ESXi 6.7 on HPE DL380 G7

I had this long blog post I was going to write about HP screwing me on a ESXi upgrade, but in a nut shell you can read these ones about that how shebang:

  1. MonsterMuffin (crude)
  2. Claud “Admin” (Less crude)

As both of them mention you have to do a clean install, and you probably won’t have a config saved from that exact version as you are just updating to it, so your config on the old 5.x or 6.0 won’t work either. If you have dvswitches and all that fun jazz probably not a huge deal but if you have standard vswitches and lots of custom configurations around them including vlan tagging, well this can be crappy.

I did manage through all my trial n errors to get a working copy but it required workarounds I don’t think would have been supported, so meh just follow those…

I tried everything to get a ESXi system upgraded to 6.7 without loosing or reconfiguring the host, you figure just do anew install and reload the config.

However you can only load config for the same version a backup of that one was created. I eventually came across other things other PSOD’s and had to even at one point edit the boot file to remove a HP dedicated driver from loading. After all that meh, just install new with the custom images mentioned in the above Blogs.

I’m really sorry I would have covered these tasks in far more detail but spent a good couple days smashing my head just trying to get it to work. something are just not worth the effort, and blogging every annoying error and steps along the way on this one… is just one of those things.

Cheers.

Managing HPE Storage controllers on VMware ESXi

HPE Storage on ESXi

Quick Overview

Assumptions, Device drivers and tools are already on the ESXi host as servers such as these running on ESXi should be using authorized images from the vendor and on the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL).

If not use this guys blog on how to manually install the tools that should otherwise already be on the server in question.

I recently decided to double check some server setups running for testing. Since it was all tests I figured I’d talk about some of the implications of simple misconfigurations or even just the unexpected.

Most of these commands I used from following Kalle’s blog and the command list was super useful.

List PCI Devices

To start if you are in a hoop and need to find what storage controller is in use by the hypervisor, run this to list all the devices (least the ones on the PCI bus)

lspci -vvv

This will present you this a long list of devices for my test device (an HP DL385 Gen8) it turned out to be an HP Smart Array P420i:

That’s cool.

Storage Config

To see the current config run:

/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl all show config

This shows to me what I already knew, I have 2 logical drives both created with RAID 1+0 tolerance with different amount of different sized drives. In this case one from 4 900 Gig SAS drives, and the other from 12 300 Gig SAS drives.

From this information we can’t determine the speed of the drives.

Controller Status

To view the status of the controller:

 /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl all show status

From this we can tell the type of controller, double verifying the results from the lspci command and that there is cache available. Still not sure at this point what type of cache we are dealing with. Our goal is to use the Battery Based Write Cache for the logical volumes.. but we still have some things to cover before we get there.

 /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl all show detail

with these details we get to see more of the juicy information, here we can tell we have a cache board for the controller available in “slot 0” as indicated by the “slot” attribute.

Also note the Drive Write Cache, which is when the physical drive itself enables cacheing. However, we again, want to use the BBWC to prevent data loss in the event of a power outage as to not leave our VM’s with corrupted virtual drives. Read this thread on a bit more details about this.

Physical Disk Status

To view all the disks and if they are OK:

/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show status

in my case they were all OK.

Physical Disk Details

Now this is where we get to see more details on those SAS disks I talked about ealier:

 /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show detail

here we can tell now that the 300 Gig SAS disk is a 10K SAS disk, not bad… 🙂

Logical Drive Status

Run this to get a very basic status report of the logical drives created from all the physical drives.

 /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld all show status

 

Logical Drive Details

Change the all to the logical volume ID number, in this case 2 for the 300 Gig based array.

/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 show

Just to how the difference against the logical disk I know I enabled cache on and has unreal better performance…

/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 1 show

Now I created these logical drives during the boot of the server using the BIOS/EFUI tools on the system. Lucky though we can adjust these settings right from the esxcli. 🙂

Enable Logical Write Cache

Just like magic:

/opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 logicaldrive 2 modify arrayaccelerator=enable

Being specific to change logical drive 2 which was the one that did not have cache enabled originally… checking it after running the above command shows it has cache! 🙂

All Commands

Just incase Kalle’s site goes down here’s the list he shared for both ESXi 5.x and 6.x

