Posts Tagged 'Windows'

May 1, 2014

New App Release: SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

Today, the SoftLayer development team is launching a new platform accessibility tool for SoftLayer customers who want to easily manage their infrastructure from Windows. We've gotten a great response from the users of SoftLayer Mobile app for Windows Phone, so we turned our attention to creating an app for customers on Windows 8.1: SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1.

With a growing number of users adopting and embracing Windows 8.1 on their PCs, and the Windows Store is becoming a vibrant community of useful apps for those customers. There are more than 145,000 apps on the Windows Store, and that number is expected to increase exponentially following Microsoft’s recent introduction of "Universal Apps for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1.” With all that goodness and an expanding market, it was imperative for our mobile development team to build an app for customers using Windows 8.1 as their default OS or carrying Windows RT tablets.

Why Windows 8.1?

Our team wants to provide simple, efficient ways for customers to connect to SoftLayer infrastructure and perform any necessary management tasks while on-the-go. Our team is inspired by the power of connected devices in Windows ecosystem. By developing an app for Windows 8.1, we will slowly bring the phone, tablet and PC onto one streamlined platform — a concept many smart devices are adopting quickly.

What’s Fresh?

New Dashboard

The SoftLayer Mobile app for Windows 8.1 is a fresh new approach to its Windows Phone sibling. The app provides a dashboard view after authentication that provides a snapshot of some of the most commonly used information and controls in the portal.

Currently, the dashboard supports four different panels: Tickets, devices, accounting and bandwidth. All display an overview of relevant information for you and your environment. The dashboard also allows you to quickly add a ticket or make a one-time payment on your account.

SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

In-line Ticket Updates

In the new tickets module, you can update tickets without ever leaving the page. This functionality is similar to what you see on many social websites, and it's integrated to be seamless.

SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

Search Everywhere!

One of the coolest additions to the new app is the introduction of search functionality in each module. Now, you can search a ticket, a device, or an invoice by just typing into the search box! The search capability lets you spend less time scrolling and more time working.

SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

Bandwidth Display

Smart phones have apps that measure and report how much data you are using, and your infrastructure should be similarly transparent Bandwidth usage is an important aspect of server management, so we built the bandwidth module to show your infrastructure's public and private traffic for current and previous billing cycles. This view also helps you see when a server is about to reach its limits so that you can plan accordingly.

SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

The module provides two ways to look at the data:

  • In a tabular form by clicking the “Show/Hide Traffic Details” button.
  • In a graphic representation by clicking the “View Graph” button.

SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

Same Functionality. Better Experience.

Sometimes change is not always needed for a nicely crafted feature. The new app keeps the same feature richness of the Windows Phone app and arranges it in a user-friendly way. For example, in the devices module, you can navigate to between different tabs to get the information you need, from password lists and attached tickets to a specific device or monitoring alarms.

The “Remote Control” section on the module allows you to perform actions such as rebooting, power cycles, restarts and pinging servers. In addition, you can view hardware and software installed on the device along with the hardware and network components attached. In the current phone version, you can only see the root password for the device, but in the Windows 8.1 app, you see all passwords for the server.

SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

What's Next?

During the development of this app, the team's goal was to test to adopt a framework that would be ideal for scaling. More and more developers are adopting a Model-View-Model (MVVM) approach to mobile and web app development, so our goal was to use that approach for this project. The significant challenge we faced when adopting this approach was finding a well-supported framework that met our application's needs. We weren't able to find suitable frameworks that committed regular updates in SDKs or in APIs, so we ended up using the same MVVM principles without any underlying framework. In the end, the project allowed us to create our own framework for future projects!

There are many exciting features that are lined up for the Windows 8.1 app. Download it now: SoftLayer Mobile for Windows 8.1

After you try it out, please submit your feedback ... We want to keep improving the app by providing the features and functionality that matter most to you.

-Imran

October 16, 2013

Tips and Tricks: Troubleshooting Email Issues

Working in support, one of the most common issues we troubleshoot is a customer's ability to receive email. Depending on email server, this can be a headache and a half to figure out, but more often than not, we're able to fix the problem with one of only a few simple solutions. Because the SoftLayer Blog audience loves technical tips and tricks, I thought I'd share a few easy steps that make pinpointing the root cause of email issues much easier.

