Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ubuntu Installed on New Server

When we last left our hero, I was struggling to get Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) up and running on a new server box with software RAID 1. Since that time, I have scoured the Ubuntu forums and searched the bug report databases, and found that I was not alone in my frustration. While misery does love company, this did nothing to help me resolve the situation at hand.

In the meantime, the flaky VMware server box continued to act flaky. I had had enough, and decided to try installing the previous release of Ubuntu, 9.10 (Karmic Koala). Unlike my previous attempts with 10.04, 9.10 installed perfectly the first time and I was in business! To quote John McClane in Die Hard, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker."

The next step I took in my journey to server nirvana was to read up on Ubuntu's Uncomplicated Firewall, ufw for short. As the name implies, it is trivial to set up and use if you have a modicum of networking knowledge (quick test: on which port does an HTTP server usually listen?). Using ufw, I locked down the server nice and tight, allowing connections from our local network and my home IP address (for remote administration).

Next came the virtualization software installation. I have become convinced that VMware Server is not the virtualization software for me. The web based administration software was nice, when it worked. However, I found that when I most needed it to work, it oftentimes did not. In that, it is remarkably like an automobile not starting up in a bad horror movie.

I've worked with VirtualBox as a desktop virtualization solution, and knew that it could also operate in a "headless" (think no GUI) mode. So, I took the plunge and install VirtualBox 3.1 on the new server. If you want to look into installing VirtualBox for a similar purpose, I can't recommend this site enough - it helped me out enormously and walked me through the process in an almost pain-free manner.

Thankfully, VirtualBox can use VMware server's virtual disk drive files (vmdk), so I moved our web server virtual machine over from the old VMware install to the new VirtualBox ... ummm... box. My heart stopped a bit when I first tried to start up the new virtual machine, as it would not boot. However, after checking the "Enable IO APIC support" in the virtual machine settings, I was off and running.

I am going to hold off on moving any other virtual machines from the old to the new until I am confident in the new system. Or the other one blows up - whichever comes first.