Home > Beta, Developer, File Systems, Guides & How-To, Hardware, Its My Life, Kernel / Internals, Linux/Unix, Operating Systems, Tools / Products, Virtualisation > Rebuilding Zeus: Part 1 – Preliminary Research and Installing Ubuntu 9.04 RC1

Rebuilding Zeus: Part 1 – Preliminary Research and Installing Ubuntu 9.04 RC1

April 19th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just spent a fair chunk of today getting a rebuild of Zeus going – our affectionately dubbed Ubuntu server at home. This is the third rebuild (hardware wise) in the past 5 years (sheesh its been that long?), but I’m not complaining. First Ubuntu’fied version (5.10 – Breezy Badger) ran on an Pentium 4 3Ghz (Socket 478), noisey little guy that sucked quite a bit of power which was my old development box  that served me well.

Then with the release of the fornicating Feisty Fawn (Ubuntu 7.04) I moved over the server to an AMD box, a AMD 3200+ on a ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe (which featured the incredibly shakey NForce 4 SLI chipset) with a modest 2Gb of DDR ram.

NVIDIA nForce4 APIC Woes

Unfortunately I didn’t realise that by using the NForce 4 chipset under Linux I’d have to wrestle with APIC issues due to an issue with the chipset and regressions.

If you fall into the above hole, edit your grub boot menu:

$ sudo vi /boot/grub/menu.lst

And change your booting kernel with two new options:

title           Ubuntu 7.10, kernel 2.6.22-14-generic
root            (hd0,5)
kernel          /vmlinuz-2.6.22-14-generic root=UUID=c7a7bf0a-714a-482e-9a07-d3ed40f519f5 ro quiet splash noapic nolapic
initrd          /initrd.img-2.6.22-14-generic
quiet

You may want to also add that to the recovery kernel just incase. This will effectively disable the onboard APIC Controller as its quite buggy. More information is available on Launchpad.

Its been chugging along nicely for the past 2 years – the time is always in accurate (about 8 minutes ahead) but the uptime right now is:

thushan@ZEUS:~$ uptime
19:54:06 up 147 days,  7:27,  7 users,  load average: 0.22, 0.43, 0.32

So I figured its time to put these issues behind and redo the server infrastructure at home.

Goals

There are some goals in this rebuild.

  • Try out Ext4 and remove the use of ReiserFS and JFS which don’t seem to be going anywhere (JFS here and here). ZFS would be nice (but no FUSE!) to try out, but I’m hoping Btrfs brings some niceties to the table.
  • The new Zeus needs to look at virtualisation a little more. Right now, alot of the QA for Windows builds of our stuff is done on several machines all over the place. Consolidate them to 1 Server with VT support, plenty of RAM and use a hypervisor (mentioned later) to manage testing.
  • Provide the same services as the existing Zeus:
    • SVN + Trac
    • Apache
    • MySQL / Postgres
    • File hosting, storing vault sharing content across the computers around (the whole house is gigabitted).
    • Fast enough to run dedicated servers for Unreal Tournament, Quake, Call of Duty 4 and a few other games.
    • Profiles, user data needs to be migrated
  • Messing about with the Cloud-Computing functionality in Jaunty.
  • Provide a backend for the Mythbuntu frontends.
  • Last another 2 years

Hardware

My previous workstation motherboard was the awesome ASUS P5W-DH Deluxe with a Intel QX6850 CPU, powered by the Intel 975 Chipset that has lasted for alot longer than anyone had predicted. But earlier this year I had a problem with the board that warranted a RMA request. As I had to have a machine I ended up buying an ASUS P5Q-Pro and did a re-install (same CPU). So instead of selling off the P5WDH I’ve decided to use that board coupled with a Intel E6750 which was picked because it supports Intel VT and it was lying around. Otherwise I _wouldnt_ consider using this setup – overkill!!! But I do want this setup to last and be beefy enough to support a little more than a few VM’s running concurrently.

