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I'm considering buying a server for my home network to run vmware server, I use a number of virtuals for testing and web development (sharepoint, ie 6, 32bit windows, linux etc) and running workstation is killing my ability to use photoshop and illustator.

I'm very familiar with advanced desktop hardware for graphics and CAD workstations, but servers seem to be much different beasts and I was hoping you guys could pass along any tips - how much RAM, minimum spec etc?

Thanks in advance.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

VMWare Server is quite similar to VMWare Workstation, in that it runs on top of an existing operating system; you should go with VMWare ESXi, which is also free but uses the same hypervisor technology of ESX, leading to much better performance.

About specs: quite difficult to answer without knowing what you're going to virtualize. The only possible answer is "the more the better".

One hint I can give you: get as many physical disks as you can. VMs perform a lot better when they reside on dedicated disks than when they are sharing the same disk. A box with 2 quad-core CPUs and 16 GB memory will have a very, very hard time with only a single big disk, while it will do wonders with four smaller ones.

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Mainly windows OS's I have four XP's with various configs, Win Server 2008 with share point and an accompanying SQL server 2005, plus 3 versions of Mac OS X and ubuntu. Great answer by the way, very helpful –  toomanyairmiles Sep 6 '09 at 19:58

I second the recommendation to go with ESXi. If you are building it at home (which I have just done myself), you might want to consider the Whitebox HCL. This is a list of unsupported hardware that works with VMware ESXi.

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Well, as a home user, I assume you are not actually doing anything with it, but may want a bunch of VMs, correct? thus, you just want performance to not suck, which makes me think just get a decent cpu (quad, perhaps the cheapest 6MB cache AMD?) and a bunch of RAM (cheap AMD MB can get 8GB of ram for under $100, for example).

One trick is to install server, and then install ESXi instances in that, with the VMs in those (thus you can have a clustered production environment on just one box, a nice test bed). This also gets around ESXi's limited hardware compatibility, you just need something server will run on.

But I'm just starting down that road myself.

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