Show configuration
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl all show config
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl all show config
Controller status
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl all show status
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl all show status
Show detailed controller information for all controllers
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl all show detail
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl all show detail
Show detailed controller information for controller in slot 0
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 show detail
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 show detail
Rescan for New Devices
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli rescan
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli rescan
Physical disk status
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show status
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show status
Show detailed physical disk information
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show detail
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd all show detail
Logical disk status
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 ld all show status
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld all show status
View Detailed Logical Drive Status
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 show
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 show
Create New RAID 0 Logical Drive
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 create type=ld drives=1I:1:2 raid=0
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 create type=ld drives=1I:1:2 raid=0
Create New RAID 1 Logical Drive
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 create type=ld drives=1I:1:1,1I:1:2 raid=1
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 create type=ld drives=1I:1:1,1I:1:2 raid=1
Create New RAID 5 Logical Drive
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 create type=ld drives=1I:1:1,1I:1:2,2I:1:6,2I:1:7,2I:1:8 raid=5
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 create type=ld drives=1I:1:1,1I:1:2,2I:1:6,2I:1:7,2I:1:8 raid=5
Delete Logical Drive
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 delete
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 delete
Add New Physical Drive to Logical Volume
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 add drives=2I:1:6,2I:1:7
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 add drives=2I:1:6,2I:1:7
Add Spare Disks
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 array all add spares=2I:1:6,2I:1:7
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 array all add spares=2I:1:6,2I:1:7
Enable Drive Write Cache
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 modify dwc=enable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 modify dwc=enable
Disable Drive Write Cache
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 modify dwc=disable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 modify dwc=disable
Erase Physical Drive
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 pd 2I:1:6 modify erase
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 pd 2I:1:6 modify erase
Turn on Blink Physical Disk LED
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 modify led=on
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 modify led=on
Turn off Blink Physical Disk LED
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 modify led=off
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 ld 2 modify led=off
Modify smart array cache read and write ratio (cacheratio=readratio/writeratio)
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 modify cacheratio=100/0
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 modify cacheratio=100/0
Enable smart array write cache when no battery is present (No-Battery Write Cache option)
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 modify nbwc=enable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 modify nbwc=enable
Disable smart array cache for certain Logical Volume
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 logicaldrive 1 modify arrayaccelerator=disable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 logicaldrive 1 modify arrayaccelerator=disable
Enable smart array cache for certain Logical Volume
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 logicaldrive 1 modify arrayaccelerator=enable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 logicaldrive 1 modify arrayaccelerator=enable
Enable SSD Smart Path
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 array a modify ssdsmartpath=enable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 array a modify ssdsmartpath=enable
Disable SSD Smart Path
ESXi 5.5 -> /opt/hp/hpssacli/bin/hpssacli ctrl slot=0 array a modify ssdsmartpath=disable
ESXi 6.5 -> /opt/smartstorageadmin/ssacli/bin/ssacli ctrl slot=0 array a modify ssdsmartpath=disable

vCenter 503 Service Unavailable

I was going to test a auditing script from a DefCon presenter on my AD server, when I was adding the USB controller and the USB stick I was passing thorugh to get the script in my VM was being weird.

First USB 3.0 connected just fine, and connected the USB device to the VM, but diskpart was not showing it. So I went to remove it and try a USB 2.0 controller, that failed to connect since the USB 3.0 was still showing there and I selected to remove it again, which it errored another concurrent task. Makes sense, till refreshing the page told me unprivileged account. I wasn’t sure what this was about, so I decided to open another window and navigate to my center web app… 503 service unavailable:

“503 Service Unavailable (Failed to connect to endpoint: [N7Vmacore4Http20NamedPipeServiceSpecE:0x000055aec30ef1d0] _serverNamespace = / action = Allow _pipeName =/var/run/vmware/vpxd-webserver-pipe)”

What the… rebooting the VCSA showed no success still same error even with an incognito window.. ughh.

I found this thread: https://communities.vmware.com/thread/588755

I was going through this, and decided to try to renew the certs, even though my internal PKI certs were still valide (AFAIK, and checking the cert provided when accessing the page). Now here’s the thing, while I ran the certificate-manager script and renewed all the certs, I noticed my AD server somehow was down. I booted it back up. I’m not exactly sure which fixed it. So I decided to take another snapshot while it was in this “fixed state” and revert to the  broken state. After restoring o the broken state nothing was responding at all on the https service from the VCSA, so I gave it a simple reboot (which I did initially before I noticed my AD server was down, for some reason). Sure enough after the reboot everything was working fine with my internal PKI certs.

