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I need to replace three old boxes I use for development, running Linux, Win Server and Win XP. Instead of purchasing three new boxes I am thinking of purchasing a single box and virtualizing the OSes. As it is for development, absolute performance is not a problem, but I want the Linux and Win servers to run continuously, while running Win 7 as if it is a regular PC. Therefore running Linux and Win Server on top off Win 7 is not an option.

Is this a viable solution? Has anyone done this? What is performance like? I'd like to get decent graphics performance with Win 7, sufficient to run the occasional game. If so, I'm looking for suggestions or recommendations on which hypervisor or virtualization option to go for.

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closed as off topic by Michael Hampton, Magellan, John Gardeniers, Scott Pack, Iain Oct 14 '12 at 12:24

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4 Answers 4

I think it is hard to find a virtualization platform nowadays that does NOT support both Windows and Linux (I can only think of Virtuozzo). So, if you want to go bare-metal then try VMware ESXi or Citrix Xenserver. If you do not mind fiddling with host operating system then you have much more options. Here are few of top of my head (in no particular order) - Xen, KVM, VirtualBox, VMware Server/Player, etc.

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Under most VM platforms you can do something very close to what you describe. Have Win XP, Linux and Win7 as VMs. Treat the Win7 VM as a normal PC. Log in and out of it as you like and have it maximised on your screen.

Not exactly what you have asked for, but it will look exactly like what you want.

I have used VMWare and VirtualBox like this and the docs imply the others will work similarly.

Same as all platforms you want to run multiple VMs on, go for large memory and fast CPU, more is better here.

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Since your host machine here is going to be a workstation here, rather than a server, I would suggest VMware Workstation or VirtualBox.

Both have sufficient OpenGL/Direct3D support to do light gaming; I've even managed to run World of Warcraft in a Windows Vista VMware virtual machine on a Linux host.

Both also have decent performance (after installing guest tools) and full screen mode for pretending it's the only OS on your computer at the time.

Remember that the host machine must have the video card manufacturer's 3D drivers installed for best performance. This means AMD or NVIDIA video card; Intel stuff will do 3D desktop compositing, but won't give you decent gaming performance in this scenario.

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go.vmware.com will be the easiest way to get you into virtualizing your servers with ESXi. (and of course it is free...)

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