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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Automate the installation of a Windows DataProtector client

A client today wanted to push the DataProtector agent from SCCM / System Center 2012 instead of from Data Protector. It's not that difficult, but I couldn't find the command-line setup documented anywhere.

You will need to run (as an administrator):

  net use r: \\installserver.ifost.org.au\Omniback
  r:
  cd \x8664
  msiexec /i "Data Protector A.09.00.msi" /passive INSTALLATIONTYPE=Client ADDLOCAL=core,da,autodr
  net use /delete r:

Obviously, substitute installserver.ifost.org.au with your install server, and if R: is already allocated, use something else instead.

Then, trigger the following command on your cell manager:

 omnicc -import_host clientname

Replace clientname with the name of the client.

Script this as appropriate (e.g. after the operating system has booted) in order to have an unattended installation.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Data Protector CRS operation cannot be performed in full-screen mode

Today's head-scratcher: after upgrading to 9.07 on a Windows cell manager, the CRS service won't start.

Eventvwr says something even weirder:

The Data Protector CRS service terminated with service-specific error The requested operation cannot be performed in full-screen mode.. 

I was in full screen mode at the time, but it still wouldn't start even when I minimised my RDP session. For my own sanity, I was glad of this.

Trawling through Daniel Braun's http://www.data-protector.org blog, I saw some comments there that it could be related to anti-virus software. Nope, not that either.

The debug.log said something a little bit more believable:

[SmCreateTable] MapViewOfFile(size:17505216) failed, error=[5] Access is denied.

I discovered that I could reliably get that message added that message every time I tried to start the CRS. But what is actually being denied?

So I ran omnisv start -debug 1-500 crm-vexatious.txt

I then had a 160KB file created in C:\programdata\omniback\tmp that began with OB2DBG, ended with crm-vexatious.txt and had CRM in the filename. Good: at least it gets far enough that it can create debug messages.

Scrollling right to the bottom of it, there it was:

Code is:1007  SystemErr: [5] Access is denied
************************   DEFAULT ERROR REPORT   ***************
[Critical] From [email protected] "" Time: 5/8/2016 1:00:33PM
Unable to allocate shared memory: Unknown internal error.

Internally, the function to return a shared memory segement presumably encodes something as 1007; CRS then exits with that code (which is the standard Windows error code for "can't be performed in full-screen mode").

There aren't many reasons for a shared memory allocation to fail. In fact, the only one I can think of that could be relevant here is if the segment already exists. I thought about figuring out what the equivalent to ipcrm is on Windows, gave up and rebooted the box.

And it came up perfectly. Funnily enough, if I had had no idea what I was doing, I would have just bounced the box to see if it would have fixed it, and saved myself a headache and some stress wondering what was going on. Ignorance would have been bliss.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

