VMUG Advantage Subscription – VMware License Keys for your Lab

New to this years 2015 VMUG Advantage subscription is an addition called EVALExperience . It gives subscribers 365 day license keys for the majority of VMware products. It is perfect for running these solutions in your home lab without a 90 day trial period. EVALExperience is on top of the discounts you receive as a VMUG Advantage member. Current pricing is $200 a year. Check it out!

Here are the products you get keys for:

Here is what the portal looks like, this is where you download media and keys:

VMUG Advantage - Product Portal



  • 6/8/2015: Updated product list above.

Additional Reading:

Not able to see the SD Card on HP Gen 9 during ESXi 5.5 Installation

When trying to install HP ESXi 5.5 customized image on a HP Gen 9 BL460 blade server I was not able to see the SD card to install on. After trying a few things I found that switching the USB 3.0 mode to Auto instead of the defaulted On allowed ESXi installation to see the SD card. The internal card reader goes over the USB bus so this appears to be a bug and hopefully HP will have a update soon to fix it. Below is what I did to get through this issue:

ESXi 5.5U2 Installation – If your not seeing the SD card, go ahead and reboot:

ESXi Install - Not seeing SD card

Hit F9 on the boot screen to enter System Utilities:

HP Gen 9 Boot Post

Hit Enter on the System Configuration:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 1

Hit Enter on the BIOS/Platform Configuration:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 2

Hit Enter on System Options:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 3

Hit Enter on USB Options:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 4

On USB 3.0 Mode, change the default value of Enabled to Auto. Now hit F10 to save and reboot.

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 5

Now on ESXi installer screen you should see the SD card:

ESXi Install - SD Card Ready for Installation

Disable ‘SSH for the host has been enabled’ message in vSphere 5

I always forget where to turn off the SSH for the host has been enabled warning message so i’m posting it here for safe keeping. 🙂

SSH Warning

To turn this message off click on the host, go to the Configuration tab, then click on Advanced Settings.

Host Configuration - Advanced Settings

Scroll down to the UserVars section. The last field is called UserVars.SupressShellWarning, change the value from a 0 to a 1. The message will now be gone!

Advanced Settings



Citrix PVS – Use VMware Workstation to Upgrade VMTools

If you are running Citrix PVS in a VMware vSphere environment you know what a headache it is to update VMtools on your image. Citrix uses the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format for its vDisk and sadly VMware doesn’t like VHD’s. Instead of using Citrix XenConvert or StarWind V2V Converter, VMware Workstation should make this process much easier for you! VMware Workstation started supporting the VHD format with version 10 and makes upgrading VMtools a pretty simple task.

VMtools Out of Date


I will be using VMware Workstation 11 and will show you how to open your PVS VHD image and update tools without the need to reverse image it.

Citrix VHD Preparation:

First you need to merge your vDisk versions to a single base. In the Provisioning Service Console under vDisk Pool, right click the name of your vDisk and click Versions.

1 Citrix Provisioning Services Console - Versions

Click the newest version of your vDisk and click Merge.

2 Merge vDisk Versions

You want to create a new Merged Base and make this Maintenance so not to interfere with your current environment. Click Ok.

3 Merge Options

This can take quite a while if you haven’t made a merged base in a while. Once complete you will have a new merged base version. Click Done.

4 Merged Base

Now browse to your Citrix vDisk directory and copy the VHD file created above to your desktop, this will be the file we work with in VMware Workstation.

5 CItrix VHD Merged Base File

VMware Workstation:

It is time to create our Workstation VM. Open VMware Workstation and click Create a New Virtual Machine:

6 VMware Workstation - Create a New Virtual Machine

Click on the Custom option and click Next:

7 Workstation - Custom Option

Leave the hardware compatibility, click Next:

8 New VM HW Compatibility

Select the I will install the operating system later. Click Next:

9 New VM Guest OS Installation

Select which OS your Citrix PVS image is. In my case it’s Windows Server 2008 R2. Click Next:

Workstation - Pick your OS


Name your VM and select the location the files will go. Click Next:

10 VM Location

Leave firmware type on BIOS. Click Next:

11 Firmware Type

Give the VM a CPU or two. Click Next:

12 CPU Count

Give the VM some memory. Click Next:

13 Memory Count

I would recommend use network address translation (NAT). This will basically piggy back off your workstations NIC. Quickest and easiest option to get your VM network connectivity if needed. Click Next:

14 Network Type

Leave the selection on default of LSI Logic SAS. Click Next:

15 Controller Type

Change the Disk Type to IDE for the best compatibility. Click Next:

16 Disk Type

Since we have a VHD disk to use, select Use an existing virtual disk. Note: On the Browse screen change the drop down menu to All files otherwise you won’t be able to see your VHD file. Click Next:

17 Select a Disk  19 Change type to all

Now we are ready to create our Workstation VM using the Citrix PVS VHD Disk! Click Finish:

20 VM Creation Summary

Select the VM we created and click Power on this virtual machine:

21 Power on VM

The moment of truth…. if you receive a blue screen you need to edit the virtual machine and change the disk controller type. Since we picked IDE you shouldn’t have any problems.