Before you gear up to go into battle, check the that server is not out of disk space on /var and that it is not in a read only state. That precursory step may seem silly, but Occam's Razor often holds true in technical troubleshooting. Once you verify that those two common problems aren't causing your email problems, the next step is to determine whether the email issues are server-wide or isolated to one mail account/domain. To do that, the first thing you need to do is make sure that the IMAP and POP services are responding.

Check IMAP and POP Services

The universal approach to checking IMAP and POP services is to use telnet:

telnet <serverip> 110
telnet <serverip> 143

If either of those commands fail, you're able to pinpoint which service to check on your server.

For most variants of Linux, you can check both services with a single command: netstat -plan|egrep -i "110|143". The resulting output will show if the services are listening and which process is doing the listening. In Windows, you can run a similar command from a command prompt: netstat -anb|find "LISTEN"| findstr "110 143".

If the ports are listening, and you're able to connect to them over telnet, your next stop should be your server's error logs.

Check Error Logs

You want to look for any mail errors that might clue you into the root cause of your email issues. In Linux, you can check /var/log/maillog, and in Windows, you can filter eventvwr.msc for mail only. If there are errors, a simple search will highlight them quickly.

If there are no errors, it's time to dig into the mail queue directly.

Check the Mail Queue

Depending on the mail server you use, the commands here are going to vary. Here are a few examples of how we'd investigate the most common mail servers we encounter:

QMail

Display the mail queue: /var/qmail/bin/qmail-qread
Display the number of messages in the queue: /var/qmail/bin/qmail-qstat
Reference article: Gaining Control Over the QMail Queue

Sendmail

Display the mail queue: sendmail -bp or mailq
Display the number of messages in the queue: mailq –OmaxQueueRunSize=1
Reference article: Quick Sendmail Cheatsheet

Exim

Display the mail queue: exim -bp
Display the number of messages in the queue: exim -bpc
Reference article: Exim cheatsheet

MailEnable

MailEnable users can can check to see that messages are moving by opening the mail directory:
Program Files\MailEnable\Queues\SMTP\Inbound\Messages
Reference article: How to diagnose inbound message delivery delays

With these commands, you can filter through the email queues to see whether any of them are for the users or domains you're having problems with. If nothing obvious presents itself at that point, it's time for some active testing.

Active Testing

Send an email to your mailserver from an external mailserver (anything will do as long as it's not on the same server). Watch for logging of the email as it's delivered:
tail -f maillog
On busy mailservers you might add |grep youremailid or simply look for a new message in the directory where the email will be stored.

The your primary goal in troubleshooting your email issues in this way is to isolate the root cause of your problem so that you can fix it more quickly. SoftLayer customers have direct access to our support team to help you through this process, but it's always nice to keep a quick reference like this in your back pocket to be able to pinpoint the problem yourself.

-Bill

March 28, 2012

SoftLayer Mobile on WP7 - Live Tiles and Notifications

In the past couple of months we've added some really cool Windows Phone 7.1 (Mango) features to the Softlayer Mobile application, including Lives Tiles and Notifications. While a basic Live Tile implementation is relatively easy, there's a fair amount of coding and architecture requirements to facilitate cooler Live Tile functionality and Notifications ... And we're all about doing things cooler.

Live Tiles is a such great feature of Windows Phone 7 largely because it gives the developer much more control over the device's user experience when compared to other mobile OSes. Live Tile functionality in its simplest form can be just 'Pinning' the Tile to the Start Menu with a deep link to a specific location within the application so that when clicked the user is taken to that location within the app. This can save the user a lot of time in having to navigate deep into an app if they know where they want to go. More advanced features of Live Tiles include programmatically giving the Tile a custom background image and displaying a notification message on the background when the Tile flips.

