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I am trying to build a small virtualized testbed using some older Xeon-based servers that do not support Intel VT-x.

In their previous use, the servers were running VMware ESX 3.5. Is there a more up-to-date virtualization platform I could use?

Most solutions I have checked (KVM, VMware ESXi, and Microsoft Hyper-V) seem to require Intel VT extensions on the CPU. Is there any virtualization platform that still supports older hardware?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Virtualbox? Most today take advantage of the extensions in order to give decent performance and features, as you've discovered.

The ultimate solution may be to spend $400 on a whitebox system to run an up to date hypervisor.

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As I didn't wan to spend much time on the setup (the old severs won't be around for much longer) Virtualbox proved to be the best option. When combined with phpvirtualbox (code.google.com/p/phpvirtualbox) it makes an excellent free solution for running VMs on older boxes. –  m000 May 26 '12 at 13:01

ESXi 3.5 still works. The first servers that incorporated the Intel VT extensions appeared in late 2005/ early 2006... Given the five major jumps in Intel CPU technology since then, your best bet is to try to find a modern low-cost system for your testing.

If you don't find something new, any used servers manufactured in the past 5-6 years would be compatible.

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You can run OpenVZ containers without VT-x. Proxmox does OpenVZ containers and their new release is based of Debian 6.

I'm running this on some old hardware and it works like a charm.

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VMWare ESXi 4.x runs fine on Intel 64 bits CPUs without VT-x support. ESXi 5.x also but you need 2 CPUs or a little hack to get it to install after that it works like a charm. The only catch is you can't run mixed 32 bits/64 bits VMs loads or another bare metal hypervisor nested in a VM.

I have an old HP ML350 G4p server with a 3.0 GHz Xeon and 5 GB of RAM running ESXi 4.1 free with 4 VMs for all our servers/services DC, DNS, DHCP, TFTP, Mail, Web, FTP, Proxy/Fw etc. OS is Windows Server 2003 SP2 at the moment but I'm considering migrating to ESXi 5.x soon and Windows Server 2008 later.

So I would recommend you try ESXi 5.x free and if you need help you can contact me.

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