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[GUIDE] Virtualizing unRAID in XenServer 6.2 - Updated to 5.0.4

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Why you should consider Xen?

 

Xen is a fully mature robust Type 1 Hypervisor that runs on Linux and has always been open sourced.

 

All that XenServer is... A CentOS (open source Red Hat Linux) machine with Xen running on it, plus Citrix custom Xen Management tools. Where as ESXi boots up in a linux kernel (also based on Red Hat) and then into it's own custom non-linux kernel called vmkernel. ESXi does / has adapted a lot of their drivers from linux too.

 

The average person doesn't know that XenServer is just a little cousin of Xen but with Citrix releasing XenServer 6.2 and their custom Xen Management tools to the open sourced crowed in late July of 2013... That will be a game changer for the casual unRAID, Flexraid, FreeNAS, etc. crowd. With Xen, you can easily virtualize your storage, xbmcs, Windows, OSX, etc. into one machine and not have to worry / wait for VMware or Microsoft to release an update or patch to support your hardware.

 

For example, USB passthrough on ESXi 5.1 is still messed up and how long have people been waiting? Can ESXi passthrough Nvidia or Intel (on-board even) Video? No. With Xen, you have a lot more options when it comes to hardware and passthrough with ethernet, video, usb, sound, etc.

 

In the Xen world, Xen is built into the kernel itself and you have 100,000+ or more people around the world who are submitting new features, code, patches, fixes, tweaks, hardware and software support to the Linux Foundation and the Linux kernel people because we have access to the source code.

 

Think of Xen vs VMware like you would XBMC (also open-sourced) vs Microsoft Windows Media Center. Look how much further along XBMC is, how much more customizable, polished, cutting edge, etc. and the support behind it. You can run XBMC on Linux, OSX, Windows, Andriod, ARM, iOS, etc. and do a million different things with it. The same is true of Xen and like XBMC most distros already have the compiled binary packages for you. For Example, Debian, OpenSUSE, Unbuntu, Arch Linux, Mint, CentOS, Fedora, FreeBSD, Slackware (the Linux Distro that unRAID uses), etc. I could go on forever with listing all the Linux Distros that you can easily run Xen Hypervisor on. With XAPI (The Citrix Management tools that "makes" XenServer so good) being open-sourced now the casual home can install a minimum Ubuntu and type "sudo apt-get install xen-hypervisor xcp-xapi" and essentially be running "XenServer" with all the bells and whistles. Simply put, with all the hardware Xen supports, the better / easier (if you ask me) all in one management tool and it being open sourced... It's a game changer.

 

I have been running unRAID in Xen for almost a year with not a single problem to date. Performance wise, a default XenServer 6.2 vs a ESXi 5.1 installed with Paravirtual drivers loaded on each... there was no difference (Xen was 2 seconds faster). With a "tweaked" Xen and ESXi setup... still not that much of a difference (Xen was a few seconds faster). In Xen, my Windows Experience Index score only dropped .3 when compared to running bare metal (Windows directly loaded on the machine). Considering I only gave my Windows VM 4 of the 8 processors and only 4GB out of the 32GB it had when bare metal... Very impressive.

 

My Current System:

   

Case: Fractal Design Define R4 Black Pearl w/ USB 3.0 ATX Mid Tower Silent PC Computer Case

Motherboard: ASRock 970 EXTREME4 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX

CPU: AMD FX-8350 Vishera 4.0GHz

RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600

CPU Water Cooler: NZXT Kraken X40

SSD: SanDisk Ultra Plus 64GB

 

[glow=red,2,300]Xen or ESX Passthrough Heaven:[/glow] With the above motherboard, you can passthrough sata ports 1 - 4 and leave port 5 for a datastore drive. Onboard NIC works in both too. This motherboard can also handle 64GB of memory and you don't have to install memory in pairs. Unlike ESXi, Xen or XenServer doesn't have a 32GB memory restriction since it's open-sourced.

 

Optional but recommended:

 

The AMD 8350 runs HOT and if you choose to stick with the stock fan... It sounds like a 747 taking off. Even if your server is in another room... You will hear it.

