I want to rant. I’ve been working as an IT/Sysadmin for about 2 years now and there are two things that I am haunted by.
Now, I am always learning and I am by no means an expert at windows systems administration. I took on more and more responsibilities that removed me from the ‘IT Support’ role and let me grow into Systems Administration and I continue to learn daily.
Now, not get into specifics, but taking over a AD infrastructure that was neglected by hacks is terrifying. I refer to hacks, as in people that neglect the network, that don’t have a proper vision for documentation and structure and that don’t understand how AD and GPOs work.
Within the IT SysAdmin community “It’s always DNS” is a common phrase and a joke at times. Well god dam, I can’t believe how accurate it is or how powerful DNS is in a network.
You know what irks me? People that use crafty stupid hostnames for critical servers or any server at that. Stupid names such as “Sugar Baby” “Super Man” “Bat Man”, etc… you get the gist.
When you take over a network and have critical servers with stupid naming conventions like that, it can get very easy to shut down the wrong server or make changes because all of the names are so irrelevant. Especially when nothing is documented and you are left to your own to research and investigate carefully.
Not that I’ve had that happen, but I have had a mishap with a DNS record that was named something ridiculous. The server wasn’t even around anymore but a critical server was using that DNS record for a link to an IP in it’s hostfile. Something I never thought to check nor look into.
The other thing that annoys me is the ignorance of not knowing how to properly setup GPO’s and push them out to AD. You do NOT need to enforce everything. Stop doing that. After spending time looking around and cleaning up GPO’s, you wonder what would drive a person to just enforce everything.
Sure, if it’s a critical policy that you want in every OU regardless if it has Inheritance blocking or not but don’t enforce everything just because you are trying to push the policy out faster or believe that it will guarantee that the policy will get to the clients.
I cannot believe that a novice admin is correcting domain wide issue that a senior IT director of many years had made.
I can spend the rest of my afternoon ranting about stuff that I’ve come across but that’s not the point of this post. I wanted to get DNS and GPO’s off my chest only.
I suppose you will find this in any job/career. People that want to take initiative, drive, pride in their work and do the best with what they can. Others will just let things fall into disarray and not bother.
To give some greater context, see my previous post.
When I was initially planning on how to setup these drives, I configured them with the HP P410 RAID utility as a RAID-0 array. I made the decision to not live such a risky lifestyle and blow away the array and configure it for RAID-1. I want to build a solid homelab that will assist me in aspects of systems administration so I didn’t want to risk everything by running the wrong array.
Anyways, when I booted into VMware, I was unable to add the VMFS datastore after setting it to RAID-1.
I received the following error:
“Failed to create VMFS datastore – Cannot change the host configuration”
I did a bit of searching around and tried to re-scan the datastore and get vmwre to detect it but nothing was working. I soon came across the following VMware communities post here, user Cookies04 was on onto something.
The user identified a very familiar scenario to mine.
” From what I have seen and found this error comes from having disks that were part of different arrays and contain some data on them.”
That’s the exact thing that happened to me. RAID-0, some VMware data, then RAID-1.
I proceeded to follow the three easy steps and my issue was solved.
I didn’t really have to post all of this but I wanted to in case somebody were to come across my page and had the same issue.
The interwebz if filled with many many solutions for issues. I’m just adding what’s worked for me.
I don’t spend the amount of time on my home server as I’d like to. After a long day of sitting at my desk at work, dealing with production servers and everything super sensitive, I try to unwind a bit and work at a slow pace. My slow pace this week is my esx datastore.
I’ve spent the past couple of days thinking about how I want to setup the datastore that will contain my virtual machines. Initially I had the HP P410 RAID controller connected to two, WD Green drives in a RAID-o array. I was satisfied with that at first because the drives will run at SATA 2 speeds and hopefully RAID-0 will improve the performance ever so slightly.
Then I got thinking, my goal is to setup a ‘corporate’ environment at home. Multiple domain controllers, WSUS, Sophos Firewall, play with SNMP and PRTG monitoring but that made me realize that I don’t want to build a large environment that will go to waste if one drive was to fail. My ultimate goal is to move onto SSDs and use a more complex raid (RAID 6 or 10) for this server, but that’s down the line when I free up funds and more resources.
