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I’ve put together a lab with an x4100, VMware ESX, a SunRay and an OSX laptop. This provides the infrastructure in my home office, and a super platform for experimenting with various software and architectural components.

vmlab2.png

Key components are:

  • Sun x4100 w/ 4 cores and 8Gb Memory
  • VMWare ESX 3.01
  • Solaris 10 x86 virtual machine (vm) running SunRay server
  • SunRay 1G appliance
  • Several Windows XP and Windows Server vm’s
  • cAos Linux vm running DHCP, bastion SSH and caching DNS
  • PowerBook G4 client
  • Synergy keyboard/mouse virtualization
  • Apple 23″ 1920×1200 Cinema Display
  • SyncMaster 1024×768 Display

Key features:

  • SunRay client to access Solaris 10 via X and Windows via RDP (uttsc)
  • X on the Mac for access to Linux and Solaris desktops with xnest and rdesktop
  • Synergy to share keyboard/mouse between SunRay and OSX

There are a lot of nits to go through, most of which I have workarounds for:

  • Sadly, there is some incompatibility between the SunRay and my Apple Cinema Display. (Update, this now works!)
  • Synergy software looses connection between OSX and the SunRay session when the screensaver activates.
  • Cisco VPN can’t be launched from an RDP client.

The setup shows the technical feasibility for virtualizing Windows, Linux and Solaris desktops with VMware, using SunRay as a thin-client to access displays.

The typical method for virtualizing Windows instances uses Terminal Server or Citrix. This method deploys individual Windows virtual machines, typically Windows XP Professional, allowing users greater control over their “machine”.

I’m thinking about setting up the SunRay with a Windows session in kiosk mode for one of my daughters. If she can’t break it, I think its a good initial indication of usability.

The cloning capabilities of VMware make keeping “clean” installs of various base types a breeze, except for one small niggle: I’m running out of disk. I think my next project will be a white-box iSCSI or NAS server that VMware can use for additional storage.

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15 Responses to “x4100 + SunRay + VMware: Virtual Lab”

  1. on 26 Oct 2006 at 9:50 pm Curt Cox

    1) This looks really cool. Please blog about any snags you encountered. 2) Any chance of posting the VMWare images somewhere for people in the same boat to grab? 3) How many Sun Rays do you have on the network? You must have quite a few to justify this setup. 4) What’s VSwitch?

  2. […] Looks like someone has already implemented the idea I had. Extremely cool, and makes my own little experiments with my puny Dell 5150 seem almost irrelevant. […]

  3. on 27 Oct 2006 at 12:23 am Lou

    I haven’t seen a VMWare Wiki yet, maybe it’s time? Check for http://vmware.frankenhand.com tomorrow sometime. This might be a good place for images and gotchas, but the VMWare site has some images.

    I actually only have one SunRay, not enough for any serious scalability tests. Maybe my boss will see this and think more is a good idea.

    “VSwitch” is just a regular old “virtual switch” you create in ESX when creating “networks in a box”. The diagram is a bit too physical, because the cAos dhcp appliance is more interesting.

    In the x4600 setup an image very similar to the cAos dhcp appliance is actually a NAT firewall also, although the firewall isn’t the point, the NAT is. We didn’t have the 70 odd IP addresses for all the machines in the lab, so we created a virtual network within the x4600 and have the combination NAT firewall, dhcp server and caching dns server on the internal network and on the external physical network. Its a sort of virtual version of a NAT router appliance you might pick up at CompUSA.

    Insofar as puny or not puny on the 5150, ANY laptop would be tough for this, but I think useful work might be done with almost any server with enough disk. That’s the wall I hit anyway.

    However, the x4100 is certainly a joy, except for the racket. Andy has heard and is trying to make his future efforts less noisy. Sun wants the physical x4100 package to handle higher densities as core counts increase. Imagine a 1-u box with 32 cores. Now, quit imagining and get busy, it will be here way too soon, for sure.

  4. on 27 Oct 2006 at 10:34 pm Curt Cox

    “I think my next project will be a white-box iSCSI or NAS server that VMware can use for additional storage.”

    Considering the setup you already have, why skimp on the storage? I’m sure Sun makes some really nice networked attached storage that is at least moderately affordable.

    I can understand the setup you decribed in the context of something that would scale up. For an average home, running Parallels on a Mac mini with 2Gig of memory would be completely adequate and much cheaper.

  5. on 28 Oct 2006 at 2:26 pm Lou

    I’m afraid our entry level NAS storage is a bit out of my price range!

