Ubuntu Server 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) – Zentyal 3.5 Installation

ubuntu-server-logo

Zentyal Server is an open source Linux small business server, that can act as a Gateway, Infrastructure Manager, Unified Threat Manager, Office Server, Unified Communication Server or a combination of the above.

I am performing this setup on a minimal virtual machine installation of Ubuntu Server 14.04. At the time of writing Zentyal 3.5 is the most current Zentyal release.

First make sure that repositories and software are up to date:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Add the Zentyal 3.5 repository to /etc/apt/sources.list:

echo "deb http://archive.zentyal.org/zentyal 3.5 main extra" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list

Import public keys for Zentyal 3.5:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 10E239FF
wget -q http://keys.zentyal.org/zentyal-3.5-archive.asc -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Update repositories:

sudo apt-get update

Install Zentyal:

sudo apt-get install zentyal
  • When prompted enter a password for the MySQL root user.
  • Confirm port 443 as the Zentyal https port.

From here we simply setup Zentyal using the web-gui. Open Firefox (the only officially supported browser) and enter the url for your Zentyal install: https://zentyal-server-ip.

Confirm the security exception in Firefox and then log in to Zentyal using your Ubuntu Server credentials:

Zentyal - login

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Ubuntu Server 14.4 (Trusty Tahr) – add-apt-repository: command not found

ubuntu-server-logo

The last time I encountered the add-apt-repository: command not found error I was using Ubuntu Server 12.4 Lucid. The solution then was to install python-software-properties as follows:

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties

 

This did not resolve the issue on my minimal virtual machine installation on Trusty so I installed apt-file – which is an apt package searching utility:

sudo apt-get install apt-file

 

Update apt-file:

apt-file update

 

Finally use apt-file to search for the add-apt-repository package:

apt-file search add-apt-repository

 

As you can see add-apt-repository is in software-properties-common:

software-properties-common: /usr/bin/add-apt-repository
software-properties-common: /usr/share/man/man1/add-apt-repository.1.gz

 

After installing software-properties-common I was able to use add-apt-repository without any further issue:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common

VMware vSphere 5.5 – Call “HostStorageSystem.ComputeDiskPartitionInfo” for object “storageSystem” on ESXi failed

Intel NUC

I recently installed VMware vSphere 5.5 on my Intel (Haswell) NUC (D34010WYH1).

Today I got the following error when I tried to create a VMFS 5 datastore on the SATA hard drive that I installed in my NUC:

Call "HostStorageSystem.ComputeDiskPartitionInfo" for object "storageSystem" on ESXi failed

A quick search of the internet took me to this solution which required logging as root and manually deleting partitions on the drive.

Fortunately I found a simpler solution.

I was able to create a datastore using the (legacy) VMFS 3 filesystem and then just upgraded it to VMFS 5.

Installing VMware vSphere ESXi 5.5 on an Intel (Haswell) NUC (D34010WYH1)

Intel NUC

My vSphere hardware has long been due an update and I have finally got my hands on an Intel NUC ! Here is my (completely un-supported) parts list:

The D34010WYH1 NUC gives me the option of storing virtual machines on a 2.5 inch HDD or SSD inside the NUC (and the 1TB WD Red drive gives me a good amount of local storage to play around with). The RAM is low voltage (1.35v) which is required. The 32 Gb USB 3 flash drive is over-kill (only 4GB is required for vSphere 5.5) but it is very small (and pretty fast too). I needed the HDMI adapter to connect the NUC to my HDTV during vSphere installation.

The installation process is quite straight-forward and you will need the following:

Before installing vSphere we need to create a custom .iso image that includes the two .vib drivers that we downloaded. This is done using ESXi Customizer.

ESXi-Customizer 01

The first time you run ESXi Customizer select the vSphere 5.5 ,iso image and the network driver (net-e1000e-2.3.2.x86_64.vib) to create a customized image.

Run ESXi Customizer again and this time select the customized .iso image and add the sata driver (sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.vib) to create a final customized .iso image.

I chose to burn my customized .iso to CD and install using a USB DVD drive – if you want to use a flash drive to install you will need to use UNetbootin.

UNetbootin

In UNetbootin select the Diskimage radio button and then browse to the location of your final custom .iso. Select the flash drive to copy files to and then click the OK button.

In the BIOS of my NUC I disabled the UEFI option in the Boot menu. After that I booted from my USB DVD drive and installed vSphere to a USB 3 flash drive.

[I did test installing from one flash drive to another too and this also worked without any issues].

