Workstation

Caching your Windows 8 Domain Credentials when you have a Web Based SSL Connection

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I was setting up a fresh Windows 8 Fusion 6 VM last weekend and realized I needed to cache my domain credentials.

However the only way I could access the domain was via a browser based VPN and I could only access this VPN after I logged in locally.

With only the ability to logon locally and then launch the web based VPN I was prompted for my password and security keys multiple times a day – Not a fun experience.

Here is how I solved this issue…

  1. Logged in with my local account
  2. Attached to the VPN
  3. Added my Windows 8 VM to the domain
  4. Added my domain account to a Local group (Admins of course)
  5. Rebooted
  6. Logged in with my local account
  7. Attached to the VPN
  8. Closed all Internet Explorer (IE) windows, held down CTRL+Shift, right click on IE, and finally choose ‘Run as Different User’ (PIC1)
  9. I typed in my domain user account/password and allowed IE to load << This should cache your credentials (PIC2)
  10. Close all windows, restart, and I was able to logon with my Domain Account
  11. Attached to the web based VPN and viola… all is working well

Pic 1 – hold down CTRL+Shift then right click on IE, and finally choose ‘Run as Different User’

PIC 2 – Enter your Credentials

Summary – Using ‘Run as Different User’ apparently helps to cache the domain credentials locally. Your experience may vary depending on your rights as a domain user and the security policies enforced in your domain.

Home Lab – freeNAS build with LIAN LI PC-Q25, and Zotac M880G-ITX

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I’ve decided to repurpose my IOMega IX4 and build out a freeNAS server for my ever growing home lab. In this blog post I’m not going to get in to the reasons why I choose freeNAS, trust me I ran through lot of open source NAS software, but rather on the actual hardware build of the NAS device.

Here are the hardware components I choose to build my freeNAS box with…

Tip – Watch for sales on all these items, the prices go up and down daily…

Factors in choosing this hardware…

  • Case – the Lian LI case supports 7 Hard disks (5 being hotswap) in a small and very quiet case, Need I say more…
  • Power supply – Usually I go with a Antec Power supply, however this time I’m tight on budget so I went with a Cooler Master 80PLUS rated Power supply
  • Motherboard – The case and the NAS software I choose really drove the Mobo selection, I played with a bunch of Open soruce NAS software on VM’s, once I made my choice on the case and choosing freeNAS it was simple as finding one that fit both. However 2 options I was keen on – 1) 6 SATA III Ports (To support all the Hard disks), 2) PCIex1 slot (to support the Dual Port NIC). Note – I removed the onboard Wireless NIC and the antenna, no need for them on this NAS device
  • NIC – the SYBA Dual NIC I have used in both of my ESXi hosts, they run on the Realtek 8111e chipset and have served me well. The Mobo I choose has the same chipset and they should integrate well into my environment.
  • RAM – 8GB of RAM, since I will have ~7TB of usable space with freeNAS, the general rule of thumb is to use 1GB of RAM per 1TB of storage, 8GB should be enough.
  • Hard Disks – I choose the hard disks mainly on Price, speed, and size. These hard disks are NOT rated above RAID 1 however I believe they will serve my needs accordingly. If you looking for HIGH performance and duty cycle HD’s then go with an enterprise class SAS or SATA disk.
  • SSD – I’ll use this for cache setup with freeNAS, I just wanted it to be SATA III

Install Issues and PIC’s

What went well…

  • Hard disk installs into case went well
  • Mobo came up without issue
  • freeNAS 8.3.xx installed without issue

Minor Issues….

  • Had to modify (actually drill out) the mounting plate on the LIAN LI case to fit the Cooler Master Power supply
  • LIAN LI Mobo Mount points were off about a quarter inch, this leaves a gap when installing the NIC card
  • LIAN LI case is tight in areas where the Mobo power supply edge connector meets the hard disk tray

PICS…

LIAN LI Case

5 Seagate HD’s installed…

Rear view…

Side Panel…

Zotac Mobo with RAM

Removal of the Wireless NIC….

