Re-sizing hard drives on VM's while using SRM

vSphere Replication does not support changing the length of a replicated disk.

Virtual machines that are protected with VMware's SRM v5.1 cannot have their hard drive re-sized when that VM is protected.  In order for one to change the drive size, on must:
1. rename the replica folder (if you don't do this the entire VM will need to be replicated again).
2. delete the replication job, for whatever reason on cannot simply just pause it.
3. use vmkfstools -X vmdkname.vmdk to grow the replica copy.
4. change the size of the hard drive on the VM.
5. re-setup the replication job.

Windows Hard Disk Cleaner install....

Windows has a fairly useful tool called to clean up wasted space on the hard drive.  Unfortunately on Server 2008, it is not installed by default.  One has to add in that feature; which isn't a big deal, but it also requires bit of "Desktop Experience" and "handwritting."  Now what hand writting has to do with cleaning temporary files off of a hard drive I do not know.  Either way, this annoys me.  Here is how to install it with out going through the a fore mentioned trouble.

Copy cleanmgr.exe from the winSXS folder to the Windows\system32 folder and cleanmgr.exe.mui from the winSXS folder to the Windows\System32\en-Us folder.   If the machine is 64bit, copy them from the AMD64 folder, and if it's 32bit copy it from the x86 folder.

So far the only issue that I have seen is that this doesn't create that button that says "Disk Cleanup" when looking at the hard drive.  The program must be manually launched from the System32 folder.


In Windows 2012r2; this procedure does not work.  It seems as though the files in WinSXS are compressed.  I ended up copying the two files from another server that did have the Desktop Experience installed.  However one only gets four categories to clean up; where as the one with the full desktop experience has over 7.

"Granger" over at posted this which is very handy:
If you want more "GUI-ness", proceed...
To get your new "Disk Cleanup" into the Start menu, create a shortcut to the "cleanmgr.exe" file. Put the new shortcut in the "%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools" folder; name it "Disk Cleanup". Now, when in the Start menu, you can just type "Disk Cleanup", and you'll have the option to start it as Administrator at the outset.
To get "Disk Cleanup" to show up as a button on a disk drive's Properties dialog box, you have to change the registry to add a new key and "Expandable String Value". Create a new .reg text file and paste in the following:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



NetApp Log on issues.....

While trying to administer some Net App's I would get his unhelpful error message trying to log in.  I assumed it was a Java deal, and tired uninstalling/re-installing, various flavors, all w/o help.  The newest On Command System Manager 3.1.2RC2 is supposed to work with Java 8.x.   Oddly I could log onto the 3250's but not the 3250's.  All are running v8.2 7-Mode.  

Thanks to Cody's Blog for posting up the answer.  Turns out some Net Apps still use SSLv3, which is disabled by modern browsers, turning TLS on  (on both controllers) allows one to log on!
options tls.enable on

HP ProDesk600 G1

The HP ProDesk MINI is a full PC in the size of a thin client.  The one I am playing with came with an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8gb of PC3 (two sodimms, up-gradable to 16gb), a 120gb mSATA SSD drive.  It does have the option of adding a 2.5" hard drive.  I am impressed that even while working this machine hard, I never hear it, nor does the case get hot.

computer recycling

One of the things I do is recycle old computers for people.  There is some money in it, but by the time one factors in tearing them down, sorting them, storing them, and hauling them to a scrapper, one might have enough money to buy a beer.  I rather enjoy it, and I don't mind providing the service to friends, family, and clients.  I had a friend drop off a number of machines to me, and the following was in the pile!

I have reservations about scrapping it.  I haven't even seen one of these in over 10 years!  Call it nostalgia I suppose.

OLD Compaq servers

One of the things I miss was when Compaq (now HP) used to put that extra touch on their equipment.  Every server had a silk screened image on it.  Case in point the motorcycle found on this back plane board.

This one is off of a Cisco Switch...dancing Buddha?  

Android device doubles as a 2nd monitor

Often I am at a client site with my notebook, wishing I had a second monitor.  Often I also have a tablet with me.  Why couldn't I just use that as a 2nd monitor?  Thus began the search.  I stumbled across one solution called Splashtop.

It is super easy to setup.  Install the Splashtop Xtended Display on the Android device, which can be found in the Google Play Store.  On the notebook/desktop download and install Splashtop Streamer.

The two devices must be on the same subnet; yes the screen data is transmitted across the network, and is encrypted.  The main machine must have an available display port; aka the ability to have a 2nd physical monitor.  For instance one of my desktops has a dual head video card in it, with a monitor on each port, in this case Splashtop will not work, as both monitor outputs are spoken for.  My test mule is a notebook which has the built in LCD panel and a VGA plug for a 2nd monitor.  Splashtop works by spoofing Windows in to thinking there is a monitor plugged in.

On the mobile device, create a new connection, give it a name, and a security code.  On the PC setup an account with Splashtop, create a security code that matches the one on tablet.  At this point the PC starts broadcasting on the network for Splashtop clients.   On the mobile device the PC's should populate in the Splashtop window, simply click on it to start the session. now have two monitors!

For me, every time I use my Transformer TF101 that has a hacked on Android 4.1 OS on it.  The PC logs out, requiring me to re-log in, annoying!   Every time the monitor setup is duplicate displays, not extended like I last left it.  Usually when I switch it from duplicated to extended it doesn't work, I have to disconnect and reconnect it.  Very annoying!  Now the really annoying part: this test mule is a Core2Duo Celeron 2.1ghz machine; which by no means is speedy.  However running this application consumes 25~40% of it's CPU!  Notice task manager in the picture, this machine has nothing running on it; it is a fresh build of Windows 7, not even any anti-malware software is loaded.  The display on the tablet is a bit laggy and not suitable for videos, but for text and surfing it is just fine.  The trial version can only be used for 5 minutes at a time; buying that app for personal use is only like $5.  However with the downfalls I mention, I don't think it is worth it to me.  Perhaps the next revision.

