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May 31, 2011

Can't Add Partitions in Openfiler 2.99

Greetings all! I hope you had a good 3 day weekend. I certianly did. I got to spend some time with the family, and some time researching some low cost storage solutions. I didn't have to research them of course, but I love technology so I like doing that sort of thing in my spare time.

Anyhoo, the reason I was looking into low cost storage solutions is because my company currently has a NetApp FAS2020 SAN. It's basically the lowest end NetApp one can buy. Well, my company has managed to just about use up all the storage on it, and they have budgeted for another FAS2020 purchase this year. Our vendor TIG has quoted us at $24K or something. Not bad right?

Well, my company operates on a shoe string, and besides the storage there are other things I want to buy. If we blow all our money on a high priced SAN like NetApp, that leaves me no money to get anything else I need. One thing I learned from one of my previous managers was that in a company with litle cash flow, the way you get your money for IT is in cost savings. Therefore I decided that instead of buying another NetApp, I could make my own SAN using SuperMicro Chassis's and Openfiler.

For about $15,500 I can build a redundant 6TB SAN using 24 600GB SAS drives. For a little over $6,000 I can make a redundant 12TB SAN with SATA drives. It all comes down to performance right? For those of you who didn't know, with Openfiler, not only can you create iSCSI targets, you can also cluster two nodes together in an HA Active/Passive cluster. Pretty cool right?

Anyway, now to get back on topic. One of the things I've been doing this weekend is playing with Openfiler. It's been a while since I've messed with it so I thought I would load it in some VM's a screw around. One of the things I noticed was after I booted up my VM, I had about 100GB of free space. I wanted to create an iSCSI target with that 100GB. For some reason I couldn't!

Every time I went to create a new partition the page would refresh and nothing would happen. I finally figured out what I needed to do. I'm not sure if the Openfiler people know about this bug or not, but if you leave the default cylinder numbers it will never work. What I found out was I had to change the beginning cylinder number to be 60 cylinders more that what was displayed.

For example, here is what was displayed by default:

I added 60 to the starting cylinder:

And after that I was able to create the partition! Now 60 really is the magic number. I tried adding 10 at a time until it finally worked, and it didn't work until I added 60.

Besides that one little thing, everything else worked as expected with Openfiler 2.99. Have you experienced this in Openfiler? Is it a bug? Do you know why it works that way? Let us know the comments.

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May 30, 2011

Windows Powershell 1.0 Missing From Add/Remove Programs!

I ran into an interesting thing at work. I wanted to perform an in-place upgrade of a Windows 2003 R2 domain controller to Windows 2008. When I ran the upgrade utility it said that before I could continue that I have to uninstall Windows Powershell. Easy enough right? Well, not in this case.

I went into add/remove programs and neither Windows Powershell was in there, and neither was the update associated with it which is KB926139. WTF? How am I supposed to remove it if it's not there to remove? I hate this kind of stuff, and this is why most people don't go through with in place upgrades. The only reason I'm doing it is it's the quickest way for my to get my environment up to a 2008 functional level in Active Directory without have to do a whole lot of FSMO role changes, and what not.

Anyhoo, I was finally able to remove it, but in order to do it I had to trick Windows into thinking it wasn't there by doing the following:

  • In the registry I exported the following key then deleted it:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PowerShell

  • After that, I downloaded KB926139 and manually installed it
  • In add/remove programs I found the KB926139-V2 Update, and uninstalled Powershell

After that I was ready for my in-place upgrade to Windows 2008. Were you in a similar situation? Did you find a different way to fix it? Let me know in the comments.

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May 23, 2011

I'm Switching To Open Source Virtualization

You read that right my friends. Even though I am VMware certified, and I love their products the fact is that the new company I work for is on a shoe string budget and can't afford the expensive cost of VMware. Now we do have a 3 node ESX cluster using VMware advanced edition, but that is the limit my company wants to spend which is to say it costs a lot just for that.

That cluster is in our colo and hosts my company's production websites which are our money makers, so of course they were willing to spend money on that, but my home office environment? That is a different story. It is completely done with whatever the hell the previous admin could put together to make things work. Don't believe me? Here is a picture of the server room I inherited:

Yes, those are all just stacked on each other without rails, and yes the top four boxes are desktop computer running as servers. I am not making this shit up! Not only that but if you can't tell, the bottom servers are old HP DL360 G3's! Those came out in 2004! WTF?

