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Nutanix Community Edition. The Prestige

Whether you’re watching on television or fortunate enough to see someone like Chris Angel or David Copperfield live on stage, we’re all captivated one way or another by the illusions performed by these artists.

 

Some of us immediately start dissecting the choreographed act like a detective at a crime scene, in hope that we can solve the mystery or the typical cliché of how the assistants legs became detached from his/her body - Then of course, re-attached once again.

 

One of my favourite movies “The Prestige” - Michael Caine explains to us that every magic trick consists of 3 parts – known as “the acts”

 

“The first part is called The pledge; where the magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird, a man\woman. The second act is called The Turn. The Magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. But you wouldn’t clap yet, because making something disappear isn’t enough. You have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act. The hardest part. The part we call The Prestige."

 

You’re probably wondering what magic or a magician has to do with Nutanix – Well since Nutanix started in 2009, we’ve been performing, what I like to call, REAL Magic through Hyperconvergance and Webscale Technologies – This has translated into making the Datacentre truly invisible.

 

Something which seemed like only an illusion to many has now been widely adopted in all verticals spanning from the Global 500 of companies to the small business http://www.nutanix.com/customers/

 

There are vendors out there that have tried to clone our “acts”, though almost all of them have fallen short of the “Turn” – Let alone have ever made it to “The Prestige”. It’s nothing but an illusion.

 

When revealing the method behind one of his tricks, Christian Bale advises a youngster to “Never show anyone. They’ll beg you and they’ll flatter you for the secret. But as soon as you give it up, you’ll be nothing to them. The secret impresses no one. The Trick you use it for is everything”

 

Since Nutanix isn’t creating an illusion, trick or more importantly afraid of becoming “nothing” once we reveal the interworking’s to our technology – We have (and will continue to be) very transparent. The Nutanix Bible (www.nutanixbible.com) as well as our rockstar bloggers like Josh Odgers (http://www.joshodgers.com) and Michael Webster (http://longwhiteclouds.com) are a great example of this, not to mention the ability to install our software on your own hardware at home, lab or up in the cloud.

 

Welcome to the Nutanix Community Edition.

 

What is the CE edition?

Community Edition is a 100% software solution enabling technology enthusiasts to easily evaluate the latest hyperconvergence technology at zero cost. Imagine having the ability to experience and test drive the same Nutanix technology that powers the datacenters of thousands of leading enterprises around the world on your own hardware – Something that was never possible with 3 Tier Architecture.

 

Community edition can really be consumed in two ways:

  1. Physical hardware that meets the minimum system requirements
  2. On demand public cloud service via Ravello Systems for as little as <$1.00 an hour – Perfect for those that have constraints around the accessibility of hardware.

 

 

Why Did We Do it?

We simply want to enable a broader audience of customers, partners and users to experience our advanced web-scale technology without the typical constraints around hardware accessibility, configuration and/or procurement.

 

If you’re an organization that wants to evaluate the industry’s leading hyperconverged infrastructure solution and determine suitability for your applications, this is a perfect use case, since it takes just a few minutes to install CE, then you’re on your way to spinning up Apps in no time.  

 

Perhaps you’re an existing user that wants to further develop their skills and expertise on Nutanix or even take advantage of our extensibility API’s (REST API, nCLI, Powershell) to develop your own levels of integration.

 

As a recent Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX #09) I also highly recommend CE as a way to further develop your knowledge and skills on Acropolis before your panel interview.

 

Nutanix channel partners and our OEM’s can also benefit from CE, since it’s packed with all the key capabilities and features of the Nutanix Xtreme Computing Platform allowing demonstrations to be more agile and efficient

 

Now… Let’s get back to the Magic.

 

The First Act. The Pledge. The Power of Software Defined.

Software defined means abstracting the advanced functionality from the underlying hardware. In this case Storage, but why just stop there?

