PDA

View Full Version : [all variants] Virtual Server: Help Realise My Ambition



varunendra
May 5th, 2010, 07:12 PM
Please rename & move the thread to whatever & wherever you admins/mods find more suitable

OK guys, I may or may not sound incredibly idiot here, but unless someone successfully convinces me that it is disastrous idea, I'm gonna try it. No matter whatever number of hurdles come across my way. So please try to help me if you can't stop me.
I'm searching the net for last two days only to get even more confused about what specs can suit my needs the best.

I'm on a network which has to have 12+ terminals. It's P2P network at the moment, internet being shared among all, but with no internet or file management. So we can say I've to start almost from scratch.

Now based upon my limited experience with Win2003AD+ISA2004, i'd like not to implement 'infection-prone' Win server based networking. But at the same time, I also like to have ActiveDirectory like advantages, like centralized user access control & discrete login management.
We are on a very constrained budget so while running a smooth running & well-managed network, we also have to save on money.
I don't want to implement thin-clients either 'cause they're costlier than a low-end diskless desktop system & aren't as much flexible.

Here's All I Have:


6 Core2Duo, 1GB RAM modern Desktops (HP/HCL)
4 Pentium-D, 256/512MB RAM old Systems (HCL/Lenovo)
1 4-in-1 Shared Printer (HP 3050)
1 Shared scanner (HP5590)

What We're Gonna Have:


1 Server (Hosting Virtual Machines that would actually act as: Domain-Controller, File-Server &, if possible, Terminal-Server)
2+ Terminals (Desktops)

What Our Users Do:


6 systems are used for lightweight apps such as IE/Firefox, MS-Word2003, simple image editing tools, pdf reader, etc.
3 systems also use Photoshop/CorelDraw, Pagemaker-7.
2 are used for multimedia creation/editing and thus will have their own local resources.
1 would be used by me for experiments/administration as well as a backup server in case the original server crashes.

Here's All I Want:


Active Directory like central login & access management
Internet access/bandwidth management
Converting all but the two multimedia systems into diskless systems to take benefits of central files & application management & to save on maintenance. I can use the recovered HDDs into the main server.
On-the-run backup server to take over immediately in case of a main server crash.
Despite having diskless systems, taking advantage of CPU & RAM in each terminal (as opposed to Thin-Clients)

My Plan So Far (The Craziness Begins):


Getting 1 powerful server, single/double CPU based (you suggest)
Running 3 Virtual Machines on it simultaneously & seamlessly. (wish to know if it is practically possible with all the network load)
Of these VMs, 1 would be running server OS (CentOS/ SLES11/ Server2003) acting as a Domain Controller+File/Terminal Server with shared resources being located on a seperate physical HDD.
2nd VM would be a backup server (don't exactly know what it is & whether it has any significance in my case)
3rd VM would run "Untangle Dedicated Firewall" with 1GB RAM. With all free components.
Host would be Ubuntu. Whichever version supports VMs best. Running w/o X-Server or any unnecessary mods if possible to save on resources, but without compromising VMs performance.
If required, booting the diskless terminals off USB stick (even leaving it plugged in) if it can give some advantage over PXE booting.
Some terminals would still run WinXP (though I don't know how am I gonna do it).
Maintaining daily backup of the server VM (in form of archived image) onto a seperate HDD in my desktop which would be powerful enough to temporarily handle the server VM + normal maintenance operations (on host) in case the main "physical" server crashes. (would preferably be a quad core, single CPU system)

Finally, Here Are My Questions:


