Build a network boot disk for VMware guest VMs

Jason Boche has a write up on Building a network boot disk for VMware guest VMs on this Blog

A person recently asked me via Email how to create a bootable MS-DOS diskette with networking capability for use in VMware guest VMs. Rather than privately isolate the knowledge in an email conversation, I figured the least I could do after going through the steps is to share it in a blog post so that it may be cataloged in Google for everyone’s benefit.

There are several methods to creating a network boot disk. Some easier. Some more difficult. In the interest of time and leveraging the innovation of others, I’ll turbo charge today’s procedure by using Bart’s Network Boot Disk. Frankly I’m not interested in modifying network boot disk files by hand which was one of the purposes behind Bart’s solution – making the creation of boot disks easier. Note, to use this procedure, you admit to owning a Microsoft Windows 98 operating system license.

Thanks for the info Jason.

I personally use Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk Building the Disk is quite easy, and here are the steps I use.

1. Follow Building the Disk
2. Setup the Login Script
3. when you boot and the menu comes up, fill in the network information you need. IE, Domain, User, password. No worries, it is all secure.
4. Use Winimage or rawwrite to make a disk image, and upload that to ESX. ( note, I rename the image to the .flp file extension that ESX uses. )

Keep your VMware ESXi warranty: Don’t break the security shell

Edward L. Haletk wrote a nice write up at,289692,sid179,00.html titled Keep your VMware ESXi warranty: Don’t break the security shell

Working with VMware ESXi can be frustrating; you’re not supposed to enable the Dropbear SSH client or use its technical support mode without the assistance of a VMware support representative. System administrators, however, may be tempted to use tech support mode (or enable Dropbear) to fix problems or manage connections on the fly. Cracking this security shell, however, can void the VMware ESXi warranty and break support contracts. In this tip, I’ll explain alternatives that allow you to manage your ESXi virtual machines without compromising its security — and possibly breaking a support contract.

This is one of those subjects that has two points of view, you either see security as a high concern, or you don’t. In my eyes, if you have your network setup correct, the proposal of having a SSH login isn’t a major concern. However, the lack of warranty because of this is alarming to me.

I would like to discuss this further, if anyone is up to the conversation contact me.


VMware: memory reservations and swap files

I was looking at some of my datastores, and trying to figure out how to make more room. ( still working on a san purchase ) I saw on some of the VM’s that I gave alot of memory, had quite large .vswp files. I know that .vswp’s are swap files, but in this case, I made sure my VM would have more than enough memory, so how can I make these smaller?

I found this Article, while goggling.

VMware: memory reservations and swap files

Good for us nubs. :0)

Backing Up your ESX Service Console

Leo’s Ramblings’s has a article on Backing Up your ESX Service Console

I will add this to my future to try scripts.

Look, despite being told about a dozen million times, there’s still plenty of CFOs/IT Managers out there who have a “backup everything” policy, despite the fact that it’s easier to rebuild ESX than to build and recover, especially if you have a repeatable PXE-boot solution.

However, the amount of times I’ve been out on site to see SMB/CIFS mounts fo Windows shares on the console, along with really shocking scripts to back up important files… is well, simply astounding.

So I’m going to give you my solution, that uses NO passwords exposed in clear-text (SMB/CIFS mounts), uses no extra ESX components other than what’s already there (so your support is not void), and does not require installation of backup agents on your ESX console.

Free ESXi Backup Solution for Windows

I found this thread interesting on VMware Communities

Free ESXi Backup Solution for Windows

have spent the last few days trying to find a free backup solution to the newly free ESXi for windows only enviroments (in particular Windows XP). The solution for me was the following:

1. Installing Windows Services for UNIX (WSFU)
2. Copying the ESXi Server password and group files to Windows
3. Configuring WSFU for accepting ESX Server connections
4. Sharing the Windows folder for NFS compatibility
5. Configuring the ESXi Server to mount the Window NFS Share as Datastore.
6. Setup Backup Script

Attached is the complete steps.

I have yet to try this, but I think this is worth looking at, and at the very least worth trying.

How to tweak the 3ware 9650SE SATA RAID controller driver into ESX3i

Maybe old news, but I thought this interesting for those of you playing with VMware ESXi

How to tweak the 3ware 9650SE SATA RAID controller driver into ESX3i

I want give back something to this lovely community, giving me a lot of information and even VMware for
ESX3i a small-footprint OS that can run 24×7 from a USB-drive having a rock solid filesystem VMFS and
beeing a small subset of the industry proven ESX3. This will be the future of the next generation of computing

Embedding ESX3i into the BIOS of any server, laptop, desktop and workstation and you get “virtualization at
your fingertips

Good stuff!

A Beginner’s Guide to VMware Fusion

I stumbled across this on the VMware Communities, I am sure countless others have saw and linked this, but it was a new read for me.

A Beginner’s Guide to VMware Fusion

This document is intended for someone new to Fusion, and possibly someone who is new to Macs in general. It describes basic terminology/concepts, where to find things, and notes on using virtual machines.

For those of you Mac users, who are getting into Fusion, this is a must read.

Somtimes Monday’s look good

I saw this on the VMware communities, and had to link it, as it mirror’s my testing frustration at times.

Friday Morning Experiments

There is one thing I have learned as a new network administrator. Don’t ever, and I mean ever just ‘try’ something out on a Friday. be the anti-Nike, just don’t do it. You might have something in mind you might want to try out, change or reconfigure to give yourself something to do. But I plead, don’t do it.

Last Friday, I am feeling good about the state of the system and I decide to move a couple of new users to the Exch2007 machine. Do some load testing, and general ironing. I find my subjects, who don’t use OWA or calendars much (makes my life easier) and decide to scoot the mailboxes from Exch2003 to 2007. This is at 8:15 in the morning.

I told the user not to open Outlook till I call them back, hit the move butt and it took all of 5 minutes and from my end everything seemed fine. Called the user back and told them to open Outlook. I was about to hang out and I heard… “oh wait….there is an error”. Crap. “Okay,

Well crap. I wasn’t expecting this, since I had moved a handful of other people to the Exch2007 server with out a hitch

2:00 and a user still has no email

I thought this blog hit home, as I always run into funky error’s like these.

Understanding VMware Roles and Permissions has a good article on Understanding VMware Roles and Permissions, This was a good for me, as I have am still very new to VMware.

VMware Virtualcenter roles and permissions are one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of Virtual Infrastructure 3. We constantly receive calls into tech support asking how-to assign the appropriate rights to users and their virtual machines, clusters, etc.

Anything to help understand VMware’s roles and permissions is a good thing.

Read VI3 Roles and Permission

Concepts behind this are explained in the paper Management VirtualCenter Roles and Permissions.

A must read.