• A Look Inside Webster’s Lab – October 2011

    October 6, 2011


    Updated October 6, 2011

    Every now and then, people ask me about the lab environment I use to write my articles, answer questions on Experts Exchange, and study for Citrix certification exams.  This article will show you what is in my lab.

    I believe everyone should have a lab even if it consists of free virtualization software running on a laptop with minimal RAM.  Even a simple lab setup will allow you to install and test software to enhance your skills and knowledge.  My current lab is the continued growth of the first lab I started in 1998 to study for Microsoft NT4 certification exams.  That original lab consisted of separate physical servers and workstations for installing all the various Microsoft, Novell, and Linux operating systems.  Now there are three physical boxes running XenServer that allow me to install and run many different operating systems.  I also have three laptops.

    The equipment in the lab consists of:

    • 1 Storage Server
    • 4 Lab Servers
    • 1 Writing Station
    • 1 MacBook Pro
    • 1 Windows 7 Laptop
    • 1 Chromebook Laptop
    • 1 Apple iPad
    • 1 XP Pro Thin Client
    • 1 Linux Thin Client

    Storage Server:

    The storage server is a white box built with parts from Newegg.com
    (Figures 1 and 2).
    Figure 1 Storage Server
    Figure 1 Storage Server
    Figure 2 (Close-up of the eight hard drives)
    Figure 2 (Close-up of the eight hard drives)

    System components are:

    • Lian-Li PC-V2100B Plus II full tower case (capable of holding 12 internal hard drives)
    • Tyan S2932-E motherboard
    • Dual AMD Opteron 2346HE 1.8Ghz quad-core processors
    • Dual Supermicro Active Socket F Heatsink and Cooling Fans
    • 16GB Kingston ECC Registered RAM (8GB per processor)
    • PC Power & Cooling 910-watt power supply
    • Lite-On 22X Dual-Layer DVD Burner
    • Areca 1210 RAID Controller and optional battery backup pack and optional control interface
    • 1 Western Digital 120GB SATA 2 Hard Drive for the operating system
    • 4 Seagate 2TB SATA 2 Hard Drives in RAID 0 attached to Areca RAID Controller
    • 3 Western Digital 400GB SATA 2 Hard Drives in RAID 0 attached to nVidia onboard RAID controller
    • APC Back-UPS XS 1500

    Software used:

    • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Standard
    • StarWind Software iSCSI SAN Software Enterprise version

    The four 2TB drives are set up as a virtual disk for iSCSI use for storing the XenServer Virtual Machines.

    The three 400GB drives are set up as two CIFS (Common Internet File System) shares.  One containing the ISO files and the other for all file downloads.

    This server runs in headless mode (i.e. no display, keyboard, or mouse).

    Main Lab Server:

    The lab server was built with parts from Newegg.com (Figure 3).

    Figure 3 (Lab Server)
    Figure 3 (Lab Server)

    The system components are:

    • Cooler Master ATCS 840 Full Tower Case
    • ASUS KGPE-D16 Motherboard
    • Dual AMD Opteron 6168 1.9Ghz twelve core processors
    • Dual Dynatron A6 CPU Coolers
    • 64GB Kingston ECC Registered RAM
    • PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II 950W Power Supply
    • ASUS 24X DVD Burner
    • 1 Seagate 1.5TB SATA 3 Hard Drive
    • 1 Intel 320 Series 40GB SSD
    • 1 Intel 320 Series 300GB SSD
    • 1 External Hitachi 2TB USB Drive used by PHDVirtual
    • APC Back-UPS XS 1500

    This server runs XenServer 6 and PHDVirtual Backup 5.2 for XenServer.  This system runs in headless mode.

