FreeNAS 9.10 Released (how to upgrade..)

FreeNAS 9.10 has just been released.

Based on FreeBSD 10.3, FreeNAS 9.10 combines hundreds of FreeBSD improvements with dozens of bug fixes and feature requests, while retaining the familiar user interface. Topping the list of FreeNAS 9.10 features are greater speed and scalability, dozens of new hardware drivers, USB 3.0 support, and the addition of the bhyve hypervisor.

Intel Skylake CPU and I219-V & I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet controller support stand out from a platform perspective and users can now use USB 3.0 storage and network controllers. FreeNAS plugin jails have been upgraded to FreeBSD 10.3 templates, which are binary compatible with existing jails. For the more adventuresome, FreeNAS 9.10 also includes FreeBSD’s bhyve hypervisor, opening the door to hosting virtual machines on FreeNAS with operating systems such as GNU/Linux and SmartOS.

For more information about FreeNAS 9.10, please see the forum announcement, release notes and change log. Current FreeNAS 9.3 users are encouraged to upgrade to FreeNAS 9.10 to stay current with the latest bug fixes and feature requests

You can easily upgrade to the latest version:

Logon to the management interface:

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Go to System/Update/Check now.

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Check the ChangeLog and choose to apply the updates.

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(Downloading and installing the updates)

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Finally FreeNAS has to reboot and in a couple of seconds you’re back online!


Nakivo Backup & Replication in depth review

Some time ago I wrote about Nakivo Backup & Replication, more info here. In this blogpost I’m going to write about some special features I especially like about Nakivo Backup & Replcation (NBR from this point on..)

Flash VM Boot

Flash VM Boot enables you to run (boot) VM’s directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups without recovering the entire VM first. You don’t need any additional configuration and all changes don’t effect the backup  and are discarded when the VM is powered off. (You don’t have altered backup files)

Enabling Flash VM boot is very easy. Go to the recover menu and select Flash VM Boot.

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Select the VM

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After you click Finish & Run you see your Flash VM running on your VMware server. When the recovered VM is no longer needed, click Discard in the menu to power off and remove the VM.

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Like I mentioned all the changes are abonded. You are able to save your changes by replicating or backup this temporary VM.

Screenshot Backup verification

When you perform a back-up you want 100% confirmation that your backup is succesful. Nakivo Backup & Replication  (NBR) has a unique feature called Screenshot Backup Verification. This means that after a backup, NBR uses Flash VM boot to quickly mount and start (without network connectivity) the specific VM. After booting up the server, NBR takes a screenshot of the powered on VM and emails you that picture. The VM is then powered off. This way you see that the backup works. NBR uses iSCSI technology for mounting the backup files.

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Screenshot Verification can also be started on demand when you choose to.

Nakivo Virtual Appliance

It is very easy to deploy and configure the Nakivo Virtual appliance on your VMware server.After you download the OVF from the Nakivo website you can easily import that on your server.

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The benefits of deploying an OVF file is that a) it saves you a lot of time, b) you don’t have to spend so much time maintaining and patching your server and c) it’s ready to go. Just import it and it works! No need for configuring.

After importing the OVF file you can start the appliance.

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Configure the network settings, set the date/time and do a Software update. One remark : I updated the appliance using the CLI (it’s just Linux (Ubuntu) running) and afterwards I noticed bad network performance. When updating using the normal NBR interface everything worked fine. De default username/password is root/root. Don’t forget to change this! You can login to the appliance using https://<IP>:4443

 

 


Vembu BDR Suite 3.7.0 – Now also available as a free edition

Some time ago I wrote about Vembu BDR Suite here. Vembu just released Vembu BDR Suite 3.7.0. This latest version comes with many improvements like :

  • Accelerate backup performance with faster restores
  • Multitenancy for both Vembu BDR and Vembu Offsite DR servers. Very interesting for service providers and based on role based access. Customers can manager and monitor themselves using Group level web access which can be enabled.
  • New backend datase. PostgreSQL in stead of MongoDB and MySQL. This for better performance and less storage required
  • Improved scheduling options
  • Faster User Interface with a new location of some functions which improves handling
  • and now.. a Free Edition – Limited feature set but avaiable after the 30 day trial period at no cost.

