Tag Archive: WHS2011

I have been making a lot of changes the network recently so thought it was time to sketch it out:

The left hand stack is housed in the A/V rack/closet and the right stack is housed in the garage rack. To clarify a few points:

  • The two switches are linked using a 2 x 1 gigabit fibre trunk
  • The ESX servers and file servers are connected to the switch using 2 x 1 gigabit ethernet trunks
  • There ET9000, XBMC, Apple TV 2, HDMI Matrix and Sonos devices can all be controlled from smartphones, pcs etc
  • The ET9000 records to the file server
  • The Sonos Connect / ZonePlayer 90 is connected to the Onkyo Amp to allow Sonos to output to my home theatre
  • The Sonos Connect / ZonePlayer 90 is connected to the Apple TV to allow streaming from iTunes/iOS devices to all zones
  • I haven’t bothered to include my router, wireless access points, client pcs, smartphones, printers and various other devices in the diagram

The wireless sensor network provides:

  • Whole house power consumption currently using a CurrentCost EnviR
  • Individual appliance power consumption (currently monitoring 6 appliances using CurrentCost IAMs)
  • Environment information (temperature, light, humidity) using Jeelabs Jeenodes in multiple zones

This is a good reference point for where I’m headed (not much progress since I last listed but alas, still the way forward):

  • Further appliance monitoring and more importantly control (potentially through upcoming project/device: HexaBus – https://github.com/mysmartgrid/hexabus/wiki or plugwise – http://www.plugwise.com/idplugtype-g/)
  • Security cameras (and doorbell integration)
  • Environmental information (I have pulse counters for my gas meter and water/central heating system that need installing)
  • XBMC hardware replacement (once the Raspberry Pi – http://www.raspberrypi.org/ is available to buy I’d like to replace my Acer Revo)
  • Home Automation Hub replacement (once the Raspberry Pi is available to buy I’d like to try Domitiga – http://www.domotiga.nl/ or my own custom solution)
  • Web Interface (to bring all of the information together from the wireless sensor network, along with the state of all network devices (from bandwidth to free space etc) and most importantly allow central control- so instead of me having to use different methods to switch on the ET9000, change the channel on the HDMI matrix, power on the amp etc, I can do it all with one button)

As usual- I imagine I’ve missed a few bits out from the above but it hopefully provides a good overview of my network.


Some problems

Wireless network not operating at 802.11n 130 Mbps speed (only running at 802.11g 54 Mbps): I won’t go into too much detail- but the resolution was to change the security from WPA to WPA2 (seems crazy to me that the web interface doesn’t make this incompatibility clear).

ESXi / NFS problems: My virtual machines kept dieing and there were a lot of NFS events in vSphere "Lost connection to server x mount point y mounted as z". This must be related to the network maintenance over the last few weeks but I’m not quite sure why. I ended up fitting the new HP NC360T dual-port gigabit NICs to both HP Microservers then migrating the datastore to FreeNAS. Since then *fingers crossed, touch wood etc* I’ve had no problems!

I want to talk a bit about LACP but that’ll have to wait for another time:


New Virtual Lab – Part 2

…continued from https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/new-virtual-lab-part-1/

So- in came the first set of bits for new server #1 and I begun piecing it together…

Issue #1- The motherboard doesn’t sit quite right on the spacers/chassis screws (because of the element of the cpu cooler which sits on the underside of the metherboard)- not really a problem, I just added a few washers (I expect I may’ve been able to find some slightly larger spacers too, if i’d looked hard enough).

Issue #2- My USB pen drive didn’t fit in the internal slot with the chassis together. Not to worry- i simply attached a header to the spare pins and plugged the USB stick into one of those ports still inside the case.

Issue #3- When i powered up the machine it was pretty loud. I checked and believe this to be because the Akasa cooler (AK-CCE-7107BS) only has a 3 pin header so doesn’t support pulse-width-modulation (PWM) and effectively runs at full speed all of the time! Fortunately the other cooler (Gelid Slim Silence IPlus Low Profile Intel CPU Cooler) had the correct 4 pin connector and when hooked up, supported PWM and ran nice and quiet!

Issue #4- I intend to run the server “headless” so one of the great features of the X8-SiL-F motherboard is the on-board IPMI. Unfortunately when i tried to connect with the default username/password “ADMIN” / “ADMIN” access was denied. I downloaded a copy of the latest firmware from the Supermicro site and flashed using:

dpupdate.exe -f SMT_SX_250.bin -r n

The -r n parameter telling it to reset to factory settings. Voila- I could now login via the web-interface or windows IPMI tool using the default login credentials (“ADMIN” / “ADMIN”).

