SysAdmin Day is right around the corner and that means here at THWACK® HQ, we’ve got system and application problems on the brain, not to mention all the tools you need to solve them. If only life in the systems admin world was contained to restarting servers, swapping hardware, and monitoring storage health—you know, the fun stuff. Unfortunately, we also have those challenging “people issues” that never go away. We’re talking, that guy who not only stalks you at your desk with his broken laptop—but also routinely forgets passwords, tells bro jokes you don’t want to hear, AND snags you right before you’re out the door for the weekend!


Whether it’s troubleshooting app performance issues or “that guy”—let’s call him B.r.a.d. (short for “being really annoying daily”)—you deserve to be appreciated for all the work you do. We’re dedicating this mission and the month of July to celebrating SysAdmins everywhere, because we don’t think one day is enough.


Without further ado, let’s dive into the July THWACK mission and see if you will be able to move ahead in the proverbial systems game. Keep an eye out for “Bradisms” after each question and let us know in the comment section if you can relate.


Good luck!



Use the mission’s resources to complete the tasks and answer the questions for a chance to win!

Correctly answer each question during the week and you'll be entered for a chance to win the weekly prize.

Correctly answer all 20 questions over the course of the month and you'll be entered for a chance to win the grand prize: An Apple watch!



A new question will open every day (Monday - Friday) starting on July 10, 2017.

Once a question has opened, it will remain open until August 6, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.

Check the schedule below for exact open/close times.


Correctly answer all five questions within a given week and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the weekly prize:


Week 1 - Drawing on July 17: THWACK Hammock + Yeti Rambler

Week 2 - Drawing on July 24: Yeti hopper

Week 3 - Drawing on July 31: Bluetooth speaker kit

Week 4 - Drawing on August 7: Chrome Bit

Grand Prize - Drawing on August 7: Apple watch

150 points are being awarded for each correctly answered question. There are 20 questions, which means you can earn a maximum of 3,000 points for this mission.




Complete the mission shortcut to earn an additional 1,000 THWACK points & enter to win a LEGO Star Wars Death Star


The shortcut is simple:

1.   Server & Application Monitor

2.   Upload a screenshot after install of the PerfStack – Performance Analysis Dashboard

3.   Earn 1,000 THWACK points per product & enter to win a LEGO Star Wars Death Star


Mission shortcut Terms & Conditions: US, UK, & Canada | Germany | Australia


Server & Application Monitor

Find and resolve application problems before they become incidents.





Weekly Prizes







Week 1: Complete questions 1-5 by July 16 to be entered to win: THWACK Hammock + Yeti Rambler
Week 2: Complete questions 6-10 by July 23 to be entered to win: Yeti hopper
Week 3: Complete questions 11-15 by July 30 to be entered to win: Bluetooth speaker kit
Week 4: Complete questions 16-20 by August 6 to be entered to win: Chrome Bit

Correctly answer all 20 questions by AUGUST 6th and get entered to win the Grand Prize! Apple watch


Monthly Mission Terms & Conditions: US, UK, & Canada | Germany | Australia

If you’ve been watching SolarWinds over the last 18 months, you’ve probably noticed we’re even further extending monitoring and management to cloud and related technologies.  If you’re a regular viewer of SolarWinds Lab, you also know I’m spending a lot of my time these days working with AWS, Azure, Alphabet, Docker, and Kubernetes. It’s not a matter of if managing these technologies will end up a part of your job as an admin, it’s a matter of when.  And we’d like to know more about how the THWACK community is leveraging containers.


If you don’t mind, please take a minute, (and grab a quick 500 THWACK points*), to complete a quick survey and let us know if and how you’re taking advantage of containers in your IT environment.  We look forward to your feedback.


Thanks as always- see you Wednesday on SolarWinds Lab!


Take Survey Now


* Survey closes Friday, July 21, 2017, and your points will be applied the following week.

We are super excited to partner with Packet to provide simple, powerful and on-demand infrastructure.  Unlike other cloud providers like AWS and Google that provide virtual machines, Packet gives you 100% dedicated servers in just minutes - making it perfect for GNS3, but also your other cloud workloads - from VMWare to Docker and beyond. 



Packet.net is a bare metal cloud provider, with datacenter locations near NYC, Silicon Valley, Amsterdam and Tokyo. 


Special offers for GNS3 & Thwack users only: 


  1. $25 Trial Credit - Packet is offering $25 in credit for GNS3 & Thwack users to help them kick the tires.  Simply visit the landing page, or use code “GNS3” when signing up.

  2. Discounted Monthly - At Packet you pay hourly for real dedicated hardware, with no required

    long term

    contracts.  However, for those that need a server up ongoing, Packet is making a special 30% discount for commitments on the powerful Type 1 server.  To take advantage of the discount, just email help@packet.net and mention the ‘GNS3 Discount’ to arrange.



First, you will need to sign up for an account at Packet.  There is sometimes a manual review, which you can help to avoid by using a work email address (if you have one) and disconnecting from any VPN during the signup process.  If you are flagged for manual review, don’t worry!  The Packet team is very responsive and will work with you to get everything squared away.  A few things:


  • A valid payment method is required even if you have a promo code.  For more information about how Packet handles billing, check out this article

  • Once your account is activated, we recommend activating Two Factor Authentication (simply visit 'Settings' -> 'Security' and follow the instructions).




Lastly, add your SSH key to your account, since at Packet servers can only be accessed via SSH.  Here is a great article which will help you get started.





