Boost Your Nested Home Lab (Part 3/3)

In our pursuit to boost the performance of our nested home lab, first we were introduced to AlacrityPC, then we figured out which services we need to tame. Now it’s time to configure Alacrity and take to the skies!

Prepare for Takeoff

Now, run AlacrityPC. You should find shortcuts on your desktop and in your Start Menu. You’ll be presented with a small program window with a couple of older default profiles. First, before we continue, head to Tools > Options, and uncheck Check for Updates on Start. There aren’t any updates any longer, so this will just get in your way.

We’ll be creating a new profile for our home lab use, so click on File > New, give the profile a name like VMware Workstation , and click Save. The new profile pops up and it’s time to configure.

1 – Information

Information

Information

The first tab contains profile information. The profile name is already populated based on the name you gave a second ago. You can type in a description if you like, or choose a custom profile icon. In order to distinguish our profile, I’ve added a brief description and selected the VMware Workstation executable, vmware.exe , to have its icon used for the profile.

2 – Services

Services

Services

Now we can use our list of services derived from the Black Viper site to set those services that we want stopped while we’re running our nested home lab. Go through the list of services in Alacrity and for each service that matches one of our table rows, change its action from Nothing to Stop Then Restart. This will take a minute. I’ll wait.

3 – Programs

Programs

Programs

If you have any applications running that you don’t need while using your home lab, here’s where you can adjust their running state. I don’t have any recommendations for you, but you may want to look at apps like Dropbox or Skype. If you don’t need them while Workstation’s running, then change their action from Nothing to Stop Then Restart. In the screenshot I’ve shown an example where I’m stopping the FileHippo.AppManager which is an application update checker.

4 – Optimization

Optimization

Optimization

Here’s where we can take advantage of a few special features of Alacrity. I’d recommend checking Defragment memory and setting it to repeat 0 times. This will start paging RAM to disk to free up the physical memory. It’s worth running once, but you’re not going to see a drastic difference running it multiple times.

Shutdown/restart Windows Shell/Desktop can also help free up resources by shutting down Windows Explorer. That does mean, however, that you won’t have access to the Start Menu, Taskbar or even desktop icons. The only program, or programs, you’ll be able to use are the ones you’ve left actively running, or that are started by Alacrity. In our example, that’s typically just going to be VMware Workstation. On the plus side, if you find yourself easily distracted this is a great way to focus. Just saying.

Remove Desktop Wallpaper, because, well I guess you save a few kilobytes of RAM that way. You don’t usually admire your wallpaper while you’re using your home lab, do you?

Most importantly on this tab, you have to specify what happens After monitored programs have been closed. I recommend Continue processing profile as that option will restart the services and programs you’ve had Alacrity stop and return your system to its original state.

5 – AutoStart

AutoStart

AutoStart

Finally we get to specify the programs we want Alacrity to start. Hit the big green plus to Add a program. On the dialog that pops up browse to the VMware Workstation executable, typically found at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation\vmware.exe. We have to select a Type, which means the type of behaviour we want Alacrity to treat this program with. You’ll almost always want your program to be Monitored.

The rest of the items here are really only useful if Alacrity is starting multiple programs for you and you want to control delays, processor affinities, priorities, etc. We’ll just keep it simple.

Hit Save and Save again to save your new Alacrity profile. You probably noticed that there was a sixth Log File tab. There isn’t anything to configure there, it just collects log information when you execute your profile.

V1, Rotate!

Drag your profile icon from the Alacrity application to your desktop. A shortcut then gets created that you can now click to execute your profile. Go ahead, click it!

After a wait of a few seconds up to a minute and a bit, Alacrity will dutifully stop services and programs, stop the shell, remove the wallpaper and start up Workstation. We did it! We squeezed as much precious performance out of our underlying OS as we could. Don’t forget to tune your VMware Workstation’s Reserved Memory to take advantage of those extra precious drops of performance.

You Can be My Wingman Anytime

There you have it. One way to eek out a bit of extra performance for your nested VMware home lab. Hopefully it saves you that extra beat when deploying a VM, or lets you spin up just one more nested ESXi server. From now on Alacrity will be there, ready to play wingman to your Workstation anytime.

Featured image photo by Tim simpson1

Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He was awarded VMware vExpert for 2014-2017. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.

6 Responses

  1. deeabson@twitter.com' @deeabson says:

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