FreeNAS v9.3 and ESXi 5.0 iSCSI data transfer testing

Had a little bit of time to do some testing using FreeNAS v9.3 and ESXi 5.0.

A little bit of background: 
FreeNAS is composed of a pair of Hitachi 1tb 7200rpm, SATA 3gbps driives, in a ZFS Mirror.  The network cards used are the onboard Realteks for iSCSI, and a 32bit PCI Realtek for managemnet.

ESXi server has two Intel PCI-X network cards dedicated to iSCSI

Both machines are connected to an HP Procurve switch, with a VLAN for dedicated iSCSI traffic.

The VM used for testing is a W2k8r2 machine that has data volume VMDK located on the FreeNAS.

First test: Single iSCSI link on the FreeNAS, VMware pathing is set to MRU.

 Just a chart showing the data transfer to both drive in the RAID set.

A chart showing the data transfer across the NICs, the one circled in red is the one dedicated for iSCSI traffic.

Second test: Single iSCSI link on the FreeNAS; VMware pathing set to Round Robbin.  Notice it is WAY slower than MRU.  

Third test: dual iSCSI links on the FreeNAS; VMware pathing set to Round Robbin.  The results were not much different, that MRU.  

This chart shows that both NICs are doing SOME data transfer.

Observations, questions, theories??!?!
I may have hit the ceiling on the transfer rate of the RAID1 SATA drives.  It is possible that they cannot simply go any faster, and adding a 2nd NIC into the mix just isn't going to help.   Also since all the load is being sent from a single VM from a single iSCSI server there isn't enough items hitting the NAS to take advantage of MPIO.  The Realtek NICs are well, junk (that is even noted some of the FreeNAS documentation), would an enterprise NIC be any better?  Ideally I would have two separate NICs taking the work load on instead of a "dual port NIC".

ESXi 5.0 & FreeNAS 9.3 MPIO iSCSI setup

Here are a few notes and steps I took to get true fail over an mutli-pathing set up in my home lab.

First of all, VMware does not like LACP, I am not going debate the LCAP vs MPIO here....just know that MPIO is better for iSCSI, and it doesn't require messing around with a switch.

One item that confuses me is the the way FreeNAS approaches this.  Actually I guess it is a FreeBSD kernel thing.  On a "normal" SAN a "group IP" is given to where all iSCSI initiators are pointed to, and each NIC on the SAN has its own IP, but the only one that really matters is the Group IP.  On FreeNAS, one has to set up an iSCSI Portal, which is just an item saying hey: "listen for iSCSI traffic on these IPs."  Each NIC on the FreeNAS has its own IP, but they have to be in "non-overlapping" subnets!  Why?!?  Not a big deal, but in order to get both of iSCSI NICs on my ESX host to talk to both iSCSI NICs on the FreeNAS I set the subnets to

OSI model

Sorry...had to re-post this!  :)  I am told that "Layer 8" is first mentioned in one of the beginning Cisco training manuals.

FreeNAS 9.2x to 9.3x upgrade

FreeNAS recently released a major update.  Since I am only using mine for backups, I had no fear in just blindly going for it!  First step was to download the UPGRADE file from, then go into my FreeNAS and choose "update firmware."  I choose to download a backup configuration file before hand.  The upgrade files are stored on the FreeNAS unit, as I boot off of an 8gb USB thumb drive, I choose to store the files on the only data store.  Several reboots and roughly 10 minutes later, the system was back up.

One item of note, is that v9.3 does NOT support UFS!  My first build I ran UFS as I am using a lowly Celeron CPU and I originally started out with only 4gb of ram.  After the upgrade, I had no storage!  What made it interesting is that I could just reformat the 2nd hard drive and create a new volume set.  I could not with the 1st hard drive; it gave errors about permissions of the GPT.  What I did to remedy it was to low-leveling the 1st disk using a 3rd party application.

Now I had to re-setup my CIFS share and iSCSI targets, no big deal, but annoying.  The iSCSI settings where there, I just had to repoint the extent to its new location.

VMware Physical to Virtual conversion notes....

-Speed up the transfer process by roughly 25% by disabling SSL.
Edit the Converter-worker.xml file, usually found here:
C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware vCenter Converter Standalone
Look for the section "<NFC>", and change the "<UseSSL> to false, save, restart . VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Worker service.

-Sometimes doing conversions from a single machine will fail, but will work if one installs the Stand Alone Converter software directly on the machine to be converted.

-Virtual Disk Service/Volume Shadow Copy/Microsoft software shadow copy provider are all services that should be set to automatic.

-The newest converter to work Windows Server 2000 that I found was version 4.1.

-Many failures are due to corrupt files, usually a check-disk will take care of it.

-Items like a bad drive, dead RAID cache battery, or 100Mbps network connections will dramatically slow the conversion down.

-Obtain/create batch files to do routine tasks.

-Do yourself a favor and do a hard drive clean up before the conversion.  Shutdown as much as possible before the conversion.  Anti-Virus, and databases, or anything that takes up I/O or has open files is best stop.

-Using the Synchronization features works great machines where up-time is an issue.  Do a first pass with the "Synchronize changes" box marked.  I have yet to see any impact to the server by doing this, short of it being a tiny bit slower.  Once it is done, DO NOT manipulate the VM!  When ready to make the last pass, mark the "Perform final synchronization" box.