What would be the best configuration for the server? (I'm in India as you can notice)
Best configuration for my Desktop I'd be using for my regular works including experiments on VMs. Would also be a temporary server (restored server VM) in case of original server crash.
For the above desktop, I'm currently planning to go with this: Core2Quad CPU (Q8400 or Q9400), Gigabyte GA-EP45 UD3R motherboard, 2x2GB DDR2 (Transcend or Simmtronics). Please tell me if someone has a better suggestion (within similar price-range), and if it can be as powerful as 2-CPU based system (especially on handling 2-3 VMs simultaneously)
Will it improve performance placing 'Host + Firewall VM' on one HDD, 'Server VM' on another and 'Shared Resources' on a third one?
Will it improve security to not connect server VM to internet (not defining gateway) & connecting only to the LAN through Firewall VM? Especially if, for any reason, I've to run Win Server2003. (In past, despite using ISA2004, the server was infected)
If I go for a dual CPU Intel Xeon based server, then is it possible to configure the server VM such that it can also run flawlessly on a single Quad-Core CPU based system? (I'm concerned about the step in creating a VM where we've to select the no. of CPUs it'll use.)
If above is possible, is it also possible for the virtual server to switch between single & double CPU modes as and when required? (to take advantage of both CPUs available in the server)
I'm leaning towards Dual CPU based system for server 'cause I've an impression that it has significant advantage over single CPU system especially while running multiple VMs simultaneously. Is this idea correct?
(Now this will definitely certify me an IDIOT !) How can I run XP or Ubuntu on a diskless terminal ????

End Note: My basic idea behind all this hassle is a low-cost network setup with easy to backup/restore server.
Being quite confident about my backup plan, I'm concerned more about performance than stability.

I know even reading this post thoroughly is gonna consume a lot of your brains & time, so a lot of thanks in advance to anyone who attempts:p.

gordintoronto
May 5th, 2010, 08:18 PM
You've spec'd out a week's consulting at $1000 a day, in North America.

Question 9: Ubuntu will run just fine from a 4 GB flash drive. Maybe that's cheating on the "diskless" parameter, but it's cheap. It's just a little bit slow. If the diskless computers are also 256 MB, you might want to compare Lubuntu, Crunchbang and Puppy Linux. There are other lightweight variants, but they tend to be less capable.

varunendra
May 5th, 2010, 11:44 PM
You've spec'd out a week's consulting at $1000 a day, in North America.
That's exactly why I love "Open" source & this forum:grin:

Hey, but u just forgot to rate my craziness !!:grin::grin: I mean how many stars do I deserve????:grin::grin::grin::grin:????

Old_Grey_Wolf
May 6th, 2010, 12:33 AM
You are not crazy.

You need to specify if you are wanting to use all Free Open Source Software or are you willing to pay for Proprietary Software. That will affect your design. For example, Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud does some things while VMware vSphere does others.

Edit: You also don't mention if the computers you have support the Intel or AMD virtual extensions. That affect weather you can run Type 1 or Type 2 Hypervisors.

varunendra
May 6th, 2010, 05:17 AM
You are not crazy.(Sigh of relief..) Thanx.

You need to specify if you are wanting to use all Free Open Source Software or are you willing to pay for Proprietary Software. That will affect your design. For example, Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud does some things while VMware vSphere does others.
We've already got license for XP Pro & Server2003SBS so we 'can' use them when & if needed. But apart from that, I'm opting for all free software since this is at experimental level for me. Also, we aren't a profit making unit so I don't want to even think of enterprize level commercial software when a free alternative is there.
In short, we can only think of commercial software if it can bring a very significant improvement at a non-significant cost.

You also don't mention if the computers you have support the Intel or AMD virtual extensions. That affect weather you can run Type 1 or Type 2 Hypervisors.Our 6 newer systems have Intel Core2Duo E7400 CPU, but I'm not sure if it supports VT-x or not.
But since those are meant to be 'terminals', so I think this has to be considered only in the context of the ones we are going to have as server & backup server. Of these, the one I,ve planned for my Desktop (cum backup server) does support Intel virtual extension. The main server is yet to be planned but that too would be an Intel CPU with VT-x.

