Category Archives: ESXi

All about ESXi

Installing ESXi 6.0 on a HP BL460 Gen9

I would like to show you in some simple steps how to install ESXi on a HP BL460 Gen9.

First of all let us have a look at the hardware settings. As you may know with ESXi 6.0 UEFI is supported as for VM and for Hardware. So let us configure the system to boot with UEFI.

While the system is booting up and making some prechecks please press f9 to enter to the system utilities menu.

systemutilities

systemsettings

now that you have opened the settings, select “system configuration”

Then select “BIOS/Platform Configuration RBSU”

bios

You see now the following options that can be made.

rbsu

For my customers I usually select the following settings:

System Options -> USB Options -> Internal SD Card Slot [enable]
System Options -> Processor Options -> Intel HT [enable]
System Options -> Processor Options -> x2APIC Support [enable]
System Options -> Virtualization Options -> Virtualization Technology [enable]
System Options -> Virtualization Options -> Intel VT-d [enable]
System Options -> Virtualization Options -> SR-IOV [enable]

Boot Options -> Boot mode [UEFI Mode]
Boot Options -> UEFI Optimized Boot [enabled]

Power Management -> Power Profile [Maximum Performance]

Server Asset Options -> Server Information -> Server Name [Hostname]

Date and Time -> Date [set date]
Date and Time -> Time [set time]
Date and Time -> Time Zone [UTC+1]
Date and Time -> Daylight saving time [enabled]

If you need more information for the configuration settings, please write a comment on this post!

Save all settings with F10 and then press Y (or Z for Swiss and other keyboards). Now please reboot the system.

Now we are ready to install the Hypervisor. With HP server you have the possibility to attach an ISO with an advanced ILO license. If you haven’t a license, you can boot by CD or USB stick. In this post we will do it with ILO and an mounted iso file.

btw. you have also the possibility to install an HP customized ISO with hp drivers on it. I always recommend to install the “vanilla” iso and then add the drivers and tools by hand with the update managers.

Please open the ILO integrated remote console and select “virtual drives” in the menu bar.

ilo_iso_mount

select now the latest hypervisor ISO that you have:

iso_esxi_60_u2

Now that you have mounted the ISO please restart the system and while the system is booting select F11 for boot menu.

f11_boot_menu

Select no the drive “ILO Virtual USB 2: HPE iLO Virtual USB CD/DVD ROM”:

boot_menu

The system begins now to boot from iso. You should see a screen like this:

bootup_esxi

when the ISO is loaded, you see the following message. Confirm this message with enter:

welcome_esxi_6

First of all you have to accept the EULA with F11:

esxi_6_eula

Now you have to select the storage medium on witch you would like to install the Hypervisor. In our case we will install the hypervisor on an internal SD-Card with 8GB of space. The remote disks are SAN disks that were already zoned to this system.

Select the SD and press enter

esxi_6_install_sd

In my case I received the following message:

esxi_6_install_or_upgrade

This message appears because we had installed esxi 5.5 already on this system. I recommend to select “install” and not “upgrade”. This is the only way to have a clean installation of your system.

Next you have to select keyboard layout. This is an important step because you will have to set a root password in the following step. I always recommend to use the local keyboard layout or us English.

esxi_6_select_language

Please enter here your root password. Keep in mind to enter here a complex password. With this user you can do a lot of dirty things on the system so try to keep the system secure. btw. the password must have at least 7 characters

esxi_6_root_password

When passwords do match, you can press enter to continue.

Confirm now this message with F11.  This indicates only that the volume will be deleted and repartitioned.

esxi_6_repartitioning

The installation has now begone:

esxi_6_installation

After some minutes you will receive and information that the system has been installed successfully. Please confirm this information with “enter”. Now the system will be restarted.

After the system has booted, the system should look like this. You can now press F2 to configure the system.

esxi_6_screen

Please select the right keyboard if need, enter the root as user and enter your custom password.

esxi_6_login

The first thing that we have to do is to configure the management network to manage the system with vCenter, PowerCLI or the VIClient.

esxi_6_configure_managenent_network

You have now the following settings to set.

esxi_6_initial_settings

I always recommend to configure as much as possible to have no connection problems while configuring the esx host.

  • Network Adapters: Please select the network adapter which you would like to use as management interface.
  • Network Adapters: If you have configured VLAN tagging on your switch port, enter here the VLAN number of your VLAN
  • IPv4 Configuration: Please do not use DHCP for your ESXi server. Enter static ip address, subnet and if needed also an gateway.
  • IPv6 Configuration: If you don’t need IPv6 I would recommend to disable it. If you use it, please configure it.
  • DNS Configuration: Enter your DNS servers and the hostname of the esxi server in short name. Do not use the FQDN.
  • Custom DNS Suffixes: If you have DNS suffixes, please enter them by using commas to separate them.