Zotac Mobo installed in case with dual NIC…

Everything Mounted (Except for the SSD)….

Home Lab – More updates to my design

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Most recently I posted about adding a Layer 3 switch to my growing home lab. The Netgear Layer 3 switch I added (GSM7324) is preforming quite well in my home lab. In fact it’s quite zippy compared to my older switches and for the price it was worth it. However my ever growing home lab is having some growing pains, 2 to be exact.

In this post I’ll outline the issues, the solutions I’ve chosen, and my new direction for my home lab.

The issues…

Initially my thoughts were I could use my single ESXi Host and Workstation with specific VM’s to do most of my lab needs.

There were two issues I ran into, 1 – Workstation doesn’t support VLANs and 2 – my trusty IOMega IX4 wasn’t preforming very well.

Issue 1 – Workstation VLANs

Plain and simple Workstation doesn’t support VLANs and working with one ESXi Host is prohibiting me from fully using my lab and switch.

Issues 2 – IOMega IX4 Performance

My IOMega IX4 has been a very reliable appliance and it has done its job quite well.

However when I put any type of load on it (More than One or Two VM’s booting) its performance becomes a bit intolerable.

The Solutions…

Issue 1 – Workstation VLANs

I plan to still use Workstation for testing of newer ESXi platforms and various software components

I will install a second ESXi host similar to the one I built earlier this year only both Hosts will have 32GB of RAM.

The second Host will allow me to test more advanced software and develop my home lab further.

Issues 2 – IOMega IX4 Performance

I’ve decided to separate my personal data from my home lab data.

I will use my IX4 for personal needs and build a new NAS for my home lab.

A New Direction…

My intent is to build out a second ESXi Physical Host and ~9TB FreeNAS server so that I can support a vCloud Director lab environment.

vCD will enable me to spin up multiple test labs and continue to do the testing that I need.

 

So that’s it for now… I’m off to build my second host and my freeNAS server…

Thank you Computer Gods for your divine intervention and BIOS Settings

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I’ve been in IT for over 20 years now and in my time I’ve seen some crazy stuff like –

  • Grass growing in a Unisys Green Screen terminal that was sent in for repair by a Lumber yard
  • A Goofy screen saver on a IBM PS/2 running OS/2 kept bringing down Token Ring till we found it

But this friend is one of the more weird issues I’ve come across….

This all started last March 2012. I bought some more RAM and a pair of 2TB Hitachi HD’s for my Workstation 8 PC. I needed to expand my system and Newegg had a great deal on them. I imaged up my existing Windows 7 OS and pushed it down to the new HD. When the system booted I noticed that is was running very slow. I figured this to be an issue with the image process. So I decided to install from Windows 7 from scratch but I ran into various installation issues and slowness problems. I put my old Samsung HD back in my system and it booted fine. When I plugged the new Hitachi HD in the system as a second HD via SATA or USB the problems started again, basically it was decreased performance, programs not loading, and choppy video. I repeated these same steps with the 2nd Hitachi HD that I bought and it had the same issues.

A bit perplexed at this point I figure I have a pair of bad HD’s or bad HD BIOS. Newegg would not take back the HD’s, so I start working with Hitachi. I tried a firmware HD update, I RMA both HD’s and I still have the same issue. Hitachi sends me different model but slower HD and it works fine. So now I know there is something up with this model of HD.

I start working with Gigabyte – Same deal as Hitachi BIOS Update, RMA for a new System board Revision (Now I’m at a Rev 1.3) and I still have the same issue. I send an HD to Gigabyte in California and they cannot reproduce the problem. I’ll spare you all the details but trust me I try every combination I can think of. At this point I’m now at this for 5 Months, I still cannot use my new HD, and then I discover the following…

I put in a PCI (Not PCIe) VGA video card into my system and it works…

and then it hit me – “I wonder if this is some weird HDMI Video HD conflict problem”

I asked Gigabyte if disabling onboard HDMI video might help.

They were unsure but I try it anyway and sure enough I found the solution!

It was like the computer gods had finally shone down on me from above – halle-freaking-lujah…..

 

 

 

Here are the overall symptoms….

