Tag Archives: virtualization

Home Virtualization Project 2.0

Virtualization FunnelYou may remember the Home Virtualization Project from last year.  In that project, I converted my existing server, based on a Shuttle XPC (SP35P2 Pro, to be more precise) from a Linux server running VMware Server 2.0 to a VMware ESXi 3.5 server.  It worked well, but left a few things to be desired, such as..

  1. No RAID
  2. Onboard NIC required significant fiddling to get working under ESXi 3.5u4
  3. No onboard video, so I needed a video card, plus a network card to get going (the real root cause of #1 above).
  4. A bit loud.  The system wasn’t terribly loud, but for something that’s on full-time in the background in my office, it could be distracting at times.

So here we are, it’s a brand-new year, so the big project was an upgrade, inspired by some requirements I found with a project at work.  In the end, the old server was converted into a workstation and now has a happy home.  So what’s the current system?  Another Shuttle XPC.  This time, it’s the SG45H7.  This is a slightly smaller chassis than the already small SP35P2 Pro.  The SP line has space for 2 hard drives up top, above the optical drive that the SG line lacks, resulting in a shorter case.  The SG45H7 is targeted as an HTPC, and includes onboard video with both SVGA and HDMI outputs.  Further, it includes 2 expansion slots, one PCIe x16 and one PCI. Continue reading Home Virtualization Project 2.0

Tech Predictions for 2010

It’s that time of the year again kids.. For some reason, I didn’t do this last year.  Here we go, my 10 predictions for technology in 2010.

1. Netbooks – huge.

You thought 2009 was the year of the netbook?  You ain’t seen nothing yet, kid. 2010 will bring a whole new crop of them, this time with the Nvidia ION chipset, allowing you to watch HD content on your little netbook.  We’ve already started seeing better screen resolutions like 1366×768 (instead of the older 1024×600), giving you greater than 720p on the display.  This will continue, though I don’t think you’ll see 10″ screens grow much more in resolution.  Apple’s rumored to release something early in 2010, possibly called iSlate, which will be a hybrid netbook/tablet device.

2. Home Virtualization

In 2009, with VMware ESXi being free, geeks started doing bare-metal virtualization more and more, dumping host-os solutions like VMware Server in favor of better performance.  This trend will accelerate in 2010, and we’ll see someone introduce a virtualization product targeted at the so-called “pro-sumer”.  It will be interesting to see if it’s specifically marketed as such.  What’s it for?  Aggregation of lots of different home network services onto a single hardware platform.  Maybe it’s all a dream for us geeks, but I think something will pop in 2010.  Remember, everyone said the same thing about NAS, and now those are everywhere too.

3. Gigabit Ethernet for everyone

People will stop buying routers and switches for the home that are only 10/100 devices.  The driving forces?  NAS and 802.11n.  As people replace old computers with new, they come with shiny stuff like 802.11n wifi cards instead of crusty old 802.11g.  This means a jump from 54 Mbps to 300 Mbps.  Obviously, 300 Mbps > 100 Mbps, and nobody wants to have access to their data on the NAS to be that slow.

4. Android Cleans House

I admit it.  I like Google.  I love the idea of a common-source OS that’s open for mobile devices.  I’ve got serious technolust for something running Android right now.  I’m doing my best to be patient though.  I want to see the latest batch of devices, hopefully with 1 Ghz Snapdragon processors and Android 2.1 first.  After that, if it’s got AT&T 3G bands and wifi, I’m in.  I predict that people will finally start falling out of iLove with their iPhones, though certainly not in droves, and move to a more capable platform that does “more.”

5. Another new iPhone

As it’s older siblings before it, it will be buzzword compliant, but probably only with stuff that isn’t cutting edge.  You’ll get your 5MP camera (that I had on a phone 2 years ago), you’ll get HSPA – but won’t be able to use it.  What’s the big prediction here?  New headphones that use Bluetooth, sort of like the ones that Nokia sells.  They’ll be optional, and work with the 3GS, but I’d bet they won’t work with the 3G and certainly not the original iPhone.  Nothing earth shattering, but they’ll be Apple-branded, and tightly integrated with the device, so you’ll see stuff like song titles and caller id info on an OLED display, possibly color, using buddy icons from your address book.

