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July 26, 2015

Lab setup on Nutanix Community Edition

Introduction

In this post I’m going to share with you how I setup my initial lab on my Nutanix Community Edition single node cluster.  For my lab setup I use the Automation Framework by XenAppTraining.com.  If you love all things Citrix and Automation I strongly suggest you subscribe to the training membership.  Trond has done a wonderful job putting together the training videos and then also the Automation Framework.  I also suggest you subscribe to xenappblog.com as Trond shares some good insight into industry trends and his Ask Eric podcast where you can ask him questions that if he can’t answer himself will get another IT professional in the industry to answer.

Lab build process

Lets move onto the Lab setup.  So at this point you have your Nutanix cluster installed and your Container and Storage Pool has been setup.  The first thing for me with a lab is getting your ISO repository available so you can start creating VM’s and attaching the ISO’s to start the build.  As I don’t have NAS at home, just a few external hard drives with the data on them I required these available during build.

From another computer/vm you have available download WinSCP and connect to your cluster CVM VM IP address using port 2222 and authenticate with the same username and password you use to login to Prism.

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You will see the container folder you created with initial setup with nothing in that.  Go ahead and create a folder called ISO and then upload all the ISO’s you want from the left tab (source i.e. PC or external HDD or NAS) to the newly created ISO folder.

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Note:  You need to download the VirtIO drivers.  I downloaded my copy from this page.  Scroll mid way down and view Direct Download section.  Select the “Stable virtio-win iso” link and downloaded this.  Once downloaded upload the ISO using WinSCP as mentioned above to your ISO repository.

Once you have all your desired ISO’s uploaded you can almost start creating VM’s.

Login to Prism by opening a browser and browsing to the CVM IP address you configured.  It should redirect to https://cvm ip address:9440.  If for whatever reason it does not just enter in the IP in the manner shown

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Head over the the VM page

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On the far right select Network Config button.

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Add your desired networks.  I wanted to have 3 initially for my lab and this can change over time.  Mine is shown below.

VLAN0 which is my native VLAN
VLAN21 I’ve setup for Server network
VLAN22 I’ve configured for my PVS Streaming network.

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A really cool thing is that you can have Nutanix manage the network management as well which provides DHCP services to the VM’s on those network segments.  I did not opt for this as I wanted to use Microsoft DHCP, but I did test this and it works well.  I wasn’t sure how to configure additional DHCP options such as setting scope options 66 and 67 so I just setup my network configuration without using management.  As mentioned check it out, it does work really well.  (If anyone from Nutanix or community knows how to setup DHCP Scope options when enabling management on network I would like to know.  Just comment on this post for all to see.)

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Now that you have all your desired networks defined lets start creating our initial VM which will be our domain controller.  From Prism make sure you’re in the VM tab.  Click the Create VM button on the top right hand corner which will start the wizard for creating a VM.

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  • Populate the desired name
  • vCPU
  • Memory (RAM)
  • Disk Size (I’ve used SCSI disk)

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Notice that the CD-ROM is available, but does not have any ISO loaded.  Click the edit pencil on the CD-ROM and you will be taken to wizard to mount a CD.

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Type “/” in path area and another “/” to populate the folders within the Container and then ISO folder we created earlier.  I selected the Server2012R2_Trial.ISO file.  The ISO is now mounted to the VM.  Click Update and then Save to be taken back to the VM table.

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Go ahead and power on VM from the navigation tab below.

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Once VM is powered on you will see the little green led change from grey to green.  Click on the Launch Console option which will spawn another browser tab with an encrypted connection to the VM’s console (I must say I really like the simplicity of this integration, it’s basic, simple and responsive)

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Select the default language and time and currency format of choice, accept the EULA and select a custom install.

