Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nimble 3 years later...

A long time ago, in a not so distant IT department I used to blog a lot.  Not sure what happened, but it's been way too long since my last post.

I still get questions about our Compellent to Nimble move and since it's been over 3 years I think it needs an update.

Q. Is Nimble really as good as they claim?
A. For us, Yes!  It works awesome, just set it and forget it.  There is no tweaking volumes or RAID levels or disk sets or anything.  For us, in an all VMWare iSCSI environment it works great.

Q. What kind of compression do you see with Nimble?
A. Right now we are seeing 25% compression on the primary volumes and 2X compression on the snapshots.

Q. Does it work well with Lotus Notes?
A. Yes, in fact our #1 volume for cache usage is our Domino volumes

Q. Are you seriously still on Lotus Notes
A. Yes, for now.

Q. Have you have any hardware issues?
A. Yes, we have had 1 Disk fail, several controllers and even had to replace the chassis because an LED wasn't working.

Q. Are you scared because of all the hardware failures?
A. It's not that many failures and No.  Everything is redundant and we have not had any downtime because of the Nimble.

Q. Are snapshots as awesome as they say?
A. Yes, yes they are.  We currently have over 4,000 snapshots and use this as our primary backup method.

Q. Does replication work efficiently?
A. Yes! This is the number 1 reason we choose Nimble.  Snapshots and replication is awesome.

Q. Does Nimble support SRM?
A. Yes it does, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Q. Why don't you like SRM?
A. For us, SRM was an unreliable, time sucking POS solution.

Q. Ok, what do you use instead of SRM?
A. We switched to Zerto and are loving it.  Switching from SRM to Zerto was like switching from Compellent to Nimble.  It just works and you don't have to think about it.

Q. After 3 years are you looking to replace it?
A. No, in fact we are looking at upgrading it.

Q. How easy it is to upgrade cache?
A. Not sure, but we will be doing so soon.

Q. How easy is it to add an expansion shelf?
A. Not sure, but we will be doing so soon.

Any other questions?  Post a comment and I will try to answer them.

SageTV 9, Windows 10 and OpenDCT

SageTV is an awesome HTPC (Home Theater PC) software package. I've been running it for over 7 years now and it works great for us. It has just recently been updated slightly, mostly bug fixes and getting it up to date.  Here is how to do a clean install on a new machine.

SageTV version 9, wait what, I thought SageTV was dead? Yes and no, since being sold to Google all official developement has stopped.  However Google has decided to opensource it and the awesome people in the SageTV community have decided to update it.

My latest server build had been running flawlessly for over 4 years, I then had some hard drive corruption and even though I had backups the system was never the same afterwards.  About 6 months ago I rebuilt it on different hardware and it's been a mess ever since. I have decided to rebuild my old server with the newest software I could.  Here is brief explanation of the steps required to get you up and running with SageTV v9, Windows 10 and an open source cable card tuner called OpenDCT.

Task 1.  Install and Update OS
  1. Install OS of choice (For me it was Windows 10 Pro 64bit)
  2. Update the OS
  3. With Windows 10 it's very easy and quick.  I am loving Win10 so far.
Task 2. Install Pre-Requirements
  1. Install MS C++ 2010 Runtime (required for java 7)
  2. Install Java 7 32bit - This is super important, even if you have a 64bit OS, install the 32bit version of java 1,7.  Not 1.8 and not 64 bit.  This is a current limitation for several pieces of the SageTV puzzle. Developers are working on getting it updated.
  3. Install LAV drivers - required because Windows 10 doesn't include any Codec's
  4. Install drives for your network tuners.  Either Silicon Dust or Ceton are supported.
Task 3. Install SageTV 7.1.9
  1. Install SageTV 7.1.9
  2. If you need Cable card support you have 3 options.
    1. SageDCT - I've used this for years with no problems until recently. It's my understanding that it needs some updates and the creator just doesn't have the time to commit to it.
    2. PrimeNetEncoder - For SiliconDust HD Prime's - I tried it and had issues getting it to work
    3. OpenDCT - the latest opensource cable card tuner support solutions.  Installed with no issues and after a few tweaks is working great for me.
  3. I would suggest starting the SageTV Service first
  4. Open SageTV and configure it, add your tuners and channel line ups.
Task 4. Tweak some settings.

1. Increase java heap to 1gb - Since Sage uses Java, it needs more ram allocated to it.
  • click start
  • click run
  • type regedit and click ok
  • expand SOFTWARE
  • expand Wow6432Node
  • expand Frey Technologies
  • under SageTV in right window doubleclick on JVMMaxHeapSizeMB
  • set as follows
  • 400 hexadecimal
2. Set your machine to reboot periodically. Due to memory leak issues, I set my machine to reboot every 3 days. Create a scheduled task to use shutdown.exe /r to reboot your machine.

Task 5. Test your setup
Verify you can tune channels and record shows

Task 6. Upgrade to SageTV v9
 1. See the SageTV 9 FAQ

I have been running this setup for several weeks now with no issues.  No corrupted recordings, no slow menus or anything.  Even though the future of SageTV is unknown, this system still works awesome for my family.