ESXi new install; failed to create new Datastore

Well I booted up a new server, created a new logical drive, bot ESXi and Failed to create datastore… what is this?

Google help? Yeah Forms help.

1. Show connected disks.

ls -lha /vmfs/devices/disks/

(Verify the disk is seen. You will probably see your disk ID then :1. This is a partition on the disk. We only need to work about the main disk ID.)

Neat. next

2. Show the error on disk.

partedUtil getptbl /vmfs/devices/disks/(disk ID)

(It will probably indicate that the GPT is located beyond the end of the disk.)

Ohhh yeah, huh… fix it

3. Wipe disk and rewrite with a basic MSDOS partion.

partedUtil setptbl /vmfs/devices/disks/(disk ID) msdos

(The output from this should be similar to msdos and the next line will be o o o o)

Go to create data store after this, yay it worked. Please note to use your own values, images are just for reference.

*UPDATE* I went to reuse some old drives from an old RAID controller. In this case I had removed the logical drive from the old RAID configuration, pulled the disks. Since they were same Caddy as an alternative server, and went on to create some new logical drives to use as an alternative datastore on this particular host.

In the examples above, it would fail at creation of the datastore. In this example it failed at the point in the wizard to define the partition to create. with an error as follows:

“Either the selected disk already has a VMFS datastore or the host cannot perform a partition table conversion. Select another disk” in a nice red banner.

Now attempting My usual fix as mentioned above resulted in…

… to be updated (i have such a headache right now from the endless issues)

Had to clear the drives to fix this problem (delete logical drive) rip Drives out of server, use a USB enclosure to use “diskpart” and the “clean command on windows to clean the drives.

Then after that the health light on the server went off, saying my one disk or caddy is “unauthentic” even though it was just working. Apparently terrible engineer caddy’s.

Which to find out this issue I had to get into iLO which the admin password was unknown so had to run up my old blog post to get into that. and now after all that.. I have a headache.

Good job computers, you managed to make my day fantastic… again.

ESXi VM disconnected after applying patch

Keep this short.

I had to update a ESXi host locally as it’s mgmt connection would drop with all VMs having to go down on it. As it’s a single host with virtualized network components.

On one of the VMs this was an opportunity to update it since it needed to be shutdown temperately anyway. I took a snapshot of the VM, updated it, validated updates were fine, removed the snapshot. Then proceeded to update the host:

vim-cmd hostsvc/Maintenance_mode_enter
esxcli software vib update -d "/path/to/file.zip"
vim-cmd hostsvc/Maintenance_mode_exit
reboot

Nothing special here. However once the host came back up and I was able to access it via vCenter, one of the VM’s was shown as “disconnected” I’ve seen this with ESXi hosts before, but not particularly with a VM.

Oddly enough there’s only one datastore on the host and all other VMs are fine, and checking the datastore, all files are where they should be.

I figured maybe remove the VM from inventory and just re-add it via the vmx file, however the option was greyed out.

It turned out there was apparently still a snapshot left on the VM (noticed via delta files existing within the VMs folder path).

Removing all the snapshots resolved the issue. Turns out the VM was also running, but didn’t show the green play icon, thus I wasn’t aware of it’s powered on state. Which also explains the greyed out context menu for removing from inventory.

Hope this helps someone.

Creating Custom ESXi Image

Follow these steps

  1. Download Offline Bundle of ESXi Image
  2. Download Drivers E.G The Native ESXi USB NIC drivers
  3. Install PowerCLI (Set-ExecutionPolicy Remotesigned; Import-Module PowershellGet; Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI)
  4. In PowerCLI connect the standard SoftwareDepot by typing:

    Add-EsxSoftwareDepot -DepotUrl <Path to zip>

  5. Get the ImageProfile list:

    Get-EsxImageProfile

  6. Clone standard ImageProfile:

    New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-6.7.0-8169922-standard -Name MyProfile -Vendor <vendor>

  7.  [Only If Required] If your vib file has Acceptance Level – CommunitySupported, we need to set this Acceptance Level for our ImageProfile:

    Set-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile MyProfile -AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported

  8. Add our vib to SoftwareDepot:

    Get-EsxSoftwarePackage -PackageUrl <path to vib>

  9. Add our vib to ImageProfile:

    Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -PackageUrl

Error:

Search result.

