Keith Smith - My Blog

Keith Smith - My Blog

xackup for xenserver

Saturday, June 20, 2015 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Xen

I recently was tasked with to rebuild an entire xenserver farm, i started to put together a plan of action on how I was going to accomplish this. I started thinking about the servers, I figured I could grab a USB sticks and create some bootable USB sticks from the xenserver iso. Next I made note of all the hypervisor network settings (screen shots are the best way to go) so that part was covered, lastly can the virtual guest and storage. A new NAS was going to be in play so i needed to find a way to backup the guest and export them, I found a software called xackup which was priced right but I wanted to vet it before making a purchase. I downloaded the trial (14 days for the elite version) installed on a test machine to put it through its paces, I backed up one guest while it was running to see how it would handle it. 

The backup ran smooth and didn't cause any errors or outages which was great, now I wanted to test the restore capabilities of xackup. Since the virtual guest I was working with wasn't important I powered it off and deleted it, yes you read that right. Since I haven't used this product before I did have an xenserver export (e.g. .xva) file just in case xackup failed me. I proceeded to restore the virtual guest with xackup, about 20mins later the restore was complete and the guest vm was in great shape which i define as (virtual disk restored & attached, network settings correct, OS start up clean, etc) once all I confirmed all that I knew this was going to be my tool of choice. I proceeded to backup all the virtual guest which took quite bit of time then i reviewed the log reports for each virtual guest backup, they all were successful with no errors.

I then shutdown all the guest, followed by the hypervisors and lastly the storage array. Next I swap out the hypervisors along with storage, with all the new gear in place I get the install for xenserver going on all the hypervisors. While the installs were running for xenserver, I setup the LUNs on the NAS so the I can point the hypervisors at the correct targets. Once the xenserver installs were completed, I setup the network addressing and make sure the NTP is working correctly (I have had issues with this in the past) then I launch xencenter so I can setup the networking on the hypervisors, create a pool,add the hypervisors to the pool then finally map the CIFS and iSCSI storage. 

Now here comes the fun part i need to restore all the virtual guest, I launched the xackup software so I can start restores but at that point in noticed that there is no way to restore all the guest at the same time nor anyway to schedule the restores. That was a big flaw to me since you can schedule multiple backups, so I was stuck having to restore each guest two at time (I had 2 laptops running with the xackup on it) and eventually everything was backup and running on new shinny gear. I have made a few suggestions to the developers of xackup but overall I think its a great tool for the price and its simple, effective and affordable.
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Automate everything!!! with less code

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Automation

I have been writing scripts (e.g. vbsscipt,BATCH,Powershell,BASH,etc) to automate various redundant tasks over the past decade. A  few years ago I discovered a software called winautomation, I never got a chance to put it through its paces....until recently. I needed to have some sql backups moved from one location to another, this had to take place on a daily basis. In the past I would have wrote a powershell script or BATCH file to handle this, then use the task scheduler to run the script at the needed time. Instead I decided to give winautomation a shot at this, I downloaded the trial version & installed it on the box I needed the tasks to run. After that I opened up the console and I noticed so many available actions sorted by category (e.g. system actions - run a application,etc conditional statements,loops) and the list goes on. I created a job then inserted a move files action, next I put in the source and destination for the transfer. In the winautomation world it looks like

I ran this job and it worked!!! which was great. Now I wanted to add a house cleaning task which was I wanted to only retain 30days of data in the destination, to this I wrote a powershell script to do this for now, {code}Get-ChildItem -Path "driveletter:\" -Recurse | Where-Object LastWriteTIme -LT (Get-Date).AddDays(-30) | Remove-Item {/code} and saved it. Now the really cool thing I saw is that it has the ability to record mouse & keystrokes via a macro recorder, I figured I would try the next phase of this with the macro recorder.  I started the macro recorder and proceeded to open powershell, then I did cd / cd folderlocation followed by .\remove30dayoldfile.ps1 finally ctrl+alt+s to stop the macro recording.  The job actions resulted in 2 line entries

With all of this in a single job now I save then run it. The result ends up being exactly what I wanted, to finish it off I added a schedule trigger so it can run at the time & date that I needed and lastly a send email notification
once the schedule trigger was complete. So far this has been working great, I will be purchasing this because it will be a huge time saver to automate certain task very easily instead of writing complex code.
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XenServer VM Backups

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Xen

I've been trying to conjure up some way to backup the guests that reside in a xenserver virtualized environment. I started off by looking at what i would call my usual suspects (e.g. unitrends, alike, etc.) unfortunately in this situation they all let me down for one reason or another, so i did what most creative minds do when they can't find a solution "Make my own". I figured i start by jumping on to the cli at the host, i know most hypervisors reference the guest by UUID's. I spent sometime looking through the variables and commands on the host, i eventually came up with

