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I'm about to order a fresh server and I'd like to do some virtualizing on the server so that I can have "Virtual Dedicated' servers, what application would be recomended as an easy to user and preferably scriptable, virtulization software that can be installed after the host OS?

Server Specs

  • Athlon 64 X2 4200
  • 1.5 GB DDR2 RAM
  • 160 GB Hard Drive
  • Debian 4.0

Note:
I'm familiar with my OS (Debian), I've been administering servers with it for a while, but never for this type of software. Also the server is in a data-center and I won't have physical access to it at any point in time.

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1.5GB of RAM won't give you very many VM instances of any reasonably modern OS. –  tomfanning May 19 '09 at 11:09
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Not if it's windows it wont, but a "VM" running just apache or Lighttpd will happily run with 128MB or less of memory. –  Unkwntech May 19 '09 at 11:10
    
Doubly so if it only serves static content. –  Unkwntech May 19 '09 at 11:11
    
128MB will happily provide a Windows 2008 Domain Controller (for lab/light-weight purposes) as well, though 256MB would be recommended. –  Oskar Duveborn May 19 '09 at 11:19
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It's so 'virtual', 'it needs "scare quotes"'. –  joeforker May 19 '09 at 13:27
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8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Why not use Xen or KVM since you are already familiar with Debian? Try Linux Virtualization for some great resources.

Google can also probably help with some kvm vs xen websites. (Phoronix does some great testing)

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Take a look at pve.proxmox.com to manage in a easy way your openvz & kvm virtual server.

With openvz you can virtualise all linux server, & on kvm all windows ...

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I have just begun playing around with virtualbox, which is extremely easy to use, and much more lightweight than VMWare. However, it lacks the ability to auto-start virtual machines on boot - so if that is a dealbreaker for you, perhaps this isn't the best option.

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It has an API which includes the ability to start VMs, so shouldn't one be able to script that to run on boot. –  Matt G May 21 '09 at 0:22
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My recommend is to use Xen for the FULL TRUE virtualisation (headless systems, only used remotely), Sun's VirtualBox for the "normal" and testing stuff and OpenVZ for the things I need "masses" of simple Linuxes.

In the chance of a new server hardware, I'd like to give VmWare esx server a try. "No" underlying host OS.

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Regarding your hardware spec, it looks a little bit underpowered if you're wanting to run multiple VMs simultaneously. When you have multiple VMs running on a host, there can be quite a bit disk contention if running off of a single hard drive. Consider adding more memory (4GB at least; just to give you an idea, a production system with a bare metal hypervisor usually runs with 32GB per physical host). Even if this is a trial deployment and not going to be running any production applications, consider adding disks and running RAID 10.

When you start using virtualized servers you'll want to dork around quite a bit and running multiple VMs, taking snapshots, cloning etc, all work better with more RAM and better disk performance.

The easiest software to play with initially might be VMware Server (which is free). It comes with a perl API for various administration tasks for your VMs.

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VMWare server is probably the way to go, unless you want to spend money on the ESX infrastructure, there is a lot of support and it is very robust, you could probably afford to strip out your core OS as well in order get more performance out of VM's. If you are looking at using all linux machines Xen another virtualization tool like that may be the way to go, but i have no experience with those.

I think i bare metal hypervisor would be a better solution given the spec of the machine in order to remove as many overheads as possible.

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You cannot remove the core OS with the free VMWare Server - this requires ESX (paid version) –  Brent May 19 '09 at 11:58
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The free ESXi will run on bare metal, not just paid ESX. –  ceejayoz May 19 '09 at 13:16
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Depending on "how virtual" you want to get, vservers may be an option. It is comparable to the Zones concept under Solaris 10, and it is not at all complicated to set up... . It's no full virtualization though... .

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I think VMware with its server console is a good candidate for very easy usage. If you know VMware workstation, you won't see much differences - it feels like working locally.

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I use VMWare workstation locally, however I've never been able to make VMWare server work quite right, however I've never had a NEED for it. –  Unkwntech May 19 '09 at 11:09
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