I guess if you set vCenter to use MS AD as the primary login domain and that domain is not available the web management service becomes unavailable… that kind of sucks. I should have noticed my AD was not operational but I didn’t have monitoring on it 😉 or use my local workstation as a AD member. Mostly just random VMs I have for testing.

Like most people, should have looked at the logs for a better idea of what the root cause was. I threw 2 darts at a dart board and had to revert to find the true root cause. Not the best way to troubleshoot, but sometimes if logs are not available it is another method…

Installing PowerCLI 12.0 Offline

PowerCLI 12.0

Offline Install

Checking VMwares source wasn’t too insightful…

Just this with the “Download” button redirecting to an alternative site non-other than powershellgallery.com …clicking manual Download gives you the raw nuget package let’s try to install first normally.

Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI

No way it failed, expected, and it even states a warning about the network.

Alright so using an online computer copy the nuget package to the offline (use USB sticks, Floppy drives, Zip Drives, serial modem if that’s what it takes…)

In my case I was testing this on a VM and simply used a USB stick to mount it to the VM from the VMRC console, and copied the nuget file to c:\temp\PowerCLI

This from this MS Doc page on the cmdlet, is for Visual Studio, we are using powershell only…

This topic describes the command within the Package Manager Console in Visual Studio on Windows. For the generic PowerShell Install-Package command, see the PowerShell PackageManagement reference.

Sure enough this is where I gave up on this path. All the new stuff is nice with it all being connected makes life super easy, but in those locked down situations this is a hassel. Since I wasn’t sure how to install the nuget package via a simple ID option like Install-Package for VS PS, there wasn’t one for the regular PS Install-Package cmdlet. Then I went to google how to accomplish this and was a bit annoyed at all the steps required to do it via the package manager… Read this by William on Stackoverflow for more details.

Lucky for me I found an alternative blog post, which does an alternative offline install and much, much simpler.

From the online system instead of saving the nuget package we save the modules files themselves directly.

 Save-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI -Path C:\temp\PSModules

Copy the entire contents of the PSModules folder to a storage medium of your choice (e.g. USB flash drive) and transfer the files to the desired offline system where PowerCLI is needed.

If you have admin rights on the target system, you can copy files to the location below.

 C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules

At this point he goes on about some settings and stuff, I wasn’t exactly sure how to use PowerCLI, as usually it opens up in a custom PS window before. Now you simple import-module *modulename*

Import-Module VMware.PowerCLI

Now creating custom ESXi images should be a breeze!

Extra Bits

Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP)

The VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program collects data about the use of VMware products. You can either agree (true) or disagree (false). For offline systems, only the rejection (false) makes sense. The command shown below suppresses future notifications within PowerCLI.

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -Scope AllUsers -ParticipateInCeip $false

Ignore invalid SSL certificates

When using self-signed certificates in vCenter, PowerCLI will deny the connection. This behavior can be suppressed with the command:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -Scope AllUsers -InvalidCertificateAction Warn

Found the types from this old 5.1 documentation you can also set it to ignore instead of warn. 🙂 Cheers!

ESXi Upgrade Failure

Upgrading one of my ESXi hosts in my lab failed on me, sure enough I figured this might happened and put a head on my usually headless server. This means I plugged in a monitor. at the screen I was this:

well that sucks, googling I found this thread from VMware.

looking closer at the boot error before this it stated:

system does not have secure boot enabled. This being an old mini desktop from the mid 2000’s it had uEFI but did not have the “feature” of secure boot. Clearly an after thought of the time. Now the odd part is when I hit the boot menu key “f12” in my case, I had the “legacy” BIOS style, list as P0: Hard Disk and EFI: Hard Disk. When I picked P0 one it booted just fine. So I figured just a simple boor order fix adjust some settings much like the thread (disable EFI boot and stick with legacy). I couldn’t see a way in my EFI/BIOS options to disable the alternative boot types, so I put the legacy type at the top of the list and the EFI one at the bottom, yet every time I booted it would boot the EFI one. When I check the vCentre system it wouldn’t remediate aka update to the new version, so I had to click remediate, run downstairs, and ensure I was there to pick the Legacy Disk boot, even after setting the boot order in the BIOS it wouldn’t stick to legacy and this was the only way I could get the upgrade to succeed.

