• Category Archives Lab
  • How-to: Netscaler VPX Express Deployment

    The Netscaler VPX Express is a great tool to test and play with Netscalers at no cost to you. Great for home labs and even testing various things. It is pretty well featured. You can find out more about the Netscaler VPX Express here in a previous blog post where I touch on benefits and limitations. I have been asked several times for a How-to on deploying the Netscaler VPX Express, I will do further posts on basic Netscaler setup and features in future posts.

    Here are the basic steps for getting the Netscaler VPX Express up and running.

    1. Download the NetScaler VPX virtual appliance package using the link below. Packages are available for both XenServer and VMware.
    2. Import NetScaler VPX Express onto the virtualized server of your choice.
      1. If you don’t currently have XenServer, download a free version of XenServer.
      2. If you don’t currently have VMware ESX, evaluation versions can be downloaded from vmware.com.
    3. Get and activate your free NetScaler VPX Express license via the get license link below. 
      1. Please note you will need to get your license after you deploy the VPX to get information from the virtual machine to license it properly.
    4. Want more than one license? just click get license again.

    Click here for full details and how to steps.

    1. Where to get the Netscaler VPX Express 

    2. Import Netscaler VPX Express onto the virtualized server of your choice (steps below are for ESXi)

    Fat Client (ESXi)

    • Log in into your Hypervisor (ESXi) 
    • Click File -> Deploy OVF template


    • Browse to the Netscaler Download (please note the download is a ZIP file and will have to be extracted to see the OVF) -> Click Open
    • Click Next on Source Selection
    • Click Next on OVF Template Details 
    •  Change Name to desired Netscaler VPX Name -> Click Next
    •  Select Cluster you would like to deploy to -> Click Next
    •  Select Datastore where the VPX will be stored -> Click Next
    •  Click Next on Disk Format screen
    •  Click next on Network Mapping (please note the error in the screenshot) I plan on only having one NIC in my lab setup for VPX, if multiple NICs are required you may have to more portgroups created.
    •  Review Ready to Complete Screen for accuracy -> Click Next
    •  The VPX will deploy. This not take long as the VPX is very small.
    •  Upon completion, you should see the following screen. -> Click Close
    •  Before Powering ON the VPX, I will be removing the unnecessary Network Interface. Right click the VM and Click Edit Settings…
    •  Highlight the Network adapter that you would like to remove and click the Remove button
    •  The Network Adapter should now show in strikethrough as below -> Click OK at the bottom of the window
    •  Now you can power on the VPX and begin the configuration. Enter an IPv4 address and hit Enter
    •  Enter a Subnet Mask and hit Enter
    •  Enter Gateway IPv4 address.
    •  Review settings and hit 4 or Enter to accept the default to save and quit. Follow on screen prompts if changes need to be made.
    •  Now your netscaler is powered on and you should be able to login using the default credentials of nsroot/nsroot
    •  Follow the configuration wizard and click Step 2 to enter the Subnet IP address or SNIP
    •  Enter the SNIP IP address
    •  Click Step 3 Enter Host Name and DNS IP address and change Timezone if necessary. -> Click Done once complete

    • Click Final Step to enter Licensing and complete the configuration.
    •  Click “Yes I accept” to accept the End-User License Agreement
    •  Click the green link under Serial Number in the area I have blacked out in the screenshot below.
    •  Click continue on Host Name Warning

    •  Click in the field Host ID and enter the MAC address of the VPX. You can find this in VMware in the network adapter properties in the Edit Settings option of the VM.

    • Click Continue and you should go to the Next step.
    •  Click OK to go the license download page.
    •  Click Download to download the license.
    •  Return to your browser window with the Netscaler VPX – On the licensing selection, select Upload license file from the local computer
    •  Browse and locate the license file downloaded from MyCitrix
    •  If applied successfully, you should see the below screen. Reboot the appliance
    •  Log back into the Netscaler and verify the licenses in the Licensing section. It should appear as below (I have seen this take two reboots). If it does not come back successfully and shows all Xs, please check to make sure the MAC matches the Host ID you entered earlier.

