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I want to install a bare-metal hypervisor in on of my boxes. I don't know which vendor to choose! It must be a free version.

Both are easy to manage?

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Do you not think we might need to know your requirements to help? I want to buy some new music, what should I buy, it must be free – Chopper3 Nov 30 '10 at 21:28
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It depends, how much linux experience do you have?
I think ESXi is very easy to learn and can get you up and running quickly.

  • Easy Web Based GUI
  • Easily moved to vSphere Enterprise
  • Easy to moved to VMware workstation
  • Large library of Virtual Appliances.
  • Knowing ESX is good for your resume


  • Not Open source
  • Limited features with the free version of ESXi, compared to vCenter with vSphere.
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disclaimer: this is very subjective answer.

xen although quite popular seems to have its days counted... if you want to go for open-source solution - take a look at kvm, also check proxmox ve - debian-based distribution for virtualization with kvm and openvz. if you want something just to work - go esxi.

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(If your hardware is on the ESXi HCL. If not, don't) – Chris Thorpe Nov 30 '10 at 22:49

Note that VMWare ESXi requires a Windows machine to manage it. Otherwise, ESXi works extremely well, though you do have to be kind of picky about what hardware to use it on, we ended up having to try several RAID cards before we got one we could get reports of drive failures on.

We deployed our ESXi infrastructure after having run Xen version 2 for years, and spending months working on getting Xen version 3 usable. YMMV, but we ended up throwing away all that work and going with ESXi because it was released right around then. We haven't had a successful Xen deployment since the Xen version 2 days. This was a tough decision, particularly with requiring Windows to manage it.

If I were doing it today, I'd very seriously consider Proxmox VE, which is similar to VMWare ESXi in that it is a bare metal install. However, it doesn't require Windows to manage it, and also includes a centralized management where one page can manage all your virtual hosts. In ESXi using the free tools you have to login to each individual ESXi host and hunt around to find the virtual you are looking for. Proxmox also includes the ability to do live migration, though half of those that I tested last year when I was playing with it failed. You do need central storage to do that though.

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