Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: Windows

Vista SP1 Install Completed


Took about 1hr30 and it’s completed ok.


Installing Windows Vista SP1


About to install Windows Vista SP1 on my Dell D620 Laptop, if I don’t report back for a while it’s all gone horribly wrong!

Interesting to note it makes sure you have your laptop plugged into the mains before it will let you continue.

I downloaded it here 434Mb download, interesting to note the filename Windows6.0-KB936330-X86-wave0.exe be interesting to see what the wave0 bit means with later releases.

I’ve not had any real problems with SP0, but might as well put it on; few colleagues reporting better speed… but think my disk definitely needs deranging anyway so thats probably more relevant.


Wish me luck!

How to stop Terminal Services Clients Beeping!


This always annoys me, when I connect my laptop via the MSTSC terminal services client it always beeps at logon; if it did this via the onboard sound card on my laptp that would be fine as typically it’s always muted when I’m in the office/on a client site as it’s annoying.

However it seems to use the system board loud default beep – and ignores the mute setting on my laptop and this always seems to affect VMWare workstation Win2003 VM’s at logon too – which is doubly annoying as I use them a lot.

so, for reference this kills it off permanently – I can’t really think of any situations where I’d need it to beep – especially not at a volume that totally ignores my chosen settings!

C:Windowssystem32>sc config beep start= disabled
[SC] ChangeServiceConfig SUCCESS

Some other options posted here

Exchange 2007 SP1 Upgrade Process on a CCR cluster


I used this process to carry this out – worth bearing in mind that you do need some downtime to the clustered mailbox instance to carry this out – it took about 60 seconds to do that and installing the SP1 code on each passive node took approx 5 mins each + a reboot


Exchange 2007 CCR Configuration Notes


Once you’ve followed the installation process and have your active and passive nodes setup you may not actually be able to failover and mount the stores – it fails and logs an event 9317 from MSExchangeSA as below;


The fix is to register an SPN for each cluster node as per this KB article – why setup doesn’t do this for you I don’t know?

add-ADPermission -Identity “cn=exchange-cms,cn=computers,dc=mydomain,dc=com” -User “node-cl1$” -AccessRights WriteProperty -Properties “Validated-SPN”

You do this using the Exchange Management {Power}Shell Applet using the following command.

One thing to bear in mind – particularly if you are implementing a CCR cluster across mode than one physical site (single subnet required) you’ll need to wait for each node’s respective AD Domain Controller to replicate the changes.

Once that was completed I could fail over the cluster nodes perfectly.

Running Exchange 2007 on VMWare ESX Server


Interesting article here on some stress testing VMWare have done running Exchange 2007 under virtualization on VI3.5.

It’s working.. .and working well, now – official support?

Support for Virtualized OS/Applications – an Open Debate..


Martin’s post here prompted me to blog something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

Virtualization projects and services are cool; we all understand the advantages in power/cooling and the flexibility it can bring to our infrastructures.

But what about support, if you are a service provider (internal or outsourcing) you normally need to be able to offer an end-end SLA on your services. typically this would be backed off against a vendor like Microsoft or Oracle via one of their premium support arrangements.

From what I see in the industry, with most software vendors especially Microsoft there is almost no way a service provider can underwrite an SLA as application/OS vendors give themselves significant scope to say “unsupported configuration” if you are running it under a hypervisor or other VM technology… Microsoft use the term commercially reasonable in their official policy – who decides what this is?

I would totally accept that a vendor would not guarantee performance under a hypervisor – that’s understandable and we have tools to analyse, monitor and improve (Virtual Centre, MOM, DRS, increase resources etc.). but too many vendors seem to use it as a universal “get out of jail free card”.


Issues of applications with dependency on physical hardware aside (fax cards, realtime CPU, DSP, PCI cards etc.) In my entire career working with VM technology I’ve only ever seen one issue that could be directly attributed to being caused by virtualization – and to be fair that was really a VMTools issue; rather than VMWare itself.

Microsoft have an official list of their applications that are not supported here – why is this? speech server I could maybe understand as it would probably be timer/DSP sensitive – but the rest? Sharepoint? I know for a fact ISA does work under VMWare as I use it all the time.

