Posted in Computers, Networking, Windows Server

My Comments on an HP MicroServer N40L

I’ve been playing with an HP MicroServer N40L for a few weeks now. Initially, I installed Ubuntu 11.10 and tried it out for a few days, but wiped it and installed Windows Server 2008 R2. I plan to use this machine as a file and media server, so I’m exploring a few options out there to give me the most flexibility and allow me to do what I want.

While reading a few blogs and forum posts, I’ve noticed most people – or at least a lot of them – are using WHS 2011 on their MicroServer. I don’t have a license for WHS 2011, but do have licenses for Server 2008 R2, so that’s what I’m using so far. In addition to using it as a file server, I would like to do some minor virtualization, mainly to separate the main OS from the media apps.

After upgrading the RAM from its initial 2GB to 4GB, I tested ESXi 5, which ran okay (a little slow using local storage), but not being able to use local disks as pass-through disks for the virtual machines was a big turn off, so I discarded that idea.

I’ve been running Hyper-V Server – initially on a full Windows installation, but then decided to try it on Core, and so far it’s been great. One of the best things about Hyper-V that fits my needs is the ability to use a local disk as pass-through. This way, I can install the OS on a VHD and use pass-through disks for storage. Been testing this for a few days, and I don’t see much (if any) of a performance hit when copying files from the network. When copying large files from a networked PC to the virtual machine’s pass-through disk, file speeds range from 20-110MB/s+, really depends on the kind of file I’m copying. Large files such as ISOs or MKVs are the fastest to copy, mostly at 90MB/s+.

Not all is nice and pretty with Hyper-V on Server Core, as it initially requires a bit more work to get properly configured and running, but once it’s up, it’s a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. I may post my installation and configuration notes for Hyper-V on Server Core 2008 R2 from beginning to end in the near future.

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8 thoughts on “My Comments on an HP MicroServer N40L

  1. Hi, thank you for sharing this. And yes…I would be very interested in installation and configuration of Hyper-V on R2 as I’ve not very familiar with virtualization. So keep on working on this great topic.

    greets
    Sebastian

    1. Sebastian,

      If you’re not very familiar with virtualization and want to try it out, you have a few options.

      If you want to do it with Hyper-V and you’ve got the microserver, just install the Hyper-V role from Server 2008 or 2008 R2; you can also download just the Hyper-V server from Microsoft from here.

      The easiest way to learn how to use it and get the hang of it is to install it on a regular install, not on a server core install. The best way to run it long term though, is on server core. Search on the Microsoft site for help; there is a lot of information on using Hyper-V. Google can also help you with it if you’re stuck somewhere.

      You can also download VirtualBox and install it on your PC (if it supports virtualization) so you can learn a little about it. Good luck!

  2. Your comments helped me.
    I was looking for someone who tested the Microserver with Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.
    The AMD’s AMD-V Microserver supports DEP and instructions?
    I did not know why or the HP website has this information.
    grateful

    1. Marcos,

      According to Windows Server 2008 R2, the processor supports hardware-based DEP and AMD-V. I’ve been running Hyper-V on it for a while, and it works great!

    1. Hi there,
      I have actually flashed the BIOS with the third-party firmware, and I’m now using the internal and external sata ports in SATA mode, as you describe above. The BIOS version that I have is “thebay” – not sure if that’s the creator or a group, but it’s worked great so far, very stable.

      I agree, this is a very cool micro server 🙂
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hi,
    Very intersteing your blog.

    From your experiences, is there much difference hot between a full installation 2008 R2 server + hyper V virtual machines VS core installation virtual machine ? Cheers

    1. The load on the server is lighter when running Server Core, but you should be somewhat proficient with PowerShell and the command line so that you can accomplish many of the tasks.
      While you can configure some settings from the command line by using sconfig, a lot of the other configurations and settings will require Powershell knowledge. You can do some things remotely via MMC from another computer, but you’re somewhat limited.
      My suggestion would be to try out Server Core on a virtual machine if you can – play with it a bit, so you can get a taste of what to expect.

      I am currently running Server 2012 Datacenter Release Candidate with GUI, just because I also back up the server to CrashPlan – and I’m running Serviio to serve flacs to my Yamaha receiver. I’m not using Hyper-V on it at the moment, but I may do so in the future – still deciding on that.

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