XBMC Frodo 12.0 Release Candidate?

After 7 Alpha and 3 Beta releases of XBMC Frodo 12.0 I noticed today the following download on the XBMC download mirrors;

XBMC Frodo RC1

But no official press release of Team XBMC… Will XBMC 12.0 be the first Christmas present?

Want to check it out yourself? http://mirrors.xbmc.org/releases/win32/

Update: The release is now posted on the XBMC website: http://xbmc.org/natethomas/2012/12/12/xbmc-12-frodo-release-candidate-1/

Hello Raspberry Pi, bye bye Apple TV G3

Because my Apple TV 3 is still waiting for a jailbreak so it can run XBMC (without a jailbreak it’s useless imho) I decided to order a Raspberry Pi. For those who doesn’t know what a Raspberry Pi is;

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.

Okay, I’m not interested in programming and not a kid anymore, but this part took my attention;

It also plays high-definition video.

So how can a $35 ‘pc’ play 1080p high-def video? This is achieved by the Broadcom SoC (System on a Chip) which is able to hardware decode h264 media. You can connect your TV set by using the HDMI interface and it has a 100 mbit NIC for the network connections (optional you can use a USB WiFi adapter).

Here’s a schematic picture of the Raspberry Pi;

So I ordered the Pi and and few days later it drops at my doorstep;

The Raspberry Pi is shipped without storage or a power supply, for storage you need a SD-card (4GB is more than enough) and the power comes from a 5V 700mA mobile phone charger (with a micro USB connector).

So now we have to install some sort of operation system on the Pi, the main goal for me is to run the XMBC media center. There’re 3 different options to chose from;

I’ve decided to go for RaspBMC, the installation of RaspBMC is really user friendly and the OS is self updating.

Installing RaspBMC

At the RaspBMC website you can download an installer (for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X)  and install RaspBMC directly on your SD-card. I’m using Windows so here’s a screenshot of the installer;

Your SD card should be shown on the list. Simply check the checkbox and click Install to complete the installation. Note, if you have not inserted your card yet, you can do so now and click Refresh to update the devices list.

When the image is downloaded and transferred to you SD card you can put it in your Raspberry Pi, connect all the cables and fire it up. On the first boot RaspBMC will be installed. So take a cup of coffee and when you’re back XBMC will be presented to you!

So XMBC is running, lets see how it performs when we playback a 1080p h.264 video (you might seen this video before…)

Controlling XBMC

As you expect the $35 Pi doesn’t come with a IR remote, so how do you control it? Well you have 2 options. Option one is to control XBMC with the remote from your TV-set. This is achieved by the integrated CEC software delivered by RaspBMC, this will enable XBMC control with your (compatible) TV-set IR remote. The other option is to control XBMC with the ‘Official XBMC Remote’ app on your smartphone or tablet. You can download the app from the Apple AppStore or Google Play.

 

Remote restart ESXi management agents

Today I had a problem with all of our vSphere hosts in my cluster. To resolve the problem I needed to restart the management agents on each host. In the past with ESX there was the service console to which you could connect by using SSH and then execute the restart commands from the CLI. But since ESXi doesn’t ship with the service console this is not an option.

The correct method stated in KB 1003490 by VMware is to restart the management agents from the console of the host. Because we have over 15 hosts this is time consuming task so I decided to look for an alternative method, and found it 🙂

First you have to enable ‘remote techsupport’ (SSH access) to your hosts, this can be done at the configuration tab of your host under the ‘security profile’;

Click the ‘Properties…’ link to enable or disable services.

Now highlight the SSH service and click ‘Options…’

Click ‘Start’ to start the SSH service, now you’re able to remote connect to your host using SSH.

Now you can restart the management agents by executing the following command

/sbin/services.sh restart

This command will restart the management services, the VMs running on the host are not affected.

When you’re done is recommended to disable SSH for security purposes.

VMware abandons controversial pricing model

With the release of  vSphere 5 last year VMware introduced a new ‘vRAM based’ licensing model. In this new model customers have to pay for socket licenses with a limited vRAM entitlement. With this strategy VMware seemingly penalized customers who succeeded in deploying many virtual machines on few physical servers, which lead to many complains. Before the release of vSphere 5 the vRAM entitlements are raised but still in place.

At VMworld in San Francisco, newly minted VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger referred to VRAM as a four-letter, dirty word. “Today I am happy to say we are striking this word from the vocabulary.” From now on, pricing will be all per-CPU, and per-socket, Gelsinger said. By moving back to a pricing model based on usage of physical infrastructure, VMware is once again encouraging users to get as many virtual servers as they can out of each physical machine, which is the point of virtualization in the first place.

Gelsinger never mentioned specific pricing, but a press release provided a few details about the new pricing of vSphere, VMware’s flagship virtualization software.

“VMware vSphere pricing starts around $83 per processor with no core, vRAM or number of VM limits,” VMware said. “VMware vSphere Essentials is $495, and VMware vSphere Essentials Plus is $4,495. All VMware vSphere Essentials Kits includes licensing for 6 CPUs on up to 3 hosts.”