 

The most highly recommended silent air coolers if you plan on overclocking or not are:

 

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 or Noctua NH-D14 SE2011. Both of these are GREAT air coolers, very run quiet and highly rated on NewEgg but they are HUGE! With certain motherboard and cases, this either will not fit or prevent you from using memory sticks. Here is a shot of what those coolers look on a ATX motherboard: Click Me

 

I wanted silent and since the price was about the same or cheaper, I went the water cooler route. I have used the Corsairs in the past and they are great (You will see they get awesome reviews on NewEgg). However, I got a deal on a NZXT Kraken X40 and used that one for this machine.

   

[glow=red,2,30]BEFORE YOU EVEN BOTHER DOWNLOADING XEN PLEASE TAKE NOTE:[/glow]

 

I suspect most of you will have a motherboard that you either passthrough ALL or none of your onboard sata ports. By default XenServer cannot be installed to a USB Stick. Either get a motherboard like mine where you aren't forced to passthrough all your onboard sata ports or get a cheap ($10 - $15) PCI sata card for a datastore drive (where your VMs and their virtual hard drives reside). Why? You can install XenServer onto a USB Stick (guides on how to do this are on the web) or your favorite Distro with Xen onto on a USB Stick. However, you will either run your VMs from other USB drives or the unRAID server VM. Your drives won't ever sleep unless using a cache drive (Which would take up a precious sata port anyway).

 

My advice... Go with a PCI sata card and get an SSD or use your old cache drive (Sickbeard, Couchpotato, SQL, PFSense, TFTP server are running on other VMs now so why even bother with a cache drive). XenServer (or your Distro with Xen on it) only takes a very small portion of space and the rest can be used as your datestore. You can do this with a large enough flash drive but I don't recommend it.

 

Below is what you need to get started:

 

For most of you, I highly recommend XenServer which you can get here: www.xenserver.org

 

Note: That site and the Citrix website will provide you with a TON of information, guides, how tos, etc. but there are also a lot of things you can get of the web or the site I list below.

 

For those you of you have basic Linux Skills and are adventurous...

 

I am currently running Xen on Debian but I have also run it on Arch, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, openSUSE, etc.) with no problems whatsoever. In fact, Xen 4.3 was just released and compiled it from source (they have great step by step guides) on 4 different Distros. I didn't even bother unplugging my unRAID drives since I pass all those through anyway. Get Xen up and running, import my unRAID VM and I was off to the races. unRaid had no clue or idea anything happened or changed.

 

The information you will need is here: xenproject.org.

 

Note: The Wiki and forums are very good on that site but your favorite linux distro is also going to have wikis and forums dedicated solely to Xen (It's VERY popular / mainstream in the linux world).

 

Example: Here is a GREAT Step by Step Guide of installing Xen with Passthrough Video on Linux Mint: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough 

 

Another Example: Comprehensive Xen Debian Wheezy PCI Passthrough Tutorial

 

Another Example: Installing Xen in Arch Linux

 

"Freedom" with Xen...

 

You could install Ubuntu and then put the Xen Hypervisor on top that. Within your Ubuntu Xen Hypervisor install CouchPotato, SickBeard, sabNZDb, etc. and only have a VM for Windows or OSX if you want. Me personally, I separated things out into several VMs but just showing you the "freedom" that you now have with Xen.

 

Or...

 

If you wanted to go the whole ZFS route... You could run Solaris (with Xen on it), Ubuntu (pick a distro) with Xen, ZFS for Linux (ZFS for Linux is running the latest ZFS pool version), FreeBSD, NAS4Free with a secondary unRAID VM... You could easily do that too.

 

With Xen, you are no longer in a "box" when it comes to hardware or the customizations you can do. You can start with XenServer get comfortable with Xen and later plug in a usb stick with openSUSE (or whatever Distro with Xen Hypervisor on it), boot it, add your unRAID usb drive to the unRAID VM and as far as unRAID (or your data) is concerned... nothing has changed.

 

If you want to know if your hardware is compatible or before you purchase any hardware expecting it work, I would look at the 3 links I have provided below:

 

VT-d Enabled Systems

List of IOMMU-supporting hardware

Supported Intel CPUs

 

For you to be able to use unRAID in XenServer you will need to download the following file:

 

unRAID 5.0.4:

 

100mb unRAID-5.0.4.vhd <--- Download Link [glow=red,2,300]Updated 12/10/2013[/glow]

 

unRAID 5.0.3:

 

100mb unRAID-5.0.3.vhd <--- Download Link [glow=red,2,300]Updated 11/27/2013[/glow]

 

Version 5.0:

 

100mb unRAID-5.0.vhd <--- Download Link [glow=red,2,300]Updated 8/29/2013[/glow]

 

Download the above file and follow the step by step guide in the next post.

 

Now onto installing XenServer 6.2 and unRAID...

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Installing unRAID in XenServer 6.2 in 10 Easy Steps

 

[glow=red,2,300]VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:[/glow] Unless you have a motherboard that supports USB passthrough... Your unRAID VM will not be able to read the Plus / Pro unRAID key. XenServer does not share the unique UUID of your unRAID's USB Stick (which is what your Plus / Pro key is based on). I have reported this issue to the Linux Foundation (People who oversee Xen) and will update this thread when there is an update. Even if you use unRAID Basic with 4 TB Hard Drives... That's a total of 8 TB (with parity). Since you have a virtual environment... You do not need a cache drive because other VMs will run the apps you once did on your unRAID.

 

Before you can begin, you need an stock unRAID USB Stick, download the 100mb unRAID VHD file above and install the XenCenter Windows Management Console. You can get this by either entering the IP address of your new XenServer in your Internet Browser or by downloading it here: XenCenter Windows Management Console

 

1. Click on Import

 

dcDs05J.png

 

2. Select the 100mb unRAID VHD file that you downloaded from above

 

9FaHrwj.png

 

3. Name your unRAID VM and select the number of CPUs and memory

(Note: If you are moving your apps / plugins from your unRAID to other VMs... unRAID doesn't need much. Mine runs like a champ with 1 CPU and 1 GB of memory and barely uses it)

 

3kgMduE.png

 

4. Select the XenServer this VM is assigned too (Unless you are running multiple XenServers the default is your XenServer)

 

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5. Select where / which Storage Repository / Drive you want the unRAID VM to be stored on.

 

jmKxEFV.png

 

6. Select the Network Card you want to assign to this VM (You have more than one Network Card you can separate traffic between VMs)

 

wj6PrzG.png

 

7. I made your life easy and you do not need to run the Operating System Fixup.

 

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8. Configure the network.

 

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9. Review your changes and click Finished. It will import the file (takes a minute or two) and your new unRAID VM will show up on the left.

 

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NOTE: If you have an unRAID Plus / Pro Key proceed to the Passthrough Section below and passthrough the USB Controller where the unRAID USB Stick is going to be plugged in. This is required for your unRAID VM to correctly read your unRAID Plus / Pro key.

 

If you are NOT using an unRAID Plus / Pro Key, there is one final step below. 

 

10. Click on your new unRAID VM in the left panel and then select the Storage tab in the center panel and attach your unRAID USB Flash Drive to your unRAID VM.

(Note: If your unRAID USB Flash Drive isn't showing up... Try it on different USB ports on your motherboard)

 

NRpkGzr.png

 

Everything is set and you are ready to go! Start your new unRAID VM and click on Console in the Center Section to see it boot up

 

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pqamHAC.png

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PCI passthrough for on-board sata, sata controllers, Video, USB, Sound, etc. in XenServer 6.2

 

Note: You can do the following on the XenServer itself, the XenServer Console in XenManage or SSH into your XenServer.

 

1. On your XenServer host get the device ID of the device(s) you want to passthrough:

 

lspci | more

 

For your unRAID, you will only need to passthrough your SATA ports but for the sake of the guide I am going to show you how to passthrough sata, sound, video and USB (Which you will want to do if you are also hooking your XenServer up to a TV / Reciever and using Windows / Linux VM and XBMC).

 

On my motherboard below are the device ID's for Video, Sound, on-board Sata Controller and USB:

 

FDIxc7x.png

3vJBKKb.png

b2fGTl2.png

 

2. Next edit /boot/extlinux.conf and add pciback.hide=(deviceID) to the options and run extlinux -i /boot then reboot the XenServer host.

 

nano /boot/extlinux.conf

 

You want to edit the label XenServer and add your Device ID of the device(s).

 

Make sure you edit the "/boot/vmlinuz-2.6-xen" section (the one in the middle) not the /boot/xen.gz (the beginning) or the "/boot/initrd-2.6-xen.img" section (the end).

 

5sk75WX.png

 

Make sure you get the formatting correct for the Device IDs. It's 00:00.0 The first 2 digits are seperated by a a colon and the last two by a period.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you edit this file using nano or other editors it will linewrap the boot line around on you. Make sure you get it all back on one line the way it should. You can use the one of the other boot loaders in the extlinux.conf file. Use the "Fallover" section as a guide to get it correct with the correct spacing.

 

3. Once you have your extlinux.conf set correctly, let's update your XenServer boot up:

 

extlinux -i /boot

 

4. Time to reboot with our changes:

 

reboot

 

NOTE: If for some reason you messed up and your XenServer no longer boots. Do Not Panic!!!!! Reset the machine and when the boot: prompt is on your screen. Simply type...

 

fallback

 

Go back to Step 2 and double check you have the formatting, spacing and update the "/boot/vmlinuz-2.6-xen" section of the /boot/extlinux.conf file. When you have fixed it, go back and do steps 3 and 4 above again.

 

5. Let's make sure the correct Device IDs can now be passed on to the various VMs of your choosing:

 

xl  pci-list-assignable-devices

 

Note: Some people have reported that their Device IDs did not show up when running the command above and they were able to passthrough devices without an issue.

 

6. We need to get the uuid(s) for the VMs we want to passthrough devices too. Either get the first few numbers / letters from the General tab in XenManage under each VM or enter the following command:

 

xe vm-list

 

7. Time to passthrough our devices. Enter the following command:

 

xe vm-param-set other-config:pci=0/0000:XX:XX.X uuid=YOUR UUID FOR YOUR VM HERE

(If you enter the first few characters for your VM UUID and hit tab, it will fill in the rest for you.)

 

Make sure that where there are X's above you enter your correct Device ID.

 

If entering multiple device id's use the following command instead:

 

xe vm-param-set other-config:pci=0/0000:XX:XX.X,0/0000:XX:XX.X,0/0000:XX:XX.X uuid=YOUR UUID FOR YOUR VM HERE

 

8. You are ready to test to see if your VM now is getting the PCI device passedthrough. Power up your unRAID machine and see if you can now add Disk Drives through the unRAID GUI.

 

TqPMmKh.png

 

After you get unRAID up and running, passthrough configured, your drives added and finished "tweaking" unRAID to your liking let's put it to good use by...

 

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Setting up a ISO Storage Repository in XenServer using your unRAID VM

 

NOTE: I am assuming you know how to enabling NFS Sharing in unRAID, setting up a share and sharing that folder using NFS. If you do not know how... There are plenty of guides, documentation and posts on these forums on how to do that.

 

You are going to be installing other VMs where you will install Windows, Linux, OSX, etc. so let's use XenServer and your unRAID VM to make your life easier. That way, you don't have to find a DVD / flash drive, burn the iso, etc.

 

1. Setup your ISOs share (or whatever you want to call it) on in unRAID, share it via NFS and copy all the various OS iso files you plan on using / installing.

 

bohLm3B.png

 

2. In XenCenter, click on your XenServer, select the Storage Tab in the Center Console and click New SR (SR = Storage Repository)

 

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3. Select NFS ISO under the ISO Library Section

 

Note: You can add SR (Storage Repositories) for whatever you need and connect to your VMs or other PCs / Servers on your network in a variety of different ways (iSCSI, Fiber Channel, Fiber Channel over Ethernet, SANS, etc.)

 

LkDhwzE.png

 

4. Name your NFS ISO Storage Repository

 

miSDgyy.png

 

5. Enter the location of where the NFS share is (the IP address of your unRAID), the path where the share is located and click finished.

 

Note: This is the standard naming convention that linux uses for NFS shares. If you want to see a list of available NFS shares and the path... From a linux machine on your network type:

 

showmount -e THE IP ADDRESS OF YOUR unRAID VM (or another NFS Server on the Network)

 

Below is an example of what a full path looks like:

 

IHjW5TR.png

 

6. Let's verify it sees your ISOs. Select NFS ISO Library (or whatever you called it) in the left hand column and select the storage tab in the center console.

 

00lA4Um.png

 

7. When you go to create a VM, you can select any of the ISOs you have copied into your ISO share on your unRAID VM. You can boot straight into a Windows 8, Ubuntu, OSX, etc. install dvd and not have to deal with burning DVDs or preparing Flash Drives.

 

TimER6y.png

 

 

 

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[glow=red,2,300]For those of you who are going to run Windows in a Xen VM...[/glow]

 

Make sure you load the GPL-PV drivers. This will GREATLY increase your disk and video speeds in Windows and blow a ESXi Windows VM out of the water.

 

On my system in Xen, my Windows Experience Index score only dropped .3 when compared to running bare metal (Windows directly loaded on the machine). Considering I only gave my Windows VM 4 of the 8 processors and only 4GB of the 32GB... very impressive.

 

Installing signed GPLPV drivers in Windows Xen instances

 

Here are the results of a quick test I did using the EXACT same hardware / setup for XenServer 6.2 and ESXi 5.1. (Both were only configured with 1 CPU and 1GB of memory.)

 

I copied a 10GB file from an old (and slow) unRAID machine to a new unRAID (with crappy drives that I used for this test):

 

XenServer 6.2 with Paravirtualized NIC and Drives:

 

qXY7VN6.png

 

ESXi 5.1 with Paravirtualized NIC and Drives:

 

bF8Ntqf.png

 

Not the greatest speed in the world but that was due to the machines / drives I copied from and too. The important thing to notice is there is no advantage / disadvantage in using Xen or ESXi as far as speed is concerned.

 

NOTE: I didn't bother mapping the drives via RDM in Xen or ESXi so if any of you want to try that out and post your results... Knock yourself out.

 

Also, I would be curious how the results are with people who are using M1015, LSI, etc. controllers.

 

 

 

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I know that this is more about unRAID in Xenserver, but my main objective was getting XBMCbuntu virtualized in XenServer.  Unfortunately, I had to revert back to ESXi.  As far as I know, I successfully passed all HW through without issue, but, my Xen XBMC VMs were experiencing serious frame drops.  When I run the same VMs in ESXi, I don't see a single drop.

 

I don't know if XenServer requires additional drivers or tweaking, but XBMCbuntu worked out of the box in ESXi once all HW is passed through.

 

grumpy...does anything jump out that I may have missed on the Xen side?

 

John

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Just made the transition to 5.0.4 on my xenserver box. thanks grumpy.

*waiting for the 1st person to make a typo and put an extra 't' in your name, lol.

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grumpy...does anything jump out that I may have missed on the Xen side?

 

It's not on the Xen side. It's XBMCbuntu.

 

If I were you, I would test it out in regular Ubuntu but use the Xen netboot Installer specifically designed for Ubuntu Xen Guests.

 

http://mirrors.gigenet.com/ubuntuarchive/ubuntu/dists/saucy/main/installer-amd64/20101020ubuntu271/images/netboot/xen/

 

Install Ubuntu (just do a minimal install) then XBMC (make it autostart) and see if you still get framedrops.

 

Once you get there, I can help you troubleshoot via PM.

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grumpy...does anything jump out that I may have missed on the Xen side?

 

It's not on the Xen side. It's XBMCbuntu.

 

If I were you, I would test it out in regular Ubuntu but use the Xen netboot Installer specifically designed for Ubuntu Xen Guests.

 

http://mirrors.gigenet.com/ubuntuarchive/ubuntu/dists/saucy/main/installer-amd64/20101020ubuntu271/images/netboot/xen/

 

Install Ubuntu (just do a minimal install) then XBMC (make it autostart) and see if you still get framedrops.

 

Once you get there, I can help you troubleshoot via PM.

 

Not sure how it is an XBMCbuntu problem when my 3 separate XBMCbuntu VMs (ESXi) run flawlessly.  On Xenserver I performed the same exact XBMCbuntu install and allotted the same # CPUs and memory as I did with the ESXi VMs.

 

John

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Not sure how it is an XBMCbuntu problem when my 3 separate XBMCbuntu VMs (ESXi) run flawlessly.  On Xenserver I performed the same exact XBMCbuntu install and allotted the same # CPUs and memory as I did with the ESXi VMs.

 

I have never used XBMCbuntu but I suspect the Xen Paravirtualized Drivers are not enabled. Ubuntu (Debian and other Linux Distros) have a separate Xen install when running it as a guest.

 

With the Xen Paravirtualized Drivers enabled (PV or PVHVM) you will see a big increase in the performance of your VMs.

 

Run the following command for your Hard Drive:

 

cat /proc/partitions

 

If you do not see xvda for your VM Hard Drive and partitions... You are not using the Paravirtualized driver for your Hard Drive:

 

major minor  #blocks  name

202        0   31457280 xvda
202        1     512000 xvda1
202        2    4194304 xvda2
202        3   26749952 xvda3

 

Run the following command for your Network:

 

ethtool -i eth0

 

If you do not see the following... You are not using the Xen Paravirtualized Network Driver:

driver: vif
version:
firmware-version:
bus-info: vif-0
supports-statistics: yes
supports-test: no
supports-eeprom-access: no
supports-register-dump: no

 

You do not want to run your Linux Guests in HVM mode. You want PV mode (which using the Ubuntu Xen Installer will do) or at least PVHVM mode. Windows you want to run in PVHVM mode (loading the GPLPV drivers will do this for you which I link in this thread).

 

An Explanation of what I am talking about and what this all means can be found here:

 

Guest Types

 

and...

 

An Introduction to Full Virtualization With Xen (Part 1)

 

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May try switching to this from ESXi over the holidays.  Thanks for the guides.  Like the Atlas thread for ESXi this is one of the most valuable threads on the forums for me - or at least I hope it will be anyway.  Have to wait until I have time to try this and come up with a way to switch back quickly if I have troubles.  I record with passed through tuners on Win7x64 VM in ESXi currently and I need to do this when nothing is scheduled to record (hard to shuffle things around sometimes).

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May try switching to this from ESXi over the holidays.  Thanks for the guides.  Like the Atlas thread for ESXi this is one of the most valuable threads on the forums for me - or at least I hope it will be anyway.  Have to wait until I have time to try this and come up with a way to switch back quickly if I have troubles.  I record with passed through tuners on Win7x64 VM in ESXi currently and I need to do this when nothing is scheduled to record (hard to shuffle things around sometimes).

 

I am finishing up my Guide for running KVM in openSUSE. When it's finished I will make a Xen one too. There are only a couple of changes required for it. You could run either one and they are similar speed wise. KVM has the ability to passthrough non-Quattro nVidia Cards (Xen will be their shortly) and I can't tell a speed difference between the too. Really comes to down to personal choice at the point.

 

Something to consider...

 

You can install openSUSE onto a flash drive (My test one with a Full Desktop, XBMC, plenty of other "goodies" is less than 4GB).

 

That way, you can switch between ESXi, KVM, Xen (easily) and get "Proof of Concept" without having your system down for long periods of time. You could even do it stages.

 

Really all you need to do is:

 

UNPLUG ALL YOUR UNRAID DRIVES when installing openSuse unless you are a Linux PRO.

 

Turn off vmware tools plugin from autostarting.

 

Aside from those two, everything else should fire up / work just like it did in ESXi. I have switched between "bare metal", Xen, KVM, XenServer and ESXi probably 50+ times in the last few months. unRAID (the unRAID flash drive and the plugins) and the unRAID data drives didn't know the difference.

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After getting to your openSUSE KVM setup thread.  I think you are right I will probably try that first and more then likely not switch to XEN if it is working for me.  Both threads provide the detailed setup I will need to do this so Thank You.

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Does one need a second dedicated GPU for passthru? Or is it also possible to passthru a IGP? say for example a hd2500? I don't mind running my xenserver headless. But would like to give my win7 vm access to the hd2500. I tried, but I get a nice blue screen  ::)

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I suspect most of you will have a motherboard that you either passthrough ALL or none of your onboard sata ports. By default XenServer cannot be installed to a USB Stick. Either get a motherboard like mine where you aren't forced to passthrough all your onboard sata ports or get a cheap ($10 - $15) PCI sata card for a datastore drive (where your VMs and their virtual hard drives reside). Why? You can install XenServer onto a USB Stick (guides on how to do this are on the web) or your favorite Distro with Xen onto on a USB Stick. However, you will either run your VMs from other USB drives or the unRAID server VM. Your drives won't ever sleep unless using a cache drive (Which would take up a precious sata port anyway).

 

My advice... Go with a PCI sata card and get an SSD or use your old cache drive (Sickbeard, Couchpotato, SQL, PFSense, TFTP server are running on other VMs now so why even bother with a cache drive). XenServer (or your Distro with Xen on it) only takes a very small portion of space and the rest can be used as your datestore. You can do this with a large enough flash drive but I don't recommend it.

 

Edit: I'm not sure why I didn't pay attention to this, but it sounds like Virtualizing unRAID in KVM on openSUSE is probably the route I should go first.

 

First, this thread is already great; it has me excited for Xen -- thank you in advance. I have a beginner question. I was planning on virtualizing with ESXi, but I like the idea of and what I'm reading about XenServer better. However, I was hoping to get additional thoughts on running XenServer from USB and using a cache drive before I proceed. Here was my plan for ESXi and what I'm thinking for XenServer if it'll work.

 

Questions

[*]Is it a bad idea (performance hit, stability issues, etc.) to run XenServer from a USB flash drive? I still like the plan of running unRAID and my virtualization platform from simple USB sticks plugged into my motherboard (I have a USB header-to-port adapter giving me the second internal USB port).

[*]I was going to run my ESXi datastores off of my 120GB SSD. If it's okay running XenServer from USB, this should still be my plan, right? If I should instead install Xen to my SSD, do I still run my datastores on it too?

[*]You mention not needing a cache drive in your tutorial. Is it completely useless and a waste when virtualizing?

[*]Here is my set up for reference, and I'd love to get any general advice and recommendations on how I should proceed based on it.

 

Hardware

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1230 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz
  • Motherboard: SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCM-F-O
  • RAM: 24GB (2x4GB, 2x8GB)
  • PSU: 450W
  • HBA: LSI SAS 9211-8i 6Gb/s SAS/SATA Host Bus Adapter [not flashed to IT mode yet] (w/ Forward breakout cables)
  • UPS: CyberPower Intelligent LCD Series CP600LCD 600VA 340W

 

Storage

  • Flash Drives: 2 x SanDisk Cruzer Fit 16GB USB
  • Parity Drive: 1 x WD Red 3TB
  • Data Drives: 3 x WD Red 3TB, 1 x WD Black 1TB
  • Cache Drive: 1 x WD Black 500GB
  • Datastore: 1 x 120GB SSD

 

Side questions

[*]Do you have your UPS properly powering down with Xen?

[*]Does Xen recognize onboard RAID 1 unlike ESXi if I wanted to run two SSDs for my datastores without having to buy another card?

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Questions

Is it a bad idea (performance hit, stability issues, etc.) to run XenServer from a USB flash drive?

 

No there is no stability issue. It will boot up a little a slower unless you get a USB Flash Drive that has good speed. If you look at NewEgg and other websites they have the read / write speeds listed for them.

 

I still like the plan of running unRAID and my virtualization platform from simple USB sticks plugged into my motherboard (I have a USB header-to-port adapter giving me the second internal USB port).

 

If you plan on running XenServer off a USB Flash Drive you will need at least 2 USB Controllers because you are going to have to passthrough a USB Controller for unRAID to work. One for XenServer to use and one for unRAID.

 

I was going to run my ESXi datastores off of my 120GB SSD. If it's okay running XenServer from USB, this should still be my plan, right? If I should instead install Xen to my SSD, do I still run my datastores on it too?

 

XenServer doesn't take up much room. I don't recall but I believe it's 4 - 6GB. The remaining would be available for your VMs, datastores, backups, etc.

 

You mention not needing a cache drive in your tutorial. Is it completely useless and a waste when virtualizing?

 

You can use a cache drive if you want. Since your "plugins" are going to running in VMs... Your cache drive isn't going to be doing much but storing stuff until the mover script adds it to the unRAID array. I'd rather have more space to my array then have a temporary storing place.

 

Here is my set up for reference, and I'd love to get any general advice and recommendations on how I should proceed based on it.

 

Hardware

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1230 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz
  • Motherboard: SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCM-F-O
  • RAM: 24GB (2x4GB, 2x8GB)
  • PSU: 450W
  • HBA: LSI SAS 9211-8i 6Gb/s SAS/SATA Host Bus Adapter [not flashed to IT mode yet] (w/ Forward breakout cables)
  • UPS: CyberPower Intelligent LCD Series CP600LCD 600VA 340W

 

Storage

  • Flash Drives: 2 x SanDisk Cruzer Fit 16GB USB
  • Parity Drive: 1 x WD Red 3TB
  • Data Drives: 3 x WD Red 3TB, 1 x WD Black 1TB
  • Cache Drive: 1 x WD Black 500GB
  • Datastore: 1 x 120GB SSD

 

I will let the other users who use Supermicro and Intel Processors provide feedback on your hardware. They know more of what works, issues, etc. than I do.

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Hardware

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1230 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz
  • Motherboard: SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCM-F-O
  • RAM: 24GB (2x4GB, 2x8GB)
  • PSU: 450W
  • HBA: LSI SAS 9211-8i 6Gb/s SAS/SATA Host Bus Adapter [not flashed to IT mode yet] (w/ Forward breakout cables)
  • UPS: CyberPower Intelligent LCD Series CP600LCD 600VA 340W

 

Storage

  • Flash Drives: 2 x SanDisk Cruzer Fit 16GB USB
  • Parity Drive: 1 x WD Red 3TB
  • Data Drives: 3 x WD Red 3TB, 1 x WD Black 1TB
  • Cache Drive: 1 x WD Black 500GB
  • Datastore: 1 x 120GB SSD

 

I'm looking at upgrading to that same motherboard and CPU along with a similar size SSD as a datastore as part of my project to start using Xen. Do post back with how you get on! I would be very interested to hear if you have any problems with this hardware combo and using Xen. :)

 

 

On another note, just wanted to thank grumpy, ironicbadger and co for all the work they have done, and hopefully will continue to do, working with Tom regarding Xen. I know I'm truly grateful, and sure I'm not alone in feeling that way  ;)

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I'm looking at upgrading to that same motherboard and CPU along with a similar size SSD as a datastore as part of my project to start using Xen. Do post back with how you get on! I would be very interested to hear if you have any problems with this hardware combo and using Xen. :)

 

On another note, just wanted to thank grumpy, ironicbadger and co for all the work they have done, and hopefully will continue to do, working with Tom regarding Xen. I know I'm truly grateful, and sure I'm not alone in feeling that way  ;)

Agreed. These tutorials are great and the authors are awesome!

 

I'm debating on going the Virtualizing unRAID in KVM on openSUSE route, as it seems more user-friendly in the end, will run nicely on my USB flash, and should recognize the two SSDs I would like to RAID 1 for datastores using the onboard RAID.

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I'm debating on going the Virtualizing unRAID in KVM on openSUSE route, as it seems more user-friendly in the end, will run nicely on my USB flash, and should recognize the two SSDs I would like to RAID 1 for datastores using the onboard RAID.

 

you might be better off using Linux software RAID rather than MB raid.

also with opensuse you can try RAID-1 using BTRFS volume instead of MD RAID

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I'm debating on going the Virtualizing unRAID in KVM on openSUSE route, as it seems more user-friendly in the end, will run nicely on my USB flash, and should recognize the two SSDs I would like to RAID 1 for datastores using the onboard RAID.

 

you might be better off using Linux software RAID rather than MB raid.

also with opensuse you can try RAID-1 using BTRFS volume instead of MD RAID

 

What's the advantage of using Linux software RAID over the MB raid controller?

 

Have to admit, unTER had the same idea as me - two 120GB SSD's, in RAID 1 for a datastore.  I had it listed as a pro, that the X9SCM had a second SATA controller, which was capable of RAID1 - maybe I'm not seeing a pitfall here  :)

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