Installing Solid ICEBy Frank Ohlhorst | Print
Qumranet's Solid ICE aims to bring low-cost, hosted desktop virtualization to businesses via the KVM standard.
Getting started with Solid ICE can be a major undertaking. First off, an appropriate server will be needed (please see our test configuration). It is important to provide ample processing power and RAM for Solid ICE to be used effectively. Server sizing should be based upon the number of concurrent virtualized PCs supported, the guest operating systems used and the desktop applications offered. With the low cost of hardware today, it is better to "overbuild" a server than to try to cut corners to meet the minimum needs.
Currently, Solid ICE V4.1 is designed to run on the CentOS operating system, a Linux distribution that is geared toward the server market. Currently, only Version 5 of CentOS is supported (support for V5.1 and 5.2 is slated for the near future). As Qumranet does not offer CentOS5, installers will have to download the seven installation CD images (or a single DVD image) from CentOS.org or one of the distribution's companion sites. After creating the installation media for CentOS, administrators will have to install it on the selected server. Luckily, after the hassles of getting the CentOS distribution, the installation of CentOS is rather straightforward.
Qumranet should offer detailed instructions for installing and configuring the operating system, as currently that chore is left to the gut feeling of the administrator and there are several installation options (such as firewall and services settings) that could have an impact on how well (and how securely) a deployment of the product goes. The company does offer a quick-installation PDF to guide the network operating system installation, but the document is based on a static implementation of the network operating system and does not offer any guidance for those looking to integrate the CentOS server into an existing network infrastructure.
Set aside an hour or more to get CentOS installed and running. After the installation of the operating system, next comes a torturous process of manually configuring many of the network elements, such as Ethernet bridging and IP configuration. A configuration wizard would be a nice touch and probably would eliminate much of the irritation caused by using cryptic editors and manual tools to set up the basic elements needed.
There are a few other requirements for the product, such as access to an external NFS (Network File System) server for the image repository, although with today's large-capacity hard drives and the speed of local storage, an NFS server should be an option and not a requirement.
The VDC server portion of the product needs to be installed on a Windows 2003 Server; support for Server 2008 is not referenced in the install documentation. The VDC Server needs to have the complete .NET Framework and most of the application server components installed. The company also recommends that the Windows Power Shell 1.0 utility be installed, along with the latest service packs and updates.
Luckily, the installation of the VDC server is not complicated and is wizard-driven. The next phases of installation are completed using the VDC server console and consist of defining several core settings, such as NFS mounts, MAC (media access control) address ranges, NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers, domains and a laundry list of other minor tweaks and changes.
While installation of the product can prove to be stressful and somewhat unguided, the tips and documentation provided should enable an advanced administrator to correctly install the product without the need for additional support. Knowledge of both Linux and Windows Server is critical to effectively install the product. Installation overhead and management complexity of Solid ICE may scare off quite a few would-be adopters, and the product does lack the polish of other virtualization technologies, such as VMware's offerings, Citrix Systems' products and even Microsoft's Hyper-V. Although those products are aimed at the server virtualization market, most users have come to expect quick-start wizards and that level of integrated installation support to be incorporated into any virtualization product. Luckily for Qumranet, the pain of installation seems to be worth it.