Preview on 7th Gen (Kaby Lake) Intel NUC

The 7th Generation of my favorite Homelab systems are ready to be launched and the shipping is expected to start in Q1 2017. Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for labs or as a home server. Intel has put its latest Kaby Lake mobile CPU into the mini system.

Intel NUCs were never officially supported by VMware but they have a great community support. Their 4th5th and 6th Generations are proven in many home labs or even for demonstrating Virtual SAN deployments.

  • Kaby Lake CPU
  • i7, i5 and i3 CPUs are available
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory
  • Available with and without 2.5" HDD slot
  • M.2 slot with NVMe support
  • Thunderbolt 3 support via USB-C
  • USB 3.1 support
  • Intel Optane Memory support
  • External SD Card Slot
  • Intel I219V Network Adapter
  • Front Power Button

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How to add AD Authentication in vCenter 6.5

The vCenter Server has an internal user database that allows you to add and manage users with the vSphere Web Client. Users management and Single Sign-On is provided by the Platform Service Controller which is available since vSphere 6.0. In a large environment, you might want to connect your virtualization infrastructure to a centrally manage Active Directory.

This article explains how to add AD authentication in vSphere 6.5 and how to get the "Use Windows session authentication" checkbox to work with the enhanced authentication plugin. This works for both, the vCenter Server 6.5 installed on a Windows Server and the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA).

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How to Join the vCSA 6.5 to an Active Directory Domain

In vSphere 6.5 the underlying operating system from the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) has been changed to VMwares PhotonOS. With the new OS, you can still join an Active Directory domain to comply with company policies, or if you want to use windows session authentication. Joining an Active Directory domain is included in the infrastructure node configuration which is part of the Platform Services Controller. Please verify standard AD requirements like time synchronization and naming prior to joining a domain.

If you want to log in with the "Windows session authentication" checkbox, you have to add the appliance running the Platform Services Controller (PSC) to the domain. For embedded deployments, join the appliance running both, the vCenter and the PSC to the domain.

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VMware IO Devices HCL in JSON Format

For a healthy platform and to receive support from VMware it is important to verify that all IO devices are listed in VMwares Compatibility Guide or Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) with their correct driver and firmware version. The HCL is currently only provided as a website which is a problem for automated reports. Therefore I've transformed the VMwares IO Devices HCL into the JSON format, which works great in scripts. Here is the result:

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VMware HCL in JSON Format News and PowerCLI Function

A few month ago I created a VMware HCL in JSON Format. This file should allow you to use the information provided by VMware in their HCL in an automated way. Recently I made some improvements to the JSON HCL and created a working PowerCLI function that can match about 80% of all systems.

Currently, the JSON files are generated every 2-3 days. I also created two filtered versions because the full HCL is very large and contains outdated information: Read more »

vSphere 6.5 Component Password Recovery (vCenter, SSO and ESXi)

Everyone knows the situation where you can't log into a system because you have forgotten the password. The following article explains how to reset the password and regain access to VMware vSphere 6.5 core components including vCenter, SSO and ESXi Hosts.

  • Reset vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 root password
  • Reset SSO Administrator Password (vCenter Server Appliance 6.5)
  • Reset ESXi root password with Host Profiles
  • Gain Administrative ESXi access with an Active Directory
  • Reset ESXi root password (Linux Live CD)

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Home Lab Power Management Tipps

Home labs are great to study, extend your knowledge and try out new features. Of course, the hardware is also useful to be used for other purposes like file servers, home automation, media streaming servers and so on.

There are some features to be considered for any type of deployment at home to have a better control and maybe to save some money.

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SSD Total Bytes Written Calculator

Solid-State-Drives are getting more and more common. A problem that comes with SSDs is their limited cell lifetime. Depending on their manufacturing technique, each cell can be overwritten from 1.000 times in consumer TLC SSDs to up to 100.000 times in enterprise SLC based SSDs.

The value to keep an eye on is the guaranteed TBW (Total Bytes Written or Terabytes Written) which is typically provided by the vendor in their specifications. This value describes how many Terabytes can be written to the device until the warranty expires. The TBW value can be readout with S.M.A.R.T. in the Total_LBAs_Written field. The value is in LBAs which has to be multiplied with the sector size: Read more »

The Physical block size reported by the device is not supported

Since my ESXi hosts are upgraded to VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5, the vmkernel.log is constantly spammed with warnings reporting that the physical block size from my LUNs, provided by a FreeNAS storage, have an unsupported block size.

WARNING: ScsiPath: 4394: The Physical block size "131072" reported by the path vmhba64:C0:T4:L0 is not supported. The only supported physical blocksizes are 512 and 4096
WARNING: ScsiDeviceIO: 6462: The Physical block size "131072" reported by the device naa.6589cfc0000000572b71f35019e9c31f is not supported. The only supported physical blocksizes are 512 and 4096

I'm using FreeNAS-9.10.2 with iSCSI LUNs backed by a ZFS volume. The physical blocksize is reported as the ZFS recordsize which is 128K by default. Read more »

USB Devices as VMFS Datastore in vSphere ESXi 6.5

intel-nuc-with-usb3-connected-ssdIn ESXi 6.5, there are some changes concerning devices connected with USB. The legacy drivers, including xhci, ehci-hcd, usb-uhci, and usb-storage have been replaced with a single USB driver named vmkusb. The new driver has some implications if you are trying to use USB devices like USB sticks or external hard disks as VMFS formatted datastore.

Some people have reported that they have issues with USB Datastores since ESXi 6.5. I've tried to reproduce and fix those problems. This post explains the changes in the new version and how to create VMFS 5 or VMFS6 formatted USB devices as datastore on your ESXi host. Read more »