VMware Tools 10.3.0: Additional considerations when updating Windows machines

Last week VMware released VMware Tools version 10.3.0.

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Not only does it include new features and a security update to address an out-of-bounds read vulnerability, it also introduces a significant change in a way VMware Tools install to Windows operating systems. In some circumstances, VMware Tools 10.3.0 installation or upgrade can even fail, as documented in VMware KB 55798.

Please bear in mind that the installer size for Windows has almost doubled with this release (for example, the 64-bit version has 72.6 MB in size compared to 47.4 MB for version 10.2.5), as it includes the following additional software:

  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2017 Redistributable packages (both 32- and 64-bit versions),

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  • VMware AppDefence (disabled by default).

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As a result, VMware Tools require to reboot the operating system at least once before actually proceed with the software install or upgrade.

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To reduce the maintenance window, the vendor’s recommendations are as follows:

  • Upgrade Windows with latest service pack available from Microsoft and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2017 Redistributable manually before installing or upgrading to VMware Tools 10.3.x.

Note: If installing Microsoft Visual C++ 2017 Redistributable is not possible, consider installing the Windows Update KB2999226 manually to reduce the need for system restart in versions earlier to Windows 10.

  • When VMware Tools installation or upgrade is invoked with REBOOT=ReallySuppress argument and a system restart is required for completing Microsoft Visual C++ 2017 Redistributable install, re-attempt the VMware Tools installation or upgrade after restarting the Windows system. vSphere client can detect this situation by noticing no change in VMware Tools version and guestinfo.toolsInstallErrCode=3010 in the guest variables or in the advanced configuration of the virtual machine.

Note: When VMware Tools installation or upgrade is invoked without any arguments, a system restart may occur automatically to complete Microsoft Visual C++ 2017 Redistributable install. After Windows system restarts, re-attempt the VMware Tools installation or upgrade.

Also, VMware has enabled the receive data ring support for the VMXNET3 driver in Windows with this update. Thorough testing is required to understand how this change influences the virtual NIC performance.

vCenter Converter 6.2: Error 1053: The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion

I couldn’t believe something as simple as vCenter Converter Agent installation would cause me a headache. The service was properly registered on the remote machine. However, it was failing to start with the error message as follows:

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For a moment I thought about any dependencies that VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Agent service could have, but it was a false assumption.

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Looking for any hint from the community, I thought it might worth time to check the release notes for VMware vCenter Converter Standalone. To my great surprise, this issue has been documented as the known issue:

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Who can imagine that the Internet access can be a requirement for this tool?

Gladly, it can be fixed with a workaround provided by VMware:

  1. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control in the Windows Registry Editor and create or modify a ServicesPipeTimeout DWORD32 decimal value to at least 300000 (5 minutes).
  2. Restart the system for the changes to take effect.

16/08/2018 – Update 1: If any issues with VMware vCenter Converter Standalone, it makes sence to look into VMware KB 1016330 ‘Troubleshooting checklist for VMware Converter’ for possible solutions.

VMware: A few exciting events this week

Hi All,

For those of you who are based in Sydney or Melbourne, VMware User Group organises the most prominent annual community event this week – VMUG UserCon 2018. I’ve been participating in VMUG UserCon in Sydney for a few years, and it was always above my expectations meeting technology experts and raising startups, and socialise with the peers.

VMUG UserCon

According to the event’s agenda, this year the primary focus is going be on the solutions to build a hybrid VMware Cloud on AWS, provide automation and analysis for virtual machines and containerised workloads, secure environment with VMware NSX and more.

In addition to local VMUG leaders and stars, there will be industry pioneers like Bruce Davie (NSX) and Cormac Hogan (Storage and Availability). So if you would like to learn about modern trends in the virtual space, have some questions for VMware or the event sponsors, or just want to mingle with the crowd – the registration is still open here and here.

Another news I would like to share with you is related to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). VMware is planning to hold a virtual event called ‘Deploy, Manage and Scale vSAN and HCI with vRealize Operations‘ on March 21 and 22, 10 am PDT. The first webinar will be focused on business needs to accelerate HCI adoption, whereas the second one is promised to be a technical deep dive into the components that comprise the HCI architecture. Looks like a fascinating subject to explore to me!

VMware: StorageHub Portal Refresh

For those of us who have been interested in getting explicit information about VMware vSAN, Site Recovery Manager, and vSphere storage in general, VMware StorageHub was a unique source of technical documentation.

It is great to see the vendor working on improving this portal with the design and user interface refresh.

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Now it is possible to choose between English (US) and Mandarine languages for some of the articles.

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All seems quite logical, and I personally like navigation and how fast search works.

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Well done, VMware!

vSphere: Response to Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities

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For those who were responding quickly to Meltdown and Spectre by applying security patches to their ESXi environment, it can be a bit frustrating to know that VMware pulled those packages down few days after they were released.

This is related to a reboot issue in the recent CPU microcode updates released by Intel, and both vendors aks for some time to provide a revised version of firmware.

Currently, VMware urges to apply the latest patches (released on January 9, 2018) to vCenter Server and VCSA as follows:

More information (and possibly updates) will come next week.

Meanwhile, I would leave here a few more articles that are worth reading:

25/01/2018 – Update 1: Two more articles that seem to be quite helpful are as follows:

09/02/2018 – Update 2: VMware released a new security advisory (VMSA-2018-0007) in regards to mitigating CVE-2017-5753, CVE-2017-5715, and CVE-2017-5754 in VMware Virtual Appliances.

12/02/2018 – Update 3: Another excellent summary in regards to the subject: Meltdown and Spectre: far from the solution?

25/02/2018 – Update 4: Over the last week Dell EMC released new BIOS for 13G and 14G server platforms. Still, it will take some time for VMware to update their HCL with the supported configurations. Meanwhile, it is recommended to apply Photon OS security patches to VCSA 6.5 as per the following article: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/rn/vcenter-server-appliance-photonos-security-patches.html.

 

Packt Publishing eBooks and Videos Sale

New Year is a great time to save on purchasing different sort of things. Especially when you are planning to obtain new or update existing IT certification.

That is why I was pleased to see that Packt Publishing had a generous discount on almost all of their ebooks and video courses. Currently (and I believe it lasts until the end of this week) you can buy them for just AUD 6.50 / USD 5.00 each. Almost bargain!

Packt Publishing Offer

A few titles I found quite interesting to add to my library are as follows:

Don’t miss a chance to make yourself a gift 😉

2018 Sydney VMUG UserCon is on March 20th

Happy New Year to everyone!!! 2017 was definitely full of disruptions from VMware, and the folks in Palo Alto keep the wheels of innovation fast turning.

Saying that it is always a good idea to look at what is happening behind the curtains, meet with the experts and peers, and plan for the next technology upgrade. This is where VMUG UserCon can be of great use!

VMUG UserCon 2018

This year VMUG UserCon is promised to be more about deep-dive learning and hands-on training. Woo-hoo!!!

The primary focus is on modernising data centres and integrating with the public cloud, expanding into the digital workspace with Workspace ONE, and transforming security with solutions like NSX and vSphere.

The event is going to be held in the heart of Sydney CBD at The Westin Sydney.

The registration is already open, and it looks like it’s going to be a big hit! So don’t miss your chance to be there on March 20th 😉