 

The Intel NUC – “An Ordinary Something…”

 

The NUC happens to be one of the most versatile, small form-factor mini PC’s out on the market today. It’s simple, ultra portable and consumes minimal power. This is predominantly one of the reason why it grabbed my attention.

 

Inside the NUC Kit, you’ll find just a motherboard with an Intel CPU combined with the standard 1 Gb Ethernet port, sound card and USB’s.

 

My first Act consists of acquiring\installing the following items:

 

Item

Description

Part Number

Intel NUC

5th Generation Intel Core i7-5557U Processor

3.1Ghz Dual Core CPU

NUC5i7RYH

RAM

Kingston HyperX Impact Black 16GB Kit

HX316LS9IBK2/16

SSD

Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB M.2 SSD

MZ-N5E250BW

HDD

Seagate 1TB Laptop Gaming SSHD

ST1000LM014

USB Flash Drive

SanDisk 64GB Cruzer Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive

SDCZ80-064G-A75

Minimum System Requirements can be found here

 

The Second Act. The Turn. Nutanix Community Edition (CE)

 

Remember, “The Turn” is all about taking that ordinary something and making it “Extraordinary”!

 

Nutanix’s CE edition installs the Acropolis Hypervisor as well as the Controller Virtual Machine; just like the full production version that you would get from Nutanix or our OEM Vendors like Dell or Lenovo.

 

So that “Extraordinary” means taking our Ordinary Intel NUC and turning it into a Platform to deliver greater value – Remember, we’re not just storage!

 

The ability to run Virtual Machines, clone/Snapshot them and/or replicate them to another cluster, or AWS/Azure are just a small subset of the features available.  Did I mention Application Mobility? With 3 Intel Nuc’s in a cluster, you can also have 2 copies of your data for further resiliency, just like a Nutanix production environment; all at a price of ~$700 USD for the hardware.

 

When reading this blog, you may have noticed that my Intel NUC isn’t running the minimum supported configuration of 4 Cores in order to run the CVM and the Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). Since this is just my lab and demo purposes, I’ll show you how we get around the installer check.

 

Downloading and Preparing the CE Image

  1. Click here to register and download the latest bootable CE Image
  2. Once you’ve downloaded the bootable image file, the next step is to create a bootable USB Flash drive from the CE image

(a) On a Mac:

  1. Insert your flash drive
  2. In a terminal window run “diskutil list” to determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2).
  3. Next run “diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN” (replace N with the disk number from the last command)
  4. Now type “sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m”

Note: /path/to/downloaded.img is the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img or ./ubuntu.dmg). /dev/rdiskN is the location of the USB Flash drive as you recorded in step 3b

 

(b) On a Windows PC

  1. Download a utility called Rufus to create the USB Bootable drive from the CE Image file
  2. It’s pretty straight forward, though make sure you set “Create a bootable disk using dd image”
  3. Browse to the location to where the image file is located and click the start button to begin the process 

 

Modifying the Installer to allow for only 2 Cores

As I mentioned previously, since my Intel NUC hasn’t meet the minimum hardware requirements from a CPU Core perspective, I’ll have to modify the installer check to allow for CE to install on 2 Cores. The file in question is located at:

 

/home/install/phx_iso/phoenix/minimum_reqs.py

 

Since we’re working on an EXT4 boot partition, you’ll need a flavour of linux in order to edit the file.

 

Using VI or something similar; open the minimum_reqs.py file and change the “MIN_CORES” value from “4” to now “2

 

 

Installing the AHV and CVM

Installing the CE edition is pretty straight forward and really simple to do – Boot off your bootable USB Flash drive and follow the install prompts.

 

With one CE Appliance, you’ll have 1 copy of data (aka. RF=1) or with 3 Appliances you data will be protected with 2 copies/RF=2) which is really cool.

