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I need to organize a virtual network for practice with Windows Server 2008 and several workstations with Windows OS.

To make it all I only have a laptop with Dual-Core 2.10Ghz, 3 GB RAM, 50 GB free space and Windows 7 on it. Also I have external USB 3.0 hard-drive with 250GB free space and flash disk with 8GB space.

What can you suggest?

Because I have limited resources, I think to install ESXi 5.1 on the main disk of my laptop as second OS, with installed Windows 7. I have no idea will it work or not, but after that I want to try to create hosts using availible space on external hard-drive.

Is it possible?

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closed as not constructive by Massimo, Ward, Magellan, mdpc, Scott Pack Oct 24 '12 at 19:55

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

ESXi is effectively its own operating system. If you boot into it, all you'll see is a configuration screen and you won't be able to access windows 7 without rebooting. You'd need another machine to connect to it and setup/manage/access VMs. It wouldn't install anyway - Even if it supported the hardware, ESXi v4+ has a minimum requirement of 4GB of ram.

You'll need to use virtualisation software that runs on top of the Windows OS if you literally only have the one machine to work with, but running windows 7, virtual server 2008 and virtual windows clients is pushing it with only 3GB of RAM.

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you are right. but the thing is that I really want to create little network with workstations, but I haven't great opportunities. –  light Oct 23 '12 at 22:54

ESXi won't install on your laptop though, it has a famously small list of supported hardware - as it's designed to work on servers, not laptops. You've also not got much memory for ESXi and those guests, plus it'll hate USB drives too. Use VMWare Workstation instead - oh and this isn't the right site for this type of query, perhaps our sister site superuser.com would be better.

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Also, if by chance he manages to get ESXi up and running on his laptop, he'd still need another computer to actually connect to it... –  Massimo Oct 23 '12 at 22:46

I'd suggest that you do two things:

  1. Get more RAM! You can't really run that many systems in 3GB of space, even with minimal installs.
  2. Use a more consumer grade solution. VirtualBox is quite intuitive and free. If you opt for a Linux base, the kvm package is very handy.
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Sorry to put it out this way, but you're not going anywhere with that hardware.

First of all, ESXi is not the right choice for you:

  • It's not supported on non-server hardware and it might even not install or run at all.
  • It won't anyway even install on a computer with less than 4 GB RAM.
  • Even if you managed to get it up and running, it would still require another computer to actually connect to it and do anything at all with it (it doesn't have any console you can use to interact with virtual machines).

You should be using another virtualization software, like VMware workstation.

And then...

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 requires 1 GB memory each at the bare minimum in order to simply run, which means you won't ever be able to run more than two virtual machines on that laptop; also, running VMs from a USB disk would deadly slow (and you have nowhere enough disk space to run them from your main hard disk).

Last but not least, this is quite an off-topic question here: this site is for professional sysadmins, and a personal lab doesn't really fit here.

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Thanks for you answers. It's very helpful but I have to create some thing to be able have a pracitce in Windows Server 2008 Administation practice. –  light Oct 23 '12 at 23:00

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