Adding a Live Tile

To add a Live Tile, a user simply clicks and holds the module they'd like to pin to the start menu. When the context menu appears, the user can select 'pin as tile,' and he or she will be taken to the Start page where the new Tile is displayed:

SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

The Magic Behind Sending Notifications

We really wanted to be able to notify a user when a notable event happens on his or her account (new ticket is created/updated, when a bill is overdue, etc.), and Windows Phone 7 provides some pretty phenomenal functionality in that area ... I wouldn't be surprised if other big mobile OSes copy Windows Phone 7's notifications in the future. When it comes to implementing notifications in SoftLayer Mobile, we needed to handle a few things:

  1. Get a Unique App+User Channel URI from Windows Push Notification Server
  2. Register URI & Channel Name with the Softlayer Registration Service (WCF we created)
  3. Store this URI, Channel Name and the user's Account in a DB
  4. Periodically poll for new tickets or updates (since we don't have a mechanism yet that can 'push' this alert when any notification event is triggered)
  5. Send Notification (whether it's a Toast or Tile notification) to device via the unique URI & Channel name.

I was going to include the architecture diagram here showing this relationship and process, but the designer sitting next to me told that nobody wants to see that.

What do the Numbers on the Tiles Mean?

We wanted to make our Tiles show information that the user would find useful, so we send the account's total unread ticket count to the main app's Tile, and we display the account's unread ticket update count on the "Ticket" Tile we pinned to the Start screen:

SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

Why is the Tile Flipping?

We also have the ability to have the Tiles flip over and show an image or text on the TileBack, so we use that to explain the number shown on the Tile (so you don't have to remember):

SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

What is a Toast Notification?

A Toast Notification is a message that pops up on the screen for 10 seconds. If the user clicks on it, he or she is taken to the application, but if the notification is not clicked, it will disappear. Here is the Toast Notification that is sent to a user when a ticket is updated if they subscribe to Toast Notifications:

SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

How do I Enable Notifications in SoftLayer Mobile?

To enable Live Tiles, all you have to do is turn on the 'Use Push Notifications' option on the Settings view.

SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

You'll be asked if you'd like to receive Toast Notifications, and if you click 'OK,' you'll start getting them:

SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

We Love Feedback and Requests!

Now that you have Live Tiles & Notifications in Softlayer Mobile for WP7 (and coming soon for iPhone & Android), what else would you like to see in the mobile clients?

-Erik

February 20, 2012

Tips and Tricks - Remote Audio Over RDP in Windows 2008

I was working on my server the other night, and I found myself needing to get sound from my Windows 2008 box through an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) connection. Because we have a huge customer base with Windows 2008 installed now, I figured there may be someone else out there that would like to be able to hear sounds from their server on their local computer when connected, so I put together a quick walkthrough with how I got it to work:

Configuring Your Server

  1. Open Windows Services (Start -> Run -> Services.msc)
  2. Change the properties of the Windows Audio Endpoint Service and Windows Audio Service to "Automatic". If the services are not already started, you can manually start them at this time.
  3. Open Terminal Services ( Start -> Run -> tsconfig.msc)
  4. Right-click on the RDP-TCP connection and bring up its properties. Go to the "Client Settings" and make sure that on "Redirection Audio" is not disabled.
  5. Fully log out and log back into the RDP connection to the server. You will see a balloon error on your speaker icon that states "No Audio Output Device is installed."

Making Registry Changes

  1. You will now need to back up your registry and some registry changes.
  2. I want to reiterate the instruction to back up your registry ... As with most technical guides/walkthroughs, SoftLayer will not be held liable for any corruptions that may result from you attempting these changes. The next two steps will show how to quickly back up your registry.
  3. Log into your server on an account with Administrator rights, and open regedit (Start -> Run -> regedit)
  4. Export the current registry (from the "File" menu) and copy it to a location off of your server so you have it backed up.
  5. Locate the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AudioEngine\AudioProcessingObjects. This will contain several subkeys all each named with a GUID.
  6. Click on each subkey, then right-click and select "Permissions." You will then click on the "Advanced" button and the "Owner" tab. The current owner should be listed as "TrustedInstaller."
  7. Select the Administrative account and/or group from the list and click "OK" to change the ownership.
  8. Select the account you just chose and give it "Full Control," then click "OK."
  9. In the "Detail" box of each subkey, double-click on the DWORD value "MinOutputConnections" and change it from 1 to 0, then click "OK."
  10. Once you have done this for each subkey in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AudioEngine\AudioProcessingObjects, you can close regedit and restart the Windows Audio and Windows Audio Endpoint services.