  1. Boot off the newly created USB Boot drive
  2. Type “Install” to get started

 

  1. Enter the relevant IP addresses for your CVM and Hypervisor
  2. Select “Create Single-Node Cluster” if you only have one appliance
  3. Accept the EULA and Select “Start”
  4. Once the installer concludes, simply enter the IP address of the Controller Virtual Machine (CVM) in a web browser and you’ll be presented with Prism – Pretty easy huh?

 

The Third Act. The Prestige.

We’ve taken that “ordinary something” and made it “Extraordinary” in our second act.

 

Now for the Prestige.

 

When sitting idle and no virtual machines running; here is a performance snapshot of the Intel NUC running CE

 

 

The next step was to create a Windows 7 VM with the following specifications

  • 1 x vCPU
  • 1 GB vRAM
  • 5 x Virtual Disks (Disk 0: OS 30GB, Disk 1 to 4 10GB’s)
  • 1 x vNIC

Using a basic tool like IOMeter, I created the following access Profile consisting of:

  1. 4 Individual Workers mapped directly to one of the vDISK’s including 64 IO’s outstanding per target
  2. Access Specification 1 of 4K Transfer Request Size, 100% Random, 100% Read, burst length of 64 IO’s
  3. Access Specification 2 of 1MB Transfer Request Size, 100% Random, 100% Read, burst length of 64 IO’s

 

And here are the results:

 

Access Specification 1: 13,552 IOPS @ 54.25 MBps, 0.87ms Latency

 

 

Access Specification 2: 4,518 IOPS and Over 1 GBps @ ~1.6ms Latency!

 

 

 

At this stage the Physical processor was at 100% Usage serving as the bottle neck as well as the inability to run more Virtual Machines convened by both Memory and CPU Limitations.

 

 

Whilst this was nothing but a synthetic test and used to demonstrate Peak Performance (like a Bugatti reaching its top speed only on closed circuit racetrack), what it has demonstrated to us is the true potential of this ordinary hardware platform when combined with the Nutanix Community Edition to bring further value (aka. The Turn!)

 

Since the CE edition is not supported for Production use, it’s a cheap alternative to hosting virtual machines (test/dev), a Remote Branch Office solution or even serve as a scale-out file server (Coming soon to CE/Tech preview in NOS 4.6) - One could also use the built in replication feature set to replicate the VM’s on CE into a full production Nutanix Cluster, Azure or AWS instance – So even though I only have 1 Intel NUC, I can further increase data protection, integrity and resiliency in other ways.

 

 

With a supported maximum of 4 x Nodes running CE in a cluster we would have an aggregate of CVM, SSD and HDD Performance. So the performance numbers quoted above would be increased since all CVM’s work together to provide Availability, Manageability Recoverability, Performance and Data Reduction.

 

This is our Prestige.

 

Follow Nutanix on Twitter and continue the conversation in the forums

 

This post was authored by Richard Arsenian, Nutanix Global Solution Architect – OEM Alliances | VCDX #126 | NPX #09 

33 Comments
Explorer

Great article. Quick question about hte disks. Did you install booth disk inside the NUC? or is one of them attached to the NUC by an USB cable?

Nutanix Employee

Great info!  I would love to know how the case was customized! 

Hero

Hi @scottellis - let me see if I can get some info for you 

Wayfarer

@molikop

 

Yes, the device has internal support for both:

 

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-nuc5i7ryh.html

 

Look under Storage (I can't cut and paste from it)

m.2 up to 8cm long (huge) and a 9mm 2.5"

Explorer

I see, it is because the SSD is the M2 that you can do both at the same time. Correct? @bobertc

Nutanix Employee

@molikop @alucianiCorrect: the SSD uses an M.2 interface and the HDD uses a SATA Connector.

Both are present in the NUC. The USB is used to boot the hypervisor

Trailblazer

Great article, was waiting to see if it would work on an Intel NUC. Ive been thinking about purchasing one and upping it to 32GB of RAM (around $350 for a pair of 16Gb low voltage sticks), officially it isnt support but it appears to function on some NUC 5th CPU GEN models (models below).

