My brother got me some very tasty presents for Christmas (and my up-coming Birthday), namely the GIGABYTE BRIX J1900 and a Samsung EVO 750 250G. Santa also brought me 8G of Crucial memory. Putting them all together is a nice new machine to install NetBSD Xen! The key part is this is a low end CPU, but critically supports Intel VT-x virtualization technology.

There were some challenges. Firstly, I couldn't find a way to get into the BIOS. Neither F12, F2 or Del hammering during the boot process worked. While there is a mouse cursor to move and click, it booted too fast to actually use it. Actually, pressing the BSS on screen button did briefly display a keyboard to enter the SSID, but it then booted instead. This meant I couldn't enable PXE boot, so a USB install is needed. This lead onto the next problem ..... NetBSD-7 is too old, you need a recent -current for the USB ports to work. No matter, making a NetBSD USB install was quite trivial, the only challenge being to find a pre-built image. Luckily I found http://daily-builds.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD-daily/HEAD/ and browsed to the dates images folder to get the install img for amd64.

From this point, installation was trivial. But here are some notes:

  • Allocating 5G to / is enough to install a -current base and compiler, pkgsrc checkout and build xentools.
  • No idea if I need it, but I allocated 1G swap.
  • I setup XEN backing using LVM, so the rest of the disk is allocated to that.
  • I needed to reboot twice to get LVM/Xen to start recognising the assigned LV.
  • The NetBSD Xen How To needs some love in places.

The speed of this box compared to my current Shuttle XS35 is impressive. While I have less disk space (quite a lot less), it should still be enough to replace it entirely and power my email, web and other stuff. As it's Xen, I am hoping that I can use this box to do my open source work on other OS's easily and support more OS's than my exiting laptop allowed (max 4 partitions) which means a faster turnaround time for support.

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