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On a zero-dollar budget, is there any way that's known to be stable to install Linux as a guest in a Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition SP2 virtualization host?

I know there are lots of products out there, but after looking into Xen, QEMU, VirtualBox, and VMWare, it sounds like each of them is either too unstable code-wise (i.e., new patches for either the product or the guest or the host tend to break things), too much of a resource-hog (VMWare--and on a zero budget I can't upgrade the hardware, but also win2k3sp2 std has a 4GB memory limit), or it's too unstable running-wise. Hence my question here. :-)

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

You can also try VirtualBox:

When running WinXP guest on Linux host, I noted it performs much better (speed) than VMWare. Also, VMWare began to segfault after I manually edited some configuration files of the Virtual Machine.

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As I mentioned in my post, I had considered it, but heard that it was not suitable in production. Have you used it in a production environment successfully? – Kev Nov 17 '10 at 22:18
Threads like and the fairly recent article at… make me wonder. And if it shares a code base with QEMU, I just tried DSL, and it may be Damn Small, but it sure is Damn Slow and also Unusably Flickery (it just endlessly scrolls the desktop up and down without responding) over remote desktop, which I need for administration. – Kev Nov 17 '10 at 22:22
Hi Kev, if you want to know about current enterprise deployments of Virtualbox, you could better ask teri (dot) whitaker at oracle dot com. No personal experience, no case studies which are easy to find, so I'm not sure. However, VMWare is supposed to be 'production environment' and then it segfaults, so I have my doubts about that one too. – Hans Nov 27 '10 at 18:17

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 ... I probably wouldn't go for VMWare Server for production use. MS Virtual PC would run, but Virtual Server is better.

Linux Guest Support for Virtual Server 2005 R2

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2003 Standard SP2 is listed as a supported host...looks good! Thanks for the info, I'll pursue it further! – Kev Nov 17 '10 at 15:58
I've had very good experiences with MS Virtual Server running all flavours of linux and unix. Some versions of linux however do not have the "VM Additions" required to make the mouse and keyboard work, but you can still use the machine it just captures the mouse into the session. – Nick Zepp Nov 17 '10 at 16:01
For supported guests, a newer list covering VS R2 SP1 is here: – Kev Nov 17 '10 at 16:08

VMWare Server will do the job.

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On 4GB of RAM? I've read from user comments that it slows down the host noticeably, even when the guest is idle. – Kev Nov 17 '10 at 16:06
Then again, according to some reports, it is faster (well, the enterprise version, who knows about the free stuff) than MS VS 2005:… – Kev Nov 17 '10 at 16:23
You are still going to be limited to 4GB of ram using MS Virtual Server to VMWare Server. Remember in both cases; you can only assign what the host can address minus what the host requires to run. I have not had the issue of slowing down the host. I actually find the opposite. The link you posted is for ESX server which is a different product from VMWare server. ESX is its own OS. VMWare Server gets installed on another OS, similar to MS Virtual Server. – PaulWaldman Nov 17 '10 at 19:54

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