November 14th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

In order to provide shared storage to my home lab, I am going to use a Synology DS1513+.  In my lab I have my DS1513+ connected to a switch, which is connected to my home router, this allows me to use to start configuring my DS1513+.

Synology DS1513+

Synology DS1513+

My Synolog is configured with 2x 120GB SSD Corsair Neutron drives and 3x 2TB Seagate SATA drives.  On the page, click on the Connect button to get started.

  • Log in as admin with no password
  • Click on the Main Menu button in the upper left corner and start Control Panel
  • The Synology used DHCP to find an address on your network so we could connect and set it up.  We do not want DHCP to continue providing the address, especially since we will be using this for ESXi host storage (at least I will)
  • In Control Panel click on Network >> Network Interface, selected the connected port and click the Edit button
  • With the networking configuration done, time to start configuring storage!

My Corsair drives do not seem to be compatible with Synology SSD cache, I don’t have the option to create it even though I should have enough memory for at least a portion of the SSDs to be used as cache.  In any case, give what I had for parts I’ll just use the 2x SSDs as an all flash volume for my hosts and the 3x SATA drives as another.

  • Chose manual configuration, enter an IP address outside the scope of your DHCP server (or home router) and click the OK button
  • Click on the Main Menu button in the upper left corner and start Storage Manager
  • When storage manager opens click on volumes (depending on your SSDs you could poke around and see if you can do SSD cache or not)

If your Synology ships with drives already, it likely had a volume created which is now unavailable because you removed two of the drives.  In that scenario remove any existing volumes.  If it was ordered with no drives, then I believe as older models did for me you can just create the new volumes and do not need to delete anything.

Synology Storage Manager

Synology Storage Manager

  • Click on the Volume menu and then click the create button
  • For general purpose use I put my trust in Synology SHR volumes, in my case here I want a bit more control and am not so concerned over data loss since its just a lab.  I am going to chose Custom in the wizard to select my own RAID type
  • Chose either single or multiple volume on RAID (I’ve selected single)
  • Select the 3x 2TB drives, click OK when prompted about erasing the disk
  • On the RAID selection screen, chose the RAID type you are most comfortable with given what you are running…for me – RAID0 across all 3 drives
  • In most cases chose yes to check the disks, these shipped with the Synology and are new so I’ve selected No here for times sake
  • Click Apply – your volume will be created
  • If like me you still have drives in your Synology to use, repeat for the remaining drives.  Once the volume is created for the SSD, click on the SSD Trim button to enable.

And there you have it, Synology volumes are created.  Up next, iSCSi or NFS? (Hint I passed the Chris Wahl NFS Ninja training at the Boston VMUG)

Setting Up the Synology DS1513+

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September 13th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Creating a new VM, easy right?  Except when you consider that via the vSphere client it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 mouse clicks.  Log into your EVO:RAIL UI or VMware Hands-On lab at


Once logged in, familiarize your self with the UI.



Now that you have the basics, its time to create a VM.

  • Click the Create VM button (1) and enter the VM name in the “Create VM called” text box.  Now click (2) the Upload Image button.  Alternatively you could use a previously uploaded ISO or mount a network share where these are located.


  • The left side of the above menu will change, click the Choose File (3) button.  Double click (4,5) your ISO and click the Uplaod Image button (6).
  • Once the image uplaods, click (7) the guest OS pull down, select (8) the appropriate OS and click (9) the continue button.
  • Select your VM size (10) and click (11) the Select VM size button



  • Click the check box (11) next to the network you wish to connect to and then click (12) the Select Networks button.  You can select multiple port groups here if you wish.
  • The EVO:RAIL ui allows you to select a security profile based on the vSphere 5.5 Security Hardening Guide (nice feature add!).  Select a policy and click (13) the Create and Start a new VM.



  • You’ll be to monitor the progress of the new VM being created from the window you are currently in, or return to the dashboard and see that you have a new task running in the EVO:RAIL ui.




  • Once completed you will see a message that the new VM has been created and is powering on.  Click on the VMS button in the EVO:RAIL UI to see your VM.  You rename, clone, pause, power off and can even launch the VMRC right from the EVO:RAIL UI (Or EVO:X for EVO Experience – create name Matt Brender!)


That’s it….13 clicks.  Can’t argue with the numbers; creating a VM in the EVO:RAIL really is simple!

Creating a new VM with EVO:RAIL

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September 11th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

It looks as though the VMware Hands-On Labs from VMworld are starting to roll out.  Short of having a physical EVO:RAIL to work on, I decided to do the next best thing and get some experience with it via the VMware Hands-On labs..  If you want to get some hands on yourself, head over to

The HOL starts with the assumption that you have a working network and IP scheme, your top-of-rack switch is configured and your EVO:RAIL is connected and powered on (likely also assumes you have NTP and DNS working since those are critical to any environment and should never be skipped).

