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I have spoken about my home network at a few presentations and during the breaks there have been plenty of "oh yeah!?!?! well I have....." conversations. I think some of the most interesting conversations are around how we name our machines and networks. I have spent over and hour sitting at the name your computer screen trying to come up with the perfect name for machines. Most of the names means something (if only to me) and some I just chose on a whim. A little later I will talk more about the names of my machines.
I have been looking forward to upgrading the home network for a while now. I have been running some very old machines at home for what seems like ages. It is time to retire some of them. I am picking up some new hardware here and there but I like to keep machines around until they just stop running. I would love to rip and replace, but I also want to retire some day. So many of my machines will still be in use in some capacity.
Below is some detail on what the permanent machines in my current network look like as well as what my plan is. There is a little something interesting about each machine. There are 6-12 VM's running test stuff as well under Virtual PC scattered across most of the machines.
Warning, some of these machines might be older than you....
All but one machine is homebrew...
wallofvoodoo - my trusty firewall - (The band Wall of Voodoo sang "Mexican Radio". Just thought it would make a good name for a firewall) This is a dual Intel 400mhz machine. It is in a rackmount case with industrial fans. By and far the loudest of my machines. It has a gig of RAM and runs Windows 2003 R2 and ISA 2006 well enough, but it also has a 10 gig hard drive which is on it's last legs. I have had to reduce logging on it a few times just to keep the drive from filling up. I don't know what is to become of this machine yet. Probably become a test box.
The new firewall hardware will be an Intel 2.4ghz with 2 gigs of RAM and a couple of old 80 gig drives. I may have this machine do DNS as well as DHCP.
wallace - my web server - (named after William Wallace in "Braveheart". The web server was put up to manage my first blog. William Wallace fought for freedom and the blog was about the freedom to say whatever I want. My attempt at being meaningful...). My only name brand machine. This is a dual Intel 1ghz Gateway Server with 2 gigs of RAM. Win2003 R2, SQL 2005, Community Server. Wallace houses my only raid array right now. It consists of three 4 Gig Seagate SCSI drives in a stripe set attached to the onboard SCSI. Why? because I had the drives. I put the page file there just for the heck of it.
bobobobobobo - my DC/Exchange/DNS Server/Cert Server/File Server - (I was channel surfing and came across a cartoon of the same name. Laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. Decided I wanted something to make me smile every time I saw the name) - The newest hardware I have right now. AMD DualCore x64 3800+ with 2 gigs of RAM and four 500gig SATA drives. This machine gets a workout as a file server and Exchange server. I host a number of mail domains for myself, friends and family. But it mostly gets pounded as a staging area for files of all kinds.
This machine is getting migrated/upgraded to Win2008. This is one of two 64 bit machines which run Exchange for me. I am backing up data, flattening in, then laying down Win2008 and Exchange 2007 Hub, CAS, MB then restoring data.
sleestak - DC for old AD domain - (sleestaks rock!) - Identical box as wallofvoodoo except 4 - 250 gig drives. This machine was a test domain I set up. I want a second DC for redundancy on my permanent domain so it is getting converted. No Hardware changes. Will be a DC but may also get burned to glass, flattened, and used as a test box now and then.
crashnburn - Exchange Edge - This machine was originally supposed to be a crash'n'burn box for testing. My first was with Exchange Edge and Forefront for Exchange and was so impressed I decided to keep it in play. This one stays the same. Identical hardware as bobobobobobobo. Kind of a waste as an Exchange Edge server but until I stand up the big Hyper-V box.....
vidtopia - Vista Ultimate Media Center - (video + utopia = vidtopia) - My wife wanted a media center so I built this for her almost 6 years ago. It used to have two OTA HD tuners and a single standard def tuner installed. The HD tuners were pulled when we moved to WA. We are one the wrong side of a hill. We don't actually use it for recording any TV these days. We use the crappy DVR from my cable company only because of of all the hokey content restrictions on HD content. I am working up a Dual OCUR tuner Dell XPSW420 to replace this machine and put a real Media Center back in the living room. Vidtopia is connected to the big screen so we use it for photo, video, printing editing as well as playback of all of our digital content. Intel HT 3ghz, 2 gigs of RAM and 750gigs of drives. Oh yeah...this is also my karaoke machine! This is the only machine in the list that is not in the basement.
godzilla - old firewall - (godzilla breaths fire....who the hell gets past godzilla?) - Dual 300mhz Intel 512megs RAM, two 10 gig hard drives. Used to be primary firewall, then decommissioned and fashioned into a member of my ISA array. Doesn't actively filter traffic. Just there for ISA testing.
