Sophos UTM (formerly Astaro) as router/gateway

I had a spare notebook, so I decided to look for a nice distribution to run a new router (I was really annoyed about hardware / software limitations).
Before decide which one, I added more complexity to my project.
I virtualized the notebook (the CPU supports AMD-V) and I installed latest CentOS and I enabled KVM.
I started a fight trying to get pfSense working properly, but without any traffic on the virtual ethernet(s), it kept using more than 15% CPU.
Other users reported the poor performance with KVM environments.
I started to look for something that was Linux based, like Untangle, IPFire, Vyatta (that I’m using in my ESXi everyday), but no one was satisfying my needs.
Especially many of them doesn’t support IPV6 and in the case of Vyatta doesn’t provide a proper GUI.
During a search with Google, I found that I wasn’t the only one looking for the proper distro: The Hunt For the Ultimate Free Open Source Firewall Distro
After looking and trying few of them, I decided to test the Sophos UTM solution, free for home use (Sopho UTM Free)
I  knew Astaro but I never used it before.
I’m currently impressed for the quality and the responsiveness of the product.
The free version includes some licenses for your computer, a complete virus filtering of the HTTP(S) traffic, as well as content filtering, QoS, Static Routes, IPSEC, remote access and so far and so on.
Last but not least, it works beautifully fully virtualized in a KVM machine.
I’m using all the virtio drivers and it’s very stable.
If you’re looking for something similar, you definitely should  try this one.

Vmware ESXi 5.5 and MSI Z77A-G41 Update

About one month ago I upgraded from 5.1 to 5.5 and I also updated the bios from 2.5 to 2.11 (latest).

I made a custom 5.5 ISO including the 8168 and 8169 drivers (they’re now deprecated and not included). Thanks for who posted here and for the guy that provided the VIB links: Adding Realtek R8168 Driver to ESXi 5.5.0 ISO | Erik Bussink Re: ESXi 5.5 installer does not detect network adaptor.

The surprise is that network card is recognized and works perfectly with the new BIOS.

In addition, the PCI passthru is working for any other device that didn’t work for me, like a Broadcom gigabit network card and a generic USB3 Renasas PCIe card.

Everything looks in order.. apart that from now, we must use a vCenter to manager hardware version 10.

Upgrade to Vmware ESXi 5.5 failing due to Mac!

I’m still a little concerned on what happened.
I’m booting my Vmware from an old USB key and I have done some maintenance to the USB key with my Mac two or three times.
According to this blog, Spotlight along with the file management of trash files generated an issue during the upgrade.

Errno 39

Errno 39





This is what I got. Errno 39, Directory not empty.
I have run rm -rf .fseventsd/ ._.Trashes .Trashes/ .Spotlight-V100/ on both /bootbank and /altbootbank on my ESXi.
After removing any hidden files/directories, I was able to upgrade successfully.
I hope my post could help someone else!!

MacBook Pro and LUbuntu on RAM = A machine fast as light

Today let’s speak a little about Linux and MacBook pro.
I finally got one and it came with 16Gb of RAM and a beautiful 512 SSD drive.
I always tought that Mac OS X is really angry of memory and, at the same time, not fast as latest Windows 8 (these are rumors that I read around the web, I’m using Windows 8, Mac OS X and Linux, so I don’t want make this article on the wrong side).
As I’m dealing with Linux in my current work, I decided to give this machine a try with LUbuntu. I wanted something really light and fast. Not heavy like Gnome or KDE.
Also Xubuntu was a candidate for me, but I decided to go with the really lightest one.
Using VMware Fusion, I installed the operating system to an USB key, then boot up with the same.
Of course, performance of the key was not satisfying me.
After a little research, I found what I was looking for (and I’m using now).
Making Ubuntu Fast using RAM (thank you terminator14!) , transforms any Ubuntu installed on an hard drive to a live one, producing a squhasfs filesystem.
So, I personalized Ubuntu, adding the program I most commonly use, some tweaks and prepared my home.
The result is: an operating system that comes up in about 1 minute, loads from the USB key and you can de-attache it after.
I reserved some disk space, vfat formatted, to share information between the two operating systems.
After the boot, I have still 8 GB to use and 8 GB allocated has filesystem.
No one can say how fast it’s, you should just try!

Thanks for reading, I will attach a screenshot soon.

Running latest OS X with Vmware ESXi 5.1

I will say, yes it’s possible.

However, you have to “cheat” your system a little, if you’re not using Apple hardware.
Here is possible to find the cure for ESXi: link
For the vmware image, I suggest to apply first the cure to your system, reboot your server, transfer the image using Vmware vCenter converter (please remember to change the disk provisioning from Thick to Thin, if you would like to save space as the image it’s up to 160 GB) and, at the end, switch the Guest OS to Other and Apple Mac OS X 10.8 64 bit.
Important: please remember that you can power on this machine only if you connect directly to your ESXi with the vSphere Client.
If you try the same, connecting to your vCenter, it will fail as unsupported.
Look here for the reference about the VM image that I’m using: link



My Vmware ESXi white box

I will start with this topic, I’m working on it since I joined my actual work.
My box is running this hardware:

Case Thermaltake Mozart

PSU Corsair CMPSU-450VX

Motherboard MSI Z77A-G41 Intel Z77 Chipset

CPU cooler Noctua CPU Cooler NH-U9F

CPU Intel Core i5-3570 (not k series)

RAM Geil Evo Corsa PC3-13600 32 GB (Quad-kit)

Graphic card XFX AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR3 1 GB

2x Hard Drives: 1TB (main storage) and 500GB (DB and Backup) WD Caviar Green

Network card Gigabit Realtek 8111E (same as well known 8169) integrated

Network card PCIe Broadcom BCM5761 (external)

Storage adapter PCIe ASMEDIA ASM1061

USB3 PCIe card with NEC chipset D720201

The actual configuration is based on Vmware 5.1 U1, build 1065491.

With this configuration, I implemented 26 virtual machines plus 1 template (Windows 2k8)
I’m currently testing two VDI solutions: Vmware View (version 5.2) and XenDesktop (version 5.6 + latest fixes)
In addition, I have a cluster with two Vmware 5.1 and relative openfiler nas (NFS), two Windows 2012 machine, cluster setup with relative iscsi storage (again a Windows 2012), a cluster of two Linux Centos 6.4 (without any storage at the moment).
Also, I’m running XenServer for testing purpose.
I using a virtual router, Vyatta, to separate my internal VM network from my external network (LAN).
Everything is over IPV4 as well over IPV6 with dedicated addesses per machine (I’m a tester and tunnel user of
The machine is fully compliant with Intel VT-d and Intel EPT, in fact I have also an instance of Hyper-V plus a dedicated HTPC using the graphic card in pass through mode (VMDirectPath).
You must disable audio card and CPU integrated video card to allow it work properly.
Also, this specific motherboard, it’s using bios version 2.5 instead of the latest one.
In fact, unfortunately, it’s based on a UEFI bios and any newer bios makes it unusable with ESXi.
For reference, you could check the links below:

Pass through mode (VMDirectPath):

MSI G41/G45 and Realtk 8111e issues:

At the end, this solution was a very economical one and, thanks to the case, the PSU and the perfect CPU cooler made by Noctua, it’s also very silent.


My Vmware ESXi running

My Vmware ESXi running