Sources:

http://trainingrevolution.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/installing-vsphere-esxi-5-5-on-an-intel-nuc-d54250wyk/

http://www.virten.net/2013/09/esxi-5-x-installation-on-intel-nuc-fails-with-no-network-adapters/

2013 Potential Hardware for vSphere Home Nanolab and NAS Refresh

hardware-logo

My current VMware vSphere white-box will be 5 years old in August. It has an AMD Athlon X2 BE-2400 Brisbane @2.3GHz and 8Gb of RAM – and these days 8Gb of RAM is just not enough.

The hardware for my NAS is more recent – a HP Microsever N40L with 6Gb of RAM, running FreeNAS 8.x.

The cpubenchmark score for my vSphere box is 1333 – the score for the N40L is 979.

While I still need to look at the performance of ZFS on the N40L (it is OK but not exactly where I would like it to be) I know that a lot more CPU is not desperately needed for new vSphere hardware (but it would be nice).

I have been considering the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) as an alternative to having a tower PC to run vSphere for a while now. It maxes out at 16Gb of RAM and it really shines in terms of its power efficiency (13-27 watts) and diminutive size (4″ x 4″). The i3 -3217U DC3217IYE NUC (Ivy Bridge architecture) is the current NUC that I have my eye on.

The Intel i3 NUC
The Intel i3 NUC

The issue with the NUC though is storage – I can either install an msata SSD in the NUC or use shared storage on my NAS (or both). I would like to use local storage on the NUC for speed and back up VMs to my NAS – the cost of SSDs will limit my local storage capacity though.

The next generation of NUCs are based on the Haswell architecture and include Core i5 (Horse Canyon) and i7 (Skull Canyon) CPUs. The i5-3427U offering (cpu benchmark: 3580) is of interest to me here as it includes Intel vPro remote management capabilities.

This still leaves us with the 3rd generation of NUCs (also Haswell) which have an on-board sata and sata power connector – these are slated to arrive in Q3 2013.

3rd Gen Intel NUC
3rd Gen Intel NUC

The other option for a diminutive vSphere box is the Gigabtye take on the NUC called Brix. It looks like Gigabyte plans to offer Intel (i3 – i7) CPUs and AMD Kabini (E1-2100, E1-2500 & E2-3000 dual core, and A4-5000 quad core) CPUs.

I think it will be worth keeping an eye on the Brix offerings to see where they differ from the NUC. The key areas for me will be efficiency, pricing and storage – what if Brix offers a 2.5 or 3.5″ internal drive bay, for example? I imagine that the AMD offerings will be cheaper than the Intel NUC – but we will have to wait and see.

On the home NAS side of things HP very recently updated their Microserver (Gen 8) with Celeron and Pentium models:

  • Intel® Celeron® G1610T (2 core, 2.3 GHz, 2MB, 35W)
  • Intel® Pentium® G2020T (2 core, 2.5 GHz, 3MB, 35W)

This does potentially make the Microserver a better vSphere candidate too, especially as the supported RAM has been upped to 16Gb.

The other good news is the built in iLO support, dual gigabit NICs and USB 3.0 ports (as seen on the beta unit, at least):

HP Microserver (Gen 8) rear panel - courtesy of
HP Microserver (Gen 8) rear panel – courtesy of blog.themonsta.id.au

So I’ll be keeping an eye on the new generation of Microserver too. The additional CPU and RAM are quite welcome (especially for ZFS). I am also keen to know the power consumption for these machines as a whole.

Either way with both the NUC and the Microserver I can build a power efficient and much smaller lab.

If I can score a couple of NUCs and another Microserver by the end of the year, I will be a happy man!

Ubuntu Server – Unattended Installation (Custom CD)

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I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have installed Ubuntu Server on my VMware vSphere box – so I finally looked in to performing an unattended install.

I could have setup DHCP and TFTP servers and done PXE boot from images over the network – but I wanted to work on something quicker than that (and I don’t have that much spare RAM on my vSphere box as it is).

So I settled on re-mastering an Ubuntu Server .iso image. The result is an unattended install, except for the initial boot screen (where I need to select a minimal virtual machine installation anyway).

The following steps were performed on Ubuntu Desktop.

Download Ubuntu Server – I am using the 32 bit version of Ubuntu 12.04.

Open a Terminal and create a directory to mount the Ubuntu Server iso to.

sudo mkdir -p /mnt/iso

The -p switch is very useful as it allows you to create a directory structure which does not already exist (as opposed to creating a single directory).

Change directory to Downloads:

cd Downloads

I renamed my download UbuntuServer.iso.

