Jump to content
RESET Forums (homeservershow.com)

A new quest - Citrix XenServer on the N54L


LoneWolf
 Share

Recommended Posts

Well, my Microserver N54L wasn't selling.  I decided it'd be the perfect test-platform for actually playing with Hypervisors.

 

ESXi - I would have done this six months ago.  VMWare's change to requiring a purchase for their management console from 5.5 onwards killed this for me.  It's really too bad, as this would have been my first choice.

 

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 - Okay, this sounded good.  Then I looked at it for work and found that doing a P2V of a machine has now become more cumbersome than it was in 2012 --and yet you really want the added features of VMS in 2012 R2.

 

http://blogs.technet.com/b/scvmm/archive/2013/10/03/how-to-perform-a-p2v-in-a-scvmm-2012-r2-environment.aspx#pi137664=4

 

I can only say "Shame on you, Microsoft" for that one.  The point of doing this is so that I can explore something I might be able to do at low-cost and without kludges in my work environment.

 

Then I went back and explored my third option.  Citrix XenServer 6.2 (now at SP1 level to add Windows 8.1 and Server 2012R2 support) is open-source.  As in, free to download, and free to use.  Paying will get you simplified patch management and support from Citrix, but you're getting a true Hypervisor similar to VMWare (as opposed to Hyper-V Server which I consider "almost a hypervisor"), and you actually get to use it completely free.  Intriguing.

 

http://xenserver.org/overview-xenserver-open-source-virtualization/download.html

 

I have only just installed the hypervisor, XenCenter on a Windows Client PC, and then the service pack.  6.2 had no issues with the NIC driver, or my Smart Array P410 RAID controller; my test box is using two 80GB VRaptors in RAID-1 as the boot drive, and a single Samsung HD204UI 2TB drive as my storage pool (right now I'm only playing, there's no need for redundancy).  I'm going to add a VM or two shortly, but I have to say, so far it looks very slick and polished --and for a home solution, I'm not sure I'd want to choose anything else assuming this supports your hardware.

 

Xen Orchestra is also available as a web-management console if you don't wish to run Xen Center from a Windows PC.  Also haven't tried it yet, but here's the link.

 

https://xen-orchestra.com/install-and-update-xo-from-git/

 

I have no reason to believe this won't work well on the Microserver Gen8 as well, but right now, my N54L is a good lab server for my testing purposes.  If you've got a box kicking around you've got no use for and you're getting into VMs, I'd definitely try it.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Other useful notes:

 

You'll probably want to have PuTty and WinSCP around on a Windows box, if you're administering from one.  Putty is everyone's favorite SSH client and will let you SSH into the box for installing hotfixes/updates, or working with the command-line.  WinSCP will let you copy files from your Windows box into the XenServer, useful for uploading the patch files.  For SP1, I just used WinSCP to copy the patch files to the root directory of the box, then Putty to go in and apply them.

 

Useful link:  How to manually patch XenServer from the command-line (helpful when doing Service Pack 1, for example):

 

http://geekcorner.sitedevelopments.net/2013/07/14/xenserver-6-2-installing-update-using-the-xe-command-line-interface/

 

Another useful tip:  You can create a library of ISO files on your XenServer to boot from when you want to spin up a new VM.  However, as XenServer doesn't have an immediately obvious way to do this, I found equally helpful links for this process.

 

http://www.riverlite.co.uk/2012/01/xenserver-creating-a-local-iso-library/

http://blogs.citrix.com/2013/04/22/xenserver-local-iso-sr/

http://geekcorner.sitedevelopments.net/2013/03/29/create-local-iso-repository-xenserver-6/

 

More information to come as I delve further.

Edited by LoneWolf
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay.  The first thing I don't care for about XenServer is the way it works with ISOs (going back to my earlier post).

 

VMWare will let you mount an ISO direct from the VSphere fat client (and I would assume from the Web client as well, though I haven't tried that).  XenCenter (the management console for your Xenserver(s)) won't, which is a little annoying.  You are supposed to create an ISO storage pool.  Sounds fine, right?  However, without the above articles, it won't create a *local* one for you on the XenServer.  You need a CIFS or NFS share --and for most of us, a second physical box defeats the whole purpose.  Citrix could really improve here by making it possible through XenCenter to create a local ISO storage pool that you can copy your ISOs to.  I actually ended up having difficulty with the above articles (probably due to my lack of experience with the xe commandline and my very basic experience level with Linux) because I don't have a lot of space on the boot drive for my Microserver, and wanted to create the pool on my secondary drive, and things didn't go the way I expected.  Due to impatience on my part, I created a share on my laptop which has some ISOs on it.  This worked fine, and I'm spinning up a 2008R2 VM for test (I'll probably look at 2012 and Windows 8 ones in a bit).  I'll post more as I go

 

Image of XenCenter 5 for Windows (I'm using 6.2 of course, but they look very similar) from Citrix.  Note that it does adopt a philosophy somewhat similar to VSphere, so if you liked VSphere's fat client, you may very well be happy with XenServer.

