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Posts Tagged ‘HP ProLiant Microserver N36L’

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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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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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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VMware ESXi 5.0 tested on HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Just confirming that VMware ESXi 5.0 tests out okay on the  HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L, ideal for labs or testing, I don’t expect to see this HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L on the Hardware Compatibility List, when VMware ESXi 5.0 is finally launched Q3 2011, but ideal for labs or testing, on this small low powered server.

As with ESXi 4.1, no support for the “fake RAID controller”, so ESXi 5.o detects both SATA disks, and does not detect as a RAID 1 set. But the Broadcom NetXrtreme BCM5723 Gigabit Etherner network interface is supported.

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A micro flash (HP v165w) drive for a HP ProLiant MicroServer N36L

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

For my “Skynet” project, I’ve been looking for a micro 4GB flash drive to hold the various operating systems I’ll be using, operating systems including VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) and  FreeNAS, possibly also Solaris and Nexenta Community Edition. Previously I’ve used Talent flash drives, but these seem in short supply, and are usually metal, and I’ve recently read an interesting Product Advisory about the heat from metal flash drives, and also some metal flash drives have been shorting out inside HP ProLiant DL series servers, using embedded versions of VMware vSphere Hypervisor. So my requirements were to find a plastic cased, in-expensive 4GB flash drive. Enter the HP v165w 4GB Flash Drive, this version comes in many different sizes, and is very small.

HP v165w 4GB Flash Drive

HP v165w 4GB Flash Drive

HP v165w 4GB Flash Drive on Samsung NC10 Netbook keyboard

HP v165w 4GB Flash Drive on Samsung NC10 Netbook keyboard (yes my keyboard really needs a clean!)

A Micro Flash drive for a Microserver!

Also manufacturered by HP (okay, PNY), so HP on HP should work okay. I found the most cheapest place on the Net, was Play.com, but I’ve had to wait over a week for delivery,  delivery is free, but why they had to send them all in individual boxes, I’ll never know. So I’ve not been able to do anything with Skynet, for the last week, waiting for them to arrive.

Eight boxes of HP v165w 4GB flash drives from Play.com

Eight boxes of HP v165w 4GB flash drives from Play.com

Here is the micro flash drive installed in a HP ProLiant Microserver

HP v165w installed in HP ProLiant Microserver N36L

HP v165w installed in HP ProLiant Microserver N36L

The micro server, has a purpose built bootable USB socket on the motherboard, designed for booting embedded operating systems, so the four internal SATA disks can be used to store data, so I you can install the OS on a USB stick!

The HP v165w does not have any LED, or flashing light to indicate the device is in read or write mode, for my purpose ideal, but some folk, may like this feature to see what the flash drive is doing, but personally I think it’s too small for general usage, I’ve had to attach my existing flash drive to 2.5″ hard disk spindle to stop losing it in my pocket! I’m also using this device to replace my existing HP v100w flash drives, installed in my existing DL servers, because I keep catching them and snapping them off!

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HP ProLiant Microserver N36L - Got yours yet?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

“I’m bulding Skynet, and I’m going to take over the world” - Andy, andysworld.org.uk

We all need to tighten our belts, in these uncertain times, and as electricity costs continue to rise, and it’s predicted that electricity costs will triple over the next ten years, it’s time to start costing the electricity used by our IT equipment [again!]. Many years ago, we consolidated all the servers and workstations we use by using VMware ESX 1.0, this allowed us to consolidate 20 physical servers and workstations with three large HP ProLiants, at the time they were Intel Xeon 500MHz based ProLiant 3000R, 5500R, and 6500R, these were eventually replaced with  three AMD Opteron DL385 and DL585, and MSA SANs. This has reduced our electricity costs, but not far enough. The DL385 uses approximately 600 watts just for the server, it has Dual Processors, and Dual Cores and uses 16GB RAM. With newer designs, some CPUs have become very low power. We currently use VMware vSphere 4.1 U1 to provide virtualisation for Domain Controllers, Microsoft Exchange Servers, Web Servers, SQL Servers, VMware View VDI 4.5/4.6, Firewall appliances, and other development servers. This is all Production, and then we have all the same servers in a Test and Developement Lab, in total approx 48 Virtual Servers, 20 Virtual Workstations of mixed versions from Windows 95, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

HP ProLiant DL385 Box

HP ProLiant DL385 Box

HP ProLiant DL385 Box

HP ProLiant DL385 Box

Enter the HP ProLiant Microserver - full load measured (40 watts). So I’ve purchase 5 to build a new vSphere 5.0 Cluster and using vSphere VSA (Virtual SAN Array). Total Wattage for Five MicroServers - 200 Watts! The wattage per virtual machine will be much lower, resulting in a much lower electricity bill.

Delivery of 5 HP ProLiant Microservers N36L

Delivery of 5 HP ProLiant Microservers N36L

HP ProLiant Microserver N36L (dented box!)

HP ProLiant Microserver N36L (dented box!) The server was fine!

The rumour is that the HP Cashback offer of £100, will be extended to 31 August 2011, it’s due to end on the 31 July 2011.

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