Home Lab Virtualization Vmware

Home Lab 2.0 – The Beast

Continuing on our series on my Home lab we now move into present day. Well…. a few months ago at least. As I mentioned in my previous post about my Razor Blade 15, I used that as my home lab until I was able to procure parts for my current hyper converged VMware Home Lab.

Below is my part list for The Beast:

Once all the parts came in I managed to get it all hooked up relatively quickly and without issue. I must admit that this is the first time I have ever used a Noctua Cooler, but it is whisper quiet, and nowhere near as expensive as I thought it would be.

So moving away from the hardware I then installed Window 10 and after 4 hours or so of Windows updates I was finally able to install VMware Workstation Pro 15. Well, almost…. it turns out that Virtualization Support was not enabled by default. But I can get into that at a later time. I then built out a Domain Controller (another 4 hours of Windows Updates) and 3 Virtual hosts (no Windows Updates). Once the hosts were built I then deployed a VCSA appliance.

Now I think I have everything I will need to play with VMware Products. That is until I remembered I don’t have Shared Storage for my Virtual hosts. What ever will I do?!

Stay tuned for my next post in this series, especially if you are looking to build a home lab on the cheap.

I hope you found this helpful and if so please share it with your friends, we could really use your support.

Home Lab Virtualization Vmware

My Journey to my own VMWare Home Lab – The Background

So a while ago I mentioned that I was planning on creating a Hyper Converged VMware Home lab. It has been my dream to have rig at my house that I could play with. Having came from a job where I was a consultant I figured out early that you need a lab to test out configurations and updates before it goes live. I first setup a lab at my previous employer using some old server hardware that we had laying around and was just collecting dust. This was before anyone had ever heard of the word Virtualization. That first lab was built on VMware Infrastructure server 3.5 (yeah I am that old) before that I had been mostly working with VMware workstation and VMware GSX ,you know the one you would install on a Windows server and had an MMC console (Yeah I am that old). That lab became the proof of concept for the company which was the first brick in a very long road to 100% Virtualization. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of my love affair with everything VMware. From that Lab we started to virtualize non critical servers and then next thing we new we had a SAN and 2 brand new Virtual hosts. My Lab stayed in place but eventually I upgraded it to ESX 4 (yep not ESXi as that was witchcraft). I then went to VMware training and got my first VCP. I came back from that and Immediately started to upgrade my lab to ESXi 5.x. With every upgrade I did my little lab grew larger and better and I took a sense of pride in maintaining it as mine.

Unfortunately the Lab that I setup for myself was taken over by another division and then became their DEV environment which meant I didn’t have a place to try out new things. I tried to come up with alternatives which I will cover in a later posts. But you should always try to stay up on the latest and greatest in our industry. If you don’t you will just get left behind.

If you are interested in setting up your own VMware Home lab you should really check out the VMUG Advantage Program here!

For a mere $200 you will get access to THOUSANDS of dollars worth of VMware Software as well as some Cloud Compute and discounts on training and certifications. I have been a member now for 4 years and the resources that I have gained are invaluable. On the subject of VMUG, you should also be sure to check out your local VMUG as that too can be an amazing resource of knowledge.

I am going to end this post here but if you found this post helpful please share with your friends.

PowerCLI Virtualization Vmware

PowerCLI – Datastore Report

I recently was working in an environment where they are still running vSphere 6.0. While doing some storage expansions I discovered that the Flash Client and the C# Client were not reporting the same size on the Datastore. This can be very frustrating as you are not sure which one you can trust. So as a tie breaker I decided to turn to my good friend PowerCLI.

It turns out that the PowerCLI and the C# client were reporting the same thing. So I decided to create a PowerCLI Script to assist me in my work. You can find the script there on my Github:

I hope you found this post helpful and will share it with your friends.

Virtualization Vmware

How to install ESXi 5.5

Continuing the saga of building out my VMware home lab I will be covering the process off installing ESXi 5.5 as a Virtual machine in my environment. As stated in my previous posts, I am a VMUG Advantage Member so I do have access to newer versions of VMware software. 
That might make you wonder why I am going with ESXi 5.5, well you are going to have to wait and see what my plan is for that. 
Lets get started with the installation of ESXi 5.5
Once the ESXi .ISO has been booted up on the machine you will be presented with this screen.
Press Enter to boot, or let the countdown continue and it will boot automatically. 

The ESXi installer will load into memory. It may take some time for this to complete depending on how much Memory you have on your machine, so your mileage may vary. 

After all of this you will be presented with the ESXi 5.5 Welcome Screen. Press Enter to continue. 

Press F11 to Accept the End User License Agreement to continue on.
Once you press F11 the install will start scanning the System it is installing on to see what Storage is available. 

