This is a blog about different types of software development and windows system administration tricks, tuts and other helpful stuff.

Virtual Tape Library & Acronis Cyber Backup

Today, I will show you a way how you can create, learn and play with a nice virtual tape device emulation software. This will be useful if you have not had the chance to play, protect the data you have on a tape device until now for example.

I had tried the Windows way with a free limited in functionality virtual tape device by StarWind VTL Free with a GUI.
The idea was simple, I did not have back then in time that experience to troubleshoot any CentOS 7 machine like I do several years already for Windows OSes. Then, I found the QuadStor VTL solution and gave it a try. As usually there is still a lot to learn but it is a good start :) .

Please note that in terms of testing purposes, I turned off the firewall for all Windows Profiles as well as FirewallD on the CentOS 7 machine.

While testing I also had configured the vtl-user to have root permissions and on the Windows machine the administrator permissions.

Today's lab is built on Windows Workstation 11.1.0 build: 2496824 with nested virtualization in-place. What nested virtualization means it is a way to have two or more layers of virtualization abstractions on the same machine in-place. This type is primarily used to test software/develop software and setups etc. I haven't yet seen it in within production environments. So, I have created a VMware VM with 2012 R2 Datacenter edition and with the GUI with 12 GB RAM, 300 GB dynamic expanding SSD space, 2 CPUs with each having 2 cores. Then installed on it the Hyper-V host role. In order to install within the VMware VM, the Hyper-V inside for instance within the VMX config file an entry needs to be added via notepad++ or another editor and saved. The line which I am talking about is hypervisor.cpui.v0 = "FALSE". 

"Nested virtualization" can be mentioned for short as one virtual machine inside another VM.

On the CentOS 7 in order to be able to install some packages I also added another virtual switch (External-vSwitch). Important to note it is that first you should either present the physical Ethernet adapter to the 2012 R2 Hyper-V VM host via bridge or other and then create via the virtual Switch Manager in Hyper-V a virtual adapter. So, it is somewhat simple solution lab instead of having several switches and a software router on 2012 R2 for example to route between them.

In order to easily exchange installations files such as exe or Linux install packages previously downloaded, I have created another VHDX file which I use as a virtual USB drive between the Hyper-V VM host and the Hyper-V VMs inside.

vUSB.vhdx mounted as virtual usb drive

Setting up CentOS 7 and the QuadStor VTL Software

Some screenshots and notes about my selected type of CentOS 7 installation:

I selected the "Server with GUI" option and in addition added the Development, Security and System Administration tools. If you do not need them or other, you can simply go with the Gnome Desktop option or core installation > Minimal.

server with GUI + System Administration, Developer and Security Tools

Then configure the user, read the EULA docs and simply install/reboot it when asked. In order to install the Quadstor VTL software on the CentOS 7 machine follow the steps and the screenshot sequence.

Selected CentOS7 Setup and settings overview

It is a good idea to update the kernel but in this example of the post I have left the current one that came with the CentOS7 "as is" while also planned to install the Acronis Cyber Backup Advance 12.5 b14330 Trial version of my chosen Backup Software I am evaluating. 

sudo uname -r and sudo rpm -qa | grep kernel-devel
If you would like to update it then execute the "sudo yum update kernel", follow the onscreen messages and reboot the machine when asked for the system to be up to date.  The modules we further need to install on the machine are listed below including links what their usage is for: 

sudo yum install httpd

The GCC and Perl I had to install prior to this as I had installed the Acronis Cyber Backup Advance 12.5 build 14330 Trial for Linux machines and therefore did not need to install them again. For reference attached some of those screenshots.

sudo yum install gcc

After installing the required packages let us move on. Assuming you downloaded the QuadStor VTL package in your /Downloads folder open the terminal and browse to it. 

