pfSense 2.2 was released - How to install VMware Tools (sort of)


I'm a big fan of pfSense, an Open Source firewall and router appliance, that I use in my hosted lab. Recently version 2.2 of pfSense was released with a lot of bugfixes and new features. Please review the announcement blog post to find out what's new.

In my lab I upgraded one of the "not so important" pfSense VMs to version 2.2 and then tried to get VMware Tools installed and running again following my own guide that I wrote a while back for pfSense 2.0 and 2.1. But, well, things have changed a lot with pfSense 2.2, because it is now based on the latest FreeBSD version 10.1. Here is what I found out and what I ended up with.

What's new in the V-Front Online Depot


Since I launched the V-Front Online Depot about a year ago it has developed into a place where you do not only find the ESXi software packages that I created on my own, but also quite a few applications and drivers that others have contributed.

In 2014 Raphaƫl Schitz (he runs the excellent french hypervisor.fr blog) e.g. created and contributed the Intel Infiniband Subnet Manager (ib-opensm) package and the iperf v2 tool for ESXi, but this time I want to highlight two community developed driver packages that will help people running ESXi on white boxes with unsupported NICs.

2014: Year-end review


2014 - the fourth year of V-Front - is coming to an end. Like in the last years I have a list of highlights that I want to share - in case you missed any of them ...

How to make your unsupported NIC work with ESXi 5.x


When you try to install VMware ESXi on some whitebox hardware that is not officially supported by VMware then your attempt might come to an unpleasant end after the installer presented the error message shown above. ESXi has in-box support for a limited number of network interface cards (NICs), and sadly a lot of consumer grade devices are not on the list.

Is this the end of the world? No. If you are a regular reader of my blog then you probably already know that help (and in some cases even rescue) is available. However, I keep getting e-mails from people asking how to get their NIC xyz to work with ESXi ... So I finally took the time to write down all the steps that you need to take and the options you have - just to point them here instead of giving the same answers per e-mail again and again.

A very similar post of mine is How to make your unsupported SATA AHCI controller work with ESXi 5.5 - it is about a year old now and with 80k pageviews my most successful blog post ever. So far. Let's see how this one goes ...

How to avoid browser warnings when using the vCenter Web Client with a self-signed certificate


If you have a recent VMware vSphere installation with a vCenter server in production or in a lab then you will be aware of that the Web Client is the recommended choice for managing the environment and that the well known C# based vSphere Client is considered deprecated or legacy (since version 5.1 already).

However, when you connect to the Web Client of your freshly installed vCenter server for the first time using your favorite Internet browser you will be greeted by a more or less alarming warning. Chrome even warns you that VMware might steal your credit card information ;-) (well, they probably already have that) ... You should really be worried whenever you see this warning on a random Internet site, but you don't need to if it's your company internal vCenter server that you try to access.

So, why do you get this message, and how can you get rid of it?

VMware silently adds native USB 3.0 support to ESXi 5.5


The October 2014 patch of ESXi 5.5 already got a lot of attention, because it introduced additional Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) management capabilities to prepare for TPS being disabled by default in upcoming ESXi releases. And William Lam pointed out that this patch enables support for the Apple Mac Pro 6,1 ... but there is even more goodness in this patch!

When adding the associated Image Profiles to the VibMatrix I noticed that this bundle includes a new package named xhci-xhci. The related KB2087362 article only includes the standard disclaimer, but no information about what this really means: xHCI stands for Extensible Host Controller Interface, a USB standard that supports USB 3.0 (or SuperSpeed) controllers and devices.

That means with the latest ESXi 5.5 patch you are - for the first time - able to utilize USB Passthrough with USB 3.0 devices!

[Release] ESXi-Customizer-PS 2.3 - The ESXi image customization script


I have just released version 2.3 of my ESXi-Customizer-PS script - a PowerCLI script to create customized ESXi installation images and the destined successor of my ESXi-Customizer tool.

I was somewhat in a hurry to get this out, because with the release of ESXi 5.5 Update 2 a bug in PowerCLI ImageBuilder manifested itself that needed a workaround. The new version implements this workaround, but also has one other improvement that you will like.

Great flings and a contest!


When you heard about VMware flings for the first time (if ever) you probably wondered what this is: Flings are short-term projects that VMware engineers work on - supposedly in their spare time, just for fun -, and they result in software that is not officially supported by VMware, but serve a specific purpose and address challenges that you might have when using VMware products - in a very handy way. They are published by VMware Labs that also do some very interesting academic research and publications.