Trying to make a computer

 As mentioned in a previous post I built my own computer about a year ago.

One of the issues I have had with using it is constantly being undecided on what OS I should use for it.

While my preference would be Ubuntu all the way I have since getting my oculus quest 2 wanted to be able to make use of the graphics capabilities for VR.

Unfortunately, to do this I need to be running windows, which for all other tasks I would loth to use.


My first thought was virtualisation.


Virtualisation is the process of running a second OS on top of a first as if the second os was just a program like any other. This often comes with a lot of complications that simply running any other program doesn't.

A lot of those issues come from the fact that what the os outside of the pretty things the use sees is a lot of management of the hardware and of the drivers between the hardware and the software running on the os.

Modern operating systems do a lot of work to make sure that software can't access hardware that it shouldn't. It also makes sure that two pieces of software don't conflict with each other.

When running an os in Virtualbox the host os has to make the guest os think that it's running the show when actually it's running in a box.

That is a lot harder than it sounds, particularly because CPU manufacturers add security measures to make sure that only the os has access to things.


This gets into things like the levels of virtualisation and rings of virtualisation.

The details of all this is one of the reasons that companies specialising in cloud services are now making their own chips, they want to have an os that can host whatever os you want your virtual server to run without, or with as little,  performance hit as possible.


First attempt

Virtualbox passing through a GPU. 

My first attempt was to use VirtualBox to pass through the second GPU to the instance. This however only works on a particular version of VirtualBox. One that is no longer supported and so lot of bug fixes included in the newer version that might be needed in general were not available in that version.

At any rate, I wasn’t able to get the VirtualBox working in this way. Knowing that Linus tech tips was able to get GPUs included in virtualisation for their 2 gamers 1 CPU and further N gamers 1 CPU. For that they used unraid and so, knowing that one of the use cases for this machine was going to be a plex server I thought I’d give that a try.


Second attempt

Unraid virtual machine passing through a GPU.

One of the issues I had with this was managing the drives. I had purchased 6 6TB hard drives, originally with the intention of running a raid 50 system upon which I would have the VirtualBox hard drives. Now that I had given up with the VirtualBox idea I then had the issue of trying to migrate some of these drives over to VirtualBox trying to keep the 11TB of files I had already stored safe from being reformatted. I really should have managed to make a way to be able to identify the individual hard drives from the ones in the machine.


Now

The best thing I could get to was to simple dual boot and accept that I can’t have the machine running anything on Ubuntu while in windows.

With energy prices as they are, I’m also not as comfortable running the machine continuously on the off chance I might want to log in to use some of its larger resources.


I have made consideration to selling the components off and storing the files in a Backblaze bucket linked to an ionus VPS through rclone.

I haven't got very far with that as plex doesn’t play nicely with files over the network. I’m also hesitant to ask for help unless the guy from this forum finds my question and has a go at me about not having my files in the right format.

Although Backblaze is one of the cheapest for a plex server storage requirements it is still not a trivial amount of money.

Being able to detach myself from the comings and going of the licensing of the major streaming platforms would not go a miss through.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An exploration in number systems

Structural engineering with cardboard

The twelve fold way