Dang Computers…

Oh yeah.. this happened to me to, while I was trying to migrate some servers, I wanted to move some VM’s vNic into different VMPGs so I decided to rename the one they were currently using. I created the new VMPG in the alternative vSwitch, and i was a bit stumped to see them already there. I had presumed that once I renamed the VMPG it would reflect as the new name on the VM settings and still be on that old vSwitch (in secret it is). When I went to delete the vSwitch it told me error failed to delete “a specified parameter is not correct”. Googling I found this 10 year old blog that still relevant in ESXi 6.5.

Had to simply edit the VMs vNics and change them back. Dang Computers…

VMware ESXi boot and the Config

Sadly this post will be really short as again, lots going on. Recovering a host that failed after a regular reboot, which had a superblock corruption on it’s main OS drive. Also, the BELK series will be done, I just need a bit more time. Sorry for the delays.

“Failed to load /sb.v00” [Inconsistent Data]

Since this drive was not on the main datastore on the host all the VMs were unaffected.

Now loading linux showed the drive data was till accessible, but I also had a feeling this USB drive was on it’s way out. I created a copy using DD, *sadly I didn’t do it the smart way and place it on a drive big enough to save it as a image file, but instead directly to another drive of the same size.

I tried to install the same image of ESXi on top of the current one in hopes it would fix the boot partition files along the way. This only made the host get past /sb.v00 and vault randomly past it with “Fatal Error: 6 [Buffer Too Small]”

I was pretty tired at this point since the server boot times are rather long and attempts were becoming tedious. I did another DD operation of the drive, to the same drive (still not having learned my lesson) and when I awoke to my dismay, it failed only transferring 5 gigs with an I/O error. This really made me sure the drive was on the way out, but it was still mountable (the boot partitions 5, 6 and 8)

At this point you might be wondering, why doesn’t he just re-install and reload a backup config? Which is fair question, however one was not on hand, but surely it must be somewhere on the drive. I know how to create and recover on a working host but a one that can’t boot? Then I found this gem.

Now through out my attempts I did discover the boot partitions to be 5 and 6 and I did even copy them from a new install to my copied version I made about and it did boot but was a stock config. I was stumped till I read the section from the above blog post on “How to recover config from a system that doesn’t boot”. Line 7 was what nailed it on the head for me:

“mount /dev/sda5 /mnt/sda5

7. In the /mnt/sda5 directory, you can find the state.tgz file that contains ESXi configuration. This directory (in which state.tgz is stored) is called /bootblank/ when an ESXi host is booted.”

I was just like … wat? That’s it. Grabbed the bad main drive mounted on a linux system, saw the state.tgz file and made a copy of it, connected the new drive that had a base ESXi config, replaced the state.tgz file with the one I copied, booted it and there was the host in full working state with all network configs and registered VMs and everything.

Not sure why the config is stored in the boot partition, but there you go. Huge Shout out to Michael Bose for his write I suggest you check it out. I have saved it case it disappears from the internet and I can re-publish it. For now just visit the link. 🙂

Using A USB Device as a Datastore on VMware ESXi

USB datastore

Attach USB device in Windows -> DiskPart -> Select Disk -> Clean

To see USB device on host, stop arbitrator service, save to config, reboot

Now the hard parts, normally even following guide to see USB stick on host mount 4 gig volume, I had 16 gig cruiser to use.

Source

Perform a lspci -v to get all the USB UHCI and EHCI controllers to show up.
This shows up for example as:

DEVICE=/dev/disks/t10.JMicron_USB_to_ATA2FATAPI_Bridge
partedUtil mklabel ${DEVICE} msdos
END_SECTOR=$(eval expr $(partedUtil getptbl ${DEVICE} | tail -1 | awk '{print $1 " \\* " $2 " \\* " $3}') - 1)
/sbin/partedUtil "setptbl" "${DEVICE}" "gpt" "1 2048 ${END_SECTOR} AA31E02A400F11DB9590000C2911D1B8 0"
/sbin/vmkfstools -C vmfs5 -b 1m -S $(hostname -s)-local-datastore ${DEVICE}:1

That easy 😉

Requesting, Signing, and Applying internal PKI certificates on VCSA 6.7

The Story

Everyone loves a good story. Well today it begins with something I wanted to do for a while but haven’t got around to. I remember adjusting the certificates on 5.5 vCenter and it caused a lot of grief. Now it may have been my ignorance it also may have been due to poor documentation and guides, who knows. Now with VMware now going full linux (Photon OS) for the vCenter deployments (much more light weight) it’s still nice to see a green icon in your web browser when you navigate the nice new HTML5 based management interface. Funny that the guide I followed, even after applying their own certificate still had a “not secure” notification in their browser.

