The Airconsole 2.0 Standard


Why the AirConsole 2.0 Standard? in IT, you need to configure or troubleshoot network devices every now and then, such as routers, switches, firewalls, … all these have a serial connection for initial setup, troubleshooting or upgrades.

Working at a network rack or in a network room is often tedious and bad for you to very non-ergonomically balance a laptop while managing cables and typing. That is where the Airconsole comes in for me. There are other use cases such as for a permanent setup as a serial server. We also have those, but personally, the Airconsole 2.0 Standard is a handy piece of portable kit for me to have available.

The Airconsole 2.0 Standard

I am using the Airconsole 2.0 Standard. They have different versions and editions (bigger battery, Low Energy versions, etc). For my purposes the standard edition gets the job done.

It offers both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, but it also has a RJ45 up-link. This makes it very flexible. Especially combined with the configuration options via the web interface that allows for many network scenarios. I must say I find the lack of TLS for the web interface my biggest criticism.

The Airconsole 2.0 Standard
The air console on my Lab WatchGuard Firebox M200. The usb port on the firebox provides power. Ideal for those longer configuration jobs.

I got the standard edition as I have enough RJ45 to serial adapters lying around. It is easy enough to set up for anyone who has previous basic networking experience.

Using the Airconsole 2.0 Standard on Windows

Next to the apps for mobile devices (Smartphones and tablets with IOs or Android), you can use it on your laptop which will be the most used option for me. A smartphone is nice for a quick check of something. For real work, I prefer a laptop or desktop.


Bluetooth does not require drivers to be installed. That just works out of the box. It adds the needed COM ports using the built-in Windows Serial Port Profile drivers. Just pair the AirConsole with your device and you should see the Bluetooth COM ports come up.

If you don’t succeed at first, try again. Bluetooth can be a bit finicky at times.


The WiFi option requires a driver to be installed on your Windows OS. While the drivers are a bit older they do work well with recent editions such as Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 as well as older operating systems.

There are a couple of types of this product. Make sure you download the correct drivers and software. For the Airconsole 2.0 Standard, you can find it here, you need to install Apple Bonjour for Windows. First of all, Unpack the zip file

Now, install Bonjour64.exe (I’m hoping no one is still stuck in the 32-bit world). It is very weird for me to install this on Windows which is normally kept free of apple bloatware. But this is for a good cause. After this, you install the com0com- (64 bit).exe. This will create the first COM port pair (they make the link between your device and the actual serial port). You can add more pairs with different settings to have them ready for your most-used devices.

Connecting to your console via WiFi

Before you go any further make sure you connected your WiFi to the Airconsole-2E WAP.

Without connectivity, nothing much can will happen. Once that is done launch the AirConsoleConnect.exe with admin privileges. You can now select the COM port you want to map the Airconsole to from the COM port combo box. All you need to do is click connect.

This is me connecting to the Firebox M200 CLI over WiFi. I have selected to show the debug dialog.

The Airconsole 2.0 Standard
Connected to the Firebox M200 CLI over WiFi


  • If both WiFi and Bluetooth are available WiFi is preferred and uses as it gives better performance.
  • Plugin the USB charging cable to a USB port on the network device is possible
  • You can add virtual COM port pairs for WiFi and customize those to your hears content.
  • Via you can manage your AirConsole. You can configure the network settings (subnet, DHCP, DNS), configure your WiFi (SSID, Network mode, channel, etc.), change the password, upgrade the AirConsole, etc. Pretty nice. As said above, in this day and age we’d hope for TLS 1.2, but we have not https capabilities at all, which is a pity. But then, this is not a permanent setup.
The Airconsole 2.0 Standard

The AirConsole is a handy piece of kit to have around. It is more versatile then I figured when I first got it and with the options available can turn it into a nice serial server.

Intermittent TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019


Someone asked me to help investigate an issue that was hindering client/server applications. They suffered from intermittent TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019. Normally everything went fine but one in every 250 to 500 connection of the server-client to a database on SQL Server 2016 they got the error below.

