HP P2000, Controller Crashes & ESXi PSOD!

I've recently been dealing with an interesting issue in my lab, as a result of deciding to upgrade the entire infrastructure to vSphere 5.5GA from vSphere 5.1. I'm lucky to have a pair of HP MSA P2000 units in my lab, connected to (amongst other boxes) some HP hosts - these items are the focus of this post. The MSAs and hosts were in the configuration as follows: MSAs paired over L2 network, each connected to a different /24 network. No QoS applied to either network. Hardware fully patched to the latest HP revisions. MSAs paired together using HP RemoteSnap replication software (for testing VMware Site Recovery Manager). Snapshots taken and replicated from 'primary' to 'secondary' every 30 minutes. Single vDisk defined per … [Read more...]

Synology DS1513+ Released

The Synology DS1512 has been a popular choice for many home labs in recent years. I hoped that the company's raft of recent product updates would reach this model eventually. Well my wish was granted as Synology have announced the DS1513+. There are a few modifications to note. The one that stands out the most at first glance is the doubling of LAN capability.  The DS1513+ boasts no fewer than 4 RJ45 ports. That does seem like quite a lot. It does open up some interesting possibilities though... The full specifications for the DS1513+ can be found here. … [Read more...]

Get Your Homelab in the Clouds with AutoLab

Since we have a small but significant following of people who run home labs here on vSpecialist, I thought I'd mention a limited offer that may be of interest. If you're not familiar with AutoLab, it's designed to produce a nested vSphere 5.1, 5.0 or 4.1 lab environment with minimum effort. Prebuilt Open Source VMs and the shell of other VMs are used along with automation for the installation of operating systems and applications into these VMs with the end result being a useful home lab that you can stand up from scratch in a short amount of time. Anyway, it's possible to get an AutoLab setup and running in the cloud and BareMetalCloud actually offer it as a service. Mike Laverick has some discount codes available (use MAGICMIKE100) … [Read more...]

Don’t over-complicate!

Having recently relocated my home office and my home lab within my house, I have set about rebuilding my lab from scratch. As it evolves or my needs change, a rebuild is good to purge out the remnants of the various experiments and tests that I've done. However, I will sometimes fall into the trap of trying to be too clever. Take last night as an example. I happened to read about a piece of software called Cobbler. To save anyone having to read what is quite a lengthy man page, Cobbler manages the provisioning of operating systems from a single server. I thought it would be great if I could automate and control the complete rebuild of my entire lab from bare metal to fully functional at the touch of a few buttons with my QNAP NAS acting … [Read more...]

Home Lab Build: vSpecialistLabs v2

So, time to update the home labs information, and yes, this time I may have overdone it a little in one or two areas. I spend most of Sunday rebuilding my home lab (christened some time ago as vSpecialistlabs v2), adding some elements, changing and tweeking some hardware, and removing other hardware I wasn't using at the time. Essentially, I've ended-up with a home lab that comprises the following aspects: Multi-site VM configuration, with multi-host clusters at both sites. iSCSI shared storage for main 'production' site. vSphere Replication to backup 'DR' site. Managed networking. Below is a picture of my home lab set-up, and you can immediately see where I may have gone OTT - screens! For some reason, I love to have … [Read more...]

Reset VM Stuck at 95%

I'm not convinced that this is supported, but it did work. As with anything on a blog, use at your own risk. I was working on rebuilding my home lab and wanted to clear down the host that my vCenter VM was sitting on. Before doing that I wanted to rescue some files from it (long story). For some reason it hung on me and wouldn't respond so I tried to reset it. This process got as far as 95% and then got stuck :( One way to unstick such a VM is to SSH onto the hosts that it's running on and use the vm-support command. How? Run "vm-support -x" to show the world IDs of the running VMs on the host: The one that I wanted was 9190. Using "vm-support -X 9190" and answering "y" to the three questions that follow will, eventually, … [Read more...]

VMworld Europe 2012 – Day 0

I'm calling it Day 0 as the full conference started on Tuesday. Monday was Partner Day at VMworld and a chance for many to just turn up and register as well as take a few Hands-on-Lab sessions and do some networking. I walked to the venue from my hotel and eventually managed to find my way into the Hands-on-Labs as I was keen to try out a few of the changes to elements of the vCloud suite (I haven't managed to update my home lab yet since 5.1 was released). I've enjoyed using the labs in the past and I did so this time as well but I came away with a few observations / suggestions that I'd like to share: The manuals for each accompanying lab were a little tricky to navigate at times. I know a few people accidentally missed parts of … [Read more...]


I did promise to pop back to QNAP's stand at VMworld Europe when I posted yesterday about them introducing VAAI across their range of storage appliances. True to my word, I popped in for a chat. As a reminder, VAAI (vStorage APIs for Array Integration) enables ESXi hosts to offload specific virtual machine and storage management operations to compliant storage hardware - basically talking some of the storage load from the hosts and letting the storage hardware handle it. Now whilst the functionality will be available across their range of products with release 3.8, it seems likely that they are only going to certify it on the x79 series. It will work on all of their current and past models however. The features to be implemented … [Read more...]


I purposefully wandered past the QNAP booth in the Solutions Exchange at VMworld Europe 2012 yesterday as I have one of their devices at home connected up to my lab (although as it gets older and my demands get higher I find that I'm using it less and less). I also know a few other individuals (e.g. Jeremy - co-author on this site) who have one in their home lab setup and QNAP have a good presence in the SMB market. As the title suggests, QNAP are going to deliver VAAI functionality very shortly. The really good thing though is that this does not mean that you need to buy a new model. As QNAP use the same OS package on all of their devices, the whole range will get the functionality as of version 3.8. Geeks (with QNAPs) everywhere will … [Read more...]

Configuring QNAP for VMware iSCSI

As part of the vSpecialistLabv2 set-up, I recently purchased a QNAP 459 Pro II NAS, with the purpose if connecting it via iSCSI to the physical and virtual hosts in the rest of the lab. The main part of the configuration of this device is to configure the QNAP storage for iSCSI for use with ESXi. Pre-requisites: Do the basic set-up of the QNAP device, using the configuration wizard. (See the QNAP manual). Assign the network information to the device, and ascertain successful basic network connectivity. (See the QNAP manual). Update the firmware to the latest version. (Easiest way is to use the auto-update feature in the admin GUI). (This how-to was done using firmware 3.7.3 Build 20120801). Process: 1) Connect-to and … [Read more...]