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I'd like to create a grid of PCs on which to run virtual instances of WinXP. What is the best method? I have a number of dual-core intel desktops and I'd like to run a few of them to create a high availability environment on which to run one or more instances of Windows XP.

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this question needs reworking it does not make sense – tony roth Apr 9 '11 at 21:34

Honestly this sounds like a poor way to start. If your computers only have 32 bit processors, I'd just stop right there, you'll never get very good performance out of it, and it'll almost certainly be more trouble than it's worth.

You'll need some form of shared storage. A FreeNAS box can provide iSCSI storage that most virtualization packages will happily use. I'd go with Hyper-V or ESXi, both are free and can provide the virtualization you're looking for. Other solutions exist, but if you're not familiar with them already will probably have a higher learning curve.

A setup like this reusing old hardware is likely to provide poor performance, reliability, and will have relatively high maintenance costs. If it's just a proof of concept or learning environment, this is probably the way to go; otherwise I'd start with purpose built hardware.

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Hi Chris,I'm not sure if I've explained my self properly. As stated, the desktops are all dual core and thus 64bit. I also wanted a high-availability approach such as grid and not rely on a single NAS box as you have stated. You mention the 'other solutions' 'with a higher learning curve'. Please let me know what you suggest. I already run 32-bit MS Virtual machines on an Intel dual-quad core using three RAID arrays, but I was looking to reuse a number of high-spec desktops to run some XP instances with high availability, with little or no further spend. – D Edwards Apr 9 '11 at 15:50
Not all dual core CPUs are 64-bit, so I couldn't assume that. I'm not sure what you mean by "grid". The images have to reside on some sort of shared storage for HA Hosts to access. You can configure HA iSCSI, but free solutions like FreeNAS can't do it, it'll be a more expensive solution. Top to bottom HA solutions tend not to involve "little or no further spending" from my experience. – Chris S Apr 10 '11 at 0:26

Not sure if I understand the question but you wont be able to have high availabilty of your virtual machines running on a host system.

If you're already running an OS, then you need to add on a virtual machine service to windows. this would include: - virtualbox (free) - vmware server (free but being discontinued) - vmware player (free) - vmware workstation (paid)

You can run VMs on each desktop, however you WILL notice a slowdown of the host system even if the VM isnt doing anything. CPU is only one concern - HD activity, network activity, ram, and most endusers will notice if you "sneak" a vm onto their workstation.

If you're looking for high availability - to move vm around from machine to machine seamlessly - you're looking at commercial software from vmare/xen/microsoft.

Using existing workstations is a bad idea as it will be slow and hassle to admin. What you're asking about isnt done in the real world. If you're wanting to play sure go for it, but if this is for a business/school/nonpersonal network it's bad idea to try to harness the "spare" cpu power, cannot stress that enough.

It doesnt scale.

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OK thanks, I have a bunch of 2-years-old PCs in a cupboard and thought I could create a remote set of XP machines to run some simple tasks. I think I'll just run them via Citrix or the existing Virtual Server. – D Edwards Apr 10 '11 at 22:14

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