More information:

The Free Edition is completely new and has the following included:

  • Support for VMware, Hyper-V, Windows Servers, Windows Workstation, File Backup
  • Support for backup to the Cloud using Vembu OnlineBackup
  • Agentless VMware Backup
  • vCenter level backup
  • Backup Multiple VM’s, full VM backup
  • Possibility to exclude particular VM or disk from backup configuration
  • Support for Direct SAN, Hot-Add and network transport mode
  • Application Aware Backup
  • Instant file recovery
  • Instant Granular Recovery for Microsoft Exchange, SQL, SharePoint and Active Directory!
  • Cross Hypervisor Migration (V2V)

As you see above it’s a pretty impressive list of components and features included in the free version. Obviously there are limitations so you can’t perform every action and configure all options in the free version. Based on your management, service level agreement (SLA), recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) requirements you can easily determine if the free version is something for you based on this “Free vs Paid edition” comparison.

 

 


VMware OS Optimization tool

The VMware OS Optimization Tool helps optimize Windows 7/8/2008/2012/10 systems for use with the VMware Hypervisor. The optimization tool includes customizable templates to enable or disable Windows system services and features, per VMware recommendations and best practices, across multiple systems. Since most Windows system services are enabled by default, the optimization tool can be used to easily disable unnecessary services and features to improve performance.

You can perform the following actions using the VMware OS Optimization Tool:

  • Local Analyze/Optimize
  • Remote Analyze
  • Optimization History and Rollback
  • Managing Templates

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After scanning the system you can select/de-select several optimizations:

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You can even scan remote clients:

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And all the settings can be saved in a template, there are public templates (for example LoginVSI) available:

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I think this is a great tool what you can use to tune your VM’s. Use with caution!

More info here


Citrix Connection Quality Indicator

Description

In complex environments, where distributed applications are deployed across the network utilizing numerous physical servers and workstations, connectivity can be reduced in general and/or per session basis. Connection Quality Indicator is a tool which provides feedback to the user when the network has been impacted to the point that the user’s experience is degraded. Displaying this information to the end user will improve overall user experience and reduce the number of helpdesk calls for network related user experience issues.

How to use Connection Quality Indicator

CQI is launched on session startup and continues to run for the life of the session notifying the user of changes to network performance. Notifications are used by CQI to alert the user about network state. There are several types of notifications that a user can see while the tool is running, they are as follows:

The way the end user interacts with CQI when using a Published Desktop or Application is for the most part the same, however, there are some subtle differences. When using a Published Desktop, CQI notifications are displayed in two different areas, system tray and standard notifications.

For Published Applications, since there’s no desktop, only standard notifications are shown.  If more than one Published Application is in use within the same session, only the foreground application will display the notification.

More information here


Recommended WordPress Filesystem Security 1

For those people who are (also) running WordPress. Hereby the recommended filesystem security settings (for Linux servers running WordPress) :

Name Recommended Permissions
root directory 755
wp-includes/ 755
.htaccess 644
wp-admin/index.php 644
wp-admin/js/ 755
wp-content/themes/ 755
wp-content/plugins/ 755
wp-admin/ 755
wp-content/ 755
wp-config.php 644

Altaro VM Backup v7 (What’s new)

Some time ago I wrote about the V7 beta version here. Altaro released their final edition of v7 recently.
Some of the key features of version 7:
  • Support for Windows 2016
  • Augmented Inline Deduplication
  • Boot from Back-up
  • New interface/GUI (in comparison to v6)

Support for Windows 2016

With v7 Altaro officially supports (with enhanced security and scalability) Windows Server 2016. You will now be able to use all of the features when upgrading to the latest version of Windows Server.

Augmented Inline Deduplication

Altaro’s unique Augmented Inline Deduplication increases performance of back-ups and restores for on- and offsite backups by transferring using inline deduplication instead of afterwards. This not only saves time, but it also reduces the amount of storage needed to store te backups. I can’t wait to test this feature.