ESXi 4.1 installed like a charm but i’ve had a little trouble trying to deploy my first Virtual Machine (ESXi management network losing connectivity and/or the hypervisor crashing)- I think this might be because i’m using old knackered network cables! I will replace them and hopefully update tomorrow in Part 3.

The 2nd of these servers is on route and hopefully be delivered before the weekend.

My next question is what virtual machines should i configure?

I definitely need a vCenter server
I definitely need at least one SQL server (possibly 2 or 3 as i’d like to experiment with replication)
I definitely need at least one web server (IIS)
I definitely want to get trixbox back up and running
I am considering experimenting with pfSense or possibly untangle?
I also need a local dns server but think that might best sit on physical hardware or i’ll get problems with the hypervisor being unable to query DNS before the VM has started?
My fileserver currently runs WHS2011- So I would also like a WHS2011 VM to test the “Drive Extender” replacements on (however I realize I can’t really test performance here so might have to give that a miss).
Also, i think that OSX Server might run on ESXi- and i’d quite like to have a proper (non-hacked) time machine backup store configured so this might be the right route to go down…


*Update* I removed StableBit DrivePool beta after realising how much it was degrading performance (this is expected behaviour as it is still an early beta). Today DataCore have announced the beta of their Drive Extender replacement Drive Harmony: http://www.mswhs.com/2011/05/datacore-de-replacement-beta-announced-at-tech-ed-2011/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MSWHS+%28MS+Windows+Home+Server%29&utm_content=Twitter

I tried the WHS 2011 install again today and this time it succeeded (I only did two things differently: 1. entered the product key during installation & 2. left the default US locale/keyboard layout)

I started to configure my drives as described in my earlier post: https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/windows-home-server-2011-released/ but realised you can only setup mirroring on a per disk basis (unless I’ve missed something?). So instead I’ve decided to try the StableBit DrivePool BETA which adds the old WHS v1 DriveExtender functionality. I currently have 4x 1.5TB disks in a single pool.

So far, so good- just transferring all the data from my old fileserver. I’m also in the process of trying to setup the server to work with Time Machine on my Mac.

Will try and keep you posted.


Completely missed this! I had been waiting for the release of WHS2011 for my new fileserver, but hadn’t been regularly checking. Alas, I looked a few days ago and it has apparently been available on technet since 05/04/11 (en_server_install_disc_windows_home_server_2011_x64_dvd_658487.iso).

Unfortunately, I tried installing it and came across an error (which already appears to have been logged): https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer/feedback/details/662605/setupmon-exe-fails-to-complete-configuration-suggests-i-should-reinstall

Annoyingly RC1 worked flawlessly so I’m not sure what has been added which is causing this error.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to decide how I want to organise the drives once I get it up and running. I have a load of 1.5TB drives laying around but don’t think 6TB will be enough initially (including mirrored data/backups etc). I think if I get an additional 3TB drive I’ll be good to go:

Drive1 (1.5TB): Downloaded Applications, *Business Accounts, *Videos
Drive2 (1.5TB): *Movies
Drive3 (1.5TB): *Photos
Drive4 (3.0TB): Mirrors & Computer Backups

All of the items marked with * will be mirrored (initially this should be less than 3TB)

I will probably retry the installation in the next few days, although I expect the same result.


After arsing about for an eternity I think I’ve finally chosen a server… introducing the HP Proliant Microserver:

Ideally I was looking for a rackmount chassis but this ticks a lot more boxes than any other server I’ve found- namely: extremely low power consumption, almost silent and bloody cheap (HP were offering £100 cashback).

I’ve loaded it with 4x 1.5TB SATA disks but will probably add another one (or two?). The server comes with a mere 1GB of DDR3 ram so I’ve ordered 2x 4GB DDR3 (for close to peanuts from Crucial- also offering 7% off with coupon code and a further 7% cashback through quidco/topcashback) to bring it up to 8GB.

After a lot of experimenting with different operating systems i’m 99% sure i’m going to go with Windows Home Server 2011 (WHS2011). I will be installing the o/s on either a USB stick or SD card (once It’s released). Everyone seems to be getting their knickers in a twist about Microsoft’s decisions to drop Drive Extender but if I decide to go down that route there’s already an add-in being worked on by Covecube; StableBit Drive Pool

Expect an update once the remaining parts arrive and WHS2011 is released.


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