22 The moment of boot truth

Once booted you need to download the VMtools package that correlates to your vSphere environment.

Read about it here: VMware Operating System Specific Packages (OSPs)

Access repository here: http://packages.vmware.com/tools/esx/index.html

I am running vSphere 5.5 Update 2, so I browsed to  5.5u2, windows, and there is the VMtools ISO:

23 VMtools Download

Now lets mount that ISO and update VMtools. Right click your VM in Workstation and click Settings:

24 VM Settings to mount ISO

Click on the CD/DVD drive then select Use ISO image file. Browse for the VMtools ISO we downloaded and click Ok:

25 Mount ISO

You are now ready to upgrade tools:

26 Upgrade VMtools

Once finished go ahead and power down that VM so we can copy it back to Citrix. In your Citrix PVS VHD folder, rename the original VHD file and add -old to the end. This will serve as our backup in case you have problems with the new VHD. Copy the VHD file on your computer and put it in your Citrix PVS VHD directory.

27 Citrix PVS VHD

Now you can promote that vDisk to Production. Once your farm reboots they will be running updated VMtools!

28 VMtools Updated

Leave comments below if everything went smooth or if you had any issues!

VMware announces vSphere 6!!!

Today VMware announced vSphere 6 and will be accompanied with other releases such as vCloud Suite 6, Virtual SAN 6, and vSphere with Operations Manager. vSphere 6 has over 650 new features and innovations which makes this quite a release. There are many new amazing features to talk about so i’ll start easy with some of the key features with links for additional reading. Expect lots of vSphere 6 write ups in the near future 🙂

vSphere 6 –  New Maximums:

5.5 vs 6.0 Maximums

Few of my Favorite Features:

  • Infrastructure Controller (IC): Service that will provide the following functions:
    • Licensing
    • Certificate Store
    • Certificate Authority
    • Service Registration
    • Single Sign-On
  • Enchanted Web Client: Faster web client vs vSphere 5 (still isn’t HTML5)
  • vMotion Improvements:
    • Long Distance vMotion: Increased network latency tolerance from 10 ms to 100 ms
    • vMotion across vCenters: vMotion across data center and vCenter boundaries that vSphere 5 had.
    • vMotion across virtual switches: Basically enables the above, can vMotion across Virtual Standard Switch (vSS) and  Virtual Distributed Switches (vDSs).
  • Fault Tollerance: Now supports 4 vCPUs, up from 1 vCPU.
  • vVols (Virtual Volumes): New storage feature that allows virtual machines to interact with the storage directly without the need of VMFS LUNs.
  • Content Library: Centralized management for VM templates, virtual appliances, ISO images, and scripts. (Wooooot!!!!)
  • vCenter Appliance: Now has the same scalability numbers as the Windows installed vCenter: 1,000 hosts and 10,000 virtual machines. Also supports linked mode!! (Post coming soon on how to convert)

Additional Reading:

What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.0?

What’s New in the VMware vSphere 6 Platform\

vSphere 6 Datasheet

What’s New in VMware Virtual SAN 6.0?

What’s New in VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6.0?

StarWind Virtual SAN: A Storage Solution for your virtual environment

One important thing you need for your virtual environment is storage. If you have a single ESXi host then using local storage is just fine but if you have multiple hosts and want to use features such as vMotion, High Availability (HA) , and DRS you need shared storage. In my quest to find a storage solution I started out using my Synology DS411slim. It works fantastically but I am very limited with speed and drive size due to the 2.5″ drive limitation. With the cost very high for a new Synology unit it left me seeking an alternative solution, that is where StarWind Virtual SAN steps in. StarWind Virtual SAN presents a servers local storage as a iSCSI LUN and even performs VMware VAAI functions.

StarWind Disk

There is a free edition StarWind offers that is perfect for home labs, test and dev environments. You can download and receive your license key here: http://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-san-free


At a minimum all you need is some local storage and a network connection as you will be presenting it out as iSCSI. Luckily I have a Dell PowerEdge R520 that will become my virtual SAN server. For better performance, you should have storage running on a RAID (5,10, etc) and multiple network connection that will be dedicated for iSCSI traffic. I have eight 300GB 10k SAS drives using RAID 5, I carved 300GB for my boot drive which left 1.6 TB for my D:\ drive.



Installation and setup of Starwind Virtual SAN is super easy. You can have it installed and presenting storage in roughly 5 minutes! The install process is pretty much straight forward but is documented below:

1 Install Welcome

Agree and click Next:

2 License Agreement

Read through the information, click Next:

3 Information

Pick your installation directory, click Next:

4 Destination

Recommend doing a full install (only 108.4 MB), click Next:

5 Select Install

Pick if you want a desktop icon, click Next:

7 Desktop Icon

Review and click Install:

8 Ready to Install

Storage Management Initiative – Specification (SMI-S) is a management standard for SANs. You can read more about it here. Go ahead and click Yes:

9 Configure SMI-S Agent

Only thing you should do is set a password. Type a password of your choosing, click Ok:

10 SMI-S Agent Config

Leave the check in the box to launch the Management Console, click Finish:

11 Install Complete

Installation is complete!

