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  1. #1
    Newbie
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    Jun 2010
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    6

    Default Untangle 7.4.1 on ESXi

    Hi all, my second post here with some feedback.

    I really liked Untangle when I read about it, so I wanted to set it up as the main gateway for the company, replacing WinProxy. I originally got Wintangle and installed on the same WinProxy box. It was a mess to deal with, slow and cumbersome. It also did not pick up the NIC's I was using so I was basically fed up and uninstalled it.

    This did not phase me however, because I then decided to make a full blown rig with only Untangle on it, no WinTangle. I then realized I knew nothing about Linux or Debian and did not feel like spending a week to learn it before taking my first step. I also felt dedicating an entire PC to this would be overkill.

    I then came across ESXi, the free Hypervisor from VMWare. Dell was having a special deal with a T110 server (Xeon Quad Core, Dual NICs standard, $350 bucks). I jumped on it, and began experimenting. I got ESXi running fairly quickly and then only a few moments later I found myself downloading the Untangle AMD_64 ISO for a quick installation.

    I spent about 2 days learning and configuring everything and it ran perfectly. All NICs ran through the Hypervisor so Untangle only saw the generic NICs and didn't reject anything. This was perfect. I also have not installed VMTools yet, since I've read the regular E1000 NICs are just fine and any performance benefit of the VMX NICs are not worth the hassle.

    I boosted the ram to 4GB since I wanted to add another VM on that, and quickly found out this was a bad idea. ESXi takes up a good chunk of ram for itself, so you only really have 2-2.5GB left over for the VM's. Once I turn on the other VM, my UT ran slow, often times knocking out the internet. I reserved at 1.5GB for the UT, which really stabilized it but then my other VM ran horribly.

    Tip: The main factor in virtualizing UT is RAM, not CPU.

    Get as much RAM as possible. I have 12GB now, and running only 2 VM's, with a 3rd coming up. Both are running smooth as ice with zero hiccups. UT is a powerhouse, and I have SharePoint on the other end running with no delays.

    My experience has been that with all apps turned on, that UT will eventually take up 1.5GB of ram without going up or down. This is for about 12-15GB a week in web traffic from about 10-30 users.

    I hope that helps, and shoot me any questions you have.

    My next phase will be to put ESXi, UT and my other VM OS's on a 128GB SSD. That should really get things moving.

  2. #2
    Untangler
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    68

    Default

    Ram is partially correct, but also Hard Drive Spindles.

    If it was a Windows based Operating System, then I see why it was slowed to down, Windows is very disk intensive. I have used VMware Server and ESXi and also xen server.

    I don't quite know what was happening to your ram when you ran ESXi because out of the 3 that one was the least resource intensive, but it was way too picky about emulation of USB and other devices. You had to have too specific of hardware requirements to take full advantages with ESXi.

    The setup I wound up using is the xen server 5.6.
    Under normal setup for the Xen server if you chose to use all drives attached upon install, it would just lump it together in one storage repository, to me this seems like a type of striping. To be able to specify specific spindles each of my Virtual machines went on, I only choose to install the base one one drive and used some documentation available to use other internal storage as other storage repositories(what xen calls hard drives or network shares).

    I would rather be on ESXi, but have grown to like the xen; my reason I would rather the esxi, is that it is slightly popular in the pre-built appliances field (but xen has a conversion tool for this so that doesn't really matter) and it is less resource intensive. The choice to go and stay with xen was the need for USB emulation (like I said earlier, esxi has emulation, but you have to meet some deadly, vendor specific, system requirements)

    Getting back to the point of my post, if you installed 2 linux based VM's on the same spindle then things are not too bad. But I have found out the hard way that you don't want to share a Windows Operating System on the same spindle (I am speaking of 2000 + OS's) they are too resource intensive and really (by design I would think) need their own spindle. I have 3 internal hard drives 3 320 GB drives, I have Windows 2000 server one one drive, untangle and ubuntu on another (no noticeable network degradation) and I use the 3rd with test machines. I only have 4 GB of ram but everything works great.

    for those wondering the point of this post, "Install windows OS's on separate spindles in VM environment for better performance."

    hope this helped someone or even made someone want to try xen.
    Last edited by ms308680; 10-06-2010 at 11:45 PM.

  3. #3
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    Untangle only really uses hard disk when it's generating reports... the rest of the time it's rather idle on the drive front.

