Join the Conversation on Virtualization
Tue, 31 Jan 2006
Installing OpenSolaris on Workstation
A tutorial on installing OpenSolaris on Workstation from Bill Rushmore.
So you want to try out OpenSolaris but you don't have a machine available. Then VMware is what you need. Even if you do, VMware is great tool to get help you get started with OpenSolaris and can be a great tool to help you on your kernal hacking efforts. VMware workstation 5.5 has "experimental" support for Solaris but I have found that OpenSolaris actually runs quite well with it. This article will take you through the steps to get OpenSolaris up and running on VMware and assumes you are new to VMware and OpenSolaris. This article will also be helpful if are just interested in Solaris on VMware.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:46 | | | permanent link
In December on VMTN Blog I wrote about reducing the size of virtual machines for portability. A number of methods were mentioned, and in the text I quoted a possible 80% reduction in virtual machine size, but I edited out the name of the tool that caused this high level of compaction: Invirtus VM Optimizer.
Tom Edwards of Invirtus was nice enough to contact me afterwards and also blog about it. (Sounds like we also sent a prospect his way, so score one for the bloggers.) I've been unable to test it out myself, since it works with Windows, and I'm doing most of my work these days with our Community-built Virtual Machines, which are all open source and *nix-based. (Although many of them could use some aggresive shrinkage of their own as well.)
Today Virtual Strategy Magazine has an interview with Tom:
We've also had a good report or two from the forums. Any experience with Invirtus? Any other tools you use to shrink virtual machines? Any best practices to suggest to creators of downloadable virtual machines?
posted by jtroyer at: 16:13 | | | permanent link
Mon, 30 Jan 2006
Taking the Virtualization Plunge
Last week, I linked to Eric Cowperthwaite in the VMTN Blog entry Moving to Linux and jokingly wondered if he would "see the light" on virtualization as a viable alternative to a LiveCD or dual-booting for Windows users transitioning to Linux.
Eric is nothing if not a good sport, because he took me up on my suggestion and jumped in feet first with Russell Ost's Debian virtual machine. He is now swimming deep in the virtual machine ocean, with 5 versions of Linux on his laptop, a downloadable Puppy Linux virtual machine on his blog, and now a review and account of his experiences at Debian News.
Eric, thanks for the kind words and please keep us informed on your next projects! Virtualization is immediately useful and practical for most developers and IT professionals, and if you're doing it right, it can also change the fundamental ways you think about computing. Come on in; take the plunge -- the water's fine!
posted by jtroyer at: 18:11 | | | permanent link
Fri, 27 Jan 2006
Spyware Weekly: Browser Appliance "best and only way" to remain safe
Mike Healan in today's Spyware Weekly Newsletter says:
He also has written a four-part article on using the Browser Appliance.
The article covers everything I think that you will need to know, if you decide to use the Browser Appliance. Page One introduces newcomers to the idea of the Browser Appliance and explains why it offers 99.9% protection from all spyware. Page Two explains how to perform a few tweaks to the default set-up. Page Three explains how to share files between the virtual computer and the real computer. Page Four explains how to install some additional software you probably will want to have.
via Suzi Turner's Spyware Confidential at ZDNet.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:47 | | | permanent link
Thu, 26 Jan 2006
Asterisk, VMware, and Emerging Telephony
AstLinux combines a custom Linux distro with the open source Asterisk system. (It and other downloadable virtual machines are available at the VMTN Virtual Machine Center.) Its creator, Kristian Kielhofner, presented this week at a "cool hacks" session at the O'Reilly Emerging Telephony Conference. Here are a few blog mentions:
There's now an AstLinux virtual machine built with VMWare Workstation 5. This allows you to experiement with Linux and Asterisk without leaving your typical environment. This application has found a niche with people doing demos, training, or user groups.
Allows you to explore using linux with telephony, emphasis on VMware, also allows high availability, talking about hertbeats etc, open source version of Serviceguard? ( I do miss those days - not !) Important point for Orange - for < $500 you can have a HA asterisk install, expect to see lots of these springing up this year.
Allows you to experiment with Asterisk and Linux without leaving your current operating system. Looking on the site it appear this provides a very small footprint and could be run off a USB stick. Still he's talking another language for me. I've had a few pointers recently pointing me to Asterisk options. I'm certainly considering a little "learning by doing" project.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:20 | | | permanent link
Tue, 24 Jan 2006
Moving to Linux
Many people are interested in moving from Windows to Linux on the desktop, but realize some transition time and effort will be needed. Virtualization is a great way to gradually move files, applications, and habits from one platform to another.
