Jan 172021
 

After upgrading from Horizon 8 2006 to Horizon 8 2012, audio stopped working. When connected to a VDI session, audio is not being passed through to the client.

The Problem

Audio simply does not work. Using the Chrome and multimedia redirection, audio will work, but this is most likely due to the fact the client is handling multimedia.

The Fix

Removing the audio drivers (forcing uninstall/deleting the audio driver) and re-installing the agent does not correct this.

Uninstalling and reinstalling the Horizon Client does not correct this.

Audio does function on the Horizon Android client so I isolated this to the Windows client.

After further troubleshooting, I opened the Windows Sound mixer (Right click on the audio icon in the system tray, select “Open Volume Mixer”). I noticed that not only was the VMware Horizon client at 0, but it was also muted.

VMware Horizon View Client Audio Mixer

Unmuting this and raising the volume slider resolved the issue.

Jan 132021
 
Adobe Flash Disabled Logo

As most of you know (or didn’t), Adobe Flash reached it’s End of Life on December 31st 2020, and as of January 12th 2021 does not function at all!

Since Adobe is no longer supporting Flash, they are blocking and disabling all Flash content beginning January 12 2021 from web browsers including Chrome.

For IT folks, this causes big problems when managing, maintaining, or dealing with older systems that use Adobe Flash, such as older versions of VMware vSphere, vCenter/vCSA, and VMware Horizon. This is because the admin interfaces utilize Adobe Flash. This will also apply to other software and systems.

The Problem

Up until now while approaching the end of life date, special steps were required to allow Adobe Flash because of security concerns.

As of January 12, 2021 these steps no longer work. Even when choosing to “Allow” flash, Adobe will deliberately block it. You’ll see something similar to below.

Adobe Flash Disabled Logo
Adobe Flash Disabled Logo

The Workaround

This workaround should only be used for emergency situations as you should truly try to reduce your dependence on Flash.

In order for this workaround, you will need Chrome Version 87 or earlier. Version 88 does not include Adobe Flash.

On Windows, you’ll need to create a file called “mms.cfg” in the following path:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Pepper Data\Shockwave Flash\System\

On a Mac, you’ll need to create a file called “mms.cfg” in the following path:

/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Pepper Data/Shockwave Flash/System/

Make sure you replace “USERNAME” with your own account.

On Linux, you’ll need to create a file called “mms.cfg” in the following path:

~/.config/google-chrome/Default/Pepper Data/Shockwave Flash/System/

The contents of the “mms.cfg” file should be as follows.

EnableAllowList = 1
AllowListUrlPattern = http://COMPUTERNAME/
AllowListUrlPattern = https://IP.ADDRESS/
AllowListUrlPattern = *://server.domain.com/

Feel free to add as many “AllowListUrlPattern” items as you require. These URL patterns are sites you’re allowing to run flash on.

To access a URL:

  1. After creating this file and populating it, open up Chrome
  2. Navigate to the page you want to view
  3. Click on the “Secure”, “Not Secure”, or the padlock to the left of the URL tab.
  4. Change “Adobe Flash” from “Ask” to “Allow”, then close the popup.
  5. Click on “Refresh” when Chrome prompts
  6. A new pop-up will open saying Flash is out of date. DO NOT UPDATE, click on “Run once without updating”.

And you’re set! Leave a comment and let me know if it worked for you.

For more information on Adobe Flash End of Life and End of Support, click here.

For more information on the workaround, view the “Enterprise Enablement” section of the Adobe Flash Player Administration guide.

Dec 142020
 

Well, it looks like it’s going to be an interested day with Google Services down. Today, December 14th 2020, it appears a number of Google Services including YouTube, some Google Account functions, Google Drive, and “Backup and Sync from Google” aren’t functioning.

Update Dec 14th 2020 6:00AM MST: It appears services have been restored.

I first noticed this thismorning when I logged in to my computer. Backup and Sync from Google was signed out and asking me to sign in. Attempting to sign in presented the following error.

