Failure to Configure Coredump Partition Causes Host Profile Creation to Fail

vSphere 5.5 Update 1 is out, bringing VSAN to a host near you. I could spend a blog post on the new features, but that’s what VMware’s website is for. <shameless plug>Check out my post on updating the vSphere Server Appliance for instructions.</shameless plug>

I updated the appliance with no issue at all, and then updated VUM to 5.5 Update 1. Everything is rolling. No problems. Fun fact: the C# client for vSphere doesn’t prompt you to update when it connects to the updated vCenter. You have to manually update it. This lead to weird errors in Update Manager about not having enough space on the host to run the upgrade. I finally get a host upgraded and go to run the other host’s upgrade and it continually fails with an error about being unable to run the upgrade script. I tried rebooting the host, rebooting VUM, rebooting vCenter, installing the patches, running it as an ESXi upgrade….everything. Same generic failures every time. All of the logs were unhelpful, so I decided to rebuild the host. “I have host profiles”, I thought. “This won’t be so bad”, I thought.

I got the host rebuilt and back into vCenter and went to apply the host profile and it gave me an error saying “Failed to execute command to configure or query coredump partition.”

The only way to configure the coredump partition from the GUI is via a host profile, so that option was out. Time to dig into the CLI. Here’s what I had to do to configure the coredump partition.

1. SSH to your host as root.

2. Run the command “esxcli system coredump partition get” (without the quotes). You may get different results. The results below show an unconfigured host. The errors I was receiving said the configured device was unknown. If you get that error, run “esxcli system coredump partition set -u” (without quotes) to clear that.

3. Run the command “esxcli system coredump partition set -e true -s” (without quotes) to tell the system to find a suitable partition for coredumps. 

4. Run the command “esxcli system coredump partition get” (without the quotes) to verify that a partition has been set.

You should be able to create a host profile from this host now.

Updating the vCenter Server 5.5 Appliance

One of the things I really appreciated about the vSphere 5.5 announcement was the increase in supported hosts and guests with the vCenter Server Appliance. Previously, the appliance could only support 5 hosts and 50 guests maximum due to the embedded DB2 database. If you had an external Oracle database, you could support more hosts and clusters. I’ve only had one customer go this route and it was due to having a lot of in-house Oracle experience.

With the 5.5 update, the appliance now uses a vPostgres embedded database that can support 100 hosts and 3000 guests. This is a huge increase that encompasses most, if not all, small to midsize environments that I work with (and even some of the larger ones). Even though Oracle and DB2 are (update: I was wrong on that. Oracle is the only supported external database. Thanks @haslund for the correction!) is the only supported external database (the lack of SQL Server support is due to SUSE Linux not having an ODBC driver for it), the internal database covers a large majority of use cases and makes it even easier to deploy vSphere. 

This also changes how vCenter gets updated. The Windows version of vCenter basically had you go through the install process again and it would upgrade in place. Not so bad. On the appliance, here’s how you do it.

1. Log into the management interface for the appliance: https://%5BvCenter IP]:5480/

2. Login as root. (The default password is vmware, this is your reminder that you should change it)

3. Click the Update tab at the top.

4. Click the Check Updates button on the right. This goes out to VMware’s website and looks for patches

5. Once an update is found, click the Install Updates button. This will download and install the update. It will ask are you sure you want to install. Click OK. This just installs the update and then will wait for you to reboot once it’s done.

6. Go grab yourself a beverage and sit tight while it updates.

7. When you’re done, you’ll get a message to reboot the appliance to complete the update.

8. Click the System tab and then click Reboot. This will reboot the appliance and thus take vCenter down. ***You should do this during a maintenance window.***

9. When you’re done, you’ll come back to a login prompt and you’re all done!
It’s a really easy process and makes the update process far more streamlined. 

Connecting to Office 365 with Adium

Instant messaging is a really nice way to stay in contact with coworkers and bug them with questions that seem either too short or requires more back and forth than e-mail is really useful for.

Office 365 allows you to use Lync as an instant messaging platform, which requires the use f the Lync client. The Lync 2010 client for OS X is, well, terrible. It crashes regularly, doesn’t handle sleep (laptop lid closing and opening) and is generally not good for what it’s been built to do.

Adium is a multiple protocol IM client that has been on the Mac since 2004 (April 6, 2014 marks 10 years). It’s built on the LibPurple foundation that runs Pidgin (the Windows counterpart). Recently a 3rd party extension called SIPE that brings in support for the extended version of SIP/SIMPLE that Microsoft uses for Lync and Office Communicator was released. 

Here’s how to get connected with an Office 365 account:

1. Download Adium and SIPE. Install Adium, then double click the SIPE plugin to install it into Adium.

2. Go to Adium -> Preferences and click Accounts, then click the plus in the bottom left corner of the window and select Office Communicator

3.  In the screen that appears, enter your e-mail address under Username and your password under Password, then click Options at the top

4. Change the authentication mode to TLS-DSK and the User Agent to “UCCAPI/4.0.7577.314 OC/4.0.7577.314” without the quotes. Without this, you’ll get an error about not having the recommended version of the client. You can see other options for the user agent here. I chose this one as it uses Lync 2010 and Office 365.

5. Click OK and watch it connect. 

Enjoy an IM client that doesn’t crash and gives you more features!

Podcast List

Some readers have asked what podcasts I listen to from reading the Downcast post. Here they are:

I drive a lot, so having long form podcasts (an hour-ish plus in length) makes the drives much shorter. Hope you found some new things to listen to.

