Friday, 10 August 2018

Intel/LSI/Avago StorCli Error: syntax error, unexpected $end FIX

We're working with an Intel setup and needed to verify the setup on an Intel RAID Controller.

After downloading the command line utilities, since we're in Server Core, we hit this:

C:\Temp\Windows>storcli /cx show

syntax error, unexpected $end

     Storage Command Line Tool  Ver 007.0415.0000.0000 Feb 13, 2018

     (c)Copyright 2018, AVAGO Technologies, All Rights Reserved.

help - lists all the commands with their usage. E.g. storcli help
<command> help - gives details about a particular command. E.g. storcli add help

List of commands:

Commands   Description
add        Adds/creates a new element to controller like VD,Spare..etc
delete     Deletes an element like VD,Spare
show       Displays information about an element
set        Set a particular value to a property
get        Get a particular value to a property
compare    Compares particular value to a property
start      Start background operation
stop       Stop background operation
pause      Pause background operation
resume     Resume background operation
download   Downloads file to given device
expand     expands size of given drive
insert     inserts new drive for missing
transform  downgrades the controller
/cx        Controller specific commands
/ex        Enclosure specific commands
/sx        Slot/PD specific commands
/vx        Virtual drive specific commands
/dx        Disk group specific commands
/fall      Foreign configuration specific commands
/px        Phy specific commands
/[bbu|cv]  Battery Backup Unit, Cachevault commands
/jbodx      JBOD drive specific commands

Other aliases : cachecade, freespace, sysinfo

Use a combination of commands to filter the output of help further.
E.g. 'storcli cx show help' displays all the show operations on cx.
Use verbose for detailed description E.g. 'storcli add  verbose help'
Use 'page=[x]' as the last option in all the commands to set the page break.
X=lines per page. E.g. 'storcli help page=10'
Use J as the last option to print the command output in JSON format
Command options must be entered in the same order as displayed in the help of
the respective commands.

What the Help does not make clear, and what our stumbling block was, is what exactly we're missing.

It turns out, that the correct command is:

C:\Temp\Windows>storcli /c0 show jbod
CLI Version = 007.0415.0000.0000 Feb 13, 2018
Operating system = Windows Server 2016
Controller = 0
Status = Success
Description = None

Controller Properties :

Ctrl_Prop Value
JBOD      ON

CFShld-Configured shielded|Cpybck-CopyBack|CBShld-Copyback Shielded

The /cx switch needed a number for the controller ID.

A quick search turned up the following:

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Thursday, 9 August 2018

PowerShell: Add-Computer Error when Specifying OUPath: The parameter is incorrect FIX

We're in the process of setting up a second 2-node Kepler-64 cluster when we hit this when running the Add-Computer PowerShell to domain join a node:

Add-Computer : Computer 'S2D-Node03' failed to join domain 'Corp.Domain.Com from its current
workgroup 'WORKGROUP' with following error message: The parameter is incorrect.
At line:1 char:1
+ Add-Computer -Domain Corp.Domain.Com -Credential Corp\DomainAdmin -OUPath  …
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     + CategoryInfo          : OperationStopped: (S2D-Node03:String) [Add-Computer], InvalidOperation
     + FullyQualifiedErrorId : FailToJoinDomainFromWorkgroup,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.AddComp

The PowerShell line it's complaining about is this one:

Add-Computer -Domain Corp.Domain.Com -Credential Corp\DomainAdmin -OUPath "OU=S2D-OpenNodes,OU=S2D-Clusters,DC=Corp,DC=Domain,DC-Com" -Restart

Do you see it ? ;)

The correct PoSh for this step is actually:

Add-Computer -Domain Corp.Domain.Com -Credential Corp\DomainAdmin -OUPath "OU=S2D-OpenNodes,OU=S2D-Clusters,DC=Corp,DC=Domain,DC=Com" -Restart

When specifying the OUPath option if there is any typo in that setting the nondescript error is "The parameter is incorrect."

We always prefer to drop a server or desktop right into their respective OU containers as that allows our Group Policy settings to take giving us full access upon reboot and more.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book !
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

QuickBooks Desktop Freezes: Running Payroll, Downloading Online Transactions, and Closing Company File - Workaround

There seems to be an issue with the Canadian version of Intuit QuickBooks where the software freezes when doing a payroll run, downloading online transactions into QuickBooks, and when closing the Company file.