System.ServiceModel.CommunicationException: The InstanceStore could not be initialized. —> System.Runtime.DurableInstancing.InstancePersistenceCommandException: The execution of the InstancePersistenceCommand named {urn:schemas-microsoft-com:System.Activities.Persistence/command}CreateWorkflowOwner was interrupted by an error. —> System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: A connection was successfully established with the server, but then an error occurred during the login process. (provider: SSL Provider, error: 0 – An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host.) —> System.ComponentModel.Win32Exception: An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host

Now actually retrying the connection in the code could work around this. Good code should have such mechanisms implemented. But in the end, there was indeed an issue.

Intermittent TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019

I did a quick verification of any network issues. The network was fine, so I could take this cause of the table. The error itself did not happen constantly, but rather infrequently. All indications pointed to a (TLS) configuration issue. “An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host” was the clearest hint for this. But then one would expect this to happen every time.

We also checked that the Windows Server 201 R2 hosts were fully up to date and had either .NET 4.7 or .NET 4.8 installed. These versions support TLS 1.2 without issues normally.

Also, on Windows Server 2012 R2 TLS 1.2 is enabled by default and does not require editing the registry to enable it. You have to do this is you want to disable it and re-enable it.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2\Server]

These were not present on the Windows Server 2012 R2 host but also not on the Windows Server 2016 or 2019 hosts we use for comparison.

We also check if KB3154520 – Support for TLS System Default Versions included in the .NET Framework 3.5 on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is installed. This allows using the operating system defaults for SSL and TLS instead of the hardcoded .NET Framework defaults.

For 64-bit operating systems:

For 32-bit operating systems:

Note If the application has set the ServicePointManager.SecureProtocol in code or through config files to a specific value or uses the SslStream.AuthenticateAs* APIs to specify a specific SslProtocols enum, the registry setting behavior does not occur. But in our test code, we also have control over this. So we can test a lot of permutations.viu

Test code

To properly dive into the issue we needed to reproduce the error at will or at least very fast. So for that, we contacted a dev and asked him to share the code paths that actually made the connections to the databases. This is to verify if there were multiple services connecting and maybe only one had issues. It turned out it was all the same. It all failed in the same fashion.

So we came up with a test program to try and reproduce it as fast as possible even if it occurred infrequently. That ability, to test configuration changes fast, was key in finding a solution. With this test program, we did not see this issue with clients that were running on Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019. Not with the actual services in the environments test or in production nor with our automated test tool. Based on the information and documentation of .NET and Windows Server 2012 R2 this should not have been an issue there either. But still, here we are.

The good thing about the test code is that we can easily play with different settings in regards to the TLS version specified in the code. We noted that using TLS 1.1 or 1.0 would show a drop in connection errors versus TLS 1.2 but not eliminate them. No matter what permutation we tried we just got a difference in frequency of the issue. We were not able to get rid of the error. Now that we had tried to deal with the issue on the application level we decided to focus on the host.

The host

Even with no TLS 1.2 enforced the Windows Server 2012 R2 client hello in its connection to the SQL Server host uses TLS 1.2. The cipher they select ( TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384) is actually considered weak. This is evident when we look at the client and server hello to port 1433.

TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019
Client hello
TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019
Server Hello

Trying to specify the TLS version in the test code did nor resolve the issue. So we now tried solving it on the host. We are going for best practices on the Windows Server 2012 R2 client side. ! In the end, I ended up doing the following

  • Allowed only TLS 1.2
  • Allowed only Secure ciphers & Ordered those for Perfect Forward Privacy
  • Enforce the OS to always select the TLS version
  • Enforce the use of the most secure (TLS 1.2 as that is the only one we allow)

Note that there is no support for TLS 1.3 at the moment of writing.

After this, we ran our automated tests again and did not see even one occurrence of these issues anymore. This fixed it. It worked without any other changes except for one. There was one application that had not been upgraded to .NET 4.6 or higher and enforced TLS 1.1. So we leaned on the app owners a bit to have them recompile their code. In the end, they went with 4.8.

