Welcome to bloggers paradise… VMworld Europe Starts in 3..2..

VMworld Europe is on the Horizon (yes, pun intended). VMworld EMEA or VMworld Europe is around the corner with just a few hours in the way. As we are all arriving, just to clarify for the ones that are left behind, VMworld Europe is taking place from 5 until 8 November at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona (and use the right Fira). A great opportunity to meet your fellow VMware peers at a conference. Go on and find the great community at the Fira venue. And probably there will be meat as well. Or other tapas as VMworld Europe hits Barcelona again. Like to past few years. Barcelona is great, but IMHO >5 years Fira is enough. But enough with that.

This year I will be part of VMworld with a bloggers pass. I will try and keep up with some blogs around the course of VMworld. Same procedure as last time. Anyway, we again can enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of a VMworld. From within the city and beyond. Try and catch me at the bloggers’ space, in the community area, solution exchange or flying around. Just look for a VMworld bag walking around….or an ITQ branded polo, cap or jacket. I will not be hard to find. I have arrived this Sunday, and will be leaving on Thursday… so enough activities can be planned. Of course enough moments for meetings and talks. Hit me up at Twitter (@Pheldoorn), Instagram (@Paikke) or check the contact page of this blog if you want to get in touch at VMworld.

Continue reading Welcome to bloggers paradise… VMworld Europe Starts in 3..2..

Hello Hackathon VMworld EU!

This post first appeared as an article on the ITQ blog: https://itq.nl/hello-hackathon-vmworld-eu/


For the second year in a row, a hackathon was organized at VMworld Barcelona. The hackathon is mainly to provide the VMware {code} community with a fun and energizing space to “learn, code and connect” and create cool new things the world needs. And so we did 😉

If you’re new to the VMware {code} hackathons and expect only evil hacking, you are not completely wrong but:

  • Hackathons are open to experts and newbies alike.
  • Participants don’t actually need to know how to code to be a productive member of a team
  • Ideas don’t have to be limited to VMware products. But yeah, strangely enough, most ideas hovered around the large VMware product suite…

Continue reading Hello Hackathon VMworld EU!

This post makes a hundred – time to take a peek back in pascalswereld.nl

And this is blog post number 100 in almost 4 years of blogging. A great milestone if I say so myself. And since my last was in 2013, a recap post is overdue 😉 So here goes crunching some numbers.

TL;DR This post is a little recap what I have done with my blog with some statistics from the years. Mainly for the fun of it. I don’t know how useful these are for you, but I can share them anyways as these are a bit of fun for me looking back these couple of years.

Over time I received some questions regarding what it takes doing a blog. Questions like what made you or how did you start, what is your traffic, hosting, time spent, sponsoring,  and so on. Sometimes I can answer these with some ease, but as I am not really a statistics junkie….well not before this one anyway….I could not always give answers. But apparently I have loads of statistic data. I don’t know how useful these are for you, but I can share them anyways as these are a bit of fun for me looking back without anger.

Continue reading This post makes a hundred – time to take a peek back in pascalswereld.nl

WebCommander Walnut Installation Walk-through

In a previous blog post from a far away history, I wrote about the WebCommander Fling (https://www.pascalswereld.nl/2013/10/30/webcommander/). Man that one is from 2013, I have been putting blog posts out there for a while now, hope you did find something useful on the blog…..
Anyhow back to this one. The WebCommander developer reached out in that previous post comment with a request to write-up a guide for WebCommander Walnut. I am writing it up as a walk-through to get it started and showing some output. If you would like some additions to the post, add some of the information your would like to see added to the post, or post questions / remarks and I will try to look if I can make some additions. But first….a little reminder about that commander out on the web…

What is WebCommander

WebCommander is a collection of web services around PowerShell and PowerCLI scripts. The interface can be used to provide users with scripts without them learning or knowing the PowerCLI commands. Or to give users access only to specific prepared tasks without giving them access to the web client (they still need to have permissions in the environment to do their operations). A great way in delegating specific tasks!

WebCommander was initially released and maintained as a VMware Fling. WebCommander was received very well by the community and saw the Fling being released as, and in turn moved to, an open source project on GitHub in 2014 (as announced on http://www.virtu-al.net/2014/09/03/webcommander-goes-open-source/).