Pretty shots are available here. Otherwise, the test bench, the tuniq and a pretty shot of my setup at home (no its not clean).

Software

Clearly Ubuntu  9.04 is where its at, its sleeker, blindingly fast to boot thanks to the boot time optimisations and sexier desktop thanks to the visual tweaking and the new Gnome 2.26 inclusion. The installer has matured greatly, gone is the plain old boring partition editor based on GParted and a sleek new timezone picker. To make the most of the RAM in the box, 64bit edition of Ubuntu-desktop is what I’m installing.

Installing Ubuntu, use a UNetbootin!

So you grabbed the latest ISO, burn and chuck it into an optical drive and way you go aye… *IF THIS WAS 2005*!!! As mentioned in an earlier post, grab a copy of UNetbootin, select the ISO you mustered from your local free ISP mirror and throw it inside your USB thumb drive. These days USB drives are dirt cheap, I picked up a Corsair Voyager 8Gb (non-GT) for AUD$39.

Why would you want to do that?  You wont need to use CD-RWs, delete and put another ISO and whats more, it will install in no time. With the VoyagerI got the core OS installed in 5 minutes – after selecting the iinet local software sources mirror. Funky?

Hypervisors

I got into the Virtualisation game early, VMWare 2.0 (2000-2001) is where it all began after seeing a close friend use it. Unfortunately I had to almost give up my kidney to afford to buy it. Then a brief time  I moved to Connectix VirtualPC when VMWare 4.0 arrived and messed up my networking stack, but went back to VMWare 3.0 for a little while. Then eventually moved back to VirtualPC 2004 after Microsoft acquired Connectix (it was free from the MSDN Subby) and back again on VMWare with version 5.

Fast forward to 2009, we have some ubber quality hypervisors. VMWare still has the behmoth marketshare but a little birdie got some extra power from the Sun and impressed everyone lately with its well roasted features. But the critical decision was which hypervisor to use, we have VMWare Server (1.0 or the 2.0 with its web interface – errr!), XenServer (which is now owned by Citrix) or VirtualBox.

After playing around with VMWare Server 1.0 last year I was left wanting more, so naturally I moved to VMWare Server 2.0 not knowing that the familiar client interface is GAWN, instead in its place is a web based implementation – VI Web Access.  It was slow and clunky and took a while to get used to – but the fact that it showed the status via the web was funky, but runnig an entire VM Session via a browser plugin (which hosed every so often) was far from impressive 🙁

It finally boiled down to deciding to go with VMWare Server 1.0 (released mid-2006), leaning onto XenServer (seems to include a bit of a learning curve) or to move to a brighter pasture with Sun VirtualBox – which is what I use on my development boxes. I’m still playing around with all three to see how they fair. I am a little biased towards VirtualBox (  I reckons its awesome ja! )  but as this is a long-term build I can’t knock out VMWare Server out just yet nor go the full para-virtualisation with XenServer which is probably what I’ll end-up doing.

I’ve only got a few days before the final release of Ubuntu 9.04 arrives and all this research prior is to make sure things go smoothly next weekend.

{lang: 'en-GB'}
Share
  1. Ed Daniel
    May 1st, 2009 at 23:32 | #1

    Thanks for tip re: noapic on nForce4 boards like the one I own & like you I have been reading up before embarking on a fresh and imminent install of JJ onto a nForce4 RAID 1 config.

    There’s some interesting stuff back and forth vis-a-vis ext4 and also btrfs – Phoronix did a good comparison of the filesystems and we should wait a while for btrfs to mature however wrt ext4 it might be wise to not jump headfirst into that for your personal datastore and go the ext3 route then upgrade the fs when there’s been a bit more time for ext4 to be used in anger throughout the ubuntu community:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1140623

    If you do try the ext4 fs it would be wise to run a UPS.

  1. April 19th, 2009 at 01:01 | #1
  2. April 25th, 2009 at 12:58 | #2
  3. October 18th, 2009 at 11:43 | #3