Playing with ESXi

I had to test out a desktop virtualization product (Pano Logic) this week and as part of the installation I needed a VMware ESX base system. I’m a huge user of their Workstation product, but I had never used the ESX line since it used to be so expensive and required certified hardware. Things have changed though and it’s now possible to download a copy of ESXi for free and to run without a dedicated SAN.
One of the difficulties with VMware is that their acronyms can be very difficult to wade through. ESXi is what they refer to as a hypervisor. This essentially is a very cut down operating system that is designed to only run other Virtual Machines. There are some requirements to running ESXi, I had to go through 3-4 servers before I found one that the installer had all of the drivers. I finally got it to run a server I had picked up from Penguin Computing (2x dual core Opteron with 4Gb mem and 250Gb hard drive).
Once I found a server that worked, the system installed quickly. The next problem was that you need to download the vSphere client to administer the server which is windows only (there are command line clients for other operating systems, but I wasn’t ready for that yet). I didn’t have a windows box laying around (all linux and mac), so I had to launch a WinXP VM in workstation on my linux desktop to administer my ESXi server. Amazingly everything worked great.
The next issue that I ran into was that I already had a large number of VMs created that I was using on workstation, but I couldn’t see how to get them on to the ESXi server. In the vSphere client there are clear instructions on how to create a new VM or download an appliance, but not how to import an existing VM. It turns out that VMware has a very simple way of doing this using the VMware Converter. This product works as a switchboard allowing you to convert or move VMs from one place to another, a really handy tool.
Overall ESXi is a great tool for running a whole bunch of server VMs. VMware offers a huge number of management products in the vSphere product line for managing load and moving VMs in a datacenter. But if you just need to run a few VMs on a single server I would definitely recommend looking at ESXi.

Just ordered a new kindle

I just placed a pre-order for Amazon’s newest Kindle the other day. This one is to replace Jaimie’s Kindle since she was still using the very first generation model and there are quite a few updates in this newest version. Supposedly much better battery life, better contrast, and faster page turns, all great things for a power reader.
We also decided to go with the wifi only model, which is cheaper, but most of our book reading is at home where there is total coverage. If we’re out and about we read on the iPhone and then sync back to the kindle to continue reading at home.
Hopefully this latest version will arrive before the next round of books that we’ve been waiting for. I’m waiting for The Evolutionary Void and we’re very happy that MockingJay will also be released in a kindle version.
I was happy to hear that Bezos was focusing on creating the best book reader instead of chasing yet another tablet.

Caitlin's clothes

So, I was doing the laundry today and realized that at 18 months Caitlin has hit a critical milestone. She now has more clothes than her dad, BY VOLUME, and I’ve got some pretty big clothes. I suppose I should just accept this and realize that as she moves on towards high school and college it’ll only get progressively worse, but it was still a bit of a shock.

Playing around with the layout

I’ve updated the theme to try out a new look for the blog.
I had originally placed a few types of ads on these pages, just so that I could try them out somewhere other than at the day job. But now that I’ve got ReadPath cranking there really isn’t any need to experiment here any longer.
I’m fairly happy with this new theme, but you might continue to see some changes as I customize things.

My Tivo is dying

My poor little DirecTv HR10-250 is dying. It’s been making some weird noises for awhile now, which is never a good sign for hard drive health. Today though, it’s already frozen twice. The only fix has been to pull the plug and force a reboot. We’ve had this box for over 5 years now and it’s been working great up to this point. The HD tivos had a rep as being a bit delicate.
Apparently DirecTv and Tivo have made up after some earlier issues and are planning on releasing a new receiver in 2010, but who knows when that will be. Might have to start scrambling for an alternate content source fast since you can’t watch the first two episodes of Big Love and then just stop. Withdrawal like that can have serious health issues.

First attempt at spaghetti

Here’s a pic of my first attempt at making spaghetti sauce from scratch. In order to make it with low salt for Caitlin, I had to do it myself.
I’m attempting to post from the iPhone while I watch Caitlin, we’ll see how it turns out.
 

Switched phones

Just called AT&T to switch my iPhone for my blackberry as my primary phone. It was an easy process where I switched the sim cards and the rep switched the data plans. Now if you call my cell number it’ll go to the iPhone. Overall a painless experience.

Energy Independence

powerI’m really happy to see all the work that has gone into getting conservation into people’s minds when they go through their day. Everyone is now talking about electric cars and plugin hybrids. In the long run though, I’m not nearly as interested in energy conservation as I am in new renewable energy sources.
I don’t really want to use compact fluorescent light bulbs everywhere, although the new LED lights look great. I’d rather be able to have a great home lighting setup with more light bulbs than you can count and leave it on all day. I want to be able to have my garage datacenter with 5 full racks of servers humming along all day and not have to worry what the power bill will be or the impact on the environment.
I’d really like to have the core of my home electrical system be a pluggable switching system where many different types of energy generation and storage systems could be plugged into. Something that would allow for remote monitoring and charting of energy generation and usage and handle balancing swings between energy sources. The local Frys outlet is now selling solar panels and wind turbines which I’d love to be able to try out and play with. Or to be able to experiment with different types of energy storage solutions.
Everyone has come to the realization that there isn’t going to be a silver bullet when it comes to getting off of oil and coal. Energy independence is going to be built off of hundreds of technologies and we’ve got to lower the cost of trying out new ones.