This might be because he didn’t install his Root CA certs into the computers trusted CA store on the machine he was navigating the web interface from. However I’m still going to thank RAJESH RADHAKRISHNAN for his post in VMArena. it helped. I will cover some alternatives however.

Not often I do this but I’m lazy and don’t feel like paraphrasing…

VCSA Certificate Overview

Before starting the procedure just a quick intro for managing vSphere Certificates, vSphere Certificates can manage in two different modes

VMCA Default Certificates

VMCA provides all the certificates for vCenter Server and ESXi hosts on the Virtual Infrastructure and it can manage the certificate lifecycle for vCenter Server and ESXi hosts. Using VMCA default the certificates is the simplest method and less overhead.

VMCA Default Certificates with External SSL Certificates (Hybrid Mode)
This method will replace the Platform Services Controller and vCenter Server Appliance SSL certificates, and allow VMCA to manage certificates for solution users and ESXi hosts. Also for high-security conscious deployments, you can replace the ESXi host SSL certificates as well. This method is Simple, VMCA manages the internal certificates and by using the method, you get the benefit of using your corporate-approved SSL certificates and these certificates trusted by your browsers.

Here we are discussing about the Hybrid mode, this the VMware’s recommended deployment model for certificates as it procures a good level of security. In this model only the Machine SSL certificate signed by the CA and replaced on the vCenter server and the solution user and ESXi host certificates are distributed by the VMCA.

I guess before I did the whole thing, were today I’m just going to be changing the cert that handles the web interface, which is all I really care about in this case.

Requirements

  • Working PKI based on Active directory Certificate Server.
  • Certificate Server should have a valid Template for vSphere environment
    Note : He uses a custom template he creates. I simply use the Web Server template built in to ADCS.
  • vCenter Server Appliance with root Access

Requesting the Certificate

Now requesting the certificate requires shell access, I recommend to enable SSH for ease of copying data to and from the VCSA as well as commands.

To do this log into the physical Console of the VCSA, in my case it’s a VM so I opened up the console from the VCSA web interface. Press F2 to login.

Enable both SSH and BASH Shell

OK, now we can SSH into the host to make life easier (I used putty):

Run

 /usr/lib/vmware-vmca/bin/certificate-manager

and select the operation option 1

Specify the following options:

  • Output directory path: path where will be generated the private key and the request
  • Country : your country in two letters
  • Name : The FQDN of your vCSA
  • Organization : an organization name
  • OrgUnit : type the name of your unit
  • State : country name
  • Locality : your city
  • IPAddess : provide the vCSA IP address
  • Email : provide your E-mail address
  • Hostname : the FQDN of your vCSA
  • VMCA Name: the FQDN where is located your VMCA. Usually the vCSA FQDN

Once the private key and the request is generated select Option 2 to exit

Next we have to export the Request and key from the location.

There are several options on how to compete this. Option 1 is how our source did it…

Option 1 (WinSCP)

using WinSCP for this operation .

To perform export we need additional permission on VCSA , type the following command for same

chsh -s /bin/bash root

Once connected to vCSA from winscp tool navigate the path you have mentioned on the request and download the vmca_issued_csr.csr file.

Option 2 (cat)

Simple Cat the CSR file, and use the mouse to highlight the contents. Then paste it into ADCS Request textbox field.

Signing The Request

Now you simply Navigate to your signing certificate authorizes web interface. usually you hope that the PKI admin has secured this with TLS and is not just using http like our source, but instead uses HTTPS://FQDN/certsrv or just HTTPS://hostname/certsrv.

Now we want to request a certificate, an advanced certificated…

Now simply, submit and from the next page select the Base 64 encoded option and Download the Certificate and Certificate Chain.

Note :- You have to export the Chain certificate to .cer extension , by default it will be PKCS#7

Open Chain file by right click or double click navigate the certificate -> right click -> All Tasks -> export and save it as filename.cer

Now that we have our signed certificate and chains lets get to importing them back into the VCSA.

Importing the Certificates

Again there are two options here:

Option 1 (WinSCP)

using WinSCP for this operation .

To perform export we need additional permission on VCSA , type the following command for same

chsh -s /bin/bash root

Once connected to vCSA from winscp tool navigate the path you have mentioned on the request and upload the certnew.cer file. Along with any chain CA certs.

