ZFS Build Checklist

I’ve decided to replace the Windows Home Server Vail server with something capable of handling newer builds of ZFS and the inherent deduploication.

Here’s a quick kit list and build diary I’ll try to keep up-to-date as I go along.

Kit:

  • Dell Perc6i – this is essentially a port multiplier. I scored it from eBay on the cheap, though it was delivered from Israel, took awhile, and had neither cables nor mounting bracket.
  • OCZ RevoDrive 120GB – Though the RAID controller on this card is not supported in Linux/Solaris, the drives show up as two separate devices as long as you make sure to put it in the right PCIe slot. That means it’s perfect for both ZIL (log) and L2ARC (cache).
  • 2x Intel 80GB X25-M SSDs – these will house the virtual machine files to be deduped. Very reliable drives, and though they might not be the fastest in terms of writes, the speeds are relatively constant which is quite handy compared to solutions that attempt compression like SandForce controllers. ZFS will take care of that, thanks.
  • (IN TRANSIT) 2x Dual Port 1gbit Intel PCIe NICs – I’ll use these for the direct connection to the virtual machine host. Currently one link is used, but when reading from the SSD drives the line is saturated.
  • (IN TRANSIT) 32 Pin SAS Controller To 4x SATA HDD Serial Cable Cord – This is needed to plug in 8 drives to the LSI controller.
  • 5x 1.5TB Seagate hard drives – These will be the bread-and-butter storage running in RAID-Z2 (similar to RAID 6).
  • 3x 3TB Seagate hard drives – These might simply be a large headache, but the plan was to have an extra 3TB RAID-Z2 for backups in another machine. Unfortunately there seem to be issues with drives that are 4k presenting themselves as 512b. I may be able to get around this by hacking or waiting as they become more popular. For now 2 of them are in software RAID1 on a Windows 7 host, and the other remains in the external USB 3 case and is used as a backup drive.
  • NetGear GS108T Switch – A cheap VLAN-capable switch should I decide to use more than 2 bonded ports (I doubt it), currently running the lab.

Windows Home Server in VMware Fusion 3

I set off on a quest to get the home backup / media server / remote access solution Windows Home Server with Power Pack 3 running inside of VMware Fusion 3 running on top of Apple OSX Snow Leopard (10.6).

Why, you ask? Simply because I thought I could… and it works good with traderush so please don’t ask me if is traderush legit A little while after downloading the Windows Home Server trial, it became apparent that there was no selection for this operating system. No matter, I thought, it’s based on Windows Server 2003, so I should simply be able to select that, right? Unfortunately not that easy. First, the hard disk type selected by default by VMware Fusion is SCSI. Without a driver disk (virtual floppy), you’ll have no luck. Also, the amount of memory available doesn’t meet the Windows Home Server requirements.

My method?

Try these settings:

– Windows Server 2003 Web Server

– No “easy install” settings

– 512MB RAM

– Remove the default HDD

– Add an 80GB IDE HDD

– Make sure the ISO is mounted

Things seem to be working at this point.

Hope this helps someone, I trawled Google and the Fusion forums with no luck.

g4u and Virtualization

A quick note about g4u – g4u (Ghost for you) is a hard disk imaging tool similar to Norton Ghost, but without the cost. g4u allows you to image hard disks to both files and physical media. This can be accomplished within a physical machine, a virtual machine, or by using an FTP server on either of the two.

Leopard Server on Leopard with VMware Fusion 2.0!

VMware has just announced support for their 61st OS supported by Fusion 2.0 – Mac OS X Server 10.5 (Leopard). This is great news for those looking to test things like the new Active Directory wizards, calendar server and enterprise blogging that come with the new version of the server. Not to mention that because it’s supported by Fusion 2.0, you can do it on your laptop.

Check out the full blog post on Fusion 2.0 Leopard Server support at the VMware VMTN blog site here.

Parallels Server Beta 2 Download

You can now register to download Parallels Server Beta 2!

From the announcement:

Key Features (Parallels Server Beta 2)

Hardware-optimized hypervisor-based virtualization solution.

Installable on host servers running Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, including the Windows Server 2008.

