Tag Archives: vSphere

Review: PHD Virtual Backup

Before I start with this post I first want to welcome a new sponsor: PHD Virtual.


In this post I will be doing a short review, sponsored by PHD, of the latest version of PHD backup. In this post I will show the following topics:

  1. install the PHD Virtual Backup Console and Plug-in
  2. Deploy OVF template of the PHD Virtual Backup Appliance
  3. Configure the PHD Virtual Backup Appliance
  4. Add VMs to a Backup job
  5. Restore a complete VM
  6. Restore individual Files
  7. Conclusion

So let’s start with the installation.

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PowerCLI: Easy NFS datastore setup

It’s a new year so let’s start with a new PowerCLI post. This post is inspired by the blog post of @alanrenouf: PowerCLI easy vswitch portgroup setup. I love the whole idea of taking a good working config from a vSphere host and use it on a fresh installed vSphere host to make sure it’s compliant.  In this post I will show you how to perform the same trick with NFS datastores like Alan did with the vSwithes and Portgroups.

My home lab contains two HP ml110 g5 and a simple P4 box with some hard disks to add shared storage to the lab. It’s running Debian linux and is capable of presenting iSCSI targets, NFS and SAMBA shares .I use NFS as shared storage for my vSphere lab.

On esx2.ict-freak.local I use the following NFS datastores:


But I messed up the configuration of the other vSphere host in my lab called esx1.ict-freak.local. So I had to reset the network settings and lost all the NFS datastores:


So I needed to add the five NFS shares. This is a nice task for PowerCLI and the New-Datastore cmdlet:

Update: I had to remove the last / from the Path variable. If you do not remove the last / the script will mount the NFS share but with a new UUID. See Damian Karlson his post about this subject here.

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vMotion error: Virtual machine must be running in order to be migrated

Today I wanted to Storage vMotion a VM to a new datastore. But for the first time I got a general error message:


followed up by a general system error message:


I got the same message when I tried to start a “normal” vMotion. So I start to troubleshoot this error. First I looked at the vmware.log of the VM. Nothing unusual in there. So the next stop was the VMkernel. But there was nothing unusual in it too. So I used the good old Microsoft like fix to restart the VMware services at the Service Console using the following command:

service mgmt-vmware restart

after a minute or so I was able to start a vMotion again and after the vMotion completed I started the storage vMotion I was planning to do and this worked like a charm again.

To recap. Sometimes you need to restart the mgmt-vmware to fix the connection between the vSphere host and vCenter.

PowerCLI: RE: Disallowing Multiple VM Console Sessions

Frank Denneman posted today about disallowing multiple VM console session in a high-secure virtual infrastructure design: http://frankdenneman.nl/2010/11/disallowing-multiple-vm-console-sessions

The first thing popped up in my mind was why not automate this setting with PowerCLI. So I created a function called Set-MaxMKSConnections:

Function Set-MaxMKSConnections{
    [parameter(Mandatory = $true)]
    $vmConfigSpec = New-Object VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineConfigSpec

       $extra = New-Object VMware.Vim.optionvalue
    $vmConfigSpec.extraconfig += $extra

        $vm = Get-VM $vmName | Get-View

You can run this function by copying the code into the PowerCLI window. To run it on a single VM, you can use the following line:

Set-MaxMKSConnections -vmName Thinapp -Sessions 1

To run it on all your VM’s, you can use the following foreach loop:

$vms = Get-VM
foreach($vm in $vms){
    Set-MaxMKSConnections -vmName $vm -Sessions 1

The configuration is changed even on Virtual Machines that are powered on (you need to restart the VM to activate the new setting):


If you want to raise the maxConnections value back to 2 or another value, you can change the –Sessions parameter with the correct value and run the script again.

Reconfigure DNS settings and add vSphere hosts to Windows DNS

I needed to change the DNS setup in our vSphere environment. Instead of doing this by hand on every host I decided to create a script. First I needed a script to add the A and PTR records to the Windows DNS servers. I remembered a post by the scripting guys so I took their function and added it to my script. The final step is to change de vSphere host DNS configuration. This one is easy with PowerCLI and a simle for loop.

Warning! If you are using vSphere 4.1 and the vSphere hosts are joined to a Windows domain. You are not able to change the DNS settings!

