Windows 8.1 and Miracast – Add Wireless Display option missing

First of all, if you are not using a software called VirtualBox, then this text will not help you at all.

Moving on …

Ever since I joined the Xbox 360 preview program in 2009, I have happily tried out all features (and bugs) with both pleasure and frustration. Some of the happiest moments with this program includes the 2010 preview of the Kinect sensor, rumoured as Project Natal. It was accompanied with a pretty hefty NDA, and they let me keep the Kinect sensor after the preview. \o/


Today, I am ofcourse enrolled with the Xbox One preview program. Some features, like the party changes, has made sure I have been unable to communicate with friends outside the Preview program for a few days. Frustration ofcourse, but most of the people I play with often tend to be enrolled with the preview aswell – so not that bad.

Now, with the current Preview program rolling out Miracast with the Xbox System, I have ofcourse been playing with the project display features and been thrilled that I can finally project my screen to the 64″ living room TV for all different purposes, both work and entertainment wise.

This worked great until I bought myself a brand new powerful laptop a couple of weeks ago.

I press the Windows Key + K, and up with this menu to the right ;

projectdisplaywindows8.1

No matter which option I select of these 4, the dialog just dies and I am back in the fullscreen desktop again.

I should instead have been shown another menu to the right, showing this :

addwirelessdisplay

FRUSTRATION! With my previous laptop, I had no issues at all with this. Worked great, awesome quality, pretty much zero delay. Not for gaming, but enough to keep a second display with a good overview of workspaces or to play videos.

 

Now, the interesting twist here. I am using VirtualBox to test out different operating systems, weird apps that I dont quite trust and want to keep in semi-isolated enviroments.. amongst other things.

This is a show stopper for Miracast in Windows 8.1!


With my previous laptop, I was using VMware Workstation 10. This did not present the same conflict. Lets disable the VirtualBox add-on on the WiFi interface. It will seriously cripple my VirtualBox installation, but I can easily have it disabled temporarily when using the Miracast features.

Right click your wireless display taskbar icon, and select “Open network and sharing center”.

networksharingcenterwindows8

Select your wireless network, in my case “Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi”. I know, best name ever.

wifistatus

 

Click “Properties” in the Activity section at the bottom, and disable the VirtualBox Bridged Networking Driver.

disablevirtualbox

 

Press OK, and close down the other dialogues. You can show shortcut to the display dialog by pressing Windows Key + K, and when selecting Project – you shall now be presented with the missing “Add a wireless display” option.

This has been voiced by some people on the VirtualBox forums, but there seems to be a conflict in the opinion if it’s a problem that VirtualBox needs to sort out, or if Microsoft needs to attend it.

I do think it’s a bit of a hazzle to have to keep track of this, but atleast it’s a temporary way to make sure that this awesome feature works with your Windows 8.1 computer until a more long term solution has been created – no matter if it is VirtualBox or Microsoft that needs to fix it.

Enjoy! :-)

 

 


IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 – the official support response

This is a follow up post on my previous post in regards to a firmware upgrade of an IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 gone bad.

I was hoping I was going to keep talking to Erik, because he seemed to have understood what I was looking for. Unfortunally, he was off on friday, and I ended up trying to explain this to a new person (who I will not name).

So, I’ve again been mailing back and forth with the System-X support for a day, trying to explain that I am not looking for support – but rather looking to report a severe error in their firmware for the BNT G8000 that can bring down entire networks if a certain hardware error occurs.

As a sidenote, thinking about this for a while and talking with some colleagues about it made me think that there might be a serious security flaw involved aswell. What if one would create something that mimics the behaviour of the broken switch – would one able to take any BNT based network offline?

Food for thought, but it is concerning.

Anyway, I know you want to know the official response from the IBM System-X support, and it is as follows:

 

I have talked to my managers about this issue, and it is as I informed in my previous e-mail.

Since the machine is not covered by a support agreement, you are using a firmware that you are not entitled to use. If you want further help with this, you must approve the cost suggestion for support, then we can move forward.

Please let us know how you want to proceed.

 

So yes, the support organisation of IBM/Lenovo System-X wants me to pay 553 EUR per hour to help them sort out what seems to be a severe flaw in their BNT product line.

It seems IBM might have made the decision on moving to another brand very easy, but I have not yet given up completely. It could be that I am just stuck with a support organisation following their instructions to the letter without room to handle special cases.

Got some other approaches to look into on monday to get this report handled, but the frustration of banging my head against the wall here is .. big.

Addition. Just to clarify, as some people seem to misunderstand this post for some reason: I am not trying to “open a support case”. I am not looking for support at all. The switch is broken – a new one will be bought. Shit happens. I have however tried to report a severe system flaw and potential security issue in their product, and the existance of a support agreement or “right to use the firmware” (which was a “quiet change” in IBMs terms less than a year ago, shame on me for missing it) is not relevant at all here.

Please add your comments, thoughts and questions in the comment section below – and don’t forget, you can always reach me at blog@engren.se if you want a personal contact.

