Saturday Dec 27, 2008

Adventures in OpenSolaris - Building a ZFS server

Note: This entry is part of series which starts here

My journey really started with this blog. It has a great overview of why you want to use ZFS and how to build your hardware, how to setup ZFS and how to use it. At first the information might seem daunting, but like most new projects once you get into you realize the project is broken down into pieces that can be easily followed.

The first step of the project is identifing and putting together your hardware. One of our Sun colleagues has documented a spectacular build. I seriously started going down this road. To get the parts in the US you are looking at about $800-$900. While this is still an exceptional value, it is quite frankly still a bit more than I was looking to spend.

My build started in another direction. Cheap. My goal was to build the system for as cheaply as I could. Again it is going to be open, and I can always upgrade the different components as needed. I have a difficult time parting with old gear. I have a Dell 4550 that has long given up the ghost for running Windows. Step one of my build was cracking it open and giving it a good dose of canned air to get the cobwebs out of it. The system only had 512MB of RAM, but a quick exploration through my stock piles found a compatible DIMM to bring the system to 1GB. The system also has P4 running at 2.5 gHz.

Now if you have read about ZFS you will probably asking yourself what was I thinking running on this minimum of specs? Doesn't ZFS need a 64Bit chip? Don't I need more RAM? Well to be honest I had no idea what my performance was going to be like. But again my goal for the system was to be a backup server. I have 2 programs, one for the MAC and one for Windows, that copy files from the systems I run, to the backup server. These programs are all scheduled to run in the middle of the night. It really doesn't matter if they take 30 minutes or an hour. Also after the initial load I would only be moving incremental changes, which is really not a significant amount of data. Therefore I decided to plug ahead with my 7 year old box.

I started by installing OpenSolaris 2008.11 on the box. All of the critical devices in the box where found, and the system was up and running in no time. Now came some interesting architectural decisions. My goal was to have 4 drives for the ZFS pool, and a separate drive for the OS. This leads to the ability to update the OS or replace the OS drive without interfering with the storage pool.

My first thought was to boot the system to a USB drive that was running the OpenSolaris operating system. The 4550 did not allow for boot to USB. I did find I was 8 revisions behind on the bios, and upgraded it, but alas still no way to boot to USB.

At this point my original plan changed. The case has slots for more drives and I decide to leave the IDE interfaces, one for a hard drive and one for the dvd and to add a SATA card to hang the rest of the drives off of. When finished the box has 5 HD's, one IDE and 4 SATA, an IDE DVD, and I decided to leave the floppy in it as well.

I decided that since I have a GigE switch I would upgrade to the the network card as well. After the checking the HCL, I was off to my local computer store to see what parts I could come up with.

Based on the HCL and what was in the store I picked up the following additional components:
DLink DGE-530T GigE network adapter
SIIG SATA 4 channel
3 Seagate 500GB drives

And as often goes with adventures like this my original goal was to buy 4 HD's. I was hoping for 250GB to 300GB to get me to a pool of 750GB or 900GB. The store I went to was having a sale on the 500GB drives, and I was able to pick 3 of them up for less than 4 of the others. I was able to get a 1TB pool and this sets me up for adding another 500GB to my ZFS pool very easily in the future, by simply getting another disk when I am out of space.

My Adventure continues with upgrading to GigE

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Thursday Dec 25, 2008

Adventures in OpenSolaris - Building a ZFS pool as a network share

Note: This entry is part of series which starts here

Working with ZFS is actually quite easy. If you have done any work with any other type of RAID, NAS, etc, you will truly understand what an amazing file system ZFS is and how easy it is to work with. The first time I built a ZFS filesystem for a customer, they did not believe me because I had done it so quickly, and made me delete it and do it again. No challenge what so ever with ZFS!

The official docs for ZFS can be found here and a good best practice guide can be found here.

So without further ado lets create the ZFS pool. First I run the format command to see a list of my disks.


The disks that I want to use c3d1, c4d0 and c4d1. These are all 500GB disks, that I will put into a raidz1 configuration. raidz1 provides for the ability to have an entire disk fail without data loss. With raidz, your pool will be the size of your disks minus one, so in my case I will wind up with about 1T of space in my pool. (3\*500GB - 500GB).