 

  • Intel NUC5i7RYH
  • Intel NUC5i5RYH
  • Intel NUC5i5MYHE
  • Intel NUC5i5RYK
  • Intel NUC5i3RYH
  • Intel NUC5i3MYHE
  • Intel NUC5i3RYK

3 or 4 Nodes in a cluster each with 16GB of usable RAM you could get a nice functional home lab environment, considering the work loads you could even consider lowering your CVM ram allocation just a little to squeeze more RAM capacity.

 

Info from: http://www.virten.net/2015/10/5th-gen-intel-nuc-with-32gb-memory/

 

Nutanix Employee

@NicolasThaesler Yea i've seen those .. Haven't tested them myself. 

Though the new 6th Gen NUC's do support 32GB RAM, so might be worth taking a look at those.

 

re; the 3-4 Nodes in a home lab... Yes this would be perfect! and from my testing, you could slightly lower the CVM requirements too Smiley Happy

Trailblazer

great for it to be officially supported now!

Hero

@NicolasThaesler I just purchased a 6th gen NUC - still waiting to get all the parts, but I'll also provide my details once I get it pulled together. I purchased the NUC6i3SYH (.. Budget reasons).

Adventurer

You can also get a variety of 3rd party cases.

 

In terms of graphics work, not sure exactly how it was done but for about $35 SkinIt! will do custom skin for the NUC. http://www.skinit.com/create-your-own/custom-design-nuc-unit-skin

 

Trailblazer

@aluciani I am running CE on a NUC6 - the i5 model with 32GB Smiley Happy

 

I have a post in the CE forum, hardware thread, on what I had to do to get it going. As the budget allows I'll get (at least) two more to make it a proper cluster.

Hero

@Speedster Great to hear, I am still waiting for my RAM to arrive, hoping to also get a second one if the dollars make cents Smiley Happy 

Adventurer

Decided to play along at home. Going to buld a small cluster using Intel NUCs.

 

Think I also have some really old Supermicro 1U servers somewhere - just need to validate they support VTx and swap out one of the HDDs for an SSD.

 

Stay tuned for more information

Nutanix Employee

I has setup MacVim and I wonder where and how to find the file of"minimum_reqs.py", Thanks.

Nutanix Employee

@ricky_ruan The minimum_reqs.py file is located on your bootable USB

Nutanix Employee

Yes, I have found it and edit it with vi command. Thank you. But there's not only "Min_Cores" problem, and also as below pic shows.

Adventurer

@ricky_ruan minimum_reqs.py file is located at /home/install/phx_iso/phoenix/minimum_reqs.py on the NutanixCE image you downloaded

 

There are two ways to edit it:

 

1) Mount the image on another Linux box then edit it.

 

2) Log in to the NutanixCE image once it's booted as 'root' instead of as 'install' using the password 'nutanix/4u'

 

Nutanix Employee

@DaveP Thanks for your help. But many many erros in installation checks.Man Frustrated

Nutanix Employee

@ricky_ruan Can you please describe in detail your setup.. hardware, controllers, disks etc.. ?

Nutanix Employee

@aluciani,I have a NUC6,too. and I want to install the CE on it. but I failed. It show "No GigE or 10Gige",It mean the system can't load the NIC driver, How do you resovle it. thanks.

Hero

Hi @charlie-cai - I am still waiting for my RAM, so I haven't installed it yet, but maybe @richardarsenian might be able to share some thoughts.

It is prompting me for a "Next"  user/pass?   I have a Nutanix account but someone else downloaded the image.  Also I was able to log in as root with the credential posted above and did a "halt -p"   to power cycle the box as I want to bring it back up .   Nothing booting.  Like there is no bootable partiion on the disk.

Explorer

does anyone know how to make this work without using an SSD and using 2 sata drives? 

