Thursday, April 30, 2015

Some Quick Troubleshooting in the Home Office

I spent some time troubleshooting problems in my home office tonight. 

Firstly, I managed to realize that the Windows 10 CTP that I've been running on Brix since the fall was somehow using the "Performance" power profile. I'm not sure if Windows did that to "help me" or if I did it when I was fiddling with things. Brix is a desktop (sort of -- it actually sits on my sub-woofer), so saving power isn't a big deal but this setting would have led to higher processor operating frequencies, more heat output and a louder fan. I do care about louder fans. One of the reasons that I bought Brix was to get away from my noisy old Core 2 Duo. When I set the power plan to "Balanced", Brix quieted down immediately. 

This will probably be more impressive once the temperatures start to climb as we head towards summer.

Secondly, I got down to business and finally looked at the time/clock problem I've been seeing around my home office. I had noticed that Brix was about 1-2 minutes behind my mobile phone a while back. After a month or two, that discrepancy had turned into 3-4 minutes. Last night, I noticed that my laptop was also wrong. 

The first thing I did was cross-check my mobile with a client's computers. Their time matched my mobile. Also, the clock on my cable box matched my phone. So, my mobile is right and my computers are wrong.

The next thing to check was the time on the AD domain. Unsurprisingly, the time was wrong on the domain. This meant that the time on my domain controllers (Hera and Zeus) was probably wrong. Yup, both of them were wrong when I looked.

I'd never really thought about time synchronization issues here at my home office. The last time I dealt directly with NTP was on my old Sun workstation/server. I got rid of that over six years ago. I had set up my VMWare host and built my tiny domain in the summer of 2013 and it had all just worked since then. 

I don't need super-precise time synchronization, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Maybe it was the VMWare upgrade that did it, but I can't brook a five minute clock discrepancy between my computers and the rest of the world. 

Whenever I have an unfamiliar problem, the first thing I do is break out google and spend five minutes researching my situation.

Simply put, my VMWare host did not have the NTP service turned on. So I configured it and then set it running. Next, I configured VMWare tools to set the time on Hera and Zeus, my two domain controllers. VMWare tools should set the time on the domain controllers to match my VMWare host every 60 seconds. That should be more than often enough to fit my needs. Finally, I forced my workstation, Brix, to update it's time from the domain because I was impatient. 

And there I was, with synced time on all of my computers. I had the whole thing sorted out in about 15 minutes.

Who needs a sysadmin, anyway? Am I right? 

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