Monthly Archives: April 2007

Microsoft is Dead. Long Live Microsoft.

Last night I saw an article pop up on Digg titled: Vista sales propel Microsoft’s profits to almost $5 BILLION.  It states that “Microsoft Corp. posted a 65 percent rise in quarterly profit Thursday, topping Wall Street estimates thanks to better than expected demand for its new Windows Vista operating system.”

What?  This can’t be true.  Some guy on the Internet just announced that Microsoft Is Dead.  Then some more people got together, declared victory for Apple (Apple’s role in Microsoft’s downfall), and pissed on Microsoft’s grave (gotta love Slashdot).

The blogosphere loves bombastic, NY Post worthy headlines about Microsoft’s demise; especially where Apple fanboys hangout.  The fact of the matter is that Microsoft is flawed, but fine.  Microsoft isn’t going anywhere.

Here’s a prediction on the future of the home PC/OS.  Apple and Microsoft will both have a stake in it, and a large number of Mac buyers will kick in a few extra bucks to run Parallels/Fusion/Boot Camp/etc..  People will do this because they still want to run their Windows apps as seamlessly as possible while playing with their Apple toys.


Lots of Visio stencils in one place

A site called Visio Cafe has compiled a large collection of Visio stencils for many HW manufacturers.  This is very useful. 

RAID 6 is the new RAID 5

I came across this article from Network Computing’s Howard Marks.  He writes about a two new study’s from Carnegie Mellon and Google about hard drive reliability.  The short story is that hard drives die in bunches and the massive sizes of SATA and other drives put organizations at risk of data loss from multiple disk failures.  Howard Marks recommends using RAID 6 for all drives 500GB and larger.  It’s a worthwhile read for storage managers.  Enjoy

The Truth About Storage Reliability

RAID 6 Primer

UPDATE:  I called EMC today to ask if they support RAID 6 on any of their arrays.  I couldn’t find it in documentation, and I felt it was worth asking.  They said that do no not support it at all, and there is no known plan to support it.

UPDATE 2:  Things have changed since I orignially posted this.  The Clariion CX-xxx series still doesn’t support RAID 6.  The CX3-xx series does support RAID 6.  Thanks to Dr. Product for pointing this out.

I completed our VMware ESX 3 upgrade this past weekend.

 I have been planning my company’s ESX upgrade for a while.  After many delays and other conflicts, I was able to schedule it for this past weekend.  I want to braindump everything I learned if possible. It’s a bit of a mish-mosh, but so is my brain.

  • Plan, Document, Plan, and Document: There are so many moving parts that you’re going to want to document EVERYTHING.  The upgrade is not difficult, but it is tricky.
  • Be prepared for your Virtual Center upgrade to go bad.  This is the only in place upgrade that you cannot avoid and it’s the least reliable.  Have a backup plan whether it’s restoring the database or wiping it and starting clean.  Make a decision in advance.
  • If you lose VC you lose stats, permissions, VM groups, and a few other things.  Document all of VC at minimum (if possible).
  • VMware says you need 1200 MB of free disk space on your LUN’s.  This is not enough.  I had at least 2 gigs and still ran into problems.
  • The VM Hardware upgrade moves VM configuration files from the ESX server to the SAN.  One of these files is the VM swap file.  The swap file is twice the size of the VM’s memory.  Reducing the assigned memory increases free space on the LUN.  This helps with insufficient disk errors at boot up.
  • You can’t suspend a VM if you don’t have enough disk space.
  • Rebooting the ESX servers seems to clear up “Object” errors.
  • VMotion: You have to license it, set up the virtual switch as vmkernel, AND enable VMotion on the port.
  • WinSCP is a great program.
  • You MUST upgrade Hardware on all VM’s before putting them in a cluster.  This makes sense, but isn’t obvious.
  • Test as much of your upgrade as possible in advance.  This helped me tremendously.
  • Make sure that your VMFS2 LUN’s are formatted at 8MB block size or less.  ESX cannot upgrade LUN’s that are formatted with anything larger than 8MB block size.  The two LUN’s I used as backup were both formatted with 16 MB block sizes.  I knew the limitation, but I didn’t think it affected me because I always used the default block size.  The only thing that’s strange about them is that they are both 1.7TB.
  • “unable to upgrade filesystem” + “function not implemented” errors come from the wrong block size on the VMFS2 partition.
  • Renaming datastores is not destructive in ESX 3, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this until all VM’s are functional.
  • The upgrade is a good chance to upgrade server firmware.
  • Make sure all VMDK files are connected before upgrading Virtual Hardware.  Otherwise you will get errors about disk version mismatches.  I used the recommended resolution.  I’m not confident that I did the right thing.
  • Invalid affinity entry errors will happen if you assign a processor or memory affinity to a server and then move it to a server that cannot fulfill the entry.  This could happen if you move a VM from a quad proc. server to a dual and set processor 4 as the affinity.  Best way to fix this is remove the affinity.  Second best way is to recreate the VM using the same disk files. (Remove from inventory, recreate.)
  • Network Copy Failed for File. [] /root/vmware/<servername>/nvram error is most likely a DNS problem.  Make sure to register all possible DNS names in the hosts file of each server involved.  In my case, the registered name and FQDN was different.  More info can be found here.
  • If there are yellow or red alarms on most VM’s after Virtual Center 2 upgrade:  The upgrade sometimes truncates records including the alarm thresholds.  It will truncate 70% and 90% to 7% and 9%.  VC looks like a Christmas tree the first time you log in.  Your options are bad and worse in this case.  I chose to wipe the old DB and create a new one.  The stats were not critical to us.  Doing this also affects rights, groups, and other things.
  • “The virtual machine is not supported on the target datastore.”  Rebooting solves lots of problems during the install.  Especially this one.
  • VMware Tools for Netware.  I need to address this in a seperate post, but the answer is that the only instructions for this are old GSX 3.2 instructions.  They work.