Configuring Your RDP Client

Now that you have everything ready on the server, you just need to make sure your RDP client recognizes the audio. Log off of the server so you can configure your RDP client. Open RDP, go to the "Options" menu, and under "Local Resources," select "Configure Remote Audio Settings." Select "Play on this Computer," and hit "OK." Voila! You now should be able to hear sound from your Windows 2008 RDP connection.

-Bill

December 5, 2011

Quick Tip: Copy and Paste from the DOS Prompt

Having worked in SoftLayer's technical support department for a few years now, I can tell you that the more information you provide us, the faster we can get you to a resolution. If you can show us exactly the problem you're seeing with details from when you see it, it's much easier for us to troubleshoot, so I wanted to post a quick blog on the heels of Todd's "Global Network: The Proof is in the Traceroute" post to help you get information to us much more easily.

Document Format
Many people consider a Microsoft Word document the lowest common denominator when it comes to formatting an attachment or file while others prefer plain text for everything. I always advocate the use of plain text. Plain text is universally accessible, it doesn't require a third-party application to view, it doesn't add funky encoding, and it uses monospaced fonts that format the text like you'd see in a command prompt if you were sharing troubleshooting results from ping and traceroute commands. It's quite unnecessary to take a screen capture of a ping or traceroute when you run it, and it's doubly unnecessary to paste that screen capture into a Microsoft Word document.

Copying Your Ping/Traceroute
The problem many Windows users run into is that it's not very clear how to copy text from the command prompt ... The familiar keyboard shortcuts for copying (CTRL+C) and pasting (CTRL+V) don't work from the DOS Prompt, so the screen capture route is usually the easiest to execute. There is an easy way to copy, though.

Microsoft documented the instructions you need, and I wanted to share them with SoftLayer customers here:

  1. Open the command prompt. If you're unsure how to do this, open the Start Menu, click Run, enter "cmd" (without the quotes) and click OK.
  2. Execute your command. Use "tracert softlayer.com" to follow along with this test.
  3. Right-click the title bar of the command prompt window, point to Edit, and then click Mark.
  4. Click the beginning of the text you want to copy.
  5. Press and hold down the SHIFT key, and then click the end of the text you want to copy (or you can click and drag the cursor to select the text).
  6. Right-click the title bar, point to Edit, and then click Copy.

Now the text is in the clipboard. You can paste it anywhere, including the body of a ticket. To preserve layout, I usually paste the text in Notepad and attach that file to the ticket. If you don't want to go through the hassle of opening Notepad, just paste the results into the comment field below.

If you enjoy reading quick tips like this one that can make life easier, be sure to check out KnowledgeLayer.

-Lyndell

Bonus tip: If you want to submit your traceroute in a comment on this blog without losing the mono-spaced formatting, surround the pasted content with the <code> and </code> tags.

November 29, 2011

SoftLayer Mobile v. 1.1 on Windows Phone: New Features

I was on a Caribbean cruise during the second week of November, and I kept telling myself that the first thing I needed to taste was a delicious mango. Even though I knew it's out of season, I still had hopes. I had a chance to indulge in that tropical fruit, and I couldn't help but think about a mango that gets tastier with every day: the new Windows Phone OS 7.1, codenamed "Mango."

I'm not going to talk about Mango or its new sensational features, but I do want to share a few of the changes that we pushed out to the Windows Phone Marketplace as a version 1.1 of SoftLayer Mobile. While I could ramble for pages about all of the updates and our strategy in building out and improving the mobile platform, but I'll try to be brief and only share four of the biggest new features the team included in this release.

Verisign Authentication
The first update you'll notice when you fire up SoftLayer Mobile 1.1 on Windows Phone is the security-rich inclusion of VeriSign authentication. You are able to activate an additional layer of security by requiring that users confirm their identity with a trusted third party tool before they get access to your account. In this case, the third party vendor is VeriSign. Every customer looking to bake in additional security on their account will appreciate this addition.

