VMware Press Sweepstakes

VMware Press, VMware’s official publishing arm, are in the middle of running a 60 day competition sweepstake (that ends June 30th 2012). On offer are a $100 Amazon gift card and three VMware Press books for the winner and nine second prize winners will win an eBook of their choice.

Enter here.

The publisher has already produced two excellent books in Administering VMware Site Recovery Manager 5.0 and Automating vSphere with VMware vCenter Orchestrator. This summer promises a glut of new titles that I’d be interested to read too:

  • Storage Implementation in VMware vSphere 5.0 (July 2012)
  • Managing and Optimizing vSphere Deployments (July 2012)
  • The Official VCP5 Certification Guide (July 2012)
  • VMware View 5: Building a Successful Virtual Desktop (August 2012)
  • VMware vSphere 5 Integration into the Datacenter (August 2012)

As and when they come out you can probably expect me to post a review here.

Installing SQL 2008 R2 on 2008 R2 Server Core

Following on from previous posts on a similar theme, I wanted to make a quick note of how SQL 2008 R2 is installed on a 2008 R2 Server Core VM.

SQL 2008 R2 has a number of feature dependencies that must be present before an installation can take place. Assuming that you’ve deployed your VM, given it some network settings and joined it to your domain (if you want) then there are three further things you need to address to get SQL installed.

The first is adding some disk space to the VM. If, like me, you deploy Windows server VMs with a reasonable 40Gb of C: drive space you’ll need to add something to have enough room for SQL and some databases. I like to keep databases and log files on separate drives to the main OS so I tend to add extra disks to the VM. I’ve covered that off in a previous post.

Next up – those pesky dependencies. You could do this remotely with Server Manager running on another machine somewhere or you could just use the command line. Hint: if you’ve got the commands written down somewhere then the command line is so much quicker. Just RDP to your 2008 R2 Server Core VM and paste the following into the command prompt:

dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx2-ServerCore
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3-ServerCore
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx2-ServerCore-WOW64
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3-ServerCore-WOW64
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:IIS-WebServerRole
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:IIS-ISAPIFilter
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:IIS-ISAPIExtensions
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:IIS-NetFxExtensibility
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:IIS-ASPNET

The final stage is installing SQL itself. Simply mount the DVD ISO and run setup! Note though that I think SQL 2008 may not be supported on Server 2008 Core versions. SQL 2012 seems to be but I haven’t played with that yet.

Adding disks to 2008 R2 Server Core VMs

In a lab environment, sometimes anything can go. Solutions aren’t always standards compliant or don’t always follow best / sensible practices. One that I can’t shake off though is using separate drives in my VMs for operating systems and data. It’s too ingrained.

Given my new found penchant for using Windows 2008 R2 Server Core for VMs in my lab though I hit a little niggle that I thought I ought to note down for when I inevitably forget about it.

When deploying a VM from a template for a specific purpose, it’s natural to add extra disks to it. In the normal version of windows, using the DiskManagement snapin to bring the disk online automatically makes it read-write as well. In Server Core, you can’t use the snapin locally. Firewalls permitting, you should be able to use it remotely (via RSAT tools installed on another machine) but if you’re in a hurry and comfortable with DISKPART then you might be tempted to use that. And that’s where the niggle is.

In DISKPART when you online a new disk, it changes the disk’s state but not whether it is read-only or read-write. And you can’t create a partition on a readonly disk!

So, what do you do? It’s just a couple of extra steps really.

1. In the command prompt window on the VM’s console, start up DISKPART.

2. First, list the disks present on the VM:

You notice that Disk 1 is 100% free but Offline.

3. Next we select that disk and then turn it Online.

If you tried to create a partition now you’d get a fairly non-specific error.

4. Look at the disk’s detail and you see why though.

“Current Read-only State: Yes”, not the clearest way of saying it but the disk is read-only at present.

5. To make the disk writable you need only type ATTRIBUTE DISK CLEAR READONLY.

Now you can create a partition as you normally would.

Job done.

Installing VMtools on Windows 2008 Server Core

Not having a full GUI to use, it can sometimes be difficult to install software on Windows 2008 Server Core machines. You need to get used to scripted installations, software distribution methods and / or silent installs.

If you’ve gone as far as initiating the tools installation for a VM you could be forgiven for wondering what the heck you’re going to do next. The install doesn’t autorun (Windows Explorer does this normally but Windows Explorer isn’t there). Even if you run setup64.exe manually it won’t help.

If you run setup64.exe /? though you get a little bit of help.

A typical (and silent) install of VMtools can therefore be performed by running:

setup64.exe /s /v /qn

The VM will automatically reboot though, just so you know…

Note: Jonathan Medd has a very similar (and excellent) post about installing VMtools on Windows Server 8 Beta.

Review: Trainsignal VMware vSphere 5 Training

vmware vsphere training

I’ve been a big fan of Trainsignal’s courses for some time now. You never forget your first one and for me that was “VMware vSphere Pro Series Training Vol1″.

Time has flown by though. Trainsignal have since released a number of new courses, several of them VMware focused. I have some of them in my library and there are also some that I couldn’t justify purchasing at the time.

With all of the changes in vSphere 5 I thought it a good idea to get hold of Trainsignal’s latest and greatest as part of my VCP5 preparations. I’ve done a fair bit of work with vSphere 5 but there were always going to be bits that I was less familiar with. What the training offers is the opportunity to bone up on those weaker areas and brush up on the bits that you’re more familiar with already courtesy of two knowledgable and well-informed virtualisation experts: David Davis and Elias Khnaser.

The training comes on 3 DVDs containing a series of screencast videos covering all of the content but there’s also the ability to watch the videos online if you want. At its simplest you can just pop one of the DVDs into your laptop and get started or there are iPod optimised copies also available for importing into iTunes. Pulling your iPhone out of your pocket on the tube in London and learning about VMware Data Recovery is almost priceless as the time would be otherwise wasted.

As a VCP5 resource it’s not everything that you need. Don’t forget that:

  • You need to have attended a VMware course to qualify for the VCP5 (or hold a VCP4 already)
  • There’s no substitute for practical experience

That said, it’s an excellent place to start building or refresh your knowledge and I’d totally recommend the course to almost anyone with an interest in vSphere 5. It’s not without its flaws, I spotted one or two typos and sometimes a iPhone isn’t the best device on which to see large and detailed captures of the vSphere Client! Also, there were some very minor inconsistencies between different videos but these were when opinions were being offered and were not related to factual content. Not something that concerned me, I just picked it up.

Overall an excellent resource. Hats off to Elias, David and the Trainsignal team.