Archive for March, 2009

I migrated my physical Windows Server 2003 from native to virtual using the excellent VMWare Converter 4.  No issues at all.  Just remember to stop any important services before starting the conversion, i.e.: Exchange and remember to configure the new VMWare network device in the guest after the conversion is complete.  Not much else to say when everything works just perfectly!

Migrating the Windows server and Linux server to ESXi were both a breeze.  I’ve found two problems so far:

1) My blog (this site) seems to lock-up every so often (once or twice a day) requiring Apache to be restarted.  Not sure if this has anything to do with VMWare since everything else on the system is fine and other web sites are served fine…it’s just my blog that is stuck.  Seems that Apache starts eating up a whole bunch of virtual memory as well so it may be some wierd deadlock issue.  Of course right after moving the Linux server to ESXi, I updated a few Wordpress plug-ins right away so it’s a bit hard to pin-point the problem.  I’ll have to investigate a little more and find the solution.  Might have to update to Wordpress 2.7.1 if it turns out to be a compatibility issue.

2) When I was going to put the server in my basement corner “computer shelf”, turns out the case didn’t quite fit.  The previous Dell computer case is a bit smaller and fit in just fine.  I might need to make the shelf a slight bit more spacious with a hammer and chisel…

Well, aside from the blog/lockup problem, this has probably been the easiest server upgrade ever.  Usually when I change around server hardware, I have to re-install the OS from scratch, reconfigure everything, run both systems in parallel for a bit, blah blah blah, total pain in the butt.  Virtualizing the environment with ESXi has been clean, fast, easy AND I still have the capacity to add more virtual machines to the server for OS upgrades, testing and whatever else I can think of.

ESXi rocks!

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The web server is now running on the much more powerful ESXi system.  It seems faster to me but I have the advantage of browsing on the local network.  Any of you Internet people see a boost in performance?

I’ll post some tricks I learned about migrating a Linux virtual machine from VMWare Server to ESXi soon.

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The web site will be down for a bit tomorrow morning as I move the virtual machine from a cruddy Dell running Windows as the host OS to a much more powerful AMD 3800+ dual-core system running VMWare ESXi.  ESXi is pretty slick!  I tested migrating the virtual machine from one system to another and everything was working.  Tomorrow is the big day when hopefully this blog gets a little more oomph in it!

Here’s a picture of the new server while ESXi was being installed:

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One slight pain about getting a new computer is having to remember how to copy the Firefox bookmarks from one computer to another.  Of course the easy way would be to click Bookmarks/Organize Bookmarks on the old computer and simply export the bookmarks to a file and copy that file to the new computer.  The problem is if your old computer is already turned off, gutted, windows won’t boot or any other reason that would prevent you from actually running Firefox on the old system.

Fortunately there is a somewhat easy way to copy the bookmarks file from one computer to another just by accessing the old drive and coping the file by usb key or a direct-drive copy.  This information assumes you are using Firefox 3.

If the old computer is Windows XP, navigate to the following folder – replace the username and profile names with whatever is correct for your computer:
C:\Documents and Settings\<your user name>\Application Data\Mozilla\
Firefox\Profiles\<profile name>\bookmarkbackups\

For a Windows Vista, use the following path:
C:\Users\<your user name>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\
Firefox\Profiles\<profile name>\bookmarkbackups\

Here you will find an automatic bookmark backup Firefox creates on a daily basis.  Copy the most recent file to the new computer.

On the computer, start Firefox and click Bookmarks/Organize Bookmarks from the menu.  Then click the Import and Backup button and Restore/Choose File.  Navigate and select the backup file from the old computer, click OK and voila!  Your bookmarks have all been restored to the new computer!

Happy surfing!

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It was finally time to reward myself for all the hard-work I put in to developing and teaching three web development courses at the University of Winnipeg Department of Continuing Education by getting a new computer.  I bought everything from Memory Express since I’ve been impressed by their customer service, their prices and their customer-friendly return policy.  Here are the specs on the new computer:

Intel Core i7 920 – Quad core at 2.66Ghz CPU
ASUS P6T Deluxe v2 Motherboard
OCZ 6 Gb (3x 2Gb) DDR-3 1600Mhz 7-7-7-24 Memory
BFG MAXCORE GTX 260 OCX 896Mb
Seagate 500Gb SATA-2 Hard Drive
PC Power & Cooling 750W Power Supply
Antec Sonata III Case

Since it’s not often I get to play with new hardware, I like to build the system myself.  Fortunately Memory Express installs the CPU, fan and memory in to the motherboard to test and that saves me some work.  Here’s a picture of the stack of boxes I brought home.  Yes, the kitchen table is my work desk.

After swapping out the default 500W power supply with the 750W power supply and installing the motherboard, there are cable everywhere!  Almost looks like a cylon hybrid…

The BFG GTX 260 OCX video card.  Not only is this thing HUGE but it requires TWO additional power inputs!

I spent about an hour making all the cables nice and neat for good air flow, aesthetics and because I’m a big nerd.

So far, the system absolutely kicks-ass.  Installing Vista x64 was pretty fast and everything I do is lightning fast and super responsive.  I /had/ to try Left 4 Dead and all the settings are maxed out and the game play is smooth. I’ll have to install VMWare Server 2 and get this machine really working.

Once all my data is moved over and triple-checked, I’ll rebuild the previous AMD 64×2 computer as the new VMWare ESXi server.  That should be a fun project as my server desperately needs an upgrade!

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After four amazing seasons, one of my favourite TV shows has finally come to an end.  Yes, Battlestar Galactica has drawn to a close.  It’s hard to describe exactly how good of a show it has been.  It has constantly broken the standard mold of a ho-hum weekly TV series and instead of being dragged out forever, the show has come to an end at a point where the current fans are satisfied and the fan base will continue to grow as word spreads and viewership increases through re-runs and DVD sales.

I’ll miss the show as I looked forward to watching it every week as it ran.  It’s a shame more shows don’t come close to being this good.  If you haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica yet, give it a go and you will enjoy it.

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The dogs got a new toy, looks like they had fun with it.

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I think I’ve done all the testing that needed to be done at this point.  I believe that my existing AMD Athlon X2-3800+ will make a suitable VMWare ESXi server for Windows Server 2003 and Fedora Core 6 Linux running along side eachother.  Should be a good upgrade over the existing Dell P4 1.5Ghz system that currently runs Windows Server 2003 native with Fedora Core 6 as a VM guest through VMWare Server 1.

For my main system, I’ll be moving up to an Intel Core i7 920, 6 gigs of RAM and a shiney new BFG GTX 260 OCX video card.  The video card is a monster both in size and power consumption but hey, it’s nice to reward yourself every once in a while.

I’ll post more details about the new computer, the ESXi migration and pictures when I get the new hardware.

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