SolarWinds Web Helpdesk 12.7.2 post-upgrade problems

Recently after upgrading our WHD from 12.7.1 to 12.7.2 we started experiencing two issues that turned out to be related.

Adding comments to tickets could generate an error stating: “Something went wrong. Please contact SolarWinds support for assitance or review the Web Hep Desk logs.”

and when trying to upload attachments to tickets: “Your upload failed: Connection reset by peer: Amount read didn’t match content-length”

After some back and forth with SolarWinds support they said the issue is related to the version of Tomcat they bundled with WHD 12.7.2. The bundled version is 9.0.31 and SolarWinds recommends manually upgrading it to 9.0.34 to fix the issue.

The procedure I followed was:

# Login to your WHD server and become root

# Make a temp directory, go into it and download Tomcat 9.0.34
mkdir temp
cd temp
wget -c https://muug.ca/mirror/apache-dist/tomcat/tomcat-9/v9.0.34/bin/apache-tomcat-9.0.34.tar.gz

# Stop WHD
service stop webhelpdesk

# Backup your existing WHD Tomcat directory just in case
cd /usr/local/webhelpdesk/bin
tar -cf tomcatBackup-20200423.tar tomcat
gzip -9 tomcatBackup-20200423.tar

# Copy Tomcat 9.0.34 overtop of Tomcat 9.0.31 while preserving WHD related content
cd ~/temp
cd apache-tomcat-9.0.34
cp -Raf bin conf lib NOTICE RELEASE-NOTES /usr/local/webhelpdesk/bin/tomcat/

# Reboot your server or manually start WHD back up
shutdown -r now
# OR
service webhelpdesk start

Once we did this the errors above went away.

Upgrading vSphere 6.7 to 7.0 using the Dell custom ISO

Took the plunge today and upgraded my homelab from vSphere 6.7 (Dell custom ISO) to vSphere 7.0 (again, Dell custom ISO).

My first attempted failed due to some dependency problems:

The main take away from this is:

QLC_bootbank_qedf_1.2.24.6-1OEM.600.0.0.2768847
QLC_bootbank_scsi-qedil_1.0.22.0-1OEM.600.0.0.2494585

I booted my node back up and enabled SSH and ran the following:

esxcli software vib list |grep qed

Which provided me a list of packages that included “qed”. I was able to quickly identify the packages with matching version numbers and then remove them:

esxcli software vib remove --vibname=qedf
esxcli software vib remove --vibname=scsi-qedil

After that I was able to reboot and perform the upgrade.

These appear to be QLogic drivers that likely came with the vSphere 6.7 Dell ISO and have since been dropped or replaced on the vSphere 7.o ISO. I don’t use any QLogic hardware in my server so removing them didn’t pose much of a risk to me.

How to use CIRA Canadian Shield with a Pi-Hole and DoH

CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) has recently launched a new DNS service called the “Canadian Shield” which is basically a DNS service similar to OpenDNS or Cloudflares 1.1.1.1 for Canadians, by Canadians.

CIRA offers three levels of protection depending on how safe you want to be:

  • Private: DNS resolution service that keeps your DNS data private from third-parties.
  • Protected: Includes Private features and adds malware and phishing blocking.
  • Family: Includes Protected and Private features and blocks pornographic content.

We use the Enterprise version of this service at my place of work and based on how we use it I’d say we’re using the equivalent of their “Protected” offering. We’ve had zero issues with the service and defiantly feels like it adds an extra layer or protection to our users.

Alright, enough free advertising (I am not receiving compensation from CIRA for this post).

When this was first announced I was eager to try it at home. CIRA’s instructions are how to either configure DNS over HTTPS (DoH) on a per-browser basis (not ideal for me since I have many devices on my network and don’t only use Firefox/Chrome) or configure your outbound DNS to use their servers over traditional, un-encrypted, DNS queries.

What I really want is to configure my Pi-hole which is my DNS endpoint for anything on my network to use the new CIRA service. This would capture ALL outbound DNS traffic and send it to CIRA making it so I only have to configure things in one place.

My current setup is: Clients -> 1 of 2 Active Directory DNS Servers -> Pi-hole -> Cloudflare via DoH (1.1.1.1 / Cloudfared)

This will easily work on a more traditional deployment of: Clients -> Pi-hole -> Cloudflare via DoH (1.1.1.1 / Cloudfared)

My Pi-hole is a basic CentOS 8 VM with the Pi-hole software installed on it with cloudflared so I can take advantage of DoH for all of my outbound DNS traffic. This is the minimum you need to get this working, a functional Pi-hole that is already sending it’s outbound DNS queries to Cloudflare (or another DoH provider) via cloudflared.