Google Services, Backup and Sync from Google in a down state, asking to login but presenting a 400 "invalid_request" error.
Google Services Down: Backup and Sync from Google Drive

At first I thought there may have been some type of security issue, issue with my firewall, but after some brief investigation (thank you Twitter), I was able to identify it’s a very large interruption.

List of Google Services Down

As of right now, I’m seeing reports that the following services are down:

  • Google Drive
  • Google Gmail
  • YouTube
  • Some account services
  • Backup and Sync from Google

Final Note

While it’s easy to love cloud services, it’s not fun when they go down. I’ll update this post as I get more information.

Dec 072020
 
Picture of a business office with cubicles

In this post I’m going to explain what VDI is in the most simplest form and how you can benefit from virtualized desktops with your EUC strategy.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

VDI standards for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Think of your existing physical desktop infrastructure (your desktop computers, also called end user computing), now virtualize those desktop computers in a virtual environment much like your servers are, and you now have Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

End User Computing (EUC)

Traditionally end user computing has been delivered by means of deploying physical (real) computers to each user in your office (and possibly remote users). This brings with it the cost of the systems, the time/cost to maintain the systems and hardware, and the management overhead of maintaining those systems.

By utilizing VDI, you can significantly reduce the cost, management, and maintenance required to maintain your EUC infrastructure.

So seriously, what is VDI?

When you implement a VDI solution, you virtualize your desktops and workstations on a virtualization server, much like your servers are probably already virtualized. Users will connect via software, a thin client, or a zero client to establish the session to transmit and receive the video, monitor, and keyboard of workstation that is virtualized.

This might sound familiar, like RDS (Remote Desktop Services). However, in an RDS environment numerous users share the same server and resources and access it un a multi-user fashion, whereas with VDI they are using a virtualized Windows instance dedicated to them running an OS like Windows 10.

How does VDI work?

Using the software, thin client, or zero client, a user establishes a session to a connection broker, which then passes it along to the Virtual Machine running on the server. The Virtual Machine encodes and compresses the graphics and then connects the users keyboard and mouse to the VM.

What’s even cooler, is that remote devices like printers and USB devices can also be forwarded on to the VM, giving the user the feeling that the computer that’s running on the server, is actually right in front of them.

And if that isn’t cool enough, in an environment where 3D accelerated and high-performance graphics are required, you can use special graphics cards and GPUs to provide those high end graphics remotely to users. Technically you could game, do engineering work, video and graphics editing, and more.

Why use VDI

So your desktops are now virtualized. This means you no longer need to maintain numerous physical PCs and the hardware that is inside of them.

You can deploy a standardized golden image that instantly clones as users log in to give them a pre-configured and maintained environment. This means you manage 1 or few desktops which can get deployed to hundreds of users, instead of managed hundreds of desktops.

If a thin client or zero client fails you can simply re-deploy a new unit to the user, which are very inexpensive, and reduces downtime.

In the event of a disaster, your VDI EUC environment would be integrated in to your disaster recovery solution, meaning it would be very easy to get users back up and running.

One of the best parts is that the environment can be used inside of your office and externally, allowing you to provide a smooth experience for remote users. This made business continuity a breeze for organizations that need to deploy remote users or “Work from home” users on the fly.

The cost of VDI

The cost to roll out a VDI solution varies depending on the number of users, types of users, and functionality you’d like.

Typically, VDI is a no-brainer for large organizations and enterprises due to the cost savings on hardware, management, and maintaining the solution vs traditional desktops. But smaller organizations can also benefit from VDI, examples being organizations that use expensive desktops and/or laptops for uses such as engineering, software development, and other uses that require high-cost workstations.

One last thought I want to leave you with; imagine an environment with 50-100 systems, and all the wasted power and CPU cycles when users are just browsing the internet. In a virtual environment you can over-allocate resources, which means you can identify user trends and only purchase the hardware you need to based on observed workloads. This can significantly reduce the cost of hardware, especially for software development, engineering, and other high performance computing.

