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

Bertrand Russell

Welcome to vBlog, a personal record of my techy tinkerings and particular ponderings.

I tend to focus on VMware virtualisation, and the interaction/automation of it using PowerCLI (VMware's PowerShell Snapin), but anything that I happen to stumble across that seems like it might be of use at a later date, may well get recorded here.

I also maintain vWiki, which was a predecessor to this blog. Wiki's are great for quickly recording snippets of info, but tend not to look that great; Blog's are better looking things, but seem to require more effort so that the posts/articles are accessible in their own right. As a result I tend to update both interchangeably as available time, and depth of thought, permit.

If you happen to find anything of use, or in need of correction please leave a comment. Knowing that my ramblings are of some use is a great reward; and similarly I'd hate to waste anybody's time by feeding them duff info.

See these pages for me info about me, and my vBlog, and below for my recent posts...

I’ve been using Zimbra’s Collaboration Server (ZCS) as mail server/calendar/document store for about a year.  I chose it because I wanted a professional standard email server, and didn’t want to pay the £500 plus to do it (and do it legally).  You can spend £400 getting Zimbra Network Edition (price has probably changed since when I was looking), but the FOSS version has done me fine.  The email client is great, though the desktop client is only just getting there.

Since Zimbra was purchased by VMware, they’ve obviously wanted to make it more virtualisation friendly (the first FOSS version I used needed a fair bit of tweaking to keep its memory and CPU reasonable), and the epitome of that is the virtual appliance.  And for me the carrot on the stick to tempt me to move to that from the comfort of my existing server is the fact that I can get ActiveSync (aka Zimbra Mobile) functionality for free (for a 10 account license, previously it was a component of the premium Network Edition).

Anyway, this is how I’ve got the Zimbra Collaboration Appliance (ZCA) running (v7, which I used to create this post, is currently beta, and there are a few workarounds included here, hopefully they won’t be required in the production release).

Once you’ve got it running see my follow on post covering Migrating to Zimbra Collaboration Appliance

Continue reading →

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…

Continue reading →

Zimbra Collaboration Server (ZCS) is a replacement for Microsoft Exchange, and comes in a nice free open source edition (aka FOSS); and also a premium Network edition (which includes bells and whistles such as support, mobile active-sync, on-line backups, a MS Outlook connector, etc).

The last time I touched MS Exchange it was version 5.5, so I’m in no position to compare the two. I’m not going to make out ZCS is perfect either, but similarly I’ve overheard sys admins voicing plenty of gripes regarding MS Exchange so I doubt ZCS is any worse.  ZCS is in fact very slick in places, and has a healthy support forum to assist in any problems you may have – there are organisations that use FOSS in production (and plenty that use the paid for version as well). Continue reading →

This post covers what you need to do to be able to run an ESXi3 server from a USB stick (if you’re installing ESXi 4 then you don’t need to do this, the VMware installer will detect the USB stick (or SD card) and install to it).

Note that while in theory an ESXi server makes very little use of the storage its running from, there is an important exception.  ESX3 HA will write to the storage, and in HA enabled clusters its possible for USB keys to become worn out.  This typically rears its head when trying to add/remove a server to an HA cluster, and this operation fails.  There are ways around out (not least replacing the USB key) and I’ll probably post on this later in a more general HA problems post.  Note that this problem is limited to ESXi3, ESXi4 HA is much more forgiving to the ESX’s storage.

So why do it? Continue reading →