Tag Archives: Reviews

My Experience: The Synology DS1511+ NAS is Purely Rock Solid

12-26-10-synology-15tb-nasI’ve been running a vSphere lab of my since ESX 2.x.  Over the years, I’ve used both local and NAS based storage with varying degrees of satisfaction with the results.  In the case of NAS storage, which is required since I can’t afford a SAN, I looked at Synology devices over the last year trying to gain the motivation to make the investment.

Needless to say, I dove in with both feet, and maxed out a Synology DS1511+ with 3TB drives.  I purchased my Synology DS1511+ from SimplyNas with the drives included, including their burn-in testing, and I haven’t looked back.  The device has been up and running since October 2011.

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OSX Lion – Brief Review

I’ve been running OSX Lion for a few weeks now and wanted to do a quick review since I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve installed it on a 2010 iMac and a 1st Gen Macbook Air.  My experience with the latest rendition of the Mac OS has been 99% joy, which I honestly can’t say about any other OS that I’ve started off with right off the bat.  For starters, the OS has been solid on both of the machines that I’m using it on.  To be specific, I’ve had to force quit twice, between both machines, since the GM release, one time Safari was the application and the second time it was Steam, and in each case I was pushing the box hard at the time.  Lots of applications running and lots of processing.  Steam restarted no problem… it’s just Steam.  Safari, when I restarted it, remembered every last window I had open, including tabs, sites, and window positions… as is mentioned in the features.  Force quit cost me about 30 seconds of time, and I had it all back.  Hiccup… no problem.

So before ranting about what I like about the software, I’ll jump right to something that seems to be missing…

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ESXi Going Forward, Is It Really All Doom and Gloom?

ESXi vs. ESX – warning, this is a rant! 🙂

I recently participated in a discussion thread on LinkedIn in the VMware Certified Professionals group that got to be a little lively.  In this discussion, outside of the original poster’s question, a side discussion began on ESXi vs. ESX and all the trouble that it entails.  One poster in particular, a former VMware TSE (tech support engineer), really preached doom and gloom about the product’s future with the announced phase out of ESX and transition and continuation of ESXi as the VMware flagship product.

I personally have mixed feelings about the decision.  I love ESX and have been working with the product for years now.  I like the accessibility and control that the service console provides and thus far have been willing to tolerate the overhead of the Console Operating System (COS) and some of the associated problems as a trade-off for the control that it provides.  Apparently there are people that are far more upset about this decision by the powers-that-be at VMware than I am though, and in one case the former TSE even said that he would look forward to seeing people ‘crumble’ when they have problems with ESXi and no console access.  As I’m running this blog, and try to provide information and help to people at their fingertips, I would never wish ill on my fellow techies or the organizations that employ them.  Well maybe a few… <grin>.

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Upgrading ESX 3.5 to vSphere 4 Using Host Update

Tonight I decided to go on the magical journey of upgrading my ESX 3.5 environment to vSphere using the Host Update Utility.  I’m usually a firm believer in ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ but this time I decided to take the plunge and see what happens.

A few months ago, I ran through the Host Update Utility and failed a hardware compatibility check.  I was running a few Intel Pro/100 NICs that ESX 3.5 was more than happy to work with but vSphere said, NO WAY.  After tracking down a few Broadcom 5701 NICs, installing them without a hiccup, I honestly still considered sticking with ESX 3.5, but after talking to a few friends who have had no trouble with their upgrades, I figured the most that I had to lose was a little time.  I ran through the wizard again, of the Host Update Utility, it complained about nothing this time and continued.

After a short while, maybe 10 minutes or so, I was up and running on vSphere 4.  No hiccups!  I immediately started booting up VMs.  I ran into my first problem. 🙂

Keep Reading…

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Windows Server 2008 and Subversion over HTTPS

Here’s the scenario, I decided to try out Subversion as a source control repository on a Windows Server 2008 server, attached to a Win Server 2008 domain, with ISA Server forwarding HTTP traffic.  After doing a little bit of research, I decided to give VisualSVN Server a try.  If you don’t know it, it’s a very small footprint product produced by VisualSVN Limited, that installs Subversion and an Apache server, on Windows, to handle the HTTP connection to SVN (Subversion).

The product installed and configured very easily, ‘hats off’ to VisualSVN, and I was immediately able to connect to it from internal on my network.  There are a few self-explanatory questions that are posed in the installation wizard.  Tough things like where do you want to store your repositories. ;)  (If you’re going to use a file share as a repository, make sure that you use the UNC and not a mapped drive.)