On the next screen you will be presented with a list of Datastores that are available to you to install ESXi on. Select the Datastore that you want to use and press Enter. 

You will then be asked to select your Keyboard layout. Press Enter to continue.

Now you will have to set the Root Password for the OS. Once you confirm the password press Enter to continue. 

The ESXi Installer will then can your system again .

You will then be asked to Confirm your decision to install ESXi on the datastore you selected. Press F11 to continue. 

Now the installation will begin, again your mileage may vary as to how long it will take to complete. 

Once the installation has been completed you can press Enter to reboot the machine to complete in installation. 

After the reboot has been completed and the system boots up you will be presented with the following screen. 

This concludes the ESXi install guide. I hope you found this helpful an please check back for more updates to come.

Virtualization Vmware

How to Create a Virtual Machine using VMware Workstation Professional 15

Continuing on from my previous post, I wanted to go through the process of creating a Virtual Machine with VMware Workstation Professional 15. Mostly because the last time I did a how to create a VM post, it was a few years ago and it was vCenter 5.5, and because I will be building off of this for future posts.
So let’s get started.
Launch VMware Workstation Professional 15 Pro and you will be presented with the following screen. 
You will want to click on the Create a New Virtual Machine Button (Circled in Red below)

That will launch the New Virtual Machine Wizard.

From here you will want to select either Typical or Custom for your installation configuration. For the purposes my installation I am going to go with a Custom installation. 

After selecting Custom click Next. You will be presented with the option to choose your Virtual Machine Hardware Compatibility. 

As as you can see from the drop down menu below there are many options to choose from. Each option has different compatibility requirements which also brings different limitations. Also remember that Newer Hardware Versions will not be compatible with older versions of VMware Workstation, so if you have to move between versions please keep that in mind. 

For our purposes I will be Selecting ESXi 6.5, which should allow me to import this VM into an ESXi environment without needing to use VMware Converter. I will probably cover this in a later post. 

After making your selection, click Next to specify the OS for your Virtual Machine. You can either select and Installer disk, and Installer Image File (.iso), or I will install the Operating system later. For the purpose of this post I will be installing from a Image File (.iso). 

Click on browse to be prompted to select your Image file.

Select your installer Image File and click Open to continue. 

Depending on the .ISO you are using as the installer, VMware Workstation will attempt to determine what Operating System (OS) you are trying to install. This will also provide recommended settings based on your OS.

Click Next to continue on to name your Virtual Machines and specify where I want the Virtual Machine files to be located.

Click Next to move on to set Processor Configuration. The Processors are capped at the total number of Virtual CPUs available on your machine. If you try to over provision your processor you will get a Error message. 

Click Next to continue on to set the Memory for the Virtual Machine.

As you can see there is a “Recommended Memory” setting when you get to this screen. This is gathered from the .ISO check a few slides back. Click Next to continue on.

For Network Type you have 4 Options as seen above. The default is to use network address translation. This setting is all dependent on how much access you want to give to your VM. Do you want it to be accessible to or from your network? Perhaps you are setting up a VM to test some dangerous program? All these things you need to consider before clicking Next to continue. 

On this screen you will need to select your I/O Controller. I went with the recommended setting and clicked Next to continue.

 On the next screen you will be presented with options for Virtual Disk Type. Depending on what you will pick will determine compatibility with other Hypervisors in the future and can cause a real headache for someone else down the line if you don’t consider your options. I will cover that in a different post. For my purpose I will be sticking with SCSI which is recommended and is also the default selection.  

Next you will be asked to Select a disk from the following option.

As this is a new Virtual Machine I will be selecting Create a new Virtual Disk and Clicking Next.
You will then be presented with the following screen where you can specify the size of your Virtual Disk, if you want to Thick Provision it, and how you would like the file stored. 

Make you selection and Click Next to Continue. Next you will be able to Name the Virtual Hard disk and Specify what storage it will be installed on. 


Click Next to continue. Review your settings and Click Finish to continue. 

RVTools – A VMware Admin’s best friend

Today I would like to talk about one of my favorite tools that I use both internally and with my clients.

RVTools –

RVTools is a free utility that you can use to discover what is going on with your VMware Environment. All you have to do it install the client on your machine and in a few minutes you are able to log into your vSphere Environment (using your normal vSphere Credentials) and it will give you a read out of your entire environment.

From the login Screen the look and feel is very reminiscent of the old C# vSphere Client used back in 5.x and 6.0 days.

Once you log in you are presented with the vInfo tab which is a summary of everything going on with the vSphere/ESXi host you Connected to.