From the Hey Scripting Guy post I quote the following about the new-dnsrecord function:

I’ve written various scripts in the past to work with individual record types, and I’ve found that each class has slightly different syntax and requirements. This makes life awkward when you want to start automating this process, because you have to have a different script or function for each record type. I decided I wanted a universal script for creating records so that I could create multiple records at the same time from minimal information. The following script shows the function that I came up with to create A, PTR, MX, and CNAME records—these being the most common ones I have to deal with. We will be using the MicrosoftDNS_ResourceRecord class with varying inputs.

I have combined the new-dnsrecord function with some PowerCLI code to accomplish my goal of migrating the DNS settings of all the vSphere hosts and to add all the hosts to the DNS servers. I did this task by running the following script:

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Demo: Uniserver IaaS platform (dutch)

Sinds oktober 2009 ben ik werkzaam bij Uniserver Internet. In de tijd dat ik binnen kwam werd er hard gewerkt aan een oplossing om IaaS aan te gaan bieden op ons UniStructure (vSphere/Dell/HP/Juniper) platform.  Sinds dit jaar is deze dienst ook in de markt gezet via een partner model. De klant moet dus eerst partner worden om toegang te krijgen tot de IaaS omgeving. De partners zijn Automatiseerders vanuit het hele land.

Maar hoe werkt deze dienst nu? Dit kun je zien in volgende demo:

De bovenstaande demo is gisteren gegeven op de ICT Dag Midden- Nederland: http://www.ictdag2010.nl/

Meer informatie over de IaaS dienst vind je hier: http://uniserver.nl/

Linux: Disk Timeout settings not increased by VMware Tools

Recently I had some issues with Linux VM’s which became read-only. In my earlier post about disk-timeout settings I wrote about the timeout value being increased during the VMware Tools installation. But how does the VMware Tools install change this value. I though the solution can be found within the vmware-config-tools.pl script. So to find the vmware-config-tools.pl script just run:

[root@linuxvm1 ~]# type vmware-config-tools.pl
vmware-config-tools.pl is /usr/bin/vmware-config-tools.pl

No run the less commmand:

less /usr/bin/vmware-config-tools.pl

press / and type 180 now you see the info we are looking for:


The disk timeout value can only be changed with Linux kernel 2.6.13 or higher. Ok so what if you use a Linux distribution with a kernel older than 2.6.13? From KB51306:

VMware has identified a problem wherein file systems may become read-only after encountering busy I/O retry or SAN or iSCSI path failover errors.

The same behavior is expected even on a native Linux environment, where the time required for the file system to become read-only depends on the number of paths available to a particular target, the multi-path software installed on the operating system, and whether the failing I/O was to an EXT3 Journal. However, the problem is aggravated in an ESX Server environment because ESX Server manages multiple paths to the storage target and provides a single path to the guest operating system, which effectively reduces the number of retries done by the guest operating system.

These guest operating systems are affected:

  • RHEL5 (RedHat)
  • RHEL4 U6
  • RHEL4 U4
  • RHEL4 U3
  • SLES10
  • SLES9 SP3 
    Note: This issue may affect other Linux distributions based on early 2.6 kernels as well, such as Ubuntu 7.04.

This situation can lead to serious issues and can only be solved with a reboot of the VM. But there is a workaround. From KB1009465:

Increasing the timeout value

The timeout value for a Linux block device can be set using sysfs.
Note: This is usually increased automatically when deploying VMware-Tools, but if it is not installed, you will need increase it manually.

Check the current values using the following command:

for a in /sys/class/scsi_generic/*/device/timeout; do echo -n "$a "; cat "$a" ; done;

Increase the timeout value for an individual disk using the following command. For example to change the values for device sdc, run:

echo 180 > /sys/block/sdc/device/timeout

Run the following command to change the timeout values for all devices to 180:

for i in /sys/class/scsi_generic/*/device/timeout; do echo 180 > "$i"; done

you can add the following command:

for i in /sys/class/scsi_generic/*/device/timeout; do echo 180 > "$i"; done

to the /etc/rc.d/rc.local file to make sure the disk timeout is changed during startup.

KB1009465 http://kb.vmware.com/
KB51306 http://kb.vmware.com/
VMTN communities http://communities.vmware.com/thread/257251