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Bare Metal

Posted on 2009.04.18 at 20:00
Current Location: 75409
Current Music: Suby - The Butterfly Effect
Tags: ,

How fast does a computer have to be before its 'too fast' and do you think such a think is possible? To be honest, I've never had it happen to me, but my linux workstation is just that - simply too fast. Since apt-get has replaced my compiling, and I really only use it for my terminal tab-farm and web-browsing, in its current configuration its simply too much horsepower. It is nice to see gnome so freaking responsive, but since I usually turn off all the bells and whistles, I really gain nothing.

And my Windows box? Too sluggish comparatively, I/O bound with ancient IDE drives. princessleia2 was right, the Windows box needs it more. But I am aghast at how quick that linux box runs.

I have a lot of questions. I do a lot of research. But the answers can't all be found online. So I search out the experts, armed with knowledge enough to speak intelligently on the subject, seeking answers. Sadly, many "experts" never roam past the boundaries of their given profession, have never thought of other ways to utilize the tools they use. This isn't as sad as the ones who show no interest in pushing that envelope - testing, trying, troubleshooting and aiming to excel. But occasionally I find them and they feed off my excitement which in turn further motivates me to push the limits.

At work I run VMware Workstation 6.5.2 on my ubuntu laptop. Its fantastic, and nearly flawless. Problem is, it saps my resources if I run more than one virtual machine. I considered running the same configuration on my linux box at home, until the idea of running ESX, the bare metal hypervisor occurred to me. drax0r and I had toyed with the idea several times in the past, but the hardware limitations prevented us from pursuing it further. You see, ESX requires very specific x86 server hardware (multiple Xeon processors, SCSI or SAN disks, etc) or rather, it used to. While still not "officially" supported, it will apparently now install and run on a single Pentium chip and write to SATA drives. Better yet, VMware has recently released ESXi, their free version. Using ESXi I will be able to run multiple operating systems simultaneously without the resource drain. The hypervisor is its own operating system, so to speak. Think of it as an embedded system - it only has a 32MB footprint, and with its overallocation ability (single, shared files in swap for identical operating systems, force-to-disk cache to free RAM on systems not actively using resources) and promise to run at near-native speeds, it sounds like a wild ride.

So while I haven't figured out my final configuration yet (I can re-arrange the RAM to get 6GB interleaved on one (@667MHz), 3GB on the other (@533MHz - the board which only sees 2.8) and disperse my SATA drives across platforms), I think I'll pull everything out, start over, and install ESXi. While it may prove to not be a permanent solution, at least I'll get some hands-on experience with it, and maybe get a leg up on the Windows guys, which are usually the only ones using it at work.

My son's PowerMac G4


Elizabeth Krumbach
princessleia2 at 2009-04-19 03:08 (UTC) (Link)
I built my new desktop back in August of last year, and for the first time since then I actually maxed out the resources last weekend when I was doing a lot of image manipulation. It's amusing that it took so long, but on a typical day using Xubuntu I hover around only using 512M ram and hardly anywhere near all 4 cores.
ehowton at 2009-04-19 04:38 (UTC) (Link)
The linux vm's run fast & light, I'm not worried about those - plus, I can always dynamically lower the memory on them if need be with almost no noticeable difference. As usual, its Windows which consistently provides me my challenges.

Photoshop is my primary reason for still running XP, with Lotus Notes & corporate-written IE only webpages a close second. I head they finally got Photoshop 7 running under wine, and the Lotus 8.5 client is the only linux client which actually installs *and* runs. Unfortunately its "too new" to connect to our servers.

Its all just a matter of time.
themarsone at 2009-04-19 03:41 (UTC) (Link)
I have been very excited about ESXi. I'm currently working on consolidating my network and server fleet into one uber box. The only hold up I'm hitting with my Vyatta box, which runs dual dsl modems via OSPF, which in this case would be sharing a single physical nic, connected to a small vlan for the modems. :D weekend projects.

By the way, howdy.
ehowton at 2009-04-19 04:41 (UTC) (Link)
Howdy! How's East Texas treating you? That's so cool about ESXi. Let me ask you this - is the entire thing managed via a web interface? And what about VMware Converter? Its what's needed to migrate VMware Workstation images to the server, but there's no linux client! Does ESXi have a built-in facility for that? The guy I'm working with at work has the entire Enterprise suite - which I'll never see here at the house, but they sure are some slick tools.

Don't be such a stranger!
themarsone at 2009-04-19 05:10 (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I am in Fort Worth now as of... thee weeks ago. East Texas just wasn't doing it for me, no tech jobs and all that jazz, so I got a gig at an IT consulting company in Fort Worth and moved on out.

As of right now, I'm in a search of some beefier hardware to push an actual deployment out to. I'm currently using vmware server, which allows you to manage vm's with either a web interface or vmware workstation, so I'd imagine that ESXi would be the same.
What has me excited is the low level, low foot print installation. Not having to run it on a host os is killer.
Ill be purchasing a new server for all of this in a couple weeks, so I'll keep you posted :P

I haven't meant to be such a ghost!
Lacey (the wife) and I decided this winter that we honestly didn't want to stay in Tyler anymore after she gets out of school (mid may.) East Texas just doesn't suite us, not to mention that there are no career interests out there for either of us.
After this was decided, I went into transitory prep mode, and the rest is, well... busy, for the lack of a less over-used word.
ehowton at 2009-04-19 05:56 (UTC) (Link)
Fort Worth is awesome! I used to live just North of there in Boyd. I grew up in Dallas, but moved out that way in high school; wonderful pace of life there.

Congrats on the new gig! If there's one thing D/FW has, that's lots of good tech jobs, and that's fantastic in the current economy.

I've been reading a lot of ESXi stuff and it sounds simply amazing - the best of all the virtualization out there. At work I'm only allowed to scratch the surface, as the Windows group owns it, so I've been watching how they use it in our Enterprise environment. But there's nothing at all like hands on.

Don't worry about the ghost part. I don't know anyone who's not busy. Hell, I haven't even had a change to post at work for a month - I've had to wait until I get home! And that's busy.
dentin at 2009-04-19 18:34 (UTC) (Link)


Something pickup teaches you is that if you expect to wait until the target isn't busy, you'll never get anywhere. People eschew boredom; they always find or have something to do. It might be only marginally better than staring into empty space, but they'll find something.

It seems obvious, but for some reason "I don't want to bother him/her" is a strong excuse even when the target is clearly only reading that grease stained newspaper because the other options involve staring at the ceiling or staring at the floor. Yay run-on sentences. And topic changes!
ehowton at 2009-04-19 22:10 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Busy

That actually makes a lot of sense. Perhaps by interrupting the target, you offer them something more than they currently have - something in fact which they've been seeking.

I might have to rethink my life and start offering random people just that opportunity.
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2009-04-19 22:52 (UTC) (Link)
The PowerMac G4 seriously needs a blow job!!!
ehowton at 2009-04-20 17:59 (UTC) (Link)
Who doesn't?
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2009-04-19 22:57 (UTC) (Link)
thesweetestnote at 2009-04-20 15:26 (UTC) (Link)
all i know is that i know nothing O.o
ehowton at 2009-04-20 18:00 (UTC) (Link)
You and me both.
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