The WebCommander project page can be found at: https://github.com/vmware/webcommander. This WebCommander version mainly uses XML with browser side transforming (XSLT). And when you hear version you know there might be another one, and yes there is WebCommander Walnut in a different branch.

WebCommander Walnut is to be used when :

  • you prefer JSON over XML,
  • combining commands in workflows for more or complex automation,
  • run local or cloud scripts (WebCommander Hybrid),
  • having a history,
  • 64-bit PowerShell,
  • more new features,
  • and a new User Interface

WebCommander

Take a look at WebCommander Walnut for yourself, go to GitHub: https://github.com/9whirls/webcommander_walnut

Installation Guide

Prepare the system:

Create a VM

Use Windows 2012R2 or Windows 2008R2 as the OS.

When using Windows2008R2 there are the following specifics:

  • Install .Net Framework 4.5.2. Needed for the installation of PowerShell v5 on 2008R2
  • Install PowerShell version 5

When using a fresh installation of Windows2012R2 install PowerShell Version 5.

For installation of the PowerShell version 5 install the Windows Management Framework 5.0 that can be downloaded as an update, or directly from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50395&ranMID=24542&ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-UGYM_0Jpr8QpSOcSBwTXfQ&tduid=(97816b302a22d507fcc1386696df4801)(256380)(2459594)(TnL5HPStwNw-UGYM_0Jpr8QpSOcSBwTXfQ)().

For Webcommander and PowerShell: Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Force.

IIS Web-Server (including SubFeatures and Management Tools). Either use the Add Roles and Features GUI to install the Web Server role or use PowerShell:

Install-WindowsFeature Web-Server -IncludeManagementTools -IncludeAllSubFeature

PHP from https://php.iis.net. Click  ‘Install PHP now’ from the web site to download the latest version. Execute the downloaded exe to start the Web Platform Installer. Continue the installer with all the default options (you can change by clicking the options link) and accept to do the installation. The installer will download and install the prerequisites.

PHP IIS Installation

And click Finish when done.

Install MongoDB for commands history.

In short the procedure for MongoDB is:

  • Install Visual C++ Redistributable, you can get the 64-bit here: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=746572.
  • Download community version at: https://www.mongodb.com/download-center#community.

MongoDB download CEIt should offer you the correct release and OS.

  • Install via the downloaded msi. Select complete or customize if you want. Complete will install in the default locations.
  • Add the installation location as a system path environment. The default installation location is C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.4\bin.
  • Use your powershell window used to install IIS or open a command prompt
  • MongoDB requires a data directory to store all data. MongoDB’s default data directory path is \data\db. Create this folder using the following a command line
md \data\db
  • Or use another location to suit your needs.
  • MongoDB also requires a location to store logs. Create the log folder using command line
md \data\log
  • Create a config file location with
md \data\conf
  • And add a text file mongodb.cfg there (watch the view – file extensions there!)
  • Add the following to the cfg file and save:
           systemLog:
                  destination: file
                  path: c:\data\log\mongod.log
           storage:
                  dbPath: c:\data\db

mongodb

  • Install MongoDB as a Windows service by running mongod.exe with –install parameter (as administrator!).
mongod.exe --config "C:\data\conf\mongodb.cfg" --install

If you get api-ms-win-crt-runtime-l1-1-0.dll is missing from your computer like this

System Error - Mongod

your Windows updates either screwed up or you have to install Visual C++ Redistributable. (Re)installing Visual C++ will mostly do the trick.

  • And now we will have a MongoDB service (use –serviceName and –serviceDisplayName to change to another name if you wish).
  • Start the MongoDB service with net start MongoDB.
  • Create database and collection in MongoDB for WebCommander by running the commands below:
    • exe
    • use webcmd
    • createCollection(“history”)
    • Mongo should respond with “ok”:1
  • Install the MongoDB powershell module:
    • In PowerShellv5
Install-Module Mdbc
    • Accept the installation of required components.

