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I've tried a few options such as ESXi, but if I remember correctly, it complained about my CPU not having support for virtual machines (it is an Atom after all).

Also there's another caveat, the server OS (Debian Linux) currently runs off a USB flash drive with an eSATA hard drive for storage. Is it advisable to install a virtual server on a USB stick? This is only for fun, after all. Obviously the virtual machines themselves would be on the eSATA hard drive.

I think I also tried VMware Server 2, but this also complained about lack of virtual support on my CPU (or am I remembering incorrectly?).

I'm also considering LVS and Linux-VServer, but I tried those in the past and got nowhere fast; not because of hardware issues, but because it seemed very involved and I wasn't really sure if it was the right platform.

Update: I should also add that the machine is headless.

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Do you mean x86-64? –  Helvick Nov 9 '09 at 0:26
    
Oops. Yes, I did. –  nbolton Nov 9 '09 at 0:29
    
It really matters if you're going to be running different operating systems (ie windows on a linux host, OS2 on a windows host, etc) or if you'd be happy with paravirtualization or similar jail-like environments. In that case, a normal user-mode linux or freebsd jail would be enough for you, and require far fewer resources. –  chris Nov 9 '09 at 16:33

3 Answers 3

For a light-weight virtualisation solution, you really should look at VServer and OpenVZ. None of the other solutions are quite as light-weight.

You can run things off the USB as long as you take a few precautions (due to write wearing). You should ensure that your /tmp/ and /var/ directories are mounted on a proper write-able partition. These two directories get trashed quite a bit and it will cause your flash disk to die sooner.

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VMWare Server v2 should work fine without explicit virtualisation help in the CPU - I currently run VMWare Server v1 on a couple of machines that are too old (IIRC) to have that support.

Have you tried VMWare Player on the machine? If that will go then VMWare Server should too, and the install is simpler for this first test.

There is nothing wrong with running VMWare off a USB stick, other than the IO bottleneck which will be small (once booted) if the VMs are running of a speedier drive. Running the VMs off USB sticks is no real problem either aside, again, for the IO performance.

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Hmm, I'll give VMware Server 2 another try in that case. Thanks! –  nbolton Nov 9 '09 at 0:31
    
vmware server 1 is far easier to live with, especially if you're resource constrained. –  chris Nov 9 '09 at 16:34

Another person answered that you can use older VMWare Server products with CPUs that don't support hardware virtualization, and that's certainly true. Since you asked for a survey of options, I'll also mention that you can download Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 for free. It will work on your Atom.

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