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Re: new system configuration advice

On Mon, 21 Jan 2013 15:00:38 +0000 (GMT)
steve%prd.co.uk@localhost (Steve Blinkhorn) wrote:
> I'm really grateful to contributors to this thread for the insight you
> have given me into the sorts of issues that are active.   Could I
> impose on your generosity with your time to ask a few slightly more
> pointed questions, related I think to topics that have come up?
> 1. I do virtually all of my development work under NetBSD, although
> often the target OS is MS Windows.   Could I reasonably expect to have
> a NetBSD dom0 and a clutch of Windows domU's (each with a different
> release of MS Windows), with access to some common element of disk
> storage, and access to a single bit-mapped display?   Some
> contributors seem to be suggesting that any bit-mapped display needs
> to be provided via another machine, others not.   My aim is to
> eliminate additional boxes.

Hi Steve

I am not a very competent NetBSD user, but I can tell you I have been
very happy with the Windows domUs I have set up with NetBSD. I have
found Xen 4 and NetBSD 6 very stable. I too consider NetBSD an
outstanding platform to work on.

Here's how I do it:

1) For each domU I create a tap device in dom0 and attach it to its own
bridge, and Xen then assigns its own tap to this bridge. I found
networking worked best this way, rather than setting up one bridge for
all domUs.

2) I create a logical volume using LVM for the disk and assign that to
the domU. Disk access is very fast and LVM overhead is negligible. (Be
aware that snapshots don't yet work in NetBSD's LVM implementation.)

3) I just use the built-in VNC client to run Windows setup, but once
setup is complete I enable RDP in the Windows domU. To log in using RDP
I need X and rdesktop on dom0. A minimal desktop and a single xterm is
all that is required. To login to multiple Windows domUs from the dom0
I set up a tmux session which gives me multiple terms in the dom0
without requiring too much memory.

4) Performance of the Windows domUs has been as close to native as you
can get, with the exception of audio and video. If audio and video
performance matters to you I have come up with a workaround which I can
post later. I have been running two Windows domUs (XP Pro and Server
2008) for nearly a year, first with NetBSD 6 Beta and eventually with
NetBSD 6 Release. I have a Core2Duo 6600 Processor and 8GB RAM. I also
run a Slackware PV domU and several NetBSD PV domUs. The logical volumes
are spread out over two SATA 7200 disks. All domUs are for my own
personal use so I can't tell you how they would perform under multi-user
load but with LVM and sufficient memory I imagine they would be close to
bare metal.

The technology is mature now. You won't be disappointed with NetBSD and
Xen. I am not a programmer or developer so I can only marvel at the
technical expertise that goes into all this. I had my own worries about
NetBSD and Xen over a year ago and I was leaning towards KVM on Linux
but I stuck with NetBSD and I can absolutely assure you I have not been
disappointed. The whole system works flawlessly and it is a credit to
the whole NetBSD team.

> 2. Stability.  I like NetBSD because it gives me a stable environment
> to work in - machines rarely need rebooting, mostly they just plug on
> reliably.   How true is this of the Xen port?   Will I be able to get
> on with my application-related development work, or should I expect to
> have to spend time on a regular basis attending to more, rather than
> fewer, system management tasks than I do now with multiple physical
> boxes?
> I'm sure the answer to each should really start "it depends...", but
> your experiences are all I've got to go on.
> -- 
> Steve Blinkhorn <steve%prd.co.uk@localhost>

Gerard Lally <gerard%netmail.ie@localhost>

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