SoftLayer Mobile WP

VeriSign authentication in SoftLayer Mobile on WP7

Device-Based Bandwidth
The next big addition to this Windows Phone app release is the inclusion of device-based bandwidth for two billing cycles – your current cycle and the previous cycle. In v. 1.0 of SoftLayer Mobile, users were only able to see bandwidth data for the current billing cycle ... It's useful, but you don't have a frame of reference immediately available. This release provides that frame of reference. One of the coolest parts is the aesthetically pleasing presentation: our metro-style container, "pivot control." Just slide through and see your billing cycles in one long view!

SoftLayer Mobile WP

Billing cycle view along with a button to view graph for that cycle

Bandwidth Graphs
If you didn't notice from the picture, its caption or the heading of this section, the next big update is the inclusion of bandwidth graphs! The bandwidth graph page gives you a bird's eye view of your bandwidth activity for any selected billing cycle. You'll see the max "Inbound," "Outbound" and "Total" values. Those different marks are very useful if you're tracking which days your device uses the most bandwidth and when those surges subside. The application uses the built-in charting functionality that comes with Silverlight libraries. Since we're taking advantage of those goodies, you can bet it looks beautiful. No, it's not a bitmap image ... it's a real bandwidth chart. As with the other bandwidth update, the graphs are available for both the current and the previous billing cycle.

SoftLayer Mobile WP

Bandwidth chart for a previous billing cycle

Ticket Updates
The next addition to the family is a new way to visually distinguish your unread updates on tickets while viewing a ticket list page. The "toast" notification for the ticket list view gives flags unread ticket updates, and the ticket list will feature bold text on the ticket's subject if that ticket is marked with an "unread update" *ndash; meaning an employee or someone has an update to that ticket which you haven't seen yet. This is very much Outlook-y style and very native to Windows Phone.

SoftLayer Mobile WP

Toast notification along with Outlook-style unread ticket

What's Next?
With this release, we're not resting on our laurels, so what are we doing in our labs? Right now we're working on OS migration to move our existing app from OS 7.0 to the new Mango-flavored Windows Phone 7 version I mentioned a little earlier. Now you see why I was so fixated on mangoes while I was on vacation. The migrated mango app will only be available to devices that are mango-licious (Upgraded to 7.1).

Stay tuned, and you'll see some of the other new features we're working on very soon. If you have a Windows Phone, you need to download SoftLayer Mobile, rate it and give us your feedback!

-Imran

September 28, 2011

A Whole New World: SoftLayer on Windows Phone 7

As SLayers, our goal is always to bring creativity in every aspect of work we do at SoftLayer. It was not too long ago when the Interface Development team was presented with a new and exciting challenge: To develop a Windows Phone 7 Series app. Like me, many questioned whether we should tap into the market of Windows Phone OS ... What was the scope of this OS? What is the future of Windows Phone OS smartphones? The business relationship that NOKIA and Microsoft signed to produce smartphones with Windows Phone 7 OS will provide consumers with a new interface and unique features, so smartphone users are paying attention ... And we are too.

The SoftLayer Mobile world had already made huge strides with iPhone and Android based apps, so our work was cut out for us as we entered the Windows Phone 7 world. We put together a small, energetic and skilled group of SLayers who wanted to make SoftLayer proud, and I am proud to be a member of that team!

Our focus was to design and develop an application that would not only provide the portal functionality on mobile phone but also incorporate the awesome features of Windows Phone 7. Keeping all that in consideration, the choice of using an enterprise quality framework was essential. After a lot of research, we put our finger on the Microsoft's Patterns and Practices-backed Prism Framework for Windows Phone 7. The Prism Framework is a well-known and recognized name among Silverlight and Windows Presentation Framework developers, and since Windows Phone 7 is built upon the Silverlight and XNA Framework, our choice was clearly justified.

After selecting the framework, we wanted to make the whole asynchronous experience smooth while talking to SoftLayer's mobile API. That' where we met the cool kid on the block: Reactive Extensions for .NET (also known as Rx). The Rx is a library used to compose asynchronous and event-based programs. The learning curve was pretty intense for the team, but we operate under the mantra of CBNO (Challenging-But-Not-Overwhelming), so it was learning we knew would bear fruits.

