Wow: NVMe and PCIe Gen 4

Recently it’d come to my attention that my old PC rig wasn’t cutting it.

Considering it was 10 years old, it was doing really well. I mean, I went from HDD to 500 GB SSD to 1 TB SSD, up’d the RAM, and replaced the GPU at least once. But still, it was a 4-core system (8 threads) and it had performed admirably.

The Intel NIC was needed because the built-in ASUS Realtek NIC was a piece of crap, only able to push about 90 MB/s. The Intel NIC was able to push 120 MB/s (close to the theoretical max for 1 Gigabit which is 125 MB/s).

The thing that broke the camel’s back, however, was video. Specifically 4K video. I’ve been doing video edits and so forth in 1080p, but moving to 4K and the power of Premerier Pro (as opposed to iMovie) was just killing my system. 1080p was a challenge, and 4K made it keel over.

I tend to get obsessive about new tech purchases. My first flat screen TV purchase in 2006 was the result of about a month of in-depth research. I pour over specs and reviews for everything from parachutes (btw, did you know I’m a skydiver?) to RAM.

Eventually, here’s the system I settled on:

AMD came out of nowhere and launched Ryzen 3, which put ADM from a budget-has-been to a major contender in the desktop world. Plus, they were the first to come out with PCIe Gen 4.0, which allowed for each lane of PCIe to give you 2 GB/s of bandwidth. m.2 drives can connect to 4 lanes, giving a possible throughput of 8 …

For ESXi: Realtek NICs Are Awful And Don’t Use Them

OK, this isn’t a really a controversial opinion. This is more as a guide for those who run into these problems when trying to setup their first whitebox/homelab systems for ESXi.

So it goes something like this: You’ve got an old desktop, gaming rig, or workstation. You decide you’ll retire it to your home data center (or basement, or laundry room) as a hypervisor. ESXi by itself (no vSphere controller) is free, and here’s how to download and get the license key.

For most desktop/workstation type of hardware, you can install ESXi from the general ESXi installer except for one aspect: Many of these types of systems use Realtek, Marvell, or other desktop/consumer grade NICs, and there’s not an ESXi driver for these. And for good reasons: They suck.

So you have the choice: Try to use a special custom ISO installer with the Realtek?Marvell/etc. driver loaded, or buy a different NIC. In most of IT, there’s usually more than one right answer, and a heaping dose of “it depends”. However, for this particular question (Realtek or buy another NIC) there’s only right right answer: Buy another NIC.

Realtek NICs suck. They don’t perform well, they’re a pain to work with for ESXi, so just buy a NIC. The other desktop NICs don’t fare much better. If it’s not recognized by ESXi, it’s a pretty good bet it’s shit.

You can get a one or two port Intel Pro 1000 NIC on eBay for $20-30 USD. These NICs work great. I’ve even replaced the Realtek NIC on my Windows 10 Pro workstation and went from 700 Mbps to fully saturating a gigabit NIC for file transfers. (Make sure they’re Intel Server NICs, the Pro NICs, and not the desktop NICs.)

For $20-30 additional, you can install ESXi on just about any desktop or workstation hardware with the standard ESXi installer. I’m sure there are edge cases, but for me desktop/workstation plus Intel Pro NIC has worked fine.

from The Data Center Overlords https://datacenteroverlords.com/2019/05/24/for-esxi-realtek-nics-are-awful-and-dont-use-them/…

Certification Exam Questions That I Despise

In my 11 year career as an instructor, I’ve had to pass a lot of certification exams. In many cases not on the first try. Sometimes for fair reasons, and sometimes, it feels, for unfair reasons. Recently I had to take the venerable CCNA exam again. For various reasons I’d allowed it to expire, and hadn’t taken many exams for a while. But recently I needed to re-certify with it which reminded me of the whole process.

Having taken so many exams (50+ in the past 11 years) I’ve developed some opinions on the style and content of exams.

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In particular, I’ve identified some types of questions I utterly loath for their lack of aptitude measurement, uselessness, and overall jackassery. Plus, a couple of styles that I like.

This criticisms is for all certification exams, from various vendors, and not limited to even IT.

To Certify, Or Not To Certify

The question of the usefulness of certification is not new.

One one hand, you have a need to weed out the know-its from the know-it-nots, a way to effectively measure a person’s aptitude in a given subject. A certification exam, in its purest form, is meant to probe the knowledge of the applicant.

On the other hand, you have an army of test-dumping dullards, passing exams and unable to explain even basic concepts. That results in a cat-and-mouse game between the exam creators and the dump sites.

And mixed in, you have a barrage of badly formed questions that are more appropriate to your local pub’s trivia night than it is a professional aptitude measurement.

So in this article I’m going to discuss the type of questions I despise. Not just because they’re hard, but because I can’t see how they accurately or fairly judge a person’s aptitude.

Note: I made all of these questions up. As far as I know, they do not appear on any certification exam from any vendor. This is not a test-dump. 

Pedantic Trivia

The story goes that Albert Einstein was once asked how many feet are in a mile. His response was this: “I don’t know, why should I fill my brain with facts