I currently use a small desktop running Windows 7 home edition as a backup/storage server, it’s only got a single 1tb drive in it, but it did the job fine.  Over the last couple of days it’s been crashing like crazy, every time I’ve come to use the machine, it’s got the dreaded BSOD.  Yay.  I can fix it, but it means I’ll have to move the machine from where it is currently, which is a pain in the bum.  It’s actually made me think of an alternative, and for that, I’ve decided to get 2 new WD RED drives and add them to one of my spare 1u servers, I’ll use that instead.  It’ll also force me to install Linux instead of using windows, which is always a good thing.  It’s quite easy to install Ubuntu onto the box, then setup samba shares so I can mount the drives on my laptop just as before.

Pain in the neck, but not all technology is infallible…..

** Update 14/03/15 **

I went with Debian in the end, this rarely gets updated, only really for security updates, so I went with that instead.

 

Yes the title is correct, I’m waiting to fail, but it’s not quite as straight forward as you might think.  I personally don’t want to fail, I’m wanting my hardware to fail so I can test it.  I’m working on Failover clustering within Windows Server 2012, at the moment, I’m just using Hyper-v and replication, but soon, ie in the next day or so, I hope to have my Ubuntu Server configured as a iSCSI target so I can start to play with Fail Over Clustering.  I went with using a Ubuntu Server as it’s cheaper than buying a specific NAS that supports iscsi.  I had the hardware lying about and for my test lab, it’ll do the job fine.  I’ll write a more indepth post later with settings I’ve used etc, I just wanted to do a quite update for people that read my blog, er is anyone actually reading this?

I’m quite lucky that I have all the equipment to test this all on, it’s really fun to play about with this kind of think and is certainly helping me gain knowledge that i’ll need when doing my MCSE exams.

A lot of my friends will read this and think WHY are you using MS products and my answer to that is, well I like it, it works for me.  I can see myself in a few months time, doing the same project again but this time using Opensource tools, but for the moment, I want to stick to Microsoft so there.

/me waits for the backlash that I always get…..#sosad

Just a bit of advice passed onto me by a friend, who knows his stuff.  Don’t use the same password for all your online activity.  If it’s guessed, then it’s easy enough to check internet history to find the sites you’ve been accessing and try the password for them as well.  If you’re scared at the thought of remembering multiple confusing passwords, then let me recomment lastpass.com.

With this site, you have a master password, that enables you to access your own personal vault.  You can then add websites to this vault and have a plugin on your laptop/pc which connects you to the lastpass service.   You can then log into all your sites, with your new complicated passwords, without having to remember them.  Due to certain prank events today, I’ve started using this service and so far it seems ok.  I’ve changed most of my online sites to use this service, with some of the passwords being over 20 chars in length, with capitals and chars such as !”£$£%£%

Just remember folks, don’t use the same password on all sites you use.  It’s a 1 min job to get your pc hacked and all this information found out.

When I click the folder in the task bar at the bottom of the screen it takes me to a folder where it shows me all my recent history, this to me is ugly, I don’t want to see it, I want to see the old view where I can see my drives and the main folders.  Well it’s easy to change, just open a folder, click the view icon over on the right and click options.  You’ll then see these folder options.  All you need to so is click the top drop down and change from Quick Access to This Pc, then click Apply.  Bingo

 

full_12_12dda48d9d9aec0b38a8313d40f7eeb0

 

** Please note, this isn’t my image, I blatantly stole it from the internet, if it’s yours, then sorry, can you let me know and I’ll either remove it or credit you with it ***

After setting up and configuring my second server, the VM’s on my first hyper-v server are now replicated to the second.  That means if the first server goes down for any reason, I can bring them up again on the second server without too much trouble.

As it’s hyper-v you can test that the failover works by shutting down the VM on the main server and then performing a failover test.  I tried that this morning and it worked a treat.  At least I know now that if the main server goes down, I can limit the amount of downtime.

Next step when I’ve saved, is to purchase an external storage medium so I can play with failover clustering, but this is a while off yet.

Not only do I have raid in my server, but I’ve decided that I want to play with replication.  Why bother I hear you ask.  Well In my case, I run a webserver, I’ve moved it from a physical machine and have visualized it.  It means I can remove one physical server from my system.  But if you know me, you’ll know I’m always panicking about loosing stuff, my photography backups are backed up, then they are backed up which are then backed up to the cloud…and breath.  Well I wanted my servers like that too so I’ve decided that I’m setting up replication within my servers.