Windows 7 x64 Enterprise or Professional installer fails to load or complete the installation process

If the installation completes, mouse movements are choppy, the system locks up or will not boot

Attaching the Hitachi HD to a booted system via USB the system will start to exhibit performance issues.

Here is what I found out….

Any Combination of the following products will result in a failure…. Change any one out and it works!

1 x Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3 (Rev 1.0 and 1.3)

1 x Hitachi GST Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3020ALA632

1 x PCIe Video Card with HDMI Output (I tried the following card with the same Results – ZOTAC ZT-40604-10L GeForce GT 430 and EVGA – GeForce GT 610)

Here is the solution to making them work together….

BIOS under Advanced BIOS Settings – Change On Board VGA to ‘Enable if No Ext PEG’

This simple setting disabled the on board HDMI Video and resolved the conflicts with the products not working together.

Summary….

I got to meet some really talented engineers at Hitachi and Gigabyte. All were friendly and worked with me to solve my issue. One person Danny from Gigabyte was the most responsive and talented MoBo engineer I’ve meet. Even though in the end I found my own solution, I wouldn’t have made it there without some of their expert guidance!

Whitebox ESXi 5.x Diskless install

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I wanted to build a simple diskless ESXi 5.x server that I could use as an extension to my Workstations 8 LAB.

Here’s the build I completed today….

  • Antec Sonata Gen I Case (Own, Buy for ~$59)
  • Antec Earth Watts 650 PS (Own, Buy for ~$70)
  • MSI Z68MS-G45(B3) Rev 3.0 AKA MS-7676 (currently $59 at Fry’s)
  • Intel i7-2600 CPU LGA 1155 (Own, Buy for ~$300)
  • 16GB DDR3-1600 Corsair RAM (Own, Buy for ~$80)
  • Intel PCIe NIC (Own, Buy for ~$20)
  • Super Deluxe VMware 1GB USB Stick (Free!)
  • Classy VMware Sticker on front (Free)

Total Build Cost New — $590

My total Cost as I already owned the Hardware – $60 J

ESXi Installation –

  • Installed ESXi 5.0 via USB CD ROM to the VMware 1GB USB Stick
  • No install issues
  • All NIC’s and video recognized
  • It’s a very quiet running system that I can use as an extension from my Workstation 8 Home lab…
Front View with Nice VMware Sticker!
Rear View with 1GB VMware USB Stick
System Board with CPU, RAM and NIC – Look Mom no Hard Disks!
Model Detail on the MSI System board, ESXi reports the Mobo as a MS-7676

VMworld 2012 – Public Voting Now Open – Vote for my sessions!

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For the first time I submitted sessions for VMworld 2012.

Please support me by going to vmworld.com and voting for my sessions…

Please visit VMworld 2012

Update to my Home Lab with VMware Workstation 8 – Part 3 Installation of Workstation 8

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Okay so now that we have a sound hardware and OS, its now time to install Workstation 8.

Here’s the brief version – Next, Custom, Next, Change, Next, Change, Next, Change, Next, Continue, Enter, Finish… Well it’s almost that simple there is a bit more thought behind this….

Pre-Plan –

Make sure you have Workstation 8 downloaded

Read the release notes https://www.vmware.com/support/ws80/doc/releasenotes_workstation_80.html

Why read them… Lots of goodies and gotcahs in there.  I checked my hardware prior to purchase so I know I’m okay, you should check yours too

I needed to know two things to get the base Program installed:

  • Where will I install Workstation 8? Do I choose one of my SATA disks or my SSD?
  • Where will my default VM direction go? Do I choose one of my SATA disks or my SSD

The Steps I took –

First thing I did was check my network settings…

Why is this important, for most it’s probably not, but for me I always like to see the before and after effects

Workstation 8 will install “virtual” network adapters, below is the before and at the end is the after…

From this screen shot you can see ‘Ethernet Adapter Local Area Network’ is my primary single pNIC in my PC.

Download and install the Workstation 8 executable… Lunch it and click next…

I Choose Custom to see some options for directory customization.

