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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: laptop

Installing ESXi on a Laptop

 

Following on from my recent blog posts about the various ways to configure ML115 G5 servers to run ESX, I thought I would do some further experimenting on some older hardware that I have.

I have a Dell D620 laptop with dual-core CPU and 4Gb of RAM which is now no longer my day-day machine, because of the success I had with SSD drives I installed a 64Gb SSD in this machine

I followed these instructions to install ESXi 4 Update 1 to a USB Lego brick flash drive (freebie from EMC a while ago and plays nicely to my Legogeekdom). I can then boot my laptop from this USB flash drive to run ESXi.

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I am surprised to say it worked 1st time, booted fully and even supports the on-board NIC!

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So, there you go – another low-cost ESXi server for your home lab that even comes with its own hot-swappable built-in battery UPS 🙂

The on-board SATA disk controller was also detected out of the box

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A quick look on eBay and D620’s are going for about £250, handy!

Here is a screenshot of the laptop running a nested copy of ESXi, interestingly I also told the VM it had 8Gb of RAM, when it only has 4Gb of physical RAM.

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Problems with HP EliteBook and built-in un2400 3G Modem

 

I recently got a new laptop, an HP EliteBook 8530p; it’s quite a powerful machine and importantly for me has 8Gb of RAM and dual HDD’s which is very useful for the increasing number of VMs I have to carry around and run.

HP EliteBook 8530p - Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz - 15.4 " - 2 GB Ram - 250 GB HDD

Rather usefully it comes with a built in HP un2400 3G modem behind the battery, this is a really useful feature and is better than the USB dongles you usually get as there is no chance of dropping the laptop and snapping it off or breaking the USB port.

Unfortunately I had several problems with the x64 Vista OEM build the machine was supplied with, after resuming from sleep it was unable to find the 3G modem and would stoically refuse to recognise that it had one installed or work at all after the 1st connection.

imageSome posts on the web indicate this was fixed with an updated version of the HP Wireless Connection Assistant so I installed v3.5 from this page and the updated HP Connection Manager 2.0 (default build had v1.1) that seemed to sort of fix the sleep/resume problem but it still wasn’t working 100%. A forum post led me to turn off this option in the HP connection manager application, but still no joy

I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the drivers so went on a hunt (as you do) for newer ones.

Oddly if you look at the normal HP driver download page for this laptop it only lists a driver from June 2009 which doesn’t work, after some investigation with the HP RomPaq download tool it seems there is a newer driver on their FTP site, just it’s not listed on the web page – this driver is the most recent one version – 3.0 (details here) (sp45888 driver download here)

On 1st attempt just running the .exe it still didn’t work properly and didn’t install the driver, I had to extract the sp45888.exe file and run the C:\SWSetup\SP45888\Qualcomm\QCUSBDriver\setup.exe file rather than the setup.exe in the root of the SP45888 directory as you would normally do.

This setup app gives you a UI and lets you choose the carrier and contract type.

Once this was installed it worked ok. not the best quality control HP! – hope this post helps someone else with the same problem.

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image As a side note – HP do you really need to have this many 3rd party apps, tools and drivers installed (and requiring updates) in the OEM build!?

sure there is an updater utility… but that’s a lot of build maintenance for people running lots of these machines?

Upgrading to a new PC in stages using VMware Converter

 

If like me you travel around a lot and are pretty busy finding the time to get a new laptop setup with all of the data and non-standard build software you require can be a time-consuming chore.

More often than not you will be upgrading to a new more powerful machine with larger disks (unless you are unlucky :)) rather than carrying around two laptops on a trip or risking going without a particular ready to go application why not consider P2V’ing your old laptop onto your new one?

I am doing just this at the moment, I got my new laptop before I had to head out for a couple of days, VMware Converter is a free download and it took me about 3hrs with a cross-over ethernet cable this evening to P2V my old Dell laptop into a virtual machine on my new HP one. and I can now transfer my data and re-install my own applications into the host OS at my leisure; as a side advantage I instantly get the benefits of a machine with a faster CPU and better screen resolution without having to mess around with the software build or “personalisation”.

VMware Player is also free and you can use a VM in full screen mode, Player even supports Unity mode – this could be a viable long-term solution if it weren’t for the licensing position of having to maintain 2 x OS licenses (guest and host).

Performance is also pretty good – my VM’d laptop gets a 2.9 performance score in Vista – with the video being the lowest score.

Before (physical Dell D620, 2GHz Dual Core Intel, 4Gb, 200Gb, c.3yrs old)

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After VM running under VMware Player on an HP EliteBook, 2.8GHz Dual Core Intel, 8Gb RAM, 250Gb HDD

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And, for comparison on the native hardware of the new HP Laptop

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Keep it in mind next time you switch…