Friday, October 20, 2017

[How-to] Install your own HoL-like Control Center Server in VMware Workstation

If you have used VMware's Hands-on Labs much you'll notice there is usually recurring system - the Control Center VM - this VM usually serves a number of purposes such as:

  • An RDP Jumpbox into the lab
  • Active Directory Services
  • DNS/DHCP/NTP Services
  • vCenter Tools Access
  • AD Certificate Services


If you are looking to create your own vHoL in VMware Workstation you'll need this control center to run a number of prerequisite services to tie it all together (stuff like making sure DNS is functioning before you try and deploy the vCSA or vRA Appliance).

Before we get started

This post is based off VMware Workstation 14 Pro and Windows Server Standard 2016 - but the concepts should be pretty similar across other versions (including a Lab ESXi host).

This guide assumes basic understanding of Windows Server OS, networking services, and the like, and as usual these instructions are provided as-is, no support or warranty is provided or implied. Consider thyself warned.

What do I need?

To begin you will need the following:
  1. VMware Workstation (ver. 14+ for 2016 support) fully installed.
    This should also work with Fusion (ver. 10+) for you MacOS fans.
  2. Windows Server Standard 2016 iso (Other Editions will work as well) - I assume you have access to this, if not you can try https://imagine.microsoft.com/ assuming you (or your kids) have a valid .edu address.
  3. Enough Resources - Windows Server 2016 will require:
    • 1 CPU / 1 Core
    • 1gb of RAM (2gb recommended)
    • Up to 40gb Disk - 2016 recommends 60, but it's easier to expand so I start with 40gb (a fresh install as documented here takes up ~16gb of disk running and ~14gb when powered off assuming 2gb of RAM)
  4. Licenses to make this all work (Windows seems quite functional without working licenses - but some functionality like patching may be impacted once your grace period expires).

Installing Windows Server 2016 in VMware Workstation

1. From the VMware Workstation toolbar, click File > New Virtual machine (or CTRL-N).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

[How-to] Installing ESXi in VMware Workstation

So, maybe you are studying for an exam, or maybe you want more practice installing ESXi - The Hands-on Labs from VMware are great for playing, but not so good on core builds, maybe you are luckily enough to have a dev or lab at either home or work, for everyone else there is installing ESXi into Workstation/Fusion, this guide will cover how you put a base ESXi install into VMware Workstation.

Before we get started

This post is based off VMware Workstation 14 Pro  and ESXi 6.5u1 - but the concepts should be pretty similar across other versions.

This guide assumes basic understanding of VMware ESXi, Unix, networking services, and the like, and as usual these instructions are provided as-is, no support or warranty is provided or implied. Consider thyself warned.

What do I need?

To begin you will need the following:
  1. VMware Workstation (ver. 8+) fully installed.
    This will also work with Fusion (ver. 4+) for you MacOS fans.
  2. ESXi iso (download from my.vmware.com)
  3. Enough Resources - an empty ESXi 6.5u1 shell will require:
    • 1 CPU / 1 Core (2/1 recommended)
    • 4gb of RAM
    • Up to 40gb Disk (a fresh install takes up ~4.5gb of disk running and ~450mb when powered off)

Create your new ESXi Virtual Machine

1. From the VMware Workstation toolbar, click File > New Virtual machine (or CTRL-N).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

[How-to] Disable Flash Completely in your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, IE)

Flash needs to die, it needs to die hard. I've said this for years, sadly my last remaining holdouts are usually corporate related applications - and in my case the VMware vCloud Director and vSphere Web Client. This week it was found that the latest version of Flash (read: fixes a security exploit [CVE-2017-11292] already in the wild) also breaks these two tools. The official fix [KB 2151945] is not pretty at all - while we await a fix from Flash [Update 2017-10-20 - the beta fix is out here], here is the summary of the work around - revert to an older "compromised" version of Flash. Ouch.


Now this doesn't sit well with me, but I need to be able to use tools, while also remaining secure. So I'm sharing a little tip I've been using for a good year now - which is to have a "Flash Only" browser that you only use for your "trusted" corporate applications. Of course this could also be used to browse sites you feel are are flash safe, but anymore even the most secure sites are not safe from some malicious party so I'd just say don't use Flash EVER.

In my case I disable flash completely in Chrome, Edge and IE, then enable it in Firefox and only use Firefox for my legacy Flash tools. I'll show you how to disable it in every browser below, but for this to work you need to keep your "primary" browser(s) safe and flash free, while some browser you can live without your "Flash Zone". In a perfect world this would be Edge or IE but as Edge and IE doesn't work with 75% of the things I need it so it's pretty much sits unused - I just lock it down to be safe (and because Windows 10 randomly opens things in Edge when you are clicking from certain Windows 10 items, and I want to remain safe for the 10 seconds it takes to copy the link, close Edge and open the link in Chrome).

