The Journey, Has only just begun!
June 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
How did we get where we are?
Okay so I have described our thought process on why we want to go down the virtual route in the previous post, as ever, if you haven’t read it… read it!.
We have got a thin version of XP running on our ‘thin’ clients, we did experiment with many different operating systems, one of which was Tinycore Linux, this OS seemed like we ‘played’ with it for years!
This operating was really nice, it gave a lovely interface and you could change the splash screen on boot. However it didn’t, at that time, offer support for the Citrix client, so we were trying to go through RDP, I know I know leave me alone it was at the start of the project!
Of course we hit issues such as USB not appearing, which would be a huge problem because of teacher whiteboards, so after a long time of trying to get it to work, we ‘gave up’ on that OS, which was a little heart breaking because the amount of time we spent on getting it right with Linux code.
Onward and Upward!
Regardless of our previous set back with the operating system, we put our heads together and thought about what other operating system we could use, now you must know that we didn’t want a ‘slim’ version of windows 7 because in our eyes, that’s just a windows 7 box booting a windows 7 virtual client, whats the point?
After a long month ponder and research, we came across ‘performance addition XP’ I cant remember or have any reference to the download URL, but if i find it ill post it.
Now this seemed like a good route to take, a very slimmed down version of windows XP, with near enough no programs. But, we would have to use a chain of scripts to ‘lock it down’, this wasn’t the hard part, the hard part, believe it or not, was getting IE to work correctly.
You may, or may not have seen over the citrix forums a few posts on the ‘Viab’ section, that there is a slight issue with an open box for the .ica file, upon log on. This is a problem we STILL haven’t found a work around, and we have Andrew Morgan (creator and developer of ThinKiosk) and a engineer at Citrix working on this problem personally!
Anyway disregarding that ‘minor’ issue we moved on, and stumbled upon ThinKiosk, which made our lives so much easier!
Remember read my previous post for information on Andrew Morgan’s ThinKiosk!
Hypervisors and all that lark!
So now we have our Thin (Fat) client pretty much 100%, minus some annoying IE issues, of which I’m closing my eyes and repeating chanting ”go away, go away, go away, go away” as I rock in the corner of the server room.
We now had to think about hypervisors, which one was going to give us the right functionality without limitations?
The first Hypervisor we tried was Citrix XenCenter, this was pretty damn good to be honest, it was easy to use, and displays a comprehensive range of different features.
This picture was taken from the citrix website http://community.citrix.com/display/xs/XenCenter I’m hoping that the picture gets bigger when you click it! Oh also, check that link out it gives all of the features that XenCenter offer!
As you can (hopefully) see from the picture, it allows you to create different machines, and group them together. It also gives you a console which is perfect for managing the master images from that window. There are many different features of this software I very much suggest you take a look at the link above!
I digress, the software platform was lovely… however, we started to speak to many different individuals about virtualisation, and they stuck a bee in the bonnet… or a spanner in the works, or something of that effect, and exclaimed that ‘the key to virtualisation is not to stick to one vendor, but to pick the best of all of them, and Vmware’s Vsphere, was the way to go apparently.
So not wanting to miss out, we decided…On to that one!
We installed it on our server, it is a ‘bare metal’ install, and does not need to sit on a Windows R2 or similar.
Installation was very brisk, and configuration was next to none! Type your network information in, and your away!
Once the client side was downloaded, the management console was very nice indeed it did exactly what we wanted, and the features were astounding, we could bring up graphs, and charts, change the fan speeds, view the fan speeds… the list was endless!
A clear winner over the citrix version, so we have found a free trial that we can fully test and roll out in a trial environment and test it to its full potential… WRONG.
We quickly came across a problem, ill paste a FAQ and it should explain why there was a problem…
- How much vRAM does a VMware vSphere Hypervisor license provide?
- vSphere Hypervisor license provides a vRAM entitlement of 32GB per server, regardless of the number of physical processors. vSphere Hypervisor can be used on servers with maximum physical RAM capacity of 32GB
Now considering ours have a beautiful 98GB of ram, this was a massive set back, how could we set this up as a realistic trial if we couldn’t use the server to its full potential?
After a lot of pondering, and hair pulling we thought we would still go with it, well that was until we saw SSDs, our mouths watered, they were so much faster… so much more reliable and well just prettier! But… no drivers for the VMWares Vsphere…
Information on Vmwares Vsphere, couldn’t get a good picture, sucks right! http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere-hypervisor/overview.html
The Final Hurdle, or so we thought.
HyperV! That is the answer, all we have to do is install HyperV and all our problems would be solved!
So we started to do research on HyperV, and we were told that we needed to install a Server 2008 for HyperV to sit on top of, this is not what we wanted, we want a ‘bare metal’ install, we wanted the hypervisor to sit on its own, also with a 2008 server we would need a license and that is adding to the cost. Not happy.
But don’t fret, there is a stand alone version ( That can be found here http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/hyper-v-server/ ), so we installed it, and to be honest when it installs it looks like a server is installing, takes a lot longer than most HyperV’s and when fully installed it gives you a HyperV dos box, of which you can ‘exit’ out of to a normal CMD, and use all of the normal windows commands, very strange, but worth having a play with… due to not needing a license… ANYWAY!
Once installed we got an error straight away painfully screaming ‘No network adapter found’ … Excuse me? So I trundled around the back of the server and checked the lead, all in, checked the Cisco backbone we were connected too, all configured correctly, all lights flashing…
I think this picture is appropriate.
So on to Google to search the web for anyone that has come across the same issue, and I found multiple posts on how to fix the issue, and apparently it was just a driver issue!
I had a webpage on this, but can I find it… NO … so I’ll post it up when I’m at work and its on my history!
Once the network drives were installed for our server, we could connect the client to the HyperV, Brilliant.
Once logged into the client side, it became rapidly apparent that this would be extremely basic, no graphs, no temps… No pretty little graphics!!!
But biting tongues we just thought, power through, it would be worth it in the end… How much would we use this window anyway?
Then i fumbled across this post http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10things/10-things-you-should-know-about-hyper-v/431 , which outlines the problems with HyperV.
We all took a deep breath and carried on, it was worth it, it would run our SSDs…
Then we found out that it doesn’t support CAG (Citrix Access Gateway), this was a HUGE problem.
Citrix Viab + No CAG = PROBLEM!
The U Turn
So we have learned that we can’t use HyperV and that Citrix XenCenter is no where near as good, in our opinion, as Vmware’s Vsphere, so we would just wait for the SSD Cards to come out with the driver support…
And U Turn back to Vmware Vsphere, so currently we have it installed, waiting for our next step!
The Silver Lining
What a name…
Apparently Fusion SSD have drivers for Vmware Vsphere…
Maybe my next blog will outline more on this, you’ll have to come back and see…
Thanks for reading!