Explorer

if anyone is interested in how to make this work with a smaller SSD drive and installing it on a machine probably virtual as well as physical(physical worked for me), here is what i did to make it work.  i downloaded the iso from the internet, the ce-2015.11.05-stable.img version that is 1.95gb in size.  i am sure others would work as well.  but this worked for me.  

 

i went into the minimum_reqs.py file. 

altered the ram and cpu to be less than what is listed as the defaults. modified the ssd value from 199 to 99.  anywhere there is 199, change to 99. i had a 120gb ssd drive and it worked for that.  

basically vi minimum_reqs.py and :wq to save your changes.  press insert key to overtype the numbers. 

 

I used rufus to format the usb 16gb disk and that is what it uses to boot from when you install the Acropolis to the stick. 

 

i did not do dhcp, but you can if you want.  i did static ip address. 

 

the default login to CE is admin admin, then it will prompt you to change the password. 

 

jut log into your ip address as https://ip and your golden. 

 

 

Explorer

All,
I've tried to get a lab system running using one of these version of Nutanix CE, ce-2015.11.05-stable.img and ce-2016.06.30-stable.img, to no avail. Although my system does not exactly match the one described, I assumed I could follow some of the recipes and comments provided and get Nutanix CE installed.

 

Here's the hardware I'm using (verified good):
+ Intel NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK Mini PC
- Samsung 950 PRO Series - 256GB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V5P256BW)
= Slot M2-A
- Samsung 950 PRO Series - 512GB PCIe NVMe - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V5P512BW)
= Slot M2-B
- Kingston Technology HyperX Impact 32GB Kit (2x16GB)
2400MHz DDR4 CL14 260-Pin SODIMM Laptop HX424S14IBK2/32

 

The hardware works great, as I tested it the latest Windows 10 Enterprise installed - very fast!

 

I made lots of recommended changes to the python scripts but cannot get beyond a check in
"File pheonix/imagingUtil.py, line 506, in image_node"
"largest = /dev/ + largest[0]"
"TypeError: NoneType object has no attribute __getitem__"

I'm assuming this fails due to commenting out code in minimumRequirements.py -> CE_checkDisks so I could get to the setup screen.

 

Very frustrating! Any ideas, or does someone actually have scripts that work to share? Since we are touting Nutanix, any guidance you might provide me with would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Richard Yoza
Workspot, Inc.

 

Nutanix Employee

@Workspot Hi Richard, the issues you're experiencing are due to CE not supporting NVMe based SSD's as yet. 

 

Currently tentative - you should see this before the end of the calander year.

 

ref: https://next.nutanix.com/t5/Discussion-Forum/NOTE-NVMe-Drives-Not-Yet-supported/m-p/12910#U12910

 

Cheers

Richard Arsenian 

Pathfinder

One thing I can't find anywhere is if CE allows you to use a different hypervisor like vsphere or is it limited to AHV only? 

Vanguard

It is AHV only.  There have been some threads about nesting ESX inside AHV but that's it.

Wayfarer

Good Morning Gents, 

 

My installation is failing with the follow errors; 

 

FATAL: An exception was raised: Traceback (most recent call last):

     File "./phoenix", line 69 in <module>

       main()

     File "./phoenix", line 65 in main

       imagingUtil.image.node(params, unattended=unattended)

      File "./phoenix/imagingUtil.py", line 510, in image_node

        largest = '/dev/' + largest[0]

TypeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute '__getitem__'

 

I have already changed the minimum requirements and i have tried using older versions of CE. 

 

Please advise. 

 

Trailblazer

Hi,

 

what hardware you use for install Nutanix CE? and minimum requeriments?

 

Rgds.

Wayfarer

My harware - 

 

CPU - Intel Core I5-4590S 3.00GHz

8GB RAM

240GB SSD

 

Min rq - 

 

4GB RAM

2 core CPU

Trailblazer

i think the problem are the minimum requeriments, 4 gb is low for CVM, try with 8 GB. 

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