Hydra MGMT by Android App

A project log for The HYDRA multiheaded virtual computer

The HYDRA is a computing platform using a small footprint Hypervisor to run 1-6 (or more) hardware assisted virtual machines of any x86 OS

ericeric 12/01/2015 at 18:231 Comment

The goal of the Hydra project is to bring the benefits of Datacenter virtualization to the desktop. Without the Datacenter, and without the personnel and associated expertise required to manage it. VMWare's Vsphere Client of course allows for almost complete configuration (Vcenter is required for some things as of 6.0 ), but it's a little too complete to expect all but a few end-users to use. A little curiosity would likely result in a tech support incident. It also requires another system, running Win7 or later, to get an empty Hydra system up and running some useful VM's. So we need an alternate management system.

I tried a few different approaches, a serial connected Arduino device (too much programming) , a Python menu system running at the console (no ability to view a VM screen), and an Android App, The Android App worked pretty good, but I was writing it in MIT App Inventor since I'm lazy and it was easy. The limitations of App Inventor and Android ver 2.0 on the crappy tablet I was using ended development here.

Early last year the Guys at Androidx86 posted an ISO tuned to use Nvidia GPU's. I found it to work on PCIe GPU's as well as the FX5200 I use as the boot GPU. So the Hydra boots VMWare ESXi and the screen switches to Android with a touchscreen(with the ability to plug in a keyboard & mouse) I also took the time to learn a more comprehensive Android development platform - Basic4Android. Which is nearly as powerful as Eclipse, but very easy and fast to learn.

As a result I believe I have hit upon the best method of management.

The otherwise useless console is "stolen" from ESXi, which means no extra hardware.

Android is free, ESXi is free, and can be distributed with the free license (I checked)

B4A allowed me to cover all the management bases, edit VM's, assign PCIe devices, connect to other hosts, and build a new VM from scratch from an inserted CD. This is all from the touchscreen console, or with the app installed on a phone or tablet. Over IP, or serial.

A new Hydra would presumably come with Free ESXi, and an Android VM running the app. The end user inserts an OS cd, and builds a VM with whichever GPU is selected.

Discovering VM's (Flash animation with Hydra playing catch with the Droid)

Found the VM's, their OS by icon & power state by label color. A new Hydra would prompt for host IP, and it can be changed later. The IP button performs operations on the host, such as power etc. DCUI launches the ESXi console we stole, so it's not gone.

Single click to power on a VM (or power off according to vmware tools state) and it launches the boot screen of the VM. Long click allows power on to bios, launch screen independently, and other power operations.

Build a new VM - this is the current screen. I'm working on some more such as cores & sockets. Here I'm building Win8, 2GB, 20G HDD, and assigning an HD6450 and USB 1a1.


Andy Parker wrote 12/01/2015 at 19:52 point

Very nice work Eric!  I'm sure there are a lot of people who would love to get the benefits of virtualizing their computers with the power of ESXi underneath everything and a straightforward, easy to operate console to manage from.  Great job!

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