Installing Solid ICE

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article 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.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com