Monday, June 27, 2016

Moon Car

I love my car.

The black Volvo S40 that I lovingly refer to as "The Legend" joined our family eleven years ago. After we drove it home for the first time, the odometer displayed a dozen or so miles, which measured the distance from the dealership to our home. A pristine, beautiful, Swedish (well, kinda, with the exception of FoMoCo's under-the-hood meddling) thing. Flawless. Lustrous. Immaculate. All those tight adjectives applied, for The Legend was born in the summer of 2005.

Fast forward to 2016, and The Legend is still with us. But all of those youthful descriptors have been voided, the victims of time, weather, circumstance, and use. From a distance, it's the same small sedan as it ever was. But get closer, and you'll see what it's become.

The Legend is a mechanically functioning ghost of its former self. The radio works, but not the CD changer. Some speakers work, most do not. The power seat is powerless, stoic in its semi-reclined pose. (Luckily, it froze in an agreeable position for me.) The ceiling upholstery droops and sags, which is why I fired a few dozen staples upwards to delay the inevitable. And yesterday, after years of protracted wilting, the ceiling upholstery was unceremoniously ripped from the interior by your humble correspondent in a moment of clarity and/or rage. The trunk lid's light melted years ago. Don't ask. The glove compartment lock is broken, which created a time capsule of the late 2000s that will never be opened. Melted hard candies add muted color to an otherwise dreary gray back seat. The air conditioning taunts the car's occupants by secretly replacing cooled air with humid, warm air. Combined with a leaking moon roof, the devious AC creates a mobile rainforest in the interior of The Legend, an environment which is ideal for insects and certain fungal organisms that pose respiratory hazards for, well, humans.

Oh, and sometimes water shoots out of the floor vents.

Sic Transit Gloria

For a brief moment yesterday, I was ready to get rid of this car. The ensuing cascade of emotion started with anger, evolved into curiosity and excitement, morphed into resentment and disbelief, and finally settled for resignation. Kinda like this (warning, bad words ahead):

Fuck this car.
Ooo, it's time for a new car!
Fuck this, I don't want a new car.
It's fine. It's fine. I'll deal with it. It's fine.
Fuck it.

The Legend's glory faded long ago. The odometer currently indicates that the Legend has logged enough miles to get to the moon (at least when the moon is at its closest to the Earth, which is 225,623 miles). The Legend is the Moon Car. And it's got the Heritage Club emblems to prove it.


The problem with this car is that it's still working. It starts up every morning when I need to go to work. It starts up every evening when I want to go home. It doesn't complain. It just keeps running. Its primary function, transport, is reliably satisfied at every opportunity. Secondary functions, originally as reliable, are now just visiting, temporal pleasantries. But to say goodbye to this car now would be like burying your thirteen year-old cat while he still enjoys long naps in the summer sunshine. It's a grotesque thought that should make you recoil, not quicken your pulse with anticipation.

And so, The Legend lives on. Uncountable miles await ahead, laid out on familiar and unfamiliar roads. It keeps running. It keeps running. It keeps running.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

VMTools Installer Doesn't Appear on a Windows VM

Look. I know what you're thinking.

"Really? A blog post about VMTools? Good lord, man. Write about something interesting already."

Well, the truth is that what many of us consider boring, pedestrian, mundane, and trivial is actually a big deal to the vast majority of vSphere users out there. So shut up already. If you know everything, why are you even here in the first place? Shouldn't you be working on your second VCDX?

(NB: That's awfully defensive, I know. I'm probably sorry, if that makes you feel any better.)

On to the post.

Hey, VM admin! Have you ever encountered a VM that has a VMware Tools status of Not running (Not installed), selected "Install/Upgrade VMware Tools," and then wondered why the installer didn't launch on the VM's desktop? It's weird, right?

I recently ran into a strange configuration problem on three VMs that took me a few minutes to unravel. And because I haven't posted in a month, and because maybe someone else will run into the same issue and can save a minute, I'm sharing this story with you, dear readers.

The Symptom

You're logged in via Remote Desktop to a VM, and although you've initiated the VMTools installer from the vSphere Client (or Web Client, but you know you still use and love the vSphere Client), you don't see the nice little installer pop-up on the VM's desktop. You confirmed that the VMTools install is in progress from vSphere's perspective, and you can see that the ISO is connected and mapped to the image properly. And still, no trace of the installer on your VM.

In my case, it turns out that the virtual optical drive was disabled on these VMs. Further inspection revealed that the template had this configuration, so all VMs deployed from said template inherited this problem. Annoying.

The Fix

The fix is simple.

  1. Open Device Manager on your VM.
  2. Expand the DVD/CD-ROM drives element, and you'll see that the virtual devices is disabled (it's the little downward arrow that indicates a disabled state).
  3. Right-click that MFer and select Enable.
  4. Open Windows Explorer, and you'll see the VMTools image mounted and ready.

VMTools is good stuff. I mean, the drivers and all are great. And who doesn't love a little vmxnet3? But most importantly, you'll never have to CTRL + ALT out of your VM consoles ever again.

Sometimes, it's the little things.