  •  Open a browser and navigate to the EVO:RAIL home page.  Click the Yes, Let’s Go! button and accept the EULA by clicking the Yes, I do button




  • Click the Customize Me! button to enter your specific IP addresses, hostnames etc.  There is a “Just Go!” button which uses standard configuration options.
  • On the next page, you configure host names to use for your ESXi hosts buy entering a prefix so that all hosts start with the same name, an optional separator if you like those in your host name and your iterator.  You also name your vCenter server hostname.  I prefer short names so I’m likely to go with something like vc01.  So with the settings below  you would have a host name of esxi-node01, esxi-node02 etc.  Once finished setting these options, click on the Networking tab.


  • Once you click on the Networking menu, you will have a sub-menu to configure IP pools and VLANs for your management network, vMotion and VSAN networks.  The VLAN option was not available, not sure if that is an HOL thing or they assume connectivity on a default VLAN.  You will also provide your vCenter server networking information and create port groups for VM traffic.  There is an Add a VM Network so you can create as many as you wish.


  • Next, click on the Passwords menu.  Here you set the ESXi host root password and vCenter Server admin password (assuming that is [email protected]?).  You can also configure AD authentication as well.  Id like to see an option for different passwords here but without that you can use my ESXi password change PowerCLI script to handle that for you.
  • The Globals menu allows you to set time/NTP, DNS and logging settings.  You can chose either a general syslog server or vCenter Log Insight.
  • Finally, click on the Validation menu, or the Validate button to ensure you have a valid EVO:RAIL configuration.  Once validated, click the Build Appliance button.



  • With the EVO:RAIL configuration complete, make note of the IP address and click the Take me to it button to monitor the setup of your EVO:RAIL appliance



  • Once its finished, HOORAY!  Click the link to go to the EVO:RAIL log in



  • Log into your EVO:RAIL and start managing!



From the EVO:RAIL UI you can do basic tasks such as create VMs and monitor the health of your environment as well as current/recent tasks.  You can also launch vCenter from this US to perform more advanced vSphere tasks that you cannot (currently?) do in the EVO:RAIL UI.


It will be interesting to see the differentiation between various EVO:RAIL partners such as EMC and Dell.  As Chad Sakac mentioned at VMworld the EMC EVO:RAIL will have the ability to connect to EMC support and should come with RecoverPoint for VMs (EMC page | my coverage).  Sincere thanks to the VMware HOL team, having these resources available for the community to use on demand, whenever they are free is a great for the community.

Hands on (lab) with EVO:RAIL

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May 13th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

In my last post, I reviewed the hardware assembly and ESXi installation for the AMD 8-Core home build.  I showed you at the end of that post a screenshot of Ubuntu 14.04 64-Bit installing in my virtual ESXi host.  Here, I will review the steps necessary to setup a virtual or nested ESXi host, however this process is a bit more manual.

With vCenter 5.5 setup, you would have the option via the web client to select ESXi as the guest operating system.  I wanted to see some virtual inception ASAP and didn’t want to wait to get vCenter setup so I went right in and created a VM to run my first nested ESXi host.  In my next post, we will review setting up a nested ESXi host via vCenter so you can see what the differences are.

A quick note bef0re we get started.  On my physical ESXi host I have created several datastores, 1 each on each of the physical drives.  I have name the datastores so that match the name of the hosts I will use them on.  For example on one of the drives I created a datastore called v-esx01-local.  On this drive I will create a drive for my nesxted ESXi host to use for its local storage.  Do this for each of the nested ESXi hosts you plan to setup.

Connect directly to the physical ESXi host, in my case and follow these steps:

  • Create a new virtual machine, select Custom.  Selecting Custom will allow you to set the vCPU and RAM options that would otherwise be pre-set for you.
  • Give your VM a name, I opted for v-esx## though this can follow your normal naming convention
  • Select a datastore, I am putting all my ESXi VMDKs on p-esx01-local
  • Select a Virtual Machine Hardware Version.  In the C# client you can only select up to 8, we will change that later by manually editing the VMX file.
  • For the Guest Operating System select Linux, and Other Linux (64-bit)
  • In the number of cores per virtual socket select 2.  We only have 8 cores to go around so I will be cheap here, after all this isn’t a performance lab.
  • In memory change the Memory Size drop down from MB to GB and set the size to 4GB
  • No changes on the network or SCSI controller screens so click next
  • Select create a new virtual disk
  • Change the Disk Size to 1GB and set to Thin Provision
  • Click next on the Advanced Options screen as we will not need to make any changes here and click Finish.

Now, with the VM create, navigate to the physical host Configuration tab and click Storage.

