Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Set Your McData/Brocade Spheron Fiber Switch Banner

Had to do this today on a Sphereon 4400 switch and it wasn't quite the simplest procedure so figured I'd jot it down.

-Enable SSH (configure->ssh)
-Then SSH to the switch and use the following commands to set the banner text:

config switch banner
bannerText 1 "================Banner============="
bannerText 2 "This system is restricted....."
bannerText 3 "authorized users..."

bannerText 19 "All users must comply with Company Policy and..."
bannerText 20 "Instructions regarding the protection of..."
bannerText 21 "===============End Banner=========="

Obviously your own banner text will go in there and will look a bit different. The numbers refer to the line number and the text following it must be included in quotes. You can show your current banner by typing the command show when you're in the banner config mode.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Netapp and Backup Exec Compression Vs Deduplication

I recently did a small-scale test with our Netapp and Backup Exec 12.5 to determine if it would be best to compress or not compress backup data written to disk. (Either way the assumption was that the volume was to be deduplicated on the netapp post-process regardless of compression setting.)

Note: Backup Exec handles the compression on the application level and the netapp handles the deduplication on the hardware/storage level.

I ran across this page which did a similar test however didn't much pursue multiple copies of the same data, nor was backup exec used so I figured I'd do my own testing.

So the question is, which results in the lowest disk usage, compression and deduplication, or just deduplication?

The Test

-2 LUNs, each 250 GB
-One with compression and the other without
-Both LUNs deduplicated after all backups were run

Each LUN had written to it:

-3 backups of the same oracle server
-2 backups of the same sharepoint server
-2 backups of domain controller 1
-2 backups of domain controller 2

Both DCs (1 and 2) were 2008 and thus quite similar so there should be a fair amount of commonality among the data.


Windows usage:
with compress - 117 GB
no compress - 170 GB

output from the NetApp 'df -sh' command:

Filesystem used saved %saved
/vol/compress/ 186GB 63GB 25%
/vol/nocompress/ 162GB 88GB 35%


Overall this seems to suggest that it would be better to leave compression off in backup exec if you're backing up to a netapp disk.

Though for these results to be a little more conclusive I would probably have to have included more iterations of backups to the volumes.

This was interesting as our production backup to disk volume of compressed data is usually around 30% savings, which suggests that the same volume might be around 40% savings or more if it wasn't compressed.

The NetApp disk volumes in my test were also presented as LUNs rather than CIFS shares, which may have adversely affected deduplication percentages.

Application of Results

Hopefully this is helpful for anyone in the same boat using netapp storage and backup exec. Unfortunately to be able to turn off compression it has to be done on a per-job basis in backup exec (not per disk target). In my environment I use a disk pool containing netapp and local storage so I would have to target specific volumes for jobs to be able to get the higher storage efficiency using these results. Which for a 10% increase that probably won't be worth doing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Powershell script for prepending and appending text

I recently had the need to go through a text file and prepend a string to every line, and while that's ok for a couple of lines it doesn't work for a file with hundreds and thousands of lines. So here's the powershell command to do that:

get-content file.txt | foreach-object {add-content output.txt "text_to_add $_"}

This goes through every line in file.txt, adds "text_to_add" followed by a space and then whatever was on the original line (which is put in by the $_ ) and then writes that out to output.txt.

If you wanted to append to the end of every line it would be:

get-content file.txt | foreach-object {add-content output.txt "$_ text_to_add "}

If you wanted search for and replace only specific lines you'd write a function to do so which a good example of searching through a text file I've found here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cisco DHCP options for Nortel IP Phones

This took longer to track down via google than it should have when I was looking. So here it is simple and to the point for running Nortel IP Phones with cisco DHCP:

dhcpd option 128 ascii Nortel-i2004-A,,1,1;,1,10. interface inside

I used examples of s1: and s2: Of course your IPs will substitute there.

One thing to note, if you have a certain model of Nortel system (or have changed the listening port on yours) the 4100 in the command will of course be a different port...

here's the syntax:


“A” = the Hardware Revision of the i2004 Phone
“iii.iii.iii.iii” = the IP Address of the Call Server (S1 or S2)
“ppppp” = port number for the Call Server
“aaa” = the Action for the Server
“rrr” = the Retry Count for the Server

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Backup your Print Server (with server 2008)

The handy printer migration tool you might have used in 03 has now morphed into the command line utility printbrm in server 08 (Syntax here). Pretty straightforward, simply add print services to your 08 machine and then run the following command to backup:

printbrm -s \\server_to_backup -b -f c:\PrintServerBackups\servername.printerExport

The printbrm command is located in %windir%\system32\spool\tools

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Computer Should I Buy?

