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Archive for August, 2011

How to boot a Server or Workstation from a USB Flash drive or USB External Hard disk

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

All the HP ProLiant MicroServers I’ve purchased without CDROM/DVDROM drives, so how did I manage to install all the operating systems, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, Oracle Solaris 11 Express, FreeNAS, VMware ESXi 4.0 and ESXi 5.0 quickly and easily onto the servers.

Well quite simply, I made  my USB External Hard Disk bootable, and copied the ISOs onto the USB External Hard Disk, connected to the HP ProLiant MicroServers, and booted the ISO CDROM from the USB External Hard Disk.

This has the following advantages

1. The read time is much faster than conventional CDROM/DVDROM and USB flash drive.

2. No requirement to burn an ISO image to a CDROM.

3. Keeps all your ISOs in one place.

If you’ve downloaded the software already from the internet, as a download, you already have the ISO ready to configure, otherwise download and install ISORecorder, a brilliant little application, which just creates an ISO image.

Next you’ll need one of the follow applications, and these applications will do the rest, just make sure you set the computer’s BIOS to boot from USB!

1. UNetbootin (Download Link)

UNetbootin

UNetbootin

2. YUMI Multiboot MultiSystem (Download Link)

YUMI Multiboot MultiSystem

YUMI Multiboot MultiSystem

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Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 on VMware ESXi 5.0

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I’ve categorised this blog post as Vintage, well I think Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, deserve Vintage status, it’s over 15 years since it’s release, and I still remember the day, when I was the only Senior Analyst in a new job, that had installed Windows New Technology, so the first task of the day (week) was to sit with a pile of floppy disks, because they had not purchased the CDROM version, and install on 10 computers, I was still waiting for my “Top Secret Security Clearance” to be approved, so I was locked in the Datacentre! On reflection now, it would seems a very odd place to lock someone on a Ministry Of Defence site, that did not have clearance! If I needed to take a comfort break, I had to be escorted around the site!

Windows NT 4.0 License Agreement

Windows NT 4.0 License Agreement

If you’ve never read the Windows NT 4.0 License Agreement, it states 8. “…. Java Technology is not fault tolerant and is not designed, manufactured, or intended for use or resale as on-line control equipment in hazardous environments or nuclear facilities, aircraft navigation or communication systems…..”.

So Windows NT Workstation 4.0  is not supposed to be used for a messaging system? (best not say anymore about that!).

Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 install so fast in a virtual environment, after many many many, manual installations and deployments on physcal servers and workstations, installation is over in 60 seconds. (it’s just rather anyonying that SP6 is require to install VMware Tools!, all of 32MB!).

Windows NT Workstation 4.0

Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0

Microsoft Windows NT Server Version : 4.0

Microsoft Windows NT Server Version : 4.0

You are probably wondering at this point, why am I installing and testing Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 on VMware ESXi 5.0!

Ah, well good reason, Boot Ferrule Man, who works in the Semiconductor Industry, one of their semiconductor robots, lets call him “Cheese”, which is controlled by an NT 4.0 PC with SSD installed in 1995, has gone wrong! So I’m just testing the media! (well okay, ISOs, the media is archived!).

Told you it had a reason!!!

and final shout-out, All the very Best Steve. I wish you and your family well.

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Oracle Solaris Express 11 versus FreeNAS Quick CIFs Performance Tests!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I just thought I would quickly upload some Windows CIFs Initial Performance Comparisons between Oracle Solaris Express 11 versus FreeNAS 0.7/8.0, these tests are conducted from a Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit Workstation, connected via 1Gbe network interface card into a HP ProCurve v1810-24 switch. The NAS installation is using the same HP ProLiant MicroServer hardware and standard 7,200rpm SATA drives. The only difference is the operating system, which I’ve just thrown together without tweaking or fine tuning. I’m using the stock AMD SATA controller, no hardware RAID. Tests were performed using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 x64 (C) 2007-2010 hiyohiyo.

IOPS - Oracle Solaris versus FreeNAS

IOPS - Oracle Solaris versus FreeNAS

MB/s - Oracle Solaris versus FreeNAS

MB/s - Oracle Solaris versus FreeNAS

Conclusion, out of the box, Oracle Solaris 11 clearly is the superior performer to FreeNAS, it does not really surprise me considering the commericial development of Solaris, compared to Freebsd, which is what FreeNAS is/was based on. I think I have decided what SAN, I’ll be tweaking in the future, to provide a faster solution for providing NFS and iSCSI solutions for VMware vSphere 4.x and 5.0. I’m sure given the time, it may be possible to tweak FreeNAS, but the stability of the operating system has to be seriosuly questioned. (especially when the bge0 driver in FreeBSD is broke! and resets with a Watchdog timeout issue).