Now you may have noticed that the server I am working on is named ElmerFudd so what better to name the share than shotgun? The command below creates a zfs file. The -m command defines the mount point, raidz1 defines the raid to use, and the list of disks define what disks should go into the pool:
#zpool create -m /export/shotgun shotgun raidz1 c3d1 c4d0 c4d1

Almost instantaneously the raid is created!

We can check the status of the pool with the following command:
#zpool status shotgun


Note with this command we can see that there are 3 drives configured in raidz1.

Great now we have an almost 1TB raidz file system, ready to store all of backup data on it. The next challenge is that my data is on my Macs and Window machine. How to network share the file system so that the other machines can see it? I choose to use SMB, which is the Solaris implementation of CIF, which I knew both my mac and windows box would be able to see.

I again started with google to find the steps necessary to get an SMB sharing out a ZFS filesystem on OpenSolaris. I came across this blog which has the necessary steps, which I have included here as well. More details about SMB shares can be found at the Sun Docs on the subject.

The smb isn’t included in the default kernel, you can install it with:
# pfexec pkg install SUNWsmbs
# pfexec pkg install SUNWsmbskr

You then need to reboot the system

Next you will need to enable the server to start automatically at system boot
# svcadm enable -r smb/server
If you get an error about more than one interface it is okay

Check to see if the smb service is running:
# svcs | grep smb

Next we need to modify our pool to turn on smb sharing the following command does just that:
#zfs set sharesmb=on shotgun

The following command shows us the status of our zfs pool. Notice the smbshare setting is turned on.
#zfs get all shotgun


Next we need to modify the pam.conf file to allow users to authenticate against the share. SMB keeps a separate password file so you need to run the password command for any user who you want to be able to mount the smb share.

Add this line to /etc/pam.conf:
# Seem to need this line for smb / cifs:
other password required nowarn

reset the password:
#passwd <user who wants share access>

Now for the real test. Can I see the share from my Mac and Windows machine? On my mac using finder, I went to the Go Menu and then connect to server. In the connect box I typed smb://elmerfudd/shotgun. I was prompted for my username and password and the share mounted.

From my windows system I went to map network drive and entered \\\\elmerfudd\\shotgun. Again after providing my credentials the share was mounted.

My adventure continues here

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Tuesday Dec 23, 2008

Adventures in OpenSolaris - Getting to SATA

Note: This entry is part of series which starts here

I am continuing to experiment with OpenSolaris on an old computer that I have. I decided I wanted to put more disks in the server and begin to research what cards where available. The Hardware Compatibility List lists 2 different PCI based SATA cards that are known to work. Both of the cards have the Silicon Image 3112A chipset in them.

I headed over to my local computer store, MicroCenter, and they had a SIIG 4 channel SATA card with the Silicon Image chipset on it. Knowing it would be a 50/50 chance that it would work I went ahead and picked it up.

I installed the card and hooked up a SATA drive I had available. On boot the card showed up in the boot screens and it detected the drive. Good sign. Once OpenSolaris was up and running, though no luck. Looks like the 50/50 bet had played against me. OpenSolaris did not recognize the card.

I started googling around and found a lot of hits. Some said the cards did not work. Some said that if you ran the update_drv command it would work. I tried running the command but still no luck. Next I hit upon a couple of Windows users who where having issues with the card. Some of the responses hinted at using different firmware on the card. This hint got me to this OpenSolaris bug ID. Seems as if the card ships in a raid configuration which does not work with OpenSolaris. You can go to the original manufacture and get a different bios for the SATA card that presents the disks as JBOD instead of RAID and it will work.

The download page for the chipset can be found here. The next challenge is how to update the bios on the card? There is a DOS based or a Windows based utility in the downloads directly. Obviously since I am running OpenSolaris, the Windows utility was not going to be of much use to me. The computer does have a floppy disk, so DOS boot it was!

This led to probably the most amusing or ironic step of this whole process. I found myself building a DOS boot disk using a USB floppy drive attached to my Mac, passed through to a Windows Virtual Machine.

There are 3 versions of the bios available. One passes the disks through as plain disk, one builds the raid, and one is to be used the chipset built into motherboards. Make sure pick the correct one!

With my SATA card bios flashed to the new version, I rebooted. This time OpenSolaris can see the sata disks.

My adventure continues with building my ZFS file share.

