If you are attempting to upgrade your vCenter Server and are getting stuck in stage one while connecting to the source appliance, a simple password change may get you going again. In my case, I was upgrading from vCenter 6.7 U2 to 7.0 but this could certainly occur with other upgrade paths as well. I got the following error:
“A problem occurred while getting data from the source vCenter Server.”
The error message is pretty non-descript, but we do get the option to download some logging. In the log file downloaded, it seems pretty clear that this is an authentication problem:
2020-04-12T20:13:55.435Z - info: VM Identifier for Source VC: vm-16
2020-04-12T20:13:55.568Z - debug: initiateFileTransferFromGuest error: ServerFaultCode: Failed to authenticate with the guest operating system using the supplied credentials.
2020-04-12T20:13:55.568Z - debug: Failed to get fileTransferInfo:ServerFaultCode: Failed to authenticate with the guest operating system using the supplied credentials.
2020-04-12T20:13:55.568Z - debug: Failed to get url of file in guest vm:ServerFaultCode: Failed to authenticate with the guest operating system using the supplied credentials.
2020-04-12T20:13:55.569Z - error: Failed to read the nodetype, Error: Failed to authenticate with the guest operating system using the supplied credentials.
2020-04-12T20:13:55.569Z - info: Checking if password expired
2020-04-12T20:13:58.915Z - info: Stream :: close
2020-04-12T20:13:58.915Z - info: Password not expired
2020-04-12T20:13:58.917Z - error: sourcePrecheck: error in getting source Info: ServerFaultCode: Failed to authenticate with the guest operating system using the supplied credentials.
Despite double checking that my credentials were correct, the logging insisted that there was something wrong with them. The logging also states that the password was not expired. Despite this, I decided to check anyway:
root@vc [ ~ ]# chage -l root
You are required to change your password immediately (root enforced)
chage: PAM: Authentication token is no longer valid; new one required
Well, that’ll do it. Looks like the root password was expired after all. I found it odd that it allowed me to login via SSH without any kind of password expiry warning. I changed the password using the ‘passwd’ root shell command.
root@vc [ ~ ]# passwd
BAD PASSWORD: it is based on a dictionary word
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully
root@vc [ ~ ]# chage -l root
Last password change : Apr 12, 2020
Password expires : Jul 11, 2020
Password inactive : never
Account expires : never
Minimum number of days between password change : 0
Maximum number of days between password change : 90
Number of days of warning before password expires : 7
After changing the password from the CLI, the upgrade progressed normally! Hopefully this tip may help others that get stuck on this step as well.
I have recently rebuilt my home lab – an all too common occurrence due to the number of times I intentionally try to break things. In the process of rebuilding, I had some ISO files I wanted to copy over to a datastore. The process failed and the Web Client greeted me with an uncharacteristically long error message.
The exact text reads:
“The operation failed for an undetermined reason. Typically, this problem occurs due to certificates that the browser does no trust. If you are using self-signed or custom certificates, open the URL below in a new browser tab and accept the certificate, then retry the operation.”
In my case, the URL that it listed was to one of my ESXi hosts in the compute-a cluster called esx-a2. The error then goes on to reference VMware KB 2147256.
It may seem odd that the vSphere Client would be telling you to visit a random ESXi host’s UI address when you are trying to upload a file via vCenter. But if you stop to think about it for a second, vCenter has no access whatsoever to your datastores. Whether you are trying to create a new VMFS datastore, upload a file or even just browse, vCenter must rely on an ESXi host with the necessary access to do the actual legwork. That ESXi host then relays the information back through the Web Client.
In the recent revamp of my lab environment, I decided to use VT-d passthrough for a pfsense VM. It has been working well with the integrated Intel igb based NICs on my management host, but I noticed that I started getting memory alarms on the VM.
At first, I thought I may have sized the VM a bit too small with only 512MB of RAM, but when checking in the guest itself, I saw only a small amount was actually being used:
At only 19% utilized, I’m nowhere near the 95% required to trigger this alarm. As you can see in the performance charts, all of the memory is being used by the guest from the perspective of ESXi:
But after thinking about this for a moment, it makes sense – one of the requirements for PCI passthrough is to reserve all guest memory. For passthrough to function, the hypervisor must provide 100% consistent and reliable memory to the guest. What better way to ensure that then to reserve and pin all memory to the VM.
Although I understand why all memory is active and consumed, it’s unfortunate that vCenter doesn’t take into consideration the reason for this. In my search for an answer, I came across VMware KB 2149787. It appears that this can impact not only VMs with passthrough, but also fault tolerant VMs and VMs with latency sensitivity set to ‘high’. Unfortunately, the resolution suggested is to disable to virtual machine memory alarm at the vCenter object level. This effectively disables the alarm for everything in the inventory. I hope that at some point, vSphere will allow disabling specific alarms on a per-VM basis because few people would want to take this approach.
For now, I think the best course of action is to simply click ‘Reset to Green’, which should clear the alarm until the VM is powered off/on again. Just keep in mind that this is normal for this type of VM and that the alarm can be disregarded.
Getting service health alarms and poor Web Client performance in ‘Tiny’ size deployments? A little extra memory can go a long way if allocated correctly!
In my home lab, I’ve been pretty happy with the vCenter Server ‘Tiny’ appliance deployment size. For the most part, vSphere Web Client performance has been decent and the appliance doesn’t need a lot of RAM or vCPUs.
When I most recently upgraded my lab, I considered using a ‘Small’ deployment but really didn’t want to tie up 16GB of memory – especially with only a small handful of hosts and many services offloaded to an external PSC
Although things worked well for the most part, I had recently been getting vCenter alarms and would get occasional periods of slow refreshes and other oddities.
The two specific alarms were service health status alarms with the following text strings associated:
The vmware-dataservice-sca status changed from green to yellow
I’d also see this accompanied by a similar message referring to the vSphere Web Client:
The vsphere-client status changed from green to yellow
After doing some searching online, I quickly found VMware KB 2144950 on the subject. Although the cause of this seems pretty clear – insufficient memory allocation to the vsphere-client service – the workaround steps outlined in the KB are lacking context and could use some elaboration.