The team's plan was to create an app that had the most frequently used features from the portal. The features to be showcased in the first release were to be basic but at the same time essential. The features we pinpointed were ticket management, hardware management, bandwidth and account management. Bringing these features to the phone posed a challenge, though ... How do we add a little more spice to what cold be a rather plain and basic app?

Windows Phone 7 controls came to our rescue and we utilized the Pivot and Panorama controls to design the Ticket Lists and Ticket Details. The pivot control works like a tabbed-style control that is viewable by sliding left or right. This lets us put the ticket-based-categories in a single view so users don't have to navigate back-and-forth to see different types of tickets. It also provides context-menu style navigation by holding onto the ticket item, giving an option to view or edit ticket with one tap. Here is a screen shot of pivot control in use to view tickets by categories and device list:

Win7 Phone Screen

Another achievement was made by using the panorama control. The control works like a long page with different relevant sections of similar content. This control was used to show a snap shot of a ticket, and the view displays basic ticket details, updates, attachments and any hardware attached to a ticket. This makes editing a ticket as easy as a tap! This is a screenshot of panorama control in use to view ticket detail:

Win7 Phone Screen

The device list view will help people see the dedicated and virtual devices in a pivot control giving a visual distinction. The list can be searched by tapping on the filter icon at the application bar. The filtering is search-as-you-type style and can be turned off by tapping the icon again. This screenshot shows the device list with a filtering option:

Win7 Phone Screen

To perform further hardware operations like pinging, rebooting and power cycling the server, you can use the hardware detail view as well. The bandwidth view may not be as flashy, but it's a very useful representation of a server's bandwidth information. Charting is not available with this release but will be available in the upcoming releases.

If you own a Windows Phone 7 device, go ahead and download "SoftLayer Mobile" and send us the feedback on what features you would like to see next and most importantly whether you love this app or not. We have and will always strive for excellence, and we know there's always room to improve!

-Imran

January 24, 2011

5 Steps to Start Using IPv6 (not IPv5)

As Kevin mentioned on Friday, we are less than 45 days from "doomsday." The IANA only has about 3% of the resources required to sustain our current way of life. 6.8 billion people with only 4.3 billion addresses in existence. It's the 2012 saga in 2011: The exhaustion of the Internet's available IP version 4 (IPv4) addresses. What are we going to do?!

Luckily, a lot of people have been hard at work to mitigate the impending Internet crisis. IP version 6 (IPv6) is on the horizon and is already supported by most modern internet enabled devices. If you're like me, the fact that we went from IPv4 to IPv6 might make you wonder, "What happened to IPv5?"

The powers that be didn't decide to rid the number system of the number five because of its mixture of curves and right angles, and it wasn't because they only wanted to use round numbers. IP version 5 (IPv5) was a work in progress and part of a family of experimental protocols by the name of ST (Internet Stream Protocol). ST and later ST-II were connection-oriented protocols that were intended to support the efficient delivery of data streams to applications that required guaranteed data throughput.

An ST packet looks very similar to its IPv4 sibling, and both use the first 8 bits to identify a version number. IPv4 uses those 8 bits to identify IPv4 packets, and ST used the same 8 bits to identify IPv5 packets. Since "version 5" was spoken for, the next iteration in IP advancement became version 6.

If you've been around the SoftLayer blog for a while, you already know a fair bit about IPv6, but you're probably wondering, "What’s next?" How do you actually start using IPv6 yourself?

1. Get a Block of IPv6 Addresses

Lucky for you, the SoftLayer platform is IPv6 ready, and we're already issuing and routing IPv6 traffic. Obtaining a block of public IPs from us is as easy as logging into the portal, pulling up the hardware page of a server and ordering a /64 block of IPv6 IPs for $4/mo per subnet ($10 if you want a portable subnet)!

For those of you that have ordered IPs from us in the past, IPv4 addresses are usually $0.50-$1.00 each. To get a /64 of public static IPv6 addresses, it’s a whopping $0.00 for the entire range. So just how many IPs is in a /64? 256? Try again. 512? Keep going. 1 Million? You’re still cold. Let's try 18.4 quintillion. For those that understand scientific notation better, that is 1.84 x 1019. If you just want to see the number written in long form, it's 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 IP addresses. That allocation should probably tide you over for a little while.

