Monday, November 29, 2010

Of event id 7023 and Microsoft patch strategy.

Have you ever had an issue with Internet Authentication Service (IAS) failing with event id 7023? This event is somewhat a very good occasion to understand how things work at Redmond. The problem with Microsoft is that quite often installing a patch means that you are soon going to have some unforeseen issues just like when replacing the corner stone of an old pyramid. At least this is what I learnt today when I applied security updates to one of my  good old Windows Domain Controllers. 

Let's start from...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Windows for 99 bucks...

Guys, this is history, just like the man on the moon:

How to downgrade ESX virtual hardware

I have found a cool blog post about Downgrading ESX virtual hardware 7 to 4 via the command-line: "When you upgrade your vSphere environment you normally also upgrade the VM’s virtual hardware to version 7, to take advantage of the new features. This is pretty normal procedure for all VMware admins. But in some very very rare cases you might need to move a VM upgraded to hardware version 7, to a host that doesn’t support VM’s running hardware version 7..."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NetApp videos

Like most of the big companies nowaday, we are also implementing NetApp solutions side by side with other SAN technologies, due to its advantages, such as Volume Deduplication, Snapshots and thin provisioning. I am not a storage guru, so I have been wandering in the meanders of the net to find good resources about NetApp, and I luckily came into some quality videos by Alterkom that I would like to share with you here, just in case:

NetApp-1-N90X Deleting (Destroying) Volumes and Aggregates
NetApp-2-N90X Creating Aggregates
NetApp-3-N90X Creating Volumes
NetApp-4-N90X Configuring CIFS on NetApp
NetApp-5-N90X Configuring NetApp Virtual DIsk Storage in Xen Server
NetApp-6-N90X Configuring iSCSI on NetApp and Windows Servers

I suggest you watch them in this order and you'll learn a lot about NetApp configuration and behavior.

Thin provisioning

Under vSphere, I have came across situations where I needed to quickly change the disk type from thick to thin or to check whether my virtual disks were preallocated on disk or not. Thin provisioning is something new to VMware vSphere which enables you to thin-provision your disks in order to optimize the utilization of available storage.

Changing disk format for a VMDK virtual disk can be done via the command line interface called vmkfstools; which let you manage your VMDK files (these are the actual virtual hard drives for the virtual guest OS). There are plenty of switches under vmkfstools, and some are exactly what we need to change the VMDK format. Let's have a look at...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Forcing Windows 2008 to a KMS server

If you have many KMS servers in your infrastructure (as in my case), it can be useful to know how to force new servers to a specific KMS server. This is particularly true if you have activated your KMS servers with different Volume Licensing keys (A for Web edition, B for Standard edition or C for Enterprise and Datacenter editions) or if you don't want to see your activation requests crossing all of your network.

Basically, a KMS client will send out a request to its DNS server for a record of type srv _vlmcs._tcp and the DNS will answer with the hostname of a KMS server to contact and to register with. What you can do is to use the integrated slmgr to tell your new server to connect directly to a specific server substantially bypassing the broadcast part.

Here's how.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Event ID 8214

Sometimes it happens that once you have modified you Alternate Access Mappings (AAM) on a SharePoint website, you start getting 8214 events in the Application EventLog:

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Windows SharePoint Services 3
Event Category: Topology
Event ID: 8214
Date: 15/03/2010
Time: 4:41:18 PM
User: N/A
Computer: WSSserver

This happens...

Intel Confirms Sandy Bridge Debut for January '11

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Cloning Windows Server 2008 R2: Use Sysprep (no more NewSID)

Changing SID does matter, as you will learn reading this: Cloning Windows Server 2008 R2: Use Sysprep (no more NewSID): "It is not uncommon for system administrators to clone virtual servers or take an image of physical servers running Windows Server 2008 these days. There are plenty of tools to do that these days (Ghost, Acronis, Platespin for P2V conversions, etc.) If this is something you do regularly then you won’ ..."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vmware Windows 2008 R2 template

Having been playing around for some time now with Vmware templates and Windows 2008 R2 integration, I have decided to give credit to the few sites that have helped me and that shared their experience of preparing a template I could easily use as a master for my future VM deployments.

This is a very complete resource, which comes with a full explaination of disk partitioning and of issues related to the component folder Winsxs...