Last night, I decided to delete the RAID-0 array, pull out the WD Green drives and install two new-to-me 1TB SAS drives and proper cabling (Mini SAS SFF-8087 to SFF-8482+15P). I briefly talked about the cabling in this previous post.
I purchased a few SAS drives from ebay, not knowing exactly which one would be compatible with the HP P410 raid controller. Most of what I can find on the internet, points to the HP P410 controller not being picky with the brand of drives.
Initially I installed a two Seagate 1TB SAS ST1000NM0045 drives but the RAID utility would not want to see the drives. Thinking it’s the cable, I replaced it with a spare but the outcome was still the same. I did a bit of searching around and found a discussion on serverfault.com, regarding HP Proliant not recognizing EMC SAS drives. One user points out that some drives can be formatted in 520-byte sectors vs 512-byte sectors that you would normally get on normal PC/server class drives.
I haven’t tested that theory but I will. With that said, I decided to install two other drives, which surprisingly worked right away.
The drives that are functioning fine with the HP P410 raid controller are:
Dell Enterprise Plus MK1001TRKB
Seagate Constellation ES.3 ST1000NM0023
Now that I have two drive’s in a RAID-1 array, I loaded into VMware ESXi and proceeded to add a the new VMFS datastore. Adding the datastore gave me some issues, which I’ve documented here.
I have in my possession two SAMSUNG Data Center Series SV843 2.5″ 960GB drives that I purchased about 2 years ago from newegg for a fantastic price. I’ve toyed with using them in this build, but the SSD drives would only work at SATA 2 speeds. Maybe I’ll use them to house my personal data, but I should purchase a few more to do RAID-6 or RAID 1+0.
Regardless of my direction, I am still working out the kinks in my homelab environment.
Ideally, I’d like to find a cheap or reasonably priced NAS that has iSCSI ports. I then would be able create two datastores on the NAS, one for extended VM storage if required and the other for user data.
For those of you that have an older HP ProLiant server that has the HP Onboard Administrator powered by Lights-Out 100 (LO100) and want to gain two additional features, I will provide the key at the bottom.
The two features are: *Virtual Media Access *Virtual KVM
Anyways, incase anybody wants to mess with both features, here is the key:
Application License Key
Current License Key:35DRP-7B3TX-78VVM-7KX4Y-XS74X Current License Key Type:LO100 Advanced INDIVIDUAL
For a full list of specifications, features and configurations, please see the following HP Support article here.
I’m back with the ML150! 2018 was a rough year but now that it’s in the rear view mirrors, I can sit back, reflect and move forward. I started focusing more at work to keep myself busy through a few difficult times and in mid-2018, I was involved in a large network outage that took weeks to rectify with a new network rebuild. That’s another story in itself that I won’t get into.
I’ve finished my home office and I’m eager to continue my projects, the HP ML150 and my tinkering of all electronic and IT related areas.
In my corporate setting, I’ve inherited a three node VMware ESXi cluster, a two node XenServer cluster and one lonely serer running Hyper-V about 2 years ago. The ESXi cluster had its vCSA ‘broken’ as I’ve detailed here. I resolved the vCSA issue and it’s worked great since, but that whole process had me on the edge.
This is the exact reason why I am building this ESXi node at home, so that I can learn and break things in my safe environment.
I bet that if you are visiting my site and have read my previous posts, you may be wondering what I’ve decided to do regarding storage. Storage in general, is a foreign area for me that I’d like to get learn and get better at. Keep on reading…if you want to 🙂
So the ML150 G6? Well I was able to acquire the a HP P410 Raid card with Battery Backed Write Cache and a 512mb cache memory module. My only concern about this card is and was that it will do SATA 3 (6Gbps) speeds on SAS and SATA 2 (3Gpbs) speeds on SATA interfaces. Link to the HP P410 Controller Overview.
Initially I wanted to run a few 500gb SSD’s but that’s been put on hold for now due to the Sata 2 speeds of the RAID controller. I was able to purchase two 1Tb 3.5″ Seagate SAS drives that I wanted to install but I realized that I was missing the correct cabling. I purchased Mini-SAS to SFF-8087 cables, but those are incorrect and will not work with SAS drives.
