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I have a PC with lots of RAM (16GB) and a fast CPU (core i5). I would like to use this one machine both as a server and a deskop pc.

So how about if I do this: I install Ubuntu on it (as GUI desktop) with virtualbox, and then a debian server as a virtualbox guest. (Alternatively, the same setup with KVM). My plan is to let this PC be running 24/7, and the server will host a website and some more stuff, but nothing that is too critical, so only for myself and some friends (and no, not porn or illegal software or anything like that). Then I can use the Ubuntu as a normal desktop, while the Debian server is running virtualised.

Is this a reasonable setup?

Or would it be better if the host OS is Debian server (for stability or whatever as it's going to be on 24/7) and I let my GUI run as a virtualised guest?

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3 Answers

It is not unreasonable at all. I have couple of windows 7 PCs running vmware workstation and servers on it as VMs and those have been up and running for quite a while.

But make sure to keep the expectation that VMs would go down whenever there is an issue with PC and it will happen, and mostly at times when you don't want it to happen.

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Nice to hear that it makes sense! I'm expecting the VM to go down now and then for various reasons, so that's fine. –  jonathan Apr 26 '12 at 8:56
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I would say as a rule of thumb select the one that needs the highest percentage uptime and make that your host os.

The uptime of the virtual machine will be a fraction of the uptime of those host no matter what. Not to mention I tend to experience better uptime on bare metal than in a hypervisor to begin with.

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+1 It makes most sense to use something like debian stable as the host OS. Plus it comes with the same desktop features ubuntu has. Or install ubuntu and what have you as a VM. You could also consider running XEN. –  aseq Apr 26 '12 at 20:49
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To play the devil's advocate here...

Why virtualise? You can run everything you run in debian in ubuntu, without that extra layer of abstraction. You can run a *amp stack, or whatever else in the ubuntu desktop system, and you don't get any direct benefit outside a somewhat dubious ability to migrate the system should something bad happen (to something other than the hard drive).

Just run everything on one session unless there's a obvious advantage to the VM.

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Yes I considered doing that but thought I would at least have the server isolated in case of it got compromised. So my desktop/host would be unaffected. Running the *amp in a chroot environment isn't secure enough. –  jonathan Apr 26 '12 at 8:53
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