phoney - MS Phone Machine - (duh!) - This is my oldest machine. I purchased this AMD DX4-120 in 1995 as my second ever IBM PC. I learned DOS, Win95, then back to Win3.1 and NT4 on this machine. It only has 8 megs of RAM but that is all that an unpatched version of Win95a needs. I have my Microsoft MP-900 phone connected to it and still use it as an answering machine now and then.
mijo - the better half's tablet - (who doesn't have a trillion nicknames for their spouse? My wife's name is Jeanne (pronounced 'gene'). I call her Jeanne-O-Mac, which became Meaj-O-Nac, which became mijo......simple.....) - It's just a tablet.
demotopia - demo laptop - (demonstrations + utopia = demotopia) - This is a Lenovo T61p. Quite simply the best machine I have ever used. Period. It is a work computer but I included it here because it is actually joined to my home domain and not Microsoft's.
So there you have it. I have a few cases, mobo's, and assorted peripherals laying around that I will build out for one test or another.
godzilla and phoney are off more than on these days and just might end up in the parts closet.
I also have a couple of 2TB TeraStations for storing digital media and I am building out a Quad Core Intel box with 8 gigs of RAM and 4TB of drives to act as a Hyper-V and Data Protection Manager Server. I may duplicate this setup and split DPM away as a dedicated backup box.
I am documenting my process for updating the network. Look for posts on the trials and tribulations....
As a part of upgrading my network, I am toying with the idea of using Windows 2008 server as a Workstation. It has most of the same features as Vista and what it doesn't have I don't really need anyway. I mentioned this in a seminar a couple weeks ago and that I had stumbled upon a site that gives information on use Win2008 as a workstation. You can find that site here.
I am slowly converting things at home ad hope to provide an update later today....
I just ran across an article announcing Guitar Hero World Tour. I am guessing this is actually Guitar Hero 4 since they talk about the addition of the drum kit and vocals. I think the battle of the band feature sounds cool though I would like to see a community component that judges the bands and how well the community likes them as well being rated by how well you actually perform technically. Just like in real life, a band can play a song, hit every note, be technically perfect, but if they don't have any stage presence or charisma, they are still going to suck. Give me a band that misses notes but is having fun and engaging the audience over a boring, technically perfect band any day....
Nothing on the Activision site yet....
I am a BIG Guitar Hero fan. I have been playing about a year now ever since I stumbled onto the game at a Microsoft training seminar. I started with Guitar Hero 2 for the XBox 360. It took me about 6 months to get through the whole game on Expert. I never did finish Jordan but that had a lot to do with picking up GH3 late last year. Maybe I will go back and try to beat it later tonight. I then moved on to GH3 which I started on Expert and worked my way backwards for the achievements.
You could say I am a GH junkie at this point. I am anxiously awaiting the Aerosmith add-on pack that is on pre-sale in many game stores right now. My wife despises the game though I am sure it has as much to do with how much time I play it as it does to listening to me screw up the same songs over and over and over and over and over..... Heart's "Barracuda" is a bad ass song, but you can only listen to it 20-30 times in a row before it gets a little stale. But I have to admit that when she tells me "You could have learned to play a real guitar in the amount of time you have invested in that game!", she is probably right. Maybe it's time to pick up the acoustic, tune it, and learn some real chords.
Yesterday I received my copy of Game Informer which had Guitar Hero 4 info plastered all over the cover. My heart started racing at the prospect of a bunch of new songs. But after reading and seeing they were adding support for a drum kit and vocals, I started to reconsider my desire to get Rock Band. I like to sing Karaoke (my wife and I go almost every Saturday night) so Rock Band has been pretty attractive up to now. I suspect I will still pick up Rock Band at some point but I am not in as much of a hurry now. According to the articles, GH4 will have pressure sensitive drum pad so the game can tell the difference between light tapping and beating the crap out of the drums a la Keith Moon. Sweet.
But my favorite part is being able to create custom songs. I have been quite jealous of all the custom song postings on You Tube by the PS3 GH players. It's about time that we get the same capability on the 360. The songs I would like to add to the game are endless. I imagine some people will add some very, very obscure tracks or just compose there own original songs. The possibilities are endless!
You can get additional details on GH4 over on GameSpot.
Something that might humor you....I am entering a Guitar Hero Tournament this Saturday. If you happen to be in Kirkland, Wa with nothing to do, stop by TechCity Bowl between 3:30 and 6:30. I should be easy to spot....look for the oldest guy there!
I am in San Diego today where I will be chatting with Partners about our Response Point offering. Way cool product for small business and I think some partners are going to do very well offering solutions around this product.
