Kanban with Outlook

For a while now I’m looking for ways to implement kanban in my workflows.
I do see the benefits, and I’m aware that it is not the golden solution for everything.

Requirements:

  • I need a visual representation of my WIP (work in progress)
  • not too much hassle like, logging on to different websites
  • not in public enviroments
  • direct accesible from my tooling (a.k.a. business laptop)
  • Intergration with task functions already available in my tooling (a.k.a. outlook tasks)

So I did a google on outlook and kanban. And after some searching I found this site. Which looks like a nice solution, using my outlook software etc…
So I tried to implement it.

And had one problem…. For security reasons the functionality to add a home page to an outlook folder has been disabled. And I understand it. But still wanted to see how this free solution would work.

So I found a site about enabling the home page function again. This site
The first option didn’t work for me, but adding the key  “EnableRoamingFolderHomepages”=dword:00000001 to [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Security]  was the magic I needed.

For now this solution will do. Using familiar software to get accustomed with using kanban.

restore data from Synology backup using virtual DSM

It happened to me…. 

A crash off all my disks in a Synology DS 412+. Yeah….. For sometime my disks reported problems… but I thought.. just wait a few months more… then I can buy new disks…
But in the end…. the disks crashed all together.
I know what your first response is…. did you make backups ??
Answer: Yes. Yes I did.

How to restore

I used synology Hyper backup to make backups off my photos, documents and music folder to an external USB drive. And I new that these backups where very recent.
But to access this data  I had to restore it and needed a working Synology DSM. My options were:

  1. buy at least 2 new disks and re-install the DS 412+
  2. Find a friend with a DSM and use his/her DSM to restore my data and to move it into a cloud storage
  3. Looking into running DSM virtual

I choose option 3. Why ?
Well…. I was interested if it could be done.
Technicaly it could be possible. I had VMware workstation running on my laptop and new about xpenology. After some searching on the internet I found this  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8YUq2QGhks
So it could be done….

Running DSM virtual

After some experiments I got it working, running DSM 6.x in a VM under VMware workstation 12.
I created a virtual DSM according to others blogs. Added a disk (VMDK) 200 GB in size. (large enough to restore a backup-set).
Then I started the DSM, did the usual configuration. Made a no-raid raid config with one disk. Created the volume in the newly created raid set. installed some DSM apps (at least the hyper-backup application).
And restored a backup from my external USB drive.

Moving data in to the cloud

Yes !!!!…. I had found a way to acces my data… but where should I store it ?
I used the Cloud sync app to sync the restored data to a cloud storage provider. If the provider supports webdav then it is possible to sync your local data to it. I needed to keep this running for several days due to the upload bandwith of my internet provider. but in the end I had my data accesible again.
xpenology and virtualization saved the day.

VCSA 6.5 with subCA Gotcha’s

One of my projects recently was migrating from a vSphere 5.5 enviroment, running on Widows OS, to vSphere 6.5 running on VCSA.
VMware did a good job with the tools for migrating to VCSA 6.5.

In vSphere 5.5 it was a challenge to replace the self-signed certificates, especially if they where expired…. From 6.0 on VMware introduced certificate managed for the vSphere enviroment. And where the PSC would be the CA for the vSphere enviroment.
With this, you can choose to let vCenter be a subCA in your PKI infrastructure.

You can find enough how-to’s for configuring the VCSA as a subCA. Like  here:

I just want to add some Gotcha’s, maybe you think ‘Yeah, of course…. duh….. why don’t you know that…’ well… then that Gotcha’s wasn’t meant for you 🙂

Gotcha’s

  1. file access to VCSA
  2. certificate names
  3. issuing the subCA certificate on a windows offline root CA

Gotcha 1  – File access to VCSA

At some point you need to download the CSR (certificate request) and copy it in your PKI enviroment. The most common method is to use SCP for file access… but the shell of the VCSA doesn’t support this by default.
This is what you need to do:

  1. allow SSH and bash access to VCSA
  2. Login as root into the VCSA with a ssh-client
  3. access the shell
    >shell
  4. change the shell for root to bash shell
    >chsh -s “/bin/bash” root
  5. Run winscp (or any other SCP client) and connect to the VCSA

To change the shell setting back to its original configuration, run
>chsh -s “/bin/appliancesh” root

Gotcha 2 – certificate names

This was a, a-yes-off-course moment…. but it did cost me some headache….

When running the steps to configure the VCSA as a subCA in your PKI, you get a few times the question

Enter proper value for ‘Name’ [Default value : CA] : ……

Make sure you use unique names here. This is the name of a certificate that is going to be generated for you. The certificate manager doesn’t check these settings, and in the end it will make a rollback…. a.k.a. waste of time.

My suggestion is for a naming convention: <hostname>-<file name being configured>
For instance, when your VCSA hostname is: VCSA-01 and your busy with the questions for the vpxd.cfg file, then the value you would enter would be ‘VCSA-01-vpxd’
But you are (off course) free to choose your own. Just make sure that these values are unique.

The certificate manager is asking values for the following files:

  • MACHINE_SSL_CERT.cfg
  • machines.cfg
  • vsphere-webclient.cfg
  • vpxd.cfg
  • vpxd-extensions.cfg
  • certool.cfg (used to creating the subCA CSR)

Gotcha 3 – issuing the subCA on a windows offline root CA

As a good practise, the CA is installed on a windows server that is not part of the AD domain and normally is powered off.

When requestion a certificate you normaly would use a browser and go to the url <hostname subca>/certsrv. But if this isn’t available on a offline root, you can use the cmd-line.

