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My Netbook and Ubuntu Linux

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A couple of weekends ago I was working on my Asus 901 netbook, and it was just running dog slow and spitting up multiple errors at boot after logging in. I loaded Windows 7 on it (using nlite) last summer, which was kind of a pain to load, but was a fun experiment and got my feat wet with Windows 7. Initially Windows 7 worked OK, but just started to slow down and give out random errors, then I would get Windows Update notifications that would not install for various reasons. It was becoming frustrating, as at times I just wanted to boot the thing up and check my e-mail or send out a tweet.

The netbook’s drives where a 4GB and 16GB. There might be ways around it now, but I had to load the Windows OS partition on the 4GB drive and do multiple links to program files on the 16GB partition. I upgraded the netbook to the max physical memory allowed, 2GB, but that was really the only thing I did to it. I also had a heck of a time searching out drivers for the Asus that would work properly. Again, to be fair, this was last summer so there may be a better way to do this now.

I browsed around on the web, contemplated various linux distributions (eeebuntu, which I think is now Aurora and easypeasy was another, and a slew of others). I decided to try out Ubuntu 10.04, the netbook edition, from a USB thumb drive to see how it would work. I picked the netbook version of Ubuntu because I didn’t see a need to load a bunch of applications that I wouldn’t be using my netbook for. I primarily use my netbook to check e-mail, surf the web, etc, not any real “hardcore” stuff. I backed up the original netbook, then downloaded a copy of Ubuntu, and got a running copy going on a USB thumb drive. After the first boot up, I was hooked. I was amazed at how things just worked. No messing around with drivers. The netbook’s wifi found my access point, I entered in my security info, and was out on in the Internet in seconds. After playing around with it for about a hour, I decided to select the install feature from the system menu, and had a clean system loaded in about 30 minutes.

I really like Windows 7, but after seeing what this did for my netbook, for me making it useful again, I am contemplating trying it out on my desktop (the full version) at home as well. I don’t really play video intensive games anymore (no time, grrr), so this maybe the way to go. It is an older machine, so I might be able to get a few more years of life out of it. I really like the fact I can try it out on a USB thumb drive and give a run through its hoops.

For reference, take a look at this blog for tweaking certain things for your SSD drives and this article for how to load the eee-control features as well.

Home/Small Office VPN Solution – OpenVPN

A few months ago I was asked by a couple of people, “What is a good product for connecting remotely to my machines at work/home, but isn’t going to cost me a bundle”. Good question, as I really never had a solid utility for my home lab environment. At work, we have always had some sort of enterprise VPN product like CheckPoint, F5, or Sonicwall. So I did some searching around, and of course there are many solutions out there. The criteria I was setting for myself was I wanted something somewhat easy to install, preferably open source, and something that could expand and/or grow if needed. I also wanted something that would work with my Windows boxes and Linux boxes. After playing around with a couple of products, I settled on OpenVPN (http://openvpn.net). The access server is available as Linux or Windows, or as a VMware or VHD appliance. The clients available are for Linux, Mac, and Windows. The server install was rather simple as I just downloaded and VMware image and added it to my existing ESXi environment. Made the proper changes after the install and on my firewalls and that was good to go. Of course you have to make sure you register so you can get your free 2 clients. The client software was pretty much the same. I loaded it on my Windows 7 laptop and my Linux netbook. I also tested it on Windows XP and no complaints there as well. The web GUI interface for the admin piece was pretty straight forward. Only problem I had going on was with setting up the profiles for downloading the client. Once I figured that out, I was good to go. Also one of the other things I really liked about the product is I could really test drive it and buy more licenses as I saw fit. Right now I don’t have a need for more than two connections, but that could change. I think this could be a happy medium solution for some home office/small business environments. They also have a pretty good community out there for help in case you get stuck.

Running vSphere Client and vSphere Host Update Utility in Windows 7

I finally got around to updating my netbook with Windows 7 Ultimate this last week and all went well on it (for the most part). As most people have discovered, the vSphere client does not work native in Windows 7 and is stated here on VMware’s support site. I didn’t want to run it in Windows XP mode, but also didn’t want to wait until VMware fixes the issue either. So I did a trusty google search and found this article for the vSphere Client, and this article for the Host Update Utility. Both worked as advertised and haven’t encountered any problems since then.

FreeNAS Setup for my Home Environment

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I have been meaning to setup a FreeNAS server for awhile now, actually a real long time.  I have some older hardware just laying around, with a 200gig internal SATA drive, and USB ATA storage array (holds up to 4 ATA drives).  The storage array is hold about 800+gigs of space, only about a quarter used.  Install took about 15 minutes to get up and going.  Adding the drives were a snap.  I just imported my USB array and can now map to it via NFS.  The internal drive I thought I would setup as iSCSI.  I really like how that is working out.  I have my Windows 2003 and 2008 servers attaching to it, and it is really fast.  I am pretty impressed the speed they are attaching at while being virtual and only going over my 100MB network.  I also plan on setting up my Vista machines and laptop access so I can do quick transfers on the fly when needed.  Here is a good write up on how to setup the iSCSI services within FreeNAS.  I may also setup my VMware ESXi environment to take advantage of the iSCSI as well if I get any more spare drives.  If you have the hardware and the need for extra storage space, FreeNAS is a way to go (http://www.freenas.org).

Using FOG to deploy server images in VMware ESXi

fog_logoA long while ago I was taking a look at an open source application called FOG to look at a method of quickly deploying server images at that time, our MS Virtual Server environment.  Flash forward to now, I got some time in the office to look at this again, but now we are using VMware ESXi (until we get our Enterprise licensing this summer sometime). This will probably become obsolete when we get the Enterprise version, but I also wanted to look at this as a solution for my home network as I usually like to get something built on the fly and not have to invest a lot of time into the build. Continue reading Using FOG to deploy server images in VMware ESXi