In the network capture of connections, we see they now select a secure cipher (TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384).. With this setup, we did not experience the flowing infrequent error anymore. “System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: A connection was successfully established with the server, but then an error occurred during the login process. (provider: SSL Provider, error: 0 – An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host.) —> System.ComponentModel.Win32Exception: An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host

Client Hello
Server Hello

The cause

We had an assumption is that once in a while and older/weaker ciphers were used and that this causes the connection error. By implementing best practices we disabled those which prevent this from happening. As we did not change the source code om most machines it either used the .Net framework defaults or the specified settings.

You can easily implement best practices by using a community script like Setup Microsoft Windows or IIS for SSL Perfect Forward Secrecy and TLS 1.2. There is also a tool like IISCrypto or IISCryptoCLI. Potentially, you can always automate this and devise a way to configure this wholesale with the tools of your choice if needed.

The solution

As you can read above, what finally did the trick was implementing a TLS 1.2 only best practices configuration on the Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts.

If you run into a similar issue please test any solution, including mine here, before implementing it. TLS versions that software and operating systems require or are able to use differ. So any solution needs to be tested end to end for a particular use case. Even more so if ServicePointManager.SecureProtocol in code or through config files or via  SslStream.AuthenticateAs* APIs are in play.

In this particular environment forcing TLS 1.2 and having the OS control which TLS version is being used by the .NET applications worked. Your mileage may differ and you might need to use a different approach to fix the issue in your environment. Big boy rules apply here!


Tech debt will sooner or later always rear its ugly head. There is a reason I upgrade and update regularly and well ahead of deadlines. I have always been doing that as much as possible (SSL Certs And Achieving “A” Level Security With Older Windows Version) . But in this case that this seemed more like a bug than a configuration issue. It only happened every now and then which meant troubleshooting was a bit more difficult. But that was addressed with a little test program. this helped us test configuration changes to fix these Intermittent TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019 fast and easily. I shared this case as it might help other people out there struggling with the same issue.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21


This is just a quick blog post to let you know the Hyper-V Amigos have released 2 webcasts recently. These are Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21. You will find a link to the videos and a description of the content below.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast – Episode 20

In episode 20 of the Hyper-V Amigo ShowCast, we continue our journey in the different ways in which we can use storage spaces in backup targets. In our previous “Hyper-V Amigos ShowCast (Episode 19)– Windows Server 2019 as Veeam Backup Target Part I” we looked at stand-alone or member servers with Storage Spaces. With both direct-attached storage and SMB files shares as backup targets. We also played with Multi Resilient Volumes.

For this webcast, we have one 2 node S2D cluster set up for the Hyper-V workload (Azure Stack HCI). On a second 2 node S2D cluster, we host 2 SOFS file shares. Each on their own CSV LUN. SOFS on S2D is supported for backups and archival workloads. And as it is SMB3 and we have RDMA capable NICs we can leverage RDMA (RoCE, Mellanox ConnectX-5) to benefit from CPU offloading and superb throughput at ultra-low latency.

Hyper-V Amigos Show Cast Episode 20

Some extra information

The General Purpose File Server (GPFS role) is not supported on S2D for now. You can use GPFS with shared storage and in combination with continuous availability. This performs well as a high available backup target as well. The benefit here is that this is cost-effective (Windows Server Standard licenses will do) and you get to use the shared storage of your choice. But in this show cast, we focus on the S2D scenario and we didn’t build a non-supported scenario.

You would normally expect to notice the performance impact of continuous availability when you compare the speeds with the previous episode where we used a non-high available file share (no continuous availability possible). But we have better storage in the lab for this test, the source system is usually the bottleneck and as such our results were pretty awesome.

The lab has 4 Tarox server nodes with a mix of Intel Optane DC Memory (Persistent Memory or Storage Class Memory), Intel NVMe and Intel SSD disks. For the networking, we leverage Mellanox ConnectX-5 100Gbps NICs and SN2100 100Gbps switches. Hence we both had a grin on our face just prepping this lab.

