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I’ve finally built my new virtual server — the one in which I’m going to consolidate my current machines as virtual machines. The intention is to measure the amount of energy my current systems (consisting of a Sun Ultra 60 — dual 400MHz UltraSPARC II CPUs, 2GB memory, and 2x20GB SCSI drives; a Dell Workstation 610 — dual 700MHz Pentium III CPUs, 768MB memory, and a 20GB IDE drive as well as a 30GB IDE drive; a home-built server with an AMD Athlon 1.2GHz CPU, 512MB memory and a 30GB IDE drive as well as a 9.1GB SCSI drive) and then migrate everything to the virtual machine world and measure the energy used by the VM server.

The VM server consists of the following hardware:

Seasonic SS-500ES 500W power supply
Gigabyte GA-MA790GPT-UD3H
AMD Athlon x64 X4 CPU 630 Propus 2.8GHz (quad-core, 95W)
8GB memory
1 x 160GB 7200RPM SATA drive
1 x 500GB 7200RPM SATA drive

The first idea was to install Windows Server 2008R2 core with Hyper-V on the machine and use that to build the VM images. However, the Athlon x64 X4 CPU is not supported by Hyper-V. So far as I can tell it does use AMD-V technology and I did enable virtualization in the motherboard BIOS but Hyper-V won’t start. So, the fall back was to go with ESXi.

I wanted to use ESXi 4.0 Update 1 however the network interface on the motherboard (consisting of a Realtek 8111/8168 chip) is not supported by ESXi. The only supported network interfaces are gigabit interfaces (which the Realtek is — it just isn’t supported and I didn’t have a supported interface card on hand). So, I figured no problem…I’ll just use ESXi 3.5 Update 4. Well, the Realtek chip is also not supported in ESXi 3.5 — but the PCI 3Com 905TX and an Intel EE Pro 10/100 are. However, SATA drives are not supported — well, not completely. I managed to get the system installed by booting from the CD, switching to the tech support console (hitting ALT-F1) and then logging in using the unsupported login. I then loaded the AHCI driver and restarted the install and ESXi installed nicely. However, booting off the install on the hard drives was a no-go since the AHCI drive wouldn’t load (for reasons I’m not sure of) and the system crashed. Back to square one.

I then noticed that VMware released Update 5 to ESXi 3.5 earlier this month (about two weeks ago). I read the release notes and realized that they had resolved the AHCI/SATA drive issues. I downloaded it, burned it to a CD and tried it. Bingo! It installed without a hitch and booted without a problem. Awesome. Now I’m in the process of building out my VM images.

I have a situation that requires to clone a system disk on a Windows SBS 2003 system since the C: drive is running out of space. The issue is that the SBS server is down to about 1.5MB of free disk space (don’t ask how that happened…it’s not pretty) and, while the physical disk is 80GB in overall size, the system partition is only 10GB overall. The only real solution is to clone the system partition to a new disk, then boot the machine with the new disk as a slave and use diskpart to extend the partition. Then, after that’s done, change the jumpers on the two drives so that the new clone is the master drive and the original becomes the slave and boot the machine off the new clone drive. Simple.

I ended up choosing to use Clonezilla since it appeared to be more mature than g4u (whether this is true or not I cannot say for sure…nevertheless, they both appear to do the job). I found it by searching for “open source disk clone” and stumbled across the OSALT site. After downloading the ISO I went into my VM lab (a HP DL380 G3 running VMWare ESXi 3.5) and created a new VM consisting of the same hardware as the source except for a 25GB disk versus a 10GB disk.

I then attached the new 25GB disk to the source system (my Windows Server 2003R2 domain controller for the lab), started the VM, attached the ISO via the VMWare Infrastructure client and booted off the ISO/CD. After about 5 minutes Clonezilla came up and I setup the cloning process — all in all about 10 minutes worth of work at most. I then fired up the cloning process and after an additional 45 minutes the clone was done. The clone was still 10GB large as I didn’t explore whether Clonezilla could resize the partition on the fly while it was cloning it. No big deal…it’s easy to extend the partition under Windows if you have the space on your drive. I rebooted into the Windows OS (with the clone disk still attached) and I resized the partition using diskpart. Once that was completed I shutdown the VM, detached the cloned disk from the source and booted the new VM. After a complaint from Windows Product Activation that the system hardware had substantially changed and having to go through the reactivation process again I had a domain controller with more than double the disk space of the original system.

The next step is to do this to the SBS system.

Last Thursday Microsoft announced that the next version of the Windows operating system, Windows 7, will ship in Europe without the Internet Explorer 8 browser installed. This new version of the operating system will, like the XP and Vista versions sold without the Windows Media Player, will only be available in the European Union. What prompted this decision? Well, it seems that Opera Software ASA filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming that Internet Explorer was monopolistic and did not give users a choice in which browser they wanted. Microsoft has been down this road before with the lawsuit over the Windows Media Player that is normally bundled with Windows and rather than deal with a protracted legal fight they decided to simply ship a version of Windows 7 that will not include IE8 (or any other version of IE) in it.

This will give the end user a true choice as to which browser they wish to install — IE8, Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, Google’s Chrome, or Apple’s Safari. So how is the EC responding to this move by Microsoft? You would think that they would hail it as a victory, right? Actually…no. The EC moved quickly to criticize Microsoft’s decision

In a statement issued late Thursday night in Brussels, the EU regulator said it “notes with interest” Microsoft’s announcement and would “shortly decide” the outcome of its own case. But it didn’t seem confident that offering the operating system without Internet Explorer was the complete answer to its concerns that computer users lack “genuine” choice in browsers.

“Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less,” the EU said in its statement.

(Hodgsen, Jessica and Charles Forelle, “Windows is to Drop Browser in Europe,” Wall Street Journal Online, June 12, 2009)

What I can’t understand is how the EC can claim that Microsoft’s move provides less choice. Users in Europe will be able to buy Windows without any pre-installed browser and be able to install whatever browser that they want. Another scenario is where the system vendors — HP, Dell, Acer, etc — will pre-install the browsers for the end user based on the choice they make when they buy the system or sell systems with multiple browsers installed. Any way you slice it Microsoft’s move allows for more consumer choice. But apparently that’s not good enough for the EC.

Perhaps what they want is for Microsoft to install competitor’s products into the Windows operating system and then sell it for them? That seems to be the case since the EC indicated that it would rather see Microsoft offer consumers a choice of browser rather than remove IE8 from the operating system (“E.U. Criticizes Microsoft Plan to Remove Browser“, The New York Times, June 12, 2009). It’s hard to tell what would satisfy the European Commission. What I don’t see is the EC going after Apple for bundling the Safari browser in MacOS X? Or bundling iTunes into MacOS X and leveraging that in iPod sales. Or the EC going after Google as being monopolistic in Internet search. The move last Thursday by Microsoft may not even eliminate the possibility that the EC will levy a fine against the company as the “investigation dates to 1996 — which means it [the EC] still could levy substantial fines for the 13 years during which the browser was integrated, even if it finds that the separation allays its concerns going forward” (Hodgsen, Jessica and Charles Forelle, “Windows is to Drop Browser in Europe,” Wall Street Journal Online, June 12, 2009).

Microsoft is doing the right thing in the EU market in order to meet the EC’s concerns. It would be nice if the EC would acknowledge that and move forward.

(a small caveat here: this is solely my personal opinion and does NOT, in any way, reflect the opinion of my employer)

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