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Sunday Dec 21, 2008

Adventures in OpenSolaris - Sun Ray Server Software

A couple of my colleagues have posted an entry on how to run Sun Ray Server on OpenSolaris. The directions can be found here. I currently have an OpenSolaris server that I am experimenting with. What better way then to get a console on the server than through a Sun Ray? The installation went fine and I can now reach the server with my Sun Rays.

As the directions mention this configuration is not yet supported for production systems. If you are running OpenSolaris, go ahead and give it whirl!

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Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

Multimedia Redirection for Sun Ray Server Software

The latest release of Sun Ray Server Software 10/08 has a new feature Multimedia Redirection. From the product release;

Sun Ray(TM) Software 4 10/08 introduces enhanced multimedia
playback capabilities on the Sun Ray 2 family of clients for H.264
(MPEG4) and VC-1 (Windows Media Video 9) streams using Windows Media
Player on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. This is an optimal
solution for server resource conservation and network bandwidth
consumption, ideal for corporate communications and training videos.

So what does this new feature do? In brief it allows for videos to be played in real time without any video/audio sync issue. There is a known issue with Microsoft RDP, that interjects a 2 second delay between video and audio. The new redirector uses an RDP channel to deliver audio and video in sync.

To get started we need a Sun Ray Server 10/08 enviroment. Directions on how to get one running can be found here.

Now that our Sun Ray environment is up a running we need to install the Multimedia redirection components. As always I recommending reading the manual which can be found here.

The first step is to install the multimedia component either on a windows terminal server or an xp desktop, the desktop that you will be connecting your Sun Ray to. The multimedia component can be found in the supplemental directory of the Windows Connector distribution. There are 2 files an exe and an msi. They are the same installer packaged in 2 different formats.

Once you start the setup you need to select the everyone option.

The installer will now be ready to install

We are notified that the application installed

At this point you will be able to play Windows Media Files in the Windows Media Player in synch on the Sun Ray. In the supplemental directory of the Sun Ray Windows Connectors distribution, you will find a directory named samples. In that directory there will be 2 files, clip01-WMV9.wmv and clip02-WMV9.wmv. Give them a shot and see how well they play! Also don't be shy, move the Windows Media player window around and watch how the video stays smooth.

Next lets look at getting H.264 working. We will need to install some additional components to make this happen. There are several open source and commercial codecs available. For our setup we will use the open source codecs.

The first component we need to install is MatroskaSplitter which can be found here. Double click the exe to start the install. Install with the defaults.

Agree to the license agreement.

Choose the install directory

Create a startup folder

Setup options

Complete the install

The second component that we need to install is ffDShow. It can be found here. Double click the exe to start the install.

Agree to install the app

Choose a directory

Select components, leave the defaults selected

Create a Start Menu Folder

On the select addition tasks page, again leave the defaults selected

On the Management of Compatibility Issue Video page take the defaults

On the Management of Compatibility Issue Audio page take the defaults

On the Speaker setup page take the default


Click on Finish

At this point you will be able to play H.264 files in the Windows Media Player in synch on the Sun Ray. In the supplemental directory of the Sun Ray Windows Connectors distribution, you will find a directory named samples. In that directory there will be 2 files, clip01-H264.mp4 and clip02-H264.mp4. Give them a shot and see how well they play! Also don't be shy, move the Windows Media player window around and watch how the video stays smooth.

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Sunday Nov 30, 2008

UStream Challenge

This morning on Twitter I commented that it was snowing here in Colorado. One of my co-workers mentioned that I should stream it. My initial response was that I don't know how to use, and that I don't have a web cam. I technically do have a camera in my MBP, but was not too thrilled about figuring how to hold my notebook up to the window so the video could stream.

I then remembered that I had an iSight around here someplace. My original PowerBook did not have a built in camera and I used to use an iSight. A brief search and I found the box. The next challenge was getting the iSight set up so it had a good view out the window. Ironically it mounted perfectly on top of a picture that I have sitting on my desk.

Off to It was very easy to set up an account, but as I feared it started the streaming from the built in camera. I noticed some drop down, and surprisingly, it had detected my iSight and all I had to do was select it.

My Sunday morning challenge has been met, and I am streaming live on the Internet. I don't know how long I will leave the channel up, nor how long the snow will keep falling which was the original point of the stream, but for now you can see out the window of my office.

Enjoy the view!

Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

Wednesday Nov 12, 2008

How to build a Sun Ray Server 4 10/08 for a Proof of Concept (POC)

There are not a lot of changes in getting the base 4.1 SRSS software up and running from 4.0. Simply follow the 4.0 guide substituting the new version numbers where appropriate. 4.1 instead of 4.0 for SRSS and 2.1 instead of 2.0 for the connector. Note that SRSS 10/08 needs Solaris 10 5/08 at a minimum.

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Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

How to install Solaris 10 05/08 or 10/08 for a POC

UPDATE: While these directions where made for 05/08 the install for 10/08 is identical and these will work as well.

In the desktop virtualization world, we do a lot of Windows desktop virtualization. Hence we bump into many Windows Administrators who have never installed Solaris. There is no black magic to installing Solaris, it is very similar to Windows in that you click through some text based screens and then some windows based screens, watch for periods of time while the installer runs, a reboot and you are running Solaris.

The goal of this guide is help a Windows administrator step through the installation prompts of Solaris to get a server up and running. Note just like Windows server, Solaris servers can be tuned for many different functions. The different aspects are out of scope of this guide and again the goal here is to get Solaris up and running for a POC.

To install Solaris you are going to need at least 768MB of RAM. Note you can install it with 512, but the gui installer will not start and you will be in a text based installation mode. Also the installer checks that you have at least 8GB of disk. Once Solaris is installed it will use around 3GB of disk. You will also need a somewhat modern version of a processor, Pentium 4 at a minimum. Note these are not the official hardware requirements. Just my recommendations for a POC server. Obviously the more specs the better! The official Solaris hardware list can be found here. Note the list is for servers that have been qualified and Solaris support can be purchased on. If your server is not on the list, Solaris may very well install and run on it. The Sun Device Detection Tool will let you know if Solaris will run on the system or not.

Next you are going to need to get the media. Solaris can be downloaded or ordered from this link. If you download Solaris you will need to burn a DVD. So without further ado, lets get this install rolling by putting the DVD in the drive and booting the system.

The first screen you will be presented with is the Solaris GRUB boot menu. Select Solaris and hit enter.

Next you will see a series of screens as Solaris boots:


You will be asking what type of installation you want to perform. Select the default Solaris interactive. The system will identify the nics and attempt to configure them. Don't worry if it does not. Finally it will start Java to start the windows system. And as the screen says, please wait it can take a minute for it to start.

You then identify your keyboard layout. Note that it asks you to press F2 to continue. If F2 does not work use esc-2.

Th graphical part of the install is about to begin. Just like the Windows resize screen you will have an opportunity to tell the system that you can read the screen, or it will revert back to text.

At this point we are in the graphical installer and need to select the language we want the directions to be presented to us in.

The next screen provides an overview of what information is going to be requested during the install.

The next screen asks if the system is going to be networked or not. Select Networked and continue.

Next we are asked about DHCP. We are going to say no, because we want to assign a static IP.

Identify the host name for the system.

Enter an IP for the system.

Enter the netmask.

Leave no selected for IPv6.

Select specify a default route.

Enter the IP for your default route.

Do not enable Kerberos.

Choose DNS as the name service.

Enter your domain name.

Enter your DNS servers.

Enter your search domains. Note these are domains that will be appended to a dns search. For example if we did an nslookup foo, the resolver would look up, because that is the domain we are in. We need to add other domains, in the example, if we want to resolve names for that domain.

Note that if your server can't successfully do a DNS lookup for your host information you will be prompted to confirm your entries. If your entries are correct it is safe to proceed.

The full details of NFS are outside of the scope of the guide and details can be found here. Select Use the NFSv4 domain derived by the system.

Select your time zone. Select Geographic Continent.

Use the menu in the middle to find your time zone.

The next screen allows you to set the system time adjust if needed.

Enter a root password for the system.

Solaris can be hardened so the only port open is SSH. Since this is a lab machine we don't want to do this. Leave yes checked to leave other ports open.

The next screen gives you the chance to confirm your selections. If everything is good to go click on next, if not click on back to make corrections.

Next we move into defining the parameters for the Solaris install.

We want the system to reboot automatically and to eject any CD's.

We are going to install from DVD.

The installer will do some thinking at this point. This step can take a few minutes.

Accept the software license.