The image below shows the difference between the SATA interface and the SAS interface. The difference is obvious.
With the wrong cable purchased and wanting to use the SAS drives that I have, I ordered the following cable: Mini SAS 36P SFF-8087 to SFF-8482+15P.
With the SAS cables still being in transit somewhere, I’ve resorted to just using the HP P410 Controller with the original Mini SAS to 4-Sata SFF-8087 cables and two regular SATA WD Green 2TB 7200RPM drives.
While reviewing my storage options, my interest peaked in ZFS and I purchased the highly recommended IBM M1015 RAID aka LSI SAS9220-8i controller. I suspect this is something I will dig into but not just yet. Right now I have to get this server up and running as I want to tackle some VMware projects in the coming weeks.
The physical storage for now is sorted. I installed VMware ESXi 6.5 Build 4564106 onto a USB flash drive that is plugged directly onto the motherboard of the server. No need to utilize any raid controller ports nor sata ports for a small hypervisor install.
Booting the server, I entered the HP P410 controller configuration and setup RAID-0 (NO RAID) with the two, 2TB drives. This is a lab. I can afford the loss of a drive/data. This server and this datastore will not hold any of my critical data and is only a test environment.
Raid-0 will provide me with striping and that’s fine by me as I want the most speed possible in my given situation.
I had planned to install ESXi on a smaller , non protruding USB Flash drive from the manufacturer Verbatim (16gb USB2). The ESXi installation would near 75% and crash with a timeout error. After trying a few times and trying different USB ports, it turns out the flash drive was the issue. I used a completely different brand flash drive to host the ESXi installation and it worked on the first try.
Here are two snips of my VMware ESXi management interface.
That’s about it for tonight. The ESXi install took way too long because of that oddly performing flash drive.
Long term plans are to bring in a NAS with an iSCSI interface so that I can mimic an external datastore that is not directly attached to the server. I will be building my lab-corporate environment that consists of a few Domain controllers that will run a select number of features. I would like mess with DHCP split scopes, WSUS, iron out some GPO skills and mess around with VMware.
I would like to setup vCSA here at home and possibly another node to build a 2-node cluster, but that’s not yet.
From my recent blog post regarding setting up vCenter, I had difficulties locating the area to apply the vCenter license. From what I found on the internet, it was referenced that you should go to the Host that contains the vCenter/VCSA VM, click on the VM and click on Configure. Maybe VMware changed it in version 6.7 but I could not find the same area for license registration under the VM itself.
Under the VCSA VM –> Configure –> Settings, I should see a ‘License’ section. I could not find anything of that sort. I logged in as my admin account and my personal admin account, both that have the license role and that feature was still not available.
Frustrated, I did some looking around within the vSphere client and I found the area to do this.
You need to click on the ‘top’ FQDN vCenter identifier on the left hand side of the window, which houses your Datacenter and the nodes inside.
Once you click on it, you will see the following,
As you see, now selecting the VCSA and going to the Configure section and under Settings, we now see Licensing as an option. Now in my case, I’ve already applied the license but I’m going over where I went to do this.
You would select the Assign License button to proceed with entering your key into vCenter.
Under the Assign License window, you will have two options. To select an existing license or new license. You can import the license from your License section from the admin page or you can type in your license if you haven’t already done so. I’ve already uploaded my licenses to the Administration License section, which I will show next.
Now what I have done initially was gone into the Administration section –> Licensing –> Licenses and typed in the VMware vCenter Server 6 Essential vCenter license key. When I did this, the usage of the vCenter license was set to 0 and capacity was set to 1. This was because I never assigned the license to the vCenter itself. I did this in the Assign License window as seen above.
The last and final screenshot above shows the Administrator License window which identifies my License(s) and their state and capacity.
To note: When I was in the process of importing each host, the license for those hosts registered automatically here. I did not have to enter the VMware vSphere 6 Essentials Plus License. Those just followed with each host/node into vCenter.
I’ll come out and say it, I’m not an expert or a confident user of virtualization and more specifically VMware products. Over the last bit, I’ve taken on a more senior and technical lead position at my job and that involves more to do with the infrastructure side of things and not as much ‘customer facing’. I’ve played around with VMware Workstation and Oracle VirtualBox but I haven’t done a hole lot in regards to ESXi, vCenter and the works.
