I was struggling with this VALinux 2240 2U server that I had been using for a few years as a virtual server with VMWare’s Virtual Server 1.x. Initially I had installed CentOS 4.4 on it with VMWare 1.x. Unfortunately the system had a nasty habit of going belly-up on me due to a bug in ACPI in the BIOS. I suspect that the system, when there was enough disk activity, would just reboot itself. It was “manageable” until I installed VMWare Server 1.0.5…then it got impossible to boot more than one virtual machine image without the machine crashing.

I tried installing Windows Server 2003 and using it with VMWare Server. This resulted in the same problem. So then I figured…”hey, let’s try Server 2008 with Hyper-V!” As I blogged earlier it took some effort to setup WDS (the VALinux 2240 only has a CD drive — no DVD drive) and I managed to get Server 2008 installed. However, when I went to update it the first time the machine did the same thing — it just turned itself off for 3 seconds and then restarted. No good there.

Anyway, I finally decided to try another version of Linux. I guess I’ve been stuck on CentOS since it’s derived from RedHat Enterprise Linux — okay…it is RedHat Enterprise Linux without the “RedHat” name and logos in the code — but that wasn’t working. First off the attempt to install CentOS 5.1 failed miserably during the graphic install (Python errors) and I just didn’t feel like trying the text install at that moment. That’s when I heard about Ubuntu Server 8.04. I actually heard more about it’s integration with AD (which was one reason why I’m trying to resurrect my virtual host machine — to test out and document the work of others in detail on Linux/Unix/Windows AD integration) and so I figured “Why the hell not?” I downloaded it, burned a CD and installed it. Very nice install. Then I set about the task of installing VMware Server. I couldn’t use the RPM — alright, I probably could have but I didn’t want to deal with it — so I downloaded the tar.gz file and worked on the install. Took about 30 minutes to find all the missing dependencies and to install the server but it works. And very nicely I must add. I copied over my virtual domain controller and then set about to install a Server 2008 system as well as a Solaris 10 x86 system (can’t get Solaris 10 working under Microsoft’s Virtual Server — not sure why but it just won’t boot). I’ve got some more machine to build but here’s the kicker. Whatever Ubuntu did in their kernel is AWESOME. The kernel deals with the VALinux 2240’s ACPI issues quite well…the machine no longer turns itself off if there’s too much disk activity and it’s been rock stable during the install of the virtual machines. I mean this is awesome!

The only thing I wish is that the 2240 could take more memory. I’ve got it maxed out at 2GB of memory and I know I’m going to hit issues there. But, I’ve got my eyes on another system case I can get a hold of and I’m looking at some motherboards that will support the AMD Phenom processors…but that’s another story.