Blabbity blab

Nothing specific to talk about, but I felt like writing anyway.

Don’t multihome vmk ports in ESXi

Multihoming vmk ports on ESXi 5 (?) and later is not kosher. It’ll allow you to make the config, and it’ll even work, for a random period of time. You probably want separate physical ports for management and vMotion, so you’re bound to have two vmk ports, don’t put them on the same subnet/vlan. This was supported in ESX 4 and earlier, perhaps, but not in any later versions of the VMware hypervisor. This KB-article helped out a lot, as well as this quickhand on ESXi shell network commands. The setup was roughly the following:

  • vmk0 – management – vSwitch0 –
  • vmk1 – vmotion – vSwitch1 –

One host with this config dropped off the network, and the management port wouldn’t respond. The other vmk interface still responded perfectly, and the machines were on separate vmnics and vSwitches so they were unaffected as well. But vCenter lost connectivity to the host. Obviously, migrating the vm’s off the host was not an option, as there was no way to reach it through the vSphere client. The cluster did not have HA enabled.

To fix it, the steps were roughly:

  1. Enable ESXi Shell, if it isn’t already, through the DCUI -> Troubleshooting options -> Enable ESXi Shell
  2. Hit Alt-F1 to go to the shell
  3. Disable the vmnic that is not the management vmnic (in our example, vmk1, for vmotion) using esxcli network nic down -n vmnic   ##make sure you get the right vmnic, doublecheck in DCUI
  4. You can Alt-F2 back to DCUI and check out the network settings to verify that it’s down. Once the conflicting vmk is down, the primary one should start working, and you’ll have management back. If necessary, restart management agents / network from DCUI.
  5. There’s also esxcfg-vmknic -d (for delete, -D for disable) portgroup. To list the portgroups, use esxcfg-vmknic -l (and locate the conflicting, non-management vmk, and check the name of it)
  6. When management is restored (you can verify by running the Test Management Network in DCUI, and ping your management IP), do the rest from the vSphere Client (restoring what ever vmk you disabled, and the functionality it had (be it vmotion or so)). This time, make sure you use a separate subnet/vlan (not the same as for management)
  7. Also NOTE that if you used the ESXi Shell to disable a NIC, you have to enable it from there as well. I’ve found no way to say “vmnic up” in vSphere Client. If you know of a way please let me know in the comments. I had to make an extra trip to the data center to get the interface up, and then finalize the config in vSphere client.

Considering a Soekris or Mikrotik

For years (uh say, 8 years?) I’ve used an older workstation PC with two Intel 1Gbps NICs and lately, an SSD, plus OpenBSD & pf as my network firewall/router. It’s a rather clunky solution for a simple task, but it has served me well for years, without too many problems. After listening to TechSNAP (the latest couple of episodes, I guess), I’ve been thinking about replacing that box with a smaller solution, such as hardware from Soekris or Mikrotik. Soekris are a bit expensive, but they are perhaps.. more fully fledged than the Mikrotik. Both, as I understand, allow for your own choice of OS. I would still be running BSD (be it Free or Open), because that’s what I sort of trust with these matters. The other option is to buy an Atom board, slap on 2-4GB memory, two NICs (or a multiport NIC), and the SSD that I already have, and then run that in a smaller form factor case. I’m more of a do-it-yourself kind of guy, so I might end up going that route anyway.

Reading stuff

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Well the past 10 years maybe. My dad tends to remind me that back in school I didn’t like reading too much (perhaps because I didn’t usually need to work too hard to pass courses (except for math), or maybe I just hadn’t found my thing yet. Or maybe I was an immature brat? Perhaps. Anyway. What I’m reading right now is the Bridge Trilogy, by William Gibson. No big shocker here, I’ve read his works multiple times. I think this trilogy is the one I’ve read the least. That’s not to say it isn’t good, but it’s just gotten less attention from me. I’m on the final book now, ‘All tomorrow’s parties”. After that I’ll hop away from Gibson, and move on to James Bamford’s “The Shadow Factory”, a book on the NSA.

Since I misplaced (probably lent it out to someone who doesn’t remember or really liked the book) my copy of Stealing the Network – How to own a Shadow, I ordered a used copy from amazon. The condition was listed as very good, and it came exactly in that shape….

.. only it smells like weed. You know? Mary jane? Now it might just be from hemp-scented incense, or maybe just a pot-head security guy. I don’t mind really, but I still put the book outside for a while to get the worst fumes out. Luckily nobody had ripped pages to roll their joints in. I guess the book would then have been listed as.. Cannabilized. Get it!?!