I currently use Microsoft Windows 2012 [albeit a trial license] on my server which has the ability to replicate it’s VM’s accross to another machine.  In an ideal world, I’d love an external storage device so I could setup cluster based failover replication, but I can’t afford that after all I’m just the average Joe that likes to play with kit at home.

Any who, W2K12 has the ability to replicate servers across machines, It’ll leave the destination server off so it doesn’t create IP conflicts or something that’s known as split brain, but it’ll do the job perfectly.  [patiently waits for the linux enthusiasts comments]

There is a bit of config needed beforehand, but I won’t go into that here, if you want to know more about this just ask, needless to say you need a domain controller and the servers must be in AD.

Here’s a screen shot of it enabled, it won’t work as yet as I don’t have my 2nd server, but that’s just days away.

hypervIf you want to know specifics, and I can help, I certainly will so just ask.

** UPDATE ** Amid the screams of 1million techs reading this post in despair, I know RAID IS NOT BACKUP, I must word things better.

Now if you know me, you’ll know I love linux, well on the server at least, for a webserver that serves customer sites, it’s fantastic. Ok with any linux setup you need to know what you’re doing, but when you do, it’s very easy. What’s not so easy, is high availability, or failover. It’s possible using haproxy and keepalived, but it just wasn’t working that well for me, for some reason it kept keeping both machines as master, but that’s a story for another time.

I run a few servers as virtual machines, how many kids these days want access to a minecraft server, well mine does that’s for sure. So I decided that I’d play with visualization on a server that I have. I’ve tried KVM using RHEL/Centos and it worked really well, I tried Ovirt but just couldn’t get on with it. So picture my server, I have 4 virtual machines running on KVM, ok lets try HA…..er oh hell. I say that as I did my research and found multiple tutorials on how to do it, but each one involved editing this file, adding this, editing another file. While I can do this, I just don’t want to spent umteen hours configuring things via text file. If anyone knows an easier way then please let me know. Currently I only have one server, so HA isn’t possible for me at the moment, but I wanted to set it up ready for when I do. As I usually do, I got frustrated with Linux and thought I’d give Windows 2012 server ago, and quite frankly I’m glad I did.

Install Windows 2012 server – check.
Install hyper-v as a role and configure all my virtual machines – check
Install Active directory and DNS and DHCP on a virtual machine – check
Join the Hyper-v server to the domain – check.

Wait till I can afford my second server, so I can pretty much repeat the process, then setup my replication, which from what I’ve been seeing, is a tick box [ok maybe a little more involved]

No text editing in sight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love linux, and my webservers will always use it, but for other things, and in this case it’s high availability and clustering and failover, imo MS systems are a lot easier to setup.

No comments on how it’s not free or opensource as that’s totally irrelevant to me. I don’t care, if it works, I’m prepared to spend money.

So what’s the aim of doing all this? Well in my case it’s two fold, I want to learn it as it’s cool. and secondly I want my webservers to have HA and failover support, if one goes down I want the other to take over, I still have customer sites I need to keep up as much as possible.

Probably next year, the lightbulb will switch on and I’ll get a HA Linux book and the aha moment will come and I’ll switch back, but for now, I’m happy with the way things are.

As well as having to turn the network to private from public, which you can read about here, I also noticed that there was a problem with the connection either hanging, restarting with a black screen, or just not connecting at all.  After a little research, I found a registry key hack that seems to have resolved the problem.  As with all server changes, hacking the registry could brick your server so if you’re unsure of what you’re doing.  Be careful.

This is what I added.

computer/HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Service\Tcpip\Parameters

Add a new dword record called

DisableTaskOffload and set the value to 1.

This should resolve any networky connection issues you might be having.

For reasons known only to me and the darkest sickest recesses of my mind, I need to install Windows 7 Professional onto my laptop. The issue is, I only have the Home Premium Media, which is already installed on my wifes laptop. I have a key, I just need the media. Now I know I could just download it from the internet, which apart from taking it’s time, isn’t fun at all. I wondered if it was possible to use the Home Premium disk as I heard that it could install any version of Windows.

Well I was right and this is how I’ve created a “Install Most Versions Boot USB”.

  • Create an iso image from the DVD you have by what ever means you have to create an iso image. I have a linux machine so I just used dd – dd if=/dev/cdrom of=windows.iso
  • Download Rufus so you can create the bootable USB using the ISO – http://rufus.akeo.ie/
  • Once USB is completed, open it up and look in the sources folder for a file called ei.cfg, it’s this which determines what version of windows is to be installed.
  • Boot your PC/Laptop from the USB and as part of the installation it should ask you which version you want to install, well it did for me.

Rufus in action.

rufus_en