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I have no experience with VirtIO drivers, and am trying to figure out if it's possible to use them on this server.

The server is a FreeBSD 8.2-RELEASE host and ZFS file system, with a Virtual Box-based Windows Server 2003 guest that's used as a terminal server for ~10 users on average. The Windows guest currently uses the Virtualbox Intel 1gb NIC driver.

I can find very little documentation for VirtIO on FreeBSD, so it's unclear to me if I can just install VirtIO drivers for windows, build the VirtIO kernel module (from ports?), reconfigure VirtualBox, and have everything just work.

Does anybody have experience with any kind of similar setup?

Update: I'm not sure I understand the downvote. My apologies if this was an inapropriate question for ServerFault.

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Can you explain what you are trying to accomplish (or more specifically, how your question relates to professional system administration, as described in the FAQ)? – voretaq7 Feb 20 '13 at 20:52
Yes, sorry, I thought that was implicit in my question. I would like to get the performance gains from using VirtIO for both network and disk eumlation in Virtualbox. I'm not sure if this is possible with FreeBSD as the host system (I'm having trouble finding any documentation). Does that make sense? – Raolin Feb 20 '13 at 21:09
might be better answered on another SE, like Unix SE. – mdpc Feb 20 '13 at 21:17
Thanks for the reference--perhaps I will have better luck there. I don't get the -1 downvote as this question does involve server software, hardware, and virtualization. – Raolin Feb 20 '13 at 22:37
You are using VirtualBox, which is very rarely used in production environments, and even then not for very long (since it's wholly unsuited to the task). So someone judged your question as being unlikely to pertain to professional system administration. – Michael Hampton Feb 21 '13 at 4:15
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The virtio drivers are meant to provide paravirtualized hardware (acceleration) device drivers to virtual machine guests. As such, they are device drivers that are installed in the guest operating system, not on the host.

You can find the virtio drivers for Windows from the KVM web site.

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Thanks very much for the answer. Just to make sure I understand correctly, I can install the virtio drivers in the Windows Server guest without any special support at all (or any modifications) in the host operating system? – Raolin Feb 21 '13 at 4:48
Right. The physical hardware support is handled by the hypervisor, in your case VirtualBox-on-FreeBSD. So as long as VirtualBox can talk to the hardware, you're OK. – Michael Hampton Feb 21 '13 at 4:58
VirtualBox (current version = 4.2.12) has a paravirtualized virtio network controller, but no virtio storage controller. To use virtio, you need to choose the "virtio-net" controller in the VM config and have a virtio driver inside the VM. FreeBSD has virtio drivers for both network and disk. And also "balloon" .. for memory. Another topic. – oberstet May 24 '13 at 23:05

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