The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution

Bertrand Russell


On 14 Jul 2011


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This post covers installing an Ubuntu Server VM, software RAID’ed across two VMDK’s (for reasons that will hopefully become apparent), with basic set-up of DNS, NTP and so on…

To explain the RAID bit, my ESX’s storage originally wasn’t resilient, hence the software RAID across VMDK’s on separate physical disks, if you’ve got resilient storage you should probably wouldn’t use software RAID.

However, once I’d bought a nice (SOHO) NAS, I moved one disk and VM config across to NAS, thinking I’d eventually ditch the software RAID. Luckily I didn’t get round to it, so when I managed to destroy my NAS (partly my fault), I could easily recover my VM’s from where they left off by creating new ones and re-using the surviving VMDK file. Therefore, unless you’re running a truly enterprise class NAS, that’s cost you £1k’s to buy, and £1k’s in yearly support I’d still recommend you software RAID your critical VM’s (eg mail server) across two separate devices. The whole reason you have a home set-up is to play, which inevitably means break!

Much of this section is borrowed from and, they are well worth a read!

Prepare Virtual Machine

  1. Make sure you’ve a copy of the Ubuntu install ISO 1st
  2. Create a virtual machine with the following options (use Custom)
    • Guest OS: Linux > Ubuntu 32bit (or 64bit if you prefer)
    • CPU: 1
    • Memory: 756 MB
    • Disk: 36GB
  3. Then add a second 36GB disk on a separate physical datastore (if you intend to use software RAID)
  4. Attach Ubuntu install ISO to the CD-ROM

OS Installation

Follow the default or sensible choices for your locale, however, use the following notes as well…

  • Configure the network
    • Enter the server’s hostname (not a FQDN, just the hostname)
  • Partition Disks
    • If setting up software RAID follow the steps below, otherwise just select Guided – use entire disk and set up LVM
      1. Select “Manual
      2. Then create a partition…
        1. Select the first disk (sda) and on the next screen, Yes, to Create new empty partition table on this device?
        2. Select the FREE SPACE, then Create a new Partition, and use all but the last 2GB of space,
        3. And then select type of Primary, and create at Beginning
        4. Change Use as to physical volume for RAID, and change the Bootable flag to Yes, the select Done setting up this partition
      3. Repeat the above on the remaining FREE SPACE on sda, to create another primary physical volume for RAID, but ‘not bootable
      4. Select the second disk, sdb, and repeat the steps taken for sda to create two identical partitions
      5. On the same screen, select the Configure Software RAID option (at the top), and then confirm through the next screen
      6. Create a RAID pack/multidisk…
        1. Select Create MD device, then select RAID1 (ie a mirror), then confirm 2 Active devices, and 0 Spare devices
        2. Select both /dev/sda1 and /dev/sdb1 partitions, and then select Finish
      7. Repeat the above to create a RAID volume using /dev/sda2 and /dev/sdb2 partitions
      8. Now select the RAID device #0 partition (select the #1 just under RAID1 device line), and change the Use as and select Ext3…
      9. Change the Mount point to /, then select Done configuring this partition
      10. Now select the RAID device #1 partition (select the #1 just under RAID1 device line), and change the Use as and select Swap area
      11. Then select Done configuring this partition then finally Finish partitioning and write changes to disk, and confirm to Write the changes to disks
      12. Accept the “The kernel was unable to re-read…system will need to restart” complaints for each RAID multidisk, after which the install will continue (note there’s a little more to do post install to ensure you can boot using the second disk should the first fail).
  • Software Selection
    • DNS Server – Only required in order to configure split DNS, which is required for an exchange server install
    • OpenSSH Server – Required (allows you to Putty/SSH to the server)

    Post OS Install Config

    • Enable Root
      1. Use the command sudo passwd root
      2. Enter user password, and then a strong password for the root account
    • Finish Software RAID config– only if configured during install
      1. Start-up grub (by entering grub and enter the following commands (seems to work better via SSH than direct console)…
        • device (hd1) /dev/sdb
        • root (hd1,0)
        • setup (hd1)
        • quit
      2. Then edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst config file. Go to the end of the file where the boot options are, and create a copy of the first option and edit the following lines
        • title Add “Primary disk fail” or something similar to end
        • root Change hd0 to hd1
      3. To check the RAID setup of your drives use
        • mdadm --misc -D /dev/md0
        • mdadm --misc -D /dev/md1

