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Christopher Davenport

AstroImaging Virtual Machine

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Hello,

So I thought I would share some screen shots of my XP SP3 Virtual Machine that I have setup for Astro Imaging.

The nice thing about putting all the software into a Virtual Machine is that I can move it about between different laptops.

VMware also allows you to remotely connect and disconnect USB sockets, which is hand when you want to restart a usb camera.

Lastly I can put the VM to sleep and start it up so as to keep everything as is.

Some screen shots of the different aspects of the VM with a custom red theme.

EQMOD, Astro Tortilla, PHD2

post-32740-0-41823900-1407918932_thumb.j

EQMOD, Stellarium (Stellarium Scope to control EQMOD)

post-32740-0-26429000-1407918980_thumb.j

EQMOD, APT (Focus aid and other tools)

post-32740-0-59393300-1407919077_thumb.j

Hope you take some inspiration :)

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Virtualization is great! I run 31 servers distributed over three physical hosts and it just works.

One advantage of a virtual machine for astro use is that you can replicate it, snapshot it and run it on Unix, Linux, MacOSX, Windows and perhaps IBM/3090 ;)

What did you use to virtualize?

/p

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Vmware, which I have installed on a couple of different machines.

How do you find the USB pass-through performance?

I use VirtualBox and give my VMs 1 CPU from my quad-processor box. I find that webcam frame rates aren't great and that the connections aren't all that reliable.

Maybe I should switch to VMWare?

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How do you find the USB pass-through performance?

I use VirtualBox and give my VMs 1 CPU from my quad-processor box. I find that webcam frame rates aren't great and that the connections aren't all that reliable.

Maybe I should switch to VMWare?

I did use VirtualBox once for a Win8 test, just because VMware did not support Win8 at the time, but I do remember it feeling a bit clunky.

I just put it down to Win8 at the time. :)

I tend to give my VM 2 Cores and 4gb memory (from 8gb), my USB pass through is almost as fast as the host.

In terms of real life performance, my planetary cam can reach 200FPS on the host, using a Ramdrive to land the frames into memory. (reduce the HD bottleneck.)

With the same configuration on the VM I top out at about 160FPS. This could be USB pass through or the difference in the drivers for XP vs Win7.

I have never actually tested the data rates from a external HD as it has always been good enough.

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I use VMware and never found an issue with the USB transfer speeds.

Tricky to test accurately as unless the host OS is the same as the virtual OS they will use different drivers for any device you plug in.

I like that you can also clone a real machine to run it virtually, although the copy protection in newer versions of windows can be a pain when you do this. But they only seem to kick in if you actually shut it down.

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VMWare really holds the key to all virtualization tasks. VirtualBox is fine for simple tests but it comes nowhere near VMWare. For the Mac, many use Parallels Desktop, a product that is good but again nowhere near VMWare. I'd say it falls between VMWare and VirtualBox. VMWare Workstation for Windows and VMWare Fusion for Mac are both pay products while VirtualBox is free.

In reply to the question; yes, the 31 VM setup is for work and personal pleasure and contains no astro stuff. It is kind of cool, though, with three hosts and shared storage it can bounce machines between hosts in a few seconds, interrupting neither the VM itself nor its network traffic. I can even move the firewall VM back and forth and still not lose the connection to the management of the whole system from home. Fantastic stuff! Interestingly enough, a Windows Server (or any other operating system) actually runs slightly faster in a VM than on the metal, and running it virtualized also has the advantage of not exposing the operating system to any real hardware - which in turn is beneficial to stability!

For that kind of virtualization, the host systems contain no operating system at all, which is the biggest difference to the desktop products Fusion and Workstation. Instead, the Hypervisor runs on bare metal. If the Hypervisor needs upgrading, I just migrate all the VMs to the two other hosts and reboot it as required with no interruption to operations. When it is up again, just migrate the VMs back to it and continue with the next.

Sorry for the off-topic part ;)

Anyway, USB performance in VMWare Workstation and VMWare Fusion should be just about the same as running it on the underlying operating system, but with a slight propagation delay that in turn decreases performance slightly due to the handshake procedures of USB. Nothing to worry about.

Ah! Nothing like a morning rant to start the day!

All the best,

Per 

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Your underlying hardware must have plenty of horsepower to handle so many VMS.

I remember some years back getting our hardware folk to setup a rack with four blades, each blade was 16cpu 32gb, we then virtualized a set of 16 load balanced servers across these. (4x4 in each VM.)

This was for a finance application which needed to be up 24x7, so we had multiple sets of redundancy in case web servers fell over. Routing to each web server was via the firewall.

On these we built dev test preprod and prod.

No mind the rant, made me smile.

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For the mac there's Parallels, vmware and virtual box.

Parallels is the most user friendly (but you pay lots for each release.. which seem to be required for each OSX version), vmware is more powerful but needs some tech understanding (not free) and virtual box is free but has some flaws (although works - it's Oracle owned). Virtualbox had a bug that meant if you were using USB you could only use one CPU core.. good bit of programming there...

For all three you'll need a Windows install for an ASCOM based system - IIRC the windows licensing is a pain.. all three above have caused problems as the key used for licensing (the view of the 'hardware') changes causing windows to request re-registering..

I have both Home XP 32bit and Premium 64bit (both legit) and both are a right royal pain whining about things when virtualbox updates. I have this on the mac mini..

The same software can be used for INDI's own pre-canned linux VM astro 'box'. 

All of the above really require a minimum of 4GB on the host machine or preferably 8GB to run smoothly - as I use Pixinsight with large astro images etc I have 16GB installed.

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Your underlying hardware must have plenty of horsepower to handle so many VMS.

I remember some years back getting our hardware folk to setup a rack with four blades, each blade was 16cpu 32gb, we then virtualized a set of 16 load balanced servers across these. (4x4 in each VM.)

This was for a finance application which needed to be up 24x7, so we had multiple sets of redundancy in case web servers fell over. Routing to each web server was via the firewall.

On these we built dev test preprod and prod.

No mind the rant, made me smile.

Nah, not much. One ML350G5, eight cores, 32GB. Two DL360G5, eight cores each, one 32GB, one 40GB. There's plenty of power left.

/per

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