Well, I can certainly do better I think even with a limited budget. What I want to do is buy two low end SuperMicro servers with a crap load of RAM, and an 8TB iSCSI NAS. Then on the two servers I want to install a really cool open source virtualization system built on Debian Etch and uses KVM and OpenVZ virtualization technologies. It is called Proxmox VE. Unlike other free virtualization servers like ESXi, it supports clustering and live migration! That means I can start with the two servers, and as the business grows, I can just add more servers to the cluster! Mmmm, smells like scalability!

Also, if I even need to do maintenance I can migrate my VMs over to the other node while I take the other one offline. Smells like 3 nines of uptime baby! Also it supports backups of full VMs all in one easy to use web based console!

Here is a video I grabbed off the Proxmox wiki showing how easy it is to setup a two node cluster:

 

 

I know SuperMicro servers are really cheap, but they can hold way more RAM than the DL360 G3's which only hold 4GB of RAM each. Plus the 8TB NAS I want to get runs on SATA drives, but then so do the desktop servers above. My plan is to setup the two servers, with the iSCSI and virtualize all the other servers in the room and get rid of it all.

I think with the size of my company a two node Proxmox VE cluster will keep us running at the home office fore quite some time. What do you think? Are you going to give Proxmox VE a try? Do you use a different alternative to VMware in your environment? Let us know in the comments.

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May 20, 2011

Renaming A Windows Domain With Rendom

Here is yet another gem from my new gig. One of the things I walked into was a very strange Microsoft Active Directory topology. I am fairly certain that the admin that set it up didn't really know what they were doing, but they tried real hard. You see, they set up three domains on the network, under three different forests using the same FQDN! By that I mean, they are all named exactly the same! Who the hell does that?

Not only that, but the FQDN of the forests and the domains are technically in sub-domain format. For example, a top level domain would look like domain.com right? If they want to create child domains under the same forest then they would use the sub-domain format like hq.domain.com. Well they named the forest hq.domain.com. Again, who the hell does that?

Well, yesterday I decided that it was time to fix it, so I broke out a command line tool called Rendom.exe. If your network is a Windows 2003 functional level domain, you can download the tools here (Domain Rename Tools For 2003). If your network is a 2008 functional level or above, then your DC has Rendom built in under the System32 directory.

Anyway, it works the same in both. Here are the steps to rename your domain:

  • Run rendom /list to create a Domainlist.xml file with your current forest and domain configuration.
  • Open Domainlist.xml with Notepad and make your domain name changes
  • Run rendom /showforest to check your future configuration
  • If everything looks good, run rendom /upload to upload your changes
  • Run rendom /prepare to prepare AD for the changes
  • Run rendom /execute to make your changes. You will be required to reboot your DC.
  • After the DC reboots, run the included gpfixup tool to fix your GPO's as follows:

    gpfixup /olddns:hq.domain.com /newdns:domain.com

    and if you changed the Netbios name as well...

    gpfixup /oldnb:domain /newnb:dm

  • FInally run rendom /clean to cleanup the changes

After you are done with all of that, you will need to reboot all the hosts on your network once or twice to get everything syncing again. You may also have to manually make changes in DNS.

One thing to note in my environment is that I do not have an Exchange server, so this change was rather easy. If you have Exchange in your environment, do some more research before changing your domain.

Have you ever had to do this yourself? Why did you need to change your domain's name? Let us know your story in the comments!

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May 17, 2011

My New Favorite Free Open Source Monitoring System

I love when I start a new job, or major project. It almost always gives me good fuel for stuff to write about here on Bauer-Power. This new job is no different. Since I am coming into a smaller company that was built on a shoe string budget, I have to find a lot of new ways to get things done. Well, I should say, things I knew about, but never really used a lot.

You see in bigger companies with a decent IT budget, you can afford software the costs a few thousand dollars a pop. When your budget is under 100K though, you probably should spend your money on hardware, and not so much on software. That is where Open Source is very handy, and really shines.

One of the things my new network was lacking was a monitoring system. There aren’t a lot of servers on the network per se, but it is still nice to know when there is a problem. At first I stood up a VM running Nagios, and I was all rearing to go with that when a former colleague of mine (Thanks again Dave!) reminded me of another Open Source solution called Zenoss Core.