For more information on VDI, take a look at my other VDI related blog posts.

Oct 232020
 
vCSA Update Installation

When updating VMware vCenter vCSA 7.0 U1 (Build 16858589) to vCSA 7.0 U1 (Build 17004997/17005016, Version 7.0.1.00100), you may notice that the update fails and reports issues with pre-update checks.

Pre-update checks done prior to the update will pass and allow you to proceed, however it’s the installation that will fail and crash reporting this error.

After the installation fails, you will no longer be able to log in to the vCSA VAMI reporting the error “Unable to Login” using the root account.

You are able to login via SSH. Resetting the root password via SSH will not resolve this issue.

The Problem

In the past, issues with the root password expiring have caused similar behavior on the vCSA VAMI. Changing the root password does not resolve this specific issue.

Further troubleshooting, it appears that special characters in the root password such as “!”, “.”, and “@” caused this issue to occur in my environment.

I was not able to fix the broken vCSA after the failed update. Access to the vCSA was not possible, however vCenter functions were still operating.

The Solution

To resolve this situation in my environment, I restored a snapshot of the vCSA taken prior to updating.

After restoring the snapshot, I changed the root password for VAMI and restarted the vCSA.

Another snapshot was taken prior to attempting the upgrade, which was now succesfull after removing special characters out of the root password.

Oct 182020
 
Screenshot of The Tech Informative Side Chat - HPE Integrated Lights-Out

A new Side Chat Episode of the Tech Informative is now live on YouTube. In this episode we are covering HPE Integrated Lights-Out, also known as HPE iLO.

The Tech Informative Side Chat on HPE Integrated Lights-Out (HPE iLO)

The Tech Informative is a video podcast by Stephen Wagner and Rob Dalton that hopes to explore everyday technologies from the perspective of Information Technology professionals.

Rob Dalton is a lover of IT and a Director by profession. Rob considers himself a jack of all trades, an IT veteran, and is also the author of “Secured Packets”, a technology blog with a focus on security. Rob’s blog can be found at: https://www.securedpackets.com

Stephen Wagner is the President of Digitally Accurate Inc., an IT Solutions and Managed Services company. Stephen is also the author of “The Tech Journal”, an online Technology Blog. Stephen’s blog can be found at: https://www.stephenwagner.com

In this Side Chat, we cover the following:

What is HPE iLO

  • iLO and OneView
  • iLO Amplifier Pack
  • iLO, InfoSight, and HPE Servers

What does iLO do

  • Remote Access
  • Firmware Management
  • Server provisioning (Install OS, Recover, DR, etc.)
  • Features we find most valuable

How is HPE Integrated Lights-Out licensed

Competing Products

  • iDRAC
  • IPMI

We also cover what’s on the next episode of The Tech Informative

Don’t forget to like and subscribe! Leave a comment, feedback, or suggestions in the video comments section.

Oct 152020
 
VMware vCLS VM in VM List

Did a new VM appear on your VMware vSphere cluster called “vCLS”? Maybe multiple appeared named “vCLS (1)”, “vCLS (2)”, “vCLS (3)” appeared.

VMware vCLS VM in vSphere Cluster Objects
VMware vCLS VM in vSphere Cluster Objects

This could be frightening but fear not, this is part of VMware vSphere 7.0 Update 1.

What is the vCLS VM?

The vCLS virtural machine is essentially an “appliance” or “service” VM that allows a vSphere cluster to remain functioning in the event that the vCenter Server becomes unavailable. It will maintain the health and services of that cluster.

Where did the vCLS VM come from?

The vCLS VM will appear after upgrading to vSphere 7.0 Update 1. I’m assuming it was deployed during the upgrade process.

It does not appear in the standard Cluster, Hosts, and VMs view, but does appear when looking at the vSphere objects VM lists, Storage VM lists, etc…

Is it normal to have more than one vCLS VM?