Mount UbuntuServer.iso to /mnt/iso:

sudo mount -o loop UbuntuServer.iso /mnt/iso

Create a directory and copy the mounted Ubuntu Server files:

sudo mkdir -p /opt/serveriso
sudo cp -rT /mnt/iso /opt/serveriso

The -r switch copies directories recursively and -T specifies no (singular) target directory.

Now we have a copy of our Ubuntu .iso to work on in /opt/serveriso – but we need to make these files writable:

sudo chmod -R 777 /opt/serveriso/

With this preparation done we can start customizing things.

If we look at the isolinux/langlist file we see all the supported languages listed that Ubuntu supports (in an abbreviated format):

am
ar
ast
be
bg ...

I am only interested in an English install so I am going to overwrite the contents of isolinux/langlist with the single abbreviation for English, which is “en”.

cd /opt/serveriso
echo en >isolinux/langlist

This stops the language selection menu from appearing during installation.

The next step of the process is to create a kickstart file – this will provide the server install with the answers to the various questions asked during installation, such as timezone, username, password, partition structure and so on.

Install Kickstart Configurator:

sudo apt-get install system-config-kickstart

Click the Dash button and type kickstart and then click on the kickstart application.

kickstart

Obviously you should customize your settings as you see fit – I have provided mine for reference.

Basic Configuration
Basic Configuration: Set Timezone
Installation Method
Installation Method: Choose the CD-ROM installation method

Boot Loader Options

Partition Options: Add an ext4 partition to the root file system that fills all unused space on the disk
Partition Options: Add an ext4 partition to the root file system that fills all unused space on the disk
Partition Options: Add a swap file system that uses the recommended swap size
Partition Options: Add a swap file system that uses the recommended swap size
Network Configuration: Add network device eth0 and set to DHCP
Network Configuration: Add network device eth0 and set to DHCP
User Configuration: Provide username and password
User Configuration: Provide username and password

Click File, Save File and save the kickstart file ks.cfg to /opt/serveriso.

While using the Kickstart Configurator you may have noticed that the Package Selection screen did not work. Fortunately we can manually edit the ks.cfg file so that the packages that we want are installed during Ubuntu Server installation.

At the end of ks.cfg add %packages and then list the packages that you want installed. I chose to install nano, openssh-server and open-vm-tools:

%packages
nano
openssh-server
open-vm-tools --no-install-recommends

–no-install-recommends installs open-vm-tools in headless mode.

Now we need to configure the CD boot command line to use the kickstart ks.cfg file.

Browse to and open /opt/serveriso/isolinux/txt.cfg.

We need to edit the append line of the default install section at the top of the file.

default install

At the end of the append line add ks=cdrom:/ks.cfg. You can remove quiet — and vga=788.

My append line is as follows:

append  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntuserver.seed initrd=/install/initrd.gz ks=cdrom:/ks.cfg

The final step is to create a new Ubuntu Server .iso using this command:

sudo mkisofs -D -r -V "ATTENDLESS_UBUNTU" -cache-inodes -J -l -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -c isolinux/boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -o /opt/autoinstall.iso /opt/serveriso

The finished .iso is /opt/autoinstall.iso.

Test your .iso in a virtual machine to make sure that everything works as it should.

The minimal interaction that I need to set my Ubuntu Server install going is documented below:

1. Press the Enter key to confirm the English language selection
Press the Enter key to confirm the English language selection
Press F4, select Install a minimal virtual machine, and then press Enter
Press F4, select Install a minimal virtual machine, and then press Enter
Press Enter to install Ubuntu Server
Press Enter to install Ubuntu Server

From here installation continues without any further input being required.

Sources: http://askubuntu.com/questions/122505/how-do-i-create-completely-unattended-install-for-ubuntu

Windows 7 – TV Archive Does Not Have Permissions to Access This Folder

I recently installed Windows 7 in a virtual machine on VMware vSphere so that I could start recording TV shows again with my HDHomerun.

Everything was working fine and all of a sudden I noticed that my recorded TV shows were not being moved to my Windows Home Server (WHS).

When I checked the activity of the TV achive in my Media Center I found the following status: TV Archive Does Not Have Permissions to Access This Folder.

I checked access to the Recorded TV folder on WHS from my Media Center using Windows Explorer and it worked fine. I double checked the user settings and folder permissions on WHS and they were fine too.

I had accessed WHS from my Media Center using another account and figured that might be the cause of the issue. So I set about removing the cached credentials for the non Media Center account as follows:

Press the Windows key and R to open the run dialogue box and then enter: control userpasswords2

Click the Advanced tab and then click the Manage Passwords button.

Locate the IP address for your WHS and then expand the selection and click Remove from vault.

This resolved the issue for me.