Answer driver for specfic version (7.1, need 6.5)

So I downloaded the proper driver but I couldn’t figure out how to pick the right software package since the “get” command was actually already loaded the other driver, so it kept trying to add the 7.1 driver. Only thing I could think of was to close the powershell windows and start fresh…

10. Export ImageProfile to ISO image:

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile MyProfile -ExportToIso -FilePath

That was it! Sadly the laptop I wanted to use this on was still boot looping, and sadly the USB NIC “Insagnia” didn’t seem to work and was getting NFS4 client failed to load, and not network adapters found on the machine. But was worth a shot.

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. 🙂

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!

Reset ESXi trial license

Quoted directly by Aaron from:

“This guide will give you the steps needed to reset the license file so that you can apply the evaluation license back to your ESXi host.

WARNING: This is for education/informational testing/development purposes only, and should not be used on a production server.

To reset your expired ESX 4.x, ESXi 4.x, ESXi 5.x or ESXi 6.x 60 day evaluation license:

  1. Login to the HOST via SSH or Shell
  2. Remove /etc/vmware/license.cfg
  3. Copy /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg to /etc/vmware/license.cfg
  4. Restart the vpxa service

Or simply copy the code below and paste it into your SSH session.

rm -r /etc/vmware/license.cfg
cp /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg /etc/vmware/license.cfg
/etc/init.d/vpxa restart

Then open the “Licensed Features” option in the configuration tab of the ESXi host through the vSphere Client.

Click on “Edit” in the top right of the “Licensed Features” page

Once the “Assign License” window opens you will see two options. There will be a category for “Evaluation Mode” and Assigned License. Click on the “(No License Key)” option and then click “OK”. This will set the host back to “evaluation” mode and will give you access to all features for 60-days!”

ESXi 6.5 on Proliant Gen9 Hardware Status Unknown

I’ll keep this post short.

If you have a Proliant Gen9 server and running ESXi 6.5 u2 along with VSCA 6.5u2.

You will get all hosts not displaying any hardware status. This should fixed immediately as you don’t get alerts on any hardware faults via IPMI. This includes status from hosts running ESXi 5.5 or 6.5.

The first fix is to upgrade the VCSA to 6.5u3.

After upgrading the VCSA to 6.5u3… Hardware status will come back for each host.. however.. if you are running ESXi 6.5u2 on the Gen9 servers you’ll something like this:

as you can see some sensors are a lil wonky…

The fix here is to upgrade the host to 6.5u3 via the HPE build.

After the hosts and the VCSA are on 6.5u3 all is good and hardware faults will again will trigger critical alarms on vSphere.

A Productive Nightmare

The Story

Lack of Space

It all begins with a new infrastructure design, it’s brilliant. All the technical stuff a side, the system is built and ready for use, one problem the new datastore is slightly overused (many plans for service migrations and old bloated servers to be removed but have not yet been completed). I had one datastore that was used for a test environment, with the whole test environment down and removed this datastore would be perfect temp location till the appropriate datastore could be acquired.

The Next Day

I was chatting with our in house developer when a user walks in asking why they couldn’t complete a task on the system, figuring a work flow server issue simply rebooting it often fixed any issues with it, however this time I also received an email from the DBA stating reports of a DB issue due to bad blocks on the storage level.

At this point my heart sank, I quickly logged into the storage unit and was shocked to not see any notification of issues, deciding right then and there to move to back to reliable storage I made the svMotion, while it was in progress the storage unit I was logged into finally showed errors of disk failure, one disk had failed while the other had become degraded (In a RAID 1+0 this can be bad news bears) after the svMotion completed there was still a corrupted DB (we all have backups right?) lucky it was just a configuration DB for the workflow server and not any actual data, so I provided the DBA with a backup of the database files, didn’t take long and everything was back to green.

That Weekend

I decided to play catch up on the weekend due to the disruptive nature of the disk failure that week, to my dismay and only by chance the new host in the new cluster was showing disconnected from vCenter… What the…

Since I wasn’t sure what was going on here at first I chatted with the usual’s on IRC, I was informed instantly “RAMdisk is full”. After some lengthy recovery work (shutting down VMs and manually migrating them to an active host in vCenter) I discovered it was cause the ESXi host did lose connectivity to its OS storage (in this case was installed on an SD card)

So I updated the firmware on the host server. This so far (after a couple weeks now) has resolved this issue.

Then while I was working on the above host lost of connectivity, the other host lost connection to vCenter! However this one had much different signs and symptoms, after doing the exact same process of moving VMs off this host, it was determined by VMware support that it was “possibly” due to the loss of the one datastore. Remember the datastore I discussed above, although I had moved any VM usage of it from the hosts I did not remove it as an active datastore, so although the storage unit was accessible while the disks had failed, for some reason the whole storage unit had failed (UI was now unresponsive). So I had to remove this datastore and all associated paths. After all this everything was again green for this cluster.

