Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Here are nine good reasons to stay away from Microsoft Hyper-V

Not in my own words, but I could not say it better. 9 Reasons to not put Microsoft Hyper-V into the Enterprise - keep it in you playroom.


Shrinking a VM Machine Disk by doing V 2 V

I have had to do expand a non-system disk and system disk from Virtual Machines. I described those in previous two blogs. But I found that I needed to shrink a disk(s) on my Web Server running inside VMWARE ESXi. Now, we could use a similar process we did with expanding a System disk by using GHOST. I did not want to do it that way. I used VMWARE converter to do a Virtual to Virtual conversion. By using that process we can change the hardware of the destination machine.

A couple of notes:

1. On one occasion, the conversion failed because the machine running the conversion went into power saving mode. I recommend you shut power saving off while you are doing conversions. When it failed, it left the source machine files locked so I could not restart it. Also it left the destination partly done. You cannot delete this from within the GUI.

What I had to do is SSH into the ESXi server, and go to the location of the VMFS files, and delete the disk file, and then the containing folder.

I also had to reboot the ESXi server to unlock files so I could restart the VM machine. There should be another way, because this would be real bad in a production environment.

2. I found that I could run the converter from another virtual machine in the same ESXi server at extremely faster speeds - it did it in minutes, the other way I was running from my PC was taking an hour and half.

Here are the screen shots of the steps. Click on an Image to see larger version.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Part 2 Expanding a system Virtual Disk

As in part one, I am using the same system.

I am assuming knowledge of setting machine to boot from ISO Image.
You also need GPARTED ISO image. You need to boot from this.

The difference in increasing the size of a system disk vs. a non-system disk is this:
You have to shut the machine down. This requires down time so plan accordingly.
Also, once you increase the size in the properties, and you click OK, you cannot change it.

1. Shut machine down.
2. Select the hardware tab.
3. In the properties of the disk you want to expand, increase to desired size.
4. You now boot from Gparted ISO.
5. Once in Gparted, Increase the disk size.
6. Boot back into Windows (Windows detects changes, and wants to reboot)
7. After reboot, you now have a larger system disk.

In the following screen shots. The size of the disk is increased, and we boot into Windows to show that the size has increased, but when you go to run "diskpart" as in part 1, and then "extend", it fails. So even though we can increase the size, we cannot "extend".

The following screen shots show the Gparted process. Click on a picture to see larger size.

Part 1 Expanding a non System Virtual Disk

Expanding the size of a non sytem Virtual Disk is fairly straight forward.

I am using VMWare ESX/ESXi. The Windows OS is Windows 2003.

Also, when you increase the size of the disk, you can see the added space as unallocated space.
You can view that in Disk Manager.

1. Without having to shut down the machine go to the Virtual Machine Properties.
2. Select the hardware tab.
3. In the properties of the disk you want to expand, increase to desired size.
4. In Windows, at the command line run "diskpart".
5. Select the proper volume "sel vol {vol number}
6. Run command "extend".
7. Run command "exit".
8. In Disk Manager, check the size of the disk.

Here are some Screen Shots of the process. Click on an image to see larger version.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shrinking a VM Machine Disk

Most of the time the problem with disks is that we run out of space. Yet, there are times when we need to shrink (decrease the size of a disk). Case in point with VMWare, I created a server and allocated 40 Gigs for the System Disk. In reality, I did not need that much since It is a pretty much static web server, and I created a second disk for the Web sites.

The biggest problem with it was the backups. When I say backups, I mean backing up the Virtual Disks themselves. With a 40 gig disk, which I happened to allocate all the space ahead of time for performance reasons, the backup is too long, I have to shutdown the server because I am only using a free backup utility that being the free version does not do the snapshot, then backup leaving the server running. Instead I have to shut it down to back it up. This leaves my server down for too long.

So I need to shrink it. This server is on ESXi. In the past a method I have used is to attach another disk (bigger/smaller) whatever, and then booted from a Ghost disk, then Ghosted to the second drive. Shut the server off. Then, change the SCSI Id of the second drive to the one from the first drive. Then I would disconnect the original drive, not delete the drive, and boot. This works pretty good.

Another method, which I find equally as efficient, and maybe better, is to create a second VM by doing a Virtual to Virtual copy using VMWare Converter. When you set up your converter job you can specify the size of the disks. You do have to have your machine turned off, but that is OK. Leave it off. When done, fire up your copy and test. When satisfied, delete the old one if desired.

In future blog, I will go into greater detail on both expanding and shrinking virtual hard drives in VMWare; but for now you get the idea.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

VMware Tools installation cannot be started manually while Easy Install is in progress.

I created a Virtual Machine using VMWare's Workstation version 7. I did not install the tools right away, and I think that because of a hurry I really did not pay attention during the install, so I think I installed it using the simple mode, maybe not. Not that is bad doing it that way, but I never usually do it that way.

Whatever happened, later, when I went to install the tools, I got this message:
"VMware Tools installation cannot be started manually while Easy Install is in progress."

Now, I did not have time to do extensive research. One web site said something about the floppy drive config. I did find something referring to simple mode floppy, but removing it from the config file did not help.

Here is the quick simple way I fixed it: Delete the *.vmx config file. Then create a new machine but point it to the same folder. You will get a "warning" about creating a machine in the same folder as an existing machine, but no worry. Just make sure you use an "existing disk", and point it to the original.

This fixed it for me and it only took me a few minutes.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Windows 7 Update

I have now been running Windows 7 since the first Beta Release with mostly good results. Here is an interesting situation regarding the Aero interface. I had RC2 running on an AMD with less than a gig and a no-name video card (I can't remember the chipset off the top of my head right now). The Aero interface worked on this PC. When I installed a Released version on another PC and moved the Video card over, I cannot get Aero to run. This is a much better PC with 4 gigs or RAM and a 3ghz processor, only the Video card is the same as the old. It is an AGP because that is the interface I have on both. I do plan on upgrading the Video Card, but I thought it was funny that it works on one and not the other. Only difference is that when it did work, the video card was in at the point of install, but on the second I put it in afterward. I will investigate and report back later. Maybe I missed something.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hack to install HP MFP printer in Virtual Windows Xp on ESXi

Here is how you can "byte" back on this one:

Set up a virtual Windows XP in my ESXi server. My goal: set up an XP machine with software that I am sick and tired of re-installing every time I switch machines, and that I have to have, like: Finance software, Some Family tree software and the like. I need this software, but is is a pain re-installing it all the time. So I created a virtual machine to use only for the times I use this software.

Here is the catch - one of my main printers is an HP C7180 Color, Scanner, Fax, and Microwave Printer. Uh, just kidding on the microwave, but ok. When I go to install it, the software from HP, and I was only doing the minimal, not the huge 500mb package, tells me that I don't have a USB capable machine and shuts down the install. Yep, USB is not really supported in ESXi so what to do?

The printer is a wireless printer along with being a USB device, but I still could not install it as an IP printer because the software demands to see a USB capable machine. Since the printer is connected to my other PC, I connected to it as a shared printer, which in turn installed the software. I created an IP port, and then changed the port from the share to the IP. Seems to have worked.