Windows Hyper-V Manager is Stupid

I spend many hours at work in the middle of the night. Sometimes I work on my own things by connecting to my gear at home. I call this telecommuting in reverse. In order to facilitate my reverse telecommute, I use a couple of machines, one Linux box I call Hub, for OpenVPN, SSH, and NeoRouter, and one Windows machine I call Portal, for Teamviewer, Remote Desktop, and to run my DNS hosts Windows-only dynamic DNS client. Hub died, and so I figured I would run the two machines on one box via XenServer or Virtualbox. It turns out that the hardware for Portal doesn’t do Linux very well. So I decided to take a run at virtualization with Hyper-V. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 lets you evaluate the product indefinitely, so I thought that would be a good place to start.

After downloading the ISO, which is hard to locate on the MS TechNet site, I burned it to disk and wiped Portal and loaded Hyper-V Server and configured a static IP for it. This isn’t a high end box, it’s a dual core AMD with 8gb of ram. It’s fine for using Windows 7 as a springboard to get into my home network. I just want to spin up a couple of low end Linux boxes and a Windows machine. The sconfig.cmd tool is fine for the basics of setting up the box, but since I am not much of a powershell guy, I wanted to use the Hyper-V manager on another workstation. I was trying to do this without having to pirate anything, and it turned out to be a complete waste of time.

Hyper-V Manager and the Hyper-V Server that it can manage is basically a matched set. You can use the manager on Windows 7 to connect to Hyper-V on Server 2008 and earlier. You can’t really use Win7 or Win10 to manage 2012 R2. So, I basically have to either pirate Server 2008, pirate Win8.1, or pirate Server 2016. Or, I can just use a ProHVM, a third party tool from a Swedish company that seems to have been invented specifically because Hyper-V Manager is the worst.

Even with ProHVM, it’s not all champagne and roses. Accessing the console of a VM causes wonky keyboard performance. This is mildly frustrating, so I recommend using a mouse as much as possible for configuration of a VM. The only real showstopper is logging in to a Linux box with no GUI. Having only 50% of your keystrokes register makes logging into the console completely impossible because you don’t see the *** to let you know which character you are on.

My workaround for Debian VMs is to not set a root password, which forces Debian to disable root in favor of sudo, like Ubuntu. Then you set a very short password for your user account (like 12345, same as the combination to my luggage) and make certain that you set up an SSH server during setup. Then you can SSH to the box and use the ‘passwd’ command to reset the password to something more secure. Then you can configure SSH keys for your logins.

So if you find yourself in a situation where you need to do virtualization on Windows, and you are deeply invested in the idea of using 2012 R2, don’t bother with Hyper-V manager. Instead, download ProHVM, and then use ProHVM as little as possible. It’s free for non-commercial use and you can build new VMs and all that stuff that you *should* be able to use Hyper-V Manager for.

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The Nintendo Switch, or how I learned to stop worrying and learned to love buying consoles

The Nintendo Switch is out and I am pretty pumped about it. I haven’t purchased one yet, so my exuberance may wane a bit once I do.

My preference for video gaming systems is much like my political affiliation: I pretty much hate everything.

I love video games, but I am normally not fond of video gamers. As a community, the toxicity is palpable, so the online experience just isn’t a factor for me. I prefer to play video games with people that I know in the real world, so for me the Playstation and the XBox are roughly equal, and the Nintendo has a real advantage over the others.

In my mind, Nintendo is a completely different category of gaming from the PC, XBox, or Playstation. In time, I usually end up with all 4 systems. I just usually wait for a few years to pick up the current PS or XBox. As of this writing, I still don’t have an XBone or PS4 and I am thinking about skipping them. Sure there are exclusives that I could be missing, but honestly, I don’t really care. I still play tons of Skyrim, so I am not really missing much.

The reason that I think of Nintendo as a wholly different platform than all others is that the Nintendo pushes the envelope for hardware, not necessarily for video games. Sure, they have a roster of characters, and a few franchises that you can bank on for release on new platforms. The craziest example has to be controlling a game with bongos.

