vSkilledKarl Nyen

Karl Nyen has been involved in the virtualization, server, web development and web hosting industry for over 10 years. In his current role at a managed service provider, he is focused on cloud-based solutions for enterprise clients. His diverse background of sales, management, and architectural/technical expertise bring a unique perspective to the virtualization practice.

All articles by vSkilled

 

Home Lab Rebuild

It’s been long overdue for some changes to my home lab. The latest full outage on Sept 4, 2017 due to a power brown-out had me realizing that some improvements can be made. There has not been any major changes to the lab since 2015. In 2016 I upgraded the storage in NAS1, memory upgrade
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Disaster strikes as NAS3 crashes

This past weekend we had a power brownout for about 4 hours. This caused my servers to fail-over to battery power. The batteries don’t last long with servers running. I guess something went sour with the automatic shutdown of my NAS3 which is used only for my VMware virtual machines and it did an improper
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Home Lab Updates: AC Unit, Failed Drive on NAS1

  I’ve been meaning to make a post about all the recent changes to my home lab but I’ve been quite busy. I’ve also done some more work on the backend of the website to help speed things up. I’m also, slowly, working on a new design for vSkilled as well. The biggest update I
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vSAN all hosts down senario

  The worst case scenario in a VMware vSAN cluster is all hosts down. A situation where no sysadmin wants to find themselves in. Panic & frustration quickly follow suit. Despite all the safety features built into vSAN it is designed to tolerate failures within it’s failure domains, not an entire vSAN cluster outage. Scenario Unsaid
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Reducing Home Lab Power Usage

I have come to the conclusion that in 2017 I will need to down scale my home lab in order to reduce power & cooling usage.  It’s grown year over year and unless I start making changes it’s not going to start going down. My plan is to beef up VMH02 with more RAM so that
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Tuning Large Windows DHCP Servers

I’ve been involved in setting up some very large Windows DHCP deployments during my time working as a Consultant at Long View Systems. Along the way I’ve found some interesting challenges and caveats of using Windows DHCP, especially so anytime your working with DHCP enabled dynamic DNS updates. I wanted to have a quick post about this
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Migration from Cisco 1000v to VMware Virtual Distributed Switch (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a series. Click here to see Part 1. I apologise for taking so long to get Part 2 posted. Sometimes I just don’t have the time or effort I would like to have with the blog. This portion of the guide focuses on the second half of the VSS to VDS migrations. We
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Firewall Swap & Windows Telemetry Data

I recently switched over from Sophos UTM to Untangle NG for my personal use firewall at home. During the process I basically had to rebuild all of my firewall rules and general network policy configurations. This allowed to me “start fresh” as my previous configuration had gotten quite bloated and complicated over time. It’s clear
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WHMCS – Is the promo applied or not?

WHMCS is one of the most popular billing systems for web hosting companies. Despite this fact there are many small caveats and grudges you will find with the WHMCS platform. For example, when a customer is passed to an order page using a link with a promotional code or with an existing promo code applied the
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My first dedicated server, back in 2005

This is a short post about my first ever dedicated server… back in 2005. I seldom forget exactly how long I’ve been involved in the web industry. I took a moment to reflect back in time. Using the WayBackMachine I was able to find the company’s page and details. I rented my first dedicated server from a company
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Virtual Firewall and Networking – Planning Guide

This is a planning guide on how to create a robust, redundant, virtual network for your home-lab environment including a virtual firewall. This requires a lot of existing hardware and expertise. This is not recommended the faint of heart and will challenge you. Using a physical firewall is the easy choice. I have structured this guide around how I have
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Firewalls for Home Use

A question I see often is what firewall is the best for a home/residential environment? Before I get into that, we must realize that the majority of non tech-savvy people do not even have a firewall, or they have one but it’s not enabled/configured correctly, or they’re just not sure. In an age where we see more weaponized vulnerabilities and threats year after
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Windows Server 2016 – Technical Preview 5

Microsoft has released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (build #14300). You can see what’s new here. This could probably be one of the last few TP (tech preview) builds that we will see. Especially so if Microsoft is still firm on their plans to officially launch Windows Server 2016 this summer (Q3 2016). As long as you are running
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vSkilled Crypto – Now SSL Encrypted!

vSkilled is now fully SSL encrypted and including HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).  Since vSkilled is a technical IT blog, one would expect to think that the communication between the client and server aught be encrypted. Now that traffic has picked up on the site I decided to move things over to SSL. vSkilled uses CloudFlare as our CDN so
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Home Labs: Remote Access and Security

I am sure that most who have a lab environment in their home also have a way of remotely accessing it – either from at work, with friends or family, vacation, etc. The problem with any remote access into a secure network is that you are quite literally punching a hole into your network from a security
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Worried about Windows 10 privacy issues? Group/Local policy to the rescue!