The Vee Arr and Assembly 2013 wrap-up

Assembly 2013 came and went. All in all a less-than-average Assembly, but it wasn’t all a waste. Let me talk to you about the Occulus Rift.

Occulus Rift is a set of VR goggles, that are in the process of coming to the market (with a consumer release probably happening in 2014), and is now making the rounds  in the form of a dev unit. The dev unit is a pair of goggles, slightly larger than proper diving goggles, and they are not very heavy. There was a comfortable strap that wrapped over and around the head. The development version has a resolution of 640×800 pixels per eye, while the consumer version will be (hopefully) 1080p. The development version also need separate headphones to play audio. It was hooked via wire (or wires) to a computer. The consumer version, again, will hopefully be wireless. In addition to the goggles and the headphones, I used a game-pad to control my character in the VR environment.

There were a few different applications on display. I tried one of them, which was a virtual space, which housed a small yard and a building with a few rooms. It had moving objects, such as ceiling fans, and directional audio playing in the different rooms. The first thing I noticed was the low resolution. I kept trying to focus, as if looking through a pair of binoculars or eyeglasses, but it was just the resolution which was poor. It felt out of focus at times. The first instinct was to look around. This worked great. You had a fair amount of freedom of motion: you could look at the ceiling, down at the ground, you could tilt your head and “bend” your body, to say, look behind a corner.

After a brief adjustment, I thought, wow. This is really immersive. I quickly forgot where I was in the real world, though keeping your balance IRL felt strange. As I steered my character around the yard and inside the building, I felt my body try to maintain balance in the real world. It felt strange, and slightly disorienting. I avoided a wall in the virtual world, and noticed that I made that same movement (albeit a less extreme one) in the real world. Also not really walking around felt a bit weird. You used an analog stick to move and turn the character inside the VR world, and your perspective sort of “floated” around, with your view at head-height.  I did not try if there was a jump or crouch function: I only used the analog sticks.

The other two applications were a game called Jink, that ended up taking third place in the gamedev competition at Assembly 2013, and some kind of rollercoaster application, which my friend M tried out. He’ll hopefully read this, and give us his take in the comments.

The dev kit supports Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS and Android (so that takes care of most of the platforms this’d ever be used on). The estimated price (this is just a guess, and has not been confirmed AFAIK), would be 300 or less. A price I will gladly pay once this comes out. The amount of applications that could run on this, plus the wireless nature will make this a killer device for any tech-head. The Occulus Rift homepage is telling me that Half-Life 2 (and I assume any and all games with the same engine, at least eventually (I hope!)) will be officially supported for the Rift.

Oh. Wow!

Also, apparently anyone can get the dev kit right now for the 300 dollars + what ever applicable fees to your  country.

On to Assembly. This year we were there with a four person crew. We had machine seats, and brought our own computers to the party. To sum things up:

  • The network worked well with just a few glitches during the 72+ hours.
  • The audio was great, despite certain microphone tomfoolery (which happens at all such events, I’m sure, not just Assembly!)
  • The big screen worked fine, though, the encircling LEDs were like… super bright and murder in the midst of the otherwise dark arena floor.
  • Intros & Demos & Music:
    • Music kicked ass in all categories. Good entries.
    • 1K and 4K Intros were of excellent quality
    • Short film and Real Wild were great, I really admired the work done on the reverse engineered Helsinki Metro sign, and the associated Real Wild entry “Next train takes no passengers”
    • Demo and Oldskool categories were disappointing, really. Demo only had 7 entries and one that I would consider good, a second one that was so-so, and the rest being of ‘meh’-quality.
    • It’s not that they were outright bad, but they just didn’t have the Wow!-factor.
  • Game of the year seemed to be League of Legends (or LoL) as well as SC2.
  • No clear new memes that I could pick up.
  • More girls than ever
  • Younger kids
  • Fatter kids
  • Cory Doctorow KICKED ASS. Great speaker.

I can’t be asked to write more. I spent the nights at home, like a true old curmudgeon, but I was there for all but a few compo entries. And that’s the main reason I go anyway, since I don’t need permission from mommy to play games all day at home.

Best quote? “These tickets cost me 145 euros, so you will do exactly as I say!”, by a mother to a kid in the long line to get into the arena.

Peace out.