The vCLS VMs are created when hosts are added to a vSphere Cluster. Up to 3 vCLS VMs are required to run in each vSphere Cluster.

The vCLS VMs will also appear on clusters which contain only one or two hosts. These configurations will result in either 1 or 2 vCLS VMs named “vCLS (1)” and “vCLS (2)”.

More Information on vCLS VMs

For more information and technical specifics, you can visit the link below:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/com.vmware.vsphere.vcenterhost.doc/GUID-96BD6016-4BE7-4B1C-8269-568D1555B08C.html

Hope this posts helps, and puts some minds at ease. Your VMware environment has NOT been compromised.

Oct 102020
 

If you’re like me and use an older Nvidia GRID K1 or K2 vGPU video card for your VDI homelab, you may notice that when using VMware Horizon that VMware Blast h264 encoding is no longer being offloaded to the GPU and is instead being encoded via the CPU.

The Problem

Originally when an environment was configured with an Nvidia GRID K1 or K2 card, not only does the card provide 3D acceleration and rendering, but it also offloads the VMware BLAST h264 stream (the visual session) so that the CPU doesn’t have to. This results in less CPU usage and provides a streamlined experience for the user.

This functionality was handled via NVFBC (Nvidia Frame Buffer Capture) which was part of the Nvidia Capture SDK (formerly known as GRID SDK). This function allowed the video card to capture the video frame buffer and encode it using NVENC (Nvidia Encoder).

Ultimately after spending hours troubleshooting, I learned that NVFBC has been deprecated and is no longer support, hence why it’s no longer functioning. I also checked and noticed that tools (such as nvfbcenable) were no longer bundled with the VMware Horizon agent. One can assume that the agent doesn’t even attempt to check or use this function.

Symptoms

Before I was aware of this, I noticed that while 3D Acceleration and graphics were functioning, I was experiencing high CPU usage. Upon further investigation I noticed that my VMware BLAST sessions were not offloading h264 encoding to the video card.

VMware Horizon Performance Tracker
VMware Horizon Performance Tracker with NVidia GRID K1

You’ll notice above that under the “Encoder” section, the “Encoder Name” was listed as “h264 4:2:0”. Normally this would say “NVIDIA NvEnc H264” (or “NVIDIA NvEnc HEVC” on newer cards) if it was being offloaded to the GPU.

Looking at a VMware Blast session (Blast-Worker-SessionId1.log), the following lines can be seen.

[INFO ] 0x1f34 bora::Log: NvEnc: VNCEncodeRegionNvEncLoadLibrary: Loaded NVIDIA SDK shared library "nvEncodeAPI64.dll"
[INFO ] 0x1f34 bora::Log: NvEnc: VNCEncodeRegionNvEncLoadLibrary: Loaded NVIDIA SDK shared library "nvml.dll"
[WARN ] 0x1f34 bora::Warning: GetProcAddress: Failed to resolve nvmlDeviceGetEncoderCapacity: 127
[WARN ] 0x1f34 bora::Warning: GetProcAddress: Failed to resolve nvmlDeviceGetProcessUtilization: 127
[WARN ] 0x1f34 bora::Warning: GetProcAddress: Failed to resolve nvmlDeviceGetGridLicensableFeatures: 127
[INFO ] 0x1f34 bora::Log: NvEnc: VNCEncodeRegionNvEncLoadLibrary: Some NVIDIA nvml functions unavailable, unloading
[INFO ] 0x1f34 bora::Log: NvEnc: VNCEncodeRegionNvEncUnloadLibrary: Unloading NVIDIA SDK shared library "nvEncodeAPI64.dll"
[INFO ] 0x1f34 bora::Log: NvEnc: VNCEncodeRegionNvEncUnloadLibrary: Unloading NVIDIA SDK shared library "nvml.dll"
[WARN ] 0x1f34 bora::Warning: GetProcAddress: Failed to resolve nvmlDeviceGetEncoderCapacity: 127
[WARN ] 0x1f34 bora::Warning: GetProcAddress: Failed to resolve nvmlDeviceGetProcessUtilization: 127
[WARN ] 0x1f34 bora::Warning: GetProcAddress: Failed to resolve nvmlDeviceGetGridLicensableFeatures: 127

You’ll notice it tries to load the proper functions, however it fails.

