Importing a Foreign VMDK

One of my users asked me for a VM last week to test out some demo software.  I created the VM and handed it off.  Later, he told me that something was wrong with the server because he couldn’t get his demo to run.  It turns out that the demo was provided as a zipped-up collection of virtual machine files.  The software vendor had instructed him to install VMWare Player, load up the files, and run it that way.  Of course, the VM I provided him wasn’t set up to run a nested player, so I told him to give me the files and I would load them up as a native (and un-nested) virtual machine.

Continue reading

Diagnosing a PSOD

Last week, one of my hosts purple-screened.  This seems like a bad thing, but it’s really not, and it does happen sometimes.  It’s good practice to determine the root cause in case it’s something likely to happen again.

Believe it or not, purple screens are really a good thing.  Your system is trying to save you from much worse.  What is generally happening when you get a “Purple Screen of Death” is that some piece of hardware or software is misbehaving to the point that you are going to start experiencing data corruption and so the entire system halts to protect it from itself.

In my case, my PSOD  came from a non-maskable interrupt.  This is a special interrupt that the system is not allowed to ignore.  It’s a signal that something critical just happened and Bad Things will ensue unless immediate action is taken.  In the short term, it means your system just crashed.  In the long term, it just saved you from potentially major data corruption.  Bad, and yet good.  On my HP server, NMI errors are generated by the hpnmi driver (which you should have installed as part of your VMware HP driver package to all of your HP ESXi hosts).  This driver will keep an eye on your HP hardware and generate an NMI in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Continue reading

VCAP5-DCA exam updated to version 5.5

Well, this might pose a bit of a conundrum for me.  VMware today announced that they’ve updated the VCAP5-DCA exam to version 5.5.  I’m smack-dab in the middle of my VCAP5-DCA study.  All of my test prep has been for the version 5.0 test and I have much less familiarity with 5.5’s web client than I have with the VIC.    If I elect to take the 5.5 exam, I’m going to have to build a new lab and start over with some topics.  Luckily, it appears as though the 5.0 test will still be offered (at least for now) and that either test will grant the VCAP5-DCA.

Continue reading

Building a Lab computer

My desktop computer recently died an ignominious death.  And by that, I mean it just refused to boot.  Not even a beep code.  Troubleshooting it seemed to indicate that the old AMD Athlon64 processor had finally croaked.  I was kind of in the market for a new PC anyway, but I’d rather have done a graceful migration, not a dead-PC replacement.

I had a couple of goals I wanted to accomplish:

VMware training and certification on a budget

One of the problems with working for a smaller company is that the money for training is rarely in the budget.  For this reason, I have to find alternative routes that I can afford to pay for myself.  VMware has a fairly expensive barrier to entry in that the prerequisite for the VCP program is a pricey formal class.  I actually like this idea because it rarefies the certification somewhat.  I still remember the heady days of the paper MCSE where anyone could do a test dump and get certified.

VMware has several levels of certification.  They have the Associate program, which requires no class time and certifies that you have a very basic understanding of the product.  They have Professional program at the next level, which does requires class time and has a fairly difficult multiple-choice test.  Then there’s the Advanced Professional (the one I’m currently working on) for which the test is entirely lab work, and lastly the Design Expert level which I liken to a doctoral thesis in that you have to present a design before a review board and defend it.

Continue reading