 

IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 – fimware upgrade gone wrong – part 1

blade-wops

Hello reader!

You most likely found your way here because Google didn’t show that many posts on this subject – so let’s get straight to my last experience of the IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 switch and the IBM/Lenovo System-X support organisation.

I mean, when the IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 is working, it’s a beast. It handles the network smooth and extremely fast – and as a network administrator, the features for sure kept me happy. In combination with the selectable CLI (either ISCLI, that is “Cisco compatible”, or “Menu”, which is basically the Nortel/Alteon switch interface <3 ) – it kept me happy, and the system administrators with their iSCSI depending systems very happy aswell.

We all slept like babies, knowing that our IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 switches were performing extremely well, 365/24/7.

We did regular firmware upgrades to the units, following all of the v6 series of the firmware, and decided to hold back for a while when they ramped up to v7 and included MCP Linux kernel updates to the firmware.

Two days ago, it was finally time to take the step. Go from v6 firmware, up to the latest available v7 release. Obviously, alot of stuff has changed, but I went through the release notes several times and found nothing that seemed alarming or cause for massive concern. Some bug fixes, some security fixes – the usual stuff.

I started the process by prepping the switches with the new firmware as image2, and uploaded the latest boot code aswell. Smooth and straight forward, as expected based on previous experiences.

Leaned back, waiting for the service window at this particular site to start. Talking to the system administrator who wanted to be kept in the loop, joking and talking about general things.

Service window time. Woop!

Rebooted the first switch. The magical seconds that feels like minutes passed, and the switch came up again. Slighter faster reaction in the command line interface, some new options in the menu. Seemed good.

Checked in with the systems guy, and as expected, he noticed no downtime – this specific site where this set of IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 units are located are built with redundancy and resilience in mind, with every host server connected to the two IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 units with 2 (or more) ethernet cables.

Not one single component shall be able to have a noticable impact on anything if it goes down.

Sounds pretty normal these days, right?

I know.

I take a short break to leave the switch in place with the new firmware running, just in case something would be acting up. iSCSI traffic flowing as expected, nothing weird on interface counters anywhere. Everything seems perfectly normal.

After a while, I decided it was time to get moving with the second IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 switch. Since everything is prepped, it’s just a matter of setting what image to use on boot – and then reset it.

Said and done.

The magical seconds pass. Some more seconds pass. Hm. What’s going on?

Oh, there. It responds to ping again! But only 8. WTF?

At this time, our system administrator is losing connectivity to the servers, and I am shortly after booted out of switch 1 that is no longer responding to ping.

Every now and then, like once per second minute, I get access to it for 15-20 seconds – then access is lost again. Switch #2 is completely unreachable.

Okey, this is bad. Really really bad. This site has iSCSI based storage for all guest servers in a virtualized enviroment, and a routine firmware upgrade just caused it to go down?!

Thoughts coming through my head right now are many, including what headaches this will give to the system administrators and the users of the services in this site.

Okey, time to get my priority straight. Get atleast one of the switches online ASAFP, and look at what happened second.

I get in touch with our hosting provider, and ask them for remote hands. As usual, they respond quickly and promptly, and went on site to power off both switches, and then just power on switch #1. After all, things were working fine with switch #1 before I updated switch #2, so it seemed like a logical choice to move forward quickly.

I get access to switch #1, and login to disable all LACP ports to switch #2. With that done, I ask the hosting provider to turn on switch #2 again, so I can connect to the switch using serial console cable and see what’s going on.

Upon connecting to the serial port, the following is flooding the serial terminal so badly that I have no real idea what is going on in the system interface.

ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=23
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=2
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=18
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=1
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=4
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=6
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=15
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=16
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=17
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=19
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=23
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=2
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=18
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=1
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=4
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=6
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=15
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=16
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=17
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=19
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=23
ERROR: mp_bpdu_send_ucast failed to send packet to u=1 p=2

Ok, this is obviously STP … that can’t send packets to machines connected to itself? Okey, that’s weird… but hey, let’s get rid of the logging.

/cfg/sys/syslog/log all dis
/cfg/sys/syslog/console dis
apply

Pasted the above once I figured out that I was at a password prompt and managed to login. No more logging should be presented to the screen now, and yet, I am still flooded with the above error messages. Guess it’s handled outside the ordinary logging routines. This alone made me very curious, and worried – errors bypassing the logging routines are usually not common at all and basically debug code left behind by the developers.

But, okey. It’s STP. If I kill off STP completely, this should no longer happen.

/cfg/l2/stp off
apply

Yep. Error messages stop. At this time, I’m slowly starting to realize that this switch is broken in a way that is really catastrophic. If STP has gone b0nkers on this switch, it has likely sent invalid STP data to the firewalls and to the neighbouring switches – which could explain the lost connectivity to neighbouring switches and weird behaviour in the entire enviroment.