Microsoft Virtual Server support policy

Support policy for Microsoft software running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software

Exchange is specifically excluded (depending on how you read the articles)

· On the Exchange Server 2007 System requirements page it only mentioned Unified messaging as being unsupportable in a virtual environment

· Yet on TechNet it is clear stated that “Neither Exchange 2007 nor Exchange 2007 SP1 is supported in production in a virtual environment”

Credit due to a colleague for pulling together the relevant Microsoft linkage

But I know it….

a) works fully – I do it all the time.

b) Lots of people are doing this in production with lots of users (many people at VMWorld US last year)

c) VMWare have a fully-supportable x64 hypervisor – It’s just MS that don’t

What is the industry going to do about this?, I asked this question of peers a lot at VMWorld and at BriForum; and to be honest everyone has the same concern but have a few different approaches;

Dont’ tell/ask – 99% of the time a tech support rep won’t know its running under VMWare/a.n.other hypervisor so why complicate matters by telling them – could of course back-fire on you!

Threaten – “If you won’t support under VMWare we’ll use one of your competitors applications”; however this only really works if you are the US govt. or Globocorp Inc. or operate in a very niche application market.

Mitigate – reflect this uncertainty in an SLA, best-endeavours etc. this would kill most virtualization efforts in their tracks for an enterprise customer.

The same support issue has been around for a long time; Citrix/Terminal Services, application packaging, automated installations, etc. are treated as “get out of jail free cards” by support organisations…

But whilst there are some technical constraints (usually only affecting badly written apps) with terminal services and packaging, virtualization changes the game and should make it simpler for a vendor to support as there is no complex runtime integration with a host OS + bolt-ons/hacks it’s just an emulated CPU/disk/RAM you can do whatever you like within it.

So – the open debate; what do you do? and how do you manage it?

Please comment…

P2V Backup & Disaster Recovery


There is a new site here (disclaimer: it does seem to be promoting a commercial service, but has some useful information that has been put into the public domain); describing some methods to roll your own P2V backup approach; I’ve not read in detail yet; but looks like Frane Borozan has solved some of the challenges I’ve encountered in the past automating the Free VMWare Convertor tool.

When I get some time I will revisit my build a better test lab series (and update it!) I hope to be able to integrate some of Frane’s ideas.

Thanks to Techhead for passing on the link; we worked together on the platform underlying the Build a better test lab series and he did a lot of work on the P2V and post-P2V automation tasks – he’s got a lot of handy scripts for doing this on an HP platform

Virtualized DR is going to be big this year; I have a long line of customers with this high on their list of priorities… Both for cross site 100% VMWare implementations and for the ability to backup/restore physical platforms to VMWare grid in a DR situation.

It just makes so much sense; no delay whilst racking & stacking recovery kit or problems restoring to different hardware etc. your admin’s can even do it from home – which can have some significant advantages in the event of a natural disaster like Katrina or floods like we had over the last couple of years in the UK

PlateSpin Forge is something we are seriously looking at as well as Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server Edition (who win a prize for extending the longest, most annoying product name! despite acquiring it from Veritas).

Will be an interesting year; I’m sure Sungard and all those recovery centre facilities will be moving to a grid/resource rental model rather than pure rack/floor space and retained hardware on-contract.

Windows Server 2008 Posters..


Along the same lines as the handy Exchange 2007 reference posters I blogged about a while ago; there are now similar offerings for Windows Server 2008.

These are quite handy, and I’m all for visual aids 😉

Download them here.

Thanks to Brett for the handy linkage

/CONSOLE switch Goes away in Windows 2008/Vista SP1/XPsp3 versions of MSTSC.EXE


Post here on the terminal services team blog, about why they’ve changed this switch to /ADMIN in Windows 2008/Vista SP1/XPSP3.

This is the first I’ve heard of it, not a huge issue but I can see a potential problem where the /console switch is ignored, again not huge but a bit of an annoyance just to change a bit of syntax?

if you have device CAL’s and normally use the /console switch to remotely administer a machine to my understanding that doesn’t allocate a device CAL to your admin machine (or whatever machine you are admin’ing from at the time)

What if you use this method to administer terminal servers, doesn’t this silently ignoring just eat one of your device CALs (permanatly if you do it often enough from a machine)?

The article says:

The /console switch is silently ignored. You will be connected to a session to remotely administer the server.

The /console switch is silently ignored. You will be connected to a standard Remote Desktop session that requires a Terminal Services client access license (TS CAL).