Homeserver with HP MicroServer, Part II – Basic configuration


Because my upgrade parts were delivered from different vendors I had to set up the server first. Assemble the harddisk was quiet easy, HP deliver the screws on the inner side of the front door. Haven’t seen this before but great idea to prevent from loosing screws. There is also a screwdriver inside the door, so you don’t need any additional tools to add or remove a harddisk.

Installing the RAM was a bit more time-killing. Because of the compact layout of the mainboard you need to pull out a few connectors. Afterwards you can simply pull out the mainbooard and add the additional memory. A good help is the colored cables, so everyone with a bit technical knowledge can do this!

A short check in the BIOS after my RAM upgrade tells me that everything is OK. 8192MB RAM… perfect!!

Installation of Proxmox

Installing proxmox is easy as any other graphical based linux installation. The tiny graphical installer guides through every step of the install process. The only things you need to provide during install is the target device, language/keyboard settings, password, domain and of course the network setting. I’ve used the original HP harddisk (250GB) for the OS and made a RAID 5 with the remainig three 1 TB harddisk.

First steps – Webinterface

One major advantage of proxmox compared to Citrix XenServer or VMWare ESXi ist the ability to manage almost everything thourgh a webinterface. Default settings only allowing access thourgh HTTPS which is great for security reason. It’s super fast and held simple, for me one of the best I’ve ever seen in virtualization!

Proxmox Webinterface

All virtual machines can be installed within a VNC console and then managed directyl through SSH (linux) or RDP (windows)

Storage & Proxmox

Proxmox can handle a lot ot storage types. From simple NFS shares via LVM right up to iSCSI is supported. Mostyl used and also recommended is surely LVM because of the high dynamics. I’ll not go into LVM in this post. If you want to learn more about I recommend the wiki of Thomas Krenn which has a great overview of LVM.

For my purposes I will use LVM in combination with a linux software raid. I hope it will be enough perfomant to take care all my virtual machines. I doens’t make sense to put a hardware raid controller in the MicroServer, such a controller would cost twice as much as the MicroServer costs. Proxmox doesn’t “like” software raid that’s the reason why the mdadm module isn’t preinstalled. It can be installes simply by running this:

apt-get update

apt-get install mdadm

The raid installation assist will automatically launch after the installation. I abort it with CTRL-C because I had to make some special customization to the RAID and create it on my own.

First I need to prepare all harddisks to act within a RAID. For this reason I create on the disks 2-4 with “fdisk” a primary partition with a space from each harddisk.

fdisk /dev/sdb (sdc, sdd)

n      new partition

p       primary

Now take default values

t       define partition type

fd     raid autodetect

Are all harddisks done we can make the RAID with “mdadm”.

mdadm –create /dev/md0 –level=5 –raid-devices=3 /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1 /dev/sdd1

After this command you can cook some coffee, go out with friends, watch a movie or do something else… creating the array take a very long time. My MicroServer  with three 1 TB disks took about  5-7 hours. To track the progress use following command:

watch cat /proc/mdstat

If the RAID is prepared you can simply create a LVM on top of it. But first initialize it for use with the LVM.

pvcreate /dev/md0

Create a lvm on this device..

lvcreate -s 64MB /dev/md0

Important! If the device is bigger than 256 GB you need to set the “physical extend size” manually (-s X MB). Without this modification you can expierience massive performance issues, because the default extend size is 8 MB…

Now you only need to add the LVM in the PRoxmox Webinterface to the storage and you can create and install your Vms right now.