Things I didn’t know about ESXi

I’m setting up a development server using vmware ESXi virtual server running CentOS 5.5 x64 and FreeBSD 8.0 x64. Currently, the second installation pass is in progress. Being fresh to ESX/ESXi there were couple of things I didn’t realize:

First (the reason for the reinstall), if there is plenty of hard drive space available, it’s good idea not to deplete it all for the sytem installations. I split a 1.3Tb RAID 5 array between the two operating systems until I realized that 1) you can’t shrink vmfs partitions and 2) by consuming all hard drive space one limits the flexibility of the system down the line. Let’s say you want to install a newer version of an operating system and decide to do a fresh install. You need space for it while you want to keep the old version around at least long enough to migrate settings and data over.

Second, while I was aware of that ESXi doesn’t offer console access beyond the “yellow and grey” terminal, I didn’t realize you have no access to the VM consoles, either. So, with CentOS or FreeBSD installed, the only way to access their consoles is via the vSphere client (someone correct me if I’m wrong — I wish I were as I’d like to have local console access to the guest OS’es).

Finally, VMware Go “doesn’t currently support ESXi servers with multiple datastores”. So if you have, say, a 3ware/LSI/AMCC RAID controller which isn’t currently supported under ESXi as a boot device but which you likely still want to use as a datastore, you’ll end up with at least two datastores. So vSphere is really the only way to go for VM management also for this reason (since LSI provides a vmware-specific driver, one may also be able to direct-connect the LSI RAID array to the VM without it being an ESXi datastore, but that’s not the configuration I’m looking for—the boot device is small and houses just ESXi while the VMs and their associated datastores are located on the array).

In the end everything’s working quite well. I like the flexibility virtualization offers.. and consolidation is useful even in a small environment (one dev machine is less than two or three dev machines :)).

LaserJet P2015dn duplexing on Windows 7

HP LaserJet P2015 models use “Universal” driver under Windows 7. When first installed, duplexing doesn’t work by default. This is a surprise for many who come from Windows XP environment where the dedicated drivers had P2015’s built-in duplexing availability turned on, of course, by default. In Windows 7, however, the duplexing selector for P2015 says by default: “Print on both sides (manually)”.

To enable P2012’s automatic duplexing on Windows 7 go to Devices and Printers, highlight the P2015, right click, and select Printer Properties from the context popup menu. Go to Device Settings tab and look for “Duplex Unit (for 2-Sided Printing)” option. It’s set to “Not Installed” by default. Change it to “Installed” and click on “OK”. Now when you go to Preferences when getting ready to print, the automatic (not “manually”) option is available on the Finishing tab, and automatic duplexing works.

Also if you use the excellent priPrinter utility, P2015 honors the “Double Sided” toggle on the Page Layout tab. Same goes for the “Double-sided” checkbox on FinePrint utility, and other applications that provide the option to turn automatic duplexing on or off.