Jaunty and md

Not to disrespect Ubuntu, but Jaunty must be the worse release they have made in a long time. Whether it be an unusable desktop because of a poor kernel – upgrading to 2.6.30 is a good idea – or just poor packaging – md overwriting the mdadm.conf file? WTF?  See here and here for the workaround lists, and here to fix the md issue.

Karmic is getting good reviews. Lets hope its an easy upgrade and sets the scene for an amazing 10.4 release.

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kvm disk performance with different backends

Here  some results from testing I did in August 2009 on  KVM with the three different disk image drivers. First a single disk system running Ubuntu x64 9.04:

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50% Performance Boost for Nehalem’s over Harpertown

From the vmware blog:


A 1vCPU Xeon X5500 series based Exchange Server VM can support 50% more users per core than a 2vCPU VM based on previous generation processors while maintaining the same level of performance in terms of Sendmail latency.  This is accomplished while the VM’s CPU utilization remains below 50%, allowing plenty of capacity for peaks in workload and making an FT VM practical for use with Exchange Server 2007.

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Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop

Just did an install of the 9.04 desktop. Very clean. Intend to do some testing with kvm, virtual box and win4lin.

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vmbuilder, virtio and fstab

nic@vm-base:~$ sudo blkid /dev/vda2
/dev/vda2: UUID=”0c75b2dd-6c6f-4729-b041-0d95475dc171″ TYPE=”swap”

If you install a vm with vmbuilder without virtio the swap section of /etc/fstab will use /dev/sda2 instead of /dev/vda2. You can use blkid

nic@vm-base:~$ sudo blkid
/dev/vda1: UUID="bac299c4-c545-46ca-aed3-26da4a56f6d7" TYPE="ext3"
/dev/vda2: TYPE="swap" UUID="0c75b2dd-6c6f-4729-b041-0d95475dc171"
/dev/vdb: UUID="jIkLcQ-zXUo-KIWR-zvmm-cpKP-9PpT-eE9RY3" TYPE="lvm2pv"
and then add this UUID to fstab:
nic@vm-base:~$ cat /etc/fstab
# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# <file system>                                 <mount point>   <type>  <options>       <dump>  <pass>
proc                                            /proc           proc    defaults        0       0
/dev/sda1                                       /               ext3    defaults        0       0
UUID="0c75b2dd-6c6f-4729-b041-0d95475dc171"     swap            swap    defaults        0       0

in order to get swap working with different driver types.

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Shared Storage and Virtualisation

Recent issues and 18 months of experience have shown me that shared storage for a small (2-4 node) virtualisation cluster is hard.

It is still practical and possible to build a shared storage cluster using Solaris, rather than buying super experience appliance storage. But you must always spec at least two storage nodes, otherwise you lock yourself into a structure that can be difficult to change. That includes changes that involve upgrades.

Virtualisation technology has moved a long way in the last couple years. And while I’m still formulating a new approach, there are many more options for flexible micro virtualisation clusters.

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KVM, disk formats and disposable computing

I’ve got a couple XenServer vms that I never migrated to ESX. Time and complexity got in the way. In fact one of the reasons why I dislike XenServer is that fact that way it ran disk images was not portable.   Where as with ESX and KVM I can migrate disk images between the two hypervisors without needing to chance anything in the guest. With XenServer at the time this was not easy. XenOSS has a similar issue with PV domains, although with KVM+xenner  is meant to be able to run these.

Anyway here are a few links for converting disk images between formats.

I found though in the end that kvm-img or qemu-img has able to handle all the images I use: VHD, VMDK, RAW, and QCOW2. For example kvm-image convert disk.vhd -O raw disk.raw will work.

This leads to the nicest thing I found about KVM. With either ESXi 3.5 or vSphere 4 ubuntu 8.04 or 8.10 VMDK files I was able to: kvm-img convert -O raw disk.vmdk disk.raw. Then run this new disk in raw format with KVM plus virtio drivers and do so without any changes in the guest.

This truely is disposable computing!

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Running KVM

I’ve started running KVM recently and I’ll post a review at some point. I’m finding it very flexible and much much easier to use that Xen.

There are still a few questions regarding file caches and disk images. In general I’m happy that it’s ready for production.

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Google Wave – Fully Integrated Social Tech Networks

Watch this video. There is a lot I could say, but it’s best to watch the video. Google Wave covers most of my vision of how communication should work, but extends it further in directions I haven’t considered.

  • Inline replies
  • Simultaneous online interaction 
  • Wiki like behaviour
  • Data interface linking.
  • Drag and drop.

The whole agent/robot functionality is very exciting.

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Sun and Oracle

There is quite a bit of commentary about Sun and Oracle.  It think it is quite clear that Java is probably the number one reason why Oracle was interested in Sun.  This Computerworld article makes an interesting point:

… And we just picked a number — $500 seemed like a magic threshold,” Ellison said. “And Scott McNealy got very sarcastic and said, ‘The heck with $500, how about $200?’ Shut up, Scott.”

But what McNealy understood was that it wasn’t in the DNA of enterprise IT vendors like Oracle and Sun to market low-cost computers for school kids. The Network Computer needed to be a thin client for corporate networks. Two years later, in September 1999, Sun introduced its Sun Ray thin client. And that’s what will fulfill Ellison’s hardware dream.

Sun’s server business does absolutely nothing for Oracle. Unix servers are a dying breed, and Intel/AMD-based servers are a commodity. Oracle will almost certainly ratchet that business down as quickly as possible, or sell it off outright, perhaps to Fujitsu. But the thin-client business is a different story. It’s not difficult to see that the future of corporate computing lies in the cloud, and that a thin-client architecture will seed it.

My main concern is zfs. But if Oracle decides to delivery application appliances with Solaris/x64 hardware, I suspect future Solaris development should be fine.

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