May 29th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

I wanted to specifically call out this comparison was done for my home lab, specifically to provide basic internet access for my isolated physical ESXi host which would run several nested ESXi VMs and other support VMs such as AD and vCenter.  Whether Untangle or Vyatta is right for you will come down to your specific project, and the requirements for that project.  My requirement was to have an easy to configure virtual router running in VMware Workstation to provide access to an isolated  network that would not otherwise be able to communicate with my home router.

Most of the work in either case for me was in VMware Workstation, setting up proper bridging on my “home” computer which uses the WLAN adapter for every day internet access – this would end up being the “external” interface for my virtual router and the LAN connection which is connected to a switch along with the VMkernel interface for my physical ESXi host (8-core 32GB home lab build notes here).

Once the networking was setup, next stop was Vyatta Community Edition, I’m not sure what Brocade is doing with the site, but I had quite a hard time accessing it and was ready to give up until one night it worked and I was able to download the bits.  I created a VM with two network interfaces, one on each network segment and powered up the VM.  I had expected an installation process to start, but alas it did not, it had to be manually started.  After a bit of messing around and reading these two posts (install and DNS/NAT) I thought I’d be just about set.  From my Vyatta router I could ping 8.8.8.8 (internet working) but my physical host could not.  After reading through the Vyatta documentation here and making a few more changes I thought a reboot would be in order.   When my VM came back up I could no longer ping 8.8.8.8, I started looking around and none of my configuration was preserved!  I set it back up only to run into the same road block – it wasn’t working and I’m not interested in becoming a Vyatta Certified network admin/engineer.  Time to punt and try something else.

My next try was using Untangle.  I was using the same VMware Workstation VM and network configuration.  I powered on the VM, was prompted to run through an installer (as I’d expect when booting from an ISO/installer image) and configured the networking the same way I had (tried) with Vyatta.  The results, however, were much different.  With essentially no effort (other than the network setup in Workstation) I not only had internet access from the Untangle / router VM but also from my ESXi hosts which were using it as the Default Gateway.

While this isn’t a true bake off, feature for feature or comparing the power of each, I can say that Untangle was far simpler for a basic setup.  Vyatta may well be the more powerful option, but as I stated earlier right now I really have no desire to learn yet another CLI, I’m quite happy keeping my Cisco CLI vaulted and don’t want to burn those brain cells for something I’m unlikely to use in production.  If I end up on a project with different requirements, maybe I’ll find Vyatta gain but for now its Untangle!

Untangle vs Vyatta for home lab use

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May 16th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Why, well because you don’t always have VMware Workstation or Fusion available, and VMware Player only let’s you do so much.  Sometimes you just need to make due with VirtualBox.

Here are the steps to setup your VirtualBox VM.

Don’t forget to enable VT in your BIOS
– Click on the new button
– Give your VM some name, select Linux, Linux 2.6/3.x (64-bit)
***If you don’t see 64-bit options, you didn’t enable or don’t have virtualization support in your processor***
– Give the VM 4096MB RAM
– Create a new virtual hard drive, keep the default type (assuming you’re staying in VirtualBox)
– Select Dynamically allocated (like thin provisioned in VMware)
– Set the size to 1GB and click create

Now that the VM is created,
– Select the VM and click on the settings button.
– Click on System, then the processor tab and provide 2 processors
– Click the Extended Features check box
– Click on storage
– Click on ‘Empty’ and click the small CD icon next to the CD/DVD drive pull down
– Select chose a virtual file, navigate and select your ESXi ISO
– Select Network and changed Attached to to Host-only Adapter, click OK
– Click the start button
– Your ESXi install will start (use the right ctrl button to release the mouse from the console)

A few things to note, even though VirtualBox shows the VT-x Option available for the VM, ESXi will complain that it is not available so booting 64-Bit VMs may be a problem (testing to come).  Also don’t set the network adapter to bridge or internal only causes PSODs.

 

Installing ESXi in VirtualBox

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May 13th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

In my last post, I reviewed the hardware assembly and ESXi installation for the AMD 8-Core home build.  I showed you at the end of that post a screenshot of Ubuntu 14.04 64-Bit installing in my virtual ESXi host.  Here, I will review the steps necessary to setup a virtual or nested ESXi host, however this process is a bit more manual.

With vCenter 5.5 setup, you would have the option via the web client to select ESXi as the guest operating system.  I wanted to see some virtual inception ASAP and didn’t want to wait to get vCenter setup so I went right in and created a VM to run my first nested ESXi host.  In my next post, we will review setting up a nested ESXi host via vCenter so you can see what the differences are.

A quick note bef0re we get started.  On my physical ESXi host I have created several datastores, 1 each on each of the physical drives.  I have name the datastores so that match the name of the hosts I will use them on.  For example on one of the drives I created a datastore called v-esx01-local.  On this drive I will create a drive for my nesxted ESXi host to use for its local storage.  Do this for each of the nested ESXi hosts you plan to setup.

Connect directly to the physical ESXi host, in my case 10.11.12.100 and follow these steps:

  • Create a new virtual machine, select Custom.  Selecting Custom will allow you to set the vCPU and RAM options that would otherwise be pre-set for you.
  • Give your VM a name, I opted for v-esx## though this can follow your normal naming convention
  • Select a datastore, I am putting all my ESXi VMDKs on p-esx01-local
  • Select a Virtual Machine Hardware Version.  In the C# client you can only select up to 8, we will change that later by manually editing the VMX file.
  • For the Guest Operating System select Linux, and Other Linux (64-bit)
  • In the number of cores per virtual socket select 2.  We only have 8 cores to go around so I will be cheap here, after all this isn’t a performance lab.
  • In memory change the Memory Size drop down from MB to GB and set the size to 4GB
  • No changes on the network or SCSI controller screens so click next
  • Select create a new virtual disk
  • Change the Disk Size to 1GB and set to Thin Provision
  • Click next on the Advanced Options screen as we will not need to make any changes here and click Finish.

