3ware 9650se & HP Mini 311 on the way!

Looks like Christmas is coming a little but early this year in the RighteousHack household. I just ordered a new netbook for my significant other. After much research and being thoroughly disappointed by Dell’s “new” offerings, we decided to look at HP. From the looks of things that I found on the HP Mini 311 in text and live video on YouTube, it seems like the little netbook with Nvidia ION graphics will be a solid performer considering that its a netbook. Better yet, the system runs DDR3 and the Intel N280 chip so it should be as fast or faster than most netbooks out there.

Next up in my ever increasing list of hardware is the 3ware 9650se PCI-E RAID controller. I have a need for a modern / high performing RAID card that won’t totally break the budget. This card will be used as a datastore only solution for my ESXi 4.0 server. All of the reviews led to two cards: 3ware 9650se and the Areca 1210. I have had more experience with Areca controllers than 3ware, but the reviews and ESXi compatibility issues pushed me towards 3ware. In addition to the tech stuff, 3ware support is reportedly awesome whereas Areca’s is nowhere to be found.


Convert Thick Virtual Disks to Thin

When working with virtual machines, it is often advantageous to over allocate and under utilize resources. When it comes to virtual hard disks, this is even more common place. On low use or low demand servers, I always use thin provisioning. This saves disk space by only using physical disk space when the guest actually uses the virtual disk. But what about those disks that were created using the thick option, or brought over as thick automatically during a P2V conversion? Time to convert your thick virtual disk to thin.

As always, I recommend backing up all of your data and knowing what you are doing. Test this in a non-production environment.

Converting disks from thick to thin is actually quite easy and can be accomplished using these steps:

1. Log into your ESX host using SSH and cd into the VM directory that contains your virtual disk.

2. Shutdown the VM so that we can get exlusive access to the virtual disk.

3. Run vmkfstools -i yourthickdisk.vmdk -d thin yourthindisk.vmdk

4. Edit the settings for your VM and remove the existing drive. Add a new hard drive and choose the existing drive option.

5. Boot the VM and enjoy.

Note: Dont forget to go back to ESX server and remove the old .vmdk and -flat.vmdk files once you are sure that your VM is operating normally off the thin disk.