PASH or... Powershell + Bash

PASH (Powershell + Bash): open Source powershell for Linux, Mac and Win Mobile: "Pash (PowerShell + Bash) is an open source reimplementation for 'others' (Mac, Linux, Solaris, etc...) and Windows (including Windows Mobile and Windows CE). The main goal is to provide a rich shell environment for other operating ..."

I'll give it a try!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Monitoring registry changes under Windows 2008 R2

I need to monitor registry changes in a brand new Windows 2008 R2 installation to track changes to registry keys when I deactivate TCPIPV6, QoS and other stuff on the server network card. This task is a tough one, more than I expected. Not so longtime ago we had regmon, which was so powerful. Today regmon is no more an option for recent Microsoft Operating Systems. I could use procmon, of course, but it  is so heavy and resource-consuming and, what's more, too many information is displayed which it takes a lot of energy to filter out.

I have therefore started trying Registry Live Watch...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SEPM 11 communication with clients

Antivirus administrators, I have found an excellent video explaining communication between Symantec SEPM11 and its clients. I think that you might find it very interesting especially if you have a firewall between your SEPM management server and your SEP clients.

What you will learn from this video is that all SEP communications are CLIENT INITIATED from a random port, toward the SEPM HTTP port (from MR3 onwards the default is 8014, before it was port 80). There is no connection FROM the server TO the client. Even if you push an action as 'Update Content' the client will retrieve this command from the server at its next connection with the management server.

That's why using netstat -b | find /i "ip.address.of.server" you will see all the communication on port 8014.

TCP ports 139 and 445, as well as UDP ports 137 and 138, are only required for initial client deployment from SEPM, not for management.

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The disk is offline because of policy set by an administrator

You have just installed or cloned a VM with Windows 2008 Enterprise or Datacenter or you have upgraded the VM to Virtual Hardware 7 and under Disk Management you get an error message saying:

"the disk is offline because of policy set by an administrator".

This is because, and this is by design, all virtual machine disk files (VMDK) are presented from Virtual hardware 7 (the one of ESX 3.5) to VMs as SAN disks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

ESX server troubleshooting

Three days ago I was woken up for a problem on en critical ESX server for which I am on-call. As you know, duties of a system administrator are wide-ranging, and, in particularly sensitive environments, you must be ready to be answering the phone at any time of the year… so I duly spent most of my night alone with my laptop to solve it and that event made me think of a post where I would resume a bunch of information about ways and commands to troubleshoot an ESX server problem. This is that post.

First of all, when troubleshooting an ESX, you have to

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SharePoint and SSL

Following our IT Security team guidelines, I have finally decided to migrate one of our WSS 3.0 websites to the HTTPS protocol. The procedure is a little bit complicated, because I had to modify SharePoint configuration first and only then proceed to setup the Security Certificate in IIS 6.0.

Start by running SharePoint 3.0 Central Administration, then select Application Management and choose the option 'Create or extend web application':


You're probably reading this post because you are wondering why there are so many processes running with the name svchost.exe. What are they? Microsoft has been strangely neboulous about this service. Usually Windows services have meaningful names and associated processes too. This is not the case for this sort of black box. What's hiding inside? And why is it so often taking so many server resources?

Microsoft has given its users a tool to check

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TOP500 SuperComputer Sites and Tianhe-1

This November 2010, the TOP500 website will finally publish the name of the fastest supercomputer in the world. Suspense is at its highest level. Will China get the top rank with its Tianhe-1 supercomputer? It would be the first time ever that a non-American and non-japanese supercomputer lab get this prize... times are changing...

Last June, Jaguar Cray XT5 won with 1759 teraflops. This November, Tianhe-1 from the National SuperComputer Center in Tianjin seems to be able of scoring an impressive computing rate of 2507 teraflops, which is far beyond any recorded performance.

Sysadmins, stay tuned on!

Other interesting links:

SQL server open connections

In order to solve performance issues or to check database usage, it can be quite useful to know how to get current connections to a SQL Server.

In SQL Server 2000 (if you still have one...), SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 the sp_who2 stored procedure returns information about current SQL Server 2000 users and processes. This function is unfortunately not very well documented.

As a general information, you must know that the connections returned by this function are denoted as SPID, or Server process Id. Running sp_who2 is easy, All that is required is to type sp_who2 and type F5.
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