The Forge2 is the primary hardware platform on which the AniNIX runs.
The Forge2 the second Forge build, the original having been two towers instead of one.
It is so named because the exterior is solid black with soft red LED's internally -- this creates an appearance similar to a furnace.
The Forge builds are also so named because projects are created, developed, and tested in these frames.
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Hyper-V integrates VM's with Windows, allowing VM's to be started at Windows boot, providing direct disk access, and managing assignment of cores, memory, and disk.
ShadowArch guests with a GUI should include xf86-video-fbdev and set GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet video=hyperv_fb:1920x1080" to get maximum screen resolution.
Hyper-V comes with a few limitations. PCI and USB devices can't be passed through without 3rd-party software, but this was considered acceptable.
Hyper-V guests require significant configuration to prevent performance problems. Dynamic memory should be disabled to prevent a guest from overrunning the host. Data Exchange, Backup, and Guest Services should all be disabled from integration services. Disable checkpoints. Automatic start action should either be on startup or disabled, and automatic stop action should always be poweroff.
Hyper-V itself also requires configuration of the Windows host. The default High Performance power profile turns off monitors when not in use but does not put the entire frame to sleep -- this is the desired behavior.
Presently, this still caused drops in virtual disks, crashing several VM's, so we are suspending antivirus on the hypervisor, along with most general-purpose browsing. Read the following for other user experiences.
The Windows Update service, if it deems the system too out of date or in need of critical fixes, may forcibly restart the system. We recommend keeping the Windows Update service disabled on hypervisors until patching is desired. This can be done in services.msc.
We recommend addtionally setting the "gpedit.msc > Computer Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Windows Components \ Windows Update \ Configure Automatic Updates" option if you have a Pro or Enterprise license.
Sleep mode, even immediately interrupted, has been observed to break network connectivity and VM uptime. When running as a Hypervisor, it is advisable to disable sleep and hibernate modes. Change these from Group Policy under Administrative Templates>System>Power Management>Sleep Settings. Enable "Turn Off Hybrid Sleep" and disable "Allow Standby States (S1-S3) when sleeping".
Oracle VirtualBox is a free hypervisor that can run on almost any OS. This makes deployment and device driver management entirely on the stock OS, which was Windows in our case thus alleviating driver problems. Management is also easy, particularly with an admin account, so it's easy to assign cores, memory, and such to a VM. VirtualBox can assign raw disk access with VBoxManage. Use Windows Disk Manager (diskmgmt.msc) to identify the disk. In the case below, 7 is the disk number.
"C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename "C:\Users\Admin\VirtualBox VMs\raw7.vmdk" -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive7
VirtualBox was dropped due to buggy integration with the running OS and the inability to start VM's at OS Boot.
The Forge2 frame has a 60GB SSD installed for KVM-enabled QEMU virtualization inside a minimal ArchLinux host. This implementation allows passing any host resources to the guest, including USB and PCI devices which is an advantage over other Hypervisors.
While Intel VT-d provided by the motherboard ostensibly supports this passthrough, it had hardware caps on the x79 that the AniNIX could not afford (4 hard drives, 1 CD drive) without disabling KVM, and the network bridging created problems for VPN clients.
You could in theory put the hardware for an AniNIX network clone in the Cloud. There are steps to set up ArchLinux in [http://codito.in/archlinux-on-azure/ Microsoft Azure] and [https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=186707 Google Cloud]. This may be advantageous for sites that have uptime concerns, low local resources, or physical security concerns.
From a cost perspective, power and network for a Forge2 and Shadowfeed costs roughly $100 per month with a $6000 buy-in. Equivalent cloud solutions would need to supply at least one full backup image with highly available power and network, along with Forge2#Capacity and Components.
You should look at Aether notes on cloud computing if you consider this as an option.