The workaround is to do the following:

  1. Close your company file.
  2. Open a sample file within QuickBooks
  3. From the No Company Open window, select Open a sample file
  4. Select a sample company file
  5. Click Ok to the warning You're opening a QuickBooks Desktop sample company file.
  6. In the sample company file, go to the Employees menu > Pay Employees > Scheduled Payroll
  7. Click Start Scheduled Payroll.
  8. Click Continue.
  9. Select one of the employees listed and click Continue.
  10. Click Ok to the warning message.
  11. Click Create Pay Cheques.
  12. Click Yes to the Past Transactions message.
  13. Click Close

We have a confirmation with one of our accounting firm clients that had the problem that this "fixes" it at least for now.

Intuit Help Article: QuickBooks Desktop freezes trying to create paycheques (CA only)

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Monday, 6 August 2018

Cloud Hosting Architecture: Tenant Isolation

Cloud Vendors Compromised

Given the number of backchannels we are a part of we get to hear horror stories where Cloud Vendors are compromised in some way or get hit by an encryption event that takes their client/customer facing systems out.

When we architect a hosting system for a hosting company looking to deploy our solutions in their hosting setup, or to set up an entirely new hosting project, there are some very important elements to our configuration that would help to prevent the above from happening.

A lot of what we have put into our design is very much a result of our experiences on the frontlines with SMB and SME clients.

One blog post that provides some insight: Protecting a Backup Repository from Malware and Ransomware.

It is absolutely critical to isolate and off-site any and all backups. We've also seen a number of news items of late where a company is completely hosed as a result of an encryption event or other failure only to find out the backups were either wiped by the perps or no good in the first place.

Blog Post: Backups Should Be Bare Metal and/or Virtually Test Restored Right?

The full bare metal or virtual restore is virtually impossible at hyper-scale. Though, we've seen that the backups being done in some hyper-scale cloud vendor's environments have proven to be able to be restored while in others a complete failure!

However, that does not excuse the cloud customer or their cloud consultancy from making sure that any and all cloud based services are backed up _off the cloud_ and air-gapped as a just-in-case.

Now, to the specific point of this blog post.

Tenant Isolation Technique

When we set up a hosting solution we aim to provide maximum security for the tenant. That's the aim as they are the ones that are paying the bills.

To do that, the hosting company needs to provide a series of layered protections for tenant environments.

  1. Hosting Company Network
    • Hosting company AD
    • All hosting company day-to-day operations
    • All hosting company on-premises workloads specific to company operations and business
    • Dedicated hosting company edges (SonicWALL ETC)
  2. Tenant Infrastructure Network
    • Jump Point for managing via dedicated Tenant Infrastructure AD
    • High Availability (HA) throughout the solution stack
    • Dedicated Tenant Infrastructure HA edges
      • Risk versus Reward: Could use the above edges but …
    • Clusters, servers, and services providing the tenant environment
    • Dedicated infrastructure switches and edges
    • As mentioned, backups set up and isolated from all three!
  3. Tenant Environment
    • Shared Tenant AD is completely autonomous
    • Shared Tenant Resources such as Exchange, SQL, and more are appropriately isolated
    • Dedicated Tenant AD is completely autonomous
    • Dedicated Tenant Resources such as Exchange, SQL, and more are completely isolated to the tenant
    • Offer a built-in off-the-cloud backup solution

With the solution architected in this manner we protect the boundaries between the Hosting Company Network and the Tenant Environment. This makes it extremely difficult for a compromise/encryption event to make the boundary traversal without some sort of Zero Day involved.


We've seen a few encryption events in our own cloud services tenants. None of them have traversed the dedicated tenant environments they were a part of. None. Nada. Zippo.

Containment is key. It's not "if" but "when" an encryption event happens.

Thus, architecting a hosting solution with the various environment boundaries in mind is key to surviving an encryption event and looking like a hero when the tenant's data gets restored post clean-up.

Thanks for reading!

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Monday, 30 July 2018

Intel Server System R1208JP4OC Base System Device Driver ERROR Fix

We were asked to rebuild a cluster that had both Intel Server System R1208JP4OC nodes go blotto.

