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Posts Tagged ‘unetbootbin’

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

April 19th, 2009 1 comment

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.

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COOL TOOL: Throwaway the CDs & DVDs, use your Flash Drive + UNetbootin to install Linux!

October 11th, 2008 No comments

I’ll admit it, I still have a floppy-drive attached to my maturing beast, which is primarily used as my day-to-day development box. Floppies come in handy for that odd install of XP or below that require RAID drivers (though you can just use nLite and bundle it by default).

But what about the CD-R’s and DVD-R’s in the days of Cloud Browser based Operating Systems (funny)? I recall burning ISOs like no tomorrow when new versions of Ubuntu were released – and I’m sure everyone else who has gone down the Linux or BSD route has had similar experiences.

But before you go burning that ISO at the next install (maybe Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex at the end of the month) you might want to consider an alternate route – and whats more, I’ll bet you it will install faster on newer systems.

I bought a Corsair Voyager GT 16Gb (pdf info-sheet) flash drive a few months back, whilst I’ve been fairly disappointed that its advertised speed fell short of expectations due to the Samsung manufactering process changes, I still kept it dear to myself having paid about AUD$109 for it. (I name things, the drive was dubbed DrSporky). Even though its rated at about 34MB/S read (so realistically it should do about 25-30MB/s) I’ve managed to clock about 19-21MB/s copying a 500Mb file using Teracopy – a real benchmark not a synthetic test and 8Mbp copying it back to the drive (see below). Nothing to sneeze at, but the difference between the GT and the non-GT was the 30MB/s+ read-speed I figured.

I use it almost daily and it carries around a bootable version of Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) thanks to the multi-platform utility UNetbootin.

UNetbootin is written in C++ using the Qt4 Toolkit engine (full information is available on the Universal Netboot Installer page on Launchpad) so its compatible on Windows and Linux. Simply download the latest version, insert your USB drive and either let UNetBootbin download the distro you’d like to try _or_ browse to the Disk image to one you’ve already grabbed.

Give it a go and see what you think, installing Ubuntu 8.04.1 on a mates system (ASUS P5KPL-CM & Core E2180) took less than 10minutes (at most 20 if you inlude boot and configuration)!!! The best part is that you can easily reuse it easily formatting etc *AND* store your own things ready to utilise whenever you need it.

So the next time you got install _anything_ give UNetbootin ago and make use of that fast USB Drive instead of wasting CD/DVD writables that you usually endup throwing away.

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