Option 2 (cat)

Simply open the CER file in notepad, and use the mouse to highlight the contents. Then paste it into any file on the VCSA over the putty session.

E.G

vim /tmp/certnew.cer

Press I for insert mode. Right click to paste. ESC to change modes, :wq to save.

Run

 /usr/lib/vmware-vmca/bin/certificate-manager

and select the operation option 1

Enter administrator credentials and enter option number 2

Add the exported certificate and generated key path from previous steps and Press Y to confirm the change

Custom certificate for machine SSL: Path to the chain of certificate (srv.cer here)
Valid custom key for machine SSL: Path to the .key file generated earlier.
Signing certificate of the machine SSL certificate: Path to the certificate of the Root CA (root.cer , generated base64 encoded certificate).

Piss what did I miss…

That doesn’t mean shit to me.. “PC Load letter, wtf does that mean!?”

Googling, the answer was rather clear! Thanks Digicert!

Since I have an intermediate CA, and I was trying either the Intermediate or the offline it would fail.. I needed them both in one file. So opened each .cer and pasted them into one file “signedca.cer”

Now this did take a while, mostly around 70% and 85% but then it did complete!

Checking out the web interface…

Look at that green lock, seeing even IP listed in the SAN.. mhm does that mean…

Awwww yeah!!! even navigating the VCSA by IP and it still secure! Woop!

Conclusion

Changing the certificate in vCenter 6.7 is much more flexable and easier using the hybird approach and I say thumbs up. 😀 Thanks VMware.

Ohhh yea! Make sure you update your inventory hosts in your backup software with the new certificate else you may get error attempting backup and restore operations, as I did with Veeam. It was super easy to fix just validate the host under the inventory area, by going through the wizard for host configuration.

Rename a vSwitch in vSphere

I noticed I had named some vSwitches in the new hosts builds I had. This was nice. However I also noticed I couldn’t name a vSwitch when creating in vCenter. So how did I name them.

I quickly searched google, but the primary results were not what I was expecting….

1, 2, 3, 4

All of which either stated to edit the host config file, or use cli commands… well I know I did do the first thing, and I don’t remember using the CLI. Also I don’t remember having to reboot the host. The only diff I can think of is that I named them at creation, not after the fact, but the vCenter wizard has no option for that… but sure enough I checked my documentation.

If you login into a host directly, you can name a vSwitch right when creating it. This just requires to be done on each host in the cluster. It’s nice but is it worth it?

Once you have it setup it is really nice to have named vSwitches.

of course this doesn’t include dvSwitches, as those you can name and usually require uplinks to communicate between hosts. However you can still deploy a test dvSwitch to multiple hosts without an uplink though those VMs would only be useful on a single host… which defeats the purpose of it, but you can move the VMs as a whole group between VMs, and if that “Test switch” need any change it would be distributed between all hosts.

Mitigating from CVE-2018-3646 on ESXi 6.7

To keep this short, new VCSA 6.7 has VUM built in. No more Flash needed. Yay finally.

So I upload the latest 6.7u3 image, create my baseline, and test remedy one of my simple laptop hosts. After system reboots and comes back on VCSA dashbaord… uhhh what’s with this yellow warning icon…. Summary…

OK great, so after years of Intel being ahead of AMD, looks like at the cost of some pretty shitty shortcuts. and these shortcuts have caused Intel a huge problem, and pretty everyone else. Since it affected everyone, everyone has some form of write up on it. In this case VMware has coded the above warning, with a reference to this KB, so you know read that if you want a dry overview.

As you can see I have what shows as 4 logical processors, but after applying the mitigation (setting VMkernel.Boot.hyperthreadingMitigation to true on the host advanced settings) and rebooting…

Yay the warnings gone, but apparently so are half my logical processors?

If your wondering why they didn’t enable this by default is due system resource management, which of course, is exactly what vSphere is. Since it affects the available resource of the host it may not be able to accommodate the workload it was originally designed for. In my case it’s a lab and my work load is obviously very light, and this isn’t an issue for me.

Was it worth the mitigation? I don’t really know at this point as I’m unaware of any easy simple tactics any attacker could use to attack my footprint. At the same type CPU resource is not my major constraint, it’s usually memory.

For now better safe than sorry. In my next post I hope to cover the vCenter upgrade path and an error that happened to me along the way, luckily it wasn’t that hard to recover from. 🙂

Cheers!