2. Make Sure Your Server is IPv6 Ready

Most current server operating systems are ready to take the IPv6 leap. This includes Windows 2003 SP1 and most Linux OSes with 2.6.x Linux kernels. We'll focus on Windows and RedHat/CentOS here.

To ready your Windows 2003 server for IPv6, do this:

  1. In Control Panel, double-click Network Connections.
  2. Right-click any local area connection, and then click Properties.
  3. Click Install.
  4. In the "Select Network Component Type" dialog box, click Protocol, then Add.
  5. In the "Select Network Protocol" dialog box, click Microsoft TCP/IP version 6, then OK.
  6. Click Close to save changes to your network connection.

Once IPv6 is installed, IIS will automatically support IPv6 on your web server. If a website was running when you installed the IPv6 stack, you must restart the IIS service before the site begins to listen for IPv6 requests. Sites that you create after you enable IPv6 automatically listen for IPv6. Windows 2008 server should have IPv6 enabled by default.

When your Windows server is ready for IPv6, you will add IPv6 addresses to the server just as you'd add IPv4 addresses ... The only difference is you will edit the properties to the Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) network protocol.

To ready your RedHat/CentOS servers, do this:

  1. Using your favorite editor, edit /etc/sysconfig/network and enable NETWORKING_IPV6 by changing the "no" to a "yes."

    Example:

    NETWORKING=yes
    HOSTNAME=ipv6test.yourdomain.com
    GATEWAY=10.13.40.1
    NETWORKING_IPV6=yes
  2. Next edit /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1 to add IPv6 parameters.

    Add the following to end of the file:

    IPV6INIT=yes
    IPV6ADDR=YOURIPV6ADDRESS
    IPV6_DEFAULTGW=YOURGATEWAY

    Example:

    IPV6INIT=yes
    IPV6ADDR=2607:f0d0:2001:0000:0000:0000:0000:0010/64
    IPV6_DEFAULTGW=2607:f0d0:2001:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001
  3. Once you have successfully added your assigned IP addresses, you must restart networking with this command:
    [root@ipv6test /]# service network restart

Once you have completed these steps on your respective OS, you should be able to communicate over the IPv6 stack. To test, you can ping ipv6.google.com and see if it works.

3. Bind Your New IPv6 Address to Apache/IIS

Now that you have more IPv6 addresses for your server(s) than what's available to the entire world in IPv4 space, you must bind them to IIS or Apache. This is done the similarly to the way you bind IPv4 addresses.

In IIS, all IPs that have been added to the system will now be available for use in the website properties. Within Apache, you will add a few directives to ensure your web servers is listening on the IPv6 stack ... which brings us to a very important point when it comes to discussing IPv6. Due to the fact that it's full of colons (:), you can’t just write out the IP as you would a 32-bit address.

IPv6 addresses must be specified in square brackets or the optional port number could not be determined. To enable Apache to listen to both stacks on separate sockets you will need to add a new "Listen" directive:

Listen [::]:80
Listen 0.0.0.0:80

And for your Virtual Hosts, the will look like this:

<VirtualHost [2101:db8::a00:200f:fda7:00ea]>
ServerAdmin webmaster@yourdomain.com
DocumentRoot /www/docs/ipv6test.yourdomain.com
ServerName ipv6test.yourdomain.com
ErrorLog logs/ipv6test.yourdomain.com-error_log
TransferLog logs/ipv6test.yourdomain.com-access_log
<VirtualHost>

4. Add Addresses to DNS

The final step in getting up and running is to add your new IPv6 addresses to your DNS server. If you're using a IPv6 enabled DNS server, you will simply insert an 'AAAA' resource record (aka quad-A record) for your host.

5. Test Your Server's IPv6 Accessibility

While your DNS is propagating, you can still test your webserver to see if it responds to the IP you assigned by using square brackets in your browser: http://[2101:db8::a00:200f:fda7:00ea]

This test, of course, will only work if your computer is on a IPv6 network. If you are limited to IPv4, you will need sign up with a tunnel broker or switch to an ISP that offers IPv6 connectivity.

After about 24 hours, your server and new host should be ready to serve websites on the IPv6 stack.

Good luck!