I hear and see all over the Internet that people have privacy concerns about Windows 10 and for good reason. For any security concious person, like myself, they’re probably not very happy about many of the decisions that were made for Windows 10. Microsoft seems to be very tight lipped about their updates and what information is actually shared
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vExpert 2016

I am very honoured to be selected as a vExpert 2016 by VMware. Getting recognition is awesome but knowing that you are sharing content that is for the benefit of others is even better. The annual VMware vExpert title is given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. The
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Whoops! My Samsung 950 PRO M.2 512GB SSD experience

This story is a bit of a sad story. Mainly due to the failure of my own personal oversight over a very important specification requirement and snowballed by my online shopping addiction. For a little back story – I had been reading great reviews all over the internet about Samsung’s new 950 PRO 512GB M.2
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Microsoft support and security updates for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 end on January 12, 2016

Microsoft has announced that they will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer. Running older versions of Internet Explorer after January 12, 2016 may expose you to potential risks. The latest version of Internet Explorer will continue to follow the component policy, which means that it follows the support
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Migration from Cisco 1000v to VMware Virtual Distributed Switch (Part 1)

While working with a enterprise customer I was tasked with migrating an entire production environment from the Cisco Nexus 1000v to a VMware Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS). Then moving the VDS and the ESXi 5.1 hosts over to a fresh built vSphere 6.0 server. The customer is in the middle of an upgrade from vCenter 5.1 to 6.0.
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Automatically reboot an ESXi host after PSOD

Anyone who has worked in a VMware environment for any length of time should be quite familiar with this purple diagnostic screen, or what we like to call the “purple screen of death“.  Even VMware themselves internally reference this setting as “BlueScreenTimeout”, so make no mistake where it’s fathered it’s name. This PSOD screen is what will appear when
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Storage Refresh 2016 – Time to Build! (Part 2)

Part 1: http://www.vskilled.com/2015/07/storage-refresh-2016-the-plan/ The hard drives have arrived today from NCIX and it’s now time to build it out to finally increase the storage capacity in my home lab. I’ve made only minor changes to the original plan; I ended up shying away from the Seagate 8TB archive hard drives I had originally planned on buying to use
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Dashlane – Password Manager Review

First off, I am a technical user. Nothing gripes me more than a piece of software that is too dumb’ed down for the sake of “ease of use” that it lacks basic functionality. I have tried many password managers in the past but just have not been impressed by their reliability, security, features, etc. This
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Installing open-vm-tools on CentOS

Just a quick post here today. This is in regards to installing open-vm-tools on CentOS. There’s no need to download and install separate epel-release files anymore as it’s now in the CentOS extras repo directly. To install them, just use this command, then install open-vm-tools. yum -y –enablerepo=extras install epel-release – extras is enabled by
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ARIN Region IPv4 Free Pool Reaches Zero

Well it has finally happened. The IPv4 free pool for the ARIN region is now fully depleted. ISPs are encouraged to utilize IPv6 for additional customer growth and the IPv4 transfer market for their IPv4 interim needs. A copy of the announcement: From: ARIN <info@arin.net<mailto:info@arin.net>> Subject: [arin-announce] ARIN IPv4 Free Pool Reaches Zero Date: September
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New ESXi Server Build – VMH02 Replacement

This build was originally meant to be a remote ESXi server for my parents place, but I’ve ended up liking this new build so much I’m going to have to keep it for myself. So what I’ll be doing is finishing up this build for my lab and swapping my current 2nd ESXi host (VMH02)
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VMware HTML5 Client?

I’ve caught wind of a real HTML5 web client being developed. Its currently very early into development and is released as technical preview fling. To be clear it’s not for vCenter, but we can only imagine the direction this would eventually go. This version of the ESXi Embedded Host Client is written purely in HTML
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Steam – “Pressure” Skin

Just a quick post about a recent discovery I made about a awesome looking Steam UI theme called Pressure. I’ve never been a fan of the default Steam UI and have always been using the Metro skin as an alternative. Metro is a good improvement over the default skin, but still nothing crazy. Pressure, on
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Enable SNMP on ESXi 5.5

This is a quick guide on how to configure ESXi 5.5 hosts for SNMP monitoring. I use Observium to monitor and collect information about devices on my home network that support SNMP. This allows me to have an in-depth look at devices on my network as well as see metrics that go far into the
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Storage Refresh 2016 – The Plan

The time has come to increase storage capacity in the home lab. I expect that before the end of this year that I will have less than 1TB of free space left on my primary data NAS. That is a problem, and an expensive one at that. At the time of this writing I have
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CentOS nightly auto updates using yum-cron

It seems like new security vulnerabilities comes out at least once per month now a days. Keeping your systems up to date is the easiest way to keep these threats at bay as well as overall system stability. You can do nightly YUM updates automatically with email notifications via a package called yum-cron. This is
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SubPac S1 Tactile Bass Systems Review

As some may know I am a bit of a bass freak / audiophile. My car’s sound system is a great example of this. Music in general is a very influential and important part of my life. I listen to many different genre’s of music and my taste in music changes over time.  Anyway enough
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A closer look at WHSuite (Beta 4)