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Skynet SSDSuperSAN - HP ProLiant MicroServer with a 6 Bay Hot Plug SATA drive bay

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I’ve been busy in Andy’s cave, configuring one of the low power 40 Watt, HP ProLiant MicroServers, as the “Skynet SSDSuperSAN”. The first issue which I came across is that because I want to use ZFS for the underlying SAN “filing system”, yes I know FreeNAS 0.7 and 8.0 has ZFS support, and FreeBSD also has ZFS support, but the most current versions of ZFS exist in Oracle Solaris 11 Express, Nexenta Project and OpenIndiana, and the last two are based on open Solaris. So I’ve decided to pick my very old friend Solaris. (personally, the king of all Unix versions, IMHO!).

A big issue, 18 hour installation time to a 4GB USB HP 165w flash drive, okay so I only have to do this once, but 45 minute boot time, so I scrapped the USB installation. (and if you asking why I’m not using FreeNAS, well I might entrust Squeezebox Server to FreeNAS 0.686, 0.7.1, (don’t get me started on 8!) but seriosuly! iSCSI/NFS, stability of FreeNAS is pants!).

Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Internal SATA III 6 Gb/s 6xBay 2.5" HDD into single 5.25" Bay

Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Internal SATA III 6 Gb/s 6xBay 2.5" HDD into single 5.25" Bay

So not wanting to lose any capacity from the MicroServer, and keeping the existing four SATA 300 drive bays empty, I found the Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Internal 6-Bay 2.5″ hard disk, 5.25″ Bay. And as this was available from my favourite supplier on the Internet, Scan Computers International Ltd, whom I’ve been purchasing from since the late 80s, I thought this would give me the ability to boot Oracle Solaris Express 11 from standard 2.5″ SSD/Notebook drives in a conventional mirrored rpool, also gives me another 4 free SATA 2.5″ slots for SSD/Notebook drives for the future. Hence why I needed to do the HP ProLiant MicroServer firmware tweak!

Here is the final HP ProLiant MicroServer

HP ProLiant MicroServer with Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Internal SATA III 6 Gb/s 6xBay 2.5" HDD into single 5.25" Bay installed

HP ProLiant MicroServer with Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Internal SATA III 6 Gb/s 6xBay 2.5" HDD into single 5.25" Bay installed

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A Cluster of HP ProLiant MicroServers running VMware vSphere 5.0 (ESXi 5.0)

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Here’s a picture of my cluster of HP ProLiant MicroServers or a “small” Massive Array of Inexpensive Servers aka MAIS.

So Andys Small MAIS!

A Cluster of HP Proliant MicroServers

A Cluster of HP Proliant MicroServers

Each Cube Server, only consumes 40 Watts of electricity (measured), so that’s a big saving on electricity costs!

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VMware vSphere 5.0 (ESXi 5.0) Officially released and available for Download

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

ESXi 5 installer ISO

VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.0.0-469512.x86_64.iso

vSphere Client

VMware-viclient-all-5.0.0-455964.exe

Linux Tools ISO

VMware-tools-linux-8.6.0-425873.iso


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Tweaking HP ProLiant MicroServer BIOS to support 2 additional AHCI SATA Ports for VMware ESXi 4.1/5.0, SSD

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

I’ve been experimenting with the HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L, to extend its capacity to support an additional 2 AHCI SATA Ports, from the standard IDE mode offerings, that the on-board SATA and eSATA ports offer. This will support the use of SSDs better in the future.

Storage Controllers available to VMware vSphere 4.1 U1, not there are four AHCI SATA controllers, vmhba0, vmhba34, vmhba35, and  vmhba36. These correspond to the “not supported hot plug” bays.

HP ProLiant MicroServer BIOS POST before tweak!

HP ProLiant MicroServer BIOS POST before tweak!

VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer Before tweak!VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer before tweak!

VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer Before tweak!

and also two IDE vmhba1 and vmhba33.

VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer before tweak!

VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer Before tweak!

After tweaking…a total of six AHCI SATA ports, vmhba0, vmhba33, vmhba34, vmhba35, vmhba36 and vmhba37.

HP ProLiant MicroServer BIOS POST After tweak!

HP ProLiant MicroServer BIOS POST After tweak!

VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer After tweak!

VMware ESXi 4.1 installed on HP ProLiant MicroServer After tweak!

If you want more details, ping me an email or twitter, and I’ll send you the bios.

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Esther and Alfred

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

A photograph that Lindsey took a few days ago…

Esther and Alfred

Esther and Alfred

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CubeWorld!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

CubeWorld

CubeWorld

Dusty, Hans, Handy, Dash & Toner

It’s a CubeWorld!

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Breeding pair of Western Digital VelociRaptor

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I’ve actually had this pair of Western Digital VelociRaptors 600GB, SATA 3, 10,000 RPM disks for just under 12 months, 12 months old on 23 August 2010, I thought I had already blogged about them, but it seems I take so many pictures, that not all of them end up on the blog, so here there are!

Breeding pair of WD VelociRaptors WD6000HLHX

Breeding pair of WD VelociRaptors WD6000HLHX

The WD6000HLHX model, which I have two, have increased in value since, I purchased them 12 months ago, I believe Western Digital are still the only storage manufactuter to manufacture a 10,000 RPM SATA 3 drive today.

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