This is a good screen and is something you should think about…

If you have some SSD drives and PLEANTY of space (for VM’s and Workstation) you might want to consider placing the install there.

TIP – I did install Workstation 8 on my SSD and the boot time for the program was very FAST!

However I really needed the SSD space so I moved it to my 500GB 3gb/s disk. It doesn’t boot as fast but once it’s loaded there really no difference.

This is another good screen and is something you should think about…

Where do you want your default VM’s to be stored?

For Me I had choices for 500GB, 300GB SATA disks or my 60GB SSD

At this point I clicked on change…

I choose the D: disk which was my 300GB SATA disk to get started…

By default your new VM will be placed in this folder and you can choose a different path if you wish.

Just like Fashion what’s in today is history tomorrow and so are default paths… you make a good choice now but want to change it later.

Don’t sweat this too much, changing the default VM path is easy in Workstation 8 and I do just that in an upcoming post.

Click Next…

Click Continue…

Enter your License Key…

TIP – Want a free copy of Workstation 8? When I got my VCP5 I got a free copy, get yours too, and get certified!

Click Finish and you’re done…

Going back to the network settings… you can now see Workstation 8 installed two new adapters.

VMware Network Adapter VMnet1 and VMnet8

Summary –

This went smooth no real issues; however as I later discovered some of the choices I made (Installation directories had to be changed)

Update to my Home Lab with VMware Workstation 8 – Part 2 Fun with a Windows 7 Installer

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Part 1 of this series outlined the hardware I wanted to purchase and some of the ideas I had around the products.

I created an image of the current install of Windows 7, then booted it to my new hardware, and to my surprise there were not any hidden files or drivers that needed adjusted.

It worked quite well, so well it was scary but simply Impressive…. Sure beats those old XP days when you had to just about tear it apart to get it to work.

However I would like this install of Workstation 8 to run on a fresh copy of Windows 7 so I have decided to reinstall it.

Now this shouldn’t warrant a blog post however they way I had to get Windows 7 to behave is why I’m posting.

In this post I go into getting Windows 7 to install properly when you don’t have proper installation CD.

 

The CD I own for Windows 7 is an Windows based Installation only, you cannot create boot CD to install the OS fresh.

Trust me I tired many ways but it just doesn’t work…

 

Here is what I wanted to accomplish –

1. I’d like a fresh copy of Windows 7 Installed on to my system

2. I need to enable AHCI in my system BIOS (for more info see here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Host_Controller_Interface)

I found on the corsair blogs that my SSD drive will run much better if you enable AHCI in your BIOS.

Unfortunately this pretty much deems a reinstall. I’m okay with this because it is what I’m wanting to do.

 

Issues –

1. The version of Windows 7 I have is an upgrade or restore only version.

2. Currently AHCI is not enabled in my BIOS

 

Here’s how I did it… Oh, did it take some trickery and learning but it worked..

Know this…

Windows 7 will do a recovery install to your current HD (C:) or to a new HD (E:).

If you install to your current HD, C:, then it will install in to a WINDOWS.001 folder, and leave lots of old files laying around.

Not ideal as I want a pristine Install

Do this…

From Windows I initiated the install, choose custom install and  choose my E: drive (At the time E: was just a blank HD)

image

Windows did it typical install, Copying files, and they rebooted the system.

During the reboot I enabled AHCI on ALL controllers in the BIOS << THIS IS VERY important step, if you miss this Windows will install in IDE Mode

Windows completed the install and boots to your E: drive.

Having E:\ be the boot and E:\Windows is not ideal. I really want Windows 7 on my C: drive. 

I formatted my C: drive and ran the windows install, only this time choose the C: HD.

Windows completes the install and reboots.

 

When I was done Windows  7 is a fresh install and running on the C: drive.

 

Summary…

I got to tell you it was a chore figuring this out, it seems very simple now but I went through imaging processes, partition changing, drive renames, lots of blog posts, KB’s, etc…

Nothing worked well and it took up hours of my time.  This pattern worked for me, Windows 7 installed properly and its working quite well.

Now its on to installing Workstation 8…