    Congratulations you have successfully completed deploying the VPX Express.

  • VMware Fling : VIB Author – Custom ESXi installs

    VMware has announced another fling which I always enjoy trying. This fling will allow users to make a customized vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB). Previously this was only available to VMware partners such as Cisco, Dell etc to make customized installations.

    From the article

    There are a couple of use cases for creating custom VIBs.  For example, if you are using Auto Deploy and you need to add a custom firewall rule to your host, or you need to make a configuration change that can’t be made using Host Profiles.
    One word of caution however, the ability to create custom VIBs does come with some responsibility.  If you plan to create your own VIBs here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1. VIBs provided by VMware and trusted partners are digitally signed, these digital signatures ensure the integrity of the VIB.  Custom VIBs are not digitally signed.  Be careful when adding unsigned VIBs to you ESXi hosts as you have no way of vouching for the integrity of the software being installed.
    2. Before adding a custom VIB you will need to set your host’s acceptance level to “Community Supported”.   When running at the community supported acceptance level it’s important to understand that VMware support may ask you to remove any custom VIBs.   Here’s the formal disclaimer:

    IMPORTANT If you add a Community Supported VIB to an ESXi host, you must first change the host’s acceptance level to Community Supported. If you encounter problems with an ESXi host that is at the CommunitySupported acceptance level, VMware Support might ask you to remove the custom VIB, as outlined in the support policies:”

    If you are not familiar with VIBs I recommend you start with a quick review of this blog: http://blogs.vmware.com/esxi/2011/09/whats-in-a-vib.html
    With that, I know several folks have been chomping at the bit to create their own custom VIBs so I’ve attached a short tutorial that shows how to use the vibauthor tool to create a  VIB to add a custom firewall rule.

  • VMware HOL Online – Public Beta Registration is now Open!

    Back in 2011 I blogged about VMworld online Hands On Labs (HOL) going live in 2012 and they are coming. I was a little worried it wasn’t going to happen as I expected this to happen earlier in the year for the 2011 VMworld HOLs based upon the news in the community. I am pretty excited to get my hands on this personally and after I get access and restrictions are lifted I will give a detailed review.

    From the official page.

    To all fans of the VMware Hands-on Labs-

    At VMworld 2012 we announced that the Hands-on Labs experience will soon be available online. Today we are taking the first step toward making this a reality. I am excited to let you know that registration is now open and you may add your name to the interest list here:

    VMware Hands-on Labs – Public Beta Interest List

    This interest list will help us to anticipate demand for the new HOL Online portal so that we can provide you with a consistent, high quality user experience. When the public beta opens, we will begin to add users from the interest list. We are counting on you to take lots of labs, exercise the portal interface and provide quality feedback.

    After registering on the interest list, be sure to participate in the HOL Communities site at http://www.vmware.com/go/hol and follow us on twitter @VMwareHOL.

    Looking forward to labs in the cloud!

  • Home Lab – a great resource

    I have been looking at building a lab for quite some time, years actually.

    Well I finally pulled the trigger, which I couldn’t do without the support of my company Varrow and my wife. Check out Jason Nash’s blog post on “In Support of the Home Lab” on how Varrow really takes it to the next level for supporting home labs and I think other companies should step up and help their employees too as the lab is a win/win situation for all parties involved.

    Read more for details on equipment and some of the trials and tribulations I have gone through thus far.

    There are many blog posts from folks in the community on building a home lab and what equipment they chose. I will include some of those articles at the end to give you more ideas on what to use in your lab.

    Here is the equipment that I chose, all purchased from Newegg.