I had an article last year about the the company (Turn 24 Ltd) looking for participants for it’s alpha/beta of WHSuite. Since then it seems development has been in full swing and now the product is in open beta – which means anyone can (and is encouraged to) beta test the software. See the WHSuite
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Windows Server 2012 R2 – DHCP High Availability / Fail-over Setup Guide (Part 2)

Part 2 – Setup of Windows 2012 R2 DHCP Failover Click here to go to Part 1 This build will required 2 x Windows 2012 R2 servers. They both must have the DHCP role installed in preparation for the DHCP fail over configuration. I will not cover the installation of the the OS in this
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Windows Server 2012 R2 – DHCP High Availability / Fail-over Setup Guide (Part 1)

Part 1 – Background on Windows DHCP Click here to go to Part 2 Why move to Windows 2012 R2 for DHCP? (from 2008 R2) First we must understand how DHCP works in Windows Server 2008 R2. DHCP met high availability requirements by hosting the DHCP service on a Windows Failover Cluster or using split
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Changes to the Home Lab Directory

Hello readers, I have made a few tweaks to the home lab directory and the submission form based on some feedback I have received. Home Lab Directory: Added Network column Added Tier column (experience) Added Updated column There were also a few tweaks to the home lab submission form mainly to ensure the validity of
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Leap Second Adjustment on June 30th @ 23:59:60 UTC

This is an FYI. There has been some internet/email noise going around regarding the next leap second adjustment which is scheduled for June 30th, 2015 at 23:59:60 UTC. It may cause issues on NTP synchronized devices and operating systems. Several vendors have released KB articles regarding leap second impact on their software. A leap second
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Home Lab Upgrades, Network Standardization

A quick update here for May 2015: Yesterday I upgraded from a 24 Port NetGear GS724Tv3 Switch to a 48 Port Netgear GS748Tv3 switch. Along with the switch upgrade I completely re-cabled everything with new CAT6 cables. They are now color coded based on function for my new network design. I really like the idea
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Grand Theft Auto 5 on PC!

The much awaited and many delayed release of Grand Theft Auto on PC is FINALLY here! I must emphasize the frustration in the delays by Rockstar, but with that said they it appears they have had an extremely successful launch on the PC platform. It was well worth the wait. Playing GTA5 at 60 fps
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WHSuite – Alpha/Beta Group

Today the WHSuite development team announced that the Alpha/Beta groups is now in full swing. They are releasing Alpha v1 to all testers next week and the focus for the first Alpha build will be bug fixes and stability.  The testing will go out to a select few for “alpha” phase testing. I have been accepted into the official tester team for
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Star Citizen – Arena Commander Alpha!

As you may have guessed I am a bit of a gamer in my spare time too. I’ve been a veteran backer of the upcoming space sim Star Citizen for quite some time now and very anxiously awaiting the release. Recently however we got our first taste of the game through the Arena Commander module. This basically a very
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VMUG “Green Out” T-Shirt Design Contest

Today VMUG has announced a new contest to design the new look of the VMUG T-Shirt. If you are the artistic type I would suggest that you give this a go. I am excited to see what people can come up with. They are asking for VMUG members to submit a design or phrase that
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Review of Thecus N5550 5-Bay NAS

Coming soon!
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Visio Stencils For VMware, Hyper V, etc!

There are a couple of great websites that have a large collection of Visio stencils. When you’re in need of something more than the basic set of stencils that is included with Visio then look no further! Veeam provides a free collection of VMware and Hyper-V virtualization Visio stencils that can be used by ESX
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Web-Based IP Address Management – phpIPAM

For those of you still using a spreadsheet for tracking IP addresses – it’s time to graduate! A couple of months ago I was looking around for free web based IPAM software. I wanted to be able to track the IP’s I have in use on my home/lab network and I also was consulting for
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End of General Support for vSphere 4.x

This is just a friendly heads up for anyone who may still have VMware vSphere 4.x (ESX, ESXi, and vCenter 4.x) in their environment. We have quickly approached the end of vSphere 4.x General Support phase on May 21st, 2014. This means that there will be no more maintenance updates / upgrades, security patches, bug
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SSD Emulated Virtual Disks for Nested ESXi

I came across a gotcha scenario when trying to deploy vSAN in my home lab. When adding disks to the nested ESXi server all of the disks are detected as regular ol’ spindle disks regardless of the actual underlying storage. So I was in need of a method to emulate an SSD device. Truth be
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Canada’s Anti-Spam Law – The Rundown

This is targeted to my Canadian readers. Canada has come out with a new Anti-Spam law, dubbed “CASL“. It will affect you if you use email marketing to promote your business to customers and prospects in Canada. Effective July 1st 2014, when you send commercial email, instant messages, or other electronic marketing messages to residents in Canada,
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Change SSH Port in CentOS – Linux

This is just a quick guide on how to change the SSH port in CentOS. While there are many ways to make sure your server is as secure as possible there are some basic steps and measures that you can take to cover your bases. By default SSH runs over port 22, this is well
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