So bottom line: 
  • Pick your safe browser(s) - disable Flash. Use these daily, stay secure. Get an I Hate Flash sticker, put it on your laptop while we all countdown to Flash's Death!
  • Pick your single flash only browser - leave flash enabled. Never use this except for the tools you need, submit endless feature release requests to these apps to move to HTML5 and ditch flash.

Disabling Flash on Chrome [Win]:

Tested on Version 61.0.3163.100 (Official Build) (64-bit)

1. Click the three dots in the upper right corner of Chrome, then Click Settings

Monday, November 14, 2016

38 days without Facebook or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Real Life

So on October 1st, 2016 I did the unthinkable, I left Facebook. Not just left, I posted an epic goodbye and archived all my digital life with the intention of disabling Facebook never to return.

(ok in my own addicted mind I thought it was epic goodbye, hell it even had a kitten waving goodbye!)
It's Not You Facebook, it's Me, We've just grown apart
I made the decision on 9/31, angry about some family drama, over what I can't even remember anymore, honestly I can't, I think something about blocking someone who was annoying me or some such non-sense, again not that important to the overall story, other to bring attention to the fact that I became so focused on what people did/said on Facebook that my response was to block said person rather than discuss/deal with the issue like I would in real life. How egotistical, self centered, and downright douchbaggy was I? I mean, that was my response, you said/did something that made me mad, I block you, like a president elect hosting a reality TV show, my response was to sit in my Smug Computer Chair and say "I block you".

Monday, November 7, 2016

Naughty Nvidia is installing tracking software without your knowledge...

2016-11-18 Update: The Game Ready Driver 375.86 left these items disabled when doing a custom update via GeForce Experience, doing an Express Install re-enabled the tasks.

2016-11-11 Update: So I just had a GeForce Experience update roll though (3.1.0.52) which re-enabled all of the telemetry tasks. So I can confirm that GeForce Experience Updates will also require you to follow the steps here to disable.

End Updates

So put on your tinfoil hats ladies and gentlemen, thanks to a Reddit post over the weekend, it appears we now have learned that Nvidia is installing telemetry processes (aka tracking) in it's latest drivers, this is without your permission or knowledge, and even a custom install doesn't allow for the option to be removed/disabled.


This appears to be added to every Nvidia user as of 375.70 version of the drivers, though it may have been collecting since 368.25 if you had GeForce Experience 3.x installed. *yikes*


Now from what I've seen in my limited capture tests the data being sent doesn't appear to be anything personally identifiable, but as we already know thanks to Snowden revelations, just because the company that creates the tracker doesn't mean you any ill will doesn't mean others aren't interested in using telemetry data for their own nefarious purposes.


While the beacon of Gaming Journalistic Integrity (tm), PC Gamer has quickly ran to Nvidia's defense (and given their Geforce Software a 99 score, not really, but it sounds funny) I'll leave it up to you to decide if you want to disable the software just to be safe.


Expand this post to learn how to disable.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hello Blogger!

Well after an off again on again 2 week long hassle I've finally moved my blog over here to Blogger.

No more Drupal updates every week, just nice and easy blog platform.

All the Gremlins should be properly starved and locked away from the water, but if you find any problems leave a comment below!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ignoring the Java version during Citrix Installs/Patches

I frequently get asked How can I install the latest Citrix Hotfix rollup (or Citrix itself) while keeping a specific version of Java on my server. For those of us with that server that for some crazy application reason can not move to Java 1.6 but you still need to install the latest Hotfix rollup that requires 1.6uXX you can get past this with a really quick fix.

msiexec /update PSE450w2k3x64R06.msp CTX_USE_EXISTING_JRE=YES

The CTX_USE_EXISTING_JRE=Yes will ignore the install stopping Java check that forces you to use a certain version (that seems to always change).

The only thing to note is that on 4.5/5.0 you will likely lose the ability to use the XenApp Advanced Configuration tool (formally the CMC) on this server, so you'll want to make sure you have at least one server that is updated to the latest Java required for the latest HFR patch (like your dedicated Data Collector I know we all have right?) - otherwise you won't have access to the handful of items still in the older Java based CMC tool.

Sometimes disabling the Java check is needed, and by adding this switch you can remove the Java requirement for any Citrix patch, hotfix, hotfix rollup or even the Citrix install itself with only a small loss of functionality to the CMC tool