Now that we have configured the network, we have to restart the system. After the system has restarted try first to ping the system. If you receive a ICMP response, the system may be ready to be connected. In my case I will now add the ESXi server to the vCenter.

Open the vCenter and rightclick the datacenter. Then select “add host”:

vcenter_6_add_host

Now enter the hostname of your esxi system and click next:

vcenter_6_add_host_hostname

Please provide root credentials and click next

vcenter_6_add_host_creds

Confirm the thumbprint by clicking on yes.

vcenter_6_add_host_thumbprint

If the esxi host already had some VMs running on it, you would here see what VMs will be imported to the vCenter

vcenter_6_add_host_vms

Add a license to your ESXi host and click next.

vcenter_6_add_host_license

For our customer we enabled the normal lockdown mode. I find the strict a little bit to hard 🙂

vcenter_6_add_host_lockdown

At the finish now you will see a summary of what objects will be added to the vCenter

vcenter_6_add_host_summary

Now you are ready customize your esxi host configuration and deploy your first vms.

If you have installed the vanilla version, please do not forget to install the HP VIBs. This can be done with the VUM.

vSphere 6.5 is here!

A new version, again. VMWare officially released today vSphere 6.5.

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2016/10/introducing-vsphere-6-5.html

Let me list here some of their new features. I will explain in the following posts the new features in detail.

  • VCSA has now the Update Manager integrated
  • Scalability
  • HTML 5 vSphere Client (halleluja!)
  • A lot of security features
    • VM level encryption
    • encrypted VMotion
    • secure boot for ESXi and VMs
  • vSphere integrated containers
  • Cloud integration
  • Enhanced Host profiles
  • enhancements in HA, DRS and FT
  • PowerCli with autocomplete

You will hear from me 🙂

ESXI 5.5 and & BL460C G9 having problem with SDs

I recently have seen the following error on a customer environment:

ESX

In the IML I’ve found the following errors:

ILO

after searching a while for the problem, I rebooted the esx host and the error was gone. Some days later the error appeared again but this time on another host.

It’s already the 5. or 6. time this error appears irregular on the esx hosts.

So I decided to check the internet if somebody else also has this problem. I quickly have found someone with the same problem:

https://www.virtuallyboring.com/lost-connectivity-to-the-device-backing-the-boot-filesystem/

As I’ve read, there may be a problem with the ILO firmware 2.20. So we will try to update it to the last version and we will see how this goes on.

I’ll update this post as soon as I have news.

Backing up VMs from a standalone ESXi for FREE

People often ask me how they should backup their VMs from an standalone free ESXi server before maintenance of hardware or when they want to upgrade their ESXi to a newer version.

Well, for this I will list here some possibilities to backup your VM  once or scheduled and for free:

ONCE:

Export to OVA: The easiest way is to use the vSphere Client and export the VM to OVA. The exported VM can then be saved on your client workstation where the vSphere Client is running. In the vSphere documentation you can read how to do it:

https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-55/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vsphere.vm_admin.doc%2FGUID-B05A4E9F-DD21-4397-95A1-00125AFDA9C8.html

Veeam Backup free Edition: Veeam Backup free Edition is probably the most powerful solution to backup your VMs for free.  In adtition of backing up VMs, you can also migrate the VMs between multiple ESXi server, work with tapes and other nice features. Please visit the Veeam site to get more information:

http://www.veeam.com/

Trilead VM Explorer: from the Internet i’ve found this tool that some people can recommend. I have never installed neither tried it. Have a try and give me some feedback. I would appreciate it.

https://www.trilead.com/

SCHEDULED:

ghettoVCB: ghettoVCB is a shell script which uses the API from VMWare to backup the VMs. It is not that easy to configure but when you have it configured once, it’s cool to work with it. The BIG advantage on this tool is, that you can schedule the script with an cronjob. So you have periodically backups of your system without having to interact. You will find more information on the VMWare community site:

https://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760

 

 

I will update this post when I’ve found more tools to backup VMs for free…

Network Port Diagram for vSphere 6.0

VMWare finally released a “BIG PICTURE” network port diagram at their knowledge base site:

kb.vmware.com/kb/2131180

This is really a MUST HAVE if you are working in environments with security firewalls between the systems. So go and take it.

In older releases we had to work with this shitty table:

kb.vmware.com/kb/1012382

Thanks to VMWare and have fun with the diagram.

 

Install ESXi 6.0 on a DL380 G5 – yes it works

For a VMWare Horizon View POC in our environment we recieved an old HP DL380 G5 with nice specs: 2 phy. Quad-CPUs, 32GB RAM, RAID-Controller with write Cache, and quite everything redundant.