This new, hardware-based pricing applies both to the forthcoming version 5.1 of vSphere and the existing version 5.0. More details can be found in the VMware pricing document.

 

Synology DS Mobile apps updates

This week Synology updated there mobile apps for iOS and Android. There are some cool new features I’ve been waiting for for a long time;

  • Cloud Station support in DS File
  • Offline music in DS Audio

Here’s a complete list of the Synology DS apps and there new features;

DS Audio

Display lyrics of the song currently being played
Create and edit playlists from “Now playing queue”
Use the Offline mode to listen to songs cached in the mobile device’s local memory for when network is unavailable

Download links: Apple App Store Google Play

DS File

Supports Cloud Station for Mobile devices

Download links: Apple App Store Google Play

DS Photo+

Taken time as uploaded filename

Download links: Apple App Store Google Play

DS Cam

The event playback with H.264/MPEG4 can now support up to 1080p.
Supports HTTPS for secure connection.
Supports encrypted login over HTTP without SSL. (DSM 4.0 and onwards)

Download links: Apple App Store Google Play

DS Finder

Resolved the stability issues on iOS 5.1.1 iPad versions

Download links: Apple App Store Google Play

    

Synology adds new functionality to Cloud Station

Within the release of DSM 4.1 BETA Synology adds new functionality to the Cloud Station package. The following is now possible;

  • Shared folder can now be synchronized to different Cloud Station users on Windows PC or Mac Client. The maximum number of shared folder can be synced on Cloud Station is 2.
  • Data transmission is now encrypted by SSL to provide a layer of security over the Internet.
  • HTTPS tunneling is supported to sync data via HTTPS Tunnel with QuickConnect.
  • Proxy is now supported to establish connection to your Cloud Station server though your local proxy server.
  • Cloud Station package is not available on DS108j, DS109j and DS209j.

Also the DS File app for iOS and Android are updated with support for Cloud station. So now you can take your important documents with you on your laptop, phone and tablet.

DS File for iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/app/ds-file/id416751772
DS File for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.synology.DSfile

Synology DSM 4.1 BETA

This week Synology released the public BETA of Disk Station Manager (DSM) 4.1. I’m not copying the release notes into this post as you can read them over at Synology: http://www.synology.com/support/beta_dsm4.1.php?lang=enu

So how do you install the BETA on your DS?

First you have to download the firmware for you DS (http://ukdl.synology.com/download/beta/DSM4.1_beta/). Now connect to your DS and open the ‘Control Panel’ and click on ‘DSM Update’.

Hit the ‘Manual DSM update’ button and select the firmware you just downloaded and follow the instructions. Wait a little while and after the DS is rebooted it’s running the DSM 4.1 BETA. After the upgrade you can upgrade you packages with the ‘Package Center’.

Please read before upgrading!

Infinite Reboot Loop After Upgrade to Veeam Backup & Replication version 6.1

Yesterday I’ve performed the upgrade of Veeam Backup and Recovery from version 6.0.0.181 (Patch 3) to version 6.1.0.181. After the installation is completed a reboot of the server is required. After initiating the reboot the VM keeps rebooting without the option to logon to Windows. I did a quick search in the Veeam knowledge base and the following article drew my attention; http://www.veeam.com/KB1645

This article describes exactly my issue. The problem occurs when you have the Veeam Enterprise Manager installed on the same system. Follow the instructions in this article prior updating B&R, it also describes what to do if you already experiencing the reboot loop.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 Release Preview

Last night Microsoft has released the Release Previews (Release candidates) of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. These releases are feature frozen which means there will only made bugfixes before the RTM will be released in August.

Download links;

Windows Server 2012 Release Preview: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh670538.aspx
Windows 8 Release Preview: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso

How can you test these releases? I’ve wrote a article a few months ago on how you can test the Consumer Preview, just use the Release Preview media and this post: http://www.robvanhamersveld.nl/2012/02/29/here-it-is-windows-8-consumer-preview/

VMware “Unable to access file since it is locked” when removing snapshot

Today I ran into a problem with a VM which have snapshots but are  not visible in the VMware snapshot manager. As you can see in the screenshot vCenter reports no snapshots;

But when I took a look at the datastore folder of this VM in noticed several delta vmdk files which indicates there are active snapshots. The properties of the VM’s configuration also supports this thought.

So how to fix this? The most easy way is to create a new snapshot and after creating hit the ‘Delete All’ button (as described in VMware KB 1002310). After I did this a new error pops up; “Unable to access file <unspecified filename> since it is locked”.

Why is it locked? Well, you can find out by following the instructions in VMware KB 10051 but I my case it was simple. The customer is using snapshots for backups by Veeam Backup and Replication, so the only one who’s making snapshots is the Veeam VM. The specific job which responsible for the problem VM was crashed and that’s why the base VMDK of the problem VM was still locked by the Veeam VM. After disconnecting the VMDK from the Veeam VM I was able to create a new snapshot and hit the “Delete All” button to commit the delta-vmdks.