Sharing knowledge with bright minds

I’ve been very happy when I have been invited to do a session about Microsoft products for students at a University. This is one memorable occasion which I got the chance to work closely with few Sri Lankan MVP’s as well. This University is located in Kandy, too bad we forgot get some pictures of the surroundings.

So what is interesting is the eager students had to learn about the new technologies and especially about the Microsoft side. They have been well armed with Open source technology but had certain knowledge about the Microsoft products and how those products can be used effectively. In this event we had the chance to demonstrate several products and how to use them effectively on their lifestyle.

I also got to know University students has been selected to receive several Microsoft products free!! (Can’t name the products now until the announcement comes from the Microsoft itself 🙂 ) But that indication has been given to the students at that time. Look forward for more events like this and to share the knowledge.

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Booting HYPER-V Guest from an an iSCSI LUN

This is a another cool feature in virtualization I wanted to try out and see some significant advantages in production environment. In this scenario instead of assigning a virtual hard disk file a to a guest operating system we’re allowing it to access the raw disk in a SAN directly or it can be a raw disk internally in the system. (Sometimes this is referred as LUN passthrough) To do this first in the iSCSI storage you need to create a LUN and assign some disk space. Then in the HYPER-V host computer under the disk management you will be able to see the disk. But the important thing is not to let host PC to initialize the disk and keeping it offline. If the host machine take over the control of the disk then we won’t be able to allow guest PC to directly take control and write into that disk thus guest PC will be fail to start. Once LUN setup properly it’ll be looks like the way it shows in the picture,

Passthrough disk

After that you can go to HYPER-V management console and start creating a new disk. When it comes to assigning a VHD skip the process and create the Virtual machine configuration file. After that got to the settings on configuration file go to disk controller and select add disk. Instead of creating or adding existing VHD files select the Physical hard disk and select the correct disk number. In my demonstration scenario it will be Disk 2. Below picture demonstrate how we can mount the pass though disk.

image

So after that you’ll be able to start the VPC and carry on the preferred Operating System installation. One main advantage is disk will give you improved disk I/O performance since VPC directly accessing the raw disk in the SAN environment. If you’re planning to host disk I/O intensive application in virtualized environment (Eg: SQL database, Exchange, SAP…etc) this would be a good option to consider.

Well another advantage that strikes to my mind is this will prevent the waste of usable disk capacity. Take a scenario like this, when you create a 100 GB disk portion in a raw disk and format it with NTFS you will get around 95GB or less due to the file system. Inside that when you try to create a fix hard disk it will also consume some disk space. But allowing the guest OS to take the direct control over the raw disk that disk space wastage will be minimize. So why I’m concern about this to put over here is I actually experience this barrier in hard way and lean the lesson 🙂

Some disadvantages are you won’t be able to take snapshotting, won’t be able to create dynamic expanding disks of the guest operating system. The main reason being is host VSS won’t be able to capture the raw disk. You’ll have to consider using DPM or third party backup solution  backup and recover the VPC. Of course that would be a another topic to discuss which will come very soon 🙂

Booting HYPER-V Guest from an an iSCSI LUN (Pass through disk)

This is a another cool feature in virtualization I wanted to try out and see some significant advantages in production environment. In this scenario instead of assigning a virtual hard disk file a to a guest operating system we’re allowing it to access the raw disk in a SAN directly or it can be a raw disk internally in the system. (Sometimes this is referred as LUN passthrough) To do this first in the iSCSI storage you need to create a LUN and assign some disk space. Then in the HYPER-V host computer under the disk management you will be able to see the disk. But the important thing is not to let host PC to initialize the disk and keeping it offline. If the host machine take over the control of the disk then we won’t be able to allow guest PC to directly take control and write into that disk thus guest PC will be fail to start. Once LUN setup properly it’ll be looks like the way it shows in the picture,

Passthrough disk

After that you can go to HYPER-V management console and start creating a new disk. When it comes to assigning a VHD skip the process and create the Virtual machine configuration file. After that got to the settings on configuration file go to disk controller and select add disk. Instead of creating or adding existing VHD files select the Physical hard disk and select the correct disk number. In my demonstration scenario it will be Disk 2. Below picture demonstrate how we can mount the pass though disk.

image

So after that you’ll be able to start the VPC and carry on the preferred Operating System installation. One main advantage is disk will give you improved disk I/O performance since VPC directly accessing the raw disk in the SAN environment. If you’re planning to host disk I/O intensive application in virtualized environment (Eg: SQL database, Exchange, SAP…etc) this would be a good option to consider.

Well another advantage that strikes to my mind is this will prevent the waste of usable disk capacity. Take a scenario like this, when you create a 100 GB disk portion in a raw disk and format it with NTFS you will get around 95GB or less due to the file system. Inside that when you try to create a fix hard disk it will also consume some disk space. But allowing the guest OS to take the direct control over the raw disk that disk space wastage will be minimize. So why I’m concern about this to put over here is I actually experience this barrier in hard way and lean the lesson Smile

Some disadvantages are you won’t be able to take snapshotting, won’t be able to create dynamic expanding disks of the guest operating system. The main reason being is host VSS won’t be able to capture the raw disk. You’ll have to consider using DPM or third party backup solution  backup and recover the VPC. Of course that would be a another topic to discuss which will come very soon Smile

How to extend trial period of Windows 2008, Windows Vista and Windows 7 products

WindowsServer2008 windows-7-logo windows-vista-logo-1

Most of the time I use Windows 2008 products for video recordings and customer site demonstrations. During this period I use TechNet subscription materials for this purpose. Once issue I have been facing is when I want to do another demo after few weeks time the VPC cannot be used do the trial period of the product has been expired! Registering the demonstration purpose operating systems frequently is not an easy option either (Even though I create a set of VPC like that once)

With Windows 2008 you’re getting trial period of 30 days. But if you’re smart enough now there is  way to extend that period for 180 or more. This is really valuable because that means we can keep the VM’s running properly under trail period for nearly 6 months! (For me that is more than enough!) Good news is this trial extend work around is working for Vista and Windows 7 as well. ok so let’s get start how to extend the trial period.

