I was recently introduced to a superb piece of software called Proxmox. Proxmox is a virtualization environment not unlike VMware ESXi. Capable of running full KVM based virtual machines or lightweight LXC based guests, Proxmox has proven to be the perfect solution for a home lab setup. Installing Proxmox is no different than installing any other Linux distribution and with minimal effort can be clustered together to form a system capable of migrating a guest from one host to another. With the right hardware you can even perform live migrations. Although Proxmox supports and is capable a lot more than I need it satisfies my desire to have a more “enterprise” like way to virtualize hardware in my home.

Proxmox is free with support plans available. If I were to use it anywhere other than at home I’d definitely play for the support subscription as it allows you to get access to the proper update repositories as well as, obviously, support. Without the support subscription your Proxmox is basically part of a testing repo meaning you get faster access to updates but also updates that are less tested.

In the coming weeks I’ll detail a bit more how I’m using Proxmox, how to setup KVM or LXC based hosts and provision them using Ansible.

Sometimes when using Ansible there is the need to reboot a server and wait for it to return. This simple recipe will allow you to achieve that while also getting some nice feedback so you know what is going on. You can place these tasks into a role or just in your playbook:

I’ve been putting a lot of time into this little project. Nobody uses it (yet?) and truth be told I barely use it in the house but it’s been such a great way to learn a number of different things including python, mDNS (bonjour), creating installer files for debian and OS X systems and even git that I can’t stop working on it.

I’m now releasing version 0.3.0. This version brings a few changes but most notably the Linux client is now ready. The next release will be coming shortly and will focus on making the client the more robust about how it deals with network disconnects.

You can read more about the 0.3.0 release at https://github.com/dustinrue/Dencoder/wiki

I just spent that last couple of hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t create a new software RAID set on my Ubuntu 10.04 system. Long story short, it turned out to be device mapper grabbing hold of the drives at boot. No amount of lsof would show that the devices were busy. The key was running dmsetup table and seeing that the drives in question were indeed “locked” by the device mapper.

This thread was the key I needed to get it all figured out – http://www.mail-archive.com/[email protected]/msg10661.html

After issuing dmsetup remove followed by the device name shown in dmsetup table I was off and running.

Well not quite. Turns out people have been getting confused on the pricing grid Oracle has on their site for the various products they provide. The confusion comes from the Embedded version of MySQL not supporting InnoDB and that the community edition isn’t listed as part of the grid.

The community edition still has InnoDB built in as an available storage engine but you can’t buy support from Oracle.

http://www.mysql.com/products/
http://palominodb.com/blog/2010/11/04/oracle-not-removing-innodb

I’ve been trying for a while now to find a reasonably priced way to play video files that live on my computers on our TV or projector with acceptable quality while still being easy to use. Finding a solution has proven more difficult than I initially thought. I could never really find anything that gave me everything I wanted without some major compromise and didn’t cost a lot in terms of price or time spent configuring. I simply want to be able to take a file from the computer and play it on my TV or projector on a device that feels integrated with the rest of my setup.

Enter Western Digital’s WD TV Live. The WD TV Live does exactly what I want and does it in a tiny and silent, remote controlled package. It is able to stream virtually every common video or audio format in use today from a network share or from a locally attached USB drive. As an added bonus, it can also access YouTube, Pandora, Flickr as well as a couple of other online services. You can read more about the WD TV Live at http://www.wdtvlive.com/products/wdtv_live#highlights.

There are some isues with the device right now that are supposed to be cleared up in a soon to be released firmware update. It will play DVDs ripped to .iso format but doesn’t support menus, or even chapters, at all. This makes it nearly impossible to watch a TV series on DVD. The other issue the player currently has is with h264 files but oddly enough it is all in the name. A file with the extension .m4v will most likely have audio sync issues. Renaming the file to .mp4 will resolve the audio sync issue but will do nothing with the stuttering playback for all but the most basic of h264 encoded files. Incredibly, taking the same h264 file and putting it into mkv format will fix all of the issues and the file will play perfectly.

Despite these very easily fixed issues, this is the best device I’ve come across for playing videos at this price point. Yes, there are probably more capable devices available and there is certainly more capable software available (XBMC for one) but for the money, it’s hard to beat the WD TV Live. My next few blog posts will focus on how I’ve integrated the WDTV into my home network including how I’m encoding files for it using HandBrake, Linux and Automator in OS X.