I needed to ‘pull up my big boy pants’ and start learning as much as I can in the short time frame about our production ESXi cluster, trying to understand the configuration and anything that may be wrong with it.
When my department slowly withered away until it was only me, I’ve heard that our vCenter is broken and that management of the cluster is not possible. Not having VMware support, I was really concerned about this broken system and how it would negatively affect our production and highly critical cluster. I started doing some reading and came to realize that vCenter (VCSA) is only a central mangement feature. Rather than using vSphere client to manage each invidivual node/host, vCenter allows you to manage the hosts all together (in a cluster) and enabled a few features, including High Availability (HA) and vMotion (allowing to move VM’s from host to host without downtime).
Knowing this, I spent any downtime I had reading up about vCenter and VCSA. I looked at different installation methods (Windows vs Linux) the pros and cons of each. vCenter can be installed on top of a Windows installation or it can be configured on a Linux machine and often referred to VCSA (vCenter Server Appliance).
My first question was regarding what vCenter/VCSA can I use with my cluster? Luckly, I came across a page on VMware site that helps identify the version of ESXi and what version of vCenter is compatible.
With that sorted, I downloaded the most recent version of vCenter 6.7U1. I choose to download the Linux installation rather than mess with Windows and use up a license for it.
Now with the .ISO downloaded, I searched high and low to find a good step by step guide on how to complete this install. I already shut down the old vCenter VM that was previously created by our IT staff, which was having issued and filling it’s storage with logs. Rather than try to troubleshoot it, I wanted to start with a fresh install.
I came across this fantastic link that helped me tremendously for setting up and installing my VCSA. The notes and screenshots helped a novice like myself through this process.
As this was a live production setup, I was always fearful of something occurring but unfortunately I don’t have the resources to do it any other way.
Anyways, I felt that I wanted to share this quick post and the link to the site that helped me through this process. Good articles go a long way in helping others out and that is one thing I want to focus with this blog site. To provide good information that I discover or come across.
It feels like it’s been a while since my last post here. A recap from the previous WQHD T430s post, the AUO screen that I received had a light bleed defect in it. It wasn’t a huge problem but for the cost of a new screen, I wanted a display with no defects. I returned the screen and decided to test my luck with the LG LP140QH1SPB1 display.
I was really excited that this time around everything would be smooth like butter. I was wrong.
Let’s start off with the fitment of the LG LP140QH1 SPB1 compared to the AUO B140QAN01.5 panel.
The top mounting points on both panels fit perfectly. Both panels can utilize the factory top screw mounting points without issues.
The bottom two panel mount points on both displays don’t fit but the AUO display is much closer to fitting then the LG panel. Unfortuinately I didn’t take pictures of the AUO display but take my word. With some precision and a dremel, you could slighly widen the AUO bottom mount holes and they should work fine.
The LG display required me to shave off some extra plastic that prevent the panel from sitting flush in the housing.
Let’s look at a few images I took while installing the LG panel.
The first image shows two things. All four mounting points on the bezel housing have two ways of securing the panel in place(see red arrow). The first method is the screw. The second method is a plastic nipple that is right beside the screw point. This nipple helps allign and seat the panel into it’s spot, allowing the screw to be threaded in properly. The AUO panel, each mounting tab has two wholes. The LG panel only has one hole per mount point.
The second issue shown in the first image is marked in the yellow arrow. There was a tiny plastic piece that was used in securing the front display bezel. With that plastic clip, I was unable to lay the display down as it was pushing up against the panel circuit board. I had to remove it and with that out of the way, the circuit board didn’t have pressure on it.
The second image, with the yellow box shows the plastic clip that I had to break off.
The third image shows the usual mounting points (2 securing methods per mount).
The fourth image shows a better angle of the left mount point that was discussed in the first image.
The two images above are of the right side. The right side also presented almost the same problems with seating the panel into the display housing.
The image on the left shows outlined in a red box the plastic nipple that is used for the secondary securing method. This had to be removed also for the panel to sit as flush as possible.
The right image shows the panel sitting much closer to the mount point, with that plastic nipple removed. Sorry about the low quality photos and angles. I do what I can with what I have.