Here are some highlights from their page:

  • Single Integrated Product - to monitor your entire IT infrastructure
  • Open Source CMDB - a single repository for your IT assets 
  • Easy To Use Browser-Based GUI - no Linux skills needed, access from anywhere 
  • Enterprise-Ready Architecture - tiered architecture that scales to thousands of nodes
  • ZenPacks Framework - packaging system for Zenoss plugins, skins, etc...
  • Open Source - free and open source

Zenoss-core

Installation was really easy in Ubuntu Server edition, and once I had my Windows nodes configured for SNMP it discovered them without a hitch. Plus with the help of free ZenPacks or plugins, I can easily monitor other things like VMware, and Windows event logs using WMI.

I am just so happy about this solution. It’s only been running for a day and already it’s telling me about disk space issues, network connectivity problems etc. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. I would have never known though until it was too late without Zenoss!

May 16, 2011

Free Program To Manage Multiple ESXi Servers

I think I may have literally stumbled upon pure gold. I kind of feel like Jed Clampett who accidentally discovered oil while hunting rabbits! You see at my new gig we have a very limited budget so we can’t afford the full blown version of VMware Enterprise plus. In fact, our production environment only has VMware Advanced, then we have several other ESXi servers that handle stuff like QA, and Dev. After more than one or two ESXi servers though, management can become a pain.

Well I found a tool that will let me manage up to five VMware ESXi servers in one interface at the same time! Not only that, but it is absolutely free! It’s called Trilead VM Explorer.

This thing lets me power on, and shut down VM’s, manage snapshots, register and un-register VM's and browse data stores. Even better though is it gives me a method of backing up full VM's without the need for VCB scripts, or VMware Data Recovery! You can even set the backups up on a schedule for automated, hassle free DR goodness!

trilead

If you have more than five ESXi servers to manage, then you may want to fork over the dough for the pro version which is pretty reasonable at less than $800. Here is a breakdown on the differences from their site:

trilead-editions

This is great news for me because the server room I inherited is a complete mess. I have a bunch of servers stacked on each other running on desktop computers, as well as a number of old G1 HP DL360’s. I would love to turn a couple of the servers into ESXi servers, bump up the RAM, get some shared storage and virtualize the rest using ESXi. With Trilead VM Explorer, I can do that and also have ease of management!

What do you think? Know of any other free third party tools to manage ESXi servers as easily as this? Think you will setup your own ESXi environment now that you can manage them all in one place? Let me know what you think in the comments!

May 11, 2011

How To Configure Your HTC EVO With Microsoft BPOS

I just started a new job on Monday, and luckily for me managing Microsoft Exchange is something that I don't have to worry about anymore. That is because since this company is so small, they opted to have their email hosted using Microsoft Online Services. Great news for me because although I like managing Exchange, and it is a great technology, it can also be a pain in the arse when issues arrise. Sometimes it is just nice to not have to deal with headache's like managing email and spam, and mailflow etc.

So since I am working at the new gig, and I still have my HTC EVO, I wanted to configure my business email for my phone. The problem is that Microsoft does not give any instructions for configuring android phones for Microsoft Exchange Online. Since Microsoft didn't have a write on it, i thought I would do the interwebz a favor and write up something real quick on how to configure your HTC Evo from Sprint with Microsoft's BPOS.

  1. On your Evo click on Mail > Menu >More > New account
  2. Don't enter any info, just click Manual Setup
  3. Make sure you have set the following info: 
  4. Protocol: Exchange
    Email Address: Your Email Address
    Server: red001.mail.microsoftonline.com (For United States. Click here if not in the US)
    Domain: Leave blank
    Username: Your Email Address
    Password: Your BPOS password

  5. After you have the above information, make sure the checkbox to secure your your connection with SSL is checked

That's it, just continue with the rest of your setup, and everything should work out fine.

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May 10, 2011

New To SharePoint 2010? Here Are Some Free How-To's!

I got an email from my contact at Bauer-Power's newest sponsor TTR that they are sponsoring a new site that basically gives out free how-to's on designing and creating SharePoint 2010 Workflows. This is awesome news because if you called my last company, which happens to be a SharePoint consulting firm, they would literally charge you an arm and a leg to give you basic training on SharePoint 2010. What if you are just trying to figure out if SharePoint 2010 is right for you? Then free training is better! Am I right?