Install latest version of VMware PowerCLI (version 6.5.1 at time of writing):

  • Good thing is that version 6.5.1 does not require a msi installer anymore. You can install from the PowerShell Gallery via PowerShellGet (and the correct version of PowerShell, but we covered that one already):
Install-Module VMware.PowerCLI
    • Use –Scope CurrentUser to use only for this user and no admin permissions required

Install WebCommander:

Download the files from GitHub, for example for the zip file: https://github.com/9whirls/webcommander_walnut/archive/master.zip

Extract the zip and copy to c:\WebCommander. Or use your own location.

The Zip is composed of the following files and directories as subdirs of the master directory:
www/ – These are the files that need to be setup as the web service in IIS. _def is the file that is used to add the locations to the local scripts as defined in sources.json.
powershell/ …the local commands powershells
README.md – Readme file of the project
sources.json – Locations of local and remote scripts when wanting to use the remote script capability.
Note: that is, currently composed of… You never know what the future brings

Note: For scripts depending on your security policy Windows will normally block the files because they were downloaded from an external location, so you will have to unblock these files. Select the file – properties – and press the unblock in the security part at the bottom.

Open IIS Manager to configure the WebCommander site:

  • Remove the default site
  • Add a new site (in this case I used the administrator to connect as to know which user is running, don’t just copy but do what is appropriate for your environment)

Add Webcommandersite

  • select the WebCommander site and open the authentication feature
  • Enable Windows Authentication, and disable Anonymous.

Site Authentication

  • If we now open a browser we will see the initial page

Initial Localhost

When clicking on select a command we can only select the remote commands. use the source.json to define the local locations. For me it was fixed when removing http://localhost/ from the local configuration to read: “local” : “_def.json”,

This one could also help as the _def.json was also a bit empty. Go to c:\WebCommander\powershell\ and execute .\genDefJson.ps1 to recreate the definition json. We should use genDefJson when updating any ps1 scripts.

And voila local also shows up

WebCommander Local also

 

Test drive WebCommander

There are scripts for vSphere actions and Horizon view actions distributed with the Git.

I have seen the following error message pop-up: AuthorizationManager check failed. The following is witnessed, and changed:

  • For some reason the execution policy is back to restricted, Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned or Unrestricted.
  • with the ExecutionPolicy set to RemoteSigned or Unrestricted, this error may occur if the script or some of the other included scripts is still blocked. From the explorer right-click the file, select Properties and click Unblock. Go through all the files!

Let see if we can get some vSphere information:

  • Add Command vSphere (local)
  • Add the required parameters, go to method to select what you want to do. I just want to see, so listDatastore is my option.
  • And press the play
  • Go to the output if there is a Pass
  • And ….

Pass vSphere (local)

If we want to get rid of the PowerCLI Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) warning in the output. Run the following in Powershell:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -ParticipateInCEIP $false

(optionally with -Scope User / AllUsers)

And that’s it for now

– Enjoy WebCommanding throughout the universe!

Sources: labs.vmware.com, virtu-al.net, github.com/9whirls/webcommander_walnut

EUC Toolbox: Regshotting across the end user universe

For managing applications and user environments it is very useful to know the way the application and the user behaves. And for application provisioning and user environment management it is necessary to know where the application and system stores the settings and personalizations options. We will need some form of application to use for capturing or monitoring the system for changes that the application or it’s settings are doing. For UEM for example we have the Application Profiler to use and create application configuration or predefined settings. But if you like to see where our Windows friend stores its changes, application profiler is not enough. We need other tools for the job. We can use Process monitor (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/processmonitor.aspx) or SpyStudio (http://www.nektra.com/products/spystudio-api-monitor/) to name a few. Or regshot.

The main difference of regshot to, for example the mentioned Process monitor or SpyStudio, is that this tool does not require admin permissions like Process monitor or installation on the system like SpyStudio. You can just download and run in the user context. This is what is the strong point is of Regshot, low footprint and no changes to the system that could influence your capturing. As long as the changes you want to monitor are within the user context, but wasn’t this the point in the first place….

What does regshot do?

In short regshot takes a first and a second shot of the registry, and shows you the differences between these. Next to this regshot also allows you to scan dirs. For example save the registry and APPDATA after you have changed that minor customization. Isn’t that what you would want to see?