So much for that weekend…

That Storage Unit

Yeah alright so that storage unit… it was a custom built FreeNAS box that was spliced together from a HP DL385p Gen8 server. I got this thing for dirt cheap and was working as a datastore perfectly fine before the disc failure so I don’t blame the hardware or even FreeNAS or all the crap that happened. It was just a perfect storm.

So I decided to try something different with this unit first… since I had been using an LSI 9211-8i flashed in IT mode (JBOD) for the SAS expanders in the front (25 disk sff). I decided I would try to build my first hyper-converged setup. That meant creating a FreeNAS VM, hardware passthough the storage controller (LSI 9211-8i) and then created datastores using the discs in the front.

Sooo

The Paradox

The first issue I had was the fact you need a datastore to host the FreeNAS VMs config and hard drive files… but if we are going to do hardware pass-through of the entire SAS exapnders via the LSI card, that means it’s not accessible or usable for the host OS. Uggghhhh, now we could use NFS or iSCSI but the goal for me was to have a full self contained system not relying on another host system, now I can easily install ESXi on a USB or SD card, but it won’t allow me to use these as datastores. At least not on there own…

Come here USB datastore… I mostly followed this blog post on it by Virten however I personally love this old one by non other than my favorite VMware blogger William Lam of VirtuallyGhetto.com

*My Findings* Much like the comments on here and many other blog and form posts about doing this is I could not get this to work on 5.1 or 5.5 those builds are too finiky and I’d always get the same error about no logical partition defined or something, yet worked perfectly fine in 6.5 or 6.7 (I personally don’t use 6.0)

OK, so I decided to use ESXi 6.7, installed on a SD card, and setup a 8 gig USB based Datastore. Next Issue is you have to reserve the memory else you’d be limited to even less than 4 gigs as ESXi will complain there is not enough from on the datastore for the swap file. Not a big deal here as we have plenty of RAM to use (100 Gigs HP genuine ECC memory).

I did manage to get FreeNAS installed on said datastore and as you’d expect it was slowwwwww. My mind started to run wild and though about RAMDisc and if it was possible to use that as a datastore… in theory.. it is! William is still around! 😀

Couple notes on this

1) you need a actual Datastore as it seems like ESXI just creates system links to the PMem Datastore. (I noticed this by attempting to ssh into the host and simple copy the VM’s files over, it failed stating out of space, even though there was enough defined for the PMem Datastore).

2) You create the VM and defined the HDD to be on PMem Datastore and will warn you of non persistence.

Sure enough I created a FreeNAS VM on the PMem and it was fast install, but as soon as the host needed a reboot, attempt to power on that VM and it says the HDD is gonezo. So this was cool, but without persistence it sort of sucks.

Anyway I didn’t need the FreeNAS OS to have fast I/O anyway, so stuck with the USB based datastore. Then I went to pass-through the controller, now enabling pass-though on the controller worked fine, but the VM wouldn’t start.

Checking the logs and googling revealed only ONE finding!

No matter what I tried the LSI card or the built in HBA same error as the post above:
“WARNING: AMDIOMMU: 309: Mapping for iopn 0x100 to mpn 0x134bb00 on domain 1 with attr 0x3 failed; iopn is already mapped to mpn 0x100 with attr 0x1
WARNING: VMKPCIPassthru: 4054: Failed to setup IOMMU mapping for 1 pages starting at BPN 0x100000100”

Yay, another idea gone to shit and time wasted, I learned some things but I wanted to learn something and bring some use back to this system… ugh fine! I’ll just put it back to normal connecting the SAS expanders to the P420i HBA and use the 2GB battery backed cache to define a speedy datastore and just keep it simple…

The Terrible HBA

I don’t wish this HBA on anyone seriously, so after I put it all back to normal, the first thing I find is:

  1. When I booted the server and let the system post, when it got up to the storage controller part (Past the bottom indication to press F9 for setup, F10 for Smart Provision, and F11 for Boot Menu) it will list the storage controller and it’s running firmware in this case v8.00.
    Half the time if I pressed F5, if there was no previous error codes and no disks or logical units defined I someones got into the ACU (Array Configuration Utility) the other half the fans would kick up to 100% and stay there while the ACU booted (showing nothing but an HP logo and a slow progress bar) and when ACU finally did load I’d be presented with “No Storage Controller found”
    (Trust me I got a 40 min video of me yelling at the server for being stupid haha)
  2. This issue would become 100% apparent as soon as I plugged in a drive with a logical unit defined from another (updated) version of Smart Array.
    To get around this issue I ended up grabbing the “latest” HP SSA (Smart Storage Administrator) tool from, HPs site. Now I quote latest due to the fact is it’s from 2013… No this allowed me to finally build some arrays for me to use with the planned ESXi build.