Configuration and Setup:

StarWind Management Console

It is asking you what drive and location you want to store the virtual SAN hard drive files. In my case it’s the D:\ drive. Change yours if applicable:

12 Storage Location

Welcome to the StarWind Management Console. We only have two more things to do before we have a operational virtual SAN.

1 StarWind Management Console

If you have multiple network connections you can dedicate some of them only for iSCSI traffic.

In my case I have four connection and will dedicate two NICs (well, once I plug in my second cable) :). Each of my two ESXi hosts will have their own dedicated NIC for storage traffic:

2 Network Connecctions

Back on the Management Console, click on the Configuration tab, then Network. If you are dedicating iSCSI traffic go ahead and remove the IP address of the server. Then only your iSCSI NICs will be listed. If you aren’t going this approach then ignore this step.

3 Network Configuration

Now, let’s create the disk that will be the storage of your virtual SAN. Click on Add Device, you can change the name if you want or leave the default Storage1, type in how much space to make the disk and click Next:

4 Add Device

Now click Create:

5 Create Virtual Disk

Finished! Click Close:

6 Creation Complete

We now have virtual SAN storage!!

7 Virtual SAN Completed

Configuring ESXi Host for iSCSI:

Now we can configure the host to find our virtual disk. Go to your host, Configuration tab, then Storage Adapters. If you have a iSCSI card you can use it or you can add a software iSCSI Adapter. Right click your iSCSI adapter and click Properties:

1 Host Storage Adapters

Click on Dynamic Discovery then click Add:

2 iSCSI Initiator

Enter the IP address of your StarWind Virtual SAN server then click Ok:

3 Add iSCSI Targer Server

You will see the entry, now click Close:

4 iSCSI Initiator Finish

Click on Yes for it to perform a scan:

5 Rescan iSCSI Adapter

You should now see the Starwind disk appear!!

6 Starwind iSCSI Dis

VMware – Don’t Miss Event – February 2nd

VMware announced an online event “that should not be missed” scheduled on February 2nd. There are many rumors floating around the net but I personally feel vSphere 6.0 will be announced.  Excited to see what is announced!! Register Here!

This event is so BIG that we’re offering broadcasts around the globe the entire week of February 2…and continuing the excitement throughout February. All event registrants will automatically receive access to additional content, engagement, and activities via our online event platform.

Event Times:


Date: February 2, 2015
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM PST / 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

Date: February 3, 2015
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 AM GMT / 10:00 – 11:00 AM CET

ASIA PACIFIC – ASEAN, Western Australia, Hong Kong
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM SGT

ASIA PACIFIC – Sydney, Australia
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM AEDT

ASIA PACIFIC – Mumbai, India
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:30 – 11:30 AM IST

Guest customization runs on every boot

In our vSphere 5.1 update 2 environment we found that some of our Windows virtual machines were running guest customization every time they boot. This was causing them to loose their static IP address and take an additional 5 minutes to boot.


To fix this issue, boot to Windows and open regedit. Navigate to to the following location:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\

Regedit Key

Edit the BootExecute key and remove all sysprepDecrypter.exe lines. We had some VMs with up to 10 entries!

Regedit - edit key

Your key should now look like this:

Regedit - correct key

Click OK. Now the VM will not perform the guest customization on every boot.

To prevent future VMs you deploy from gaining this issue update your vSphere environment to at least 5.1 Update 5.

Authorize Exception Error when logging into vCenter

If you get the following error when logging into vCenter(5.1U5): “A general system error occurred: Authorize Exception”

vCenter - Authorize Exception error


Restarting the Single Sign On service on your vCenter should resolve the issue. In my case the cause of this was due to the LDAP connection pool being exhausted. To confirm this check the ssoAdminServer.log found here:

C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\SSOServer\log

Do a search for the following error: No ManagedConnections available within configured blocking timeout

If you find that around the time when you was logging in then your LDAP connection pool was exhausted. This issue is resolved in vSphere 5.5.

The VMware KB article for this issue 2055448:



The VMRC console has disconnected…attempting to reconnect

This morning I received an error I haven’t seen before when trying to open the console of a VM in our ESXi 5.5 environment….  “The VMRC console has disconnected…attempting to reconnect.

VMRC Console Disconnected Error

There are two ways to fix this. The easy way is to reboot your computer 🙂 If you would want to avoid a reboot you can do the following:

Close out all of your VMware vSphere Clients and open Task Manager. You will want to make sure all processes named “vmware-vmrc.exe“, “vmware-remotemks.exe“, and “vpxclient.exe” are not running. If they are go ahead and end all those processes.

Task-Manager-vmware-vmrc Task-Manager-vpxclient

Now open up the vSphere Client, console should now work:

Yay its fixed


Comment below and let me know what worked for you!


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