# xe vm-list
 which produces the following output for all guests

uuid ( RO)           : 15b96001-84c6-83d1-ef11-8gh6509i122j
     name-label ( RW): nameoftheguest
    power-state ( RO): running

Another command i saw that was available was #vm-snapshot, so i figured I'd try and string it together by doing a xe vm-snapshot uuid=15b96001-84c6-83d1-ef11-8gh6509i122j or tab which display all uuid's. And the tale of the command i place name-label=snapshot, so the whole thing would look like 

xe vm-snapshot uuid=15b96001-84c6-83d1-ef11-8gh6509i122j name-label=vmsnapshot

Now that i saw that worked i figured i would develop a crontab task using the #crontab -e command that would run a shell script (which i will post at another time) to handle this redundant task which was version1 of this solution. Once I uploaded the shell script i needed to make it executable, which i did by running the chmod +x command. I attempted to execute it and got a error bad interpreter - No such file or directory, some times when you move files from DOS/windows to linux or nix system you run into the ^M charater problem. The way i have solved this so many times is simply to open the file in the vim editor using the following command
vi -b once the file is open you will see ^M at the end of each line, the quickest way to remove this is to run :1,$s/^M//g the trick to this command that you don't really type a ^ character and then a M character 
to generate that command. You actually type a [Control][v] and then a [Control][m] to create the necessary character then do a :wq to write and quit the editor. I figure it must be punishment for not developing the script in the vim editor in the first place. 

So far this has been working for the xenserver environment, in version2 of this i included retention elements and frequency of backups for individual guests. In my last version3 i added more comments to the script because the code was pretty extensive at this point (over 100 lines of code). The next item i have on my dev to-do list would be to add some mail functionality, so i can be notified of the out come of the backup job.

Note: this files used to perform the backups should copied from the hypervisor prior to any upgrades.
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Screw Verizon and there stupid STB's and constant rate hikes with the

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Network

In February of 2014 i finally decided to cut the cord! I returned all the Set top boxes (STB) that were in my house to the provider and cancelled my tv subscription. The customer service guy tried really hard to prevent me from canceling but i was persistent enough to see it through, during the same process I negotiated a speed tier increase which was going to be utilized by all the Internet connected things.

I like most people have more shows on hulu, Netflix and amazon prime than on anything else, the challenge was going to be with sports! How would I be able to watch football and basketball? And what would would be the device of choice for streaming? Since i don't have any smart tv's or any of that I started to do some research, i already knew of the apple tv's, roku's and chromecast's of the world but i wanted something different, on Mar 27, 2014 i heard a rumor that amazon was working on some sort of set-top box which was intriguing to me. Apr 2, 2014 Amazon unveiled a new streaming video product during a press conference it dubbed Fire TV, after looking at the specs it seemed like it do fit the bill for what i wanted.
On Apr 2, 2014 i pulled the trigger and purchased my first amazon fire tv, the setup was pretty straight forward and there are a few popular music apps included like Pandora, but the company says its Amazon Music Cloud player will be available soon. Currently you can't access your local video or music collection from an external drive, even though there's a USB 2.0 port. Company execs say the port is meant for accessories as well as developer support. But once the Amazon Cloud Player is ready, you can upload your songs to it and play them.

FreeTime for kids is another feature that works with parental controls and limits the amount of time your kid can watch videos and play games. It also lets you create personalized profiles for each of your children. The FreeTime service is a subscription that will cost US$2.99 per month, and is said to be arriving in the coming weeks. A month later i planned to other another Fire TV, but i needed to make a few changes first.

As i noted here i chose to go the Amazon Fire TV route for media streaming in 2014, by the time September rolled around i had not found a solution for watching football and basketball with out a tv subscription. I stumbled upon a article that reminded me that i could use a vpn solution to access certain content, I already knew of a pretty reasonable vpn provider that might be able to do this but in order to test it out i would need to and i did purchase NFL Game Pass which would allow me to stream the NFL games. To sum it all up my answer was a vpn provider and a NFL Game Pass subscription for the streaming of NFL games.
In February of 2015 i figured now would be the time to see if i would be able to find a solution for the streaming of NBA games. I discovered something called NBA League pass which was suppose to allow you to stream NBA games just like the NFL Game Pass did for me, after installing the app and creating a login i attempted to watch a few games but two things seemed to be vary consistent which were the following streaming quality, a lack of HD broadcasts.

The streaming quality was just dreadful, so much so that after about 4 weeks i cancelled it because of that and the customer support wasn't really helpful. My last option was to wait for the Sling TV to become available, at least then i could gain access to ESPN and TNT which are stations that sometimes carry NBA games. On February 13, 2015 i installed the Sling TV app and it filled the all gaps that were existing (e.g. HGTV, ESPN,TNT and some NBA games) in early goings I had some issues with the streaming quality but i believe quite a few people had the same sort of issues. Over the past few months the streaming quality has improved and all is well for now.
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Initial NAS Setup headache

Sunday, May 10, 2015 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Network

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