Thursday, September 19, 2019

New VM cleanup

When creating a new VM in vSphere, you get a number of virtual devices & settings by default that you probably don't have any interest in keeping:

  • Floppy drive (depending on version & type of client in use)
  • Floppy adapter
  • IDE ports
  • Serial ports
  • Parallel ports
Given that some of these are redundant (why keep the IDE adapter when you're using SATA for the optical device?) while others are polled I/O in Windows (OS must keep checking to see if there's activity on the port, even if there will never be any), it just makes things more streamlined if you cleanup these settings when creating a new VM...then using the cleaned-up VM as a template for creating new VMs later on.

Step 1: create a new VM
Step 2: Set VM name and select a location
Step 3: Select a compute resource
Step 4: Select storage
Step 5: Set compatibility no higher than your oldest version of ESXi that the template could be deployed on.
Step 6: Select the guest OS you'll install
Step 7a: Customize hardware: CPU, Memory, Hard Drive
Step 7b: Attach NIC to a general-purpose or remediation network port
Step 7c: Don't forget to change the NIC type! If you don't the only way to change it later is to remove & re-add the correct type, which will also change the MAC address and, depending on the order you do the modifications, could put the new virtual NIC into a different virtual PCIe slot on the VM hardware, upsetting other configurations in the guest (like static IP addresses).
Step 7d: Jump to the Options tab and set "Force BIOS setup"
Step 8: Finish creating the VM
Step 9: Open remote console for VM
Step 10: Power On the VM. IT should pause at the BIOS editor screen.
Step 11: On the Advanced page, set Local Bus IDE to "Disabled" if using SATA; set it to "Secondary" if using IDE CD-ROM (Even better: Change the CD-ROM device to IDE 0:0 and set it to "Primary").
Step 12: Descend into the "I/O Device Configuration" sub-page; by default, it'll look like the screenshot below:
Step 13: Using the arrow keys & space bar, set each device to "Disabled", then [Esc] to return to the Advanced menu.
Step 14: Switch to the Boot page. By default, removable devices are first in the boot order.
Step 15: Use the minus [-] key to lower the priority of removable devices. This won't hurt the initial OS setup, even on setup ISOs that normally require a key-press to boot off optical/ISO media: the new VM's hard drive has no partition table or MBR, so it'll be skipped as a boot device even when it's first. Once the OS is installed, you'll never have to worry about a removable media causing a reboot to stall.
Step 16: Press [F10] to save the BIOS config, then use the console to attach to an ISO (local or on a datastore) before exiting the BIOS setup page.


Step 17: Install the guest OS, then add VMware Tools. Perform any additional customization—e.g., patching, updates, and generalization—then convert the new VM to a template.

You're set! No more useless devices in your guest that take cycles from the OS or hypervisor.

Additional Note on modifying existing VMs:
Aside from the need to power down existing VMs that you might want to clean up with this same procedure, the only issue I've run into after doing the device + BIOS cleanup is making sure I get the right combination of IDE channels & IDE CD-ROM attachment. The number of times I've set "Primary" in BIOS but forgot to change the CD-ROM to IDE 0:0 is ... significant.

Additional Note on Floppy Drives:
Floppy drive handling is a special case, and will very much depend on which version of vSphere—and therefore, the management client—you're using. If you have the "Flex" client (or are still using v6.0 and have the C# client), the new VM will have a floppy disk device added by default. Naturally, you want to remove it as part of your Hardware Customization step during new VM deployment.
If you're happily using the HTML5 Web Client, you may find that the floppy is neither present, nor manageable (for adding/removing or attaching media)... This is the 0.1% of feature parity that I still find lacking in the H5 client. Hopefully, it'll get added, if for no better reason than to allow an admin to remove floppy devices that are still part of VMs that were created in older versions.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Merry Christmas: Apple Macintosh SE

Christmas, 2018.
My brother has given to me a circa-1989/1990 Apple Macintosh SE HDFD. It's in a "carrying" case, includes an external 800K floppy drive, Apple Desktop Bus keyboard and mouse, power cord, manuals, and System 6 install disks.

The system has 2.5MB RAM, a 20MB SCSI hard drive, and a 1.44MB internal floppy.

2.5MB RAM
20MB Hard drive (with "stuff" on it)
System 6, at your service...
My wife wanted to know what I'd do with it... well, the answer is: play with it.

The first thing I did was look into "useful" upgrades: Network, Memory, Capacity.

I found an Asante MacCon adapter for the SE
I found 4 x 1MB RAM SIMMs for the SE
I found this gizmo: SCSI2SD

DING-DING-DING!

I can work with this.

And then I ran across this: macrepository.org

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

VBR v10 new hotness

Sitting in the general session is not typically the way I'd compose a new post, but I'm pretty stoked by some new, long-desired features announced for the next version of Veeam Backup and Replication (VBR), version 10.

First is the (long awaited) inclusion of physical endpoint backup management via VBR console. We've had Endpoint Backup for a while, which is awesome, and we've been able to use VBR repositories to store backups, but all management was at the endpoint itself. In addition to centralized management, the newest version of the managed endpoint backup (alright, alright... Agent) will support Microsoft Failover Clusters at GA!

Second is the new feature that significantly expands VBR's capability: the ability to backup NAS devices. Technically, it's via SMB or NFS shares, so you could target any share--including one on a supported virtual or physical platform--but the intention is to give great backup & recovery options for organizations that utilize previously-unsupported platforms for NAS, like NetApp, Celera, etc.

Third--and most exciting to me, personally--is the addition of a replication mode utilizing VMware's new "VMware APIs for I/O Filtering" (VAIO). This replication mode uses a snapshot-free capture of VMDK changes on the source, with and the destination being updated on a (configurable, default of 15s) by-the-second interval. This new replication method is branded "Veeam CDP" (Continuous Data Protection). There are competing products on the market that offer similar capability, but Veeam is advertising that they are the first to leverage VAIO while other products are using either undocumented/unsupported APIs, or old APIs intended for physical replication devices.

There are a number of other nice, new features coming--Object storage support, Universal APIs for storage integration, etc.--but these three will be the big, compelling reasons to not only upgrade to Version 10 when it arrives (for current customers) but to upgrade your vSphere environments if you haven't already embraced Version 6.x.