The following is my personal advice when people usually ask me the age-old question of "I need a computer, what should I buy?"

This advice is for you if:
  • You're a mainstream computer user who will use their computer like 75% of people out there (office documents, photos, Internet, music, email)
  • You don't care or probably won't ever upgrade your machine, open it up, understand what a SATA cable is, etc, etc.
  • You don't need to be able to play the absolute newest computer games as fast as they can possibly be run
  • You're not going to be doing graphic or video editing or other resource intense things on your computer
  • You don't have a need to run 12 or 24 programs all at the same time on your machine
Note: The following are my opinions as a result of my experience in IT and don't come with any sort of warranty, express or implied. Aka if you're buying a computer you're an adult and can make decisions like an adult. If you don't trust me feel free to research any of the information below yourself. Feel free to comment however I'm not here to help you buy a computer any further than this blog post.

Ok on to the advice:

What Brand - Buy a well known brand: Dell, HP, Compaq (made by HP), IBM/Lenovo, Apple etc.

New or Used - Computers are cheap, unless you're really strapped for cash and willing to take a gamble, buy new.

Build Your Own or Buy - If it's a hobby and you have the resources (time, knowledge, and money) to spend on it feel free to build your own system from buying all the individual parts. It's not rocket science but it will take some time and you do risk having problems along the way. You may save a little cash but if you factor in your time it's probably more expensive to build. Plus in buying you have one company to deal with if it breaks and one company that will ensure that all the components in the machine all work together.

Warranty - Get an appropriate warranty. Know what warranty you are buying! Some require you to ship the machine in which you may or may not like. There is also extra 'accidental' coverage that applies if you spill a drink on your laptop. Maybe you need it, maybe you don't. Match warranty to need and cost. Be emotionally ok with the machine breaking 1 day after your warranty is expired.

Cost - If you don't need it yesterday hunt for a deal. Check paper ads for your local electronics retailer, Dell Specials,, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, that kinda stuff. Don't spend a lot. For the cost of 1 top-end machine you can buy a middle of the road machine and completely replace it with an even faster machine in 2 or 3 years.

Buy Online or From a Store
- Both have their pros and cons just be aware that there will be variance on the knowledge of sales people (just like with people on the Internet) and take everything they say with a grain of salt, like any sales person :) If you buy online, be sure to buy through a reputable retailer.

PC vs Mac - There's quite a bit of info/opinion out there but my 2 cents: Macs are nice esthetically and functionally and generally more polished (though PCs have gained on them in recent years if you ask me). While Macs seem to have less problems in general, they are more expensive, less flexible, and have less software options than PCs. One thing noteworthy about Macs is that if you're near a Mac store you can take your machine in to the 'genius bar' and have a real person help you with it if you're having problems. I haven't used this service myself but would bet that this is superior in most cases to calling someone in India or whatever other foreign country. Some of us are Macs, and some of us are PCs. The choice is yours.

32 vs 64 bit - Windows comes now in 32 or 64 bit editions. You only need 64 bit windows (x64) if you need more than 3 GB of memory. However having 64 bit windows on a system with less than 3 GB of memory isn't going to hurt anything either. Most programs and things today work on either but feel free to check if you have any things that HAVE to work on the new system.

Other Stuff - If you have a printer, scanner, camera, mp3 player, or anything else that you want to connect to your machine check that it will work with your new version of windows or mac!

Store Services - Don't buy add on crap or warranty from a store (aka Best Buy) unless you are really dumb or lazy or rich. Again, unless you're one of the previous adjectives, get your warranty branded from manufacturer. Realize that retail stores will lie and pressure you to purchase things you don't really need. Its one of the ways they make money. Half of what they do is probably explained out on the web. Google is your friend.

Memory - Memory upgrades are sometimes cheaper to buy separately instead of an upgrade when you're building/buying your system. makes it quite easy to price memory upgrades and installation is usually about as hard as a screw or two. Most systems today run great on 2-3 GB of memory.