Now, with the VM create, navigate to the physical host Configuration tab and click Storage.

  • Click Add Storage…
  • Select Disk/LUN
  • Select one of the physical disks.  In my case I chose to use one of the 500GB Seagate Hybrid drives
  • Select VMFS-5 as the File System
  • Review and click next
  • Enter the datastore name, in my case v-esx01-local
  • Select Maximum space available
  • Click Finish

Browse the p-esx01-local datastore and navigate to the v-esx01 folder.  This is where we will copy the VMX file locally so we can edit in Notepad/Notepad++

  • Click on the file named v-esx##.vmx and click on the icon with the green down arrow

browse-datastore

  • Select where you want to save the file
  • With the v-esx##.vmx file on your desktop (or whatever folder  you saved it to), right click on it and select Open With.  If, like me, you have Notepad++ installed (who doesn’t on Windows?) you can also select Edit with Notepad++
  • Make the following changes:
    • Change the guestOS value to vmkernel5
    • Change the ethernet0.virtualDev value to vmxnet3
    • Add the following line to the bottom of the file:  vhv.enable = “TRUE”
  • Save the file and delete the original one from the v-esx## folder on the datastore
  • Upload this new vmx file using the Datastore Browser, this time click the soup can with the green arrow pointing up and select Upload File
  • Right click on v-esx02 and select Remove from Inventory and click yes
  • Browse the datastore again, right click the vmx and select Add to Inventory accepting all defaults.

Now, if you edit your VM settings or click on the Summary tab for the VM you can see that your Guest OS Version is VMware ESXi 5.x.  Mount an ESXi 5.5 ISO to the CD-ROM device, power on the VM and install ESXi.  Once ESXi is installed, I will add a new virtual hard drive to the VM on the 500GB datastore I created on the physical host earlier.  Another option, which I will review later, is setting up FreeNAS or some other server to present iSCSI or NFS on all of the drives so you are able to mimic shared storage.

As you can see below, I have ESXi running at 10.11.12.101 and the Ubuntu VM running in it.  In my next post, I will review some “back to basics”

inception-achieved

You can find more information thanks to William Lam’s post here, including nesting Hyper-V

AMD 8-Core Nested ESXi Setup (The hard way)

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January 5th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

tl;dr version:  Save the $35, its not ready for everyday use or on large screen devices.

A few quick notes to consider before you get started. Consider how your audio is played.  For example I run all my video and audio through a receiver, so while I was able to get video after setting up my Chromecast directly on a TV input I couldn’t get audio. When I connected the Chromecast directly to the receiver it worked properly. However, that means I couldnt power via USB since I have no USB on the receiver, so I need to find an outlet for the power adapter.

The setup wizard was straight forward.

  • Connect your Chromcast to an available HDMI port and either USB port on the TV or power outlet
  • Turn on the TV and change to the input assoicated with the HDMI port you connected the Chromecast to
  • You should see a message similar to “Set me up”
  • Go to google.com/chromecast/setup
  • Download the Chromecast app, copy to the install folder and run the app
  • Accept the license agreement
  • The app will find your Chromecast, click continue
  • Verify the code in the Chromecast app matches what is displayed on your TV and click Thats my code
  • Select your wifi network and enter your wifi key/password and optionally, change the name of your Chromecast device and click continue
  • The message on your TV should be similar to to the Chromecast app – connecting to wifi, then downloading updates if necessary

chromecastsetup

  • Once the updates are complete, the Chromecast device will restart and apply the updates
  • Click continue on the Chromecast app
  • Click on Get Cast Extension which is a browser plugin to stream from Chrome to your Chromecast device
  • A new Chrome window will open, click on Add Extension, click Add
  • Click the Cast icon in your browser and select your device
  • You can now see your browser screen from your computer on your TV (less navigation bars)

Notes

via OSX Mavericks with Chrome

Cons

  • There is enough of a lag from the video playback to give you a headache. This could be either
    • A) 802.11G not being fast enough
    • B) TV refresh rate being to slow (60Hz)
    • C) Video quality from the web being to low for a 52″ TV (YouTube/AMC.com Walking Dead Webisode, the lag seemed consistent also on NBC.com)
  • If you are not using Chrome, you will have to, there seems to be no support for other browsers
  • Cannot watch Amazon prime videos in full screen mode

via an iPad (and assume iPhone)

Pros

  • Notifications do not seem to interfere with video/audio playback.

Cons

  • Can only seem to stream from Youtube or Netflix, the Chrome browser in iOS does not appear to be aware of the Cast app.

via Windows Phone 8
No support for WP8, this may end my WP8 experiment before it even really got started

Summary
Its a $35 device, and that is about on par with the quality I might expect from a $35 video device. Hopefully the Chromecast isn’t a one and done type of device as I think it could be useful with more device and website support.  I will look at testing this more with an Android device, maybe its a bit better working with the Google ecosystem or as a travel companion, however for now I’ll stick to streaming through my Blu-Ray player and internet enabled TV.  Take the $35 and put that towards a night out or towards a Roku.

 

Chromecast Setup on OSX with Chrome and initial thoughts

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