August 2009 Archives

Xen Drivers for Windows 2003: Mission accomplished!

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After having installed Windows 2003 Enterprise Server in a Sun xVM (Xen 3.4.2-rc1-pre-xvm)-Environment, performance was slow due to qemu-dm's tremendous task to emulate ATA/IDE disk access and the Realtek 8139 network chipset.

Xen Block and network drivers however for Windows seemed to exist only in commercial binary-only form supplied from some of the Xen vendors. After googling around, I found the Xen Wiki which included an article about GPL PV drivers for Windows:

Inside this article there is a link where these drivers can be downloaded in binary form:

For Windows 2003 Server the driver binary Microsoft Installer Archive (msi) is "wnet".
For my 3.4.2-xen-Setp (Sun xVM with OpenSolaris snv_121 as Dom0) I had to use gplpv_fre_wnet_x86_0.10.0.98-dontuse.msi. The other two versions did not work (resulting in a bluescreening windows...). I did not take "dontuse" literally...

Windows Server 2003 in Sun xVM domU

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Using OpenSolaris (BFU't to snv_121) and xvm-3.4.2-rc1-pre-xvm (cloned from I am able to install Windows 2003 Server using VNC. Neat.

The problem remains that the "qm-demu" daemon running on the Dom0 side to emulate ATAPI disks and a RTL8139 network connection is quite resource consuming. Running online update on a Suse Linux HVM DomU results in qm-demu eating up a whole CPU. With Windows, the same.

Youtube examples of xVM virt-install (hvm and paravirt)

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First, a paravirtualized example: Solaris Express CE 121 in a pv DomU:

I did little screen films to show you how easy it is to install operating systems in virtual xen domains using Sun xVM:

Two virgin Ironport Email Security Appliances

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ironports.jpgvirgin_ironport.pngjust arrived to replace our C300 ones. The front changed a little bit, and there's the cisco logo on them, making clear who's the new boss in the house.

Software is the same, they come with AsyncOS 6.5 preloaded and a software upgrade takes them to version 6.5.2-101.

I will just be able to load the actual XML config files on the new ones, only the automatically retrieved license codes did change (as the serial numbers are different).

Solaris Express CE as DomU on xVM/Xen

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Just as a side note:
The (now dying) Solaris Express editions are perfectly installable and bootable in a paravirtualized Xen DomU, so it is very easy to install Solaris Express as a onnv build environment on an Open Solaris xVM server. First I created a zfs block device named "sol-nv-b119.zvol" on my zpool "xvm" and then I'll use it as a block device for the "disk":

pascal@schall:~# zfs create -b 128k -V 30G xvm/sol-nv-b119.zvol
pascal@schall:~# virt-install --ram 1024 --disk path=/dev/zvol/dsk/xvm/sol-nv-b119.zvol --paravirt --location=/xvm/ISO/sol-nv-b119-x86-dvd.iso  --name "Solaris_Express"

Starting install...
Retrieving file unix...   100% |=========================| 1.5 MB    00:00
Retrieving file x86.minir 100% |=========================| 103 MB    00:04
Creating domain...                                                 0 B 00:02
Connected to domain 3
Escape character is '^]'
v3.3.2-rc1-xvm-debu chgset 'Wed Aug 26 08:49:47 2009 +0200 18433:443f5f51ca41'
SunOS Release 5.11 Version snv_119 32-bit
Copyright 1983-2009 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Use is subject to license terms.
NOTICE: Invalid iBFT table 0x1
Configuring /dev

    1.     Solaris Interactive Text (Console session) (default)
    2.     Apply driver updates
    3.     Single user shell

Enter the number of your choice.

Xen 3.3.2/xVM: OpenSolaris snv_121

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After having passed some hours to

  • Install OpenSolaris 09.06 ( snv_111)
  • image-update it to snv_118 (
  • BFU it to snv_121
I am now able to use the Xen Version of OpenSolaris (named Sun xVM) and OpenSolaris as Dom0.

(NB: if you're looking for a DomU install example, here's one:
Installing SLES 11 in a xVM/Xen DomU
and here is another.
Installing Redhat Enterprise Server 5 in a xVM/Xen DomU).

Beginning with Build 121, the xen Version has been taken from 3.1.4 to 3.3.2. Hardware virtualization (HVM) has got some performance gains and paravirtualized machines are much simplier to install.

If you want to try it out, here are the steps to get a working test and play setup:

ZFS shares part II: iSCSI, NFS and CIFS

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In the first entry about the difference between block based and file based storage sharing I talked about architectural differences between iSCSI/FiberChannel and NFS/CIFS on the other side.

Now it is time to see how easily any OpenSolaris computer running ZFS can be transformed to a storage server/system.

Keep in mind that the Sun Open Storage Servers exactly do that with a nice GUI and a powerful commandline.

At this time, FiberChannel sharing is not yet accomplished, there is still a lack of a FiberChannel target mode driver. So we'll concentrate on offering iSCSI, NFS and CIFS services for the following examples.

ZFS shares: FiberChannel, iSCSI, NFS and CIFS

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fcisci.pngAt the beginning of this nice month,

I'll try to bring in some light in the storage matter as many readers asked me to do so.

This blog entry will deal with block based storage-sharing and file-based storage sharing.

FiberChannel-FCP ("SAN") and iSCSI are representants of the block share paradigm, CIFS/SMB ("Windows Sharing") and NFS are representants of the file-based sharing method.

The graphic on the right shows a simplified communication layer diagram of FiberChannel- and iSCSI storage compared to a local hard disk.

zfs promote - not only for stars...

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Just in case you don't know: Solaris ZFS knows the concept of "promoting" a clone to become a primary filesystem.

Imagine you did a clone of a big database filesystem running in another rdbms instance.
Now you want to use that clone as production file system and you don't need the original file system any more. This won't work because the clone DEPENDS on the original filesystem.

To change that, simply use the promote command to reverse the dependency between clone and original.

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