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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:41 am 
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My 3 Year Old MSS is running ok, but I have the urge to build again. Taking my time building my wishlists in NewEgg. I'd like to throw my general ideas out there for feedback.

For a while, I was enamored with the Lian Li case that holds 6 drives for a WHS 2011 install paired with a ATOM based Microserver board.

However, now I'm upping that a little to a Midsize floor case with a slightly more powerful CPU - iCore 5 perhaps? Here's why: I record a lot of OTA shows which means I need to keep another box on all the time. The shows are auto copied to my MSS. Now, wouldn't it be great if I virtualized those two boxes? That way, only one physical box would have to run (assuming I could transfer my TV Card to the box). So now my idea is VMWare ESXi free on a box running Raid 5 or 10 with 5 or 6 2 or 3 TB Drives in it. 1 Small Win 7 VM for recording OTA Shows. 1 Massive WHS 2011 VM for Media and Document Storage (I would transfer my Carbonite subscription over). Maybe leave some spare space for other play VMs. I know if the TV Card doesn't work, I can go with one of these new Network based TV servers.

Believe it or not, I think the biggest gotcha here is the UPS. ESXi is pretty bad with integration with a UPS, thought I've found some good discussions on it. The more virtualized you are, the more important smooth shut downs are. And if anyone out there is near Washington DC, you may have heard how unreliable Pepco is these days.

So, bottom line is, I'm still committed to WHS because it does so many things so well plus the Carbonite Factor ($50 per year for all you can eat). But I think I like the envelope of ESXi so that I can build that 2nd or 3rd VM to do things like record shows, and not have to leave a 2nd physical box on all the time.

Thoughts? Besides running Win2008 instead of ESXi, any other VM Type OS you'd think of? Citrix?

Thanks. Always good feedback on this board.

Adam
Bethesda, MD


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:46 pm 
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I think your solution would work well for what you want to do, and Nigel wrote up some guides on installing WHS 2011 in VMWare though not ESXi specifically. I think that he is now running his current WHS 2011 box in ESXi, and has spoken of plans to write something up about it but I'm not sure when we'd see that.

The UPS consideration is an important one if power is as unreliable as it sounds. I don't personally know of a good answer to that problem for you. I use KVM running on Ubuntu for my virtualization needs, but that's for Linux clients running this site and others.

Do let us know what you end up doing!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:07 pm 
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Thanks. By googling ESXi and WHS, I found a number of articles out there on WHS inside of ESXi. Some folks are hung up on whether to use Virtual Hard Drives, or to mix Virtual with physical disks in case of some kind of failure...that way you still have the data on the non-virtual disks. But if I were to do this, I'd probably go all virtual with the ESXi box Raided.

If you add UPS to the search term, there are some folks who have gone through the trial and error of shut down scripts with ESXi, so I wouldn't have to reinvent that wheel.

The last gotcha would be driver issues with hardware attached to the server. Could I still use the server as a print server, the way I do now with my MSS 470 and a printer attached via USB? Would I be able to perform a server backup via eSata like I can now? Will I be able to put a TV Card into the server and have the Virtual Win7 machine be able to use it? It'll be a combo of research and trial and error.

Luckily, my MSS is running along fine so I can take my time for this build.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Sounds like you're doing all the right research, definitely let us know as you learn more.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:18 pm 
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There is no USB support in ESXi 4.X. This may change in 5.0.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:29 pm 
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I take it back. ESXi 4.1 has host based usb support, there is some special configuration that needs to be done however its alll gui based.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:29 pm 
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Just an update on my research. Cost is becoming more of a factor, not just in memory and CPU, but in disk management. In a pure WHS box, most of the Mobos offer a hybrid software/hardware raid. So if I put 4 or 5 2TB drives into a WHS 2011, I assume I'll be able to RAID those drives into an appropriate level of protection for my data. I would buy that many drives, even if my storage needs aren't that high, because of the importance of uniformity of disks. Get them all the same right now.

But these same motherboards do not support RAID for ESXi. In that case, I'll need a separate pure hardware RAID card for the disks. And the more the disks, the more expensive the RAID card I'd need. And by expensive, it seems they start at $250 if you're lucky.

So right now, I'm making my special wish list in NewEgg and waiting for the new Milstead line to come out. I can wait, but hopefully I won't have to wait too long.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:40 pm 
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I just grabbed a new 3M card (3ware 9500S-12 SATA Raid Controller Card) from eBay for $39. It has 12 SATA ports... Just not sure on support with your setup. The seller still has 4 left...

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