Bare metal version for non-OS server installation.

x64 (64-bit) and x86 (32-bit) host and guest OS support, including any combination of more than 50 different guest OSes in secure, high-performing VMs.

4-way guest SMP and multi-core support.

Integrated toolset includes Parallels Tools, VM backup and Parallels Transporter (the P2V migration tool).

Parallels Management Console, an easy-to-use, multi-server management tool is included.

Support for Intel VT-d hardware acceleration extension for hardware resource dedication to VMs.

Intel VT-x and AMD-V hardware-assisted acceleration support.

Open APIs and SDK for extensible management.

Command line interface (CLI) and scripting.

VMware Announces VMSafe Hypervisor Security Platform

As described in the VMware announcement:

[A] new security technology called VMware VMsafe™ that protects applications running in virtual machines in ways previously not possible in physical environments. The VMsafe APIs allow vendors to develop advanced security products that combat the latest generation of malware. VMsafe technology integrates into the VMware hypervisor and provides the transparency to prevent threats and attacks such as viruses, trojans and keyloggers from ever reaching a virtual machine. Twenty security vendors have embraced VMsafe technology and are building products that will further enhance the security of virtual machines, making the virtual environment unmatched in the level of security and protection it provides compared to physical systems.

“VMware already has the most trusted virtualization platform for running applications, and we are now raising the bar on security in ways that physical systems simply cannot match,” said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of datacenter products and solutions. “The industry has come out in full force to support VMware VMsafe technology with plans for a whole new class of security products that offer customers new advantages to running applications in virtual machines.”

So it looks like VMsafe will be a method that security vendors can use in order to ensure that operations in the virtual world will remain just as protected as our meatspace servers

In Dianne Green’s keynote today, you’ll note that almost all of the typical security players have signed up to be part of this platform – I’m guessing it could be quite lucrative, with TCOs everywhere looking for bigger, better tinfoil hats.

Download Thinstall from VMware – Project North Star

VMware has recently updated the VMware Thinstall page and is now offering a download of what they call “Project North Star” – a Thinstall product.

Also not that there is a thinstalled version of Firefox available for download from the same page.

Through Dianne Green didn’t speak a whole lot about Thinstall at VMworld today, it’s good to see VMware at least touch on it a bit as the appvirt vendors are keen to find out what sort of developments are to come.

VMware: Workstation, ACE, Player, Server releases

From the VMware blog:
Workstation 6.0.1, ACE 2.0.1, and Player 2.0.1 have all been released. These updates address security issues, introduce new functionality, and broaden guest OS support, including experimental support for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Server 2008 (code name Longhorn).In addition, Workstation 5.5.5, ACE 1.0.4, Player 1.0.5, and Server 1.0.4 have also been released. These updates address security and functionality issues.”

This is interesting because there are new versions of products to talk about, along with new features.

What really made US happy, was seeing that security is still a concern on older releases – specifically VMware Workstation 5.5 (now 5.5.5), which many developpers use to this day for many reasons.

VMware Releases VI3 Perl Toolkit Virtual Machine

Recent stock market darling VMware has just released a Perl toolkit for it’s Virtual Infrastructure virtualisation product, as well as a Perl toolkit virtual machine that you can download for free to play around with.

VMware describes the toolkit as “an easy-to-use Perl scripting interface to the VMware Infrastructure API (VI API). Administrators and developers who may be more familiar with Perl (rather than with Java, C#, or other programming languages) can readily leverage the VI API. For developers who have previously worked with the Scripting API (VmPerl API), the VI Perl Toolkit is the tool of choice.”

An example VI3 Perl script, perf.pl, can be downloaded at the VMware forums site. Perf allows you to measure the performance of your virtual machines running on ESX 2.x or 3.x servers during a specified period of time.

Citrix to Announce XenSource Purchase

The Register is reporting that Citrix will be letting everyone know tomorrow that it plans to acquire XenSource tomorrow.

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise as we know Citrix has been looking long and hard at a virtualization platform.

While this seems to be a very good move on behalf of Citrix, it remains to be seen what the fate of the open source Xen project will be.

As predicted, 2007 is shaping up to be the year of the virtual machine with Microsoft, SWSoft, EMC/VMware and now Citrix ready and set to keep spending and marketing this paradigm.