vSphere & IPv6: how VMRC breaks it all

It’s been a bit quiet around my vSphere pure IPv6 lab setup lately. At first it seemed to be surprisingly easy, but the devil’s in the details…

As already posted, the initial setup went without any problems. The setup required IPv4 just for the kickstart process, or to be more exact for the first boot and installation phase. During the final configuration script the DHCP IPv4 address was dropped and the ESXi hosts were running IPv6 only: Continue reading

Heads up: Debian 7.4 igb driver broken

Last Friday I updated the Debian 7 installation on my homelab NAS box. Prior to that I had updated the firmware of its (IBM OEM) i340-T4 NIC with version 19.0 of the Intel “Ethernet Connections Boot Utility”, as explained earlier. After a reboot all of the i340 interfaces were gone. The card was listed in lspci and the dmesg output, but the driver wasn’t loaded. Manual loading didn’t work either:

Mar 21 15:40:58 labnas kernel: [ 2172.966771] Intel(R) Gigabit Ethernet Network Driver - version 3.2.10-k
Mar 21 15:40:58 labnas kernel: [ 2172.966774] Copyright (c) 2007-2011 Intel Corporation.
Mar 21 15:40:58 labnas kernel: [ 2172.966823] igb 0000:01:00.0: setting latency timer to 64
Mar 21 15:40:59 labnas kernel: [ 2173.790497] igb: probe of 0000:01:00.0 failed with error -13
Mar 21 15:40:59 labnas kernel: [ 2173.790519] igb 0000:01:00.1: setting latency timer to 64
Mar 21 15:41:00 labnas kernel: [ 2174.614178] igb: probe of 0000:01:00.1 failed with error -13
Mar 21 15:41:00 labnas kernel: [ 2174.614198] igb 0000:01:00.2: setting latency timer to 64
Mar 21 15:41:00 labnas kernel: [ 2175.437858] igb: probe of 0000:01:00.2 failed with error -13
Mar 21 15:41:00 labnas kernel: [ 2175.437880] igb 0000:01:00.3: setting latency timer to 64
Mar 21 15:41:01 labnas kernel: [ 2176.261527] igb: probe of 0000:01:00.3 failed with error -13

So it seems the updated igb driver from Debian 7.4 is broken. Continue reading

IPv6 for the simple Debian based DNS server

The last post was about a simple DNS server installation using Debian / Raspbian and bind. I already mentioned that this approach has the advantage of greater flexibility and more features than the DNS functionality that may come with your NAS or router. Particularly regarding IPv6, and that is what we are going to add to the DNS server now. Continue reading

A simple Debian based DNS server

The setup of my homelab, especially the IPv6-only configuration I’m running right now, requires a DNS server. To me as a Unix guy it was obvious that this basic infrastructure service needs to be deployed in any case. But some discussions on Twitter and especially with William Lam and on his blog indicated that this may not be a no-brainer for those who are VMware followers, but not that familiar with DNS. William pointed out that DNS is not a hard requirement, and I appreciate he takes the time to describe how to run VMware products without a DNS server. I fully trust him that this is possible (if there’s one person I would trust on that than it’s him!). But for many reasons, including the official VMware vSphere documentation, I still suggest to deploy a DNS server even for small homelab or test environments. Particularly if you’re trying to get familiar with IPv6. Continue reading

2001:db8:1ab:: up & running

The lab is (slowly, I have to admit) turning into an IPv6 only configuration.The first question might be “why would somebody want to do that?” Well, because it’s interesting and the main reason to have a lab anyway. But besides that I think every company should do something like this right now, to test their services and hardware (!) for IPv6 readiness. Now.

The basic setup in my lab is working fine, which means the firewall configuration is done and the local DNS is set up. For a start I’ll be using static IPv6 addresses and keep Router Advertisements and DHCPv6 for later. The NAS box (Debian 7.2) is configured with four interfaces for storage, two in VLAN 24 for iSCSI and two in a LACP setup in VLAN 25 for NFS, everything in a dual stack setup. The Kickstart configuration and scripts are modified as well, although I suppose the PXE boot itself will have to stay with IPv4, there’s no support for IPv6 in the firmware. Continue reading

Choose the right quad port NIC

With vSphere 5.5 VMware has dropped support for some of the hardware enthusiasts like me used in their home lab (which basically means I consider people who spent quite a few bucks for a home lab to be enthusiasts – are you really sending the right message to us, VMware?). I cannot approve that – to me it’s just a bad move to remove drivers for hardware that would otherwise work fine, even if it was not supported. Which basically would just mean you’d be on your own if something would not work, and VMware Support would just tell you that. Nothing to scare a whitebox user away.

Anyway. I had to face the fact that the onboard and additional PCI Realtek NIC of my lab ESXi would be unusable sooner or later, even if an older driver could be injected into the ESXi 5.5 image, as I explained in a previous post. So I decided to find a setup that would provide at least five network interfaces with presumably long term support. Continue reading

Heads up: ESXi 5.5 crashes Linux iscsi_trgt

If you’re running a standard Linux on your homelab storage box with iSCSI (ietd, iscsi_trgt), you need to take some actions before deploying ESXi 5.5 in your environment. It seems the new ESXi release issues some SMART command on iSCSI targets, which hits a bug in iscsi_trgt. I’m using Debian 7.2 on my lab NAS which comes with iscsitarget Once an ESXi 5.5 tried to access an iSCSI LUN, the iSCSI subsystem crashed completely. You’ll see messages like these: Continue reading

ESXi 5.5 and Realtek 8168/8169

VMware has dropped the support for Realtek R8168 and R8169 NICs in ESXi 5.5, as already posted in some blogs even before vSphere 5.5 became GA. Really bad news for all of us whitebox homelab owners who use the cheap cards and onboard chips to increase the number of NICs available for vSphere networking. Fortunately the drivers included in ESXi 5.1 still work with 5.5, and there are good instructions available by Vladan Seget and Erik Bussink on how to create a custom installation ISO. But if you’re using a Kickstart server (as I still recommend, even with Auto Deploy and also for a small home lab) it is yet easier. Continue reading

ZyXEL 1910-24 password pitfall

Just swapped my old lab switch, a LevelOne GSW-1676, for a ZyXEL GS1910-24. Really nice piece of hardware, fanless, snappy GUI, good VLAN management, lots of features, including IPv6 support. And cheap, so basically I’m very satisfied.
Until I changed the default admin password. Of course a long phrase with some special characters. Including a colon, which the GUI let me do without any complaint. But this locked me out of the switch.
Continue reading