ls, sh and then sudo rpm -ivh quadstor-vtl... use tab to autocomplete it automatically
  • "ls" - to list the file contents of a folder
  • "sh" - shell scripting
  • "sudo rpm -ivh [file]" - used to install the script shell package that comes from QuadStor VTL solution
  • "exit" - to exit the sh interface and return back to the terminal
ls, sh and then sudo rpm -ivh quadstor-vtl... use tab to autocomplete it automatically

 Let us execute the httpd to start automatically when the machine is up by executing the "sudo systemctl enable httpd" command:

sudo systemctl enable httpd

 After installing the QuadStor VTL it is advisable to reboot before proceeding. To check on the web server status execute the "sudo service httpd status" command:

sudo service httpd status

 "sudo /etc/rc.d/init.d/quadstorvtl status" to check on the status of the daemon responsible for the QuadStor VTL software

”sudo /etc/rc.d/init.d/quadstorvtl status” to check on the status of the daemon responsible for the QuadStor VTL software
After all is set up as installations let us move on with the remaining steps to have our virtual tape library configured. Please execute: http://[IP]/vtindex.html , in my example it is This will load the below view:
Quadstor VTL initial screen

  After that let us first present some storage to our CentOS 7 VM. For that purposes I have created a dynamically expanding VHDX storage:

Present VHDX storage to our VTL System to work with

After that we browse to the Physical storage tab: 

The presented VHDX is detected as Msft vendor

The VHDX is recognized as Msft (Microsoft) virtual model, needs to be added to be initialized and made available for the next steps. Then, we move to the Virtual Libraries and create any we want:

Select Library Vendor for our VTL

For my lab, I used the Quantum PX720 with IBM 3580 Ultrium8 vdrive type support, two vslots and 2 vdrives. In addition, created two vdrives: 

VTL Overview

 What is left is to create the vCatridges:

Add virtual Catridges

After that click on the Load button to load them. In addition to the below screenshot you can see that some space is already taken as I had created some backups to tapes before creating the tutorial:

Loaded vCatridges and Information overview

Feel free to type symbols (Alphabet + numbers) for the label field.

Add a label to the vCatridges

And select the virtual drive:

Select vDrive

Setup Acronis Cyber Backup Advanced 12.5 build 14330 

After that I have set up the trial version of Acronis Cyber Backup Advanced 12.5 build 14330 (latest currently available when the blog post has been created). In this tutorial I am not covering the installation of the different components etc. just the setup how it looks like when adding the Tapes presented nicely by QuadStor VTL Software.
Besides installing the Management Sever I have additionally installed the Agents for Active Directory, SQL as well as the functionality for cataloging and Storage nodes on the dc1-vtl – Windows Server 2012 R2 Dat VM. On the Linux machine the only package I have installed are the Linux Agent as well as the monitoring one.

For the testing purposes, there are two ways to represent the VTL setup to the Acronis Cyber Backup Management Server:

  • either directly when the Agent for our CentOS7 machine is deployed
  • or via iSCSI initiator on the 2012 R2 VM.

After the initial scan for tapes let us move on.

Free Tapes overview

Overview when the tape device is selected:

Tape Device selected - overview

Below the entire machine backup of our CentOS7 machine with Tape device destination:

Backup Plan overview - CentOS7 machine to tapes

How the progress looks like:

CentOS 7 Backup Progress

And the final results:

Backups on tapes

I have added also several screenshots should you decide to attach it via iSCSI initiator:

iSCSI Initiator 2012 R2

How it is presented inside the Windows Device Manager:

Device Manager - added VTL over iSCSI

Interestingly, it is that regardless it is shown either with question marks/unknown device it works correctly on the 2012 R2. 

The same look and feel I had on 2016 as well as on 2019 Server VM, but unfortunately the changers were not shown correctly within Acronis Cyber Backup 12.5 build 14330 and had been reported as feedback to the company and not possible to make any operations within those changers. More testing might be required or a more recent copy of the OS as patch level.

Hope you like it and if so, I will be happy if you share the post via your favorite social media. Thank you.

English blog posts merged
FirewallD in CentOS 7

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