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I want to run serveral virtual machine on a computer using VMWare Workstation.

The virutal machines will run Windows Server 2003/2008 and Windows 7 as guest OS.

Which host operating system should I choose?

On my current computer I use Windows Server 2003 for its statbility. This, however, caused me pain because I couldn't get Skype video to work on neither the nost nor the guest...

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Either would be fine, though if you want to use Skype Video, then probably a client OS (Windows 7) would be the better option.

Also, I'd suggest going for the 64 bit version, to give you better flexibility in the future, assuming your hardware will cope... :)

Am speaking from experience here, as I've been running Windows 7 x64 for a couple of months now (am a lucky MSDN subscriber) AND have VMWare Workstation running multiple VM's, AND use Skype Video......

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Thanks for the answer! Were any of these VMs server OSs? Just asking to make sure that a client host can run a server guest (while intuition leads the other way)... – Avi Oct 21 '09 at 13:53
Absolutely. I've had Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 (for testing).. – Nick Haslam Oct 21 '09 at 16:17

The other point to make is that VMware workstation shouldn't run server's for any reason except testing.

If you want to host servers Citrix XENserver or VMware ESXi, both of which are free (cost) are much better options.

I run VMware workstation in Debian Linux hosting a variety of VMs including Windows 7 x64 and it works fine for me, including digital audio.

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Is the point about VMWare and server guest OS's because of licensing issues? This is a development computer, and all the servers on it are for R&D and testing purposes. Considering the above, would you still recommend ESXi over workstation? If so, why? – Avi Oct 21 '09 at 13:48
It's absolutely fine, indeed it is designed to support, your use case. The licensing of guests is your responsibility but for R&D \ testing I can't see any issues. You certainly don't want to run any production servers from it but that's all. ESXi\Xen are headless Type 1 Hypervisors so I don't think they are what you want. – Helvick Oct 21 '09 at 18:53

I've used 2003 as a workstation for a while, and had only a few small problems with applications not wanting to install. Try following this 2003 Workstation Guide. It helped me a lot.

BTW you need to add skype to DEP before it will work. Link to explain how.

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Thanks. Skype installs and runs, but I don't see any video. Haven't really given it too much of an effort - switched the camera to my son's computer. However, with my older one having left home, and my daughter now studying abroad, I want Skype near me on the new computer... :-) – Avi Oct 21 '09 at 13:51

In my honest opinion, I'd recommend a Linux host OS. The stability is amazing - I have no problem going over a year without a reboot on servers, and about the same on desktops if I don't ask way too much of them. More importantly, you can get the memory footprint of a basic installation (with a basic window manager for the GUI) to be much less than Windows, hence more resources for your client VMs. You can spend as much (or little) time tuning it as you want, but the bottom line is - for something that's just going to be running VMs - you want the lightest weight host OS as possible.

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Will I be able to run Windows 7 guest on Linux, including applications that access the hardware such as Skype, Video editing, play music, gaming etc? This is mainly a development computer but,hey, I also want to use it for "personal" purposes :-) – Avi Oct 21 '09 at 13:45
I have no idea about Windows 7... the last Windows I ran was XP, and that was through VirtualBox. Back when I last used VMWare Workstation (4 years ago?) it worked fairly well, as Linux allows most hardware (especially USB) to be transparent. – Jason Antman Oct 22 '09 at 3:01

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