Getting Started with VMWare Distributed Switching

Introduction;

This post will be a brief intro into VMWare’s distributed switch technology and how to get your feet wet in the setup. This will not cover the advanced features or in-depth configuration but a followup may come in the future.

I was myself rather confused at the concept at first and failed to see the use in a lab setting, however, since taking the plunge I can honestly say I am unsure how I survived before and I only hope this post helps those of you new to the concept to give it a go.

What Are Distributed Switches?

Distributed switches, which will be referred to in this post as vDS, is a feature of VMWare vCenter Enterprise Plus allowing centralised provisioning and management of host networking spanning multiple VMWare hosts and clusters. vDS allow for one config change to be made to your virtual networking environment and have this change propagate across the participating hosts, alleviating the need to manually create networks on different hosts.

Following this, vDS allows for consistency in network connectivity when migrating VMs across hosts.
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pfSense: A Guide to NAT, Firewall Rules and some Networking 101

How to pfSense.

So, you’ve decided to ditch that POS ISP provided router, or just literally anything marketed towards consumers and have installed pfSense, so.. what now?

The following will be a guide on how to create, manage and understand both firewall rules and NAT in pfSense. I get asked a lot of questions daily and I thought this should be useful for those that are either new to pfSense or want to understand what they’re doing when they create rules.

This guide is not just for pfSense, it’s just what I use and is extremely popular so I’m doing a post about it. A lot of the fundamentals and methodology will carry over to many other devices/software.

In this post, I will try and explain why these steps are being taken and add some networking 101 into the mix as well.

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Tunneling Specific Traffic over a VPN with pfSense

Recently I stumbled on a post in /r/sysadmin by /u/ThatOnePrivacyGuy that had a spreadsheet he had created comparing a load of VPN services, you can find it here.

This got me thinking, my automated downloads crunch through terabytes of data every month on a home connection, and if my ISP were to look into this it would not show me in a good light due to a lot of p2p I have going on in my household; with my flat mate constantly having torrent connections open and Sonarr + Couchpotato downloading via torrents and NZBs there is a lot of data I would like to mask from my ISP. Thanks to that awesome spreadsheet I managed to find a service that looked perfect for me, vpn.ac.

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Understanding and Configuring VLANs

So I started off my IT career as an intern for a rather large company in London. I was doing a lot of misc stuff, mostly desktop but always pushed for as many networking bits I could, networking is great. A year later and here I am as a junior network engineer on the path to my CCNA (almost there!)

This post is about VLANs. VLANs in the Cisco world explained how I wish someone had explained to me. Please bear in mind that this will not be a very technical explanation, you can find that elsewhere; this will be helping you get to grips with VLANs, how they work and setting them up. Once you have a better understanding of VLANs you can go and read up some more on Ciscos website perhaps?

What is a VLAN?

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Create an IPSEC Site to Site tunnel between two PfSense firewalls

So I need to create an IPSEC point to point link between two sites so my two FreeNAS boxes can replicate between each other as per this project.  I already run my network on PfSense and have done for a few years now and think it’s great so slapping a PfSense box at my mother’s house seemed like the easiest thing to do. Once all the NAS business was setup I dug out an old desktop machine (Dell Optiplex 760), put a 2 port Intel gigabit card inside and installed PfSense. After bringing it to my old house and changing the config on their DD-WRT router to act as a switch+AP I brought up the WAN connection and did some IP configuring. Once the interweb was setup and I confirmed the LAN was fully working (had to turn on static NAT for my lil’ bros PS4) I went ahead and configured the tunnel.
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HP MicroServer Gen8 storage & Syncronisation across the internet

This plan didn’t work as intended. I had to come back to the drawing board and rethink/simplify some stuff. I have left everything as-is up to the point of failure incase it’s important to anyone and it really makes no sense to delete it.
Below is what I wanted to do and a few of the steps I documented towards this goal, here is where I revisited this project with a much different approach. I would read this first anyway before reading the revisited version.
If you don’t try you’ll never know, right?

So I’ve had this problem for a while since moving out, but I excuse it because, well, she gave birth to me. My mother calls me constantly asking me to fix stuff or implement something new in my old home which I am fine with but sometimes it feels extremely tedious as I could have sworn I fixed that same issue not 1 month ago…
The latest problem I’m facing is photo storage. My family have a few MacBooks with very limited storage onboard which they seem to fill up quite fast. Upgrade the storage? Sure, but that’s short term and not exactly safe, not in my eyes anyway. My solution? The following…
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Installing virtual machines in ESXI

Right so this is where things start to change quite a bit between these two boxes, and I’ll explain best I can.

The box at my mother’s house, now known was MUFFHOST04, or MUFF04, needs to have pfsense running on it as well as FreeNAS. I can create a ptp link using DDWRT (what she has right now) but I would much prefer pfsense as I am certain of its performance and reliability. I will be setting up pfsense at my house and then simply plugging it all in offsite which poses some configuration hurdles.
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Turning a BT HomeHub 5 into a Gigabit Switch

BT is an alright ISP, I get good speeds (150D/40U), never get throttled and have yet to hear anything about my internet activity which involves a fair amount of P2P.. their hardware however is god awful, and the BT HomeHub 5 is no exception to that.
I won’t go into how bad it is because if you’re reading this hoping to repurpose it you already know, the only good thing about it is the 4 port gigabit hub attached to it that actually okay, so we are going to make it into a dumb switch.

Doing this is actually very simple and all that’s needed is to turn off all the services on the HomeHub to make sure it doesn’t interfere with anything else on the network.
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