    Case LIAN LI PC-V351B Black Aluminum MicroATX Desktop Computer
    Motherboard SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCL-F-O LGA 1155 Intel C202 Micro ATX
    Power Supply Rosewill Green Series RG630-S12 630W Continuous @40°C,80
    CPU Intel Xeon E3-1220 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 80W
    Memory Kingston 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 ECC Unbuffered
    SSD – Internal Crucial V4 CT032V4SSD2BAA 2.5″ 32GB SATA II MLC Internal
    NAS Synology DS212 Diskless System DiskStation – Feature-rich 2-bay
    Storage Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s

    All total this configuration cost me $2139.83 which again I couldn’t do without my employers generous lab policies after all I have four boys to feed and a wife who I want to keep happy.

    Notes on why I chose each piece for my lab as I put a lot of thought and planning into it. I had limited space and certain things I wanted to do and a set budget I had to get mine done in. You could choose other parts and save some money as well.

    • Case  – Chose the case due to size mainly and aesthetics, had to pass Wife Acceptance Factor
    • Motherboard – I wanted the Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN for remote management
    • Power Supply – The power supply was on sale and got solid reviews for being quiet improving the WAF (wife acceptance factor)
    • CPU – Processor supports VT-D and was the best deal for my money
    • Memory – Best price Unbuffered ECC RAM i could find *Motherboard Requires Unbuffered ECC
    • SSD Internal – Wanted to use the Swap to Host Cache aka Swap to SSD Features in vSphere 5
    • NAS – Synology – accept no substitute -AWESOME, feature packed cant be beat, supports iSCSI and NFS and more. See Jason Nash’s review on the Synology 212+.
      • Only Regret – Wish I bought the DS412+ it supports VAAI with latest code and holds more drives
    • Storage – Most capacity and speed for the price I could get

    Watch the sales on Newegg, they constantly have things going out. If you are smart shrewd and have time on your hands, you could easily cut the cost down significantly.

    On to the build process

    So everything arrived from Newegg and i was like a kid in a candy store. The wife graciously allowed me to begin putting the pieces together as she wanted the boxes to disappear. I had a few issues such as a dead hard drive, the wrong ram was sent but most of that is being taken care of. I do have to say its a pretty whisper quiet set up. Even in the same room, I can’t hear the equipment minus a Cisco Switch which I have…

    The unboxed equipment waiting for me at home
    The Final Product with glowing lights.
    A few of my trials and tribulations

    I didn’t purchase a CD-Rom for the LAB so my plan was to install from a USB key. I found a nice utility (LinuxLive USB Creator) that you can use to create a bootable USB from any .iso file. I downloaded vSphere 5.0

    After I created my bootable USB with ESXi 5.0 Update 1 I thought I was in the clear and ready to begin installation. After I installed ESXi I ran into a bit of a snag, the NICs on my Host are not supported…

    I encountered this error “No compatible network adapter found. Please consult the product’s Hardware Compatibility Guide (HCG) for a list of supported adapters.

    There are two LAN controllers on the motherboard, neither are supported by ESXi 5.x

    • LAN Chipset
      Intel 82579LM
    • Second LAN Chipset
      Intel 82574L Duel NICs

    After some searching and afraid I was going to have to spend more money or write my own driver (been a while) I found another enterprising soul had written a driver that should be compatible with my board. VMware has a KB article on how to installing ASYNC drivers on 5.x here but there is an app for that, the ESXi customizer. The drivers supported the Intel 82574L Chipset so I currently have two Gigabit NICs. The primary NIC is non functional. I will at some point buy additional NIC cards to support more ports.

    Driver Author’s Post 
    Driver Download
    ESXi Customizer

    Download the driver above and the ESXi Customizer. It will create a custom ISO in the working directory that you can then use the LinuxLive USB Creator above to create your bootable ISO that supports the motherboard NICs.

    So after all of this I now have two ESXi hosts built at home and I am working on building the vCenter, Domain controller and other VMs soon.

    My plan is to install and do nested hypervisors for testing and script development against multiple platforms. As I make progress I will be giving LAB updates here and new scripts to share with the community.

    Nested Xenserver

    Nested Hyper-V

    Software I plan on developing for and testing in my LAB in no particular order and by no means complete just what I am thinking off the top of my head.