After installing Windows Server 2012 R2 the first step is to install the drivers. But, after installing the most recent Intel Chipset Drivers file we still saw the following:


Base System Device: Error

After a bit of finagling around we figured out that version shown in the above snip cleared things up nicely.


PowerShell found in our Kepler-47 Setup Guide # DRIVERS section

Thanks for reading! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book !
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Saturday, 28 July 2018

CaseWare CaseView: DRAFT Watermark Not Printing on HP LaserJet Pro M203dw

We hit a very strange situation with a newly set up HP LaserJet Pro M203dw. This was the first printer to go in to replace a HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn that was not behaving well with Windows 10 Enterprise 64-bit at an accounting firm client of ours.

It took a number of installs to get the printer to show up in Printers & Scanners for one. The rip and replace process got to be a bit tedious but we eventually got it to show there.

The catch was when the partner ticked the DRAFT option in CaseView and went to print the file the watermark was so light as to be practically invisible.

Print to PDF then to the printer and the DRAFT watermark would show up but weirdly due to the firm's logo.

Since this was a newly set up machine we tested a few other HP printers in the firm with the watermark showing just fine.

It became apparent that nothing we could do would get it to work.

So, we replaced the printer with a HP LaserJet Pro M402dw and it just worked. In fact, Windows 10 picked up the printer as soon as the USB port was plugged in to the laptop dock and set it as default.

Some observations:

  • HP LJ Pro M203dw came with a _tiny_ toner cartridge
  • HP LJ Pro M203dw has a separate toner and imaging drum a la Brother
    • We do _not_ like this setup at all
  • HP LJ Pro M402dw has a recent firmware update
    • This took some time but ran flawlessly
  • HP LJ Pro M402dw works great via Remote Desktop into the partner's laptop, Remote Desktop Session Host, and RemoteApp
    • RD EasyPrint just works with this one


We won't be supplying anymore HP LJ Pro M203dw printers. All of our firms will be getting the M402dw and our cloud clients will get this printer as a recommendation.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book !
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Hypervisor, Cluster, and Server Hardware Nomenclature (A quick what's what)

100 Level Post

When helping folks out there seems to be a bit of confusion on what means what when it comes to discussing the software or hardware.

So, here are some definitions to help clear the air.

  • NIC
    • Network Interface Card
    • The card can have one, two, four, or more ports
    • Get-NetAdapter
    • Get-NetLbfoTeam
  • Port
    • The ports on the NIC
  • pNIC
    • pNIC = NIC
    • A physical NIC in a hypervisor host or cluster node
  • vNIC
    • The virtual NIC in a Virtual Machine (VM)
    • In-Guest: Get-NetAdapter
    • In-Guest: Get-NetIPAddress
  • vSwitch
    • The Virtual Switch attached to a vNIC
    • Get-VMSwitch
  • Gb
    • Gigabit =/= Gigabyte (GB)
    • 1 billion bits
  • GB
    • Gigabyte =/= Gigabit (Gb)
    • 1 billion bytes
  • 10GbE
    • 10 Gigabit Ethernet
    • Throughput @ line speed ~ 1GB/Second (1 Gigabyte per Second)
  • 100GbE
    • 100 Gigabit Ethernet
    • Throughput @ line speed ~ 10GB/Second (10 Gigabytes per Second)
  • pCore
    • A physical Core on a CPU (Central Processing Unit)
  • vCPU
    • A virtual CPU assigned to a VM
    • Is _not_ a pCore or assigned to a specific pCore by the hypervisor!
    • Please read my Experts-Exchange article on Hyper-V especially the Virtual CPUs and CPU Cores section mid-way down it's free to access
    • Set-VMProcessor VMNAME -Count 2
  • NUMA
    • Non-Uniform Memory Access
    • A Memory Controller and the physical RAM (pRAM) attached to it is a NUMA node

A simple New-VM PowerShell script is here. This is our PowerShell Guide Series that has a number of PowerShell and CMD related scripts . Please check them out and back every once in a while as more scripts are on the works.

Think something should be in the above list? Please comment or feel free to ping us via email.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Mellanox SwitchX-2 MLNX-OS Upgrade Stall via WebGUI and MLNX-OS to Onyx Upgrade?

Yesterday, we posted about our OS update process and the grids that indicated the proper path to the most current version.