Once you are ready, you can go ahead and deploy a new server with the Ubuntu 16.04 OS in the Packet location which is closest to you.


  • While GNS3 works on the Type 0, you need to use at least a Type 1 server for a better virtualization support.
  • GNS3 is not supported for Packet’s ARMv8 server offerings

At Packet you are getting your own dedicated bare metal machine that is yours alone from the time you provision it until you actually delete the device from your account.  So even if you were to power it down, it would still accrue usage until you actually delete it completely.

If you use IOU, the name of the machine should be exactly the name you have in your license file. The characters case is important:  gns3vm is different from GNS3VM.





The server will be deployed within 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the Type. Once it is ready, you can SSH in as root, and using the SSH keys you setup earlier.




cd /tmp

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/GNS3/gns3-server/master/scripts/remote-install.sh > gns3-remote-install.sh

bash gns3-remote-install.sh --with-openvpn --with-iou --with-i386-repository


If everything is OK, you will see this message:


Reboot the server from the Packet portal or by issuing a reboot command on the terminal. That’s it!




VPN setup

The next time you SSH in you will see this message:




Download the .opvn certificate from the link shown on your server. You can also find the certificate in /root/client.opvn



# sudo apt-get install openvpn

# sudo openvpn client.opvn

Tue Apr 25 17:12:48 2017 [OpenVPN] Peer Connection Initiated with [AF_INET]X.X.X.X:1194

Tue Apr 25 17:12:51 2017 TUN/TAP device tun0 opened

Tue Apr 25 17:12:51 2017 Initialization Sequence Completed


  • Download and install OpenVPN for Windows (be careful to use the version associated with your OS version).
  • Right click on the .ovpn and open it with OpenVPN.



  • Download and install Tunnelblick.
  • After double clicking on the client certificate, it install the config for you. And the setup will be done.  Now if you click on the tunnelblick icon in the OSX top bar. You can connect to the VPN.


If the VPN connection works this page should resolve:




If you want to use a local GNS3 installation and a remote installation you can use the settings profiles




At startup in the setup wizard choose Run everything on a remote server


And put the server settings. The IP need to be






If you don’t want to keep your Packet server running continually (hence accruing charges even during the time that you are not actively using GNS3), you can save/backup your GNS3 projects and have them ready when you deploy a new server in the future.


If you take a look at the GNS3 server config file at /etc/gns3/gns3_server.conf you will see the following:


root@gns3vm:~# cat /etc/gns3/gns3_server.conf


host =

port = 3080

images_path = /opt/gns3/images

projects_path = /opt/gns3/projects

report_errors = True



enable_kvm = True


So, we can see that GNS3 is saving the images and projects on the /opt/gns3/ directory.


The first option here would be to scp those 2 folders on your local computer. We would have to compress them first, for an easier transfer.


cd /opt/gns3/

tar -czvf gns3-backup.tar.gz projects/ images/

That command will create a new compressed file named gns3-backup.tar.gz which now is easier to scp to your local computer.


When you deploy a new server, you can scp the backup file back to the server, and then extract it back to the /opt/gns3/ directory


cd /opt/gns3/

tar -xzvf gns3-backup.tar.gz


As these directories might get bigger, the scp option might become a struggle, so we come to the second option, which would be to take advantage of Packet Block Storage service. Block Storage is a network attached storage that can be moved between servers, and it’s a great option to backup your projects. A 100GB Volume of the Standard Tier would cost ~$0.25 for a day or ~$7.5 for the whole month. 


Block Storage is only available in Packet’s EWR1, SJC1, and AMS facilities. 

This method requires that you have a good working knowledge of the Linux command line, as you will have to work with network attached storage, and manually copy directories around. 

Packet does not offer any managed services, and you will be responsible for your own data. Here is a knowledge base article explaining the process of attaching and detaching the volumes on a Packet server.


In short you would have to do the following, after you create the volume and attach it to the server on the portal.


Let’s say the volume is named volume-3b36a278


packet-block-storage-attach -m queue

echo -e "o\nn\np\n1\n\n\nw" | fdisk /dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278

kpartx -u /dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278-part1

mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278-part1

mkdir /mnt/block

mount -t ext4 /dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278-part1 /mnt/block

echo "/dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278-part1 /mnt/block ext4 _netdev 0 0" >> /etc/fstab


With those commands, we have properly attached, formatted and mounted the volume on the /mnt/block directory.


Then we can copy the 2 important directories we mentioned above ( /opt/gns3/images, /opt/gns3/projects).

cd /opt/gns3/

cp -ar images/ /mnt/block/

cp -ar projects/ /mnt/block/

Now that we have copied them to the storage volume we can detach it from the server with:



We would have to detach it on the portal too. The next time that we attach this volume to a new server, after doing so in portal, we just have to use the following commands on the server:


packet-block-storage-attach -m queue

mkdir /mnt/block

mount -t ext4 /dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278-part1 /mnt/block

echo "/dev/mapper/volume-3b36a278-part1 /mnt/block ext4 _netdev 0 0" >> /etc/fstab

And then we can copy/move the 2 directories we need back to /opt/gns3/



You rock, THWACKsters!

You can kiss that downtime funk goodbye now that you’ve got your network groove back!

Take a bow and enjoy the roaring applause from all the users on your network.

Cheers to another mission accomplished!




Mission recap survey & questions:


Bandwidth Analyzer Pack

Comprehensive network bandwidth analysis and performance monitoring.



Stay tuned for the next mission, coming July 10th!

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