Choose custom install.

Choose your geographic location. North America English.

Choose the system local English Posix C.

Web start allows for additional products to be installed. We are not going to install any at this time.

The next screen allows us to install different packages. We are going to do a default install of the entire OS.

We need to identify what disk we want to install on. Select your primary hard drive.

Select the primary hard drive for partitioning customization.

Let Solaris use the whole disk.

We want to modify and change the partition tables that the installer gave us.

A full discussion of file systems is out of scope of this guide. For now create a /swap with half the amount of RAM you have in the system, and put the rest of the disk space into / similar to the snap below.

Confirm installation settings. If everything is okay click install now. If not go back and change things.

Solaris is now installing. This is going to take a while.

When the install is finished the system will reboot. On the first boot it will need to build the service descriptors. Note it only does this on the first boot after an install and it can take a few minutes.

Finally you will have the Solaris log in screen up. Log in with the user name root and the password you created during setup.

Always patch Solaris after installing! Here's how...

Download reco'd patch cluster from SunSolve (requires login & service contract)

In the SunSolve Patch Contents section, click Patches and Updates
In the Downloads section, click Patch Cluster & Patch Bundle Downloads
In the Solaris Patch Clusters section, expand Recommended Patch Clusters
Click the Download link for the appropriate cluster...

Solaris 10 SPARC Recommended Patch Cluster
Solaris 10 x86 Recommended Patch Cluster

Unzip & apply (SPARC):
unzip -qq
cd 10_Recommended
./install_cluster -q

Unzip & apply (x86):
unzip -qq
cd 10_x86_Recommended
./install_cluster -q

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Thursday Oct 23, 2008

Value of my blog

Saw this on Jim's Site and decided to run it against mine.

My blog is worth $1,693.62.
How much is your blog worth?

Saturday Sep 27, 2008

Sun Rays in Healthcare

I support a lot of our Healthcare customers. I was recently asked to post some pictures of Sun Rays in a healthcare facility.

The first picture is a radiology system displaying a 3 dimensional image of a skull. The skull can be rotated in any direction in real time.

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The next series of pictures show the same workstation displaying a traditional windows desktop and an information portal. A screen saver like feature that can be used to display information messages to the healthcare staff.

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Here is a picture of a Sun Ray in an exam room.
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Sun Ray at a wall mount station in a hallway.
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Finally we have a Sun Ray 270 on a cart. The cart solution uses a cart from
Flo Healthcare with a VESA mounting bracket and a bar code reader and blue tooth modem from Code.

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Saturday Aug 30, 2008

Sun at the DNC

This year the Democratic National Convention was held in Denver, CO. To use the cliche history was in the making. The DNC has a long history including the return of the DNC to Denver after 100 years! It was previously held here in 1908.

Sun chose to support the DNC by providing Cyber Cafes to the delegates from Ohio and Michigan. A Cyber Cafe consists of a server running Solaris and Sun Rays. The solution is configured to provide a FireFox web browser for Internet access.

Being on Sun's Desktop Virtualization team, and living in Denver, left me as the perfect candidate to setup, support and take down the cafes.

Sunday 8/24 was setup day. I got up bright and early and headed to the Curtis hotel where the Ohio Delegation was staying. The Curtis is a modern, pop-culture themed hotel, every floor has a different whimsical theme. One such whimsical item is that the elevators chime a different sound track on every floor when the doors open. We were on the second floor and I got to hear "Peak a boo, I see you" several dozen times.

When I got to the Curtis things where very hectic. The staff knew where the Cyber Cafe was supposed to be setup, but no one new where the server and Sun Rays were. After going through several people I finally found a gentleman who knew where they where, but he said we have a problem. I asked him what the problem was and he said you will see and marched off with me in tow.

Now there were several amusing moments during the week and this was one of them. I followed the gentlemen into a room, and literally wall to wall 40 feet by 20 feet are over 5000 gift bags with little stuffed Donkeys sticking their noses out the top of the bags. And yes against the far wall, with all of these little Donkeys in between us I could see the Sun labeled boxes. The delegates were great. We set up a fire brigade and cleared a path 2 feet wide by 20 feet deep to get to the servers. I am guessing we moved close to a 1000 little donkeys.

Here are the pictures of the Ohio Cyber Cafe:

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Once the Curtis was up and running I headed off to the Renaissance hotel where the Michigan delegation was staying. The setup went quite smooth at the second hotel.

