Enable ssh on ESXi 3.5

First ESXi shell access;

How to get shell access to your VMWare ESXi server?
By default the VMWare ESXi server don’t offer shell access (through the menu).
But by doing the following, you will be able to access the shell (although its limited):

1. Hook up a screen and a keyboard to the VMWae ESXi server.
2. Press “Alt+F1″
3. Write “unsupported” and press Enter (if you screw up, and think you’ve typed something wrong,
you can use Ctrl+U to clear the input field).
4. Enter the root password, an voila, shell access.

Then enable ssh on ESXi 3.5

By default, ssh access is disabled on VMware ESXi 3.5, so how do i enable ssh on VMware ESXi 3.5?

1. Type “vi /etc/inetd.conf” and press “enter”.

2. Locate the line that starts with “#ssh     stream  tcp     nowait  root    /sbin/dropbearmulti…….”

3. Move the marker over the “#” and press “x”.

4. Press “Escape” and write “:wq”, then press “enter”.

5. Type “/sbin/services.sh restart” and press “Enter”. Note: If you are running ESXi 3.5 Update 2, the services.sh no longer restarts the inetd process. You will have to manually kill the inetd process, in order to restart it and enable ssh access without a reboot.  Type “ps | grep inetd” and press “enter”. You will then see something similiar to “1289 1289 busybox              inetd”. Then write “kill -HUP 1289″, and remember to write the number “ps | grep inetd” returns to you!

VMKUSAGE is back! in VC 2.5 U4

If you have been working with ESX for a while, you might remember VMKUSAGE on the MUI (the old ESX web interface), well it is finally back again. VMware released yesterday Update 4 for VC2.5 and ‘included’ a new plugin. It is not part of the normal install or in my case upgrade, and the install procedure might scare you away, but it is worth it!

If you want to use this, please check out this knowledge base article (http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1008296 ). If you are like me, upgrading your VC, make sure you stop your webaccess service before the upgrade, else you have to uninstall the service and start over again (see this kb article http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1008330 ). One more tip, if you are using SQL Express, read this KB article (http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1008329)

Well after you get it all working, you will see that on any host, resource pool or VM view you have a new tab (not on your datacenter for some silly reason).

Resource Pool stats

Resource Pool stats

VM stats


Extend boot volume on Windows Server 2000/2003

Before you begin, make sure that you do not have an active snapshot on the VM, extending a virtual disk with a snapshot will cause corrpution

Extend the boot volume of Windows Server 2003 Virtual Machine
To start, I have a Windows Server 2003 Virtual Machine that has a 5.3G disk allocated to it, I need to expand this disk to 10G.

Step 1: Power off the virtual machine that holds the boot volume that you want to extend.

Step 2: Make a backup copy of your virutal disk, this is optional but if you mess up don’t call me unless you’re willing to pay.

Step 3: From the service console, increase the size of the .dsk or .vmdk virtual disk file. This can also be accomplished through the Virtual Infrastructure Client if you are using VirtualCenter 2.x+.

[root@esx-test local]# ls -lah test.vmdk
-rw——- 1 root root 5.4G Jul 18 13:57 test.vmdk

Extend the virtual disk with vmkfstools. The input to the -X switch is the size that you want the disk file to be not the size you want to extend the disk file by .

[root@esx-test local]# vmkfstools -X 10G test.vmdk

View the new size of test.vmdk

[root@esx-test local]# ls -lah test.vmdk
-rw——- 1 root root 10G Jul 18 13:57 test.vmdk

Step 4: For this step you will need an additional Virtual Machine running Windows Server 2003. Power off the second Virtual Machine, and add the disk from the first Virtual Machine to it through the mui. Power up the second Virtual Machine and verify that the imported disk has unallocated space on it.

From the run menu type "diskpart.exe" to enter the command line utility to resize disk partitions in Windows Server 2003.

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Best practices for deploying Citrix on vmware ESX

First and foremost: this tuning list is my own experience and the experience of several users on the VMware forum . Your mileage may vary.

The goods:

  • Virtual Infrastructure 3
  • Windows 2003 Std (or Enterprise) Edition R2 (x86, not x64)
  • Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 (yes, I know, the old one ;))

The tips:

  • First this: it all depends on the applications used! Context switches is the key here…
  • Use Windows 2003 , not Windows 2000
  • Don’t P2V your servers, but use clean templates
  • Make sure the correct HAL (single or multi) is installed in the virtual machine. Otherwise, your vCPU will spike.
  • Always assign 1vCPU . If necessary, add a 2nd vCPU. Do not use 4 vCPUs!
  • Use 2 GB to start. Scale up to +-4 GB of vRAM if necessary
  • Use 1 .vmdk for your system partition (C:\ or other remapped drive letter) and 1 separate .vmdk for your program files.
  • Put the page file on the 2nd .vmdk
  • Important: disconnect any .iso file in your virtual CD-Rom
  • Use roaming profiles and cleanup your profiles at logoff
  • Disable sound for your published apps
  • Install the UPH service (download it here )
  • User sessions: for me, 30 users on a VM is the sweet spot. Do not expect to get as many users on it as on a physical box!
  • Scale out, not up. A major advantage of VM is to clone/NewSID/sysprep existing servers and put them into your existing Citrix farm. Just stop & disable your IMA service , clean up your RMLocalDB (if you use enterprise) and NewSid the thing. Refer to this support article for more info.
  • Use dual core or quad core systems. This because ESX will have more CPU to schedule its vCPUs on.
  • Don’t ever use a 2 vCPU Citrix virtual machine in a 2 pCPU physical machine!
  • Do not install the memory ballooning driver while installing the VMware Tools
  • Do not use a complete installation Vmware tools : there is an issue with roaming profiles and the shared folders component. See my previous article for more info.
  • Disable COM ports, hyperthreading, visual effects & use speedscreen technology where possible.
  • Use snapshots when installing applications or patching your servers (yes! With VMware you can do this!). In case of disaster, you can still revert to the original working server without using backups. Make sure all snapshots are removed ASAP when finished!
  • Always check that there are no snapshot leftovers (f.e. the infamous _VCB-BACKUP_ when using VCB)
  • Don’t forget you can use DRS rules to run your citrix servers on separate physical hosts.
  • Check out this vmworld 2006 presentation
  • And last but not least: do not forget to read ESX’s (excellent) performance tuning white paper .