    The RAM question is very real. The linux kernel does all its packet work in real mode, it can't be paged. So if you want to push packets... you need the ram to push them all. The VMTools make a HUGE difference. If you don't want to hack the Untangle isntall to install them yourself, I suggest you get WebFool's prebuilt appliance. It will perform much better.

    Beyond that, virtualize Untangle at your own risk. I'm the only reseller I'm aware of that fully supports it, and the process is more art than science. I treat Untangle as a VoIP server, it likes it when you treat it that way. Remember, if a series of packets is delayed the entire network can feel it. So if you make Untangle take a back seat to something else on the host... everyone slows down.

    At the end of the day it's almost universally better to have Untangle on bare metal. That said, get creative with VMotion and you can have a true HA Untangle via ESXi. It's a really powerful combination, if you're willing to put in the time to understand it properly.

    Finally, the Debian kernel does file paging. So any extra ram actually goes to caching the file system. This is all well and good until you virtualize the system. You will actually get better performance out of lower ram values, assuming the software only needs that lower amount of ram. The more caching you do across multiple VMs, the more things are competing for those hard disk cycles. Not to mention the RAM burned for no reason.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

  4. #4
    Untangle Ninja
    WebFooL's Avatar
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    Sweden (Eskilstuna)
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    The Untangle VM edition with tools can be downloaded from sf.net

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/untangle/

  5. #5
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Thanks for all that feedback guys, really amazing how much knowledge you all have.

    I agree, it's probably not the smartest thing to have Untangle on ESXi, but so far, it's been running great and I really like how I can simple copy the entire VM package and put it on another system if I need to without any hiccups.

    I don't think the VMTools install is that crazy of a thing to do, so I will probably go ahead and try that this weekend.

    The reason UT was slowing down initially is due to not enough RAM and not having reserves for UT. I let ESXi try to manage both VM's, and it tried it's best but slowed down both when only one was really important. Right now, I don't see a need for any more RAM since there is 0 memory ballooning and 0 ESXi paging, which means the VM's have enough memory for what they need.

  6. #6
    Master Untangler
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    939

    Default

    If you are running any real-time applications (like VOIP, Citrix, Terminal Server, etc) through Untangle, don't virutalize Utangle. Otherwise, it can work fine.

  7. #7
    Untangle Ninja hescominsoon's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
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    I have UT virtualized under esxi and it works fine. I have a resource pool setup for the vm and it's children and then i ahve minimum reservations for each vm. I have a bit extra that is shared among the vm's so if they experience a load spike there's a bit extra they can grab..so far it's been running perfectly..without the vmware tools.

  8. #8
    Untangle Ninja hescominsoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sky-knight View Post
    Untangle only really uses hard disk when it's generating reports... the rest of the time it's rather idle on the drive front.

    The RAM question is very real. The linux kernel does all its packet work in real mode, it can't be paged. So if you want to push packets... you need the ram to push them all. The VMTools make a HUGE difference. If you don't want to hack the Untangle isntall to install them yourself, I suggest you get WebFool's prebuilt appliance. It will perform much better.

    Beyond that, virtualize Untangle at your own risk. I'm the only reseller I'm aware of that fully supports it, and the process is more art than science. I treat Untangle as a VoIP server, it likes it when you treat it that way. Remember, if a series of packets is delayed the entire network can feel it. So if you make Untangle take a back seat to something else on the host... everyone slows down.

    At the end of the day it's almost universally better to have Untangle on bare metal. That said, get creative with VMotion and you can have a true HA Untangle via ESXi. It's a really powerful combination, if you're willing to put in the time to understand it properly.

    Finally, the Debian kernel does file paging. So any extra ram actually goes to caching the file system. This is all well and good until you virtualize the system. You will actually get better performance out of lower ram values, assuming the software only needs that lower amount of ram. The more caching you do across multiple VMs, the more things are competing for those hard disk cycles. Not to mention the RAM burned for no reason.
    Debian=Linux...

  9. #9
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    Yeah... it was late and I was trying to tie things into Untangle more completely.

    The point is, RAM = candy to a hungry Untangle kid. And ESXi is like the chubby kid down the street that followed the kid home.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

  10. #10
    Untangle Ninja hescominsoon's Avatar
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    are you saying you have issues with esxi? I'm getting native or near native performance with everything i throw at it.

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