5.5 U1b now out – Fixes NFS and Heartbleed issues

So for those who didn’t know, ESXi 5.5 u1 had a pretty seveare issue relating to NFS.

So occasionally any connections to NFS storage would end up in an All Paths Down (APD) condition. This is obviously pretty poor as things tend to break when the storage is ripped out from underneath the VMs running on the hosts.

This has been a known bug by VMware. This issue had absolutely nothing to do with Network or Storage hardware, however NetApp had come out with a patch that would help prevent the issue.

In addition ESXi 5.5 was vulnerable to the Heartbleed issues. If you read that and are confused, well you must have lived under a rock.

VMware has released 5.5 U1b that has the patches baked in. If you don’t want to do a full update, the patch is here, http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2077361

A collegue of mine has create a script that you can run on your ESXi hosts to update the server if you don’t have VUM installed. You must enable SSH to the host.

# open firewall for outgoing http requests:
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
# Install the ESXi 5.5 pre-U1 Heartbleed Fix Image Profile from the VMware Online depot
esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-5.5.0-20140401020s-standard --allow-downgrades
# Reboot your host

iSCSI Boot with ESXi 5.0 & UCS Blades

UPDATE:: The issue was the NIC/HBA Placement Policy.  The customer had set a policy to have the HBA’s first, then the iSCSI Overlay NIC, then the remaining NICs.  When we moved the iSCSI NIC to the bottom of the list, the ESXi 5.0 installer worked just fine.  I’m not 100% sure why this fix is actually working, but either way it works.

So at a recent customers site i was trying to configure iSCSI Booting of ESXi 5.0 on a UCS Blade, B230 M2.  To make a long story short it doesn’t fully work and isn’t offically supported by Cisco.  In fact, NO blade models are supported for ESXi 5.0 & iSCSI boot by Cisco.  They claim a fix is on the way, and i will post an update when there is a fix.

Here is the exact issue, and my orgianal thoughts, in case it helps anybody;

We got an error installing ESXi 5 to a Netapp LUN.  Got an error “Expecting 2 bootbanks, found 0” at 90% of the install of ESXi. The blade is a B230 M2.

The LUN is seen in BIOS as well as by the ESXi 5 installer.  I even verified the “Details” option, and all the information is correct.

Doing an Alt-F12 during the install and watching the logs more closely today, at ~90% it appears to be unloading a module, that appears by its’ name, to be some sort of vmware tools type package.  As SOON as it does that the installer claims that there is no IP address on the iSCSI NIC and begins to look for DHCP.  The issue is during the configuration of the Service Profile and the iSCSI NIC, at no time did we choose DHCP, we choose static. (We even have tried Pooled)  Since there is no DHCP Server in that subnet it doesn’t pickup an address and thus loses connectivity to the LUN.

So we rebooted the blade after the error, and ESXi5 actually loads with no errors.  The odd thing is that the root password that’s specified isn’t set, it’s blank like ESXi 4.x was.

So an interesting question is what’s happening during that last 10% of the installation of ESXi 5??  Since it boots cleanly, it almost seems like it does a sort of “sysprep” of the OS, ie all the configuration details.  If that’s the only issue then it might technically be ok.  However I don’t get the “warm and fuzzies”.  My concern would be that, maybe not today but down the road some module that wasn’t loaded correctly will come back to bite the client.

Also, what is happening in that last 10% that’s different then ESXi 4.x??  We were able to load 4.1 just fine with no errors.

Again we called Cisco TAC and we were told that ESXi 5 iSCSI booting wasn’t supported on any blade.  They do support 4.1 as well as Windows, and a variety of Linux Distos.

Configuring iSCSI boot on a FlexPod

Here is a nice document to follow to configure iSCSI booting for a FlexPod, ie. UCS Blades, NetApp array & ESXi.

UPDATE: This document has the fix i found for ESXi 5.0.  This was tested on B230 M2’s and seems to work every time.

This document will be updated as i get new information.

FlexPod iSCSI Boot-Fixed