This is the first version of a Commandline-only-LiveCD.
There is quite a large number of good Linux LiveCDs to chose from when you are looking for a toolbox for system-administrators. My personal favorite sure is PartedMagic
Unfortunately there is none that has all the tools that I need for my recovery work
Often I could get away with a recent Ubuntu-LiveCD by adding the essential tools using apt-get.
In most recovery cases fighting to get your regular tools is nothing that you want to happen too often.
Booting a Linux LiveCD inside a remote production-environment by giving instructions via skye or phone can be tricky enough.
So the expected use-case for this LiveCD can be described in this typical dialogue:
CUSTOMER> I have a problem with my VMFS-Volume …
ME> Let me see what I can do for you …
CUSTOMER> What do you need to get started ?
ME> Enable ssh, get putty and winscp , download this ISO-file. When ready give me a Teamviewer-login to your admin-host.
Depending on the type of connection there are different ways to get access to the damaged volume:
– VMFS-volume is stored on a local SCSI or SATA drive
– VMFS-volume is stored on a remote iSCSI-LUN
– VMFS-volume is stored on FibreChannel-LUN
– VMFS-volume is stored in a VMDK-file
Sometimes a Volume has to remain active as it is used for production – sometimes it can be unmounted:
– Volume is active – no exclusive access allowed/possible
– Volume is unmounted – exclusive access allowed/possible
Depending on the local environment different types of hosts can be used for the Recoveryenvironment
– any spare physical machine
– a physical ESXi host
– a VM running on one of the local ESXi-hosts
– a VM running inside Workstation installed on the remote admin-host
In all the cases listed above the Recovery-Environment must be able to maintain reliable direct access to the damaged
VMFS-volume and offer several options to store the recovered VMs.
The term LiveCD suggests that it only can be started from a physical CD-drive or ISO-file.
This release is not limited to CD-drive or ISO-files thats why I prefer to call it “Recovery Environment”
– can boot from CD-drive or ISO
– can boot from USB-flash-drives or USB-disks
– can boot from harddisk (IDE, SATA or SCSI)
– can boot like a regular bootable vmdk – just add a vmdk-descriptor that references the ISO-file
– can be deployed as OVA
– can boot from MBR and UEFI – allows to boot it inside almost all recent VMs on ESXi, WS or Fusion
– needs 64bit support to be enabled inside the VM
My list of required tools – to name just the essentials – looks like this:
– latest version of vmfs-tools
– tools to manage GPT disks
– complete iSCSI-support
– complete NFS-support
– ddrescue, testdisk, photorec and other forensic essentials
– web-interface to make some common tasks easier
The experienced admin may miss the following addons:
– vmware-mount included in the VDDK-package
– esxcli included in the VMware-CLI
– vmrun included in the VMware-VIX package
Unfortunately these packages are not redistributable so I can not include them.
As a workaround I include the
– dependancies for non-distributable VMware-packages
so that the mentioned tools can be installed on the fly when the Recovery-environment is booted with sufficient memory.
Even without vmware-mount I think a collection of tools for the expected scenarios should be able to mount the most frequent types of virtual disks so I added further commandline-tools like guestfish …
This allows stunts that probably should only be attempted by experts like
– mount vmdks – even when the vmdks are locked by ESXi
This collection of tools was created because I need this set of tools for
– recovery of damaged VMFS-volumes
– P2V using the Coldclone-approach
I do not claim that the collection includes every tool that would be useful in the VMware-context.
This collection simply includes 99 % of the tools I use whenever I offer remote-support.
Feel free to use it if you have similar needs.