Programs - If you need office or other programs its usually best to buy it with the machine if available. ALWAYS run anti-virus protection. There are decent free ones out there at the very least. Don't forget to back up your important data! Computers and drives do fail! If you don't want to deal with having backup drives around is a good online backup service.

Size - For both desktops and laptops think about physical size of the machine. There is a lot of variance out there. Smaller desktop computers are nice however are not as easy to get into or upgrade. Laptops as well range in size from 9-inch up to 17-inch screens with everything in-between. Retail stores are great for getting a feel for the size of the machine and/or monitor that you will want.

Hopefully this post is useful to you if you're looking at buying a new computer. While it may not cover every single detail it should cover most of the points to consider in your decision. Happy computing.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Riverbed Note: Optimize (don't exclude) your KVM traffic

Discovered this interesting tip today. When connecting to our Dell (rebranded advocent) 2161DS KVM over the WAN it was taking up quite a bit of bandwidth. (up to about 1-2 Mb/s, depending on what was on the going on KVM)

I had previously added a rule to NOT optimize traffic to the KVM thinking that since it was interactive that it would be best if the Riverbeds didn't optimize the traffic. I suppose my subconscious mind also thought that the software had been designed a little better and this wouldn't be a problem.

So, after noticing the bandwidth used, I removed the exclusion rule I had previously set (thus allowing the Riverbeds to optimize that traffic) and then checked and saw that optimized was MUCH nicer on my WAN with no noticeable difference in experience.

In my 15 minutes or so of testing it showed 59% reduction

Moral of the story being DO optimize your KVM traffic over the WAN. (at least for the Dell 2161 DS KVMs)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2003 to 2008 Domain Controller Migration Checklist

So I am all done now removing our 03 AD server and replacing it with new hardware running server 08. Apart from a small exchange 2007 hiccup things went quite smoothly. Since I didn't find a short and concise checklist out there on this process I figured I would post one.

The following is my post-process brain-dump of the things to keep in mind along with a few comments and links I found helpful. It's by no means authoritative or comprehensive but should cover most of the process from a high level for upgrading a single DC in your average single domain environment with multiple domain controllers.

Removing old 2003 Server:
  • Verify you're getting good backups of the server to be retired
  • Migrate away any FSMO roles to another DC
  • Migrate radius/IAS to another server - Check IAS logs to test/confirm migration (located at %systemroot%\System32\LogFiles here's the format)
  • DHCP - In a multiple DHCP server environment with enough space in your other server's scope simply deactivate your scope on the server to be retired and let the other server pickup the leases as they expire. You'll want to make sure you wait till all eases are expired off the server before you stand up the replacement DC. In a single DHCP server environment (or if you don't want to wait for leases to expire) you'll have to do a hot cut over and migrate the database from the old to the new. Handy trick for migrating DHCP reservations here
  • DNS - Assuming your hosts have redundant DNS servers this should be straightforward.
  • Certificate Services - Microsoft Guide Here
  • AD - You'll want to make absolutely SURE the changes made with the demotion have fully replicated in your environment before you add the new DC.
  • KMS - If you have KMS running on your DC for activating OS installations you'll want to remove it (slmgr -ipk)
  • Anti-Virus
  • Any Monitoring Software
  • Backup Agent
  • Remove From Domain
Installing New 2008 Domain Controller:
  • Add server to domain - customize OS as desired - UAC, IE ESC, etc)
  • Turn off hibernation (why is this enabled by default Microsoft?) - powercfg.exe /hibernate off
  • Install Backup Agent and take full backup
  • Monitoring software
  • Anti-Virus
  • AD/DNS - dcpromo gives you the option to install DNS when it runs, no need to do separately
  • DHCP - See link above on migrating reservations
  • Activate KMS - (slmgr.vbs /ipk and then slmgr.vbs /ato)
  • Cert Services - Install per documentation
  • Migrate FSMO roles - Warning about infrastructure master not valid for single domain environments
  • Configure SNTP. If the new DC will be holding the PDC emulator role you'll want to configure external time syncing. See links at the bottom here. (w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:"" /syncfromflags:manual /reliable:yes /update)
Again, I didn't meticulously document my procedure as I went through it so there may be a few small things missed. However if you have anything to add feel free to add a comment!