Changing FRU information on Supermicro servers

This blog post is not just for fun but because of a reason. I reinstalled my three Supermicro homelab servers with vSphere 7, and during setup, I noticed that ESXi shows incorrect values for the server model. What could cause this?

No, it shouldn’t be a “Super Server”, even if Supermicro servers are super for homelabs. But it should be an “SYS-300-8D” as this is the model I bought.

So how can I fix this? The short answer is: there is no fix until today, unfortunately. I tried it and asked also some fellow VMware friends, but still no success. It seems that this might a bug or something. I don’t know what values are read from ESXi to display that. And even after I changed the FRU values with the IPMICFG tool, reboot, and reinstalled the ESXi, the values were still displayed wrong. But at least I learned some new things during that troubleshooting. And I wanted to put the lessons learned into a blog post. Just in case you have similar issues, or you want to do the same things.

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Update on website performance and security

Long time no hear! My last blog post has been a while ago, I’m sorry for that. I may have mentioned possible reasons for that (or maybe excuses) in some other posts already. I’m busy in the office, and when you’re working as a customer, there is not the same level of troubleshooting (and thus the source for blog posts) as when you would work as a partner (vendor => partner => customer, from an IT tech perspective). I know, that might be only an excuse. We’ve got plenty of servers, stuff in the cloud, and therefore one may say there are plenty of problems. But no, there’s not much. Honestly. But anyway, I’m still keeping the troubleshooting stuff on my radar, and if there will be some good and beefy issues, I’ll document that and blog about it. Because in IT, you’ll be probably not alone with that problem. And any blog post can help.

What’s up then?

Today’s topic is not about virtualization, networking, storage, or anything else in that sphere. It’s about an update on my website’s performance and security.

Recently we had a discussion in our team on how to improve website performance in general, how complex it could be, what solutions could be applied, and who should be on board with such a project. After the “official” part we had a chat in our core team about our personal websites, website monitoring, performance, etc. and we stumbled across some speed test websites. I mean, we’re all somehow nerds, isn’t it? No offense!

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No vMotion possible after ESXi host BIOS update

I was working on some ESXi upgrades recently. We’re currently preparing everything to make the upgrade to vSphere 7 somewhen smooth as silk. That means that we’re rolling out vSphere 6.7 on all of our systems. Recently, I was tasked to upgrade some hosts in a facility some hundred miles away. The task itself was super easy, managing that with vSphere Update Manager was working like a charm. But before the vSphere upgrade, I had to upgrade the BIOS and server firmware to make sure that we’re fine with the VMware HCL.

The second host was done within one hour and received the complete care package. But the first host took a bit longer due to unforeseen troubleshooting. I’d like to share some helpful tips (hopefully they’re helpful).

What happened?

As mentioned, upgrading the ESXi host through the vSphere Update Manager worked like a charm. But before that, I booted the server remotely with the Service Pack for ProLiant ISO image to upgrade the BIOS and firmware of that server. Also, that went very well and. As there are two ESXi hosts at this location, we had shared storage available and we were able to move the VMs from one host to the other without further issues. One host placed into maintenance mode, upgrade, remove from maintenance mode, and the same for the second server. That was the idea.

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New Year – New Hosting?

To make the long story short: this week I moved my blog to a new web host. And I was surprised and pleased with how well and smooth everything went. But I’ll don’t just let you alone here. I’d like to explain the how and why I moved.

When I started with WordPress as my blogging platform, it was all just fun and games. Nothing technical, no helpful blog posts, just tinkering around, having fun writing. But with my engagement in the IT community, with my career in IT, I have rethought. I stopped playing around, and I started writing actual helpful blog posts. I started to write in German because this is my native language. At some time I switched to English, not without a reason (or more actually more than one). I have often dealt with English-speaking customers, with hotlines from international companies. And today at my current employer, English is the de-facto standard when opening tickets internally, or talking to other people in different time zones. I switched to English because most of the IT people I know, personally and on various social media, are native English speaking or understand English. Maybe I also switched because of reaching more people with helpful blog posts. And when I check the blog statistics, most visitors are from the United States. So, not a wrong decision at all, switching to English.

But enough of the forewords.

The why

When I moved my blog from one host to the other back in the days, I was looking for more speed. If you know WordPress, then you know it’s all PHP and MySQL, which can be highly dynamic content. And from a webserver perspective, dynamic content can’t be delivered as fast as static content. But, in my humble opinion, that was back in the days when there wasn’t much SSD storage in the webservers, or it was expensive, or with old PHP versions, etc.

My previous web host had also WordPress, but not the traditional way. He offered static WordPress hosting, which made me curious, and I wanted to give it a try. You’ll get a WordPress instance which you can start whenever you want, write your blog posts, do the other stuff, and shut it down. After that, you’ll create a so-called artifact, which renders all the dynamic content from your blog into static files. All your text, CSS, and JS files, images, etc. will then be put onto Amazon CloudFront automatically. And that’s the static content you’ll get presented when visiting the website. The performance was good, good enough for me.

But it has also some downsides. Some native WordPress features, like comments, search, or some plugins, just don’t work like this. They can’t be static because they relate to the dynamic WordPress in the backend. I had to find solutions for many problems. And I’m still not sure, even if I was able to test it successfully if it really worked.

I decided to move back to my original web host, where I have my domain running since 2008. Not only because of that but also because of the aforementioned circumstances. I’m also born in Switzerland, and my blog has a Swiss TLD (.ch), but with that TLD it’s still (highly) visible also international. My new web host caught me with a good hosting package, which has 250GB of website storage and is backed by 100% NVMe SSD, with Nginx and Apache running in parallel, 50MB of Nginx cache, and many other things. And that for a reasonable price, at least by Swiss standards. Yes, it may be true that many things are more expensive in Switzerland than abroad. But not everything.

That’s the why.

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Setting up Visual Studio Code for WSL 2

Recently, I’ve published a blog post on how to set up the Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2 (WSL 2). I’m currently learning Ansible and I was searching for a solution that fits my needs in terms of usability, knowledge, etc. I’ve tested some Linux distributions, tried to connect remotely with my coding tool of choice, Visual Studio Code, but all were complex or didn’t work as expected. That’s the reason I gave WSL 2 a try.

I really like Visual Studio Code. It’s fast, supports a wide range of languages, and it’s free. Yes, free. And you don’t even need a registration nor a login to download it! VSCode also supports a variety of extensions. If it detects that you’re writing something in YAML, it might help you with a pop-up that there is an extension for it, for example, to properly highlight the syntax of that language. And that’s just one great example. With the combination of WSL 2 and VSCode, I’m able to write scripts (or playbooks in Ansible terms) and run them directly in the same tool. How cool is this?

Today, I’m going to show you how you can set up Visual Studio Code to use it with your already installed WSL 2 Linux distribution (at least when you read my previous blog post and followed the guide there).

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