The site is aptly called SharePoint 2010 Workflow, and it is essentially nothing more than a blog with easy to follow video tutorials on different features of SharePoint 2010, and how-to perform various functions. For an example of one of the videos, here is one from Jason Keller, one of TTR's SharePoint gurus:

 

A cool thing about this site is that if you are learning a lot about SharePoint 2010, and how it can benefit your company, but you still aren't sure, or have no idea how to begin setting up SharePoint 2010 then TTR can help with that too. From their About Us page:

TTR will make your SharePoint migration project a success. TTR assists clients through the entire migration lifecycle from analysis through architecture, design, and implementation. We have partnered with leading software vendors to combine best-in-class migration tools and best practices.
Migration Services Offered:
  • SharePoint 2003 to 2010
  • SharePoint 2007 to 2010
  • Lotus Notes to SharePoint 2010
  • File Share to SharePoint 2010
  • WSS & SharePoint Foundation to SharePoint Server

New SharePoint implementations, and even upgrades from 2007 to 2010 can be very daunting. It's nice to know that companies like TTR are out there to provide free tutorials to get you started, or can even do the implementation for you at a reasonable cost.

If you want to know more about TTR and their practice, you can hit them up on Twitter or Facebook!

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May 9, 2011

To Dual Boot, Or Not? That is The Question!

I just got myself a new Lenovo Ideapad Y560 laptop. This thing is a beast. It has an eight core Intel I7 processor, and 8 GB of RAM (After a quick trip to Frys that is). It also has a 500GB hard drive. I’m pretty happy with it.

When I got it I decided that since there was plenty of disk space, I would go ahead and dual boot it with Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, and Bauer-Puntu Linux 11.04. That way I can have the best of both worlds on the same laptop.

I know what you are thinking. Who the hell dual boots anymore? Why not just pick one operating system, and use some sort of desktop virtualization software? And there is the million dollar question right?

Although I agree that virtualization is friggin’ awesome, and it is great for testing out operating systems without blowing away everything you have installed, there are times when dual booting is a better idea. For instance, lets say you need Windows for something like video editing (Like I do for Tech Chop). Well, Linux video editing sort of sucks, so I like to use Windows. I don’t want to have a Linux based OS, and a Windows VM running Sony Vegas because I don’t want to share resources with the host OS.

On the flip side, I don’t want to have a Windows host, and a VM running Bauer-Puntu because the VM won’t see the wireless card and I can’t do any wireless hacking using Grim Wepa. Just like above, I also don’t want to have to share resources.

There are times though when using virtualization is ideal. Maybe you just heard about a really cool software you want to test out, but you don’t want screw anything up with your laptop or workstation. Installing the software on the VM can be a safe alternative, and when you are done, you can blow away the VM and spin up a new one for testing something else later. It’s really convenient.

So basically it comes down to shared resources. If it’s not a big deal, then virtualization is the way to go. If you absolutely need all of the features of more than one OS, and can’t possibly share the resources, then multi-booting is the way to go.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

May 5, 2011

Bauer-Puntu 11.04 is Out! Start Downloading It!

I spent just about the entire day yesterday working on this, so I am extremely happy to let you know that the latest version of Bauer-Puntu Linux is finally ready for download! Even more happy than me is my wife because now I can start spending some time with her and stop spending so much time working on this.

Before I get to the nitty gritty though, you might find it interesting to know that this entire version was made using Oracle’s VirtualBox. I would have built it on my trusty Dell D620 like I did the last few versions, but Ubuntu 11.04 ran like crap on it. I decided to buy a new laptop because the D620 was getting old, and while I am waiting for the new one to show up, I figured I could do this using virtualization.

Since I built it using VirtualBox, it already has the VirtualBox guest additions installed. I also install open-vm-tools in case you want to run it in VMware like I did in previous versions.

I decided not to stray too far from the last version since it was such a big hit, but you should know that by default Bauer-Puntu 11.04 DOES NOT use Unity by default! Nope, I have it set to use Ubuntu Classic by default. You’re welcome! I also kept Google Chrome as the default browser because I love the built in sync feature.

Anyway, here is a list of apps that I installed:

I also installed the following apps:

Here are some screen shots:

Boot

Boot Screen

chrome

Chrome Browser

desktop

Desktop

metasploit

Metasploit

Installer

Installer

And here is why you came here, the download links:

Bauer-Puntu ISO

Bauer-Puntu Torrent

If you use the Torrent, please seed it for at least 24 hours to help me out!