Chimo lists his motivations and recommended steps:
Eric of Eric's Grumbles Before the Grave actually recommends dual-booting or a LiveCD over VMware. I'm not sure he realizes that the free VMware Player is available, or that performance these days is "virtually" the same on a modern box. Perhaps he'll eventually see the light, but in the meantime he lists some great pre-move steps that will make your Windows to Linux transition smooth. Here's an excerpt:
Of course, living permanently in one virtual and one physical machine has some of its own challenges, and Linux on the desktop is not for everyone.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:30 | | | permanent link
Fri, 20 Jan 2006
Using Live CDs with VMware Player: the Video
Adrian Crenshaw at Irongeek demonstrates running a LiveCD inside VMware Player in a screencast video. A LiveCD, like Knoppix, Auditor or Bart's PE Builder, is a bootable ISO image. (Warning; embedded flash video with narration)
Update: If you'd like some written instructions, Alessandro Perilli at virtualization.info published How to launch ISO and use LiveCDs inside VMware Player for you three months ago.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:44 | | | permanent link
RACing ahead with Oracle, Part VI: CentOS or Red Hat
Tarry Singh discusses the preparation and planning for the installation of a 2-node RHEL 4.2 Linux VMware for Oracle 10gR2 RAC. Also covered in the article are groundbreaking technologies like OCFS2 and ASMlib, and an overview the ESX Server in general.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:01 | | | permanent link
Thu, 19 Jan 2006
Unsupported how-to: Solaris 10 on ESX 2.5.2
In the first of our new series of "cool but unsupported things from the VMTN Forums," Juergen Winkelmann gives us detailed instructions how to get Solaris 10 running inside ESX 2.5.2. Since this involves recent Solaris patches, please know what you are doing and pay attention to ongoing patches from Sun and threads in the Forums: you are juggling on top of a moving train.
That being said, here's the thread on the Forums and Juergen's Solaris 10 Installation on VMware ESX Server 2.5.x. The VMware Tools are only partly functional on Solaris at this time, but he reports that mouse focus, copy and paste, and removable devices all work.
Again, have fun with this if you are an experienced train-juggler, but I sense that our tech support team would like me to reiterate that this is unsupported and to be used only at your own risk.
Previously on VMTN Blog: Solaris 10 as a Guest OS in Workstation, which has experimental support.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:56 | | | permanent link
Always in a meeting with your laptop? You need a virtual desktop!
HarryC shares with us a moment of clarity and prophesy: Computers as 'appliances' reaching critical mass. Basically, you're always in a meeting with your laptop anyway. Why not replace your desktop with a virtual desktop on an ESX Server?
Read the whole thing. Thanks for that moment of clarity, Harry!
posted by jtroyer at: 16:23 | | | permanent link
Wed, 18 Jan 2006
Software distribution and the solipsist OS
All software will eventually be distributed as virtual machine images, says Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror. He goes into more detail, but his main points are:
But Chris Bilson at Iimplement has had enough of virtual machines:
Anyway, VMs have some really nice properties, but a world of VMs sounds like a really slow and expensive version of the Matrix to me. Even though I could do wicked kung-fu moves and jump from tall buildings, I'd rather be unplugged, thanks.
I sympathize, especially about the Rabbits (just go read the rant; it's funny), but his statement that his virtual machine runs an order of magnitude slower than his physical machine -- not my experience -- makes me think that there are configuration issues going on here. Chris, you need a virtual tune up!
posted by jtroyer at: 18:12 | | | permanent link
Hardware heterogeneity and virtualization
Getting away from hardware heterogeneity is one driver for virtualization. Anil Gupta wonders which industry segment most likely to use virtualization?:
posted by jtroyer at: 17:42 | | | permanent link
Fri, 13 Jan 2006
The VMware Player continues to garner accolades.
NewsForge gives a First look: VMware Player:
I found that the Ubuntu image ran better if I remembered to close all Windows applications and terminate as many processes as I could before firing up the virtual machine. The Web browser ran smoothly and quickly, loading pages with no hesitation, almost as though they were locally cached. My Windows version of Firefox isn't as good, and that's on the host. XChat worked flawlessly, as did Evolution, AbiWord, and all the other programs I installed. I was even able to save files on the virtual drive and retrieve them after rebooting the virtual machine. The whole environment had the authentic look and feel and the quick response of GNOME on Linux.