[Politics] The Rise of the Technologist Parties

What’s the most important resource? What is it, that if you control it, gives you power?
Here are four of the most common answers you will hear:
  • The most important resource is land. Without land we have no food (or anything else for that matter).
  • The most important resource is the labour of massed workers. Without anyone to do the work, nothing will get done and we will have nothing.
  • The most important resource is the environment. Without air to breathe or water to drink, there is no economy.
  • The most important resource is the capital that dictates what gets done. Money is power: we should try to remove aberrations that send capital into unnecessary and pointless directions.
Most people can align with one of these viewpoints. In fact, in Australia these viewpoints are so strongly held that we even have political parties to represent those who hold those views (in order: the Nationals, Labor, the Greens, the Liberals).
As far as I can tell, in the USA the middle two align with the Democrats and the outer two with the Republican party. In some states in Australia, a similar merge has happened with the Nationals and Liberal party merging.
We look at these answers as if they have been around forever and that there can be no other significant factor, ignoring the fact that “the labour of workers” as a significant asset was a rarely-expressed thought prior to 1850, nor was there much coherency to the green movement before “Silent Spring” in the 1960s.
But something has just changed. We’re seeing it first in Australia because of our preferential voting and large numbers of micro-parties. In this week’s elections, the vote for “other” parties grew. About 1 in every 4 Australians did not vote for any of the major parties, but instead voted for one of about 50 “other” parties.
There’s a good chance that “other” parties will end up holding the balance of power in the lower house and even with desperate changes to the voting rules enacted by the previous parliament, there are likely to be numerous “other” parties in the upper house.
And I think it’s an acknowledgement that there are other answers to my first question.
Let me add three answers, which statistically (according to the election results) must be viewpoints held by at least 250,000 adults in Australia:
  • The most important resource in a society is the quality and depth of the religious faith of the members of that society.
  • There is no important resource that is worth getting worked up about. Let’s all have sex and smoke dope.
  • The most important input in the 21st century is the accessible and useable corpus of science, technology and engineering.
The religious faith answer is interesting in itself and maybe one day I’ll write an article on it. There are lots of different threads to that one.
The Sex Party and HEMP party alliance together polled nearly as well as the Christian parties. If we add in the Drug Reform party, they were well ahead. I’m not sure what to make of this. Does this show that we are a very mature country, well up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, or does it show the opposite?
But for now, let’s look at what happened with science, technology and engineering.
Have a look through the candidates for the Science party (which surely is the party closest to this last answer), and you will find a list of bright folks: a PhD in biochemistry here; a technology startup founder there; a professional scientist.
It’s a funny co-incidence, but those are all job titles of future equity lords. If you are a wealthy founder of a high-tech company, you probably at one point had a job title like one of those.
Let’s rewind. If you wanted to get wealthy twenty years ago, you went into finance, did some deals, took a cut and everyone came out smiling because there was always margin to be made. Play things right and you could make a few million just getting the right people and the right money together. You really only needed some capital.
If you wanted to get wealthy fifty years ago, you would have started a factory, employed lots of workers to churn out goods and made a profitable living on the marginal value that each worker could produce. You needed a supply of trainable workers and a bit of capital to get going.
If you wanted to get wealthy one hundred years ago, you needed to own land. The more of it you had, the more you could grow on that land. Come harvest time you would employ as much temporary labour as you could acquire and sold the goods produced. You needed land, a supply of semi-trained workers and a lot of capital.
Today, if you want to become wealthy, you need a skillset that lets youautomate somethingso that you can leverage your own brainpower to do the same work as a hundred people without that skill set. Here are some examples:
  • A biotech startup that works out how to get bacteria to synthesise some useful industrial chemical.
  • The machine learning / artificial intelligence startup that works out how to automate a white collar (or blue collar) job.
  • The medtech startup that has some new process for treating or identifying a disease.
  • The software company that creates a viral product that everybody wants.
You need very modest amounts of capital (the most expensive of these would probably be the medtech startup which would probably need to raise $5m). Since any of these occupation titles (computer scientist, biotech developer, medical device engineer) can generate very valuable intellectual property in a very short time, there’s a good chance that you would maintain a significant equity stake in your business after all the capital raising has been done and the company that you form goes on to become worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. There’s a name for the people whose lives have these trajectories: “equity lords”.
Emphatically, to get there, equity lords don’t need:
  • A large workforce of unskilled or semi-skilled labour. Unlike manufacturing, doubling revenue does not require doubling the workforce. So right-wing parties trying to rail on the side of big business against labour unions are unlikely to be saying anything of importance. Let’s just put this into perspective: I overheard a salary negotiation for a potential new employee the other day. The employer had offered $140-$150k plus equity. The candidate replied that this was way too low, doubled the equity component and asked for $20k extra. The employer happily agreed saying “well if it’s only an extra $2,000 per month…” This company has less than 5 employees, but would have wages approaching $1m / year.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars of capital. We have moved into a world where the financiers are desperately trying to find returns and the only place they can find them is in the leftovers of startups. Financiers are trying to figure out how they can make cost-effective smaller investments because there just isn’t the call for big rounds of capital raising any more. So right-wing parties in the pockets of Wall Street (and its international equivalents) aren’t particularly relevant here either.
  • Special government programs. (In fat, there is clear evidence from the QUT CAUSEE study that some of these can be actively damaging.) So leftist parties aren’t going to be terribly interesting to the equity class.
  • Natural resources, land area, or access to particular places. I’ve seen (and worked with) hyper-growth firms that have operated out of heritage listed buildings, garages, beach fronts, dedicated incubators and top-floor city offices. I’ve had meetings with people running significant startup companies where we brought our children to the park and they worked sitting on a picnic rug. High population densities (to bring together the skills and resources required) do seem to be important, so both the parties supporting farmers and parties trying to keep the natural environment preserved are irrelevant and in some cases actively antagonistic. (Try suggesting “no genetically modified organisms” to a biotechnologist and see what happens.)
The story of the Australian (and the world economy) over the next 20–50 years is going to be the rise of this equity lord class. In the same way that the landed gentry gained wealth and then used that to leverage political power in the past, the equity lords will grow in wealth and in numbers and in their desire to be represented politically.
Who is going to represent them? Based on the dot points above it doesn’t look like any existing major party is well positioned for it. But there is at least one minor party that looks very well aligned. Looking at the parties at the last Federal election, it’s obvious who it will be representing the experts who will be running the artificial intelligences and nanotech factories that will be pervasive in our lives mid-century.
So, while it would be easy to dismiss the Science Party / Cyclists coalition as just another silly minor party (the one who polled lowest outside of their alliance), I’m predicting a steady growth over the next decades in both its size and its support. Paul Graham has written about the possible political implications of startups, and in Australia we’re seeing that play out starting right now. Don’t dismiss the possibility of Prime Minister Meow-Meow Ludo Meow defending the seat of Grayndler in the 2036 election.

Friday, 10 June 2016

GRE for Linux requirements

If you are using Data Protector to backup your VMware environment, and you have Linux boxes, you might have tried to use the Granular Recovery Extension (VMware GRE). The GRE lets you recover individual files from a VM-level or VMDK-level backup; it does this by mounting the VMDK file on a Linux GRE proxy.