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XenServer Is Now Free

Days ago, this announcement was made by Citrix:

XenServer, our enterprise virtual infrastructure platform is now free (including resource pooling and live relo), and we have announced Citrix Essentials for XenServer, and Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V as our virtualization management portfolio that offers a rich set of automated functions that drive the compatible virtualization layers beneath – the free Hyper-V hypervisor from Microsoft, and the free XenServer Enterprise virtual infrastructure platform from Citrix.  Finally, and most importanly, we announced a powerful go-to-market roadmap with Microsoft.

Response to our announcements has been extremely positive, from our partner Microsoft to our channel partners and resellers, and many many customers and users.  There are the expected nay-sayers too, but someone had to drink the only thing that you get free from our competitor – VMware koolaid.

That’s a pretty serious offering for free. Here’s a comparison chart they offer at their site:


Companies who are just now seriously looking into virtualization are going to be hard-pressed to pony up the cash VMWare is asking for their VI product when you can pretty much get the same functionality for free from Citrix. VMWare is going to have to do something in response to stay competitive, especially with the economy in the shape it’s in right now. I can’t wait to see what that will be.

VMware vCenter Converter released

VMware vCenter Converter can run on a wide variety of hardware and supports most commonly used versions of the Microsoft Windows and Linux* operating systems. With this robust, enterprise class migration tool you can:

  • Quickly and reliably convert local and remote physical machines into virtual machines without any disruption or downtime.
  • Complete multiple conversions simultaneously with a centralized management console and an intuitive conversion wizard.
  • Convert other virtual machine formats such as Microsoft Virtual PC and Microsoft Virtual Server or backup images of physical machines such as Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery or Norton Ghost to VMware virtual machines.
  • Restore VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) images of virtual machines to running virtual machines.
  • Clone and backup physical machines to virtual machines as part of your disaster recovery plan.


Download your copy here: https://www.vmware.com/download/converter/

*Linux P2V support is available for Standalone version only

New VMware Visio Shapes released

I just saw a nice present in one of my RSS feeds:

  1. ThinApp-Stencil- Objects for ThinApp
  2. Build your Own-Stencil – Stand-alone objectsto create your own diagrams
  3. VM-STencil – Objects that are related Virtual Machines
  4. VMware-Stencil – General Objects for VMware
  5. Products-Stencil – Diagrams and objects that are related to VMware products or technologies

Grab your own copy here: http://viops.vmware.com/home/docs/DOC-1346

An introduction to VMware View 3

In this three-part article series, Roland van der Kruk, a freelance consultant in The Netherlands, takes a look at the new features of VMware View 3, as well as best practices learned while doing a deployment for a customer. Part 1 provides information and insight on new features, Part 2 looks at Linked Clones, and Part 3 will look at special considerations and best practices for deployment.

Part 1 of 3 – An introduction to VMware View 3 features and best practices



Early December 2008, VMware released their new product for the VDI market, VMware View 3.0. As a rather substantial update to the former version, VMware VDM 2.0, apparently the product name also had to undergo a change to underline the differences between the new product and its predecessor. In this article I will discuss the (new) features in View 3.0 and the way they work. I will first describe the components on which the product is based. Then I will focus on the different deployment types possible with View 3.0 and what happens during and after deploying different types of ‘desktop pools’.

My experience with the new product is mainly based on an implementation that I did for a customer, who had a specific use case to provide desktop operating systems to developers around the globe. I will sometimes refer to other use cases as there are quite a few, however perhaps the biggest question that everyone probably has will remain unanswered, as the technology that makes up VDI is still developing. Where we can speak of an accepted and well known technology like Citrix XenApp, VDI is not nearly there yet. The question of how VDI will result in better return on investment than desktop deployment methods being used for many years now is not clear. It all depends on use cases and things like high availability requirements and hardware cost. Financial differences and justifications for using VDI or a traditional desktop model are not discussed in this article.

Part 2 of 3 – Linked Clones


Linked Clones

The big question to most people is probably: ‘What are linked clones and how do they work?’. Some of you may expect similar functionality to Citrix Provisioning Server where optimization in disk space can be significantly realized, and indeed VMware does somewhat the same, but with very different technology. Let’s see how VMware does it.

The essence of linked clones is Thin Provisioning; saving on expensive storage cost. Thin provisioning with View 3.0 can be realized using a “master virtual machine”, which is just a regular virtual machine that you create and then take a snapshot. That virtual machine will be used as the basis for rapid and thin OS deployment. Please notice that I mentioned a virtual machine “snapshot”, not a virtual machine “template”.

Part 3 of 3 – Special Considerations and Best Practices


High available, secure remote access

Unfortunately, a high available configuration to access VMware View while being outside the corporate network can be very different between organizations. I have been doing some research reading the VMware VDM 2 Load Balancing Guide to find out more about load balancing and secure remote access. In today’s enterprise environments, gateway devices like Citrix Netscaler/Access Gateway or Cisco ASA are more or less common practice. They are configured as a mandatory termination point for sessions originating from outside the corporate network connecting to resources inside the corporate network.