The first thing I did was re-configure my cloudflared to simply try using the CIRA DoH:

# Edit the cloudflared configuration file
vim /etc/default/cloudflared

# Commandline args for cloudflared to use 1.1.1.1
CLOUDFLARED_OPTS=--port 5053 --upstream https://1.1.1.1/dns-query --upstream https://1.0.0.1/dns-query

# Changed the above to:
CLOUDFLARED_OPTS=--port 5053 --upstream https://private.canadianshield.cira.ca/dns-query

# Save and close the file

# Restart cloudflared
systemctl restart cloudflared

# Test DNS
nslookup google.ca

# This failed

 

This ended up not working and after I tried it I realized why. To be able to use private.canadianshield.cira.ca you have to have functioning DNS. Cloudflare has skirted this issue by using 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1 for it’s service, they are IPs and do not need DNS to be working to function.

Fortunately the solution was very easy:

# I did a nslookup on the specific CIRA service I wanted to use (Private) via traditional DNS

nslookup private.canadianshield.cira.ca 1.1.1.1

Server:         192.168.0.4
Address:        192.168.0.4#53

Non-authoritative answer:
Name:   private.canadianshield.cira.ca
Address: 149.112.121.10
Name:   private.canadianshield.cira.ca
Address: 149.112.122.10
Name:   private.canadianshield.cira.ca
Address: 2620:10a:80bb::10
Name:   private.canadianshield.cira.ca
Address: 2620:10a:80bc::10

# If you want to use Protected or Family instead of private 
# do a nslookup on either protected.canadianshield.cira.ca
# or family.canadianshield.cira.ca instead and use those IPs

# I then edited my /etc/hosts file on my Pi-hole
vim /etc/hosts

# and added the following (I don't use IPv6 at this time):

# CloudA DNS
149.112.121.10 private.canadianshield.cira.ca
149.112.122.10 private.canadianshield.cira.ca

# Save and close the file

# Test DNS
nslookup cira.ca
Server:         192.168.0.4
Address:        192.168.0.4#53

Non-authoritative answer:
Name:   cira.ca
Address: 52.60.203.65

 

That’s it. I now have the CIRA Canadian Shield working on my Pi-hole using the cloudflared software.

Now for some DNS benchmarks, what’s faster? CIRA or 1.1.1.1?

I flushed the DNS cache on my Active Directory DNS servers and then restarted cloudflared on my Pi-hole before running these benchmarks:

1.1.1.1.1 / 1.0.0.1

  192.168.  0.  4 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.009 | 0.052 | 0.196 | 0.043 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.009 | 0.013 | 0.027 | 0.004 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                   CAYENNE.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver


  192.168.  0.  5 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.009 | 0.051 | 0.195 | 0.044 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.010 | 0.014 | 0.028 | 0.003 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                 HORSERADISH.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver

 

and here are the three CIRA services:

CIRA - Private

  192.168.  0.  4 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.019 | 0.062 | 0.236 | 0.048 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.022 | 0.046 | 0.086 | 0.020 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                   CAYENNE.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver


  192.168.  0.  5 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.014 | 0.068 | 0.238 | 0.056 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.023 | 0.047 | 0.075 | 0.019 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                 HORSERADISH.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver




CIRA - Protected

  192.168.  0.  4 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.019 | 0.062 | 0.236 | 0.048 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.022 | 0.046 | 0.086 | 0.020 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                   CAYENNE.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver


  192.168.  0.  5 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.014 | 0.068 | 0.238 | 0.056 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.023 | 0.047 | 0.075 | 0.019 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                 HORSERADISH.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver



CIRA - Family

  192.168.  0.  4 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.014 | 0.064 | 0.246 | 0.053 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.022 | 0.039 | 0.080 | 0.018 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                   CAYENNE.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver


  192.168.  0.  5 |  Min  |  Avg  |  Max  |Std.Dev|Reliab%|
  ----------------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  + Cached Name   | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 0.000 | 100.0 |
  + Uncached Name | 0.014 | 0.073 | 0.248 | 0.062 | 100.0 |
  + DotCom Lookup | 0.024 | 0.049 | 0.082 | 0.020 | 100.0 |
  ---<-------->---+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
                 HORSERADISH.nom.fizi.ca
                Local Network Nameserver

 

If I am interpreting this data correctly, CIRA is 0.010s-0.030s slower on average compared to 1.1.1.1. Hardly worth mentioning.

I’m happily switching over to a Canadian based DoH service (full disclosure, I’m Canadian). No offence Cloudflare, you still get to hold my DNS until CIRA starts offering their DNS Anycast Service for home users (hint hint).

Oh and just in case your curious, if you choose their ‘Family’ service and try and hit up Pornhub, you’re greeted with this:

Backing up a VM with a PCIe device attached to it with Veeam

In a previous post I talked about installing a Quadro P620 into my ESXi host so I could attach it to my Plex VM. This worked out great except my Veeam backups started failing.