 

XenCenter_main.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

Other useful notes:

 

You'll probably want to have PuTty and WinSCP around on a Windows box, if you're administering from one.  Putty is everyone's favorite SSH client and will let you SSH into the box for installing hotfixes/updates, or working with the command-line.  WinSCP will let you copy files from your Windows box into the XenServer, useful for uploading the patch files.  For SP1, I just used WinSCP to copy the patch files to the root directory of the box, then Putty to go in and apply them.

 

Useful link:  How to manually patch XenServer from the command-line (helpful when doing Service Pack 1, for example):

 

http://geekcorner.sitedevelopments.net/2013/07/14/xenserver-6-2-installing-update-using-the-xe-command-line-interface/

 

Another useful tip:  You can create a library of ISO files on your XenServer to boot from when you want to spin up a new VM.  However, as XenServer doesn't have an immediately obvious way to do this, I found equally helpful links for this process.

 

http://www.riverlite.co.uk/2012/01/xenserver-creating-a-local-iso-library/

http://blogs.citrix.com/2013/04/22/xenserver-local-iso-sr/

http://geekcorner.sitedevelopments.net/2013/03/29/create-local-iso-repository-xenserver-6/

 

More information to come as I delve further.

 

You actually don't need putty or SCP.  From a windows pc with XenCenter installed, you can open a CMD prompt and go to the XenCenter installation folder and issue your commands from there or put the XenCenter path in your environment path.  You can then execute the various XE commands.

 

IE (uploading patch files without SCP), XE PATCH-UPLOAD -S [server or IP] -U [username] -PW [password] [-P [port]] FILE-NAME=[local path to files]

 

Hope this helps..

 

Cjoe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay.  The first thing I don't care for about XenServer is the way it works with ISOs (going back to my earlier post).

 

VMWare will let you mount an ISO direct from the VSphere fat client (and I would assume from the Web client as well, though I haven't tried that).  XenCenter (the management console for your Xenserver(s)) won't, which is a little annoying.  You are supposed to create an ISO storage pool.  Sounds fine, right?  However, without the above articles, it won't create a *local* one for you on the XenServer.  You need a CIFS or NFS share --and for most of us, a second physical box defeats the whole purpose.  Citrix could really improve here by making it possible through XenCenter to create a local ISO storage pool that you can copy your ISOs to.  I actually ended up having difficulty with the above articles (probably due to my lack of experience with the xe commandline and my very basic experience level with Linux) because I don't have a lot of space on the boot drive for my Microserver, and wanted to create the pool on my secondary drive, and things didn't go the way I expected.  Due to impatience on my part, I created a share on my laptop which has some ISOs on it.  This worked fine, and I'm spinning up a 2008R2 VM for test (I'll probably look at 2012 and Windows 8 ones in a bit).  I'll post more as I go

 

Image of XenCenter 5 for Windows (I'm using 6.2 of course, but they look very similar) from Citrix.  Note that it does adopt a philosophy somewhat similar to VSphere, so if you liked VSphere's fat client, you may very well be happy with XenServer.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, Xenserver requires additional resources.  In your situation and most users playing with Xenserver, the Xenserver will be in a network with win7 or linux client machines.  You can create a shared folder on your local machine to store your ISOs.  From XenCenter, you can create a CIFS SR and point it to the shared folder with the relevant credentials.  Most companies have NAS, SANS and other networked devices that provide access to these resources. 

 

In my home network, I build and deploy test environments to mimic my customer's environments for my projects.  I'm looking to downgrade my 3 Xenserver full tower servers with much smaller boxes.  The HP Gen8 Microserver looks like a potential option but there are several major limitations such as 16GB of Ram, processor TDP and mixed SATA III/II ports. However, I can probably live with the slower speed of a E3-1265L V2 and swap out the Raid Controller.  3 of these boxes in a Pool would be much quieter than my current environment.

 

How do you like your G8 Microserver? 

 

Thanks..

 

Cjoe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You do not have to buy VMware management console (vSphere) just as long as you keep the machine hardware at 9 or lower.   You can upgrade to 10 but just not change hardware settings after migrating to 10.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also possible to just use ESXi 5.1 and never go to v10 machines.  Or alternately, Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.

 

Yodafett, my Gen8 has performed admirably.  I'm sure I'd get much more performance from XenServer with it; I've just found that other hypervisors may get more yet from the same configuration from working with my N54L when I had it.

Edited by LoneWolf
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...