I hope you enjoy this version. Let me know how you use Bauer-Puntu on a daily basis in the comments!

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May 4, 2011

Ubuntu Cheat Sheet!

As most of you all know, I am a huge proponent of Ubuntu. I even make my own version of Ubuntu Linux (Newest version posts tomorrow!). Some of you though are new to Ubuntu Linux, or even Debian Linux from which Ubuntu is based.

For the most part, If you are just casually using the desktop version of Ubuntu you don’t need to know a lot of these command lines. I mean, most things in the desktop version are gui based which makes it easy to use for the beginner. Still though, once you get past the cuteness, and ease of use of the gui, you may find that there is a hell of a lot more you can do from the terminal!

In fact, if you ever want to be a Linux admin yourself, you have got to start learning terminal commands because most server versions of Linux come in a terminal form only.

In the past I have posted about a generic Linux/Unix cheat sheet, but I found this one that is specific to Ubuntu users. Check it out!

ubuntu-cheat-sheet

[Click the Image for the full size version]

Hopefully you can use this as a quick reference when ever you are dabbling in the terminal!

[Via Schwehr.org]

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May 3, 2011

My Daughter’s First Laptop… Running Linux!

I am in the process of building the next edition of Bauer-Puntu, and I got started building it using my older Dell Latitude D620. It was a pretty good laptop in it’s time, but it’s five years old now, and let’s face it, five years is 100 in computer years. I finally decided to upgrade.

When one upgrades, there is always a decision that has to be made on what to do with the old equipment. Should I take it to be recycled? Should I donate it to charity? I decided that it was time to start getting my daughter excited about Linux!

Since my daughter is only six years old, I decided to start her off pretty easy with a kid friendly Linux distribution. I decided to go with Qimo Linux. What is Qimo? Here is the description from their page:

Qimo is a desktop operating system designed for kids. Based on the open source Ubuntu Linux desktop, Qimo comes pre-installed with educational games for children aged 3 and up.

Qimo's interface has been designed to be intuitive and easy to use, providing large icons for all installed games, so that even the youngest users have no trouble selecting the activity they want.

kayla-qimo

Let me tell you, my daughter is super excited about having her own laptop, and also about all the kid friendly games that come with it. I am super excited that she can finally get into learning computers at an early age.

I have the same views on learning as my father. Learn the harder stuff first, and the easy stuff will come naturally. He made me learn to tie my shoes before he let me have Velcro shoes. He made me learn to tell time with a standard watch before letting me have a digital watch. He made me learn to drive a stick-shift before letting me drive an automatic. In that same tradition, I want my daughter to learn Linux, then using Windows and OSX will be a breeze!

Do your kids have computers? What did you start them off with? How old were they when you first got them into computers? Let me know in the comments.

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May 2, 2011

Tech Chop Episode 6–Sidejacking With Firesheep

I know it has been a while since I made a video for Tech Chop. I have had a lot of things going on. I finished up some certifications, and also found a new job where I will get paid more, yet deal with a hell of a lot less users. It seems like it will be my dream job!

Anyhoo, I had some spare time this weekend and decided to get to filming. This time I decided to talk about a subject I decided to do a final project on in college when I was working on my degree in Network Security. That subject was on Sidejacking. Of course it was with some tools called Ferret and Hamster. Now it’s even easier with a Firefox add-on called Firesheep.

If you don’t know what Sidejacking or Session Hijacking is, Wikipedia describes it as:

The exploitation of a valid computer session—sometimes also called a session key—to gain unauthorized access to information or services in a computer system. In particular, it is used to refer to the theft of a magic cookie used to authenticate a user to a remote server. It has particular relevance to web developers, as the HTTP cookies used to maintain a session on many web sites can be easily stolen by an attacker using an intermediary computer or with access to the saved cookies on the victim's computer

In this video I discuss what Sidejacking is, how easy it is to use Firesheep, how to protect against Sidejacking using SSL, and finally how to detect if someone is using Firesheep on the network using Blacksheep.

Here is episode 6 of Tech Chop!

 

It’s important to know that Sidejacking works on any site not encrypted using SSL. That means company Exchange servers, SharePoint servers, basically anything with a web page is can be hacked using this tool.

So what do you think? Are you going to enable SSL on Facebook and Twitter? What about on important company web sites? Let us know how you protect against these types of attacks in the comments.



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