A catch that became apparent was that there were two streams of updates available to us:

  1. image-PPC_M460EX-3.6.4112.img
  2. onyx-PPC_M460EX-3.6.4112.img
    • ETC
    • image

As can be seen in the snip above we read an extensive number of Release Notes (RN) and User Manuals (UM) trying to figure out what was what and which was which. :S

In the end, we opened a support ticket with Mellanox to figure out why our switches were stalling on the WebGUI upgrade process and why there was a dearth of documentation indicating anything about upgrade paths.

The technician mentioned that we should use CLI to clean-up any image files that may be left over. That's something we've not had to do before.

Following the process in the UM to connect via SSH using our favourite freebie tool TeraTerm we connected to both switches and found only one file to delete:

  • WebImage.tbz

Once that file was deleted we were able to initiate the update from within the WebGUI without error on both switches.

Since we had MLNX-OS 3.6.4112 already installed the next question for the tech was, "How do we get to the most current version of Onyx?"

The process was as follows:

  1. Up to MLNX-OS 3.6.4112
  2. Up to Onyx 3.6.6000
  3. Up to Onyx 3.6.8008

As always, check out the Release Notes (RN) to make sure that the update will not cause any problems especially with in-production NICs and their firmware!


Happy News! Welcome to Onyx

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book !
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Monday, 23 July 2018

Mellanox SwitchX-2 and Spectrum OS Update Grids

We're in the process of building out a new all-flash based Kepler-64 2-node cluster that will be running the Scale-Out File Server Role. This round of testing will have several different rounds to it:

  1. Flat Flash Intel SSD DC S4500 Series
    • All Intel SSD DC S4500 Series SATA SSD x24
  2. Intel NVMe PCIe AIC Cache + Intel SSD DC S4500
    • Intel NVMe PCIe AIC x4
    • Intel SSD DC S4500 Series SATA SSD x24
  3. Intel Optane PCIe AIC + Intel SSD DC S4500
    1. Intel Optane PCIe AIC x4
    2. Intel SSD DC S4500 Series SATA SSD x24

Prior to running the above tests we need to update the operating system on our two Mellanox SwitchX-2 MSX1012B series switches as we've been quite busy with other things!

Their current OS level is 3.6.4006 so just a tad bit out of date.


The current OS level for SwitchX-2 PPC switches is 3.6.8008. And, as per the Release Notes for this OS version we need to do a bit of a Texas Two-Step to get our way up to current.



Now, here's the kicker: There is no 3.6.5000 on Mellanox's download site. The closest version to that is 3.6.5009 which provides a clarification on the above:


Okay, so that gets us to 3.6.5009 that in turn gets us to 3.6.6106:


And that finally gets us to 3.6.8008:


Update Texas Two Step

To sum things up we need the following images:

  1. 3.6.4122
  2. 3.6.5009
  3. 3.6.6106
  4. 3.6.8008

Then, it's a matter of time and a bit of patience to run through each step as the switches can take a bit of time to update.


A quick way to back up the configuration is to click on the Setup button then Configurations then click the initial link.


Copy and paste the output into a TXT file as it can be used to reconfigure the switch if need-be via the Execute CLI commands window just below it.

As always, it pays to read that manual eh! ;)

NOTE: Acronym Finder: AIC = Add-in Card so not U.2.

Oh, and be patient with the downloads as they are _slow_ as molasses in December as of this writing. :(


Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book !
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Thursday, 19 July 2018

New PowerShell Guide Posted: Hyper-V Standalone Server

We've published a new PowerShell Guide for setting up a standalone Hyper-V server.
Please check it out and feel free to chime in via the comments or ping us to let us know if anything is missing or wrong.
Thanks for reading.
Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book !
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Saturday, 7 July 2018

GitHub: SSH Key Error: Key is invalid FIX

We're following the GitHub Help instructions for Adding a new SSH key to your GitHub account.

The OS is Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on Azure for a service we're in the process of setting up.

The following _did not work_ for us:

$ clip < ~/.ssh/

So, we did this instead:

$cd .ssh

$ vi ~/.ssh/

And received the following:


Everything looked fine but no matter which way the Copy & Paste was done the Key is invalid. Ensure you've copied the file correctly error would happen.