  6. on 09 Nov 2006 at 10:32 pm Curt Cox

    Is “cAos Linux vm running DHCP, bastion SSH and caching DNS” so you can set MTU?

  7. on 10 Nov 2006 at 11:12 am Lou

    If the driver and the (virtual) device support it, you can set these things, but I haven’t tried it. Changing MTU, or changing it to something greater than 1400, requires all the switches between the endpoints to support it to be effective. I’d think this includes the virtual switch in the VMware lan that the virtual machine is on, as well as the physical card on the host ESX server.

    I need to look into this some more since I ran into a jumbo frames configuration issue with the iSCSI storage machine I built. This is a separate physical box that I’m using for additional storage. It is an iSCSI target. The (cheap) NIC in that machine supports jumbo frames, but the NICs on my x4100 apparently do not with ESX server. I hope I’m missing something. Properly configured jumbo frames would be very helpful for the iSCSI traffic.

  8. on 10 Nov 2006 at 11:14 am Lou

    If the driver and the (virtual) device support it, you can set these things, but I haven’t tried it. Changing MTU, or changing it to something greater than 1400, requires all the switches between the endpoints to support it to be effective. I’d think this includes the virtual switch in the VMware lan that the virtual machine is on, as well as the physical card on the host ESX server.

    I need to look into this some more since I ran a jumbo frames configuration issue with the iSCSI storage machine I built. This is a separate physical box that I’m using for additional storage. It is an iSCSI target. The (cheap) NIC in that machine supports jumbo frames, but the NICs on my x4100 apparently do not with ESX server. I hope I’m missing something. Properly configured jumbo frames would be very helpful for the iSCSI traffic.

  9. on 10 Nov 2006 at 6:55 pm Inchoate Curmudgeon

    Apple Cinema Display Works with SunRay 1G!…

    I’ve got my 23″ Cinema Dsiplay working with the SunRay 1G. It was a bit of an RTFM thing. You must configure the SunRay for auto-resolution for the X piece /opt/SUNWut/bin/utxconfig -r auto and then set the default resolution for the SunRay…

  10. on 02 Dec 2006 at 2:51 pm Rae Yip

    I’m trying to run SRSS 3.1 on VMWare ESX 3, and running into a problem where /dev/sunray isn’t available because the driver is failing to attach.

    Just wondering if you ran into a similar problem and found a workaround? From what I understand this issue prevents SRSS from running inside a Solaris 10 zone as well.

  11. on 02 Dec 2006 at 3:55 pm Lou

    No, I haven’t had that problem. My initial install was pretty painless, just following instructions. I’m on Solaris 10 6/06. There were some recommended patches I applied.

    You should post a question to the SunRay Users group mailing list at http://filibeto.org/sun/sunray-users/index.html. They are very knowedgable and the list is watched by a several of the SunRay engineers.

  12. on 30 Apr 2007 at 10:25 pm Kelley Shaw

    Very cool! I am trying to do something similar. I want to configure SRSS 3.1 on my Solaris 10 VM similar to the way you have. From your diagram, it looks like you only have one network connection from the Solaris VM to the virtual switch. Does this mean that you used the “LAN configuration” when setting up SRSS (i.e. “utadm -A”, as opposed to a dedicated interface using “utadm -a”). I was trying to figure out how to create a dedicated interface for the SunRays on the Solaris 10 VM, but since I am new to VMware, I wasn’t sure how to do that–possibly VLANing the virtual switch? Any insight based on your experience that you can share is greatly appreciated!

  13. on 01 May 2007 at 12:00 am Lou

    I set up a shared LAN configuration, but what you want to do shouldn’t be too difficult.

    You can set up a dedicated interface and network for SRSS, but you would have to either have two separate physical Ethernet ports on the VMware ESX server, or you would need a VLAN capable switch and to set up multiple VLANs.

    The simpler way to go would be to set up multiple physical Ethernet ports on your ESX server, and connect them to separate virtual switches on separate networks. You could then put multiple virtual NICs on your Solaris 10 SRSS server, connect one virtual NIC to each network, and set up the SunRays on one of the two networks.

  14. […] I’m setting up a development environment on a Solaris x86 machine (well, actually a VMware virtual machine) and have a couple of goals: […]

  15. […] Since I’m posting these, I should also refer to several other related articles I’m aware of. There are some instructions for a Sun Ray VDI solution on the Sun Ray User’s Group Wiki site called the “VDA Cookbook“. The virtual lab I have set up uses a subset of these instructions. […]

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