Media Center based on Zotac ZBOX AD02

Last week I received my Zotac ZBOX AD02. Zotac is a company specialized in building small mini PC’s which are very interesting for home entertainment use because of the small formfactor and low power consumption. I was looking for an alternative to my (very big and noisy) old HTPC. A few weeks back I got my brand new Apple TV 3 but there isn’t a jailbreak for so it’s still in its box waiting for that.

In this post I’ll describe how I install the ZBOX with Windows 7 and XBMC Media Center.

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Where to find vCenter Server Appliance 5.0 Update 1

Last week I’ve been installing a vSphere cluster at a customer site. All the hosts are running VMware vSphere 5.0 Update 1. The customer also wants to use the vCenter Server Appliance as alternative to a Windows based VM running VMware vCenter Server. After a one hour search at the VMware Download site I couldn’t find it…

So where is it? Well, it’s not strange I couldn’t find it because it isn’t there… As you can read in the vCenter Server 5.0 Update 1 release notes the appliance will be available later this year;

Oke, so what now? If you don’t have to use the new features and fixes in Update 1 you can safely use the vCenter Appliance 5.0 which you can download over here.


4 Editions of Microsoft Windows 8

Yesterday Microsoft announced the number of ‘Windows 8’ editions and its related features.  There will be 4 different editions of Windows 8 (Windows 7 has 6 editions). Next to that Microsoft also confirmed ‘Windows 8’ as the official name for the next version of Windows.

Windows 8

The first one is ‘Windows 8’, this edition is similar to Windows 7 Home Premium and the best choice for the home user. New in this edition compared with Windows 7 Home Premium is the ability to change the interface language after the installation (not once but every time you want), in Windows 7 this feature is only available in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions.  Please note that the ‘Media Center’ feature is not available (this is optional to Windows 8 Pro, read below).

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro is the business edition of Windows 8 with support for Active Directory domain services, BitLocker and other features which are now available in Windows 7 Professional. Next to the standard features you’ll have the ability to buy the optional ‘Media Center’-package.

Windows 8 Enterprise

This edition will offer the same as Windows 8 Pro with some extra features like multiple deployment options, more security features, virtualization and computer management.

Windows 8 RT

This is an complete new version of Windows 8 to run on ARM-based devices (Phones and Tablets). This edition will only be available pre-installed. The Windows 8 RT edition will include modified versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote optimized for touchscreens.

See the chart below for an overview of all features by edition.

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Just ordered a ‘New Apple TV’

Since last friday the ‘New Apple TV’ is added to the Apple Store in the Netherlands. Because of the lack of 1080p playback on the ATV2 (output may be a better word…) I’ve ordered it right away. When it drops at my doorstep I’ll jailbreak it (if it’s available at that time, for now there is only a jailbreak for iOS 5.1 on ATV2) and try running XBMC for iOS.

The delivery date is set on March 28. Check back next week to read about installing XBMC on the New Apple TV.

Whats new in the 3th generation Apple TV? This is what Apple says a there website; But what is new under the hood? A user at the XBMC forums teared it apart and posted the following facts;

The most outstanding upgrade (next to the ability to output 1080p) is the bump to 512 MB RAM (the first and second generation came with 256MB) and the Apple A5 cpu (same as the one in the iPad2 and iPhone 4S but with only one core), I think this will solve some hick ups in large file playback in XBMC but this is not confirmed yet.


Promote a Windows 8 server to AD Domain Controller

Today I’m playing around with VMware View and Windows 8 CP based virtual desktops. Because I had to build a new lab environment I grabbed the opportunity to play with the beta of Windows Server 8. I’ve installed a Server 8 VM to be the Active Directory domain controller, first thing I noticed was that dcpromo.exe is realy gone (heard it a while ago). When you run dcpromo.exe you’ll get a message witch will tell you to use the (new!) Server Manager;

Oke, I’ll use the Server Manager instead… After installing the AD role and required features I can promote the server to be a Domain Controller. I chose to install the DNS role using the promotion wizard but after selecting a name for the new forest I got the following error (An error was detected in the DNS configuration);

If you get the same error, don’t worry… It resolves itself… (as said by Microsoft on Technet:;

The rest of the wizard is self explaining and not very different of the pre Server 8 wizard.

For those how want to know whats new in Windows Server 8 Active Directory I recommend to watch to following Technet video;

VMware vSphere 5 Update 1 released

Today VMware released VMware vSphere 5 Update 1, one of the new features is the support for Windows 8 guests. Read about all the new features and fixes in the release notes;

VMware vCenter 5.0 U1 (for Windows);

VMware ESXi 5.0 U1;

Happy patching 🙂

VMware Workstation Tech preview March 2012

Last week VMware released the Technology preview (March 2012) of VMware Workstation. Don’t expect major new features in this release. VMware has made some changes to the underlying virtualization platform and asks users to test this by perfroming the following tasks;

  • Installation and operation of VMware Workstation on Windows 8 and Windows Server 8
  • Installation and operation of Windows 8 consumer preview and Windows Server 8 in a virtual machine
  • Rendering and graphics correctness issues on all platforms and applications
  • Linux 3D desktop experience, particularly when using the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Beta
  • Linux 3D application graphics correctness and performance
  • Stability in real-world scenarios including suspend/resume and display and device support
  • Nested Virtualization – running ESX and even trying Hyper-V* as a guest OS
  • VNC connection performance and stability

You don’t need a active license to run this software, VMware provides a license (expires October 15, 2012) with the download. So if you haven’t a valid license for Workstation 8 but want to experiment with this software grab the Tech Preview!