Change IP Address

  • Edit the /etc/network/interfaces file in the following fashion
# The primary network interface
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
  • Then check the local hosts file /etc/hosts , so that the IP v4 part looks like…       localhost   mail
  • Check that DNS resolution is setup correctly (add DNS nameservers as required, as found in /etc/resolv.conf in order of pref…
  • Then restart networking
    • sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart


Not required if your server doesn’t really need bang on accurate time

Out of the box your server will sync every time its restarted and drift a bit in-between. There is an additional resource demand in running the NTP daemon so unless you need to, there’s no need to install the full blown NTP daemon.

I tend to have one or two servers updating from remote (public) servers, and then all others updating from those.

  1. Install the service
    • apt-get install ntp
  2. Update the NTP config file, /etc/ntp.conf (Example below is for a server updating from public European servers – see
    • server
    • server
    • server
    • server
    • Remove noquery from restrict lines to allow other servers to query this server
  3. Restart the NTP service
    • service ntp restart
  4. Verify using the following commands
    • ntpq -np
    • date

Install VM Tools

Installing VM Tools can be problematic, below are methods that I’ve used.

Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS

The pre-built modules that come with the VMTools installer aren’t compatible, therefore the script needs to be able to compile them, however the required library files aren’t available by default, so the procedure is a little laboured.

  1. Install the build library files…
    • apt-get install build-essential
    • apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.24-26-server
      • Use uname -r to get the right headers version number
  2. Select “Install VM Tools” from the VI Client
  3. Mount the VM Tools CD-ROM
    • mount /media/cdrom0/
  4. Copy to home directory
    • cp /media/cdrom/VMwareTools-4.0.0-219382.tar.gz /home/user/
  5. Uncompress and then move into the vmware-tools-distrib directory
    • tar xf VMwareTools-4.0.0-219382.tar.gz
    • cd vmware-tools-distrib
  6. Run the install script
    • ./
  7. Restart
    • shutdown -r now

Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS

VM Tools can be installed via two methods, neither of which is ideal…

  • Using the normal VM Tools CD – requires additional library install and sometimes mounting the CDROM doesn’t work too well.
  • Using APT package manager – doesn’t work quite as well as it could (upgrading VM Tools isn’t supported), and support for this method is rumoured to be dropped in future releases

VM Tools CD

  1. Install the build library files (not required for ESX v4.0 update 2 and later)…
    • apt-get install build-essential
  2. Select “Install VM Tools” from the VI Client
  3. Mount the VM Tools CD-ROM
    • mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom/
      • If /media/cdrom/ doesn’t exist, create with mkdir /media/cdrom
  4. Copy to tmp directory (version number below will vary)
    • cp /media/cdrom/VMwareTools-4.0.0-236512.tar.gz /tmp/
  5. Unmount the CD-ROM, and move into tmp directory
    • umount /media/cdrom/
    • cd /tmp/
  6. Uncompress and then move into the vmware-tools-distrib directory
    • tar xzvf VMware*.gz
    • cd vmware-tools-distrib /
  7. Run the install script, and accept defaults
    • ./
  8. Restart
    • shutdown -r now

APT Package Manager

  1. Install VM Tools using apt package manager
  2. Open VMware Packaging Public GPG Key at
  3. On the server open a new file called with the /tmp directory
  4. Copy and paste the contents of the webpage into the file and save
  5. Import the key using the following command
    • apt-key add /tmp/
    • You should get OK returned
  6. If you need to add a proxy see
  7. Open a new vi in VI called /etc/apt/sources.list.d/vmware-tools.list
  8. Add the following line
  9. Update the repository cacahe
    • apt-get update
  10. Install VM Tools
    • apt-get install vmware-tools

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