As SSDs are getting more and more beneficial, we bought 4 Kingston 300v SSD with 480GB of space and installed them in the OEM cases of the HP disks. Yes, this works!

For our tests this hardware is more than enough.

First of all I googled around to see if there was already someone who tried to install ESXi 6.0 on an old DL380 G5 as it isn’t a supported hardware. I’ve found this article from a guy that was having problems with the HP custom iso installing it on a G5 server:

http://htluo.blogspot.ch/2015/05/esxi-60-on-hp-dl380-g5.html

So I decided to have a try with the original ISO. After booting the Image I received an error message saying that I’m using unsupported hardware. Thank’s for the information but I know this already 😉 You can accept the information an run-through.

After the installation completed, I connected to the ESXi server with the VIClient. Everything looked well with the exception of the hardware. There was no hardware listed.

This is because the HP drivers are not integrated into the image. So I downloaded the needed VIBs from the HP VIB repository and installed them (the text in the brackets is not part of the command). For those who don’t know what a VIB is, have a look on this article:

Before I could install the VIBs I had to put the ESX server in maintenance mode:

If you receive a message like this, this is because there are VMs running on the system:

So I had to check what VMs are running on the system and stop them. You can do this with the VI Client or with the shell:

Now that we have the world id of the VM (similar to the PID), we can stop the VMs with those commands:

Retry now to run the enter maintenance mode command and check the state with this command:

The output should look similar to this:

As you can see, the ESX server is now in maintenance mode. So i could begin with the installation of the VIBs. For this I used the esxcli “software vib install”. It is important that you write the full path to the VIB file. Otherwise the command ends with an error:

The output should look similar to this:

As you can see in the message, the system requires a reboot after the installation. So we can now reboot the system with the reboot command.

After the reboot we can connect us with the VIClient to the esx server and now we should see all the hardware and sensors installed on the system:

ESX Hardware

So then, I wish you happy virtualizing with your new ESXi server and do not forget to configure the rest such as ntp, ssh, portgroups, vm settings and so on.

P.S. this server is running now about 4 weeks without any problems or PSOD

Check Lockdown Mode Powershell Script

For security reasons one of my customer has Lockdown mode activated on all them ESXi server. Unfortunately, with vSphere 5.5 at least, there is no way to configure the lockdown mode on the host profile. So you have to do it manually on each ESXi server that you add to the vCenter.

Then when an administrator want’s to manage something with SSH or vSphere Client directly to the ESXi host, they have first to disable the Lockdown mode. Often they forget to enable the Lockdown mode again.

For this reason I created this script whitch is scheduled on the vCenter Server with the Windows Task Scheduler. It checks every ESXi host if it has the Lockdown Mode enabled and when not, it enables it.

As an “nice to have”, it sends after every schedule an email with the hosts that were configured. If no ESXi server was configured, it sends an email saying everything is ok.

You just have to edit the 6 first variables with your system informations and it works.

Please be aware that I haven’t implemented any error handling in the script. It’s just an quick and dirty script for my own.

Feel free to use it and share it

Why is the network loadbalancing policy so important?

Last week I returned from my vacation and had allready a lot of tasks waiting for me.

One of them was to add some new ESXi-server to a persistent cluster.

No problem, I thought. This will be a quick task after my vacation.

After looking on the persistent esxi hosts, i’ve seen that they use LACP/etherchannel as network configuration, a lot of VLAN tags and so on.

With this information I went to our network provider and gave him the needed information.

After a hour I recieved an email with the confirmation that  the network was ready.

So I installed the ESXi server, added two vmnics and changed the load balancing policy to “routed based on IP hash” what mean’s that with this configuration you can use LACP. (see KB2006129)

vswitch

Now I began to test the network by removing one vmnic and trying to ping the VMs on the ESXi server.

Every time I removed one vmnic, I loosed the connection to the VMs on the ESXi server. So i tried all possible configurations on the ESXi server but I never had a successful fail over on the network.

cmd

After trying everything on my site I was quite sure that the network guys did not configure the switchs as I’ve told them.

So I went there and we looked at the configuration. They did forgot to activate LACP/etherchannel on the ports. They had no port-channel configured. This was also the reason why I loosed each time the connection to the VMs when I removed one vmnic.

After they changed the configuration I tested it again and I neither loosed one ping when the network had to make a switch over.  This is how it is proposed to run!

While I was troubleshooting my problem I’ve found some interesting posts from other guys and from VMWare which I would like to share with you. They helped me to find out my problem.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2006129

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1004088

and here my favorite one (only in German available):

http://www.admin-magazin.de/Das-Heft/2010/05/Redundante-Netzanbindung-mit-VMware-ESX

Hope this can help someone 🙂