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I have a need to run a linux server to host subversion, bugzilla over Apache and also act as a file and print server. I also have a need to host Windows Server 2008 virtual machines for development purposes (I'm a .NET guy). The machine I have is a dual core AMD 2.5 Ghz w/2GB RAM. So here are my questions:

1) Should I run Debian (or some other distro) as the base AND create a Debian VM to host subversion, bugzilla and be my file/print server? or is it ok to use Debian as both my VM host and for those other reasons?

2) VMWare has a free server edition, Virtual Box also is another free option. Which one of these is better suited for what I need to do? Are there any other free (or inexpensive) alternatives out there?

3) Will I need a GUI with Debian in order to manage my VMs?

4) Can I run VMs without a GUI to conserve system resources?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Either is Fine, you might want to put those services on the host to save some overhead.
  2. I use the vmware server on a Linux host in production to host things such as Exchange, it has been reliable for years.
  3. No you don't need a GUI if you use vmware server. You can start stop vms from the command line. You can also install vmware console on a workstation and then use that to connect the vmware server if you still want a GUI. What I decribed is 1.x versions, the 2.x versions use a web interface I think which also probably doesn't need a GUI, but I am still on 1.x
  4. Yes, bugzilla and subversion do not need an X server (gui) installed.
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Just to confirm you are using the free version of VMWare server? – Tone Apr 6 '10 at 13:06
Correct, the free version, 1.x (2.x is also free I believe). – Kyle Brandt Apr 6 '10 at 13:54

I would use one of the following setups:

1) If you don't need the best performance possible for your Windows machines, you could set up the Debian server and install the services directly (no virtual machine for apache/svn/cifs/cups). This way you would have native speed for all these apps. Next, you can install WS2008 in VirtualBox, either on the server itself, or using a headless virtual machine and coonecting with VNC from another host.

2) If Windows performance is critical, you could install the VMware ESXi hypervisor on your server and install Debian and Windows as virtual machines. The performance you get should be better than that of VMware Server (which is OS level virtualization).

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also good information thanks. unfortunately ESXi is not free though, correct? – Tone Apr 8 '10 at 0:18
There is a free version of ESXi 4.0, we are using it in production at the university where I work. It's not advertized too much by VMware, and the web site is intentionally confusing in some places to make you think you need licenses. But you only need licenses for more advanced functionality. – Prof. Moriarty Apr 8 '10 at 7:02

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