The cmd is:
> certreq -submit -attrib CertificateTemplate:<name of CA template> <filepath of CSR>

Steps to issue a the subCA certificate

  1. create the CSR with the certificate-manager in the VCSA
  2. copy the CSR to the offline root server (see gotcha 1 for scp file access)
  3. request the certificate with the cmd-line command
  4. open the certificate authority
  5. find the requested certificate under ‘pending requests’
  6. issue the certificate
  7. export the certificate to a file (export Binary data -> Binary Certificate )
  8. import the new certificate under local machine in the personal location
  9. export the imported certificate as a base64 certificate
  10. export the rootCA certificate as a base64 certificate
  11. create a chain file by adding first the subCA file content and then the rootCA file content into the chain file
  12. copy the chain file to the VCSA
  13. (shutdown  the offline root server)

Restore experience vCenter appliance

Until a few months ago I worked with vCenters that were running on a Windows OS. Because that was the common practise. The appliance was promising but not ready for production use. When vSphere 5.5 was introduced it became an interesting discussion,should you use the appliance or still go the windows way.
I think one of the points holding people of from going to the appliance was (and maybe still is) the unknown.
I was mostly familiair with a windows OS.Yes the Windows patching was irritating, and if you wanted to upgrade VMware vCenter ….. that also was annoying. But not anymore… (well I guess for over a year that is…)

The appliance in 6.0 is great. I wrote in another article about my experience of migrating to 6.0 appliance with an update manager deployed. (https://vblog.bartlievers.nl/2017/01/17/update-manager-6-0-with-vcenter-6-0-after-migration-wizard) And I’m loving it. I was impressed by the ease of migrating from vCenter 5.5 running on Windows to 6.0 VCSA.

But there was one, tiny little, issue, called backup and restore.
How should that work when you are running an appliance.
For testing purposes we did a restore of the appliance but ran into a problem. The network adapter changed. The appliance OS didn’t recognize it anymore as eth0 but as eth1.
And our first conclusion was… well…. that is a problem…restoring a VCSA.
Diving into some vmware documentation, I ran into info that restoring a VCSA should work… (see question 29 in https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2146439)…. What did we do wrong….

After examening the events of the restored VCSA we saw an error. vCenter was saying that there was a duplicated MAC address…. so it changed the MAC address of the restored VCSA… hence the eth1.

And yes… that was the issue…. in default vCenter will change a MAC address if it already exists. (that is the short version)…. so I tried it again…. But with a small change.

I created a virtual portgroup on a vswitch, not on the dvswitch. Taking care of the duplicated MAC address in a dvSwitch… I changed the MAC address of the restored VCSA back to the original setting. And I started the VM…. voila….
The VM booted…. and after waiting for the boot process to complete…. I had a restored VCSA, fully functional.

Summary:

  • restoring a VCSA does work… just keep in mind if you replace the existing VCSA or restoring it next to it (duplicated MAC address)
  • Updating the VCSA is a breeze . You need connection to the internet, and the appliance will take care of the update. No seperate OS updates and vCenter updates.
  • (side note) the webclient interface is faster than the one in 5.5

Update manager 6.0 with vCenter 6.0 after migration wizard

While I was busy at at customer upgrading their VMware environment, I ran into a strange issue.
The upgrade involved migrating from windows vCenter 5.5 to a vcsa 6.0 Update 2. I used the migration wizard for this solution. (6.0 Update 2M).
The old vCenter was running also the update manager. Meaning I had to move the update manager to a new windows server and after the vCenter was migrated I had to upgrade the update manager.
This sounds simple.
And it was ….. for a while…
I successfully moved the 5.5 update manager installation to a new windows server.
The migration to the VCSA also went successfully (loving it)
but then…..
The iso for 6.0Update 2M doesn’t contain the update manager software. So I downloaded the iso for windows installation. From the same page as I downloaded the previous iso. But when I install update manager, I get the error that the vCenter server is incompatible with the update manager…. (what !!!!)
After some (soul) searching…. I found a forum thread that the Update Manager for vCenter 6.0.0b does work. (really…..)

And yes … after downloading that iso, starting the update manager installation, the upgrade was succesfull.

I only wonder… what is the difference between 6.0Update2M and the windows version. Why won’t the update manager from that iso work with the 6.0Update2M version….

TIP:

If you want to migrate from a 5.5 enviroment to the latest version  on 6.0 (currently update 2a), then after using the migration tool, go to the vCenter Appliance administration site and start from there the update. (https://<fqdn&gt;:5480)
After which you can upgrade vCenter Update Manager to the latest version.

 

 

build-vmHostImage v0.2

The script has been modified to exclude certain vibs. The reason is that with some configurations we found out that the wrong vib was loaded on a vspherer host. Resulting in a PSOD, due to driver, hardware, ESXi version conflicts.

With this in mind, I added the functionality to exclude VIBs. The excluded VIBs are listed in the parameters.ps1 file.
After the new image profile has been configured, the script will exclude the VIBs, if they are present. VIBs that are excluded are reported in excluded.txt file.

The script creates a parameters.ps1 file in the project folder, containing the names of the Vibs that are excluded. This file is used to re-create an image if necessary.

You can find the script at github, here

Loading PowerCLI one-line

Finaly 🙂
You can load PowerCLI with a one-liner again.
Why ? well… PowerCLI 6.5 is only moduled based, while the previous versions where a mix off snappins and modules.
When it was mainly snappin bassed I used a one-liner like:

get-pssnapin -registered vmware* | add-pssnappin

When PowerCLI was module and snappin based, I used a custom PowerShell function import-PowerCLI (see my previous post https://vblog.bartlievers.nl/2016/11/22/import-powercli/ for details). But with PowerCLI 6.5 R1 you can use a one-line once again.
This one-line is :

> Get-Module -ListAvailable vmware* |Import-Module