    Additional Lab Servers:

    These three lab servers were ordered from ServersDirect.com.  I use these exclusively for writing articles and books.  I e-mailed  ServersDirect, gave them my specifications, and they custom built three servers for me.  If you are interested, contact:

    Andy Sun
    Account Executive
    (800) 576-7931 Ext: 205
    Direct: (909) 664-0605

    Figure 4
    Figure 4

    The system components are:

    • InWin IW-BL631.300BLP Slim Desktop Chassis with 300W Power Supply
    • Intel DQ57TM Desktop Board
    • Intel Core i7-870 Lynnfield 2.93GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor
    • 16 GB Kingston 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM
    • (Two have this) Intel 320 Series 40GB SATAII SSD
    • (One has this) Intel 320 Series 80GB SATAII SSD
    • Seagate ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6GB/S 7200RPM 8MB
    • Lite-On 24X Dual Layer DVD+-RW SATA Drive Black
    • APC Back-UPS XS 1500

    One server runs XenServer 6, one runs ESXi 5 and the one with the 80GB SSD runs Hyper-V V2.  All systems run in headless mode.

    Writing Station:

    This computer is used for writing articles, answering questions on Experts Exchange, studying for certification exams, and testing various virtual server builds for customers.  This is also a white box computer built with parts from Newegg.com (Figures 5 and 6).

    Figure 5
    Figure 5
    Figure 6
    Figure 6

    The system components are:

    • Lian-Li PC-7B Plus II mid-tower case
    • EVGA X58 SLI LE motherboard
    • Intel Core I7 920 quad-core processor
    • Intel supplied Heatsink and Cooling Fan
    • 12GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 RAM
    • PC Power & Cooling 750-watt power supply
    • Dual EVGA 9800-GXT Video Cards
    • 1 HP L2045w display
    • 2 Dell U2410 displays
    • Samsung SATA Dual-Layer DVD Burner
    • 1 Western Digital 640GB SATA 2 Hard Drive
    • 1 Western Digital 160GB SATA 2 Hard Drive
    • 1 Western Digital 400GB SATA 2 Hard Drive
    • 3 External Seagate 1TB Hard Drive
    • APC Back-UPS XS 1500

    The software used on this computer:

    • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
    • XenCenter 6
    • Office 2010 and Visio 2010
    • Van Dyke Software SecureCRT 6.7 (used for console access to the XenServer hosts)
    • Adobe Acrobat X Professional
    • Carbonite

    MacBook Pro:

    Almost every customer’s Citrix Farm I have worked on in the last several years has Mac clients.  I was tired of having to tell customers that I knew nothing about Macs.  In January 2009, I finally bought a 15” MacBook  Pro, from Newegg.com, and loved it.  In October 2010, I upgraded to a 17” MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM, i7 processor, and a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive.

    The software currently being used:

    • OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard)
    • Safari 5.1
    • Firefox 7
    • Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac (Version 14.1.3)
    • Snapz Pro X 2.3.1
    • Citrix Online Plug-in for Mac V11.4
    • Carbonite

    Windows 7 Laptop:

    The original Vista laptop died a quick and untimely death.  Glad I had three backups of everything!  Carbonite saved the day so I could restore critical files while on the road until I got home and could use the external hard drives.

    This is a Dell Studio 1569 with 8GB RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and runs Windows 7 Professional x64.

    Google Chromebook:

    At Citrix Synergy 2011, Google gave away over 700 Chromebooks.  I was one of the “lucky” ones.  Since the Citrix Receiver for Chromebooks hasn’t been released yet, I haven’t done anything with this other than watch it continually update its software.

    Apple iPad:

    It is an iPad2 32GB WiFi model.

    Windows XPe Thin Client:

    This is a Wyse Thin Client S90 running Windows XP Embedded SP2.  Wyse only supports and offers the Program Neighborhood Client V10.1 for the S90.  This system is also used to test Web Interface access.

    Linux Thin Client:

    This is a Neoware CA21 that a customer gave me.

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    About Carl Webster

    Webster is a Sr. Solutions Architect for Choice Solutions, LLC and specializes in Citrix, Active Directory and Technical Documentation. Webster has been working with Citrix products for many years starting with Multi-User OS/2 in 1990.

    View all posts by Carl Webster

    One Response to “A Look Inside Webster’s Lab – October 2011”

    1. Neil Spellings Says:

      Sweet setup!

      For those for whom the above looks a little daunting, there is always http://www.citrixcommunitylab.com




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