Here are the pictures of the Michigan Cyber Cafe:

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And as I mentioned I got to support the solution for the week: Check out these signs!

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I was not too concerned about the support part. The Sun Ray solution is rock solid. My only concern was really from curious participants who might decide to play with the cabling. Another humorous moment came from a support call. I answer the phone and I have someone excited on the other end of the phone saying the Sun Rays are down. I calm the gentleman down and ask him which hotel he is calling from, and if down means the web browser won't go anywhere (meaning the hotel has lost their Internet connection) or down means the web browser is not displaying on the Sun Rays. The gentleman proceeds to tell me that there are little white boxes on the Sun Rays. I announce the Sun Ray server is down and I am on my way. He repeats oh the server is down, and I hear another gentleman in the background say, "Oh that is what that plug must have been for!" The gentleman on the phone then tried to hurry of as quickly as he could. Obviously they unplugged the server for some reason, and as soon as they plugged it back in, everything was up and running!

The week wound up being an incredible experience. Getting to take part of something as important as our democratic process was amazing. The energy from the delegates was like nothing I have seen before. The Cyber Cafes were used non-stop, often with people waiting for a turn. It was amazing to be part of this, and to help make the best company in the world have a part of it!

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Friday Jul 25, 2008

Virtual Box Host Networking in Windows

Update: With the release of VirtualBox 2.1, these steps are no longer necessary. Please find the details here.

I was recently asked by a customer if you can do Host Networking in Virtual box with Windows. I know the answer is yes, but I had never actually done it myself. I told the customer yes, and then headed to my lab to verify the steps.

The virtual box documentation is some of the best documentation that I have read. That being said, it gives a brief paragraph on how to make this work in windows. Quite frankly now that I have gotten it working, the paragraph is crystal clear, but before I figured it out, the directions where of no help. Could be my user error, but since I could not find any other documentation on how to do it, I decided to blog about it.

On your host OS, in my case this is windows 2003 server, you need to navigate to your network settings. Here is a snapshot of what mine looks like.

Next you need to start virtual box, create a virtual machine, and create a new host interface. This is all well documented in the directions. I created one called VirtualBox Host Interface 1. I have attached a screen shot for reference.

At this point your windows networking will have a new interface in it.

Now here comes the part that I missed from the documentation. You need to select both your original ethernet connection and the new connection you just made, and then right click and select bridge. You are going to want to make sure you do this step from the console. You will loose network connectivity to the host when you do this.

Once you select bridge, a wizard will run, and create a new bridge connection. You will need to select this new bridge connection and put the network settings you originally had in your ethernet connection into it. This is why you must do it from the console and why you will loose connectivity to the host. Notice how the network control panel now displays a Network Bridge section.

We can now start our virtual machine and it will come up with a host interface and an IP on the local network.

And then the million dollar question. Can you do multiple? You can. Simple repeat the steps to create another Virtual adapter, I have named mine VirtualBox Host Interface 2. In your network settings, right click on it and select add to bridge.

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Saturday Jun 21, 2008


I have had 3 projects come up recently that have pretty crazy device requirements. While the Sun Ray solution is very capable of dealing with tens of thousands of peripherals some times the best way to deal with a peripheral is to get out of the way and let Windows handle it directly.

There are several products on the market that do USB over IP. Essentially it is a device that has USB ports and an Ethernet port. You install the Windows based software, configure the device with an IP, and the Windows Software will make Windows think it has an attached USB port even though that USB port is across the network.

I am betting I am going to need one of these in one of my up coming projects. If you have read my blog you know I like to learn by doing. So after a spectacular display of list minute eBay bidding, I wound up with a Digi AnywhereUSB.

The device arrived during the week, but today was the first day I had some cycles to look at it. The instructions are very straight forward. Install the Windows software, it will find the device on your network, allow you to configure it and assign it to the computer. Once assigned it will install a USB driver and like magic you have USB ports in your Windows machine.