6. Another iPod Shuffle down-size

Because they’re not small enough, right?  This time, it will be a single piece of hardware, integrated into the headphones.  It will also see a price cut to $49 for a 4GB model.  Just an incremental change in the end.

7. More gigantic technological misnomers

Like LED TVs.  I had a discussion with someone not long ago who insisted that these were not LCD TVs, and were in fact LED TVs.  He just couldn’t get past the idea that the display technology is largely the same, possibly some incremental changes, but the real change is in the backlight.  LCD TVs that were purchased a couple of years ago were certainly backlit using fluorescent bulbs.  These “LED” TVs use LED bulbs for the backlight.  That’s the limit of the changes.  These are not self-illuminating screens like OLED or AMOLED.  Now an AMOLED screen – that would be HUGE.  What will the misnomer be about?  Who knows?  It’s coming though.

8. A “major” newspaper will fail to make it to 2011

We’ve been talking for years about the impending death of the newspaper, in favor of Internet-based news channels.  I think back to our experience with the local paper earlier this year.  We subscribed purely for the reason of getting coupons.  We subscribed to the weekend package (so Friday – Sunday).  Total cost was about $10 a month.  The problem?  We only netted about $5-6 worth of coupons per month.  After 2 months, we canceled the subscription.  Ad revenues are already in the toilet for newspapers, and will only continue to decline.  Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee, Mr. Newspaper Man.

9. Compressed hydrogen will start moving.

Sure, Honda’s got their prototype Accord going in California.  But, we’re going to start seeing a real compressed hydrogen delivery network being built.  Hydrogen is arguably one of the most abundantly available elements on Earth.  The vehicles emit water vapor as their exhaust.  Not so bad, eh?  Please, don’t confuse me with a climate change fruit loop.  I don’t subscribe to cooking the books in order to support my points, as is the case in the climate change circle these days.  But surely a car that emits water vapor can only be a good thing, when compared to a gas or diesel vehicle.

10. A usable water-based fuel cell

This thing is the big dream.  You fill it up with water, and the hydrogen is used to power the device.  It’s completely sustainable, and free to “recharge.”

Home Virtualization Project

Virtualization FunnelAs some of you may know, though may or may not actually care, I was previously running my home server on Ubuntu Jaunty x86_64, and ran VMware Server 2.0 on it.  I had VMs for my SSL VPN and some occasionally used VMs for other things.

I was tired of performance that VMware Server offered, along with its baggage.  For instance, the Web UI suffered from frequent crashes, and it was also fairly slow.  Having had great success in the lab at the office with VMware ESXi, I decided that was the way to go.  ESXi 4.0 is still fairly new, and I’ve had some trouble with my SSL VM on it, so I decided to sit that one out for a bit, leaving me with 3.5u4.

Next hurdle – my hardware.  I use a Shuttle XPC for my server.  It’s small, and doesn’t inhale too much power, so I found it to be a good choice as a Linux server, what it’s spent most of its time as.  Unfortunately, as it uses a Marvell Ethernet chipset (the sky2 driver), and that’s not on the VMware HCL, there wasn’t a driver for it.  But then, KernelCrash to the rescue.  The author gives very nice build instructions to get a mod_sky2.0 driver that works on ESXi 3.5u4.  It’s been good enough that I haven’t noticed any problems with performance or functionality.

I did have to give up my Linux software raid, so at the moment, I’m sort of running without a net.  My plan is to add an external RAID box, either connected via eSATA or 1GbE NAS.  Obviously eSATA will perform better, but I’m not yet convinced I’ll see much of a practical performance difference.  I’ll add a new Intel e1000 NIC to the system dedicated to storage if I do that.  Anyone have thoughts on VMware iSCSI vs NFS performance?

Now I’ve got VMs for my SSL VPN, my File/Pri DNS/DHCP/kitchen sink server, a secondary DNS, and a FreeNAS, as well as some assorted client systems to test various things.  All in all, it’s worked very well.

If you want to go straight to ESXi 4.0, KernelCrash has you covered there as well.