    • Citrix XenApp Plat using Citrix PVS, Edgesight, Single Sign On, Smart Auditor
    • Citrix XenDesktop Plat using MCS and Citrix PVS
    • Citrix Netscaler Access Gateway
    • Citrix APP-DNA
    • Citrix VDI in a Box
    • VMware View
    • VMware vCloud Director
    • VMware Horizon Suite
    • Appsense
    • Veeam
    • Windows Server 2012
    • App-V
    • Thin Clients
    • Mobile Devices and management 
    • Certification Testing and Guides

    All in all I can’t recommend building a lab enough, I think in this business building a home lab whether it be virtual using the Autolab or building a full home lab with multiple hosts or even a single host is a requirement for any professional. Every time I build anything I learn something even if its just that the Aluminum case edges are sharp 🙂 I believe it is the best way to keep your skills sharp, test new products and test yourself against them.

    Home Lab Links by the community
    Jase McCarty
    Hersey Cartwright
    Jason Boche

  • Autolab 1.0 Released

    A while back I blogged about the Autolab (which I have used on Fusion as well as Workstation) for testing new things and training for certifications as well as live demos. This has proven a very valuable resource for me and it will be for you as well. Many of the vBrownbag hosts have also used the Autolab in their continued weekly virtualization podcast on VMware certifications.

    The Autolab 1.0 was released today. The Autolab has added many new features including Veeam ONE as well as vCloud Director and VMware View. These features are all optional but strong additions to an already strong way to deliver your self contained Lab.

    Autolab 1.0 on Labguides.com

    And if you want to see the Autolab in action. Our very own Jason Nash with Varrow will be using the Autolab at VMworld in his session in a live demo. 

    INF-NET2207 – vSphere Distributed Switch – Technical Deep Dive – Jason Nash – Monday at 4pm

  • Autolab – Packaged VMware Nested Lab

    Recently Autolab, a new tool promising to make deploying your labs a LOT easier was released. I deployed my new lab yesterday using this tool and it couldn’t be simpler.


    This lab builder kit is designed to produce a nested vSphere 5.0 or 4.1 lab environment with the minimum effort. Prebuilt shell VMs are provided along with automation for the installation of operating systems and applications into these VMs. The lab build was originally created to aid study towards VCP5 certification however it has many other possible uses.

    This is version 0.5 – Please submit bug reports to feedback@labguides.com

    Installation Instructions PDF
    Nested AutoLab on Workstation 8
    Nested AutoLab on ESXi 5

    Hardware Requirements

    The hardware requirements for the lab are moderate. Hopefully you won’t need to buy a new computer, although you may need to do some upgrades.  If you can dedicate a computer to the role then the lab runs extremely well under ESXi.

    Hardware Minimum Great Choice Used to build the lab (laptop bought in 2009)
    CPU Dual Core, 64Bit Quad Core, i7 Core2 Duo
    RAM 8GB How much can you afford? 8GB
    Hard Disk 60GB free space 120GB SSD free space Second SATA hard disk, Laptop OS on small SSD
    Operating System 64 Bit ESXi 5.0 Windows 7 64Bit
    Virtualization Software VMware Player (untested) ESXi 5.0 VMware Workstation 8.0.2

    Additional software

    The AutoLab kit contains open source software and so can be freely redistributed. The full lab requires licensed software components some of which are quite large. Below is a list with download links where these are easily  available.

    For the older vSphere versions and for PowerCLI you will need an account with VMware or a good contact at VMware or a VMware partner.

    The version 4.1 components are only required if you plan to build a 4.1 environment, usually so you can run the upgrade to 5.0.

    • vCenter 5.0 Install DVD
    • ESXi 5.0 Install CDROM
    • vCenter 4.1 Install DVD
    • ESXi 4.1 Install CDROM
    • ESX 4.1 Install CDROM
    • VMware PowerCLI installer
    • VMware vSphere CLI Installer
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 180 day trial DVD
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Client 64bit
    • Microsoft Windows 2003 Server 32bit or Windows XP 32bit CDROM