I noticed that at first I wasn’t seeing the new logical drive I defined in the HP SSA in ESXi itself, I totally forgot to grab HPE custom build as it includes all required drivers for these pieces of hardware.

First thing i notice after grabbing HPE’s custom ESXi build… in this case 6.7 (requires VMware login) is that the keyboard is buggering out on me when attempting to configure the management NIC.

At first I thought maybe the USB stick was crapping out due to the many OS installs I’ve been doing on it. So I decide to move to using the logical array I built, the custom installer does see the new array and away I go, still buggy, so I thought maybe it’s the storage controller firmware? Looking up the firmware for P420i or equivalent appears there are numerous post of issues and firmware updates.. turns out there’s even a 8.32(c) Nov 2017 update, since I was too lazy to build a custom offline installer for this firmware flash I used an install of Windows Server 2016 and ran the live updater, to my amazement it worked flawless… yet also to my amazement Windows worked perfectly fine on the same logical array regardless of the firmware it was running (Is this a VMware issue…??)

So after re-installing the custom ESXi 6.7 from HPE, the host was still being buggy… and now started to PSOD (Purple Screen of Death)… are you kidding me, after everything that’s already happened… ughhhhh…

Googling this I found either

A) Old posts of Vendor finger Pointing (Around ESXi 3-4)

B) Newer Posts (ESXi 6.7~) this lead me to the only guy who claimed to have fixed his PSOD and how he did it here

Which I found I was not having the same errors showing which lead me to my first link due to the logs. Having updated all the firmware, and running HPEs builds I could only think to try the ESXi 6.5-U2 build as the firmware was supposedly supported for that build.

Now running ESXi 6.5-U2 without any issues, and no PSOD! Unfortunately without warranty on this hardware I have no way to get HP to investigate this newer 6.7 build to run on this particular hardware.

Icing on the Cake

Alright so now I should finally be good to go to use this hypervisor for testing purposes right? Well I had a bunch of spare discs and slots to create a separate datastore for more VMs yay…

Until I went to boot that latest HP SSA offline I listed above that fixed the fan speed and no controller found for the ACU, well now this latest HP SSA was getting stuck at a white screen! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH how do I create of manage the logical unit and build arrays if the offline software is stuck, well i could have installed and learned how to use the hpssacli and their associated commands but since I was already kind of stressed and bummed out at this point installed Windows Server 2016 and ran the HP SSA for that which looks exactly like the offline version.

Finally created all my arrays, installed the only stable version of ESXi with associated drivers, have all my datastores on the host showing green, created a dedicated restore proxy and am finally getting some use back from this thing….

Conclusion

What… a …. freaking… NIGHTMARE!

 

Creating and Managing Local Users ESXi 6.5/6.7

The Story

I recently started playing around with the later ESXi hypervisor (OK I’ve tried the Web UI before, and simply stayed away). Now it has been far more polished with the release of 6.7. I have been enjoying the experience a far amount. However, then I needed to create another account on my free host (since I do not have vCenter to play around with in my home lab). While most things a seemed pretty intuitive at first..

Creating a User

Host -> Manage -> Security & Users -> Add a User (Specify Username and Password)

If you actually tried to login at this point I’d laugh a bit, but it could happen, you just created a user account, right? Well first thing you should have noticed is that there was no options to define what permissions this newly created user should have, read-only?, administrator?, etc.

So you click on Roles, there are all the nice pre-created roles… mhmm nice… alright… so… how do I map a user to a role?

You can look all under Security and users (where it should be), heck you can even look all under all the Manage options… you won’t find it there either… I had to find this out by googling… and if I have to google it… it’s not intuitive…

Assigning the Roles

So click on the main host icon in the left nav area, then when the right pane has loaded, select the Action menu, you should see it on the list of options above the host, right next to refresh.

Then select “Permissions”.

When the Host’s permissions modal box appears, click add user.

Marvel at how you can now assign users to roles, from here instead of the logical place where you easily found creating the user. Even if they wanted to keep the actions menu, and the modal box, just create a dang link under Security and Users… Arrrrggg.