What we have to do is run a script in the windows\system32 folder called slmgr.vbs

  1. Bring up a Command Prompt.
  2. Type slmgr.vbs –rearm, and press ENTER.
  3. Restart the computer.

You computer has now extended the evaluation period 60 days!  You can run the same command in the same system for 3 times up giving you an activation-free trial period of a total of 240 days!

To find out how many days remain in the trial period you can use the following command.

  1. Type slmgr.vbs -dli, and the current status of the evaluation period is displayed.

Be curious and check out additional commands available in the slmgr.vbs

How to extend trial period of Windows 2008, Windows Vista and Windows 7 products

WindowsServer2008 windows-7-logo  windows-vista-logo-1

Most of the time I use Windows 2008 products for video recordings and customer site demonstrations. During this period I use TechNet subscription materials for this purpose. Once issue I have been facing is when I want to do another demo after few weeks time the VPC cannot be used do the trial period of the product has been expired! Registering the demonstration purpose operating systems frequently is not an easy option either (Even though I create a set of VPC like that once)

With Windows 2008 you’re getting trial period of 30 days. But if you’re smart enough now there is  way to extend that period for 180 or more. This is really valuable because that means we can keep the vpc’s running properly under trail period for nearly 6 months! (For me that is more than enough!) Good news is this trial extend work around is working for Vista and Windows 7 as well. ok so let’s get start how to extend the trial period.

What we have to do is run a script in the windows\system32 folder called slmgr.vbs

  1. Bring up a Command Prompt.
  2. Type slmgr.vbs –rearm, and press ENTER.
  3. Restart the computer.

You computer has now extended the evaluation period 60 days!  You can run the same command in the same system for 3 times up giving you an activation-free trial period of a total of 240 days!

To find out how many days remain in the trial period you can use the following command.

  1. Type slmgr.vbs -dli, and the current status of the evaluation period is displayed.

Be curious and check out additional commands available in the slmgr.vbs

SERVER CORE, HYPER-V R2 , SCVMM

I have spend some time at a customer site helping to build HYPER-V environment. Even though the project was medium scale I learn lot during that time.

1. Never run into HYPER-V setup without checking SAN storage compatibility. Some SAN storage required you to install the certain software into the server. I learn that hard way. You can always run *.exe programs by command prompt at server core.

2. Always keep the server core commands nearby you. Microsoft has already provided the reference sheet like that. If you can’t keep it then try to remember the command ‘sconfig’ this command work in Windows 2008 R2 core edition. If you prefer third party free tools then consider Core Configuration (There maybe some other nifty tools as well)

3. Try to plan ahead what are you planning to virtualizes and do the capacity planning and the VPC optimizations accordingly.
SQL on HYPER-V , more links

That is for now folks, catch ya later!

Overcome phobia for PowerShell

Microsoft introduced PowerShell with Windows 2008 as a central method to manage the Windows platform. If you look at the history of PowerShell it has been around in various method (Eg: Scripts, WMI…etc) Actually PowerShell has been there with the introduction with Exchange 2007. But most of the administrators stayed away from the CLI and wanted to stick with GUI. In the Linux world this is one humor factor for the Windows Administrators. If you loose the GUI you can’t do anything despite with limited commands available in the dos.

In Microsoft roadmap PowerShell is a key technology. They wanted to have it as a central de facto for managing Windows software. So if you’re a system administrator who is overlooking Windows servers you better ready for this. So what makes system administrators skip away from PowerShell? The main answer is it is CLI! and they hate for typing lengthy commands plus they need to have the script knowledge. Most of the surveys carried out by MS and third party reviewers proved this.

Microsoft has been taking every step to overcome but as a fundamental rule “Changes are not accepted happily” Microsoft is trying to improve the PowerShell by introducing GUI to that in certain level. But today my attention goes to totally different third party software called ‘”PowerGUI” offered by Quest software.

Quest company is Microsoft Gold Certified ISV partner providing solutions for MS software. They have introduced PowerGUI as a free software along with various PowerShell command packs develop by their staff members and forum users.

To be honest I’m also little bit reluctant to PowerShell but with this software it makes us really easy to embrace the new technology with less hassle. As a new user to PowerShell and PowerGUI software you will find lot of resources to get up and running. The interface is very simple to understand. As long as you know AD, Exchange console this software will be not that difficult to understand. One cool feature I found out is filtering has been carried out to extend level. In my customer visit I get lot of inquires about how to get report like this, that filter in various methods, well answer is PowerGUI.

Apart from that you’ll also find a PowerShell Editor as well. One nifty feature is whatever the command you tried to create using GUI in the background you’ll find the relevant PowerShell command. So you can cut and paste it and then do slice and dice and adjust it, optimize it and experiment it.

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Apart from that creating your own PowerShell commands will be a breeze with the embedded technologies.  So my two cents recommendation is go for it, use it, taste it and be ready for the future Smile