Auto-setting a Windows Azure Virtual Machine DNS setting

Introduction

If, like me, you are starting to move your Virtual Machines off those pesky laptops and Hyper-V servers that are sitting under your desk, and embracing The Cloud, then you might come across an interesting scenario.

Obviously, we don’t want to leave 10’s of Virtual Machines up and running in Azure because they will cost a LOT of money whilst sitting there consuming Compute Time whilst not doing anything productive.

Thank god, then, that Microsoft now lets us shut down our VMs and have them release the resources allocated to them so they don’t generate bills for compute time whilst not running.

Note: If you shut the machine down from within the VM, it will NOT deallocate those resources, this only happens if you use the “Shutdown” icon in the Azure Portal.

So, what is the issue I was talking about?

The Scenario

When you shut down a Virtual Machine and restart it, the network adapter seems to get re-provisioned.  So, any settings that you gave it (custom IP, DNS, etc) is lost and it gets set back to DHCP.

This is a problem when you have a Active Directory Virtual Machine running as this needs to be set as the DNS server of the Virtual Machines so it can do all it’s AD type stuff (such as let you log on with an AD account!)

The first symptom of this scenario is a nice error message when you try to log on with an Active Directory account stating that the domain cannot be found!

So, you have to log on with your local user account, set the DNS and then you can log off and back on again with your domain account.  What a pain!

The Solution

Aside to the, rather annoying, work around above, there is a simple solution.

Create a text file called “setDNS.cmd” and put the following into it:

 

:: Set primary and alternate DNS for IPv4 on Windows Server 
:: 2000/2003/2008 & Windows XP/Vista/7
@ECHO OFF
SETLOCAL EnableDelayedExpansion

SET adapterName=

FOR /F "tokens=* delims=:" %%a IN ('IPCONFIG ^| FIND /I "ETHERNET ADAPTER"') DO (
    SET adapterName=%%a

    REM Removes "Ethernet adapter" from the front of the adapter name
    SET adapterName=!adapterName:~17!

    REM Removes the colon from the end of the adapter name
    SET adapterName=!adapterName:~0,-1!

    netsh interface ipv4 set dns name="!adapterName!" static 10.0.0.4 primary
)

ipconfig /flushdns

:EOF

Make sure to change the IP Address (near the end of the script) to the IP address of your Active Directory Virtual Machine.

Copy that file into the following folder: 

C:\Windows\System32\GroupPolicy\Machine\Scripts\Startup\

Note: This is not my script, I found it here: http://superuser.com/questions/463096/change-dns-with-script 

Now, log onto your Windows Azure Virtual Machine and load up the Local Group Policy Editor (in windows 8 / server 2012, just type “Group Policy” into the windows search and you should find it)

Navigate through to Computer Settings -> Windows Settings -> Scripts (Startup/Shutdown) -> Startup

 

 

Click the Add button, then Browse and select the setDNS.cmd file you created earlier.  You don’t need to pass any parameters.

Save out all the windows and you are all set.  Now, the next time that you reboot your Virtual Machine it will restart with the correct DNS servers set and you will be able to log straight in with your Active Directory Account.

Hope this helps.

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Need Help: Rebuilding my HyperV server

I have blogged about my HyperV DevRig​ before, but want to look at making some annual modifications.

I might add some more capacity to it, but to be honest, it isn’t overly stretched, so I want to ensure I have everything configured correctly, so any hardware / HyperV buffs, I am looking to you for advice.  Please comment on this blog post, or email me directly: mark dot stokes at sharepointstudio dot com

Current Hardware Setup

Motherboard: Supermicro. Will take Dual Xeon processors
CPU: 1x Intel Xeon (i7 based one) (will take max 2)
Memory: 24Gig (6x4GB) Hynix Server Memory (will take max 96GB)
RAID Controller: HighPoint 2230
Disks: 4x Seagate ST31000524AS 3.5 inch Barracuda 1TB GB 7200rpm SATA
RAID Configuration: RAID 10 comprising 2xRAID1 members with 2 disks each. No Spare disks. 1 large volume split into 2 partitions: C: (60GB)  and D:(1.75TB)
Network Connectivity: 2x Gigabit LAN controllers

Current Software Setup

Windows Server 2008 R2: Installed on C:\ drive
Domain: Not connected to my domain (as my DC is a VM on the server I couldn’t add it initially, I probably could now)
HyperV data files: All stored on the D: partition
Roles: Fileservices & HyperV

Virtual Machines in HyperV

Domain Controller
SQLx64
SharePoint 2007
SharePoint 2010 – Collab Farm
SharePoint 2010 – Shared Services Farm
SharePoint 2010 – Client PoC Farm
Network Services – TFTP, TFS, etc

Future State

So, this setup has worked pretty well for me over the last year to 18 months that the server has been running… pretty much faultlessly.  Only today has the RAID controller decided to rebuild the array (which looks like it is going to take DAYS!)

What I want to know, is if I put the effort in, can I drastically improve the stability / performance / expandability of my DevRig.

What would you suggest to change? Some questions I have are:

  1. Would installing a single / RAIDED SSD on a different controller for the Host OS (server 2008 R2 with HyperV) give me any performance / power consumption / stability improvements?
  2. Is the RAID controller ay good? Initially I wanted to run ESXi as the host, but my RAID controller wasn’t supported
  3. Should I put my HyperV server on the domain?
  4. Should I move the Domain Controller off the HyperV server onto it’s own HP Microserver?

Any other thoughts / Ideas?

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Fixing VMWare Fusion when it fails to delete snapshot files

I had a situation recently where I wanted to delete about 10 Snapshot from a VMWare Fusion VM.

VMWare managed to delete the snapshots from the Snapshots manager window but also gave me the lovely error message:

Unable to clean up deleted files. There is not enough space on the file system for the selected operation


I could see in the Virtual Machine folder that all the snapshot files were still there and taking up all the disk space I was trying to reclaim.

The solution was to create a new snapshot in Snapshot manager and then to delete it.  This re-started the “Cleaning up deleted files…” process which duly went through and cleaned up the old snapshot files.