There are three variations of GRE restore:
  • If you backup to a StoreOnce device (e.g. a B6200, a D2D4500, a StoreOnce virtual appliance, or a software storeonce component on a Windows or Linux member of the cell)... then you need a very large disk and not much else.
  • If you backup using 3PAR snapshots (which works very well indeed) and you are doing a GRE recovery from a snapshot, you don't need a big disk or anything else much at all -- just something connected to the 3PAR the meets the usual (documented) list of requirements.
  • The very weirid case is if you use a SmartCache device. These are uncompressed, raw disk spaces for putting VMware backups on to. The SmartCache is accessed by the Windows and Linux proxies via Windows file sharing. Thus the Linux GRE proxy server needs to have Samba installed on it.

One remaining issue, that I hope gets fixed one day soon: the machine that you want to restore to has to have a world-writeable NFS share. Ouch: given that it is copying from one Linux box to another Linux box, I'm not quite sure why this couldn't have been done with SFTP. So I suspect everyone will just have a multi-stage restore for GRE on Linux boxes:
  • Load the backup from StoreOnce onto a large disk.
  • Restore files from that to a server with an insecure NFS share.
  • Copy from the NFS share via SSH to the actual server where you needed the file restored.
I presume also that setuid / setgid binaries are therefore not supported for GRE restore. (Because who creates a world-writeable NFS share without the nosetuid,nosetgid options enabled?) Implication: you can't restore /usr or /sbin from a VMware backup reliably.


Of course, you might find it cheaper to use VMX (https://store.data-protector.net/collections/vmx-licenses) instead of Data Protector -- it is much cheaper than the equivalent GRE and VEAgent licenses. As far as I know, it doesn't face these limitations.

Greg Baker is an independent consultant who happens to do a lot of work on HPE DataProtector. He is the author of the only published books on HP Data Protector (http://www.ifost.org.au/books/#dp). He works with HPE and HPE partner companies to solve the hardest big-data problems (especially around backup). See more at IFOST's DataProtector pages at http://www.ifost.org.au/dataprotector, or visit the online store for Data Protector products, licenses and renewals at http://store.data-protector.net/ 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Today's silliness: social etiquette bots

https://howwegettonext.com had me writing a semi-serious article as a riff from Anne-Tze's Appointment, and then decided to cancel it after I went through three drafts. So I published it anyway: What I need is a social etiquette bot.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Data Protector e-learning is now available -- with a special bundle

I've negotiated some very good pricing with HPE for their e-learning content -- as far as I can tell, there is no way of getting access to it anywhere in the world cheaper except by stealing it. I've sweetened the deal with a bundle of all my Data Protector 9 books and a virtual lab environment offer.

I've only got an English samples, but it's available in several languages. Have a look at some sample course content to get a feel of what it's like. (It's very similar to the Data Protector Essentials course).

There are interactive simulations which give hands-on practice very simply and easily. And finally, there are job aids supplied as part of the package.



Available for purchase now (along with lots of other Data Protector resources, books, licenses)...
https://store.data-protector.net/collections/training-courses/products/data-protector-e-learning-course


Greg Baker is an independent consultant who happens to do a lot of work on HPE DataProtector. He is the author of the only published books on HP Data Protector (http://www.ifost.org.au/books/#dp). He works with HPE and HPE partner companies to solve the hardest big-data problems (especially around backup). See more at IFOST's DataProtector pages at http://www.ifost.org.au/dataprotector, or visit the online store for Data Protector products, licenses and renewals at http://store.data-protector.net/ 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

HP Service Manager tools @JIRAServiceDesk @github

For customers running HP Service Manager, I have two freebies:



sm-tools

Tools for interacting with HP Service Manager
  • activitywsdl.unl -- enable WSDL access to the Activity table
  • create-or-update-incident.sh -- when NNM detects a node goes down, either update the existing Service Manager incident or create a new one.
  • event-handler.sh -- When NNM generates an event (either up or down), dispatch appropriately to Service Manager
  • email2ticket.py -- a much easier way of having HP SM receive emails that doesn't involve Connect-IT. Edit email2ticket.conf and you're ready to go
  • fastpass-email2ticket.py -- similar to email2ticket but designed to work with FastPass, and report the ticket as closed automatically
  • sm2email.py -- a much easer way for HP SM to send emails that doesn't involve Connect-IT. Edit sm2email.conf and that's about it.
  • sm2sms.py -- if HP SM tries to send a "pager" notification, send an SMS. Doesn't involve Connect-IT.
  • smcli.py -- library and program -- Swiss army knife of interacting with Service Manager on the commandline
  • smprocmail.py -- instead of polling an IMAP or POP server, why not deliver your customer interaction emails via procmail through to smprocmail.py which will turn them into interactions instantly (i.e. no polling delay). Amaze your customers.
  • valuesms.py -- command-line script for sending emails