Now that we have the panel sitting properly, I decided to turn on the T430s and see how the panel works. Before we get further into this, I want to make a note that I did turn on the display initially before doing any modifications. The display looked fine but I didn’t test it with anything white open on the screen, which tends to show imperfections I find.
With that laptop loaded into Windows 10, I opened up This PC and was disappointed with my finding.
Looking at the panel with a white background, you can see white marks on the panel in multiple spots. This sucked bad. I went over all the connections and made sure nothing was causing this. I even removed the front display bezel but it didn’t help. This wasn’t an issue of the panel being sandwiched too tight in the housing. It was just another screen defect.
I use the factory Windows 10 dark blue/black background and upon loading up, you wouldn’t notice this instantly. Eventually it would become visible through regular operation.
Well that’s it for now. I shipped the panel back yet again to this other ebay seller. I had a complete refund of the screen (including return shipping fee) and now I’m back to where I started.
I’m concerned about buying the AUO B140QAN01.5 screen and I won’t buy the LG one anymore. I’ve contacted the seller of the AUO screen that I purchased before, asking if they got a new shipment of panels. The response I received:
We’re sorry to tell you that this model screen is new,all have a little light leakage on the middle of the left and right side.
We asked many of our suplier,they all said this screen have this problem.
Thanks for your time and patience.
Have a good day!
Looking at this post here, I may just purchase the AUO B140QAN01.1 and give that a whirl.
As you may recall from my last post here, I am trying to run two Xeon CPUs and a lot of memory, thus I need the HP Redundant fan configuration. I purchased the wrong fan (Part Number: 519740-001), thinking I can use it in the redundant fan slots. As you found out, I discovered HP Part number 513927-B21 / now revised as 519737-001, to be the correct option.
I jumped on ebay and ordered 519737-001 and had it delivered a few days ago. Once I got home from work, I opened up the server and I hoped that the server starrs would all align and my concerns would be nulled.
The fan/server work fine and this should be all I need. Of course I could add the 4th fan for further redundancy, but until these fans get a bit cheaper I’ll hold off.
Below I’ll show you the difference between the 519740-001 ‘System Fan’ and the 519737-001 ‘Redundant Fan’.
As you can see, the difference is quite large between the two. I’m glad I decided to spend a bit more and order the correct fan than to hack up the case and make the other system fan work. The air direction baffle sits properly over the fan/heatsinks so I’m a happy camper.
Last but not least, I fired up the server and was able to get 98,304MB of memory recognized.
The next step for the server is apply the most recent bios firmware to bring the server up to date. I was able to source the HP SPP (2017.04), which was the last SPP with G6 Support.
Now I am still unsure what to do with hard drive and storage. I have a few 2.5″ SAS drives that I could run in there but I’m uncertain what raid controller I should look for. I’ll have to do some more digging into that.
HURRAH! My WQHD AUO B140QAN01.5 screen from china arrived and way before the late May 2018 delivery date!
So it was time to start the T430s WQHD mod. I already have received the RMSMajestic board a few weeks back and I briefly wrote about this planned upgrade in this post.
Before I continue, I want to clarify one thing about the seller. RMSMajestic is a user apparently located in Washington D.C., USA and is a frequent poster on the thinkpads.com site. RMSMajestic is working with a person by the name of Javi-Jie from China and they have come up with this solution. It seems by past post history that this isn’t their first project together.
I gathered the required tools and items and went off to a friend’s place to do this mod.
We started off with stripping the laptop apart. The process that I followed was from the Lenovo Hardware Maintenance guide for the T430s. RMSMajestic also provides instructions to the people that purchased the mod.
The AUO panel arrived extremely well packaged and within a reasonable time frame. I would rate the seller with 10/10 so far. The panel looks to be authentic and not some kind of knock off, that I can tell.
When I was researching panels, I found some AUO panels that had slightly different sticks on the back. Using google images as references and trying to find as much as I can on the AUO B140QAN01.5 panel, I believe I have received an authentic screen.
Next, I’ll show off the actual WQHD mod kit. The reason this kit appealed to me (besides the WQHD upgrade, duh) was due to it being really basic to install and required no soldering at all!!! My x230 ThinkPad with the NitroCaster mod required precise soldering onto the motherboard, something I couldn’t do myself.
