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I'd like to figure out how to do the following:

  • Run, as a root system\OS, something like Proxmox where a light-weight OS (Linux) is booted and a VM server resides within. (Proxmox claims that the VMs only exhibit a 1-3% "hit" as compared to running as the root OS.)
  • Configure and install multiple VMs in said system. (Windows and Ubuntu for instance.)
  • Do this all on a laptop and have the root system\OS provide me a mechanism to view each VM full screen, natively and allow me to switch between the two.

The idea is to have to OS's running "natively" at the same time in as close to the root hardware as possible. The ability to switch between the two (and leave each running at the same time). You could perhaps use a key-combo which is intercepted by the root system\OS to switch between the configured VMs.

Does such a system exist? If not, is it feasible? If not, why?

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closed as off topic by Sven, Bart De Vos, Michael Hampton, Scott Pack, Iain Sep 24 '12 at 21:21

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ Hyper-V can do this. The built in console viewer can operate in Full Screen mode; you can also Remote Desktop into any machines that support RDP. The performance hit is minimal and hardware support is pretty good. If you're going to be doing any heavy networking pay close attention to the NIC chip (should be Intel or Broadcom).

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Would R2 be "lightweight" enough for a laptop + 2-VM setup? Would it work if installed as just server core? – Josh M. Sep 16 '11 at 1:24
The server itself only requires about 512MB. Obviously more RAM is better. Plus whatever RAM you need for the VMs. The processor and disk overhead of the OS would be minimal. We have people who run this exact setup on their laptops. THere's a few drawbacks, power management, no bluetooth and mostly no WiFi support (some can be hacked in); it is a server OS. – Chris S Sep 16 '11 at 2:12
Cool, sounds like it's worth trying. Wifi management could be done in R2 and NAT'd through to the VMs, right? Do you just mean that it won't look like wifi to the VM and you can't manage the networks in the VM? And bluetooth wouldn't work because Virtual Server doesn't support it? – Josh M. Sep 16 '11 at 2:18
Reviewing the docs, looks like R2 does have WiFi (installable feature). I knew 2008 had none, couldn't use a WiFi NIC at all (though there were ways to hack it in). The VMs will only be able to use emulated or synthetic NICs (both of which more or less look like a standard Ethernet NIC to the VM). – Chris S Sep 16 '11 at 20:45
Ok, good to know. Thanks. – Josh M. Sep 16 '11 at 21:10

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