Old_Grey_Wolf
May 6th, 2010, 11:27 PM
You may what to look into building a private cloud (virtualization) with Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. http://www.ubuntu.com/cloud/private. I set up a cloud on a weekend using it. Oh, it is Free.

varunendra
May 16th, 2010, 07:44 PM
You may what to look into building a private cloud (virtualization) with Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. http://www.ubuntu.com/cloud/private. I set up a cloud on a weekend using it. Oh, it is Free.
Thanx & sorry for a late response. Actually at first glance, I couldn't understand what kind of architecture a cloud computing is. I was more interested in finding a way to run XP from RAM of diskless computers, snatching preinstalled images from server via PXE. Although now it seems to be quite a challenge for even experts to do so with 1 GB RAM (loading only XP kernel in memory and leaving remaining OS files on a remote file-system is the challenge. I found it is done by Neoware, but couldn't find how. Neoware isn't free either!)

However, I planned to study your suggestions thoroughly & could only today find the time for that.
With your link & some googling, what I've understood is that in cloud-computing, client computers only "see" and "command" the applications while the entire workload is shared by a cluster of dedicated "remote" computers (i.e., the cloud). Now that is a problem with me.
We already have some 8-10 PCs which have decent amount of RAM (512MB-1GB) & P4/Dual-Core CPUs of their own; and I want to utilize their own computing power. I can't dedicate them to the 'cloud'.

So my idea was to look for a solution where (diskless) client computers can share one (or two- in case of Ubuntu-XP mixed environment) read-only kernel image(s) located on server, download it to their memory via PXE, & then use remote file-system (located on server- NFS most probably) for their input-output.

I haven't got the server yet so couldn't do much experiments. But I'd surely post here as soon as I make any significant progress.
Thanks for your time!

afarenci
May 17th, 2010, 08:59 PM
I'll be watching your progress. I recently purchased an HP Elite 9280t (Core i7 920 CPU, 1366 MoBo, 12GB RAM. 1.5TB RAID 0) with the intention of running it as a Virtual Server and emulator for training and evaluations of Cloud Computing/MS Windows Server-Networks/LINUX Server-Networks/TelCom environments (Cisco/Juniper emulation). I'm still using it as a workstation running Ubuntu Desktop 10.04(64bit) having yet to decide on my host OS for Virtual Server.

Can't promise to be responsive on any given week, but why don't you post configurations you want to check out. I'm covered for any in shop MS Server/product.

varunendra
May 18th, 2010, 02:19 AM
Given the attitude of my current computer illiterate employers, I'm afraid I may have to leave this project since they still haven't come up with a decision about the purchase of the server or a powerful desktop for me (even though they've ridiculously held 3-4 short meetings so far with the sole purpose of coming up with the execution plan for that). For now, I'll have to wait & see what happens.


Can't promise to be responsive on any given week, but why don't you post configurations you want to check out. I'm covered for any in shop MS Server/product.
See my first post (My Plan So Far....). Actually, my whole experience about virtualization is now 3 months old (I had a decent workstation in my previous job, 3 months earlier, but wasn't allowed to play around with the server or networking there). My current plans are entirely "paper-plans" so far. A crude & buggy workaround to my original aspirations maybe:-


Keep Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04 the HOST. These are in examples of enabling Direct 3D on guest XP over VMware. I couldn't succeed with 9.10 (see my thread (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1448134))
First VM is assigned 1GB share of RAM & holds 'Untangle Dedicated Firewall'.
Second VM holds 'Server 2003 as Domain Controller + ISA server 2004 or 2006'.
Third VM Holds XP with multiple remote desktop sessions enabled (see how (http://www.golod.com/2005/10/enabling-multiple-remote-desktop-sessions-in-windows-xp-professional-and-media-center-edition-2005/)).
Host ubuntu also holds a read-only PXE boot-image of any distro which can boot clients via PXE & run RDP/RDPV5 remote desktop sessions on them (to the XP guest)

Now enabling multiple remote desktop sessions to the single guest XP may be a problem due to the domain policies imposed by Server 2k3 domain controller. If this cannot be overcome by changing domain policies, I'd prefer to remove server guest & run XP alone in conjunction with Untangle Firewall guest.

But again, this would violate my original idea of utilizing clients' own computing power. So this would be a last resolution (if practically possible at all).

Edit: Here (http://openforge.co.cc/archives/2010/04/22/149) is the alternate link for patched termsrv.dll to enable more than 3 simultaneous RDP sessions on XP.