Thursday, February 28, 2013

VMware vCenter Server Appliance service failures

Out of the past 3 upgrades I performed to VMware vCenter Server Appliances services began to fail thereafter. The upgrade was to Build 947940. Periodically every few days, or hours the appliance is reachable, but you will not be able to login to it via the vSphere client. You will see the error below if you try.

If you login to your appliance via https://IP ADDRESS:5480 and check the vCenter Server services all will report running. In fact, I can't find a service that actually reports as being failed. Clearly a service has failed or broken in some way from a functionality stand point. If you SSH into the appliance and run the command "service vmware-vpxd restart" all will be well for a period of time. If you want to fix it permanently following the instructions provided by VMware HERE.

Using text edit remotely can sometimes be a real pain. If you are like me, managing vSphere and SSHing into the appliance from a machine you are remoted into the text edit keyboard commands for save and exit probably won't pass through correctly. I used WinSCP which you can download for free HERE. Download the software, connect to the appliance, copy the hosts files over, edit it, copy it back. Last SSH into the appliance and issue the command "service vmware-vpxd restart" and the problem shouldn't return.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mac OS X 10.8.2 wifi disconnects - quick fix

If you're one of the many people being faced with Mac wifi disconnects recently I have a quick tip that may help. Restart your Mac and then hold down the keys Command+Option+P+R during the restart. You will hear the Apple boot sound, and then the system will reboot again. Once you hear the second Apple boot sound let go of the keys. This will clear the NVRAM/PRAM. Your Mac stores certain settings in a special memory area even if it is turned off. On Intel-based Macs, this is stored in memory known as NVRAM; on PowerPC-based Macs, this is stored in memory known as PRAM. More information on this can be found HERE.

I originally thought this was an issue with Mac and Cisco IOS so I upgraded IOS on a few Cisco Aironets but the problem didn't change. I even used a different make of access point but that didn't make any difference either. Additionally Windows systems, cell phones, and other devices were unaffected so I had a pretty good idea it was Mac related. What made the issue more complicated was it didn't always happen. Often the Mac would startup and then be ok. After a few minutes to hours of use you couldn't ping the gateway or access point. Regardless the Mac reported as still being connected to the wifi. Turn wifi off then on and the problem may or may not go away for a period of time.

Updated 2/24/2013

The above resolved most of the issues but some Macs still had an issue resuming the wifi connection coming out of sleep. Perform the below and it will resolve that issue.

1) disable wifi
2) delete the file Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/
3) enable wifi and select your favorite network again

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

VMware Converter workaround for GPT and EFI

Recently I had an issue migrating a Windows Server from a physical system to a VM that had smaller than 2 TB volumes but the disk were configured as GPT. Additionally the systems was using EFI firmware. Below is the VMware KB confirming that you cannot use the VMware converter to P2V machines that use either GPT or EFI.

VMware Converter is unable to see the disks when converting Windows Operating systems

The machine had to be converted. After researching the issue I found some pretty silly and almost maniacal solutions. One suggested booting a VM and the live machine from a Linux disk, copying the C drive over the network, and then using the Windows disk to create the boot records and all sorts of other things. I like to keep it simple, and easy..

1) Download and install StorageCraft Server edition trial on the source server. You will need the StorageCraft Recovery ISO to restore the system into a VM so you will need to apply for the full featured product trial or purchase the software.

StorageCraft Software Downloads

2) After installing the software reboot, and then set the below registry key under current control set and control set 1-2. Take note of the current value before changing because you will need to change it back. Do NOT reboot! Create a full backup either backing up the server to a network share via UNC path, or to a USB drive that you can pass through to a VM. Once the backup is complete go back to the three registry keys you changed and set the value back. Failing to do so will prevent the server from booting should you need it going forward.

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LSI_SAS\Start to 0

3) Create a new VM and configure it as you would any VM. Mount the StorageCraft Recovery ISO and boot the VM. You will need to create the disk volumes first using the StorageCraft Recovery ISO, and they must be as big or at least 1 MB bigger than the disk you are restoring from.Under Tools > Networking you can map a drive to the UNC path or restore from a local USB disk you pass through to the VM. When you perform the restore using the wizard the last page before starting the restore will show the options per the picture below. Check all of the boxes shown and start the restore.

4) Once finished reboot the VM and you should be all set. Install your VMware Tools and remove any hardware agents such as HP Management Agents or Dell related items as the hardware no longer exist. Failing to do so could cause the HP or Dell hardware agents to cause extreme CPU or memory usage.

You can find more information from StorageCraft regarding Hardware Independent Restore (HIR) HERE.