But that is not why I am posting this....
This is my last road trip until approximately August 1st. I have a few local events, but I don't have to get on a plane for work related stuff for the next 2 months. In the past 6 years I have never gone 2 months without a plane trip somewhere. I don't want to come across as a whiner but....whew! Two months at home is going to be fabulous. Especially with the amazing Northwest summers.
This doesn't mean I won't be working though. I have been trying to get cracking on some online activities with video interviews, screencasts, interviews, etc to post to my blog and sites like Technet EDGE for a long time now. I have just spent so much time on the road that when I am home I tend to unplug completely. But now I have two months home to work with the tool sets that some of my peers have been using and I want to start getting things online (I still owe you all that BitLocker Interview!).
With that in mind, I want to know what you want to know about. I am happy to post about things I think you want to know about and I will do some of that regardless, but I am very interested in know about what Microsoft products and technologies you want to know about. The topics can be broad or very specific. Some will be best suited for screencasts or webcasts, while others may be interviews with product managers, industry experts. The important thing is that I am delivering content you want vs what I think you want.
So let me know if you would like to see a screencast on managing WSUS 3.0 or if I should go track down a Windows PM to ask them some tough questions on Vista.
Tell me what you want!
A little late getting the scripts posted (and I received a few emails letting me know!). Thanks for keeping me on my toes!
Btw...there are only a few more webcasts in the SQL 2008 Series. If you have missed any of them, we record and archive them online for later viewing. You can find ALL of our webcasts from the past 2-3 years at the Microsoft Webcasts site.
Regarding the SQL 2008 Scripts -
Just keep the following in mind....
1) They are SQL 2008 scripts 2) They were written for *my* demo environment 3) Backup EVERYTHING before playing around with them! Do not proceed to item 4 until you do this! 4) Test, Test, Test! before running on a production system!
1) They are SQL 2008 scripts
2) They were written for *my* demo environment
3) Backup EVERYTHING before playing around with them! Do not proceed to item 4 until you do this!
4) Test, Test, Test! before running on a production system!
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I have received a fair amount of email about my home network upgrades, particularly on the virtualization side of things. One of the most frequently asked questions is "How do I convert physical to virtual?". That is usually followed up with, "Oh yeah.....how do I do it for FREE!?".
First, I have made the decision to do manual conversions. I am going to manually build VM equivalents of existing physical machines because the machines have a bunch of stuff on them that I don't want or need to keep. I want to clean up the installs so going manual works for me. If I were converting a bunch or servers in a business then I would want to automate things. To do that.....
The most recent and up to date Microsoft toolset for converting P2V is the P2V wizard that lives in the System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007(SCVMM) product. This toolset won't convert legacy Windows OSes though (Win 9x, NT4) or 64 bit systems. For that you will have to wait for SCVMM 2008 or go grab the Beta now. But it does help automate the process substantially. There are even PowerShell scripts that can assist with this. Downside = $$$$. SCVMM is not a free product.
If you want to do free conversions though, you can grab the Virtual Server Migration Toolset (VSMT). The downside with this tool is that it does not support converting 64 bit machines or Windows Vista or Windows 2008. For that you will have to go with SCVMM or 3rd party.
In short, there isn't a unified toolset that converts everything yet. When SCVMM 2008 releases we will be as close as we will get.
Last week I recorded a Technet Radio session with Michael Gallegos on how Microsoft IT uses Application Virtualization/Softgrid for virtualizing applications with the Microsoft corporate network. As usual, I learned a few things and my interest level went way up for this technology.
Once you get to the page you can pull down the file in WMA and MP3 formats for offline replay.
As a part of upgrading my home network, I decided to re-purpose one of my machines as a WSUS server. Sleestak was going to end up as a second DC and a test machine. Now is is a DC and a WSUS 3.0 server. I had an old version of SUS that I wasn't using (I am not sure it was ever working correctly) so I decided to toss that out and move over to WSUS 3.0. I really like the interface for the latest WSUS and know it will help me patch up my home network more efficiently than the manual process I was using before.
I decided to get WSUS in before doing the rest of the upgrades so I could have my patch management solution ready to go as soon as the machines come up. This way as soon as they installed, I can get them into the appropriate groups in WSUS and get them patched quickly.
I only have a single test group right now where a Tablet PC resides. I am creating final groups for Servers and Workstations as well. I may break my two Exchange servers away from the rest of the pack as they are the most critical servers I run.
I thought I was off the road as of this week, but I picked up an event in SoCal for next week so I am pushing my upgrades out a week. I will do some work over the weekend and post here.