Free Download – VMWare Introduces Virtual Lab Manager Beta

VMWare announced that they will be opening the Virtual Lab Manager to the public today, and the software is now available for download (ESX 3.0.1 too!)

Virtual Lab Manager

Virtual Lab Manager is a product for managing virtual machines running on ESX 3 or VMWare Infrastructure servers, and allows you to do nifty things like save SIDs, MAC and IP addresses, and deploy groups of configurations to multiple machines.

Here’s a full rundown of the features from the datasheet:

Multi-Machine Configurations
• Create multi-machine configurations in seconds using machine templates – no limit on machine count, no manual adjustments
• View configurations in use with thumbnail console views, public-private scoping and list filtering
• Act on machines in a configuration as a unit: suspend, multi-snapshot, revert to, shutdown, turn on, turn off, suspend, reset, deploy, undeploy, clone, capture to library, and modify properties
• Share templates and multi-machine configurations between users
• Share captured, live configurations via URL-based “LiveLink” capability
• Interact with all configuration consoles side-by-side on a single browser page
• Setup machines in a configuration to boot in controlled sequence
Configuration Library
• Near-instantaneous check out of configurations with memory and CPU state preserved
• Simultaneous use of library configurations by multiple users without changing MAC and IP addresses or SID, using

VMware network fencing
• Efficient storage compression algorithms maximize library entries per storage server
• Public and private library entries
• Public-private scoping and list filtering of library
Media Library
• Central repository for all development and test media
• Tag media with descriptive attributes
• Upload media from the browser or directly to the file share
• Easily make media available to VMware-managed virtual machines
• Public-private scoping and list filtering of media library
Deployment
• Browser- or Web service-initiated deployment
• Copy from or execute from storage server
• Configuration or machine deployment granularity
• Automatic load balancing of machines deployed on host servers
• Side-by-side execution of cloned configurations across physical server boundaries, even when IP addresses are duplicated on a subnet
• Selectable provisioning heuristic – enabling rapid startup and maximum performance when deploying configurations
Machine Templates
• Instant creation of new machines from templates with distinct personalization-automated assignment of MAC and IP addresses, and SID (for Windows systems)
• New template creation via cloning and modification of existing templates
• Import pre-existing virtual machine images for use as templates
• Automated installation of mouse and keyboard enhancements for virtual machines
• Optional physical-to-virtual (P2V) capability for storage and management of existing machines
• Public-private scoping and list filtering of templates
Resource Management
• Automated tracking and issuance of IP addresses
• Storage server management: add, delete, refresh and modify properties
• Managed server management: add, delete, refresh, agent upgrade, remove from service and modify properties
Monitoring
• Active unified “in motion” view of server pool and virtual machine operations
• Drill-down on server, configuration and machine details
• All deployed machines view
• Comprehensive event and job log viewer
Web Services and Command Line Interface (Automation API)
• Full programmatic control of capture-and-restore operations
• Out-of-the-box automation with leading test automation tools
• Standards-based interface (SOAP, WSDL, HTTP)
• Sample .NET and Java code illustrating use of APIs
Administration and Security
• User, permission and quota management
• Out-of-the-box support for LDAP
• Administrator role assignment to multiple users
• User self-managed preferences
• Context-sensitive on-screen help
Installation
• Standard Windows setup.exe installer for all components
• Automated addition of managed servers to deployment pool
Supported Managed Server Environments
• VMware Infrastructure 3

Connect to a Mac Remote Desktop using VNC

This will be a quick howto as it’s mostly a settings issue, but here goes:

Macs have come with a Remote Desktop server for quite some time now, and it’s great for using macs to manage macs remotely, though maybe not as nice as an NX or XMing solution.

When trying to manage an Apple computer using a Windows or Linux computer it’s a different story. When you attempt to open the connection the authorization works, but the window will close very quickly, with no apparent error.

The problem lies in the actual implementation of VNC in Apple’s Remote Desktop server (not to be confused with RDP – it’s MUCH slower). Apple has decided to only support one type of tiling, whereas most VNC clients will attempt to find the best solution in order to connect. Specifically, Apple uses HexTile, and if you specify this in the options or properties of your connection, it will work with no problems whatsoever.

If you’d like to make a .VNC configuration file in order to connect to your Mac server using a Windows VNC client (RealVNC used here), just take the following code and save it as a *.VNC configuration file, being careful to change the host from (null) to the remote Apple Remote Desktop server’s IP address (for example: 10.10.10.10).

[Connection]
Host=(null)
[Options]
UseLocalCursor=1
UseDesktopResize=1
FullScreen=0
FullColour=1
LowColourLevel=1
PreferredEncoding=hextile
AutoSelect=0
Shared=0
SendPtrEvents=1
SendKeyEvents=1
SendCutText=1
AcceptCutText=1
DisableWinKeys=1
Emulate3=0
PointerEventInterval=0
Monitor=
MenuKey=F8
AutoReconnect=1

I have tested this method on many Windows and Linux machines, using RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC and even Chicken of the VNC for Mac OS X. It works fine, though I’d like to pound home again that I would really like to have the option to either tunnel application over SSH, or have some type of locally-accelerated RDP-compliant protocol (heck why not use LTSP 5.0?)
One can only dream…

blandname whitepaper published on Silicon.com

Sometimes, I send articles from blogs or sites that I post to in order to have them published as white papers with business sites to see how well my content will fare. I typically don’t check up on them, and normally forget the logins shortly after submitting. However, I was just crawling through my Mint stats referer information, and noticed that one of the blandname articles got accepted to be published as a whitepaper at Silicon.com.

While this isn’t extremely exciting news, I was impressed nontheless that they didn’t edit the artcile at all – the whitepaper is wholly taken from my article on installing Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 3 on VMWare Server (if you haven’t read it yet check it out).

Alright back to work!

Where’s my Mac BIOS? (How to get into OpenFirmware Easily)

A lot of people these days appear to be under the impression that Macs have a BIOS, which is unfortunate because they actually have something much better – Macs have OpenFirmware. This is true for G4 Mac Minis, PowerBooks, iBooks, iMacs, eMacs, and Dual G5s… I could go on and on.
I got most of this info from experience and the Apple Developper Connection – if you’re not a member yet, sign up, it’s free.

You can get into OpenFirmware using this key sequence:

CMD-OPT-O-F

In detail, this means using two hands, holding “command”, “option” and “f” on the left and “o” with your right hand. Do this while booting your computer and you well hear two chimes. At the end of the chimes you will be greeted with an

On my G4 Mac Mini, for example, I can hold down the power button for roughly 10 seconds and I will hear the chimes – this should work for iMacs as well.

The OpenFirmware prompt that looks like this:

ok

0>

Congratulations, you’ve accessed your “BIOS” you switcher!

Now that we’ve passed this glorious milestone, we have some work to do. After all you came here for a reason right? (and not just to click on the ads, wink-wink nudge-nudge)

Some useful commands that save me time and time again, and enable reparation of the G4 Mac Mini:

Boot your Apple computer using the default boot device:

0 > mac-boot

Boot your Mac using the inserted CDROM at the yaboot directory for linux CDs:

0 > boot cd:,\install\yaboot

To eject a CDROM from your Mac:

0 > eject cd

If you have any other OpenFirmware tips to share, feel free to comment!