The Long Dark Tech-Time of the Soul blog thinks Player is Linux for the timid:
I was interested in virtualization technologies so I gave it a whirl and loaded up their browser appliance virtual machine image. Well stone the crows if it wasn't an Ubuntu Linux preloaded with Mozilla Firefox and a few other goodies. I could even browse my Windows network, and fire up an RDP client to log into remote Windows machines. Sweet. Believe me, this is a serious alternative to dual boot and for development very convenient. I didn't run benchmarks but even on my lowly 1.6Mhz laptop it seemed to run likety split.
Vlandham at his V is for Verbose blog calls Player VMware: my new coworker:
The really cool thing about this software is that it creates virtual network cards for your virtual machines, so it should be possible to create a little virtual network of "computers" that could all communicate with each other and could be used for learning and testing how a network is set up. I set up an Apache web server on my virtual machine and was able to access it from the real computer it was running on. Pretty fun.
Christian Mohn aka h0bbel gives us his take on Linux on the Desktop:
Ace Portuguese blogger Rui Carmo at Tao of Mac gave his initial thoughts on Player. His blog/wiki also holds some notes and tips for Player.
But the best news (and my main reason for doing this) is that I can now run Google Earth a bit faster - I was using QEMU via Remote Desktop, and VMware is noticeably snappier, even using the OpenGL software renderer and RDP.
Travails of an ungeeker says Ubuntu on VMware Player is pretty cool too:
I've been playing a while with Ubuntu. I'm running it it under VMware Player and am very impressed. Having converted to Microsoft VirtualPC 2 years ago through MSDN and not trying it since - it is now clear the VMware are still ahead.
And finally, David Hamilton at Dave's Place thinks that VMware offers a gift to the world and most fail to notice.
Don't worry Dave, we're very happy with the notice we've gotten, including the good reviews, the support from the community, the twenty downloadable virtual machines that volunteers have made available, the peer recommendations, the inquiries to redistribute the Player, hundreds of thousands of downloads, and thousands of blog mentions.
That's enough patting ourselves on the back. We promise to stay busy here -- lots more good stuff on the way -- and you keep busy virtualizing your enterprise. Deal?
posted by jtroyer at: 17:42 | | | permanent link
Tue, 10 Jan 2006
P2V conversion using NTBackup
Lindsay Donaghe gives detailed step-by-step instructions how she took her laptop and did a physical-to-virtual conversation using NTBackup.
I recently got a new replacement laptop for work. I had a lot of stuff on the old laptop after 2+ years of use and so I didn.t want to have to rush myself in remembering everything in one or two passes before formatting it to send back to the office. There are always things I forget when I.m mostly focused on moving data files over: files in .hidden. places like IM logs and non-file based data such as product keys, configuration info, settings for programs and other non-file based data. So I decided the best thing to do was make it into a VM and take my time about reinstalling and configuring the new laptop to match.
Update: Russell at Streams of Consciousness talks about why why one might need to do a P2V conversion from backup:
The hard drive in my old laptop had been failing over several days randomly causing the OS to crash. One day I heard the drive sound like a pinball machine, then system locked up and blue screened. On reboot it said Primary Hard Drive Not Found, ouch. I shut it down for a while then started it back up and the OS booted. I immediately ran a full backup of the system (I had only data backups from the night before). It was running, but I had an idea. What if I could migrate my full backup into a VM. Well, after learning a few things I successfully performed a manual P2V for my laptop. This was a good exercise with valuable experience.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:56 | | | permanent link
Versioning your virtual machines and portability
Bill Lovett takes a look at the IBM SoulPad project and wants have a portable virtual machine and track it via Subversion, a software version control system. OK, I'm a bit mystified why, but let's run with it.
First, I'm not sure why you need version control for synchronization of your virtual machine if you are carrying it around with you on your CD or USB key. After all, the whole point is that it is with you all the time.
Even if you do want to track changes while you are working, remember that a virtual machine is still an independent computer, and any software you use on your physical box you can use on your virtual one. So please keep using your existing backup software, file version control systems, system restore points, or any of your normal tools to backup, track, snapshot, and version your working files.
If you do make a lot of changes to your system configuration or do a lot of software installations, then versioning your entire virtual machine makes sense. The right way to do this is to use the snapshot feature of Workstation. You will need to have Workstation installed on each machine you want to use, but since Bill just wants to move between home and the office, this seems tractable.
And finally, using the linked clone feature of Workstation, you should be able to make a base OS virtual machine, keep a copy both at home and at work, and carry around the much-smaller linked clone "working" virtual machine on your portable media. And make sure you read the documentation on moving virtual machines, as there are some gotchas if you aren't paying attention.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:42 | | | permanent link
Mon, 09 Jan 2006
Desktop Virtualization, 2006 V12N Trends
Network World has a new good set of virtualization articles.