In short take a first shot before your change. Change the system and take a second shot. Press compare and see what has been changed. And use that output in for example UEM configurations.

Options

First up the application is available in 32-bit and 64-bit, and in ANSI and Unicode encoding.

Regshot Files

The difference here is the program architecture and how the character encoding is handled. If for example your language settings include non-latin characters, you may want to use the Unicode version of Regshot. Else it will not matter which one you take as long as the processor architecture is right.

Secondly with the shots you can do your shot, or do and save your shot. When saved you can later use this with the load option.

Capture and shot

Third, want your output in HTML or text. HTML is friendlier on the eyes, however it will take some more time to output. Sometimes the external program connection to HTML is screwed.

Fourth is including a scandir. Default regshot will do registry, but a lot of application do save something in for example the AppData Local, ProgramData or other locations. I would recommend to include the scandirs where possible. To only downside is that you would need to know where an application stores its values, or put in the most likely suspects. Just going for all out C:\users is getting you a lot of background noises from other applications using the same space.

Fifth is setting an output path. Currently it is set to the administrators AppData profile path. If I am scanning dirs in that location it might be a better idea to redirect the output to another location not to mess up the output.

Do keep in mind not to let in a lot of cycles between the first and second shot. The system will continue to run and add up in changes between the shots. Do your required change and shoot again.

Where can I get Regshot?

RegShot is available on its Sourceforge project page at https://sourceforge.net/projects/regshot/. You can download Regshot as a compressed .7z file. You can open this with 7Zip or WinZip. Downpart of the 7z is that if you haven’t brought an additional zip application, native Windows can’t handle this. There goes my no changes to the system with using Regshot…..or just unzip it on another system 😉

Show me

Don’t mind if I do. First we are going to take our first shot. Just let the program count the keys and values, and the dirs and files, until the second shot button appears.

Regshot Shooting

I don’t mind the time it takes, my testlab is a bit on the slow hand. And including the scandir takes an even longer time than just browsing the registry. But I’m there for the results not the speed.

Next up do a change to the system. For this example I changed Chrome browser settings to show the home and always show the bookmark bar. Done with the change? Take the 2nd shot. And wait until the compare button is available. Than press that one. In the output is for example:

Keys Home

Now it is up to you to analyse what is needed..

We see that Chrome wrote to the \Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs in the USER SID key. However SIDs we cannot capture with for example UEM. We do know that this is the same as HKCU and can be captured from the HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs. Just add the HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs or HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome to be included in the UEM Configuration.

Now it is up to you to analyse what is needed.

– Happy shooting at your users…ermmm user environment I mean!

Sources: sourceforge.net/projects/regshot

Community Survey: Project VRC State of the VDI and SBC union 2015

Once in a while a request comes to my e-mail box with content to be included on my blog. This time it is Ruben Spruijt (@rspruijt) and Jeroen van de Kamp (@thejeroen) contacting about their project VRC ‘State of the VDI and SBC union’ community survey for this year. As the community is an important and often high quality source for opinions, input and discussions, I wanted to take part in reaching out to this community for participating on this year survey. The success of a survey will be determined on the amount of quality high responses, and that is just what the IT community brings more then often. Not that I have an awful lot of followers, but hey it just takes two to tango ;-).

This Project VRC what’s that about?

Project VRC is an independent R&D project. VRC stands for Virtual Reality Check. The R&D project was started in early 2009 and focuses on research in the desktop and application virtualization market. Several white papers are published about performance impact and best practices regarding different hypervisors, application virtualization solution, (Published) Desktop OS, infrastructure solutions and such for the VDI and Server Based computing environments. The previous published white papers can be downloaded from http://www.projectvrc.com/white-papers. Of course you are also invited to take a look there. Previous survey white papers can be found there as well.

State of the VDI and SBC union survey 2015

In 2013 and 2014 Project VRC released the first iterations of community surveys about VDI and SBC environments. Over 1300 people participated so far. As times still continue on changing (and will be doing so on and on and on), and the more provided community knowledge as input for 2015 Project VRC the survey will get better and better. It needs your input (again if you already participated on previous versions). Who? Well everyone that is involved from strategy, designing, implementing and/or maintaining VDI or SBC environments can give helpful input in this survey. This survey probably will take no more than 10 minutes of your time. So what are you waiting for? A link probably, open www.projectvrc.com/blog/23-project-vrc-state-of-the-vdi-and-sbc-union-2015-survey or directly to the survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VRC2015 to fill out the Project Virtual Reality Check “State of the VDI and SBC Union 2015” survey.