Along the top you will see a series to tabs that will drill down into the various components of your environment such as the ones seen below

I am only going to cover a few of these features, but I encourage you to try it out for your self.

 vCD will show you what Virtual Machine has a CD Drive installed on it, if it is connected, and what .ISO is currently connected to it. So ,.for instance, if you have a Virtual Machine that will not vMotion, you could use this tool to see if it is attached to a .ISO that is on Local Storage.

vSnapshot will show you all the Virtual Machines that have snapshots associated with it. It will report back to you the name of the Virtual Machine, the name of the Snapshot, the Date/Time it was taken, and the File Name of the snapshot.

And Lastly we will touch on the vHealth tab. This tab will give you advice on things that you may not realize is going on in your environment such as inconsistent naming, Host logs not being stored on persistent storage, VMware tools being out of date, and Zombies (Files that exist on Datastores, but are not in inventory).

On a final note that I forgot to mention, If you go up into the file menu you are able to export everything you see in the tool to a .CSV which can become very handy for documenting your environment. 
I hope you find this post useful and if you do download this product, please consider donating to it’s creator. Without tools like this it would make all of our jobs much harder. 

VMWare Virtual Machine will not Start in vCenter

So I was asked by a client to do up “hardware upgrades” on one of their virtual machines. This VM is not production and is not running anything at the moment, but will soon become an SQL Server running an application. So I went and powered off the VM, logged into the C# vSphere client (they are running vSphere 6.0), and doubled the memory as requested by the client.

After making the change I went to power on the VM and I get presented with this pop up error message from VMWare

The message itself seems pretty generic but I have actually seen this one before. This error has to do with  an issue with the management agents on  your ESXi host.

I followed the instructions found on this KB article but it did not resolve my issue. I also found this KB article which might yield better results but as this whole environment is production, I will need to wait to test that.


In order to get this VM powered back online, I needed to log directly into the virtual host and power on the machine.

The VM powered on with no issues.

I hope you find this helpful and I will update this when I have a solution.

Unable to import Infoblox 7 OVA into vSphere 6.5

The other day I was tasked with deploying a Infoblox OVA in our Lab environment. I was under the impression that this was going to be a simple task however I found out from my Coworkers that about 3 people had already tired to deploy it an all had failed. After spending WAY too much time on this task I eventually figured it out. Here are the steps I took to get this working in my lab.

First I started out by just trying to install the .OVA the normal way using the Deploy OVF Template Wizard hoping that my colleagues were just having permissions issues. Then I was greeted with this  screen below.

I then thought maybe something was wrong with the .OVA so I researched how to convert a .OVA to a .OVF and manually import it that way. It turns out all you need to use is use a product called 7zip and use it to extract the files from inside the .OVA.

Once you go into the new directory you just created you will see that the .OVA is made up of 3 files

I then tried to import those files and got the same result. Yay for consistency!!!

I then did some more reading and found that the issue may have been caused by a checksum error of the .ovf file so I found a PowerShell command that will tell me what the checksum of the .ovf file was

$(Get-FileHash .vmname.ovf -Algorithm SHA1 | Select -ExpandProperty Hash).ToLower()

You then take the value that Powershell kicks back and put it into the vmname.MF file. You can open this file with any text editor. You should take care when pasting the checksum hash value into the .MF file that you only use lower case letters.

After that was all done I tried to import the .OVF which means you have to include all 3 files. I still had the same result. Then I reread the error message and found that the .MF file was referencing a file that did not exist is the .OVA.


So I went back into the .MF file and deleted the value that was not needed and tried the import again.
This time I was met with a different message

Issues detected with selected template. Details: – 17:3:SECTION_RESTRICTION: Section Product Section (Information about the installed software) not allowed on envelope.

After banging my head against my desk and cursing out by boss for a while I went back to the Google to find out what this error message means. 
It turns out that this is in fact a know issue with Infoblox and they are planning on fixing it in version 8.2. However to get past this they recommend connecting directly to the virtual host and deploying it that way. You can read more about it on this blog that I found while searching for a fix.
So I connected directly to my virtual host and attempted to deploy it from there when I get this message
The host is currently being managed by the vCenter Server with IP Address xx.xx.xx.xx. Changes to this host during the session may not be reflected in the vSphere Client sessions currently viewing the vCenter Server.

I then discovered I would need to disconnect my ESXi host from vCenter to make this work. Fortunately I discovered that by connecting to my ESXi Host using SSH I could stop the services necessary for communication with vCenter.

So I connected to the host via SSH and ran the following commands
/etc/init.d/vpxa stop
/etc/init.d/hostd restart

I attempted to deploy it again and it was successful. I then ran /etc/init.d/vpxa start to set everything back to normal, did a few refreshes in vCenter and we were good to go. 

I hope this helps someone out there with the same issue.