Jennifer Mears has a good article on desktop virtualization, where users talk about both security and management.
In another article, she names virtualization one of six hot technologies for 2006. (The other five are service oriented architectures, intrusion-prevention systems, Linux, MPLS-based IP, and Microsoft's Group Policy.)
Network World also has a list of post-holiday IT security wishes: Security inside. Standards. Cool servers. Faster, better disaster recovery. Virtualize virtually everything.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:26 | | | permanent link
Fri, 06 Jan 2006
New virtualization blogs
Mike Laverick has taken his RTFM Education website and now "exploded" it into a blog. It makes the content a lot more accessible. His weekly email list and PDF "Beyond the Manuals" continue. Recent content includes:
Just go, start scrolling, then sign up for his mailing list.
Lee James also has a new blog with a very imperative title: Virtualize Now. He's just getting started, but has already talked about e-books, terminal services, blades, gmail, buying storage, and 2006 punditry.
And finally, About Virtualization contributor Bjorn Anders Jorgensen is now a VMware employee.
Look for an updated blogroll very soon. All these folks are active on the VMTN Discussion Forums, which I'll plug again as the fastest, best place to ask questions or find out more about VMware products.
posted by jtroyer at: 18:25 | | | permanent link
If you had unlimited ESX licenses, what would you do?
Phil Windley, now an Associate Professor at BYU and formerly CIO of the state of Utah, is a very smart guy and writes a very interesting blog on IT strategy. This week he asks the following question:
Suppose you had a couple of quad processor boxes with 16Gb of RAM each attached to a 1Tb SAN and enough VMWare ESX licenses to do whatever you wanted on the platform. What would you do? We.re wrapping up some initial VMWare performance studies on the boxes and I.m looking for ideas about what research projects to do with them next. I have a few ideas, but I.m curious if you have any.
Current suggestions in his comments include testing concurrent I/O, clustered databases, storage architecture, SMP, and hot backup.
posted by jtroyer at: 18:00 | | | permanent link
Growth of Virtualization in 2005
Alessandro Perilli has posted some interesting graphs on the growth of virtualization.info over the last year.
He says 2007 will finally be the Year of Virtualization. I say anyone working with virtualization in 2006 is going to be so busy they aren't going to have time to notice.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:32 | | | permanent link
Wed, 04 Jan 2006
VMotion Performance on Blades
Dell published a white paper last month entitled VMware VMotion Performance on the Dell PowerEdge 1855 Blade Server. Since blades are often limited to two or three network connections, people have questions about how to best utilize them in ESX Server. Traffic from each virtual machine, traffic from the service console, and possible VMotion traffic all needs to use those limited number of NICs. The good news is that the VMotion throughput overhead, at least in this case, was only 2%, even while sharing a NIC.
The VMotion feature of VMware's ESX Server, which enables live migration of running VMs from one ESX Server to another, can be used to implement high availability or load balancing, or to facilitate routine maintenance. When the server farm consists of Dell PowerEdge 1855 blade servers the VMotion capability may still be used effectively even though the same Ethernet controller on each blade has to support the network traffic to the VMs residing on that blade as well as the VMotion traffic. As shown by the test documented in this paper, even a high rate of VMotions (each of 20 VMs moved within a 10 minute period) did not substantially reduce application performance on the VMs.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:52 | | | permanent link
Tue, 03 Jan 2006
Waste it or virtualize it
Tom Yager of Inforworld gives us his hardware-centric prognostications for the new year:
What are you going to do with all that capacity? The short answer is "real time" -- but it will take me a year to lay out the long version of that answer. Anyway, take my word, you'll want to embrace dense computing clusters, and you'll have two choices of how to manage that capacity: waste it or virtualize it. If you do the latter, every CPU and gigabyte of storage in your enterprise, along with CPUs and gigabytes that you rent or share with partners, becomes part of a pool into which you dip as needs change, not on the quarter year, but the quarter hour.
VMware Vmotion is a piece of this puzzle. At VMworld, we talked about two more pieces coming in VirtualCenter: Distributed Resource Scheduler and Distributed Availability Service. It's going to be an interesting year.
Update: More from Yager on virtualization:
When someone calls you to request a new server, you sit down at your desk and build a server or cluster that matches his or her requirements before you hang up the phone. If a demanding application bogs down others sharing the same server, you pick up its virtual machine instance, while it's still running, and drop it onto another physical server with more available resources. Users have no idea that SAP (Profile, Products, Articles) has just teleported down two floors. All they see is that it's running smoothly again, without missing a beat.
posted by jtroyer at: 13:02 | | | permanent link