Tag Archive for NanoLab

NanoLab – Part 7 – VMware vSphere 6 on Intel NUC

Just one quick bit of good news relating to the recent vSphere 6 announcements… during the beta I tested the Intel 82579V adapter which comes as standard in the original generation of Intel NUCs, and found that it works out of the box in vSphere 6! Superb!

That means no more messing around with VIBs, you just install ESXi and start creating VMs!

There are a significant number of people in the community now using Intel NUC machines in their home labs for their low noise, power utilisation and cost. This may indicate VMware endeavouring to get more behind the home labbing community!

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I will post more on this when vSphere goes GA. Hopefully this support won’t change between now and then, as I believe it may have once or twice in the past…

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For more info on these brilliant devices, see other posts in this series: Intel NUC NanoLab

NanoLab – Part 6 – Keeping Your NUCs Cool (Quick Tip)

Just a very quick tip I discovered this weekend.

If you are using your Intel NUCs with any anger, they will likely run reasonably hot to the touch and typically you would just place them horizontally on a surface as per the pictures above. For optimum performance and lifespan, we all know it’s always important to keep your NUCs as cool as possible!

The NUCs are also designed to be mounted vertically on the back of a monitor/stand/wall/desk or similar, using the VESA mount. What I didn’t realise is that whether mounted or not, if you run them on their side, they seem to actually maintain lower temperatures.

I’m not sure if the same would apply for the newer generation of NUCs with the 2.5″ drive cages, which also have small vents down the side, but it certainly works on the standard models.

Vertical running of NUCs

Vertical running of NUCs

This seems to work pretty well for me, but as always, I take no responsibility if your NUC explodes with the fire of a thousand suns!

That is all.

NanoLab – Part 5 – Intel NUC BIOS Update Issues FwUpdateFullBuffer

Having taken delivery of a new Intel NUC D34010WYKH this week, I followed the usual (and Intel recommended process) of upgrading the firmware / BIOS to the latest version. As it happens, this was version 0030 (WY0030.BIO). This was installed using the standard USB with a .BIO file, and press F7 method as there was obviously no OS installed.

Unfortunately having installed this version, building and booting the ESXi host, I was getting some very strange network issues. Specifically no DHCP address being picked by the host, but a manual IP would ping intermittently (around 10-15% of the time). Not good. In addition there were some very odd behaviours observed in the BIOS such as not booting from USB consistently, hanging when I hit ctrl-alt-del and others.

My guess was that this was a firmware related issue, so I decided to roll it back to an earlier version. I started with 0026 by installing the firmware using the same F7 method above. This is when I got an error message which stated FwUpdateFullBuffer followed by several numbers (no screenshot I’m afraid). At this point, the firmware update bombed out. Really not good!

Repeating the activity only achieved the same result, even with different firmware versions and install methods (such as a bootable USB drive with FreeDOS and iFlash2.exe).

After a bit of searching I found the following BIOS recovery mode instructions for situations when you have a screwed up BIOS:

  1. Copy the recovery file (*.bio) to a bootable USB device.
  2. Plug the USB device into a USB port of the target Intel NUC.
  3. Shut down the computer and unplug AC power.
    jumper
  4. Open the chassis and remove the yellow BIOS Configuration Jumper. See the Technical Product Specification for the location of this jumper.
  5. Power the system on.
  6. Wait 2-5 minutes for the update to complete.

    Intel NUC BIOS Recovery from 0030 to 0025

    Intel NUC BIOS Recovery from 0030 to 0025

  7. The computer will either turn off when the recovery process is completed or it will prompt you to turn off the computer.
  8. Remove the USB device from the USB port.
  9. Replace the BIOS Configuration Jumper.
  10. Restart the computer.

Following the above, I have updated my Intel NUC D34010WYKH to version 0025 and have found it to be reasonably stable so far, and definitely works with ESXi.

Obviously follow any of the above suggestions at your own risk. I cannot be held responsible if your NUC becomes a BRICK, but hopefully this will save people some time and frustration, as this was several hours of messing around in my case!

I Presented at a VMUG and Survived… you can too!

Sitting on the train on my return from another awesome London VMUG event, and I thought I would jot down a few thoughts about the day, and the prep for it.

Firstly I want to say a big thank you to Mike Laverick. He and a number of other key VMware community members (Duncan Epping, Scott Lowe, Hans De Leenheer) have recently started a new programme they call #FeedForward. As the name suggests its all about helping others, specifically people who have not previously presented at a VMUG. As part of the process, the mentor (Mike) initially provided feedback to the mentee (me) on my slides. Once I had them ready to go, I then did a practice session over Skype / phone with Mike where he gave me some valuable feedback and suggestions where the presentation could be tweaked, and some ideas for content I hadn’t even thought of.

The benefits to me were two-fold. Having that second pair of eyes on my slides and presentation from someone who does this day in day out gave me confidence that the content was up to par. Then having a practice run in a zero-pressure environment where the audience understands the subject matter and gives you constructive feedback is absolutely invaluable! I would have asked my wife but having her fall asleep mid presentation through boredom would not have done my confidence any good… (She is definitely not into tech!) 🙂

Just before I got up I was a wee bit nervous, but much like a wedding speech, its worth remembering that the VMUG audience at a community session really want the speaker to succeed. It’s unlikely you will find a more friendly and willing audience in almost any other situation.

I was meant to be presenting a 10 minute lightning talk, but even in practice runs at home I was coming in a little over time, even skipping some bits of the content which were less important. On the day one of the other presenters (Simon Gallagher – VMUG leader and Lego aficionado) had toothache, so myself, Frank and Erik actually had a bit of leeway on timings. Being a bit of a gab anyway my presentation was about 15 mins. This did teach me one valuable lesson; even if you plan your presentation to the minute in advance, things never quite work out that way! You are likely to be asked questions, stopped mid flow, projectors turn themselves off and start smelling a bit smokey etc… the best thing to do is plan a shorter presentation as you will undoubtedly use all the time! On the same vein, when it comes to slides less is most definitely more. I had 14 slides and in hindsight, I was never going to get through them all in 10 minutes!

One other tip which Duncan Epping gave recently and I definitely agree with is to practice your presentation a few times through in advance, but don’t over-practice and end up being too robotic. Everyone has their own style but I like to use the slides as a talking point and guide, rather than planning word-for-word what I’m going to say.

Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience in the end and one I would highly recommend. I have had a great deal of help, support and learning from the community over the past few years, and its only right I should try to give something back.

Should you be considering whether to put your name forward to present at a VMUG in future (or indeed you are being politely but firmly press ganged by your local VMUG leaders… *cough* Alaric! *cough*) then I would definitely recommend you grab the opportunity with both hands, and post a tweet to #FeedForward on twitter if you want a little bit of extra support.

For more info on #FeedForward, see Mike’s blog post here:
http://www.mikelaverick.com/2013/11/feedforward-mentoring-vmug-presenters/

You can also grab a copy of my presentation here:
Alex Galbraith – LonVMUG Presentation 23-01-2014

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