Hyper-Ventilation, Act I

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I guess there are at least two people out there who may be interested in hearing about my latest upgrade experiences. One of them I know is just about to experience hyper-ventilation. Perhaps if I sprinkle it with some useful tips and pointers I can make it at least partly worth reading. And maybe mix in some wry comments and general grumbles about the life and times of a reluctant network-basher (that's a bit like a metal-basher, but with a smaller hammer).

Overture: "Where the Story Starts"

So, the story so far is that my network consists of a mixture of old machines acting as servers (only one of which actually is a "proper" server - the rest is a sad selection of aging desktops) that - together - support an internal and an external domain, ISA and mail servers, DNS, DHCP, file storage, backup, time synchronization, and pretty much everything else. A while ago I upgraded the internal domain from Windows 2000 Server to Windows 2003 Server (mainly because I wanted to use media streaming) - see Say Hello to DELILAH for more excruciating detail about that episode.

But the really important stuff (external domain, ISA, Exchange, etc.) is still on an old Dan Technology desktop running Windows 2000 Server, with an identical box available as a "cold swap" emergency backup. As support for 2000 will no doubt disappear in the near future, and the boxes are looking exceedingly delicate with the never-ending stream of patches and updates, I decided to do a full replacement with virtual server technology on Windows Server 2008.

Yes, I did check the Windows Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) to ensure that the new servers I selected will run Windows Server 2008 and are Hyper-V compatible. And I ordered them with three network cards so I can have separate host, internal, and external connections as Microsoft recommends. Mind you, looking back now, it's a shame I was a bit mean about ordering bigger disks. I have no idea how two 160 GB disks can fill up so quickly, and without any real effort on my behalf...

Scene I: "The First Day"

This started with installing Windows Server 2008 on the two new boxes. I actually did read the instructions about how to install an O/S on the servers, and followed the steps in the Dell OpenManage utility right up the point where it reported that my Windows installation disk was not "valid media". So, instead, just do the obvious and stuff the Windows 2008 DVD into the drive and reboot. Try and stay calm (the first Hyper-Ventilation moment) as the loader furkles about inside the server to see if it can match a SATA driver with the various bits of wire and plastic that make up the hardware, and -"YES!" - it installs without a problem.

Repeat on the other server, and then install the Hyper-V role on each one. Ah - forgot to edit the BIOS settings to enable the processor virtualization technology (it's disabled by default). Then use Hyper-V Manager to allocate the two extra network connections on the extension card (an Intel PRO/1000 PT Dual Adapter) to provide virtual "internal" and "external" connections to my network. The built-in network adapter provides a separate connection to the parent or base Windows 2008 O/S instance that runs the Hyper-V role, as suggested by various Hyper-V experts.

Scene II: "Looking Hopeful"

The next day's main task was to set up one of the Hyper-VMs as the main domain controller for my internal domain. Amazingly, ADPREP ran perfectly on the existing Windows 2003 domain controller so it was time to create my first Virtual Machine (VM). I wanted fixed size disks, as Microsoft recommends for production servers, and so had to use the New | Disk option to create the disk first, then New | Virtual Machine to create the VM with the existing disk. The Hyper-V Manager automatically enables the CD-ROM for it, so you just shove the 2008 setup disk in and start the new VM to get installation under way.

However, when I get to the bit where you join the domain, the new VM can't see the network, or even its host. Look in the "Manage Network Connections" list and there aren't any there to manage. It seems that the Hyper-V stuff was a Beta in the release version of Windows 2008, but got upgraded on the host when I applied all of the service packs and patches. Problem is that the new installation in the VM doesn't have the corresponding patches, and can't see the network to fetch them from WSUS or Windows Update.

What you have to do, it turns out, is go into the Settings for the VM in Hyper-V Manager with the VM turned off and remove the Network Connection and replace it with a "Legacy Network Connection" that simply nails the physical NIC to the side of the VM. You can almost image Hyper-V shoving it's nose up to the O/S in the VM and saying "Now can you see it?" in a threatening kind of tone... At least this gets you a network connection you can use to fetch and install the release version of the Hyper-V integration components. Then replace the Legacy Connection with a Virtual one. At this point, if you are installing something other than Server 2008 in the VM, you'll also need to use the Action menu to install the Integration Components (just like with Virtual PC).

Scene III: "Distant Sirens Calling"

Now I can join the new VM to the domain controlled by the old Server 2003 box. Except I can't because the Active Directory installation complains that it cannot find the domain controller - even though NSLOOKUP finds it and PING works on the IP address. But PING no longer works using the FQDN of the machine (as in "name.domain.com"). Why not? It did before.

Turns out that Windows Server 2008 is showing off already by using the funky new IPv6 protocol over the network; which, to the old DNS server in the Windows 2003 box, just sounds like "nah-nah-nah" noises. After another perusal of the fancy new-look KB pages on Technet, I found this note: "The DNS Server service in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 supports the storage, querying, and dynamic registration of IPv6 host resource records. DNS messages can be exchanged over either IPv4 or IPv6. To enable the DNS Server service in Windows Server 2003 to use DNS over IPv6, use the dnscmd /config /EnableIPv6 1 command, and then restart the DNS Server service."

That cured it, but it sure would have been nice to be forewarned. Probably it's in little writing at the bottom of one of pages in the increasing stack of printouts I'm now carrying around. I'll soon need to look out my old briefcase from the days when I was "a sales executive". Probably have a shave and wear a suit and tie as well to see if that helps.

Anyway, after that fix, I quickly joined the new virtual box to the domain and took over the FSO and other roles. I also set up the various folders, batch files, and other links so that the parent O/S would act as a file store to back up working documents en-route to the NAS (unless Buffalo come and take it away in a huff after they read last week's post) and then on to my secure backup facility (which is actually a separate USB drive).

Flushed with success, I even managed to move my Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) facility over to the new box and get that sorted as well, along with retargeting all the clients to it. Only about nine hours to get all this sorted!

More next week...

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Hyper-Ventilation, Act I