Patching the vCenter 6.x Appliance

With the latest version of the vCenter Appliance (vCSA) there is a new process to patching the appliance. Gone is the old Web UI of the 5.x era. The new process isn’t anything to be scared about though and should be familiar to most Admins and techs. Instead of the old web interface the upgrade process is basically just to attach the patch ISO and run a few commands via the console or SSH.

While researching the proces to update my own server however I came across a few unclear instructions concerning the process. I worked out what I needed to do after a few searches and a couple KB’s. Most of this guide will be a rehash of others and the official instructions but I will be including a few clarifications as well as some visual representations of the process to help those that got a little confused by the regular instructions.

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Quick Fix: Fixing a loose Micro USB Cable

Almost everyone has a smartphone or another device that connects with a Micro USB cable. And almost everyone has had a cable become loose over time and not fit securely. It can be infuriating to have the cable drop out a the slightest movement or to head endless pings from your computer telling you the cable disconnected. Rather than throw out a cable and get a new one, here’s a simple 5-min fix that can restore your cable back to new (or at least make it stay put).

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Changing Services with the Command Line

Changing services, whether changing the startup type or stopping/starting them, is something every user will have to do. While it’s easy to simply go through the Services MMC that can be time consuming, especially when a PC is being slow. The prefered method would be through the Command Line, either manually or through a pre-written batch file. So how do you do this? Check below for details.
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Update: Patching VMWare ESXi 5.1

So I finally got around to patching my ESXi server which was several months behind. I thought I would just be able to use the same command I used previously wrote about to update it. That proved to be unsuccessful and all I got for my efforts were errors about the profile name. After some searching I discovered a new command to accomplish what I wanted.

Datastore is the name of the datastore the update is on and update.zip will be the patch file name. The complete command would look like this:

After running the command you should get a message saying something similar to result above. It will usually be followed by a long list of all the individual packages. Reboot your host either through the vSphere client or by typing  reboot  and your host should be updated once it finishes rebooting.

 

How to get official ISO and Images from Microsoft for Free

For most of us if we need a Office or Windows ISO or image we either A) have to have the disc or B) hit up a torrent/download site for one. What if I told you that Microsoft offered official downloads of Windows, Office and other Microsoft products for free. They are offered through Microsoft’s Digital River Content service. It’s a great alternative to pirate sites or having to order a disc (which required a existing key and costs money) which can be a lot of trouble. I first discovered this source as I was building a library of ISO’s for my on-site technician job. I had some of the CD’s from past purchases but not all I would need.

So without further ado hit the links after the break for all the downloads. All the downloads are resumable and are quite fast. I will be updating this as I get time going forward.
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RoboForm: A full featured password manager and more

Lets face it: We have more passwords than we can ever remember. Whether it’s personal or work, we usually have dozens if not hundreds of username/password sets to remember for various applications and sites. The solution for most people is to reuse their username and passwords across sites. While this may make them easier to remember it also makes it easier for  them to be compromised. The common recommendation is to use passwords composed of alphanumeric characters (0-9, a-z, A-Z) and symbols. While that may increase the security of your passwords the likelihood of remembering one instance of “a320#.?atx!” is small, let alone 30 for a dozen different systems. It’s much easier to remember the name of a pet or a relative/spouse. So how do you get around the need for more secure passwords while  actually being able to remember the passwords themselves or instituting expensive biometric systems?  One answer is to use a password manager. There are several popular ones available but I favor RoboForm after having used it for several years. Why use a password manager and why choose RoboForm over other solutions? Well, lets dig in below and see!
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Using Google Chrome to make administration a breeze

Many people use Google Chrome on their personal computers to browse. It’s likely you use it on your work PC as well if your organization allows. Google Chrome loads most sites with ease, is frequently updated and has many customization options. It’s an all around good choice. It can also make your life as an admin much easier. A browser making administration easier? What magic is this? Well, lets look at some of the options.
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On the Dell CS24-SC Server….


I sure anyone looking for a cheap rackmount server on eBay or many other sites has come across this server. It’s everywhere but information is hard to come by about it. Even Dell Support doesn’t know about this server. I recently purchased one with the intent on using it to upgrade my existing ESXi server (basically a Dell Studio 540 PC). I’ll be returning it but I wanted to do a quick review and list of features and resources I found in researching this.

The Dell CS24-SC are custom, 1U 2-way servers manufactured by a unknown company for clustered and cloud computing. They are full depth, about 28″ and weigh roughly 36lbs/16.3kg with 4×3.5″ drives. It has 2xGBic (1000Mbit) network ports running on the Intel® 82567 Gigabit Ethernet Controller and an additional 100Mbit management port. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports on the front and 2 USB 2.0 ports on the back along with a VGA port, Serial, and PS2 Keyboard/Mouse ports. It has a single PCI-E x8 expansion port on a riser. One major reseller is Stallard Technologies, Inc though most of the server on the market are resold through eBay. The closest PowerEdge server seems to be the Dell PowerEdge 1950 Gen III or one of the earlier PowerEdge C1100 Cloud servers.
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Virusscan Software for Windows Server

Anyone who has tried to install virusscan software on their server knows that the activity can quickly become more of a pain than it is worth. When trying to find virusscan software for Windows Server you typically run into one of three issues:

  1.  There’s no support for Windows Server at all.
  2.  The Windows Server version commands a massive price compared to a home/personal version, sometimes as much as a 2000% markup.
  3. The Windows version somehow manages to lack features that even the most basic of desktop version have.

So what do you do? Read more of this post

Manually upgrading ESXi 5.0 to ESXi 5.1

I finally got around to updating my ESXi server today. Since I don’t have the hardware to run vCenter and thus do not use it I had to do it the manual way. This method involves connecting via SSH but is relatively straightforward.

  1. Download the update from VMware. The following link should take you directly to your My VMware page: VMware
    1. The file should be named VMware-ESXi-<version>-depot.zip
  2. Suspend or shutdown any running VM’s and put the system into Maintainence mode.
  3. The next step is to enable SSH on your ESXi Server by going to Configuration > Security Profile > Properties. Start the SSH service and close the popup.
  4. From there you’ll want to upload the VMware-ESXi-<version>-depot.zip we downloading earlier to the server
  5. Once the zip has been uploaded, open Putty or your preferred SSH client and connect to the ESXi server.
  6. Log into the server from SSH and run the following command where <datastore> is the location of the zip we uploaded earlier and <version> is the version number of the file (in this case, ESXi-5.1.0-799733).
    1. esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/<datastore>/VMware-ESXi-<version>-depot.zip -p ESXi-<version>-standard
  7. Once the process is finished reboot the sever. If the update was successful take the server our of Maintainence mode, and resume your VM’s.

You’ll probably have to update VMware Tools for your VM’s but your server should now be running properly on 5.1 ( or whatever version you upgraded to, assuming the command isn’t changed/removed).