I go through some of the logs, and realize that STP has been killing off every single port, and enabling them again – but what caught my eye made me start suspecting an actual hardware failure :

?????? 7:21:27 COMPANY-SW2 NOTICE server: link up on port 3

This should be compared with the log entries on switch #1 :

Mar 25 7:22:01 COMPANY-SW1 NOTICE link: link up on port 43

wtf5

Yeah, something really has gone wrong with the firmware upgrade, and it sortof smells like a hardware failure. As I’m sitting here thinking just about what I have just seen happening, another error message presents itself – again, like the BPDU messages, completely outside the scope of the normal logging routines:

UNIT 0 ERROR interrupt: 4 PCI Fatal Errors on Memory read for TX

Right. Fatal memory read error.

Now, these units are not under a support agreement or hardware warranty agreement, so in a normal case, it’s a matter of “let me just order a new one” – but the effects by this error are so extremely severe that I decide to report this to IBM/Lenovo System-X either way.

I got in touch with an awesome support guy named Erik, who completley understood my situation and realized that I wasn’t really looking to get “support”.

I wanted to report a severe software issue, both in regards to being able to get brought down by an erroring neighbour, aswell as in regards to hardware checks and how to handle situations in regards of a severe hardware failure.

Now, I got a ticket number just today, and Erik just recently got my massive reply to his questions which I guess he’ll be looking into tomorrow – but I am expecting a call from somebody that sees the severity in this situation and wants to accept my error report.

Heck, I’ll even send them this broken IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 switch to be able to investigate this properly – NO enviroment should ever be able to get taken offline like this because of ONE component failure .. and still, this happened.

And yes, this means that firmware updates on the other units on other sites are currently halted and will not proceed until this has been sorted by IBM/Lenovo.

Oh, right, almost forgot – the automatic IBM/Lenovo support system has sent me a mail with a price suggestion on support for equipment without a support agreement – 553 EUR per hour, minimum billable time 2h.

Funny. There will be no 553 EUR per hour paid to be allowed to help IBM/Lenovo System-X fix a severe system flaw in their BNT product line – but it will be considered, if the 2 hours would result in a replacement IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 ending up in the datacenter – but it’s more tempting to go look at another brand and replace all IBM/Lenovo BNT G8000 at the other sites if this report isn’t handled properly by IBM/Lenovo.

To be continued …

Additional comment: The System-X support has informed me that they updated the terms for downloading and using firmware less than a year ago, to require a support contract to be “allowed” to use it. Oups! OK, that’s a separate issue to look into. However, it’s important to note that I am not looking for support here. I do not want to open a support case at all. I want to report a fatal flaw in their software – and this flaw exists, no matter if there is a support agreement in place or not…

2015-03-28 – I’ve gotten a response. Read the follow up post here.

 

I just moved my site to cloudflare.com

Hi guys,

I just moved this site to cloudflare.com as a test of their system – it’s a combined CDN, web site accelerator and security enhancing proxy that is available for free for more or less everybody. There are also some pro features available, but this test is currently only for the free version and how it’ll work in combination with my cPanel service. If it works as expected, Cloudflare will be included for free for all my customers.

One of the more positive aspects here is also that my website is now available in IPv6 via Cloudflare, even though cPanel (which I host this website on) is not yet IPv6 enabled, and that any of the hosted files for the Android tablets are actually served via the CF CDN rather than via my own bandwidth that I pay for.

I’ll keep running this for a few weeks, then I’ll get back to you with my findings. Ask away in the comments if there is anything specific you want me to have a look at or write about!

Trying out WiFiFoForum in the neighbourhood

Took the car for a little drive around the neighbourhood today, with the iPhone app WiFiFoForum enabled. These are my findings, and I must say I am a bit surprised to see how many wireless networks that exists here – and a bit disappointed to see that a few of them are completely unprotected.

20090816.kml [deltazoom=0;gpxelevationcolor=green;gpxspeedchart=hide;gpxcheckpointinterval=0.5;gpxcheckpointtable=hide]

Some screenshots from the app:

image image

image image

Microsofts Web Services

https://i0.wp.com/img434.imageshack.us/img434/4139/05960025056hg.jpg?resize=137%2C186Intresting afternoon!

Some time during the day, I recieved a mail where I was informed that my web service client I had put together a few weeks ago was useless, because .. *drumroll* .. the server runs Microsofts .NET web services, and as usual, Microsoft took a fully functional standard, and rebuilt it, rendering it useless for any other client than one using Microsofts .NET.

Ofcourse, I do toss these things together in PHP (my pride still being the multithreaded SMPP client I built for a large paneuropean telco company about a year ago), and I was a bit stunned to realize that Microsoft, dispite the fact that they are moving forward to a more open company, still had not fixed these problems for something as commonly used as ‘Web Services’.

I do fully understand if they want to add their own extensions to increase the possibilities for communication between their products, but actually rendering it useless for anyone not using .NET just doesn’t make sense in any way.

I have been told that it is possible to add some sort of compability pack to Microsoft Web Service to make it possible to use other clients, but that this also would require a complete rebuild of the communication modules in their software.

I’m not going to hold my breath for that happening here though!