  • Click Add Storage…
  • Select Disk/LUN
  • Select one of the physical disks.  In my case I chose to use one of the 500GB Seagate Hybrid drives
  • Select VMFS-5 as the File System
  • Review and click next
  • Enter the datastore name, in my case v-esx01-local
  • Select Maximum space available
  • Click Finish

Browse the p-esx01-local datastore and navigate to the v-esx01 folder.  This is where we will copy the VMX file locally so we can edit in Notepad/Notepad++

  • Click on the file named v-esx##.vmx and click on the icon with the green down arrow


  • Select where you want to save the file
  • With the v-esx##.vmx file on your desktop (or whatever folder  you saved it to), right click on it and select Open With.  If, like me, you have Notepad++ installed (who doesn’t on Windows?) you can also select Edit with Notepad++
  • Make the following changes:
    • Change the guestOS value to vmkernel5
    • Change the ethernet0.virtualDev value to vmxnet3
    • Add the following line to the bottom of the file:  vhv.enable = “TRUE”
  • Save the file and delete the original one from the v-esx## folder on the datastore
  • Upload this new vmx file using the Datastore Browser, this time click the soup can with the green arrow pointing up and select Upload File
  • Right click on v-esx02 and select Remove from Inventory and click yes
  • Browse the datastore again, right click the vmx and select Add to Inventory accepting all defaults.

Now, if you edit your VM settings or click on the Summary tab for the VM you can see that your Guest OS Version is VMware ESXi 5.x.  Mount an ESXi 5.5 ISO to the CD-ROM device, power on the VM and install ESXi.  Once ESXi is installed, I will add a new virtual hard drive to the VM on the 500GB datastore I created on the physical host earlier.  Another option, which I will review later, is setting up FreeNAS or some other server to present iSCSI or NFS on all of the drives so you are able to mimic shared storage.

As you can see below, I have ESXi running at and the Ubuntu VM running in it.  In my next post, I will review some “back to basics”


You can find more information thanks to William Lam’s post here, including nesting Hyper-V

AMD 8-Core Nested ESXi Setup (The hard way)

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January 5th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

tl;dr version:  Save the $35, its not ready for everyday use or on large screen devices.

A few quick notes to consider before you get started. Consider how your audio is played.  For example I run all my video and audio through a receiver, so while I was able to get video after setting up my Chromecast directly on a TV input I couldn’t get audio. When I connected the Chromecast directly to the receiver it worked properly. However, that means I couldnt power via USB since I have no USB on the receiver, so I need to find an outlet for the power adapter.

The setup wizard was straight forward.

  • Connect your Chromcast to an available HDMI port and either USB port on the TV or power outlet
  • Turn on the TV and change to the input assoicated with the HDMI port you connected the Chromecast to
  • You should see a message similar to “Set me up”
  • Go to
  • Download the Chromecast app, copy to the install folder and run the app
  • Accept the license agreement
  • The app will find your Chromecast, click continue
  • Verify the code in the Chromecast app matches what is displayed on your TV and click Thats my code
  • Select your wifi network and enter your wifi key/password and optionally, change the name of your Chromecast device and click continue
  • The message on your TV should be similar to to the Chromecast app – connecting to wifi, then downloading updates if necessary


  • Once the updates are complete, the Chromecast device will restart and apply the updates
  • Click continue on the Chromecast app
  • Click on Get Cast Extension which is a browser plugin to stream from Chrome to your Chromecast device
  • A new Chrome window will open, click on Add Extension, click Add
  • Click the Cast icon in your browser and select your device
  • You can now see your browser screen from your computer on your TV (less navigation bars)


via OSX Mavericks with Chrome


  • There is enough of a lag from the video playback to give you a headache. This could be either
    • A) 802.11G not being fast enough
    • B) TV refresh rate being to slow (60Hz)
    • C) Video quality from the web being to low for a 52″ TV (YouTube/ Walking Dead Webisode, the lag seemed consistent also on
  • If you are not using Chrome, you will have to, there seems to be no support for other browsers
  • Cannot watch Amazon prime videos in full screen mode

via an iPad (and assume iPhone)


  • Notifications do not seem to interfere with video/audio playback.


  • Can only seem to stream from Youtube or Netflix, the Chrome browser in iOS does not appear to be aware of the Cast app.

via Windows Phone 8
No support for WP8, this may end my WP8 experiment before it even really got started

Its a $35 device, and that is about on par with the quality I might expect from a $35 video device. Hopefully the Chromecast isn’t a one and done type of device as I think it could be useful with more device and website support.  I will look at testing this more with an Android device, maybe its a bit better working with the Google ecosystem or as a travel companion, however for now I’ll stick to streaming through my Blu-Ray player and internet enabled TV.  Take the $35 and put that towards a night out or towards a Roku.


Chromecast Setup on OSX with Chrome and initial thoughts

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