selyb

Looking for recommendations, new to Virtualization

8 posts in this topic

Goal: Run Win7 x64 full time, run 1 or 2 distros of linux simply for recreational purposes, run XP x86 sometimes for software that refuses to work on vista, run DOS occasionally. It would also be nice to have another XP to use for sandbox for untrusted software.

If possible, I would like to do all this without having to reboot for each OS

I'm a little overwhelmed with the options for this. I have an ASUS M4A77TD with Phenom X2, 4GB DDR3 @533mhz, Radeon 4870, and 3x 320GB SATA 3.0 hdds in RAID0. CPU-Z claims my processor supports AMD-V.

I have a spare sata drive I can throw in here just to test things out. This box is for personal use, no servers will be hosted on it. I'm leaning more toward a bare-metal VM or JeOS but I'm open to any real suggestions. My technical level is decent, I've setup 5 different flavors of linux, hundreds of installs of windows 9x/XP/Vista/7, have taken some cisco certification courses, can follow nearly any scripting language etc, etc.

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FYI AMD CPUs post skt 939 (ie skt AM2 on) that support x64 also support virtual extensions, so your would for sure. Intel CPUs 'Core' on mostly do, but you need to check as some don't.

For your usage scenario, I would steer away from bare metal hypervisor type setup unless you want to fork out for Win Server 2008 with Hyper-V and run that as your base. AFAIK all other bare metal hypervisor OS are designed to run headless so no GUI (you access the VMs remotely). If you are looking at that as an option then I highly recommend ProxmoxVE (Debian based hypervisor with powerful WebUI and utilizing KVM for full virtualisation and OpenVZ for Linux container virtualisation), although I'm sure its overkill for what you want.

From what you've described I'd go for bare metal install of Win 7 x64 with all other OSs intalled under VirtualBox (or similar). Obviously there are other options but I personally like VirtualBox best of all. I don't use Windows much anymore but in Linux is has whats called "seamless mode" where the app window running in the VM actually appears to be native, I'd imagine that's also available for Windows VirtualBox (which would be handy for XP apps). Also VirtualBox (under Linux anyway) seems to make use of the CPU's virtual extensions to improve VM performance (although probably not to the same extent as a full blown hypervisor would).

Good luck and I'd be keen to hear your final decisions and their rationale, and whether it fulfills your expectations once you have it up and running.

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FYI AMD CPUs post skt 939 that support x64 also support virtual extensions
right, my proc definitely supports AMD-V, I read that the mobo has to support the extensions as well and I did not see an option in my bios but I assume that since CPU-Z recognized that extension then my bios 'should' support them :)
...AFAIK all other bare metal hypervisor OS are designed to run headless so no GUI (you access the VMs remotely).
I definitely do NOT want to make this a headless box. I did read about some solutions being meant for headless boxes but it never occurred to me to try to use this to narrow my options, so thank you.
Good luck and I'd be keen to hear your final decisions and their rationale, and whether it fulfills your expectations once you have it up and running.

certainly :)

EditOK, that didn't help much with searches :-(

anyway, as of yet, I would like the options of shutting down linux, or windows or having two or three running at the same time. Virtualbox can do this, yes?

Edited by selyb
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FYI AMD CPUs post skt 939 that support x64 also support virtual extensions
right, my proc definitely supports AMD-V, I read that the mobo has to support the extensions as well and I did not see an option in my bios but I assume that since CPU-Z recognized that extension then my bios 'should' support them :)

Good point, you are of course right, the motherboard must also support it. I would imagine that if CPU-Z recognises it then you're good to go. I have found some Intel mobos require a BIOS setting, but I haven't come across an AMD one that does. If you wanted to be totally sure you could fire up a LiveCD and at the terminal type

grep svm /proc/cpuinfo

(on Intel chips swap the "svm" for "vmx"). If it returns nothing then you're out of luck, otherwise you're good to go. This should work on most Linux distros but definitely does in Debian based ones (Ubuntu, Mint, etc)

...AFAIK all other bare metal hypervisor OS are designed to run headless so no GUI (you access the VMs remotely).
I definitely do NOT want to make this a headless box. I did read about some solutions being meant for headless boxes but it never occurred to me to try to use this to narrow my options, so thank you.
No worries, I didn't think that was what you were looking for!
EditOK, that didn't help much with searches :-(anyway, as of yet, I would like the options of shutting down linux, or windows or having two or three running at the same time. Virtualbox can do this, yes?

I can't 100% guarantee it with Windows (I haven't used VBox on Windows for some time) but I'd be very surprised if it couldn't. Each VM is independent so what you're after shouldn't be a big deal at all. I just double checked with VBox 3.2.0-OSE under Ubuntu 10.04 and I had 3 VMs running simultaneously, no worries. I then shut them down in a different order to starting them. All good.

I don't use it much as I have a headless server running Proxmox so all my VMs run on that (I use VNC to connect to them) but from the CLI you can do some pretty neat stuff with VBox such as auto-starting specific VMs on host boot, auto shutdown/save state/etc on host shutdown. Again I haven't tried on Windows but surely those features wouldn't be Linux only!?

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I must not have been clear... I want to be able to shut down the windows VM and run just a linux distro or vice versa, so as of yet, I'm probably going to set up a JeOS distro, with VirtualBox or VMWare. So far, I have read some people prefer one over the other for this reason or that and have seen one or two benchmark comparisons that doesn't really put one ahead of the other...

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Update:

After more research, I've learned that a JeOS is designed to run in a VM, not host one...

So, I need to look at ESXi again but I'll probably go with a minimal linux distro and install a VirtualBox or VMWare package

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So, I need to look at ESXi again

ESXi is designed to run headless - you can't run a windows VM on ESXi and use the windows GUI without a second machine - I'd try virtualbox or vmware server v1.

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ESXi is designed to run headless - you can't run a windows VM on ESXi and use the windows GUI without a second machine - I'd try virtualbox or vmware server v1.

Yeah, I'm coming to the same conclusions :-/

maybe I could install DSL + VBox or VMWare to a throwaway flash drive

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