While bongos were probably the riskiest idea, the Wii had to be the most successful. The idea of using movement to interact with a game was duplicated by every other console. The Wii U added the ability to use the tablet to play “real” console games that ran on another machine, essentially ushering in the idea of streaming games. The nVidia shield and it’s various competitors owe Nintendo for introducing the concept to the living room. Now Nintendo is taking its act on the freeway?

I know it’s easy to dismiss the Nintendo as gimmicky, and targeted at kids. I play a fair amount of Nintendo games with my kids. A common Friday night activity at our house for the two older kids was popping a bunch of popcorn and the whole family playing Mario Party or Mario Kart. Now I am looking forward to the day when we can do the same with the two little ones. Just because the stable of characters is popular with kids doesn’t mean that it’s not a serious platform. Nintendo’s decision to make the tablet the center of the gaming experience is an interesting one. I am eager to see the long term effects it has on gaming and computing.

I can’t praise Nintendo’s bold visions without also talking about Microsoft’s lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, I like the XBox, it’s well executed and represents the height of console gaming design. The MS vision is many things, but it is not bold. MS seems to prefer taking known entities and perfecting them, much like Apple does with mobile phones. Playing shooters or fighting games on the XBox is great, but the price point for that experience is extreme. The XBone is still around $250 even though it’s pushing 4 years in age and an upgrade is on the horizon.

I call every cop show on TV CSI

My mother is a big fan of cop shows. My only exposure to them is when I visit her during prime time. Because I either stream or torrent all of the TV I watch, I have completely lost touch with broadcast television and commercials. Watching TV with my mom is fairly surreal for me.

I don’t have anything against cop shows. Some of my favorite shows, like The Wire, True Detective, and Luther are cop shows. It’s just that there have been so many variations of the police procedural program on TV for so many years that it seems like a running joke. So I call every cop show on TV CSI: with the one feature that I notice.

Here are a few examples:

CSI: Goth Girl – All I know about this show is that the writers don’t understand how IP addresses work. Also, it’s been on the air for like 15 years. Surely Goth Girl has grown up to be a Goth Woman by now? Maybe she settled down, married a Goth Guy? Had a couple of Goth Kids? Sure, I make fun of Goth Girl, but I also deeply respect her commitment to the Goth Lifestyle. I was all about Punk Rock until I went into the military and they shaved my head. Then I never looked back.

CSI: Hacker Girl – This is another show that doesn’t get how comically easy it is to change an IP. It’s totally possible to match up IP info with other details, but it will take a long time and probably require cooperation with foreign governments that may or may not extradite to the US. Or, you know, the cooperation of a huge and totally illegal NSA surveillance program.

Anyway, the technical dialogue in this show is laughable, but the idea that some nerd holed up in a dark place surrounded by computers is a major contributor to the success of a mission is pretty cool. Also the gear she uses looks pretty cool. One point of order tho, why are there so many screens outside of her field of vision? I am total diva when it comes to monitors, so I understand the need for many, it’s just that turning your head to see a screen really interferes with your productivity.

CSI: Cop Killer – I love that my mom watches this show because she was suuuuuper worried about the music I listened to in the 90’s, like Bodycount. Our media landscape is funny in that 90’s white people were scared of Ice-T, and then he became a weeknight TV staple. On a cop show.

I love Ice-T memes so much that I have created my own narrative for his CSI character. Ice-T blames the LAPD for the riots in 1992 and has infiltrated the LAPD under a false ID. Now he is slowly destroying the LAPD by tricking the detectives into investigating nonsense crimes and thereby wasting their resources.

CSI: Pun Glasses I have no idea if my mom watches this show or not, but there’s a meme for it and I have an awful pun about puns, so by law I have to put it on the list.

For all of the crap that I give television, especially cop shows, there are a few cop shows that I’m a big fan of. Only about half of them are American, which even I think is a bit pretentious.