This survey will be closed on February 15th of 2015.

– Have fun!

Source: projectvrc.com

Being part of Nutanix blogger session and opening of EMEA HQ

On februari the 18th I, together with other bloggers from the Netherlands (the netherlands as a whole, not just one country), was invited to an informal Nutanix blogger session. One plus one is that I should make a blog about that.
At this session we were updated on the Nutanix EMEA HQ opening and strategy with the community and Nutanix. The update session was at the new EMEA HQ of Nutanix in Hoofddorp the Netherlands that was opened on the same day. At the blogger session founder / CEO Dheeraj Pandey (@trailsfootmarks) and Howard Ting (@howardting),VP Marketing/Product Management were also present. Great meeting these guys, and all the others from the Nutanix family. And also very nice to meet some of the community in person.

image

For the bloggers this session was all about how Nutanix needs the community and how the community can be an important part for Nutanix.

And we got a hard copy of the Nutanix special edition Software-Defined Storage for Dummies. You can grab your free e-version at http://go.nutanix.com/DummiesBook_SDSD.html.

image

(liked I tweeted a good combination bubbles, bloggers, software defined storage and opening of Nutanix EMEA )

But first a little about the Nutanix solution as I have not yet written about this subject (only named them in some IO articles).

Small introduction to Nutanix

Nutanix is a (hyper)converged infrastructure solution that consolidates the computing (server) tier and the storage tier into a single, integrated appliance. Nutanix calls this the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform. The integrated appliances work in a modular building block design, what makes it a simple and scalable solution. This makes it easy to start with a small deployment and scale incremental to a large cluster solution. Because of the consolidation of the computing and storage tier, Nutanix eliminates the requirement for a complex storage infrastructure. This introduces simplicity to your infrastructure, and cuts down in deployment en engineering/maintenance costs. This furthermore keeps to IO within the Nutanix building blocks, at which your workloads gets it’s IO without having to move downstream and upstream to storage infrastructures. The simplicity goes even further with this solution by delivering rapid deployment without disruptions, and easy management from a single management layer.

Each Nutanix instance or node runs a hypervisor (VMware ESXi, KVM, Hyper-V are currently supported) and a Nutanix controller VM (CVM). This controller VM handles all IO operations for the nodes local hypervisor and VM’s.

An architecture model for a Nutanix node taken from the Nutanix web site.

image

When the Nutanix nodes are grouped together they form a distributed platform which is called the Nutanix Distributed File system (NDFS). To the hypervisor the NDFS appears to be a centralized storage layer, but from within the Nutanix solution the IO is handled local on the nodes to provide the highest performance to the required workload/User VM’s. And by forming a group, NDFS leverages techniques including striping, replication, auto-tiering, error detection, fail over and automatic recovery. By presenting centralized storage pools, hypervisor features like high availability, vMotion and DRS can be leveraged as well.

A perfect match for VD, for virtualizing business critical applications like MSSQL and Exchange and elastic big data.

The community

Nutanix acknowledges the importance of the community and is willing to be part of the community, and let the community be part of the Nutanix magic. As discussed at this blogger session, the community is needed to keep the company (and others in the digital space) honest and real. The company needs feedback from the community about technical and even strategical choices. It’s great of a company to reach out and acknowledge the importance of a community for a product, with a added bonus of an in person session. It takes two to tango….
Most bloggers will not be one subject biased, but we all have our favorite subjects and knowledge background were we can be of a specific assistance. Great solutions will be broader adopted in the (enough with borders) community. That is a step one, great for doing some more steps and match the community to some of the parts in the Nutanix solution.

Thanks Nutanix

A big thank you is in order for the invitation as I am just trying to get used to the community and practicing my blogging skills. Now let’s see how I can be part of this Nutanix community magic…..let’s see what will be `next’…..