As a side note, the performance impact of continuous availability and write-through is expected. I have written about it before here. The reason why you might contemplate to use it. Next to a requirement for high availability, is due to the small but realistic data corruption risk you have with not continuously available SMB shares. The reason is that they do not provide write-through for guaranteed data persistence.

We also demonstrate the “Instant Recovery” capability of Veeam to make workloads available fast and point out the benefits.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast – Episode 21

In episode 21 we are diving into leveraging the Veeam Agent for Windows integrated with Veeam Backup & Replication (v10 RC1)  to protect our physical S2D nodes. For shops that don’t have an automated cluster node build processes set up or rely on external help to come in and do it this can be a huge time saver.

We walk through the entire process and end up doing a bare metal recovery of one of the S2D nodes. The steps include:

  • Setting up an Active Directory protection group for our S2D cluster.
  • Creating a backup job for a Windows Server, where we select failover cluster as type (Which has only the “Managed by Backup Server”  as the mode).
  • We run a backup
  • After that, we create the Veeam Agent Recovery Media (the most finicky part)
  • Finally, we restore one of the S2D hosts completely using the bare metal recovery option

Some more information

Now we had some issues in the lab one of them suffering to a BSOD on the laptop used to make the recording and being a bit too impatient when booting from the ISO over a BMC virtual CD/DVD. Hence we had to glue some parts together and fast forward through the boring bits. We do appreciate that watching a system bot for 10 minutes doesn’t make for good infotainment. Other than that, it went fine and we were able to demonstrate the process from the beginning to the end.

As is the case with any process you should test and experiment to make sure you are familiar with the process. That makes it all a little easier and hurt a little less when the day comes you have to do it for real.

We hope the show cast helps you look into some of the capabilities and options you have with Veeam in regards to protecting any workloads. Long gone are the days that Veeam was only about protecting virtual Machines. Veeam is about protecting data where ever it lives. In VMs, physical servers, workstations, PCs, laptop, on-prem, in the cloud and Office 365. On top of that, you can restore it where ever you want to avoid lock-in and costly migration projects and tools. Check it out.


We will be doing more web casts on Veeam Backup & Replication v10 in 2020 as it will be generally available in Q1 as far I can guess.

Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21

But with Hyper-V Amigos Showcast Episode 20 and 21, that’s it for 2019. Enjoy the holidays during this festive season. The Hyper-V Amigos wish you a Merry X-Mas and a very happy New Year in 2020!

Veeam Vanguard Renewals and Nominations 2020


Are you are working with Veeam software solutions? Are you passionate about sharing your experiences, knowledge, and insights? If so, you might want to consider a nomination for the Veeam Vanguard program. If you are already a Veeam Vanguard I’m pretty sure you already know submissions for Veeam Vanguard Renewals and Nominations 2020 are open.

Veeam Vanguard Renewals and Nominations

As we are nearing the end of 2019 Veeeam has opened the Veeam Vanguard Renewals and Nominations for 2020.

Describing the Veeam Vanguard program is not easily done. But Nikola Pejková has done a great job to do exactly that in Join the Veeam Vanguard 2020 class! She also explains how to nominate someone or yourself. Read the blog post and find out if this is something for you. I enjoy being a part of it because I get to learn with and from some of the best minds in the industry. This allows me to help others better while also keeping up with the changing IT landscape whilst helping others.

Veeam Vanguard Renewals and Nominations 2020
My fellow Veeam Vanguard and me in a Q&A session with the Veeam R&D and PM teams at the Veeam Vanguard Summit.

I would like to emphasize that the diversity of the Veeam Vanguard is paramount to me. It works because we have people in there form around the globe, from all kinds of backgrounds and job roles. This helps open up discussions with different points of view and experiences. Customers, consultants, and partners look at needs and solutions from their perspectives. Having us together in the Vanguard benefits us all and prevents tunnel vision.

Nominate someone, yourself or be nominated

Nikola explains how to do this in her blog so read Join the Veeam Vanguard 2020 class! and apply to become Vanguard! It is quite an experience. Quality people who are active in the commumnity and help by sharing their knowledge are welcomed and appreciated. Maybe you’ll find yourself to be a Veeam Vanguard in 2020!