Download the tech preview at

Read all about the changes and issues with the tech preview at the VMware Communities;

Note: There’s also a tech preview available for VMware Fusion (Apple OS X), I don’t own a mac so don’t expect me to post about it, you can find the Fusion tech preview at

Edit files (for XMBC) on Apple TV

Last week I’ve posted how you can jailbreak and install XBMC media center on an Apple TV 2, after that I’ve posted on how you can connect your media and optionally share your media library on a (Synology) NAS. Some of my blog visitors asked my how you can create and edit the configuration files on the Apple TV. So let’s take a look at that.

To edit and create the files we have 2 options;

  1. Open a SSH terminal session and edit the files from the command line
  2. Use a SFTP/SCP tool (graphical)

The second option is the easiest so I’ll focus only on the SFTP/SCP method. For this method you’ll need a SFTP/SCP client. I’m using WinSCP, it’s a free open-source client, download it from

After you’ve installed WinSCP you can start the program and provide the information to connect with your Apple TV. The default username is root and the default password is alpine. The default hostname is AppleTV, if you’r not able to use the hostname to connect you can also use the ip-address.

After you’ve provided the connection info you can hit ‘Login’ to connect. When the connection is made you can browse the Apple TV’s filesystem;

The right side browser is the AppleTV.

Edit files

So lets assume you want to edit the sources.xml file witch XMBC uses, this file is created by the installation of XBMC. Browse to the path /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/userdata/. In this folder you’ll find sources.xml, highlight this file and press F4 (or double click it).  A new window will open where you can edit the content of sources.xml

The editor works the same as for example Notepad, just edit the text and save (and exit).

Create files

If you want XBMC to connect your shared library or make use of pathsubsitution you’ll have to create a file named advancedsettings.xml (this file is not installed with XBMC). To create this file press SHIFT+F4 and provide the name, after that you can edit and save this file.



Synology CloudStation

Because of the popularity of my post Synology CloudStation (DSM 4.0)  and the final release of Synology DMS 4.0 if written a new post about how to setup Synology Cloud station, this time in English.

First of all, what is CloudStation? Well I can try to explain but this is what Synology writes about Cloud Station;

Automatic sync
Whether you are at home or outdoor, your PC always carries important files with the latest versions in a single folder. For that, Cloud Station does the work for you. It may looks like any other folder on your PC, but the Cloud Station folder is actually a private cloud that always prepares itself up-to-date. Cloud Station pushes files, songs, and photos to any PC that you are working on, and syncs automatically.

Offline viewing
View and edit your files anytime you want via the Cloud Station folder even without the Internet connection. You can edit spreadsheets, create a new document, or upload photos all within the folder offline. After Internet access is resumed, all changes will be automatically synced onto Cloud Station and will be ready again for next offline viewing. Your files are made truly available.

Everybody’s cloud
A single Synology NAS is everyone’s private cloud. Every user can own a Cloud Station folder on their own computers and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. All clouds sit safe and sound in one DiskStation, where data security and privacy are guaranteed. In addition, when your PC and DiskStation are in the same local area network (LAN), you can also enjoy the speedier transfer rate than what’s offered over the Internet. Large file uploading and syncing just become faster.

So it’s a kind of private implementation of DropBox to run on your own storage solution. Now we know what Cloud Station is and we’re convinced we want to run this on our DiskStation we take a look on how to do this.

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VMware Labs, vBenchmark

When I was reading the blogs of other virtualization technicians I noticed a nice VMware Fling named vBenchmark. What is vBenchmark? The author has written this summary about the tool;

Have you ever wondered how to quantify the benefits of virtualization to your management? If so, please consider using vBenchmark. vBenchmark measures the performance of a VMware virtualized infrastructure across three categories:

  • Efficiency: for example, how much physical RAM are you saving by using virtualization?
  • Operational Agility: for example, how much time do you take on average to provision a VM?
  • Quality of Service: for example, how much downtime do you avoid by using availability features?

vBenchmark provides a succinct set of metrics in these categories for your VMware virtualized private cloud. Additionally, if you choose to contribute your metrics to the community repository, vBenchmark also allows you to compare your metrics against those of comparable companies in your peer group. The data you submit is anonymized and encrypted for secure transmission.

Key Features:

  • Retrieves metrics across one or multiple vCenter servers
  • Allows inclusion or exclusion of hosts at the cluster level
  • Allows you to save queries and compare over time to measure changes as your environment evolves
  • Allows you to define your peer group by geographic region, industry and company size, to see how you stack up

Looks promising, lets take it to the test…

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Synology DSM 4.0 Final released

On January 16 Synology released the public beta of its new Disk Station Manager 4.0. I’ve wrote a post on how you can install this beta onto your DiskStation (post is in Dutch). Today Synology released the final of 4.0, all 3.x users can update DSM using the ‘Control Panel’, ‘DMS Update’ snapin.

Just click ‘check DSM update’ (if your DS is not checking automatically), DSM will notice you that there’s a new version available, click ‘Download’ to get the new version 4.0 of Synology DSM.

After the download you can click ‘Update Now’.

Now we wait a few minutes allowing DSM to install.

So whats new in DSM 4.0? It’s to much to place here so take a look at the Synology website: