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Newbie, intro.


Serpent7

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Hi! I'm julian... I'm super new to UnRaid and Linux. I LOVE IT so far!  I have very little experience with Windows Server 2016. I'm pretty good with Windows 10 pro, and home. Also, I know a little DOS. That's about it. I'm currently studying for my A+ certification and decided to purchase a Dell R900 server to set-up and learn as I go. I only have 1, 300gb hd at the moment but just recently purchased 2, 2tb hd with trays and sata cables. Once they arrive (a few days) I'll really dive into UnRaid all out!

I want to set-up my UnRaid server to do 5 things: 1) email server (small, maybe 10-20 emails max.). 2) Host approx. 10 websites built with Publisher (I know, I know... Publisher. LOL). 3) Media Server (music, maybe a few games, and video) for inside, and outside my home, workgroup network. 4) a small cloud (maybe 1 tb) hd. 5) and maybe set-up a domain if I can get this Dell R900 a little quieter, or maybe soundproof the rack its in at my home... What software, dockers, vm's, or anything else I'm missing would you recommend for me to accomplish my 5 things?

I'll be asking plenty of dumb questions because I have no idea about Dockers, VM's, or anything else related to that.... So, please be patient with me. I'll be a "Pro" in no-time!

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9 hours ago, Serpent7 said:

3) Media Server (music, maybe a few games, and video) for inside, and outside my home, workgroup network.

   Plex media server, a Docker Container, will probably serve you well here (video and music); alternatively there is another software called Emby that's popular.  If you a large e-document library Calibre (also a Docker Container) is nifty.  You also mentioned games, talking ROMS/emulators, or PC games (Steam and such)?  Emulated stuff probably has some Docker containers, but PC gaming will put you into VM realm.  I have to plead ignorant on your other specific points.  I recommend getting friendly with the forums page and search function - there's a lot of good information, but it's not always easy finding good starting point (based on my experiences).  

 

Edit: Curious, and bored at work, you stated being a Linux newbie - what made you decide to take the plunge with unRAID? 

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Hey Julian, expect awesome help for your data hoarding (music and movies especially), but hosting email servers and websites is less commonly done. It will still work fine via VM provided you have skills in that area. It's just the community here isn't so deeply experienced along those lines.

 

Glad you're here as we need more people who use unRaid in other creative ways.

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Jcloud... I currently have no job. LOL, I was a school teacher and the redtape you have to go through with admin. and student parent's finally outweighed the zeal to teach! 10 years. Before I taught however, I was in IT. Now, I'm trying to get back in the game. Technology has drastically changed, but I absolutely love this stuff! Hopefully, before the summer is out, I can get some certifications, and experience under my belt?! That's the short story... 

I never really messed with Linux. I have very little experience with Mac servers, but always stayed in the PC realm (silly me). 

A good friend of mine, after explaining what I wanted to accomplish recommended UnRaid. I was considering spending money I don't have for Server 2016 which originally I was more comfortable with. I quickly figured out that UnRaid does the same thing (possibly even better) much cheaper! The learning curve part should be no sweat! So, here I am! 

I was up well past my normal sleep times reading up on VM's; how they work; why you would need/use one (or in my case, 5). I still haven't quite grasped the idea of the differences between a Docker, and VM? I'll get there eventually.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Serpent7 said:

I was up well past my normal sleep times reading up on VM's; how they work; why you would need/use one (or in my case, 5). I still haven't quite grasped the idea of the differences between a Docker, and VM? I'll get there eventually.

 

A Docker is a prepackaged container, consisting of one or more Linux applications (normally one). People often run several Dockers to run the apps they want. An example is Plex. Dockers are able to share the kernel with unRAID, so are all sharing the same pool of memory with unRAID. This makes them resource friendly.

 

VMs are more often used when you want to install an operating system, like Windows or one of several Linux distributions. VMs require that you dedicate a block of memory to each one (that is running). This is more typical of a desktop replacement VM, or a Gaming VM.

 

A third animal is called a PlugIn, which normally provide functionality that extends or compliments unRAID functions.

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Each VM can be thought of as a complete separate computer. Taking up RAM whether it needs it out not. If you will be running VM's install lots of RAM in your server.

Likely your web and mail servers will need a VM each or maybe if they play nicely together they can share a VM.

Perhaps the following might help.

Plugins share everything

Dockers share a lot, but have some compartmentalization

VM's share almost nothing.

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10 hours ago, Serpent7 said:

SSD... Can I run 1 VM with 2 different windows 10 pros, or would i just do two VM's each running a windows 10 pro?

Not SSD, but conceptually it's the later idea, two VM's each running their own OS.  Depending on your hardware you can run X number of VM's running any combination of operating systems.  So if you wanted to make one VM a domain controller, and make a second one as a client-role for testing/playing with AD - totally feasible idea. 

 

Good luck on the employment sector; teaching can be a rough gig, and if the passion is gone I can see wanting a change.

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20 hours ago, Serpent7 said:

SSD... Can I run 1 VM with 2 different windows 10 pros, or would i just do two VM's each running a windows 10 pro?

Each VM can run only a single OS instance, so you'd need 2 VMs to run 2 different Win10 "machines".

 

Not all VMs need to be running at the same time. So you could have 2 Win10 VMs but only run one of them at a time.

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My Server is a Dell R900, currently, 96gb RAM, upgradable to 256gb RAM, 4x xenon 2.93 processors 4 cores each, so 16 cores total. Perc i6 disk controller, 4x gigabit network cards (running), 2x 10gigabit network cards (not running), idrac (not running)...

Maybe just a little more RAM and I should be good hardware wise, right? So far considering 3 VM's and 2 dockers. All on Unraid OS. (I hope I'm making sense?).

 

I read up on VM's and I got that pretty solid in theory... I read up on Dockers, and I understand it, but still don't grasp it very well. I think Dockers for me will be a "wait and see" once I get it all set-up. I will be running Tonido, inside a container using docker (I think) for my cloud server. Plex will run on a VM using mac os. the other 2 vm's will handle windows 10, 1 running MailEnable and the other running my webserver (leaning towards publisher). In theory, this is what I've come up with so far.

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7 minutes ago, Serpent7 said:

My Server is a Dell R900, currently, 96gb RAM, upgradable to 256gb RAM, 4x xenon 2.93 processors 4 cores each, so 16 cores total. Perc i6 disk controller, 4x gigabit network cards (running), 2x 10gigabit network cards (not running), idrac (not running)...

Maybe just a little more RAM and I should be good hardware wise, right? So far considering 3 VM's and 2 dockers. All on Unraid OS. (I hope I'm making sense?).

 

I read up on VM's and I got that pretty solid in theory... I read up on Dockers, and I understand it, but still don't grasp it very well. I think Dockers for me will be a "wait and see" once I get it all set-up. I will be running Tonido, inside a container using docker (I think) for my cloud server. Plex will run on a VM using mac os. the other 2 vm's will handle windows 10, 1 running MailEnable and the other running my webserver (leaning towards publisher). In theory, this is what I've come up with so far.

 

96G of RAM is going to be plenty. Even if you want to dedicate 32G of RAM to each one, that still leaves 32G for unRAID. I have 64G in my server and experimented with 32G vs 16G of RAM for my VM, and found no difference. So I am running 16G on my single VM and works great.

 

Dockers may seem a challenge to grasp conceptually, but to install and use them it is dead simple. Many are easily doable by a person with enough skills to install unRAID itself. Would take all of 2 minutes to install one. The complexity and length of time to fully configure the app depends on the specific Docker. But many are very easy and the forum is available for support / assistance.

 

The VM is a more involved process and takes some technical skills and knowledge. If you are not afraid to install the OS, it's not hard. With non-passthrough it'd probably take ~30 mins. Passthrough adds another dimension of difficulty and requires figuring out some stuff that is unique to your motherboard and GPU. Probably take more like 1-2 hours for first timer assuming no major issues are encountered.

 

Use the 2 part videos below if you are installing Windows VMs.

 

 

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That Dell 900 will be great for playing around with. Lots of RAM and ports. The only thing is it may be a little thirsty for power. Of course that will depend on how it's configured, and how hard you run it.

How many watts does it pull when it's idling?

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I try a lot to optimize for low idle power - both for the electricity cost, the environmental aspect and because I don't like the additional heat.

 

I sometimes needs brutal processing power when doing some regression testing or some experiments but it's best with equipment that scale down on power when the additional capacity isn't needed. Less idle power also means less fan noise.

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Once I get the hard drives in (sata cables came in today, hd's arrives this Tuesday I think) I'll remember to set-up with power consumption in mind. So far, the longest I've had the server on was maybe 3 hours during removing server 2016 and installing UnRaid, and a quick temp configuration.

During that time, the room did warm quite a bit. However, server temps stayed well below warm. The fans sounded like 2, 747 cleared for take off!

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8 hours ago, Serpent7 said:

Yes! I was thinking 16gb RAM to each VM would work. That would give me at least 5 virtualizations to play with.

 

You need to decide, for each VM, if you will want it to run with  passthrough video (and possibly USB for Keyboard/Mouse), or whether it is ok to be accessible only through something like VNC, SplashTop Desktop, or best of all IMO, NoMachine. Obviously tools like this require a functional computer to be able to access the VM.

 

With passthrough, the video and Keyboard/Mouse will be able to run completely independently of any software. I run my daily driver this way, and run long monitor and USB cables from my basement server to my monitor and KVM in my study. No one would ever know that this was not a bare metal Windows box. The only assist I need to get it up and running is a Web Browser for the unRAID GUI to start the VM (which can easily be done from my phone or tablet).

 

Without passthrough, you need a "place to stand" to access the VM. That might be a physical machine or a passthrough VM. For example, my Windows VM can connect to a non-passthrough VM using NoMachine. It can run in a Window or full screen on that computer.

 

There are limits to the number of passthrough VMs you can have. I think the max I've seen is 4, but it is dependent on the motherboard and may require an extra USB card.

 

So if you goal is set  up a computer lab, and you want to run a 8 VMs with each user having their own monitor, keyboard and mouse, unRAID is not really going to support that configuration, at least not that I am familiar with.

 

So you really need to give some thought as to what these VMs are going to be, which ones are passthrough and which ones are not, and make sure you have a workable plan to achieve your vision. Otherwise you may run out of gas and be disappointed.

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SSD... I have been thinking about this but may need a little of your guidance on this one... Currently, my Dell R900 server has a keyboard, monitor, and mouse conmected to it in a server rack. However, I usually dont go in there unless Im upgrading bios, or hardware. I usually connect via network with my laptop, other desktops (2 of them), or phone (which I havent figured out but will ne in the very near future).

idrac is way at out of my pricerange, so I've been connecting with my web browser (UnRaid) and before UnRaid I was connecting using windows remote desktop. Both were very successful. 

I had just assumed I would use UnRaid but hadnt thought past that. If I do use passthrough, Im only using 3 VM's total so Im good, right?

If not, I guess Ill ne using some sort of software. What do you recommend in my situation? Your thoughts?

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I have never installed pass through graphics.  The need to have a monitor attached to the server that is wailing like a banshee totally turns me off.  The server belongs deep underground, buried in the bowels of the earth, where it can never be heard.  The connection to it is by Ethernet cable, and RDP gives very good performance for Win clients.  For remote connections to VM's in other locations, Teamviewer is what I use.  VNC is great for terminal access to linux VM's but sluggish for graphics.  I tried SplashTop desktop, but was underwhelmed.  I need to try No Machine and see what I am missing.  Overall Microsoft RDP between Windows VMs and a Windows laptop is so good and so easy that it's difficult to recommend other solutions.

