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One of the exciting developments in the VM world is VMware releasing ESXi for free.

ESXi is Vmware's 32 megabyte (yes megabyte) hypervisor that allows bare metal VMs to be run on a server. VMware server, which has been available for a few years as free, is different in that it runs as a process or service on a host system.

There are some pretty important differences that should be noted between the two systems. VMware was able to reduce ESXi to its tiny 32 megabytes because it has had all the management stuff that ESX has eliminated from it. This means that you can not SSH into it like VMware server or ESX 3.5. It also means a lot of ESXi's abilities only come available when you use VirtualCenter. ESXi also has a pretty limited number of servers it can run on. The big advantage over ESXi has over VMware Server is the ability to run many more VMs because of the lack of host OS. You also are able to connect it to iSCSI luns for shared storage and the VM "drives" are SCSI not IDE. One of the reasons why I would opt for ESXi over VMware server is for the simple fact that whenever you update the host operating system you may have to reboot the machine and taking a half dozen VMs off simultaneously. VMware server is more suited though if you are using a lot of appliances or want to be able to use VMware workstation.

For now until I can afford to buy a Foundation pack I will probably be running both types of machines. ESXi for any new machines I am bringing online and VMware server for the rest.

Intro: Jason Stroup

I'm excited to announce a guest author at this blog. Jason Stroup, a friend and very smart guy, will be adding some of his thoughts about VMWare's virtualization technology and perhaps other things in the future.

Having worked with Jason for several years, I know he is always coming up with exciting ways to push the technology around him to achieve goals more effectively and efficiently. His thoughts are one of the driving forces that helped shape my own view of the need for simplicity in technology.

He has been playing with virtualization since VMWare started making waves. I think you'll enjoy his thoughts about changing the way IT infrastructure works as a result of the new found flexibility that this technology brings.

Some of the other fun projects he has experience in include:

  • Replacing Exchange with Google Apps
  • Building Cisco based wireless networks
  • Recovering Active Directory from a masted AD controller failure

I've been particularly interested in the recent opening ESXi provides. Having gone to a free model, good and proper virtualization within my budget has become a lot more doable and the trade-off of one cost for another may just be the ticket for greater stability without significant cost.

Stay tuned. :-)

Gmail Blackberry and the HTTPS only Setting

I've found a bug that others will probably want to know about. The Blackberry Gmail client does not support Gmail's new SSL encrypted email option. This feature was released about a week ago. As soon as I turned it on, I started getting errors. Turning it off makes them go away.

Rumors around the web say a new version exists, but when I fire up my Blackberry Google Mobile Updater, it claims I have the lastest version, but I can't find the setting to allow it. For now, we'll just all have to run a little less protected.

Drupal 6.4 Security Upgrade

Last night, the Drupal project released version 6.4 of their software in response to a security hole that had been found. I have upgraded all websites maintained by me.

In the process, I also upgraded a couple modules FileField and Token both are now running the latest versions.

Website Demo: "Our Mission"

It can be hard to visualize potential. I've created this video demo as a way to show what a basic website looks like, including a brief look under the hood. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Website Demo: "Our Mission" from Josiah Ritchie on Vimeo.

CCK Module Upgrade to 6.x-2.0 RC4

I upgraded the CCK module this morning to version 6.x-2.0 RC4.

In case you are not familiar with the CCK Drupal module, here is their description from the module site on

The Content Construction Kit allows you create and customize fields using a web browser.

More descriptively, it has become one of the standard building blocks of Drupal content types, allowing various types of data to be associated with a type of content easily and quickly.

Mollom upgrade to 6.x-1.3

I upgraded the Mollom module this morning to version 6.x-1.3.

In case you are not familiar with the mollom Drupal module, here is their description from the module site on I'd recommend it for any drupal site that permits user contribution.

Drupal 5 to 6 duplicate entry problem

I moved one of my last sites over here to my new hosting environment. This is probably my oldest. It's been around since some time in the Drupal 4 series, at least 3 years.

When I moved it here I upgraded it to Drupal 6 from 5.7. This created some problems that resulted in not being able to make comments as well as other issues that boiled down to minor problems with the database causing big problems.

Here is an example error message we received from the watchdog module. The comment module provided something similar.

user warning: Duplicate entry '0' for key 1 query: INSERT INTO watchdog (uid, type, message, variables, severity, link, location, referer, hostname, timestamp) VALUES (24, 'user', 'Session opened for %name.', 'a:1:{s:5:\"%name\";s:2:\"Ed\";}', 5, '', '', '', '', 1215526129) in /home/user/public_html/modules/dblog/dblog.module on line 144.

It turned out that these database tables simply didn't have auto_increment set. In Drupal 6, the developers changed the way they handle the incrementing of the record IDs. They are using the database feature to handle it now instead of doing it themselves in the code.

The resolution to this was a couple of simple SQL commands to turn on auto_increment where it was needed. Here they are.

alter table comments modify cid int(10) auto_increment;
alter table watchdog modify wid int(5) auto_increment;

Drupal 6.3 Security Upgrade

Last night a new version of Drupal was released. As this was a "moderately critical" security upgrade, I made sure to upgrade each drupal site under my responsibility. Thanks to the multi-site feature of Drupal, it was a very quick process. You can find out more about the security element of this

If you'd like more information, you can stop by the Drupal 6.3 release notes for a complete rundown.

A Vote for Vi on the Blackberry

I've grown increasingly fond of my blackberry. I decided to upgrade my phone package for a variety of reasons. One was so that I could work on things related to this contracting job while on the road. In fact I'm writing this blog entry from my Blackberry.

One thing I haven't found yet is a sufficiently comfortable text editor. Yeah, this is a geeky request, but a truly simple yet fully featured text editor is a wonderful experience that can make life a little less annoying.