Saturday, July 5, 2014

Nested ESXi lab - part 1 - getting the right downloads for the main site

I reviewed what I want to accomplish in this lab in

Now I get to do it.

The first site will be done in VMware workstation v9. I use this version because when I got the VCP certification, they gave me a free license. However, you can buy or get a trial license from the site. I believe all trials are for 60 days.

I am using the linux version - just because i'm trying to learn linux, and there's no better way to learn than doing - but you can probably do the same things in the windows version. If you have problems running the linux version, please see this post

First let's download the appropriate ISOs:


You'll need to setup a free account if you don't have one already. I will attach screenshots since some friends have asked me exactly what to download.

In my case I will enroll in a vSphere with Operations Management (also called vSOM) trial.

Here is where you create or login to your MyVMware account (usual activation steps required)

Make a note of the evaluation license key and let's download the required packages.

ESXi - this iso is typically around 300MB. This lab will be done on ESXi5.5. I will be actually using an older one so we can patch it once installed, but here is the image of how it looks

vCenter - this is the windows installer, we will use it on the remote site. This is typically a 3GB ISO. I will use an older version and then upgrade it with the newest as part of the lab. The windows C# vsphere client is included in this ISO, so there is no need to download it separately.

vCenter appliance. Download either the one .ova file, or the very small ovf file and both disks (check for vmdk). Why both options? OVA is a tar of an OVF. Workstation can open ovf and vmdk's directly, but it will need to unzip the OVA.

Operations management is it's own OVA file. This will be the last one we download for now.


This is basically linux based SAN software. For the main site, I will use it as a iSCSI target. It's simple and small enough (500MB download) for my purposes. I will change this in the recovery site and use NFS instead there for study purposes.

We will download the v2.99 ISO and create our own VM. i know there's a prepackaged one there, but see what I do and then decide for yourself. Cick on the community edition and the download arrow.

don't forget to read the system requirements


We will download a trial of Server 2012 R2 to setup AD. I actually want to test an installation with no GUI for the recovery site, see how managing that works. Make sure you choose the ISO download option. You will need a microsoft related account to register.

Always important to read the system requirements . Note also that this trial runs for 180 days.

We will also download a SQL Server trial. We will use it with the windows based vCenter in our recovery site. VMware vCenter includes an embedded, free edition of MS SQL, but nobody uses that in a real company - it is very limited. You should involve your company's DBA to take care of your vCenter SQL DB and have it run as best as it can. Installation is tougher this way, but when you work with your DBA and tell him dbo rights are really required, you will understand why.

Important caveat - as of this writing, SQL server 2014 is not in the VMware inter-operatibility matrix - 2012 is the newest supported one.

This is the link for the 2012 trial

Also read the system requirements


We need some VMs. We already have the 2012 R2 installer, but we should also practice Linux. My workstation runs on Fedora, but in an effort to branch out, I will use the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS server

Al of these downloads are upwards of 12GB, so make sure you have them ready before starting the next step.

Nested esxi lab - design thoughts

I will create a lab with 2 sites, one site using VMware Workstation on my laptop and the other will be a physical ESXi host.

In each, we will create nested ESXi v5.5 hosts.

The objectives of this lab are:

1) practice for VCAP-DCA
2) learn and test vSphere replication and SRM
3) learn and test vCops

We will also work with

Active Directory - one ADDC for each site, running in the nested ESXis
iSCSI on the main site with Openfiler running on a VM at the same level as the nested ESXis
NFS on the backup site, with TBD running on a VM at the same level as the nested ESXis

One vcenter will be the appliance and another the windows version, running on the nested ESXis

The hardware we have:

both i7
both 32 gb ram
both have one SSD and one hard disk
communicating over a home wireless 802.11ac (not exactly gigabit, but this simulates commercial WAN links fairly decently)

All will run on temporary licenses.

Friday, July 4, 2014

webm test using gnome screenshot's screencast function

I will document my VCAP studies lab setup for anyone who finds themselves in this position. I also plan to learn vSphere replication and SRM with this lab, using a laptop as the production site and a desktop as the recovery site.

Since I switched to Linux less than a year ago, i've found different ways to solve the same problems I had in windows. The prt scn (print screen) button does not work by default - you have to install a tool for it. A google seach recommends a tool called Shutter; I had already installed GNOME Screenshot.

While searching for he hot keys, I found a feature that interested me in the GNOME Screenshot tool called Screencast.

This basically allows you to take a small video of what you are doing. It stores the files as .webm - the HTML5 video format that is supported by all modern browsers.

So, here is my first webm embedded video in a blog post - let's see how it looks.

webm test


good news - it runs as advertised. bad news is the resolution sucks, and it grabs all the desktop (in my case, 2 screens). I will update this when I find a solution where 1) i can specify what's recorded, instead of all the desktop 2) i can read what's recorded.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Windows partition sizes in 2012 R2 for people that like XXX.0 in their disk list

When you are creating your disk partitions, you have options. You might be one of those persons that like to see disk drive sizes as 146.0 instead of 149.56. If you are one of those, you will find out how to calculate the disk size in the following lines:

When installing windows, choose custom. The default system reserved partition changed is now 350 MB. Use this formula if you want to get, say, 146GB as a drive C size:

Add 350 MB to 146GB (converted to MB), 1 MB for MBR partitioning space lost, and fill the value. The calculation is 146x1024+350+1 = 149855

For disks that will be partitioned with GPT, use 2 MB instead of one for MBR.