Yearly Archives: 2010

VCAP-DCA Study notes–9.2 Plan and execute scripted ESX builds

The blueprint for this section seems to refer mainly to ESX but I’ve described both ESX and ESXi on the assumption the lab environment used for the exams will move to v4.1 sooner rather than later.

NOTE: Weasel is VMware’s scripted installer. It’s similar to Kickstart as used with Linux, but not identical.

A summary for a scripted install;

  • Decide on the bootloader source
  • Configure a media repository to hold your source files and scripts
  • Create an install script (either from scratch or from a previously built host)
  • Perform the scripted install

Use cases for scripted installations

Reasons to use a scripted install;

  • Reduce deployment time
  • Ensure consistency, reduce human error
  • Remove need for local media (when using PXE boot. Very useful for blade and remote environments)
  • Delegate installations to junior staff who don’t know how to configure ESX

Along with knowing why you might use a scripted install in the first place you should consider the various types of scripted install and when to use each one. Factors to consider;

  • Maintainability. Over time you’ll want to update your install for new releases of ESX, patches, post install steps etc. While a custom CD has the least dependencies it’s harder to maintain compared to a network media repository.
  • Dependencies. I created an NFS based install only to find that most of the time the host’s physical networking hasn’t been completed when we want to build the OS, rendering this method useless. I had to convert it to a custom CD instead which was mounted via ILO (it was a blade environment). Another example is USB flash – it’s easier than CD to amend/update but may not be as useful for remote installs.
  • Continue reading VCAP-DCA Study notes–9.2 Plan and execute scripted ESX builds

VCAP-DCA Study notes – 9.1 Installing ESX with custom settings

While the blueprint only refers to installing ESX (not ESXi) I’ve covered both in anticipation of the VCAP-DCA labs going to 4.1.

When to use a customised installation

There are plenty of reasons to use some advanced installations;

  • Your hardware isn’t supported in the ‘out of the box’ setup so you need custom drivers
  • You want to streamline the deployment process by building a custom install CD, including some post configuration steps, or utilising PXE boot etc
  • You want to gain maximum performance from every host, which means performance and configuration tweaks (vmKernel parameters, service console memory settings etc)

Installing ESX/ESXi

  • Interactive installations can be done via the GUI or text mode.
  • The installer can be located on CD/DVD, USB flash or via a PXE boot. While PXE is typically used for scripted builds it can be used as a source of installation files for an interactive build.
  • Scripted methods (PXE boot using HTTP, FTP, NFS are covered in section 9.2.
    NOTE: Scripted installs of ESXi were only added to v4.1 – prior to that only ESX classic could be scripted.
  • To install a virtual ESX host on ESX (for lab testing) you need some specific configuration tweaks – see the article at vCritical for full details.
  • For 64 bit guests you must have a 64 bit chip with Intel-VT support enabled or an AMD chip of revision E or later. Wikipaedia has details and you can check using VMware’s CPU Identification Utility. You cannot run nested 64 bit VMs.
  • Boot from SAN is now supported for ESXi (4.1 onwards). This includes iSCSI and FCoE for a limited set of supported adapters.
  • Both ESX and ESXi v4.0 will erase all local partitions by default, including existing ESX installs and VMFS partitions (if you’re upgrading an older ESX version for example).

Continue reading VCAP-DCA Study notes – 9.1 Installing ESX with custom settings

VCAP study notes – 9.3 Configure vCentre server Linked Mode


  • Identify Linked Mode Prerequisites
  • Identify differences between Linked and non?linked vCenter Server Configurations
  • Identify when a role requires reconciliation

Skills and Abilities

  • Reconcile Roles in a Linked Mode Configuration
  • Create and Join a Linked Mode Group
  • Determine use cases for vCenter Server Linked Mode
  • Troubleshoot Linked Mode Configurations

Tools & learning resources

Continue reading VCAP study notes – 9.3 Configure vCentre server Linked Mode

VCAP study notes – 8.2 VMware Orchestrator

Automation is becoming increasingly popular and important, and VMware’s Orchestrator is another automation/scripting product but with loftier aims – to provide an extendable orchestration platform to enable a dynamic infrastructure. To date it seems to have gained very little traction or attention (most blog and twitter articles cover PowerCLI) but VMware obviously want to promote it – hence it’s inclusion in the VCAP-DCA blueprint.


  • Identify vCenter Orchestrator requirements
  • Identify default Orchestrator plug?ins

Skills and Abilities

  • Install and Configure vCenter Orchestrator
  • Configure vCenter Orchestrator database
  • Configure vCenter Orchestrator LDAP connection
  • Configure vCenter Orchestrator vCenter server connections
  • Run a Workflow
  • Administer Actions, Tasks, Workflows and Policies
  • Administer Packages
  • Identify appropriate Workflow for a given management activity

Tools & learning resources

Continue reading VCAP study notes – 8.2 VMware Orchestrator

VCAP study notes – section 8.1, PowerCLI

PowerCLI has been increasingly popular due to the need to automate larger vSphere environments. This section, more than most on the VCAP-DCA blueprint is one where you have to know what you’re doing – writing code can’t be done in theory, you have to get stuck in and play with it.

The main references for this section are the VMware PowerCLI homepage and the VMware PowerCLI Administration guide. PowerCLI has received extensive blog coverage from numerous people far more experienced than me – check out Virtu-Al, Luc Dekkens, Hal Rottenberg or Jonathan Medd’s blogs for more info than you can handle….

Installing PowerCLI

PowerCLI is simply an extension to Microsoft’s Powershell environment so installation consists of installing Powershell (it’s built into Windows 2008 onwards) and then adding PowerCLI;

Client requirements:

  • WinXP SP2, Win2k3 or greater
  • 32 or 64 bit
  • .NET framework v2.0 SP1 (or greater)
  • Powershell v1 or v2

Server requirements:

  • ESX or ESXi v3.0, vCentre 2.01 (or greater)

Continue reading VCAP study notes – section 8.1, PowerCLI