-Harold

October 22, 2010

Microsoft Windows 7 Goes Mobile

On October 11, our friends at Microsoft unveiled what promises to be the first in a long series of devices that will be powered by the newly minted Windows Mobile 7 operating system.

From a device perspective, they look familiar to what we currently get from Apple and Google Android powered devices. Each device features a relatively large touch screen, and a number of on-board applications that let you send and receive phone calls, send email, listen to music, watch videos and browse the internet. In addition, Microsoft offers the promise of the Marketplace Hub – here you can download other applications and games to the device.

The great thing about all of this is the potential impact on SoftLayer. The success of both Apple and Google’s Android OS (which is found on a number of different vendors including HTC, LG, Lenovo, Samsung and others) is due to a lot of factors. What is certain is that one of those factors has been the birth of a developer community that feeds all sorts of wild and wonderful applications to the Apple App Store and the Android Market. It is amazing how many people will pay $2.00 to hurl a bunch of fowl at pigs…make no mistake, this is a lucrative marketplace.

It goes without saying that SoftLayer has a bunch of app developers as clients. Our ability to quickly scale combined with a network architecture that can take whatever is thrown at it makes us a great partner. Not only do we host a number of test and development environments, but we also host a number of the live applications that are getting pushed out to end users. The addition of a robust Microsoft powered device to the family means a few things for us:

  1. A number of companies will begin to work on porting games/apps to Microsoft Mobile 7. (We have already started)
  2. A new flock of developers will arrive that are focused on Microsoft Mobile 7 apps. They will start there and consider porting to Apple and Android environments if they are successful.
  3. Once the test and development work has been completed, it will be time to put those new apps in the hands of a bunch of eager consumers.

As far as I can tell, everything points to more SoftLayer! And the world needs more SoftLayer. So, on that note, let’s me take the opportunity to wish Microsoft terrific success with the new mobile OS. After all, a rising tide raises all ships!

-@quigleymar

May 20, 2010

To Buy or Not to Buy an Apple iPad

I have traditionally been a Windows sorta guy though, over the years, I have been slowly (very slowly) gravitating towards the Apple side of the fence. I haven’t purchased a full on Mac, as my love for Windows 7 is in full bloom, but when it comes to handheld/mobile devices Apple has been doing exceptionally well. I already have an iPhone 3GS and I swear by it. I really know of no one that has an iPhone and is disappointed by it.

Now I am in the market for a new laptop and I’m considering the iPad. Shut it, I know it’s not a “laptop”. It’s a medium between a smart phone and laptop, blah blah. What I should find out is if my life would be better with a laptop or an iPad. What exactly do I need?

Well, I can’t play World of Warcraft on my iPad, right (maybe)? I could definitely watch some streaming Netflix though. That would be pleasant. I have about 200 books for the Kindle app on my iPhone. I’m sure the experience of reading on the iPad is better than on the iPhone. Do I need the 3G or just the WiFi version? What about that keypad? I’m the type that rests their fingers on the keyboard. All my composed emails would end up like the following:

A;ldskfj;ada;lskdjfasd;lfkjasd;flkja;sGODHELPME!!!!dlkfja;l;lskadjfjklfadlkjfdaskl dfsak asdf kjk f faldk fdsa fasl;kd jaakls;jdf;afs kdl;j fasIHATEEMAIL!!!!djkla fjsk;lafkjls j askl;djfasjl fk;alsk;j df!!!!11!!1!

Well, at least they have a Bluetooth keyboard for $69. I guess that helps.

The more I research the iPad, the more I like it. I watched Steve Job’s iPad presentation yesterday. Though, I couldn’t help but notice the missing flash movie during his presentation.

Steve Jobs - iPad

Never the less, I don’t see this as a big issue as I foresee Flash movies being replaced by HTML 5 anyway.

So with all this said, will I purchase an iPad? Yes, I most definitely will. I should set up a “Steven Rogers needs an iPad” fund. You can send your donations to the SoftLayer corporate office addressed to me. ;)

Once I get the iPad and have played with it for a bit, I will write a follow up to this blog.

Update: I bought a 64GB WiFi-only iPad recently and will post a follow up to this blog on June 1st.

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