 

I'm guessing you want to be as far away as possible from the beast and connect with your laptop.  If you need faster than gigabit connection, it is a bit more challenging.  Others have wired long distance cables for monitor, mouse and keyboard, so it is possible, but not easy or simple.

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20 hours ago, tr0910 said:

I have never installed pass through graphics.  The need to have a monitor attached to the server that is wailing like a banshee totally turns me off.  The server belongs deep underground, buried in the bowels of the earth, where it can never be heard.  The connection to it is by Ethernet cable, and RDP gives very good performance for Win clients.  For remote connections to VM's in other locations, Teamviewer is what I use.  VNC is great for terminal access to linux VM's but sluggish for graphics.  I tried SplashTop desktop, but was underwhelmed.  I need to try No Machine and see what I am missing.  Overall Microsoft RDP between Windows VMs and a Windows laptop is so good and so easy that it's difficult to recommend other solutions.

 

I'm guessing you want to be as far away as possible from the beast and connect with your laptop.  If you need faster than gigabit connection, it is a bit more challenging.  Others have wired long distance cables for monitor, mouse and keyboard, so it is possible, but not easy or simple.

 

My goal with my VM was to replace my daily driver computer. If I have to boot a computer in order to run my VM, I have defeated the purpose.

 

Plus the experience with video, etc. is sub-par IMO. And my experience with keyboard/mouse was not stellar. It was jerkier than normal and I had some unexpected disconnects. YMMV

 

For graphic-intensive gaming, passthrough it absolutely necessary.

 

I agree that the server should be not seen or heard. Mine lives in my unfinished basement, and with a longer HDMI cable and USB extension cable, I feed them into my study and hook up to monitor and KVM. Works great for me. If the server is not within reach (> ~100ft) or it is not practical to run the extension cable(s), there are other options for using RJ-45 cables to pass video. But they are pricey, run very hot, and maybe not a great option. And this is not Ethernet. You need a dedicated point to point RJ-45 cable to make it work.

 

Here are the cables I used:

- HDMI

- USB

 

If you have a less-seldom used VM, and a machine to access them from (VM or PM), NoMachine or similar should be fine. NoMachine is better wtih graphics that SpashTop. And also better supported with Linux.

 

And if your daily driver is a physical machine, and you have no desire to replace it with a VM, then this becomes a perfectly acceptable place to access your VMs.

 

But I have to say I LOVE having my daily machine be a VM. I am sharing the considerable horsepower of my server with Plex and Windows (my two biggest CPU intensive uses). And no physical machine (with server in the basement) means absolutely zero noise in my study. And no heat either. With a high powered desktop, I had a hard time keeping the study cool in the summer, but no more. And as I said, this is a pure native Windows experience.

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Before deciding what VMs you need, you should install Community Applications plugin. It will help you install any other plugin or any docker supported by the community. And you may find some of the things you want to do with a VM can be more easily done with a docker. There are a lot of dockers available. For example, I see no good reason to have a VM just to run Plex when there is a docker for Plex. Take a look at the Docker Containers subforum.

 

Community Applications currently lists 418 apps.

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6 hours ago, SSD said:

But I have to say I LOVE having my daily machine be a VM. I am sharing the considerable horsepower of my server with Plex and Windows (my two biggest CPU intensive uses). And no physical machine (with server in the basement) means absolutely zero noise in my study. And no heat either. With a high powered desktop, I had a hard time keeping the study cool in the summer, but no more. And as I said, this is a pure native Windows experience.

I guess I'll have to try pass through graphics someday.  Since my laptop lives on my desk, and gaming is not needed, I haven't felt the need so far.  Haven't you had occasions where not having a laptop handy and being locked out of your VM has been a problem?  I find that VMs really need to be put to sleep to reduce server power usage.  But once they are asleep they can't be woken up with RDP. 

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