There is a limitation in VMware vSphere where you can’t take a Snapshot of a VM with a PCIe device passed through to it.

One option is to install the Veeam Agent for the OS you’re running and use it to take guest based backups. This isn’t ideal though in my opinion. I would much rather keep my host based backups of the VM. Fortunately this is a easy solution to this problem.

Shut off the VM before taking the Veeam backup and then power it back on after the backup is complete.

To get this working you need to install the VMware PowerShell Module on your Veeam server. To do this perform the following steps:

  1. Right click on the PowerShell shortcut and choose ‘Run as Administrator’
  2. Run the following commands:
    Find-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI
    Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI -Scope AllUsers
    Get-Command -Module *VMWare*
    Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -Scope AllUsers -ParticipateInCeip $false -InvalidCertificateAction Ignore
  3. You should see a large list of VMware PowerShell commands output which means you’ve successfully installed the module

Next up you need to make sure your Veeam Services are running under a Service Account with the appropriate permissions in vCenter. I believe this is normally a best practice and chances are you’ve all already done this. In my case I’d installed Veeam as a local service. Don’t know why but to fix it I just flipped over the following Windows Services to run as my backup operator account which had Domain Admin, Backup Operator, Local Admin on the Veeam Server and Administrator on vSphere permissions already.

The services were:

  • Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager
  • Veeam Backup Service
  • Veeam Broker Service
  • Veeam Cloud Connect Service
  • Veeam Guest Catalog Service
  • Veeam RESTful API Service

I then rebooted my Veeam server.

I already have my vCenter service joined to my domain but I did run into an issue where single sign-on wasn’t working properly. If I attempted to connect to my vCenter server via PowerShell using “Connect-VIServer <VCENTER SERVER FQDN>” I would be prompted for credentials which shouldn’t be happening since the account I’m logged in as is an Administrator in vCenter.

Turned out I needed to add my AD Group that gives users Administrative access to the vCenter Global Permissions list:

  1. Login to vCenter as an administrator
  2. Click ‘Menu’ and ‘Administrator’
  3. Click ‘Global Permissions’
  4. Click ‘Add’
  5. Change the ‘User’ field to your domain, search for the user or security group (I recommend security groups) and select it, make sure the role is ‘Administrator’ and check ‘Propagate to children’ and click ‘Ok’

After doing this I could run “Connect-VIServer <VCENTER SERVER FQDN>” and not be prompted for credentials.

Now that all the prep-work is done we can re-configure our backup job in Veeam.

First we’re going to need two scripts, one to shutdown the VM and one to boot it back up. I’ve saved these scripts on my Veeam server in “C:\Scripts\<VM FQDN>\”

The shutdown script is “shutdown.bat”, be sure to search and replace “VCENTER FQDN” and “VM FQDN” with your values:

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -NoLogo -executionpolicy bypass -Command Connect-VIServer -Server "VCENTER FQDN"; Shutdown-VMGuest -VM "VM FQDN" -Server VCENTER FQDN -Confirm:0; do{$vm=Get-VM -Name "VM FQDN"}while ($vm.PowerState -eq \"PoweredOn\")

The startup script is “startup.bat”, be sure to search and replace “VCENTER FQDN” and “VM FQDN” with your values:

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -NoLogo -executionpolicy bypass -Command Connect-VIServer -Server "VCENTER FQDN"; Start-VM -VM "VM FQDN" -Server "VCENTER FQDN"; Start-Sleep -s 90

Once you’ve created these fire up the Veeam console and re-configure the VMs job:

  1. Launch Veeam
  2. Find the backup job for your VM, right click on it and choose ‘Edit’
  3. Go to ‘Storage’
  4. Click ‘Advanced’
  5. Go to ‘Scripts’
  6. Checkmark ‘Run the following script before the job:’ and select your “shutdown.bat” script
  7. Checkmark ‘Run the following script after the job:’ and select your “startup.bat” script
  8. Click ‘Ok’
  9. Click ‘Finish’
  10. Perform a test run of the job, you can monitor the start-up/shutdown in vCenter

That’s it. Minor inconvenience but it works. Hopefully vSphere 7 will allow for snapshots on VMs with pass-through devices configured.

References

Adding a Quadro P620 to my Plex VM

I currently run Plex in a CentOS 7 VM (on top of vSphere 6.7) with two 2vCPUs and 2GB of vRAM.

When I needed to transcode video to sync it to a mobile device for a trip the process takes a while and consumes a lot of CPU on the VM. I could just add more vCPUs to the VM but I have a limit on how much CPU I have to toss around and there are more efficient ways to transcode video.

