Posts Tagged “windows”

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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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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After upgrading a Windows Server 2003 clustered file server to Windows Server 2008, Mac OS X 10.5 clients would no longer connect to the file server.  After much searching, I found that Microsoft changed something about share name scoping on clustered resources causing non-Microsoft clients to fail.  Of course, Microsoft blames Apple and Apple blames Microsoft for incompatibility issues which really doesn’t help anyone.

I found one work-around to the problem for Mac OS X clients – In Mac OS X finder, use Cmd-K to bring up the Connect to Server dialog.  For the server address, use either:


Share browsing of the server doesn’t seem to work so you need to specify the share which you want to connect to and specifying port 139 seems to fix the problem.

Weird stuff.  Not sure who to blame on this one really but I expect a little better compatibility on these “enterprise” class products.  As a side-note, these changes to clustered file sharing even causes issues with Exchange 2007 running on a Windows Server 2008 cluster.  When Microsoft can’t even get their own software to work correctly, I think it’s easier to know who to blame.

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