1333MHz RAM (2 x 4GB modules)
  • Onboard Gbit NIC
  • PCI-Express 4x HP NC360T Dual Port Gbit NIC as addon card (modifed to low-profile bracket)
  • 250GB local SATA HDD (just used to host the ESXi installations.

Networking

  • As mentioned above, I am using HP NC360T PCI-Express NICs to give me a total of 3 x vmnics per ESXi host.
  • Dell PowerConnect 5324 switch (24 port Gbit managed switch)
  • 1Gbit Powerline Ethernet home plugs to uplink the Dell PowerConnect switch to the home broadband connection. This allows me to keep the lab in a remote location in the house, which keeps the noise away from the living area.

Storage

  • This is a work in progress at the moment, (currently finding the low end 2 x bay home NAS devices are not sufficient for performance, and the more expensive models are too expensive to justify).
  • Repurposed Micro-ATX custom built PC, housed in a Silverstone SG05 micro-ATX chassis running FreeNAS 8.2 (Original build and pics of the chassis here)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz processor
  • 4GB DDR2-800 RAM
  • 1 Gbit NIC
  • 1 x 1TB 7200 RPM SATA II drive
  • 1 x 128GB OCZ Vertex 2E SSD (SATA II)
  • As this is temporary, each drive provides 1 x Datastore to the ESXi hosts. I therefore have one large datastore for general VMs, and one fast SSD based datastore for high priority VMs, or VM disks. I am limited by the fact that the Micro-ATX board only has 2 x onboard SATA ports, so I may consider purchasing an addon card to expand these.
  • Storage is presented as NFS. I am currently testing ZFS vs UFS and the use of the SSD drive as a ZFS and zil log / and or cache drive. To make this more reliable, I will need the above mentioned addon card to build redundancy into the system, as I would not like to lose a drive at this time!

Platform / ghetto rack

  • IKEA Lack rack (black) – cheap and expandable : )

 

To do

Currently, one host only has 4GB RAM, I have an 8GB kit waiting to be added to bring both up to 8GB. I also need to add the HP NC360T dual port NIC to this host too as it is a recent addition to the home lab.

On the storage side of things, I just managed to take delivery of 2 x OCZ Vertex 2 128GB SSD drives which I got at bargain prices the other day (£45 each). Once I have expanded SATA connectivity in my Micro-ATX FreeNAS box I will look into adding these drives for some super fast SSD storage expansion.

 

The 2 x 120GB OCZ SSDs to be used for Shared Host Storage

HP NC360T PCI-Express NIC and 8GB RAM kit for the new Microserver

 

Lastly, the Dell PowerConnect 5324 switch I am using still has the original firmware loaded (from 2005). This needs to be updated to the latest version so that I can enable Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) – which is newly supported with the VMware vSphere 5.0 release on Distributed Virtual Switches. This can help with the configuration and management of network components in an infrastructure, and will mainly serve to allow me to play with this feature in my home lab. I seem to have lost my USB-to-Serial adapter though, so this firmware upgrade will need to wait until I can source a new one off ebay.