How to build Thinstation thin client images and exploring config files – Part II


Part I – How to setup Thinstation 5.3 thin client for use with VMware Horizon View 5

Part II – How to build Thinstation images and exploring config files

Part III – How to add drivers to your Thinstation build

Part IV – How to configure Thinstation and Google Chrome for a true, thin client experience

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So if you’ve been following since Part I, you now have a DevStation stood up.  You’re now ready to build images that your thin clients can boot from.  I didn’t mention it in the first post, but be sure you’ve configured a static IP address on your DevStation.  You can do this via the Network Manager GUI interface.  Just right-click the network icon in the system tray and select Edit Connections…

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This is the IP address you’ll configure on your DHCP server as Option 66, the Boot Server Host Name.  My DHCP configuration is shown here.  It’s important to realize that Option 67, the Bootfile Name, is relative to the root of the TFTP directory.  In the case of the DevStation and PXE booting, it needs to be configured as shown here.  The root TFTP directory can be found as a symlink in /var/lib/tftpboot which points to /thinstation/build/boot-images/pxe

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So the full path to pxelinux.0 is /thinstation/build/boot-images/pxe/boot/pxelinux/pxelinux.0

Here’s a final note about setup before we get going: make sure you have a DHCP scope configured for your thin clients.  Common sense, right? It took me longer than I care to admit because I had placed my thin client in a different subnet than the scopes I had configured.  Obviously, once I added a scope for this subnet, my thin client started pulling an IP address.

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How to setup Thinstation 5.3 thin client for use with VMware Horizon View 5 – Part I


thinstation

Part I – How to setup Thinstation 5.3 thin client for use with VMware Horizon View 5

Part II – How to build Thinstation images and exploring config files

Part III – How to add drivers to your Thinstation build

Part IV – How to configure Thinstation and Google Chrome for a true, thin client experience

Towards the end of my studying for the VCP5-Desktop exam, I decided to look into using some old  laptops and PCs I had lying around as thin clients.  Searching the web, I ended up settling on and wresting with Thinstation for a couple days.  As one of the few, free, thin client options, Thinstation is probably the most stable and most up to date software available.  This post shares the efforts I put into getting it running in my home lab.

You can follow Thinstation documentation in the same way that one can simply walk into Mordor.”

– Mike Brown

My end state goal is to touch the thin client as little as possible before working from a View desktop.  So my vision, then, is to PXE boot the end point, let it download the thin client OS, and have it auto-launch a View desktop client.  From there, a user could enter credentials and log in.

What’s the idea?

There are a few ways to get Thinstation working in a PXE boot environment.  The overall idea, no matter how you go about it, is that you have to use a development station to build the thin client boot image that will be downloaded to your thin client hardware via a PXE boot infrastructure.  There are no good materials on the intertubes to follow in a step-by-step fashion for this setup, so here’s my attempt at the first such walkthrough, as far as I can tell.

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Useful commands for Cisco Nexus zoning


After implementing Cisco Nexus 5ks that include native Fibre Channel switching for shops that usually don’t have dedicated SAN guys, I’m often called up sometime later to offer a refresher on how to add zones. I usually share this tidbit via email, but here it is for the internets. These commands are very similar on newer MDS models, as well.

Useful commands for Cisco Nexus zoning


A tale of NetApp and Wireshark discovery


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–==For those interested, Pluralsight has an excellent video training course called Introduction to Wireshark. I highly recommend Pluralsight as the go-to source for IT video training!==–

I was cleaning up a client’s /etc/rc file yesterday while preparing to move some IP addresses to different interfaces and I noticed they had configured the vMotion network as a VLAN interface on both controllers. This isn’t right because the vMotion network only needs to exist between ESXi hosts – the storage array never touches the traffic. Storage vMotion doesn’t use the vMotion network either.  It uses the storage network, whether IP- or FC-based.
I wanted to see if the interface was being used at all and fortunately, NetApp has a command for that. The ifstat command shows the count of frames received and transmitted on any or all interfaces, total bytes for each, and the number of multicasts or broadcasts. So in this case, it looked something like:

NETAPP-A> ifstat VIF-A-79

-- interface  VIF-A-79  (22 hours, 57 minutes, 50 seconds) --

RECEIVE
 Total frames:      150k | Total bytes:     10924k | Multi/broadcast: 21869
TRANSMIT
 Total frames:     4767k | Total bytes:      7177m | Multi/broadcast:   138
 Queue overflows:     0
DEVICE
 Vlan ID:            79  | Phy Iface:        VIF-A

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Using PowerShell to prevent thinly provisioned NetApp LUNs from going offline – Part I


Happy Day-after Thanksgiving dear readers! I hope everyone is as satisfyingly full on food, friends, and family as I am.  As an early gift to myself, I’m writing a PowerShell script that utilizes NetApp’s PowerShell Toolkit.  The script will help me quickly determine current volume and LUN settings so I can see what LUNs are at risk of going offline due to out of space conditions.  In scripting tradition, I couldn’t find anything online that did exactly what I wanted so I rolled my own!

Here’s what the output looks like. The column names are abbreviated because I expect to have several more columns. The abbreviations are, Volume Thin Provisioning, Fractional Reserve, Snapshots, Volume AutoGrow, Snapshot AutoDelete.

Volume Best Practices script output

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Options for Managing vSphere Replication Traffic on Cisco UCS


I was recently designing a vSphere Replication and SRM solution for a client and I stated we would use static routes on the ESXi hosts.  When asked why, I was able to 1. discuss why the default gateway on the management network wouldn’t work and 2. present some options as to how we could separate the vSphere Replication traffic in a way that would allow flexibility in throttling its bandwidth usage. 

You won’t see listed here Network I/O Control because this particular client didn’t have Enterprise Plus licensing and therefore wasn’t using a vDS.  In addition, this client was using a fibre channel SAN on top of Cisco UCS with only a single VIC in his blades.  This configuration doesn’t work well with NIOC because it doesn’t take into account FC traffic which is sharing bandwidth with all the Ethernet traffic NIOC *is* managing.

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DR Options for SQL Server in a vSphere Environment


While SQL Server is not one of my core competencies, I have worked with clients to protect their business critical applications in a VMware environment that utilizes SRM for DR.  These options rely on either Native SQL protection schemes or VMware options like SRM or vSphere Replication.  There are, of course, many 3rd party options, as well, depending on the storage array in use, which I won’t go into here.  While there are usually good, better, and best options, the idea I’d like to get across here is that there are many ways to protect SQL Server.  They can all be used at the same time even.  I’ve had clients that had so many SQL Servers, this is essentially what they did – they had to pick and choose how to protect each based on their relative importance.

SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups

For the most critical SQL Servers, the image below shows the high-level view of what my clients have used with success.  For server failures at the Primary Data Center, there are multiple SQL Servers.  AAGs can use both an Active-Active model and an Active-Passive model with regard to where the active database resides.  Continuing with the Primary Site, Node 1 can host both an Active and a Passive database.  Node 2 can host an Active and Passive database, as well, working with Node 1 to perform synchronous replication.  Through asynchronous replication, both databases can be replicated to the DR site, where only Passive copies reside.  In the event Site A completely fails, Node 3 can be brought online.

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