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I hope its ok to ask this question on serverfault, its not an actual fault but more of an implementation advice request.

I would like to have a dedicated server that I can deploy my own VPSs on. These VPS will be various windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

I was thinking of buying a large Linux based dedicated server and then running VMWare Server or Virtualbox and adding my own images on there for each OS but I am thinking this isn't going to be cost effective and easy to maintain.

I am hoping someone can help me with the perfect setup that is both cost effective and efficient so that I can have 6 VPS at my disposal that I can easily control.

Thanks all for any help.

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Despite the name this site isn't just about server faults, so it's fine to post here. Just be aware that any questions which use words like "best", "perfect", etc. tend to get closed as being too subjective. – John Gardeniers Feb 17 '11 at 3:13
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You could look into VMWare ESX. It's free, and it runs on the "bare metal". This will give you slightly better performance as the "host os" is designed to run virtual machines.

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The simple way to do this is to install OpenSUSE Linux and then use XEN virtual machines (like Amazon) using the built in GUI system administration tool. Do not use VirtualBox for this since it is more targetted to developers on the desktop.

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For virtualbox best sure to add the guest additions. There are features that share common memory between multiple guests.

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As far as I know the only way to legally run a MacOS server instance is on a macOS machine, or have they liberalized the license?

VM's are inherently heavy, since you're duplicating the whole OS. I did that for a while but decided I could get enough separation for my web hosting needs by running multiple apache instances, each running in it's own chroot with it's own user and it's own IP. This is WAY lighter weight. Not sure what your exact needs are, but if you can use a strategy like this or FreeBSD jails or Solaris zones/containers, you'll get a lot more milage per dollar/hardware.

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Are you buying a dedicated server, or co-lo'ing? Because installing an OS on a dedicated server, with no access to the hardware, while possible, is a potential exercise in frustration, especially if you make one mistake in something like the bootloader.

If you're co-lo'ing, I agree with devicenull and Michael Dillon - Running a hypervisor on bare metal is far better than VirtualBox.

You have a choice of bare-metal hypervisors - VMware vSphere Hypervisor (VMWare changed the name) is quite good, though I've had better experience with using Xen on CentOS/Fedora thanks to the better hardware support. I had XenServer running (free version of Citrix's product) but eventually stayed with Fedora.

If you're buying a dedicated server, I believe CentOS is the most popular distro, so get that and do a yum install kernel-xen to get Xen. Not sure if Ubuntu supports Xen without a kernel recompile, and I haven't seen OpenSuse on many dedicated servers recently.

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Adding this as a comment since it's not really relevant to the question, but I prefer having Fedora run as my management console rather than VMWare/Xenserver, since I can do nifty stuff like setup RAID5 & RAID6 in tandem, running off different partitions on the same drive. It's something which VMWare & XenServer don't allow you to do since they limit your access. Having stuff like LVM support available is also nice - I expanded the RAID 5 array onto a 4th drive without bringing the server down except to plug in the drive. – Kyle Feb 26 '11 at 5:19

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