Wednesday, April 29, 2009

VMware vSphere 4.0 editions

Yesterday, VMware uncovered new pricing and licensing model of vSphere 4.0 platform. In my opinion, VMware is trying to strictly split up the virtualization market into two parts - SMB and enterprise. I have a feeling from the table of features below that there is growing a hole between them. The competitors should catch the chance to fill it up.
  • SMB editions - ESXi Single Server, Essentials and Essentials Plus
  • Enterprise editions - Standard, Advanced, Enteprise and Enterprise Plus
Here is the mentioned table of features:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Linux kernel crash dumps with kdump

Kdump is official GNU/Linux kernel crash dumping mechanism. It is part of vanilla kernel. Before it, there exists some projects like LKCD for performing such things. But they weren't part of mainline kernel so you needed to patch the kernel or to rely on Linux distribution to include it. In the event of LKCD, it was difficult to configure it, especially which device to use for dumping.

The first notice about kexec (read what it is useful for and how to use it) in GNU/Linux kernel was in changelog of version 2.6.7. Kexec tool is prerequisite for kdump mechanism. Kdump was firstly mentioned in changelog of version 2.6.13.

How is it working? When the kernel crashed the new so called capture kernel is booted via kexec tool. The memory of previous crashed kernel is leaved intact and the capture kernel is able to capture it. In detail, first kernel needs to reserve some memory for capture kernel. It is used by capture kernel for booting. The consequence is the total system memory is lowered by reserverd memory size.

When the capture kernel is booted, the old memory is captured from the following virtual /proc files:
  • /proc/vmcore - memory content in ELF format
  • /proc/oldmem - really raw memory image!

Next, we will check how to initialize kdump mechanism, how to configure it and how to invoke it for testing purposes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Sun Fire servers with Xeon 5500

Sun has released a new line of servers and blade modules based on Intel Xeon 5500-series processors. The new pieces are:
  • Sun Fire X2270 (1RU, 1 or 2 CPUs)
  • Sun Fire X4170 (1RU, 1 or 2 CPUs)
  • Sun Fire X4270 (2RU, 1 or 2 CPUs, 16 2.5" disks)
  • Sun Fire X4275 (2RU, 1 or 2 CPUs, 12 3.5" disks)
  • Sun Blade X6270 (1 or 2 CPUs)
  • Sun Blade X6275 (4 CPUs)
The official announcement of new servers with additional details is published at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sun VirtualBox 2.2 released

The next version of Sun's desktop hypervisor VirtualBox was released. The new version 2.2 brings the following important changes:
  • OpenGL 3D acceleration for Linux/OpenSolaris guests
  • OVF appliance import/export
  • USB and shared folder support for OpenSolaris
  • host-only networking mode
More details are in official changelog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

VMware ESX and SATA controllers

VMware ESX hypervisor has supported only SCSI internal drives for a long time. The third update of ESX hypervisor introduced support for some SATA controllers like Intel ICH-7. The newest fourth update contains support of ICH-9 and ICH-10 chipsets as well. The same holds for ESXi platform.

The big difference is what SATA mode is supported. For example, the ICH-7 chipset is supported in IDE/ATA mode only, so you can't use use connected hard drives but you can access connected optical drives. The rest of the chipsets is supported in AHCI or Advanced Host Controller Interface mode. In this mode, you can access internal SATA drives.

When IDE/PATA mode is used, you will be able to see internal SATA (or emulated PATA) drives but you can't use it as VMFS storage. VMFS filesystem can be created on SCSI-based disks only.

There exists a nice knowledge base article about the topic. To better understand it, I borrowed an image from the article which is quite self-explanatory:

VMware ESX/ESXi 3.5 update 4 released

The fourth update of VMware ESX platform was released. It contains many hardware enhancements like support of new Intel Xeon 5500 procesors, SATA controllers or network interface cards. It supports new guests as well like SLES 11 released recently. The official release notes provide more comprehensive information.