Posts Tagged “esxi”

Been a while since I upgraded something so I spent some time friday evening (wooo the excitment) upgraded my ESXi 3.5 system to the 4.0 release.  The upgrade was pretty easy and straight-forward with the instructions on  Fortunately, VMWare makes the vSphere client and updata utility an easy download now so you can skip the steps about manually extracting it from the ESXi 4.0 upgrade file before starting.  Remember to backup your virtual machines just to be on the safe side.

The next upgrades now will be Wordpress 2.8 (easy!) and upgrade to Fedora 11 (not too hard).  Stay tuned!

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My server upgrade is near the end now.  Following up to my previous two problems encountered… To solve problem #2, I simply made the shelf a bit bigger.  There really are not many problems that can’t be fixed without a hammer.  In this case, a hammer and a chisel.  Here’s the modified server rack:

Here’s the complete server rack with all the goodies (cable modem, network switch, wireless router, UPS and MediaPortal PC with a 1 terabyte USB drive attached:

As for the problem with the blog, my initial suspicions seem to have been correct.  After disabling the WP SuperCache plug-in, everything stayed stable for a couple of days instead of this blog getting hung up once or twice a day.  I’ll try tuning the plug-in to use a different file-locking method to hopefully avoid the lock-ups and/or maybe I’ll upgrade to Wordpress 2.7.1 to see if that helps.  I’ve been meaning to upgrade Wordpress anyways…  On the bright side, disabling WP SuperCache isn’t so bad because the ESXi web server is so much more powerful than the old server that serving the Wordpress pages dynamically is actually fairly responsive on the new system.  On the old system, dynamic pages were horrificly slow unless I served static cached pages.   I still think caching is a good idea overall so I’ll keep working on it.

I also upgraded ESXi to Update 4.  This was a total no-brainer.  All you need to do is use the VMWare Infrastructure Update client that comes with the VMWare Infrastructure client (make sure to select the Update client during the install!) and the Update client does everything.  Reboot and ESXi is updated.  Updating the VMWare tools on the guest systems is a breeze too.

I like when updates and upgrades go well!

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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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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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I played around with VMWare ESXi some more this evening and managed to get it installed on an IDE disk to test.  The IDE JBOD mode didn’t work as I hoped.  Eventually I found this tip on how to get ESXi to install on an IDE disk.  That did the trick and ESXi installed no problem!

After ESXi installed, I did some testing and built a Win XP virtual machine as a test.  It was a bit tricky to get going as ESXi does not support IDE disk emulation in the guest OS.  This made the Windows XP installer complain as it would not find the virtual disk.  Fortunately, VMWare has a vmscsi driver disk available for download here:  Mounting the SCSI Disk Driver floppy image and pressing F6 immediately during the Windows XP installation loads the driver and the installation was a breeze after that.

I played a bit more with the ESXi configuration and tools and I’m pretty impressed.  I think it would make a good replacement for my current server configuration – Win2k3 on native hardware with a Linux VM running in VMWare Server 1.02.

Now the remaining problems are how to easily migrate the existing server to ESXi.  Migrating the Linux VM might be a pain because I had problems using SCSI emulation on the virtual disk and I went with IDE.  Maybe VMWare converter will be able to convert the disk format but it might still be tough at a guest OS level to change the hard drive configuration.  If things don’t go too well, I could always just install a fresh Fedora Core 10 to ESXi and go from there.  I’m due for an upgrade anyways.

Migrating Windows Server 2003 from native hardware to ESXi should be pretty easy with VMWare converter but of course I’ll have to test it to be sure.  This is definately a system I do not want to rebuild from scratch!

After I was done testing/playing, I got a bit brave since I was more comfortable with the ESXi installer and I wanted to see if the ESXi installer detected a SATA disk.  Since the plan is to use two 500GB SATA drives in a RAID-1 config, I want to be sure it will work before I buy two drives.  So without having a spare SATA disk to test with, I hooked up my primary SATA drive (with all my important data on it) and booted the ESXi installer.  I’m happy to report that ESXi detected the SATA drive no problem without needed the above ‘tweak’ to get it working.  I figured that was a good point to cancel out and hope my drive had not been altered.  I would assume at this point that the SATA RAID-1 will work just fine with ESXi and my nForce 4 controller.

Next step….not sure…

Update: The embedded nForce SATA RAID configuration doesn’t work.  Even when enabled in the BIOS, ESXi sees the ‘RAID-1′ as two individual drives.  I haven’t found any solution to this problem but other people have had the same issue.  Kind of unfortunate as cheap RAID-1 solution would be a huge benefit for ESXi.

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Took my first kick at setting up VMWare ESXi 3.5 U3 tonight.  Result: Fail.  ESXi wouldn’t recognize the IDE hard drive on my ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard.  Some information online shows ESXi will recognize the IDE drive if I enable RAID mode on the motherboard or if I use a SATA drive instead.  Sooooo might have to buy a 500GB SATA drive from Memory Express – my new personal vendor of choice.  Oh well, can’t really go wrong with another 1/2 terabyte of storage to play with.  The plan is run SATA RAID-1 so I’d be buying two 500gb drives anyways.

Following up to an older blog post, getting Outlook Anywhere (RPC over HTTP) to reverse-proxy with a half-recent version of Apache is pretty damn impossible.  It’s also pretty hard getting an older version of Apache 2.0.x to build cleanly on modern Linux but it’s a good learning experience.

Fun stuff, honest!

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