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Archive for September, 2009

Quad core AMD 8354 Barcelona 10h B2 and ESXi does not work thanks to a bug in the processor

September 27th, 2009 No comments

I discovered VMWare has a white paper on running nested vms. This is really cool and something I want to try.  If you read the document you’ll notice you are limited on what CPU you can use to accomplish this.  My home server had Opteron processors, but they aren’t the right generation.  I decided to search craigslist and see if maybe someone was off loading the processors I needed.  Wow, first hit I got really lucky.  Someone was selling quad core Opteron processors, Barcelona generation family 10H!  I drove an hour out and payed a very reasonable price for said processors.

After diligently cleaning the processors and heat sink, I buttoned up the server and pushed the power button.  ESXi goes about it’s usually boot sequence and I get a dreaded purple screen that reads:

VMWare ESXi 4.0.0 build 171294
 
The system has found a problem on your machine and cannot continue.
 
No supported microcode level for this stepping of
AMD Family 10h B2 Processer.

I thought maybe I had to reinstall ESXi with the processor change so I inserted the installation cd and tried that. Same error. A quick search for the above string yields a terrible news for me in a post from the VMWare Communities. The last poster on the thread has a link to a wikipedia article that details a bug which makes virtualization fail. My bios actually has a work around option for the B2 cpu’s, but again, same error.

I’m going to try an email AMD, but I’m guessing I am now the owner of two reasonably priced quad core paper weights.

Update: I am out of luck, but AMD did provide some information to help avoid processors with this bug. The TLB erratum affects all original Phenom and Opteron quad core revision BA and B2 processors. Most of these were pulled from the market and replaced with revision B3.

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VMWare Lab Manager trial and ESXi 4.0 free

September 21st, 2009 3 comments

Update: The problem I describe below is because I’ve had my ESXi installed longer than 60 days it is licensed as an ESXi Single Server (free).   If you install ESXi initially you can run it for 60 days in Evaluation Mode.  You can use an ESXi server in Evaluation Mode  fine in Lab Manager.

My home lab runs ESXi 4.0.   In a home lab, the only thing I really miss about not having vCenter (Virtual Center) is templates.   But I really can’t complain too much, I get an awful lot of functionality from ESXi without paying a dime.

The other day I decided I wanted to install a trial of Lab Manager. I used Lab Manager 2.5 in a previous position and at work we are soon going to have at least a 3.0 Lab Manager installed. It’s a really cool product and I wanted to try out driving some automation using Lab Manager APIs. Having the lab at home allows me do these kinds of things without bothering the admins in the office. When I do finally bother them, I’ll have a better picture to give them.

For the trial, I created two new Win2k3 VMs.  1 for vServer and 1 for Lab Manager.   VMWare has made it incredibly easy to install these products.  vServer comes with SQL Server Express and installs by default.  In a real environment you would likely opt to install on a physical machine with a full fledged SQL Server instance, but for testing SQL Express is fine.   With just a few clicks vServer was installed.  No issues adding my ESXi to it.   Next I installed Lab Manager into the other VM.  Easy as pie… Almost.

Warning
You cannot add a template because you do not have any enabled hosts available.

The above error message is what I got when I went to create a new template in Lab Manager.

Going to Resources -> Hosts I see a big red X in the Ready column and a message that said Error in Preparing.

Here is the detail from Error in Preparing:

vCenter Lab Manager does not support the license edition of this host "esxi.mydomain.com".
 Upgrade your host license through vCenter and try again.

After trying a few things I contacted someone at VMWare.  My contact said I can’t use ESXi free to trial Lab Manager and I should install an ESX trial.  Unfortunately my lab is populated and I’m not willing to migrate all my VMs for the trial.   A shame such a smooth process got wrinkled by this tiny detail.

Update: If you start with a fresh ESXi server licensed in evaluation mode you will not encounter the error above.  But if you have an existing ESXi server and it’s past the original evaluation you will not be able to use it for a new eval of Lab Manager.

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