Linux Configuration Resource Kit for System Center administrators (Tips, Tricks and Resources)

Microsoft is broadening support for cross-platform in System Center 2012. If you’re amongst the Linux-challenged now faced with monitoring or managing *NIX systems with System Center 2012, read on. I have some GREAT resources for you here. To get comfortable with any technology, you need to start by getting your hands dirty in the lab. A cheat sheet to show you what to do (and in what order) can be a big help. Below is a kind of homegrown resource kit of tools and tips from the web that will make the journey less daunting.

This is going to serve as the start of a collection of a cross-platform configuration notepad, so I’ll update from time to time. Feel free to share your tools and tips via comment or e-mail.

Step 1: Get a Linux Distribution

I love CentOS for two reasons: 1) it’s free and 2) it’s basically Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with the licensing stripped out. What works on RHEL generally works on CentOS, with a few exceptions. Download at http://centos.org/

Step 2: Linux Integration Components (for Hyper-V)

In order to get a mouse to work in a Linux VM running on Hyper-V, you’re going to need the integration components. Download the integration components, mount the ISO to your Linux VM. You could walk through the process of extracting, installing, which is torture akin to waterboarding. See step-by-step at  http://www.hyper-v-mart.com/Howto/Install_CentOS_5_VM_Step_by_Step.aspx. I recommend you DO NOT attempt to install the integration components before you check out what’s in Step 3.

Download version 2.1 (RHEL / CentOS 5.x) or 3.2 ((RHEL / CentOS 5.x) by clicking the linked text to the left

Step 3: Say hello to your new best friend – the Set-LinuxVM PowerShell Module

This may be the best kept secret amongst PowerShell modules anywhere. The first time I used this module, the results were so amazing I nearly cried tears of joy. In a (long) PowerShell one-liner, this module will 1) install the Hyper-V integration components 2) Name your host 3) configure your IP stack (IP, default gate, DNS, etc.) 4) and installs / configures synthetic NIC. Other parameters include changing root password, setting time zone and extending logical volumes. It supports a wide variety of Linux distributions including Debian, Ubuntu, Centos, Fedora, Redhat, Suse and CloudLinux. Yusuf  Ozturk deserves a medal for this!

EXAMPLE (Sets hostname and IP configuration to VM called “Linux01” which is CentOS)

Download at http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/scriptcenter/987548bf-3351-4774-9cb2-7639dd7a4077

Step 4: Load a GUI

US If you are a Windows person, you may want a graphical user interface (GUI). I like Gnome or KDE.

Install the GNOME Desktop (if you want a UI)

source: http://www.gizmola.com/blog/archives/74-Install-Xwindows-and-Gnome-on-Centos-with-Yum.html

Install the K Desktop Environment (another UI)

source: http://www.unixnewbie.org/how-to-install-kde-in-centos/

To start the UI, type startx. You can configure the UI to load automatically, but I tend not to do this to conserve resources. If you would like to set the GUI to start automatically, you need to set the runlevel to 5 in the /etc./inittab. People tend to run CentOS (or RHEL) at runlevel 3 or runlevel 5 — both full multi-user modes.  The default runlevel for the system is listed in /etc./inittab. To find out the default runlevel for a system, look for the line similar to the following near the top of /etc./inittab:

id:3:initdefault:To configure the GUI to load in the VM automatically, change the 3 to 5. Source: http://www.centos.org/docs/5/html/Installation_Guide-en-US/s1-boot-init-shutdown-sysv.html

MISC OS and VM Configuration

Here is the file you can update to manual configure your network settings. Be sure to connect the VM to the right virtual switch as well!

Configure the primary network adaptor (from the CLI)
Edit this file – /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

Restart network services (so changes take effect)

service network restart

source: http://www.centos.org/docs/5/html/Deployment_Guide-en-US/s1-networkscripts-interfaces.html

Utilities

Here are a couple of must-have utilities to help remotely control the VM and do basic file transfers (like System Center agents) to and from the VM.

TIghtVNC – Free remote control utility (for full screen capability) – http://www.tightvnc.com/

WinSCP (secure copy)http://winscp.net/eng/index.php

WinSCP is really handy when fixing up certificates on *NIX systems (comes up a lot when configuring OpsMgr X-Plat agent).

Conclusion

With cross-platform support already present or coming soon in System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager and beyond, it’s not a bad idea to start getting comfortable if you’re org uses *NIX.

Additional Resources

Here are a few additional private cloud-related posts featuring current and vNext System Center technologies that may be of interest

Configuring PRO integration between OpsMgr 2012 and VMM 2012

[Private Cloud]: Configuring anti-affinity between VMs on Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1 and VMM 2012

Implementing rapid scale-out of a machine tier in VMM 2012 via PowerShell

Cloud: A quick note on accurately measuring Hyper-V host performance and utilization

What’s new in the Cloud Services Process Pack (CSPP) Release Candidate for System Center 2012?

Private Cloud in the real world: 5 lessons from the private cloud fabric

How to prepare for Orchestrator? Learn Opalis in a month of Friday afternoons! (free online resources)

PowerShell Scripts for System Center (Master Collection)

0 thoughts on “Linux Configuration Resource Kit for System Center administrators (Tips, Tricks and Resources)

  1. Stefan Koell

    Thanks for that post, Pete. I’m a complete noob when it comes to the Linux/Unix systems. This is a great start. How about a follow up with a focus on X-Plat agent deployment and MP testing 😉

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.