How To Backup The vCenter Server Appliance Embedded DB

VMware made a huge stride with the vCenter Server Appliance for vSphere 5.5. It now supports 100 hosts and 3000 VMs, which hits a pretty wide range of our customers. While it doesn’t support external SQL Server databases (though that could be coming soon now that Microsoft has a SUSE Linux ODBC driver), it does support Oracle as an external database source. 

Here’s where it gets fun. The embedded database is vPostgres. You may be asking yourself, “I’ve never heard of this. Does it have a backup agent for my backup application?” The answer is no, no it likely doesn’t. That just means you’ll have to do it manually/with scripts.

Check out this VMware KB article on backing up that database. 

Option 2: Take a snapshot and backup the whole VM. 

Downcast Is Awesome

I listen to a ton of podcasts. I cancelled satellite radio in my car because I listen to podcasts more in my car than anything else. The iOS Podcasts app is OK, but there’s something better. Downcast is the best podcast app for both iOS and Mac OS X. 

Reasons:

1. iCloud Sync: Syncs playlists, podcasts, episodes and (most importantly) current play location. I can stop listening on my desktop/laptop, get in my car and pick right back up. This is far easier than trying to remember where you left off only to overshoot and miss something or undershoot and re-listen to a section.

2. Great interface on both OSes: Downcast was updated for iOS 7 within days of the release of iOS 7. Clean interface, 

3. Lighter than iTunes, especially if the only thing you listen to is podcasts.

4. Seriously, the iCloud sync of current play location is worth every penny.

It’s on the Mac and iOS App Stores. $9.99 for the Mac and $0.99 on the iOS App Store. If you’re serious about podcasts, this is the best way to listen.

Trying New Things: Windows Phone

I’ve always felt like you can’t make a judgment on something if you don’t know the other side of the argument. I’ve been a longtime fan of Apple and their iOS devices. I’ve owned every iPhone since the 3GS and two generations of iPads. You could say I’m kind of a fanboy. 

There comes a moment where I kind of get bored by technology. I certainly have an “oooh shiny” problem when it comes to phones. I follow most of the major gadget blogs and every time a new device comes out, I want it (or at least try it). Sometimes I make the jump and try an approximation of it. A few years ago, I switched my iPhone 4 for an LG Thrive. It was a prepaid phone for AT&T that I was able to buy outright for $150. I got to try Android on a not very nice screen on what wasn’t even a decent phone when it came out. Needless to say, it ended early (after about 2 weeks and the announcement of iOS 5, the beta of which I quickly installed on my phone). Fast forward to last summer, when I picked up a Galaxy Nexus unlocked from Google. With a flagship device, direct from Google, it was a winner. I really got to know Android and liked it quite a bit. This is where the “making a judgment” piece comes into play. As I traveled for work, I ran into a lot of dead zones on AT&T’s network. My contract was up, so I switched to Verizon to get better coverage. At this point (6 months with Android), I had to make a choice. Stay with Android and deal with Verizon, who notoriously holds updates for no real reason or switch back to the iPhone, where Verizon doesn’t have their grubby hands. I switched to the iPhone and I’ve been quite happy with my decision. I don’t really miss Android. My final opinion on it? They’re both great OSes and have access to every major service (FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, etc.) you could ask for. I personally prefer the iPhone and generally direct people who ask me to it specifically for ease of use and the more guided user experience. 

I’ve had an itch lately to try something new. This time it was Windows Phone. Microsoft made a huge change 3 years ago to overhaul their entire UI from Windows Mobile (which was really a shrunken Windows XP UI) to the Modern (Metro) UI. Bold colors, “flat”, and consistent. It was a huge change and has spread to the XBox and Windows platforms. So far (3 days in), it’s been kind of nice. With Windows Phone 8, they’ve made large changes to allow more customization of tiles and switched the underlying kernel from the Windows CE kernel to the NT kernel. They also support higher resolution screens and brought Apple-like multitasking in. I say Apple-like because the apps don’t actually run in the background, they’re there and can run at intervals. I picked up a Nokia Lumia 822 on eBay for $120 and it’s quite nice. It’s a bit wider than my iPhone 5, but with the case I have on my iPhone, the Lumia is only a hair thicker, taller and heavier. It has LTE and an 8 MP camera on the back. Overall, it’s a pretty nice phone but not the flagship level device a Lumia 925 or HTC 8X is.

Even though I’ve only used it for a few days, I’m quite impressed with Windows Phone 8 so far. There seems to be a solid development community, and they seem to be very enthusiastic about making apps for services or needs that may not have a first party client.  Case in point: Google Music. iOS has a few clients, but no first party clients. Windows Phone is in the same boat, but it seems the developer of CloudMuzik is more responsive and keeps up with feature changes than the developer of gMusic for iOS. 

There are some things in iOS that I miss. One is Notification Center. Microsoft wanted to get a notification center into Windows Phone 8, but ran out of time. It appears to be coming with a future update to Windows Phone. While the live tiles are nice, a central notification point is needed. Another thing I miss is lock screen notifications. With WP8, you get 5 app slots to show a number of notifications. Like 1 missed call, 2 new e-mails, etc. I have phone, text messages, my two email accounts and voicemail in those slots. Because of this, I can’t show 1 new mention on Twitter or 25 new articles in NextGen Reader. In addition, you get one “detailed” slot where you can have an app show more than just a number. I chose Calendar and it shows me my next event. Live tiles in Windows Phone can mean anything from a simple number badge on the tile to the actual notification from the app. It just depends on how the developer configures the tile. This is where a Notification Center can come in. The live tile idea works in theory, but not entirely.

As of now, I don’t think I’d completely recommend Windows Phone to everyone but it’s certainly come a long way from the Windows Mobile days. If you’re bored with Apple or Android, give Windows Phone a try. You just may end up liking it.

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