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This is the first release of a Commandline-only-LiveCD created for VMware vSphere Administrators.

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 Recovery-environment

- 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
- sshfs
- 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.


Try this first - should boot on most systems
Try this version when the EFI-version fails - old hosts may prefer this


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