In the end, the stackoverflow post at the bottom got us some joy.

We needed to run:


Highlight from the last character in the e-mail address to the front of ssh-rsa and it worked!


While it's been a few years since I've worked in a *NIX/*BSD environment it was just like riding a bicycle! Oh, and being somewhat fluent in PowerShell really helps too. :)

Thanks for reading!

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Hyper-V Storage Live Migration Error: …not allowed because replication state is not initialized.

We had a Hyper-V server choke on some attached USB storage that was being used as a backup destination.

After getting things up and running we went to move one of the VM's VHDX file set and hit this:


Move Wizard

Storage migration for virtual machine 'VMName' failed.

Operation not allowed because the replication state is not initialized.

Storage Migration for virtual machine 'VMName' (GUID) failed with error 'The device is not ready.' (0x80070015).

Operation not allowed for virtual machine 'VMName' because Hyper-V state is yet to be initialized from the virtual machine configuration. Try again in a few minutes. (Virtual machine ID GUID)

The "fix" is to restart the VMM Service in an elevated PowerShell:

Restart-Service -Name VMMS

Once the service was restarted:


The move started without issue.

HT: Charbel Nemnom.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Friday, 29 June 2018

Our Calgary Oil & Gas Show Booth & Slide Show

At the invitation of one of our suppliers, AVNET, I got to spend the day manning a spot in their booth.


Calgary International Oil & Gas Show 2018 AVNET Booth

Sitting on the table at the left is one of our Kepler-47 nodes and a series of storage devices one of which is a disassembled hard drive.

There were great conversations to be had with the folks at the other booths including Intel, Kingston, and Microsoft and their Azure IoT team among others.

Thanks to AVNET and the team. They were very gracious. :)

Here's the slideshow I put together for that monitor on the wall.













Just a note on the mentioned Intel OmniPath setup. In conversation with Intel post-slide creation it seems that OPA is not a Windows focused architecture so there's no opportunity for us to utilize it in our solutions.

To our Canuck readers have a great long weekend and to everyone else have a great weekend. :)

Thanks for reading!

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Windows Server: Black Screen with "Windows logon process failed to spawn user application."

After demoting a DC we were not able to get to the desktop with a black screen showing up and that was it.

Try and get Task Manager up and running produced the following in the server's Event Logs:

Log Name:      Application
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Winlogon
Date:          6/20/2018 11:19:06 AM
Event ID:      4006
Task Category: None
Level:         Warning
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      SERVER.DOMAIN.COM
The Windows logon process has failed to spawn a user application. Application name: launchtm.exe. Command line parameters: launchtm.exe /3 .

In the end the solution ended up being to add the local administrator account to the local Users group after hitting CTRL+ALT+DEL/END to click Log Off/Sign Out.

Once we signed back in we got to the server's desktop and were able to continue with it's removal from the domain.

EDIT: Note that the change was done from a DC via Active Directory Users and Computers.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Exchange 2013+: Set Up a Receive Connector for MFP/Copier/Device Relay

The following are the two steps required to enable an internal anonymous relay in Exchange 2013/2016/20*.

Step 1: Create the Receive Connector

New-ReceiveConnector –Name MFP-APP-AnonRelay –Usage Custom –Bindings –RemoteIPRanges, –Comment “Allows anonymous relay” –TransportRole FrontEndTransport –AuthMechanism None –PermissionGroups AnonymousUsers


  • -Name: Change this if needed but must match for both steps
  • -RemoteIPRanges: Only put trusted device IP addresses in this section

Once the receive connector is set up it can be managed via EAC.

Step 2: Allow Anonymous Rights

Get-ReceiveConnector “MFP-APP-AnonRelay” | Add-ADPermission -User “NT AUTHORITY\ANONYMOUS LOGON” -ExtendedRights “Ms-Exch-SMTP-Accept-Any-Recipient”


  • The Receive Connector name must match the one set in Step 1


Once the above steps are set up there is no need to set a username and password on any device that has an allowed IP.

For obvious reasons one should never put an Internet IP address in this rule! But, that being said, one always denies all SMTP 25/587 inbound traffic to a third party sanitation provider's subnets right (we use ExchangeDefender for our own and our client's needs)?

Also, this setup is for on-premises Exchange.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book
Our Web Site
Our Cloud Service