Sorry about the disorganized info, but this is just a braindump.  Please let me know if you have any questions and I will get you more detailed info.

VMware ESX 3 barely supports Netware

I completed my company’s ESX upgrade this weekend.  Part of it was upgrading VMware Tools on the Netware 6.5 machines.  I read through all of the documentation I could find and the most it said was that I had to click “Install VMware tools” for the affected VM’s.  I was skeptical, but tried it anyway.  That method alone didn’t work.  I called VMware.  They had no help for me.  They found the same documentation as I did, and came up with nothing.  The only answer came from a GSX 3.2 document.  These instructions work:

1. Power on the virtual machine.

2. Prepare your virtual machine to install VMware Tools.

Choose VM > Install VMware Tools.

The remaining steps take place inside the virtual machine.

3. Load the CD-ROM driver so the CD-ROM device mounts the ISO image as a volume. Do one of the following.

  • In the system console for a NetWare 6.5 virtual machine, type
  • In the system console for a NetWare 6.0 or NetWare 5.1 virtual machine, type
    LOAD CD9660.NSS
  • 4. When the driver finishes loading, you can begin installing VMware Tools. In the system console, type

    When the installation finishes, the message VMware Tools for NetWare are now running appears in the Logger Screen (NetWare 6.5 and NetWare 6.0 guests) or the Console Screen (NetWare 5.1 guests).

    5. Restart the guest operating system. In the system console, type
    restart server

    This tells me what I already knew.  Netware is dead.

    InfoWorld magazine is coming back (sorta)

     I got happy news in my inbox today.  I subscribe to InfoWorld editor Steve Fox’s newsletter (and so should you).  He said that InfoWorld has decided to create a weekly printable mini-magazine called InfoWorld Express.  Steve describes it as:

    Instead of having to hunt across all of assembling a collection of columns, articles, and reviews, readers have been asking for a select subset of InfoWorld‘s best weekly content (kind of like the old print magazine), delivered in a single, integrated, printable package. In response, we’ve created “InfoWorld Express,” an all-in-one PDF featuring the previous week’s top articles, as chosen by InfoWorld‘s editors. That means the best of our columns and blogs — Cringely, Schwartz, Margulius, Yager, Rist, Off the Record, Test Center Reviews — plus a weekly feature article, and more will arrive in your inbox every Friday after you register here. And, yes, if you miss InfoWorld magazine, feel free to print the whole thing out and read it in bed … or wherever a monitor would be impractical.

    This is awesome news.  Thanks Steve!

    T-Mobile Blackberry 8800 has been released

     The 8800 is finally out.  It looks exactly like the Cingular model.  I’m going to have one onsite tomorrow.  Check it out!

    Previous posts can be found here and here.

    Quantum m2500 tape library doesn’t allow you to install a 6th drive

    This has got to be up there as one of the dumbest things I have ever seen.  My company has a Quantum m2500 Tape Library.  We had four drives installed and wanted to upgrade it to six drives.  Should be easy right?  Wrong!  My coworker installed the two new drives.  He rebooted the device, but drive 3 wouldn’t come up.  I did some research and found out that drive 3 should be the last to be installed.  I also found out that if you want to enable all six drives, you have to call Quantum to come onsite and “install special software.”  Turns out that the “special software” is just disabling one of the tape magazines.  So your options are:

    Up to five tape drives and up to 84 DLT/SDLT cartridges or 100 LTO cartridges


    Six tape drives and up to 73 DLT/SDLT cartridges or 87 LTO cartridges

    Documentation can be found here:

    Apple fanboys meet reality

    The haughty Apple fanboys are throwing a hissy over the Leopard delay. Apple fanboys always act like Apple is perfect while Microsoft, Sony, and others delay products. Welcome to reality kids. It’s amusing watching Mac heads explode.

    Read on: Apple hoi polloi annoyed at Leopard delay

    This week ought to be fun

    Well, not really. We are short 2 people this week. One quit a couple weeks ago and the other is on vacation. This means that I’ll be extremely busy. I also have a VMware upgrade scheduled for next weekend. Is sleep really that important?