Monday, May 2, 2011

VMware Converter Tips

Agent Installation Location
  1. Locally: Install Converter and agent directly on source machine if converting directly into ESX Server
  2. Remotely: Connect to source machine over network to install agent
Agent Installation
  1. Use local administrator account
  2. Avoid domain accounts that have restrictive policies
  3. Allow reboot for Windows NT 4.0 and 2000 sources
Machine Preparation
  1. Do not deactivate the following services or harden security
    1. Workstation service
    2. Server service
    3. TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper service
    4. Volume Shadow Copy service (Windows 2003 or XP)
  2. Ensure sufficient free disk space (at least 200MB)
  3. Mirrored or striped volumes across multiple disks should be broken
  4. Dynamic disks with utility partitions should use cold cloning
  5. Disable Windows Simple File Sharing (Windows XP only)
  6. Disable anti-virus software
  7. Defrag hard disks
  8. Shutdown any un-needed Windows Services
  9. Clean-up any temporary files and un-needed data
  10. Run chkdsk
  11. Keep users off if possible
  12. Power off VM if not using hot cloning
  13. VCB VM exports need editing prior to import
    1. Edit virtual disk filenames inside .vmx
    2. Rename filenames for .vmdk files to match those listed in .vmx
    3. Edit index .vmdk file to change references to span files
Network Preparation
  1. Open TCP/UDP ports 139, 445, and 902 (Converter 3.0.0) or 443 (Converter 3.0.1)
  2. Open network ports between source and destination, alternative is to create a VM visible to source, copy VM files to location visible to destination, and import VM
  3. Use FQDN to connect to both source and VI3
Converter Preparation
  1. Run on OS greater than or equal to source if source is VM and powered off, or Symantec Livestate System Image
  1. Starter edition limitations and workarounds
    1. Cannot remote hot clone directly into VI3
      1. Workaround 1: install Converter on source machine
      2. Workaround 2: select standalone VM as destination, and then import VM to VI3 using two steps
    2. Cannot run multiple tasks concurrently
      1. Workaround: run multiple copies of Converter
    3. Cannot cold clone
      1. Workaround: create new VM, use third-party cloning application such as Ghost, and run Converter configure
  2. Do not resize volume for fastest clone speed (block-level copying)
  3. Resize volumes if source disks have inefficient utilization (resorts to file-level copying)
  4. Use cold-cloning disk-based cloning (not volume-based) for non-Windows systems
  5. Use hot cloning for Windows NT 4.0 systems to avoid NTFS upgrade
  6. Destination needs to be writeable
  1. Avoid cloning utility partitions
  2. Check partition numbers in boot.ini
  3. Automatic "Install VMware Tools" option is only available for ESX Server VMs
Clean-Up Prior to Power On
  1. Edit VM settings according to desired goal
    1. Number of vCPUs
    2. Add/Delete USB devices
    3. Add/Delete Serial and parallel devices
    4. Remove Floppy drive if not needed
    5. SCSI controller type (BusLogic vs. LSI Logic)
  2. OEM source may require license activation
    1. SMBIOS.reflectHost = "TRUE" in .vmx may avoid reactivation
    2. Requires destination host to have same hardware
Clean-Up After Power On
  1. Detect hardware
    1. VMware Tools installation may hang if hardware not detected
  2. Allow reboots to occur
    1. Detect hardware and VMware Tools installation
  3. Verify HAL and change if necessary
  4. Remove non-present old hardware
    2. Next type DEVMGMT.MSC and select Show Hidden Devices
    3. Delete any old grayed out non-present hardware
Guest Troubleshooting
  1. Blue screen after powering on
    1. Start Windows in Safe Mode and uninstall hardware-specific applications or services
    2. Attach VM to "Helper VM" to remove hardware-specific drivers or to correct the boot.ini
  2. No keyboard/mouse
    1. Select Workstation/Server VM instead of ESX Server, then import VM to ESX Server
    2. Use PS/2 keyboard/mouse on source
  3. Display problems
    1. Uninstall PC Anywhere prior to installing VMware Tools

Pre-conversion Best Practices

Below are some best practices that you should follow to prepare a server for conversion:

When providing login credentials for Converter to use for a remote conversion on a server use a local administrator account if possible. Avoid using Windows domain accounts that may have restrictive group policies associated with them. Likewise if you are installing and running Converter locally on a server use a local administrator account.