Before you do any installing, make sure you apply Kapton tape to the bottom of the WQHD circuit board kit. As this circuit board will rest on top of the motherboard, you want the Kapton tape to help protect the components from any electrostatic charge.
Due to its large range of temperature stability, and its electrical isolation ability, Kapton tape is usually used in electronic manufacturing as an insulation and protection layer on electrostatic sensitive and fragile components
With the goodies out of the way and installed, we started testing.
CAUTION: DO NOT HAVE ANY POWER SOURCE (BATTERY, POWER ADAPTER) ATTACHED TO THE LAPTOP WHILE WORKING ON THIS MOD. MAKE SURE ALL CONNECTIONS ARE SECURED AND FIRMLY SEATED BEFORE TURNING ON THE LAPTOP. FAILURE TO DO SO CAN CAUSE THE SCREEN, FUSE, MOD BOARD TO GET DAMAGED AND FAIL.
I needed to write that in case anybody actually reads this post and thinks about doing this. ANYTIME you are working on electronics, you should disconnect the power from the adapter/battery and press down the power button a few times. This will allow the circuit board to drain the power from the capacitors.
The panel that I received has four mounting points. When installing the screen, only the top two holes lined up perfectly with the T430s display housing. The bottom two holes are 75% visible. Some patience, a dremel and careful work should allow the hole to be slightly widened so that the screws could make their way into the threads. This may not be a huge issue but I prefer for my screen to not flex or move any more then it has to. I’d also like the panel to be fully secured to the housing for a piece of mind.
We made sure to install the new screen panel into the display housing. The screen panel is only being held up by two screws at the top of the case and the front bezel fascia, which snaps in and keeps the screen relatively secure.
Sorry for the poor quality photos, it was dark and lighting was inadequate but we managed! The first photo was a test to make sure the screen, the cabling and everything was properly fastened and working. The second image is with Windows 10 loaded up and the resolution now at 2560×1440! What a friggen improvement over 1600×900!!!
With the taste of 2k resolution, I was now eager to re-assemble the laptop slowly and carefully, being cautious to not damage any of the critical components for the display. One of the challenges with doing mods, is keeping everything looking and feeling as OEM as possible.
Now with everything hooked up, I started figuring out a proper way to run the WWAN and Wireless antenna cables through the magnesium cage. Below are the final photos before re-assembly.
…and that’s about it. I know I didn’t go in depth regarding the actual process to install these components. I figure that if you are wanting to do the WQHD and are into modifying your ThinkPad, you probably should research this as much as you can and feel confident enough to do the work. As mentioned before, the Lenovo Hardware Maintenance Manual is excellent and RMSMajestic/Javi-Jie provide clear enough instructions to help you through this.
Here she is in regular business fashion.
Now if you have a keen eye, you may also notice that on the left side of my screen, towards the bottom portion there appears to be screen light leak.
I’ve informed the eBay seller and hopefully we can get this issue solved. The screen was %100 brand new and if this is a defect, I’d love a replacement. It’s not a huge problem, but my eyes tend to gravitate towards the issue. I have tried to adjust the bezel, thinking it was the problem but it didn’t help. I event went as far as removing the bezel and slightly lifting the screen and the light leak was still there. I would say this is for sure a screen defect.
I will keep this post updated with whatever we determine to do with this issue and screen.
Insert Edit: March 28th 2018: The seller has agreed to ship me a new screen. As they were in the process of testing another AUO 1.5 screen prior to shipping, they discovered their batch of displays all had these kind of defects. So my only option is to ship it back and try to buy from another seller, hoping they didn’t received a defective panel from AUO.
As we close off this post..for now, I’ll upload a few screenshots of windows showing the resolution and the different variations of scaling in Windows 10.
I am currently set at 125% scaling but I could do 100% also. The screenshots go from 100% all the way to Windows 10 recommended, 200%!!!
I hope this helped anybody looking or considering this mod. I think it’s fantastic and I thank RMSMajestic and Javi-Jie for their work and dedication to this project.
If you are interested and want to read further, please see the purchase thread here or the support thread here.