Technical Difficulties

This is a long one..

Windows 10
Awhile back, since I was able to get my hands on a copy of Windows 10 cheap I thought I’d load it in to a VM on VirtualBox to play with, without disturbing my main environment (7). I got everything configured and installed, with some basic applications but the thing would eventually grind to a halt w/ 100% CPU usage even though everything appeared to be idle. I have a second, similar desktop, but with slightly different CPUs so I thought maybe if I transferred the VM over there. No dice, same result. Just as a last resort I thought maybe if I threw it in my lab (see below) it would work. Sure enough it became usable. Fast forward to the last week or three.. I’ve been trying to prune down what I have in my WSUS server as it was running low on disk space. The Windows 10 version I had was the 1511 release, so I thought maybe I could get it up to something newer, I could drop out the older patches. I ended up being able to upgrade by grabbing a new ISO from Microsoft which brought it up to the 1703 version aka “Creators Update”.. and now it appears to have started doing the same thing it did before. At this point I may either just shut it off or delete it entirely and wait until I have some newer hardware to play with 10.

FreeNAS/iSCSI issues
So I have a small lab at home for experimenting with various software applications, mostly in VMs. Right now I have two Dell servers (one PowerEdge 2950, one PowerEdge R900) running XenServer 7. I have a handful of other server machines as well. At one point I decided to build my own storage box to try to consolidate my storage capacity for files & VMs. This box runs FreeNAS and is configured for Windows (Samba) File shares and iSCSI (for XenServer VMs), with a NIC on a separate network for the iSCSI traffic. Everything was running along fine until I upgraded FreeNAS, now periodically the XenServer VMs will lose their storage as the NIC in the FreeNAS box seems to stop responding. The system itself seems to keep right on going as I can log into the admin interface from my PC. I’m guessing the OS just has an issue with whatever NIC is on the motherboard (my admin/Samba traffic is carried on a PCI NIC…i think from Intel). So at this point I’m trying to figure out how to fix it.

I thought maybe if I switched to Hyper-V , I could store everything on a Samba share which would allow me to deprecate the iSCSI part completely. Unfortunately, it seems the SMB implementation in the Samba version included in FreeNAS does not support something that Hyper-V requires, so I switched the host back to XenServer. I’m still trying to decide how to proceed but wondering what will. I put the options I’m considering under the read more.

Option 1: Add NIC to FreeNAS Box
Obviously the least expensive/simplest route. I was thinking I might have been hosed as the motherboard I put in the system was purchased with only a limited number of expansion slots, but it seems there is still a PCI Express slot left. So in theory I could try getting another NIC (maybe another Intel) and moving things to that. (Alternate – Maybe swapping the connections on the two current ones..)

Option 2: Rehab PE1950 Server
I have a Dell PowerEdge 1950 currently sitting unplugged as it stopped recognizing the hard drives. It functions fine otherwise (I had it working for awhile via PXE/iSCSI, but later moved the workload to a VM). The problems with this solution are: one, finding a replacement for the RAID controller – assuming that is the problem part and not something elsewhere in the system, and two, being a 1U chassis there is only two drive bays which would require I buy two large hard drives to have sufficient storage.

Option 3: Buy another server
Likely the most expensive option/last resort. Most likely in this scenario would be to try to get something closer to the R900 as the PE2950 only has 2 CPUs to begin with. However it does have several hard drives (with I think 2 more open bays). So in this case I would move the VMs to the new system and turn the PE2950 into the storage box.

Option 4: Local Storage
Theoretically I could move everything on both hosts to local storage after I buy a few SAS drives to expand the storage on the R900. But my intent was to try to get things into some form of a cluster for a)to see how it works and b) on the off chance one of the machines crashes/dies the VMs can fail over somewhere.




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