ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

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Bare Metal

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
Tags: linux, vmware
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