Mailing List Archived Message #1

From: Ed Durrant <> Full Headers
Undecoded message
Subject: VMWare ESXi v4
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2009 16:51:46 +1000

As a link from the eCS newslist, here is my e-mail on VMWare ESXi V4 and thoughts of how it may enable us to run eCS on new hardware as it comes along without having to worry about OS/2 hardware drivers.

Hi Tim,

  This is perhaps getting too Off-Topic for this list but as eCS and OS/2 are involved (as client OSes) maybe not.

  A couple of basic points about virtualisation on the intel/AMD platform.

  There are two approaches - Hypervisor and Hosted virtualisation. Hypervisor is what both VMWare ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V (to an extent) use. There is not Operating system where the virtualisation engine is installed onto. The virtualisation code is that base OS and talks directly to the hardware. This of course means that the virtualisation hypervisor has to have the hardware drivers for the hardware you are running on (hence the restricted list of hardware that is compatible). Hypervisor is the commercial answer, it makes the maximum use of the hardware and comes with full support (for a price)....

 The other option is a Hosted Virtualisation platform, where the Virtualisation program is installed as a normal application on top of the operating system. This has the advantage that it will run on any hardware that the Operating system supports, it's disadvantage is that it also suffers the problems that the base OS has, such as virus infection, running out of resources and impact from other services running in the OS. This approach is less efficient and tends to be used only on workstations in a commercial environment however there are server versions of hosted code which may be suitable for small businesses that don't want the expense of a hypervisor based solution. Some of these products come with commercial support, some are free.

 VMWare ESX has been for almost 10 years the de-facto standard and license prices reflected this! However with the change to include some virtualisation instructions directly in the processors, to many other products now start to compete on performance if not necessarily support, so VMWare are having to change their charging model and have released the ESXi code for free for individual use without support, in the hope that people will stay with VMWare and buy additional support when needed in a commercial environment.

Competition to VMWare comes from Citrix with the open source Xen product and from Sun with the Open sourced Virtualbox product however the biggest competition comes from Microsoft who are building in the Hyper-V code into Windows Server 2008 as well as  VirtualPC code as an add-in integrated part to Windows 7 (mainly to allow Windows XP applications to run if they are incompatible with Windows 7). Virtual PC now as a free  add-on to Windows XP and Vista has supported OS/2 Warp for some time however eComStation had a problem during install until changes in the last couple of RC versions where an option has been added to allow its installation into a virtualised  environment.

So as you can see, there are options, however there are also drawbacks. Normally USB connected devices cannot be seen by the client OS running under virtualisation, Only basic networking and graphical cards are emulated in the virtualised session, so this is not an option for high level video editing for example, but for running a home or company server (or several servers on one system) it is a viable option if you chose the correct program.

As for embedded, out of the box options, IBM (and others) already sell rack mount servers or server blades with ESXi V3 installed on an SSD within the system, when they upgrade to ESXi v4 and if indeed it supports eComStation and OS/2 (which is what we are currently trying to confirm), then these could be a good option for you.



Tim Stephen wrote:

Please put in a plea for me at Warpstock for people to consider
preloading such systems.  The biggest headache of my life is futzing
with hardware issues and ecs (and we aren't getting along at all well
lately as I have this collection of thinkcentres that have now trashed
six harddrives in the last 18 months).  I really want to be able to
buy that expertise.   And, wow, if it was possible to get a fast rack
mount server box that ran multiple instances of os/2 (and other os's)
without any downside (full internet connectivity for each instance,
ability to selectively kill and reboot any particular instance
remotely, normal access to the boot process so that you can do things
like restore archived desktops, boot to command prompt and swap dlls)
I would see this as the golden path to the future.  Imagine putting
squid on one of the instances.  I could expand much more gracefully
and confidently with this kind of set up than my current collection of
used 2006-era IBM rack mount servers.

I've got a mac with os/2 running under parrallels and used to have win
2000 running on an ecs host using virtual pc.  These are not good
enough.  Too tempremental. It needs to be exactly like running
multiple real systems independently but sharing i/o devices.  If
VMWare is really up to this task, I pray someone with expertise steps
up and starts preconfiguring and supporting these systems for those of
us running internet businesses on os/2.   (Hell, if all that comes of
this is that VMWare is supplying a layer that in effect makes it
possible to certify certain hardware as definitely supporting os/2
(VMWare compliant, therefore os/2 compliant), that alone is a gift at
this point even if you only ran one copy of os/2 on the box.)


On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:54 AM, Ed Durrant<> wrote:
Tim Stephen wrote:
Just waking up to this thread ... Does this product mean that one
could purchase and configure a modern rack-mount server-class box
guaranteed to be able to run a whole bunch of ecs copies
simultaneously? I would be very interested in this, and in a service
perhaps a reseller could provide to sell such a server with the ecs
instances installed and minimally configured. One source of anxiety
in my life is what happens in the future as it becomes increasingly
difficult to locate os/2-compatible hardware. We run 3 os/2 boxes as
internet servers in a server farm and I have purchased a number of
used compatible replacement boxes as a hedge against the time our
systems-in-use begin to fail.. It is hard enough to figure out safe
choices in hardware for single user home systems let alone rack-mount
server-class systems.

Yes, that is exactly the idea. Unfortunately, ESX only runs on a limited
number of systems (mainly proper server boxes), so no one on this list
has said they have been able to install this as yet and test that eCS
will run as a client OS.

The other possibility (already exists with ESXi v 3 is to buy a server
with the VMWare code already "embedded" in the system. You could then
buy an "appliance image", load that you would be operational with either
a basic or a fully configured system within a matter of minutes.

Of course the system could run other OSes at the same time.

VMWare ESXi V4 is just the latest of many virtualisation products that
have to a greater and lesser extent supported OS/2 and/or eCS as client
and/or host OS. I plan to cover this in greater detail in a
presentation at this years Warpstock Europe.


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