If hot-cloning the preferred method is to install and run Converter locally on the server to be converted rather then run it from a remote workstation.

If hot-cloning stop or disable any running applications if possible to avoid problems with open files or data being changed while the conversion is running. This is especially important on transaction based applications like database and email servers.

Disable anti-virus and backup software before you begin the conversion process.

Run chkdsk on the disks to be converted and also defragment them.

Clean up all temporary files and any un-needed data to reduce the amount of time that the conversion process takes.

Check your physical network switch port to see what speed/duplex it is set to. This should match whatever is configured in your operating system NIC settings if hot-cloning. If cold-cloning make sure you set Converter to use the same speed/duplex setting as your physical switch port.

When hot-cloning keep users off the server being cloned if possible this included accessing any network shares, remote desktop sessions and accessing any applications running on the server.

If you have any UPS power monitoring drivers and/or applications installed remove them because they can cause the new VM to not boot properly or to shutdown immediately.

Running Converter Best Practices

Below are some best practices that you should follow while running the Converter application to convert a server:

Do not select any small hardware utility partitions that may exist on the disk to be included in the conversion process as this can cause your VM to not boot. If a boot partition exists and you do not select it you may need to modify the boot.ini on destination Windows systems so they boot properly though.

If your destination host server is managed by a vCenter Server then choose make sure you choose the vCenter Server as the destination instead of the ESX/ESXi host directly.

If the server you are converting has a hard disk greater than 256GB then ensure that your destination VMFS datastore is not configured with the default 1MB block size which limits a single virtual disk to 256GB in size. If you have no VMFS datastores with a larger block size then re-size the disk so it is less than 256GB.

If your destination is an ESX/ESXi server and not a vCenter Server make sure you use the root account to login to the host server.

Do not modify the default number of virtual NICs (vNICs), these can be changed after the conversion completes.

Re-sizing your disks is a great way to conserve disk space on your destination datastore. However you may occasionally experience problems when re-sizing as a different cloning process is used when the option to re-size disks is chosen. When you choose to reduce the size of a disk a file-level copy operation is done as part of the cloning process instead of the normal block-level copy operation. This method can cause problems especially when copying a very large amount of small files or very large files. If you experience problems with the conversion failing then try not re-sizing the disk instead. This only happens when decreasing the size of a disk, increasing the size of a disk uses the block-level copy operation.

Post-conversion Best Practices

Below are some best practices that you should follow after you convert a server into a virtual machine:

Cleanup the VMs virtual hardware prior to powering it on, this includes adjusting the RAM size, number of CPUs and NICs and removing any un-needed hardware (i.e. serial/parallel/USB ports, floppy drive).

Boot first into Windows Safe mode and remove all specific drivers and applications that were specific to the original server hardware including network teaming/management applications, array configuration software, video and sound drivers. Do not restart if prompted when un-installing, wait until everything is un-installed first and then reboot to Normal mode.

If you went from multiple CPUs to a single vCPU or vice versa make sure you change the Windows HAL appropriately.

Install VMware Tools and then reboot when finished.

Remove all non-present hardware from the operating system. There will be a lot of hardware devices that are no longer present on the new VM after a conversion from different physical hardware. While they are no longer present they still consume Windows resources and should be completely removed. Also if your old NICs used a static IP address you will get a warning error when trying to set your new vNIC to the same IP address because there are still configured as non-present devices. Removing them will resolve this. To do this follow the below steps:

1. Open a Windows command (CMD) prompt.

2. Type the following: SET DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1 (not case sensitive, make sure you spell it exactly right) and hit Enter.

3. In the same CMD prompt window type DEVMGMT.MSC to open the Device Manager application. You cannot open it through the GUI as the set command only affects applications run from the same CMD window.

4. Once Device Manager opens select View from the top menu and then the Show Hidden Devices option which will display all hidden and non-present hardware devices.

5. Expand each section and remove all hardware that is grayed out (lighter in appearance then the other devices) which means it is no longer present by right-clicking on it and choosing Uninstall. There will be a lot of it under the Non-Plug and Play Drivers and System Devices sections. If you see no grayed out hardware you may have spelled the command in step 2 incorrectly, if so go back and try again.

6. Once you are done reboot.

Check your Windows services and make sure there are no vendor hardware specific services running. If the un-install applications did not remove them then disable them.

Check your vNIC properties to make sure they are no vendor specific clients or services loaded (i.e. NIC teaming drivers). If there are any then un-install them.


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