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You will notice that the installer does not pickup any disks.  We need to upload the VirtIO SCSI drivers from the VirtIO drivers CD.  Head on back to Prism, select the VM tab, then select your VM and select Update from the options panel below.  Click on the Edit pencil next to CD-ROM and change the currently mapped Windows Server ISO to the VirtIO ISO we uploaded to the Container earlier on.

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Head back to Console Tab and click on the load driver button, select browse and navigate to D:\vioscsi\2k12R2\amd64\ this will upload the Red Had VirtIO SCSI pass-through controller driver.

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You will now see the provisioned disk now so you can install the OS.  Head back into the Prism console, VM Tab, and update the CD-ROM mounted ISO back to the Server2012R2 ISO, save and update change and head back into console.

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All is now set to start the installation of vanilla windows server.  Click on the refresh button for the installer to detect that the Windows installation DVD is present and then click on next and continue and finish installer.

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Installation will continue to setting administrator password.  Set that and you’re first Windows Server 2012 R2 VM on Nutanix Community edition is built and ready to use.

I installed my first VM as my initial domain controller and then built a second vanilla VM using the same process as shown here.  My second VM is my Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) server.  Once VM is built I use the XenAppTraining.com Automation Framework to setup my MDT server and then use this server to deploy the rest of my lab using automation framework.

Once I had finished the MDT installation using Automation Framework setup script I just had to import the KVM Network and SCSI drivers to the MDT Deployment workbench.

  1. Go ahead and insert the VirtIO ISO to the MDT VM you’ve built using process above.
  2. Open Deployment workbench from the start menu
  3. Expand MDT BuildLab > Out-of-box drivers > WinPE 5.0 x64
  4. Click Import Drivers tab
  5. Import driver files from the following locations on the VirtIO CD (I’ve imported all Windows 2012 R2 drivers as my lab only runs this version currently)
    • Balloon Driver %CDROMDRIVELETTER%\Balloon\2k12r2\balloon.inf
    • Network/NIC Driver %CDROMDRIVELETTER%\NetKVM\2k12r2\amd64\netkvm.inf
    • SCSI Adapter Driver:  %CDROMDRIVELETTER%\VioSCSI\2k12r2\amd64\vioscsi.inf
  6. Expand MDT Production > Out-of-box drivers > WinPE 5.0 x64
    • Repeat step 4 and 5 for the MDT Production catalogue.
  7. Once these are imported update your deployment share which will update the Boot ISO and include the driver files above which will be installed during installation.

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Examples of the VM’s I have deployed using framework are shown below.

  • Citrix XenApp Delivery Controller + Storefront
  • Citrix XenDesktop Delivery Controller + Storefront
  • Microsoft App-V 5.0 server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Golden Images
  • Citrix Provisioning Server
  • Splunk server to test and use UberAgent which is the best monitoring tool I’ve seen for Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop environments
  • Whatever else I need.

 

Conclusion

I honestly love this tool.  I think every Systems Administrator/Engineer should be using it.  I think the work that Trond has put into this really helps one establish a great baseline for building and/or re-building servers in your lab and gives you consistency with setup which you really need.  Automation is key to give IT teams a competitive advantage in the business landscape today and because I’m not really all that good with scripting and coding I really love the fact that I can use a framework to get a bit of an understanding and delivery a great scalable solution really quickly.

So needles to say I really love this tool and it helps me tremendously and saves me a bunch of time when I rebuild my lab, or need to re-create a new Citrix PVS/MCS Golden Images or any other server workload.

If you would like to become a member of xenapptraining.com head to their website and register.  It’s really money well spent.

I hope this information was informative.  If there is additional detail you would like me to share let me know and I’ll put some time to help you with this.

Happy building.

 

2 Comments on “Lab setup on Nutanix Community Edition

Cameron Stockwell
July 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Nice write up sir ! Just letting you know that support for DHCP scope options 66 and 67 is targeted for NOS 4.5
Cameron

Reply
Gareth Chapman
July 28, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Cheers Cam, looking forward to testing it when it’s released.

Reply

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