Posts Tagged ‘Virtualization’

We still need floppies? Seriously, Microsoft?!

March 7th, 2012 No comments
Only one installation issue The end of a long marathon, migrating to SBS 2008

Running SBS 2008 migration on a virtual server takes us on a detour down memory lane

Working on a migration of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 to SBS 2008, I had jumped thru the previous 283 migration hoops (I exaggerate, but just a little) and was ready to boot the 2008 installer DVD with my handy SBSAnswerFile which Microsoft wants me to put on “…the root of a USB drive, floppy disk or a partition on the destination server.” Hmmm….

– USB drive is a no-go on the ESX server.
– Let’s put it on a 2nd virtual hard disk. No, the migration installer didn’t “see” it.
– OK, let’s put it on a virtual CD drive. No. It didn’t see it again.
– Finally, I went to the extra hassle of putting it on a virtual floppy. Success!

The blow by blow follows:

In order to create a floppy on my 64 bit Windows 7 VM, I downloaded the excellent WinImage tool. I “injected” (their term) the SBSAnswerFile.xml into the floppy and saved it as answer.vfd.

WinImage makes short work of creating a virtual floppy

I then uploaded it to the datastore into a folder I named ISO using the datastore browser, upload facility.

VMware wants it’s floppy images to have the extension “.flp”, so I simply renamed it using the datastore browser to answer.flp.

The floppy image shown in the datastore browser.

I then added the floppy image in the virtual machine settings so that it connects at startup.

Now, after seeing it NOT work many times, when the installation DOES see the answer file, you see the following:

A pleasant site to seeOjala! The answer file was found and migration can begin!

On the other hand, if it DOESN’T see the answer file, you will see the dialog requesting information about the time zone. And the information input in the answer file for the time zone is, of course, not there.

If you see this BEFORE the “Start the migration…” dialog, the answer file was not found by the installer. Here, the screen follows the migration start dialog and the time zone is as entered in the answer file.

So, the SBS 2008 migration continues to be one of the champs in huge projects to be avoided. David Neale (Nerds On Site, London, England) prefers to bypass the migration approach and just install fresh and convert, saying, “I like the old fashioned approach.”

The following sites provided help on tools for this. Another case of “standing on the shoulders of giants.” THANKS!

– Scott Ledyard

No tool like an old tool

March 7th, 2012 No comments

Administration Tools Pack gets a refresh

and Server Administration Tools

Another eNerd called me yesterday wondering how to let a non-admin user at his client’s business have access to their virtualized server. The hope was to have the vSphere Client locked down in some way.

When I asked what the user needed to do, it was “Manage users and reset passwords and such.”  I realized then that this was not a VMware access issue at all, but a Windows Server rights issue.

In fact, this can readily be handled by the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) which can be installed on the user’s workstation – no need to give the user login to the Windows or VMware server at all.

This is not a new trick by any means, but is one worth remembering.

Also, I’ll add that there is now a version for Windows 7 (Win7) and Vista, in both 32 and 64 bit flavors. (Sorry, they don’t let this run on “Home” editions of Windows.)  The following give some details.

There are many places where you can get detailed help on using MMC such as this post:
Here’s just a bit then about getting started with the “new” version.

    1. In Windows 7, click on the start button, and type “mmc” (Win7 will find the MS Management Console) and press enter. It will create a blank console called Console1. Click on “File”, “Add/Remove Snap In…” and you’ll see NO snap-ins for AD user management. Close MMC and let’s go get that snap-in.
    2. Download and run the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) is at:
A help screen should open to give you further assistance.

  1. Basically, after installation, you access Programs and Features from the Control Panel, click on “Turn Windows features on or off”, and expand Remote Server Administration Tools to reveal all the tools.
  2. For the case mentioned, to obtain access to Active Directory Users and Computers (for password and other user information), I drilled down into Role Administration Tools until I found “AD DS Snap-ins and Command-line Tools”. Check it and click OK
  3. Back to Win7, click on the start button, and type “mmc” and press enter. It will create a blank console called Console1. Click on “File”, “Add/Remove Snap In…” and you’ll see one for Active Directory Users and Computers. Click Add-> and OK and you’ll have your Management Console well on it’s way.

See the TechNet article for additional steps such as linking it to the Domain Controller, Saving the Console, etc..

The 2nd 99% – tracking VMware snapshot removal progress

March 7th, 2012 1 comment

“The first 99% of the project flies by. But the 2nd 99%! Sheesh…” – anonymous

If you ever removed a snapshot in VMware ESX / ESXi, you’re presented with the ubiquitous progress meter. It chunks right along, increasing by 5% every so often. Encouraging.

And then it gets to the dreaded 99%. You’d think you’re almost home.

This would make you think you’re almost done. Wrong!

But you’re probably nowhere close.

This is really kind of dangerous. I’ve been tempted to assume that something is hung up. And that leads to thinking a hard reset of the host is required.

How CAN you see the progress? What follows is not an elegant solution, but you’ll at least be able to see what’s going on.

First, you’ll need to go to the ESXi command line (see other posts on the internet for accessing ESXi via SSH.) In this case, I used PuTTY ( ) to get to the host IP and command line.

Go to the storage directory of the host, usually /vmfs/volumes, then the LUN directory and finally the VM directory.

Use the following linux command to list the files in time order, latest files last:

ls -ltr

This will show you what files have been most recently processed. Repeat this command over time (remember up-arrow to repeat bash commands) and you should notice a progression, disk files progress from lowest to highest, and within a disk, the delta files progress highest to lowes.

For example, if you have a VM called Server with 3 disks, they would be called


And you’d see that they’d progress (latest file change time) in that order.  The delta files, created by snapshots, have 6 digit sequence numbers in their names that would progress in reverse order.


Not very exciting, true. But at least you can see some progress. I recently removed a snapshot that took 2:40 hrs. It was up to 99% in about :15 of that.