Ramblings From The Litter Tray of Life

Posts Tagged ‘HP’

HP Proliant MicroServer

Posted by graycat on 20 June 2011

HP have not long ago released a new tiny Proliant server named the HP Proliant MicroServer. This machine is about the same size as a basketball and has a dual core processor wit up to 8Gb of RAM. It also has a hdd bay for up to 4 disks and provides RAID 0 or 1 natively however you can add a controller card to get full RAID5 etc if required. Other than the size one of the most astonishing things about this machine is the price – base unit (1Gb RAM + 1 x 250Gb HDD) is less than £200 …….. And there’s a £100 cash back offer going on at the moment!

I originally got one of these in to see if it would be able to work as a test server for either myself of one of my team. Short answer – yes, kinda.

The box itself is really easy to work on and I maxed out the RAM and HDDs pretty easily though I did have to install a CD drive as it doesn’t come with one as standard. the hardware is really easy to work on as you would expect with a HP Proliant server. As I intended to use this to test virtual machines, I installed a 4Gb USB stick I had spare directly onto the motherboard (very neat BTW) and had a 10k RPM hdd installed in slot #1 to host the vmdk files.

Installing VMware ESXi 4.1 was easy as pie – download and burn to CD, boot from CD and select where you wish to install the program (ie: the USB stick) …. then just leave it to get on with it. it really is as simple as that.

With ESXi installed, the 10k drive in slot 1 I added two 250Gb HDDs into two free slots and added them into ESXi. This was as simple as ever as you would expect from VMware as it is the same base product I’m using in our clusters.

Creating a few test machines and generally building networks was simple and snappy but towards the top end the server did start to struggle. The bottleneck is definitely the small CPU bout unless you’re planning to run 6+ virtual guests then you should be ok. Probably even more if you’re careful with hardware subscription.

If you’re looking for a cheap but solid rig to test a few different virtual guests then this will definitely suffice. You can even keep the costs down by buying non-HP parts (RAM, HDDs etc) if you’re not worried about hardware support.

I would even rate this server so far as to say that if you need a small server for a tiny office of only a few people then this would definitely suffice. Windows Server 2008 would definitely run well with the 8Gb or RAM and with four drive bays you can get a very useful amount of space. I would be tempted to go further and install ESXi on the hardware and then add a few separate Windows Server installs to separate out the roles however i’m still working on the details of this plan.

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VMware ESX 3.5 and 64 bit OSs

Posted by graycat on 25 June 2010

Quite a few people out there make use of the excellent server virtualisation software produced by VMware so I thought I’d lay this tip out there for 64bit OSs.

It seems that VMware ESX 3.5 will not recognise your host server as being 64 bit compliant until you enable the right flags within the CPUs. In my case where I’m using a HP DL380 G5 which is 64 bit compliant then you have to enable Intel’s Virtual Threading (VT for short).

To do this, shutdown all of the hosted VMs and place the host into maintenance mode before shutting it down fully. Then boot back into the host BIOS (hit F9 after the HP splash screen). Once in the BIOS settings go down to “Advanced Options” and select Intel’s Virtual Technology / Threading. Exit out and here is the key point – you must full shut the server down.

This means all power cables out and left for a good 60 seconds at least! Miss this step out and you won’t get anywhere fast.

Once VT has been enabled spool the VM back up and create 64 bit virtual machines to your hearts content.

Extra tips:

  • I’ve heard that any VM created prior to this change will not register the change in CPU so will have to be created again.
  • Paravirtualisation should also be turned off. Whilst this should only affect the *nix kernels there have been reports of it messing with Windows OSs if set prior to initial build.
  • Anything prior to a G5 will most likely not be x64 compatible so no dice.

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Expanding a VMWare Array on HP kit

Posted by graycat on 2 May 2009

Greetings on this wonderfully sunny Saturday! Yes, it’s Saturday and Captain Graycat is being rushed into service once more!

[cue cut away to a battlefield somewhere on an unknown planet]

“Captain!” screams Major VMware with increasing urgency as he ducks incoming laser and projectile fire

“WHAT?” replies our intrepid hero, sparing only the most minute of attention away from his continued effort to track down that darn laser bunker. “Well, tracers work both ways, old boy” he mumbles as he drills a reply volley into the nest with alarming accuracy.

“Captain! We need an array expanding and you’re the only one for the job!” cries the Major in mild dispair as he throws himself down next to Capt. Graycat

“You need a what doing to who?” replies our slightly distracted hero.

“An array expanding! We’ve already sent in Lieutenant Ears but he just panicked and is now a gibbering mess.”

“Oh dear lord, not again.” mutters Graycat ducking into cover to discuss with the Major “Ok, what’s so difficult about this one that needs me?”

“It’s an impossible missing, sir! It just can’t be done on an HP system like that but we must have it or the battle is lost!”

“There isn’t a system built that I can’t give a good kicking to, son. Watch and learn!” cries our hero as he shoulders his firearm of knowledge and leaps over the cover to charge into his latest mission

“Wow, that’s some kinda guy” mutters Major VMware as he watches the legend that is Capt Graycat disappear into the fog of war and tries not to think about his slightly soiled underwear that requires changing very soon.

[cue cool opening credits to The Adventures of Captain Graycat]

Ok, so it’s not really all that glamorous but it does need doing every now and then. Expand an array as well as changing your underwear!

It’s a bit of a good news / bad news situation for us really. Good news – you can run ESX server on HP kit. Bad news – there are no plugins for HP kit so you can’t control it via the GUI.

According to HP support the only way you can do this is using their SmartStart CD so I’ll go through that method first.

  1. Download the latest CD from here (Link)
  2. Extract iso and then burn boot disc
  3. Shutdown all your VMWare machines, kick the ESX server into “maintenance” mode, slap the boot CD in and reboot
  4. When the HP SmartStart menus come up wander through to the Maintenance section and then Array Configuration Utility
  5. Have it scan for the controllers and pick the one you want (mine has an onboard P400 for the internal drives and a P800 for the MSA70 external array)
  6. You should now see some extra drives not included in your RAID array or logical disc. Select Extend on the right hand window and select the extra drives to add to the array
  7. Select Extend and enter the final RAID / logical partition size you want. There will be a maximum available size listed so I just plumped for that. (See later for array / logical drive sizes info).
  8. L0cate the save button, hit it and watch all the pretty lights flash as the array extends and expands to cover the new drives.

HP sugest that it’ll take 15 minutes per Gb so if like me, you’re got a 1Tb+ logical drive now well you’re going to be in for a bit of a wait whilst it sorts itself out.

You can check on the progress by selecting the logical drive and hitting “More Information” in the righthand window. It’ll then show you rhe progress at the bottom of that page.

Just one word of warning though – VMWare can not deal with logical drives larger than 2Tb, I’m told. So stay lower than this for the moment. I think it’ll be resolved for later versions though which’ll be great!

Another method I’ve heard of but don’t have the balls / skills to try is do ssh onto the ESX server itself, download the command line version of the Array Configuration Utility for Redhat linux and then use that to do the expansion. It looks viable but as ESX is not a “proper” linux installation (eg: wget is missing completely) and this is a production machine for me …. I’m going to leave that one to braver people than I!

Well, I’m off to check on my server and see how the expansion is going. Toodle pip!

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