I bought my Dell T340 specifically with a Xeon E-2176G CPU in it so I could take advantage of the on-board GPU to handle my transcoding work. After a bunch of back and forth with VMware, Dell and Intel it turns out that Dell did not build the T340 in a way that it can actually use the on-board GPU on my CPU. Why they offer it as a choice, I don’t know but here we are.

My next option was to purchase a video card to do the work. I did some research and came up with the Quadro P620 (specifically the PYN version) being the most affordable with the features I wanted, specifically NVENC. Added bonus, it supports HEVC (H.265) which should future-proof me for a while and allow me to eventually take advantage of this card for transcoding my Blurays to H.265, but that’s another post.

The card arrived, I installed it, enabled it for passthruough in vSphere, attached it to my Plex VM and booted it up.

I downloaded the latest nVidia driver to my VM and ran the installer (as root):

[[email protected] ~]# chmod a+x NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-430.50.run
[[email protected] ~]# ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-430.50.run

The installation was straight forward, it in fact took care of everything I needed. It automatically blacklisted the default video device for me, asked me to reboot and re-run the installer, which I did and everything almost worked.

After the drive was successfully installed I ran the nvidia tool provided with the drivers to verify things and was greeted with:

[[email protected] ~]# nvidia-smi

Unable to determine the device handle for GPU 0000:03:00.0: Unknown Error

Fortunately this issue is well documented on the internet and the quick fix was to shut down the VM and make a tweak to it’s configuration. Since I have vCenter I used the GUI to solve this problem instead of downloading the VMX file, editing it and re-uploading the VMX file for the VM:

  1. Login to vCenter
  2. Right click and choose ‘Edit Settings’ on the VM
  3. Go to ‘VM Options’ and expand ‘Advanced’
  4. Click ‘Edit Configuration’
  5. Click ‘Add Configuration Params’
  6. Enter the following without quotes:
    Name: “hypervisor.cpuid.v0”
    Value: “FALSE”
  7. Click ‘Ok’
  8. Click ‘Ok’
  9. Boot up the VM

Once the VM came back up I got the output I was expecting from nvidia-smi

[[email protected] ~]# nvidia-smi

Thu Oct 24 18:36:20 2019
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| NVIDIA-SMI 430.50       Driver Version: 430.50       CUDA Version: 10.1     |
|-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
| GPU  Name        Persistence-M| Bus-Id        Disp.A | Volatile Uncorr. ECC |
| Fan  Temp  Perf  Pwr:Usage/Cap|         Memory-Usage | GPU-Util  Compute M. |
|===============================+======================+======================|
|   0  Quadro P620         Off  | 00000000:13:00.0 Off |                  N/A |
| 40%   54C    P0    N/A /  N/A |     10MiB /  2000MiB |      0%      Default |
+-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+

+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Processes:                                                       GPU Memory |
|  GPU       PID   Type   Process name                             Usage      |
|=============================================================================|
|  No running processes found                                                 |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

The last thing to do before testing was to make sure Plex was configured to use hardware transcoding:

  1. Login to your Plex’s WebUI
  2. Under ‘Settings’ click ‘Transcoder’
  3. Checkmark ‘Use hardware acceleration when avalible’
  4. Click ‘Save Changes’

I then gave things a quick test by trying to sync a TV show to my iPhone and then re-ran nvidia-smi:

[[email protected] ~]# nvidia-smi

Thu Oct 24 18:38:59 2019
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| NVIDIA-SMI 430.50       Driver Version: 430.50       CUDA Version: 10.1     |
|-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
| GPU  Name        Persistence-M| Bus-Id        Disp.A | Volatile Uncorr. ECC |
| Fan  Temp  Perf  Pwr:Usage/Cap|         Memory-Usage | GPU-Util  Compute M. |
|===============================+======================+======================|
|   0  Quadro P620         Off  | 00000000:13:00.0 Off |                  N/A |
| 41%   57C    P0    N/A /  N/A |    177MiB /  2000MiB |     20%      Default |
+-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+

+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Processes:                                                       GPU Memory |
|  GPU       PID   Type   Process name                             Usage      |
|=============================================================================|
|    0     22510      C   /usr/lib/plexmediaserver/Plex Transcoder     167MiB |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

Bingo, that was it. Now. How much faster was the Quadro P620 over my Xeon E-2176G, roughly 4.5x faster.

My Plex transcoding settings are:

  • Transcoder quality: Prefer higher quality encoding
  • Background transcoding x264 preset: Medium
  • Maximum simultaneous video transcode: 4

But wait you might say, why set “Maximum simultaneous video transcode” to “4”? A Quadro P620 can only do 2?

This is why, only took a few seconds as root:

# git clone https://github.com/keylase/nvidia-patch.git
# cd nvidia-patch/
# bash patch.sh