The Solution

Unfortunately the only solution is to upgrade to newer or different hardware.

The GRID K1 and GRID K2 cards have reached their EOL (End of Life) and are no longer support. The drivers are not being maintained or updated so I doubt they will take advantage of the newer frame buffer capture functions of Windows 10.

Newer hardware and solutions have incorporated this change and use a different means of frame buffer capture.

To resolve this in my own homelab, I plan to migrate to an AMD FirePro S7150x2.

Oct 062020
 
Video Capture of The Tech Informative

A joint project of mine with Rob Dalton, The Tech Informative is a video podcast on YouTube dedicated to everything tech with a focus on corporate IT.

We intend to keep it informal, fun, and packed full of handy and useful information.

Check it out, and don’t forget to like and subscribe. We also appreciate suggestions and feedback!

This introduction episode is the first of many to come!

Jul 222020
 
VMware Logon

When upgrading from any version of VMware vCSA to version 7.0, you may encounter a problem during the migration phase and be asked to specifiy a new “Export Directory”.

I’ve seen this occur on numerous upgrades and often find the same culprit causing the issue. I’ve found a very simple fix compared to other solutions online.

The full prompt for this issue is: “Enter a new export directory on the source machine below”

The Problem

When you upgrade the vCenter vCSA, the process migrates all data over from the source appliance, to the new vCSA 7 appliance.

This data can include the following (depending on your selection):

  • Configuration
  • Configuration and historical data (events and tasks)
  • Configuration and historical data (events, tasks, and performance metric)
  • vSphere Update Manager (updates, configuration, etc.)

This data can accumulate, especially the VMware vSphere Update Manager.

In the most recent upgrade I performed, I noticed that the smallest option (configuration only) was around 8GB, which is way over the 4.7GB default limit.

Could it be vSphere Update Manager?

I’ve seen VMware VUM cause numerous issues over the years with upgrades. VUM has caused issues upgrading from earlier versions to 6.x, and in this case it caused this issue upgrading to vCSA 7.x as well.

In my diagnosis, I logged in to the SSH console of the source appliance, and noticed that the partitions containing the VUM data (which includes update files) was around 7.4GB. This is the “/storage/updatemgr/” partition.

I wasn’t sure if this was included, but the 8GB of configuration, minus the 7.4GB of VUM data, could technically get me to around 0.6GB for migration if this was in fact included.

In my environment, I have the default (and simple) implementation of VUM with the only customization being the HPE VIBs depot. I figured maybe I should blast away the VUM and start from scratch on VMware vCSA 7.0 to see if this fixes the issue.

The Fix

To fix this issue, I simply completely reset the VMware Update Manager Database.

For details on this process and before performing these steps, please see VMware KB 2147284.

Let’s get to it:

  1. Close the migration window (you can reopen this later)
  2. Log in to your vCSA source appliance via SSH or console
  3. Run the applicable steps as defined in the VMware KB 2147284 to reset VUM (WARNING: commands are version specific). In my case on vCSA 6.5 I ran the following commands:
    1. shell
    2. service-control --stop vmware-updatemgr
    3. /usr/lib/vmware-updatemgr/bin/updatemgr-util reset-db
    4. rm -rf /storage/updatemgr/patch-store/*
    5. service-control --start vmware-updatemgr
  4. Open your web broswer and navigate to https://new-vcsa-IP:5480 and resume the migration. You will now notice a significant space reduction and won’t need to specify a new mount point.

That’s it! You have a shiny new clean VUM instance, and can successfully upgrade to vCSA 7.0 without having to specify a new mount point.

To restore any old configuration to VUM, you’ll do so in the “VMware Lifecycle Management” section of the VMware vCenter Server Appliance interface.