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Boot from Backup

Boot from Backup is another innovation release in VM Backup V7. This enables administrators to boot from the backup location.

Any changes made to the VM are applied when the VM is rebooted. This feature ensures minimal downtime for end users and enables the administrator to fully recover the original VM without pressure from the organisation.

New interface

You might also have noticed the change in the Altaro logo color. Altaro took the opportunity to freshen up their look with their latest product release and also launched a new website that you can check out at www.altaro.com. The new GUI makes it easy to implement your backup strategy. It’s now possible to manage, configure backup/restore jobs accross multiple hosts all in the same GUI. (Altaro announced that future releases will expand those possibilities even further!) I upgraded my beta install to the final release and all went smooth. The existing configuration and jobs worked as they should after the upgrade. I did a restore test and that worked like a charm.

Currently I’m in the middle of testing the inline deduplication (I can already say I see amazing results) and the other features. I’m also working on a comparison with other vendors. Stay tuned for the results!


How to configure pfSense to allow outgoing SMTP traffic

In this scenario I would like to allow SMTP traffic to my internet provider so that an application in my test environment is able to send notification messages. In this environment I use pfSense.

For this to work, you have to create a port forwarding rule on the LAN interface forwarding traffic to any IP with port 587.

Open the pfSense interace and go to Firewall rules:

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Then create a new rule as follows:

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Make sure you use the right (internal) IP address of the server which is sending the emails.


Quick tip : How to check which other websites are sharing your (VPS/Web) server 1

Many people make use of VPS servers of providers like TransIP and GoDaddy.com

Often I hear people complain about the performance of their (web) server of Blog. Often this is due to overcomittment of the virtualization platform that the provider is using. Many websites have little to none traffic and at peak times the performance is not that great. (Keep in mind the price differences between hosting providers!) Don’t expect great performance when you use a $3/month WordPress website. Often those servers are heavily overcommitted.

You can check this very easily by using reverse DNS. An easy to use website is yougetsignal. Just fill in your (or any other) domainname and hit check. You instantly see which other websites are using the same public Internet IP Address. You see >30 other questionable websites??? Don’t expect top performance…

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Combine Plesk and New Relic to monitor your server(s) running your Blog (for free!)

I use Plesk for management of my web servers. It saves me a lot of time and makes managing several (Linux) web servers a piece of cake. Those web servers are running on virtual servers and I wanted an overview of the usage and the performance. I decided to use the API’s of New Relic because I already had a great experience and noticed that there was a Plesk extension for it.

Installing the extension is very easy. Go to extensions and add the New Relic – Application Performance Extension

Now click on the Extension New Relic to configure it. Open a extra tab in your browser and sign up for a free New Relic account here. (I prefer to use Google Chrome, it works beter)

After creating your account. You need 3 things, 2 of those you can find in the New Relic interface. First is the Account Number. You can find that in the browser:

That is the number between accounts/ and /applications.

The second is the API key. Go to Account settings:

And find your API key below:

Now go back to your other tab and let’s configure the New Relic extension. You notice the following screen:

First is the license key (step 2), the server name is the name of your server (of something to identify it) and the account ID is the number you wrote down. Choose to install Servers (this will install the appropriate client on the server for monitoring purposes) and click ok.

After some time, go to the New Relic tab, choose the servers menu and notice your server!

You notice the green square. Your server is in a healthy state. You notice the CPU, memory and disk statistics. Now let’s click on your server.

Wow! In one single overview you have all the necessary information you need. Is your website performing badly? At what time? Was it the CPU or memory?

Notice the Processes, Network and Disks tabs. Clicking on those you can easily find more information what is causing possibly a problem on your server(s)

Conclusion

When you are using Plesk for management for your server, the New Relic extension is a great way to monitor your servers. It’s very easy to configure and it gives you lot of information. You can use all the server features at no costs! All of the above is free and you receive no commercials or SPAM.