Awesome fling: ESXi Embedded Host Client

A long long time ago I stumbled across a project within VMware which allowed you to manage ESXi through a client which was running on ESXi itself. Basically it presented an html interface for ESXi not unlike the MUI we had in the old days. It was one of those pet-projects being done in spare time by a couple of engineers which for various reasons at the time was never completed. The concept/idea however did not die fortunately. Some very clever engineers felt it was time to have that “embedded host client” for ESXi and started developing something in their spare time and this is the result.

I am not going to describe it in detail as William Lam has an excellent post on this great fling already. The installation is fairly straight forward, basically a vib you need to install. No rocket science. When installed you can manage various aspects of your hosts and VMs including:

  • VM operations (Power on, off, reset, suspend, etc).
  • Creating a new VM, from scratch or from OVF/OVA (limited OVA support)
  • Configuring NTP on a host
  • Displaying summaries, events, tasks and notifications/alerts
  • Providing a console to VMs
  • Configuring host networking
  • Configuring host advanced settings
  • Configuring host services

Is that cool or what? Head over to the Fling website and test it. Make sure to provide feedback when you have it as the engineers are very receptive and always looking to improve their fling. Personally I hope that this fling will graduate and will be added to ESXi by default, or at a minimum be fully supported! Excellent work Etienne Le Sueur and George Estebe!

Deploy VCSA 6.0 firstboot error

I was doing some tests in my lab and while deploying a new VCSA 6.0 I received an error that firstboot was unsuccessful. Not really a great error message if you ask me but okay. I had already validated DNS twice before I got started, but I checked it again just in case… DNS was all good, what else could it be? Figured NTP could be another problem and my friend William Lam confirmed that. I checked the host if NTP was configured and it was not for some reason. So I configured NTP on my ESXi hosts which was straight forward, but what about the VCSA I had deployed? Also not too complicated, I logged in via SSH and did the following:

  • ntp.get
    Will show “Status: Down”
  • ntp.server.add –servers
    This configures VCSA to fetch the time from ntp server to
  • timesync.set –mode NTP
    Make sure that the time sync is set to ntp
  • ntp.get
    Should show “Status: Up”

That should do it… By the way, you can simply check “resolv.conf” for DNS to see how it is configured today, also look at “hosts” for the host name etc.

Migrate from Windows vCenter to the vCenter Appliance

I thought that most people would have seen this awesome fling by now, but I received a couple of questions if it was already possible to migrate from the Windows vCenter Server to the vCenter Server Appliance. Surprisingly enough as William Lam wrote an excellent blog post on this subject. Anyway, this blog is just a simple short pointer to the Windows vCenter to vCenter Appliance migration tool and to William blog post. Read it, and go for it!

vCenter Server Appliance watchdog

I was reviewing a paper on vCenter availability for 6.0 and it listed a watchdog service which monitors “VPXD” (the vCenter Server service) on the vCenter Server Appliance. I had seen the service before but never really looked in to it. With 5.5 the watchdog service (/usr/bin/vmware-watchdog) was only used to monitor vpxd and tomcat but in 6.0 the watchdog service seems to monitor some more services. I did a “grep” of vmware-watchdog within the 6.0 appliance and the below is the outcome, it shows the services which are being watched:

ps -ef | grep vmware-watchdog
 root 7398 1 0 Mar27 ? 00:00:00 /bin/sh /usr/bin/vmware-watchdog -s rhttpproxy -u 30 -q 5 /usr/sbin/rhttpproxy -r /etc/vmware-rhttpproxy/config.xml -d /etc/vmware-rhttpproxy
 root 11187 1 0 Mar27 ? 00:00:00 /bin/sh /usr/bin/vmware-watchdog -s vws -u 30 -q 5 /usr/lib/vmware-vws/bin/
 root 12041 1 0 Mar27 ? 00:09:58 /bin/sh /usr/bin/vmware-watchdog -s syslog -u 30 -q 5 -b /var/run/ /sbin/rsyslogd -c 5 -f /etc/vmware-rsyslog.conf
 root 12520 1 0 Mar27 ? 00:09:56 /bin/sh /usr/bin/vmware-watchdog -b /storage/db/vpostgres/ -u 300 -q 2 -s vmware-vpostgres su -s /bin/bash vpostgres
 root 29201 1 0 Mar27 ? 00:00:00 /bin/sh /usr/bin/vmware-watchdog -a -s vpxd -u 3600 -q 2 /usr/sbin/vpxd

As you can see vmware-watchdog is ran with a couple of parameters, which seem to different for some services. As it is the most important service, lets have a look at VPXD. It shows the following parameters:

-s vpxd
-u 3600
-q 2

What the above parameters result in is the following: the service, named vpxd (-s vpxd), is monitored for failures and will be restarted twice (-q 2) at most. If it fails for a third time within 3600 seconds/one hour (-u 3600) the guest OS will be restarted (-a).

Note that the guest OS will only be restarted when vpxd has failed multiple times. With other services this is not the case as the “grep” above shows. There are some more watchdog related processes, but I am not going to discuss those at this point as the white paper which is being worked on by Technical Marketing will discuss these in a bit more depth and should be the authoritative resource.

** Please do not make changes to ANY of the above parameters as this is totally unsupported, I am mere showing the details for educational purposes and to provide a better insight around vCenter availability when it comes to the VCSA. **

Get your download engines running, vSphere 6.0 is here!

Yes the day is finally there, vSphere 6.0 / SRM / VSAN (and more) finally available. So where do you find it? Well that is simple… here:

Have fun!