I got my HP ML350 G5 just about 26 months ago, and as I was sitting here today, thinking about it and what a difference it has made, I thought it was time to provide a real world look at it's strengths and weaknesses after living with it for over two years. We all see reviews of new hardware, and they're interesting, but it's not often we get a chance to hear how a machine is to live with, day in and day out over an extended period. After all, it's easy to love it during the honeymoon, when it's new and fresh. But how is it after the bloom has worn off? Certainly in some cases, not nearly as exciting and lovely as when you first got it.
And, since I seem to be stuck in a marriage metaphor today, the ML350 and I are now very much like an old married couple. Maybe it's not quite as exciting, and certainly the ML350 is no longer young as it was, but we do seem to fit well together.
Just to save you looking back at specs, this ML350 was just about the top of the line when I got it. Obviously, that's no longer true, but it's still pretty impressive:
2 - Xeon 5130 dual core processors
8 - 2 GB FBDIMM RAM modules
8 - 72 GB, 15,000 RPM, 2.5" SFF SAS drives
1 - HP Smart Array P400 RAID controller w/ 512 Mb
2 - Power supplies
To this all HP portion, I've added:
1 - Adaptec 48300 SAS controller
2 - 36 GB, 10k, 3.5" SAS drives (RAID-1 system disk)
2 - 400 GB, 7.2k, SATA-II drives (RAID-0)
(in case you're wondering, the RAID-0 is for storing ISOs and other downloads. Everything on it is completely replaceable, but it lets me use the SAS array strictly for storing VMs on.)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we’ll look at what I like and dislike about the ML-350 next.
Windows 7 will support a new version of Virtual PC known as VPC7. The big feature that VPC7 adds is application publishing using RAIL technology. This enables the application to directly integrate into the Win7 desktop and Start menu, running as if the application were local, instead of running on a VM. Cool stuff, and essentially the same technology as used by TS RemoteApps.
Win7’s Virtual XP Mode includes a pre-licensed and activated Windows XP SP3 virtual machine that uses the RAIL technology to automatically publish applications that are installed in the XP VM as RAIL applications in Windows 7. Great, and this works just fine for most applications you’ll want to install, and is an excellent solution to legacy applications that aren’t Vista/Windows7 compatible. However, Microsoft seems to think that the native applications that are part of the VM’s operating system aren’t anything we might want to have available in Windows 7. Wrong answer! I actually use and like Windows Mail and do NOT like Windows Live Mail. But Windows Mail has been removed from Win7, so now I’m running it in a Windows Vista VM and auto-publishing to Win7. The catch? For an application to be published, it needs to be added to the Programs folder of the All Users profile, so I had to open up the Vista VM and copy over the shortcut from my personal profile to the All Users profile and that fixed that.
Other applications, such as various Windows games and even Windows PowerShell, are even tougher to get published. Even after you move the application’s shortcut to the All Users profile, it still doesn’t appear in Win7. Why not? Because there’s a Registry key that specifically excludes some applications. Sigh. Sometimes I wonder why MS makes it hard, but here’s the easy fix – remove the application from the Registry key that controls this:
“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Virtual Machine\VPCVAppExcludeList”
All the usual caveats about editing the registry apply, so “You’ve been warned!”. :-)
For a detailed and very well documented post on how to publish PowerShell v1 from Virtual XP Mode, complete with screen shots, see Shay Levy’s post.