Look out ahead, HUGE SPEEDBUMP! As my USB drivers where installing Windows nicely presented me with installation failed. When I went to look at device manager, the devices where there with the infamous yellow explanation point over them. After a couple of searches at that returned errors, I finally convinced their search engine to return some links to their knowledge base. Luckily the answer to my problem was in the knowledge base. It seems as though Windows is smart enough to know it is not installing on bare metal and it leaves out part of the USB subsystem when you install in a VM. The article explains how to copy the necessary files over to the Windows System folder of the VM. You then need to uninstall the AnywhereUSB software and reboot. When the box comes up, you start the process over and lo and behold this time everything installed like a charm.

Now the big test. Would it actually work? I decided to use my wife's Windows mobile phone as a test device. I installed ActiveSync, plugged the phone into the Anywhere USB, and like magic Windows said it found a new device, installed the drivers, and showed the phone connected to ActiveSync.

Below are some shots of a Motorala Q connected to a Windows VM through an AnywhereUSB, being display on a Sun Ray.

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Friday Jun 06, 2008

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Virtual Disk Too Small

I was working with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 product. After several hours of working with my virtual machine I ran out of disk. After some research I discovered when creating a new image, much like VMWare, during the setup it gives you the choice for a fixed disk or a dynamic disk. Unfortunately unlike VMWare, the size you pick for a dynamic disk is the size that the disk will grow to, not start with.

What to do? Should I throw away the hours of work I had into the VM or try to figure out how to grow the disk? Microsoft does not provide functionality to grow the disks once they are made.

I googled and found the following utility, VHD Resizer. It seems that it would do exactly what I needed to do. I have another virtual machine that I install random software on and will be using it for this effort. I went to install VHD Resize and it requires the .NET 2.0 framework, which I did not have in the VM and had to install that first. With .NET installed VHD has fired up to a very simple gui interface. Pick the drive you want to change, pick the destination you want to save it it, and pick its new size. VHD also gives you the ability to change the drive from dynamic and fixed and vice versa. I have selected a to make a new 20GB dynamic disk.

45 minutes later VHD Resizer has finished. I have booted the new system with the new disk and it is the same size! I quick scan of the forums show that a lot of people have this issue, but no clear directions on how to solve. I googled again and found this article. It mentions that you have to mount the disk as a secondary disk on another VM and use a program called diskpart to extend the partition. The article does not contain directions, and diskpart help is not as good as it can be. At a high level you need to select the disk, and the volume using the select command of diskpart. The list command can be use to figure out the names of your disk and volume. Once you have selected the correct items use the extend command to extend it. My disks is now the full size I gave it.

Now detach the disk as the secondary so that you can boot it is a primary disk back under your original VM. When I booted mine I got a windows hardware update which said I had to reboot. After the reboot I have the VM up and running with a bigger disk!

The whole process took me 2 hours,which was less much work than rebuilding the VM with a bigger disk. Kudos to VHD Resizer!

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Friday May 09, 2008

How to install SGD 4.4 for a POC

SGD is spectacular software package that allows for secure application publishing. The application can be configured in many ways. These steps are meant to get SGD up and running for a POC. They should not be used for a production deployment.

First off, yes ladies and gentleman RTFM!

It is crucial that DNS be configured correctly for SGD to work. Both the SGD host and the clients that you will use to connect to SGD must be able to resolve the host name of the SGD server.

Get the software.

User and Group Prerequisites and the commands to set them up:
The system must have ttaserv and a ttasys users and a ttaserv group before you can install SGD.
The ttasys user owns all the files and processes used by the SGD server. The ttaserv user owns all the files and processes used by the SGD Web Server.

The SGD server does not require superuser (root) privileges to run. The SGD server starts as the root user and then downgrades to the ttasys user.
# groupadd ttaserv
# useradd -g ttaserv -s /bin/sh -d /export/home/ttasys -m -c ttasys ttasys
# useradd -g ttaserv -s /bin/sh -d /export/home/ttaserv -m -c ttaserv ttaserv
# passwd -l ttasys
# passwd -l ttaserv

SGD is a package so we need to use pkgadd:
# pkgadd -d /tmp/tta-version.sol-sparc.pkg

Once it is installed you are supposed to start it to configure it
# /opt/tarantella/bin/tarantella start

Since this the first time we are starting it is asking us config questions. Take the defaults.

Once the services is started point a web browser at http://<servername>. You will be at the SGD log in prompt.
At this point you will need to configure different applications that you wish to publish. Since everyone will want to publish different apps I will leave that outside the scope of this post.

Happy SGD'ing.

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