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I’m amazed that I’ve come across yet another tech product that is actually behaving as advertised.  Is it just me, or is that odd???

Not the fault of VisualSVN, I began to run into configuration issues when I tried to route the traffic through ISA Server.

Keep Reading…

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Vyatta Community Edition, Open Source Router

I’ve been running multiple subnets in my lab, and been dealing with the pain of having to VPN into each separate subnet when needing to make a change, test something, or deploy something.  It’s been a learning experience and I’ve configured both OpenVPN and ISA Server 2006 VPN’s and successfully bounced around the various networks as necessary, but it’s been a real pain to have to VPN into one network, grab files, and then VPN into a different network to test and deploy those files, as an example.  So I began a hunt for an open source router that would give me more control than Untangle, which is an excellent open source routing and firewall tool.  Simply put, I wanted finer grained control than Untangle is designed to supply. As an example, I wanted to be able to filter network traffic based on mac addresses instead of IP addresses.

In my search, I came across Vyatta, which is an open source networking package that likes to compare itself to Cisco in functionality and control.  I decided to check out their site and found that they offer a free ‘Community Edition’.  I looked at the features of the community edition, then checked the VMware Appliances site and found that Vyatta has a pre-built VMware appliance.  NICE!  I filled out a short registration form, downloaded the appliance and all the documentation, which is thick to say the least, and fired up the appliance in VMware Workstation.

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Windows 7 – Initial Usage Review

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Whenever Microsoft releases a new OS, I try to at least install it in a VM and poke around with it.  With Windows 7 however, I jumped, both feet in and installed it on my laptop and desktop.  The installation was quick and easy, on my desktop all the devices were recognized and on my laptop, I only needed to download two or three things from Dell.  I still need one or two more for the laptop, but it seems to be functioning very well so far, and I’ve yet to figure out what the few devices that it didn’t recognize are.  Maybe my smartcard reader… ???

There are a few features that I want to touch on in this review that make this OS a significant step after the relative fiasco with Vista.  I wasn’t a Vista hater by any means, but the OS was pretty slow compared to XP, and the features it added tended to slow it down more.  I still think Vista is an OK operating system, but Windows 7 is kicking butt so far.

Keep reading. 🙂

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Groundwork Open Source Monitoring

 GWOS001A few years ago, I wanted to try out a free network and system monitoring package so I decided to download and try to setup Nagios.  Since I’m no Linux guru, though working with Linux has started to change lately, it took me quite a while to get Nagios setup and configured.  After doing so, I finally realized that I had to manually edit text files on the environment, Linux, to configure host monitoring.  What a monumental pain!  Learning to use VI, then realizing that nano is much easier to use, but still, it took over an hour for me to figure out how to setup monitoring of a single host.  As I’ve been running VMware virtualization for years now, setting up and tearing down servers is almost part of my daily life.  Configuring monitoring of these servers immediately became a burden I wasn’t willing to undertake.

Then I discovered Groundwork Open Source (GWOS).  What a cool package!  Not to mention, they have a virtual appliance already setup and configured for free (the community edition).

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Mobile Remote Desktop: VPN, an iPhone, and PocketCloud

Bobby Shea has written a great blog entry on using your iPhone to RDP (remote desktop) into servers and workstations on your network using VPN, an iPhone, and an expensive but well worth it iPhone application called PocketCloud by WYSE (about $30.00 unless you catch it on sale).

This is an incredible solution to accessing resources.  Check it out.

http://alittlestrange.com/tfoa/2009/09/05/one-more-reason-to-own-an-iphone/

Also posting a link to WYSE:

http://www.wyse.com/products/software/pocketcloud/

I was able to get this up and running in about 4 hours and you’d be amazed at the performance over AT&T’s 3G network.  WYSE even has a video of their software in action, a must see if you’re in IT, and even more so if you’re mobile.

Oh, and did I mention that it has built-in support for VMware View? 🙂

vCenter Server Upgrade from Virtual Center

So tonight, I ran the VMware vCenter Server Upgrade from Virtual Center 2.x.

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I got a warning from the installer shortly after it began saying that I have IIS installed and there may be conflicts.  I pressed on since I know the default website on IIS is set for port 81 and is currently serving nothing, and is only installed as a pre-requisite for SQL Server 2005 which is serving as the Virtual Center backend.

After paying close attention to some of the wizards instructions, like making sure to update VMware Update Manager and VMware Converter to a compatible version, and making sure the SQL Server Browser service was running, which it wasn’t, I pressed on with the upgrade.

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