I need a little help with this getting this sorted out.

  • I want to setup a linux virtual server that I can use to run both sever and desktop systems.

  • I want a linux system that is minimalist in nature as all the main os will be doing is acting as a hypervisor.

The system I'm trying to setup will be running a file server, windows 7, ubuntu 10.04, windows xp and a firewall/gateway security system. All the client OS'es accessing and storing files on the file server. Also all network traffic will be routed through the gateway guest os. The file sever will need direct disk access while the other guests can run one disk images.

All of this will be running on the same computer so I wont be romoting in to access the guests OS'es. Also if possible I would like to be able to use my triple head setup in the guest OS'es.

I've looked at Xen, kvm and virtualbox but I don't know which is the best for me. I'm really debating between kvm and virtual box as kvm seem to support direct hardware access.


Xen is being given a quite cold treatment these days, everyone seems to be migrating to KVM. That said, neither of those two is good at desktop virtualization IMHO. I prefer KVM for server virtualization and VirtualBox for desktop virtualization.

  • Xen isn't quite as popular since the project got bought by Citrix. I imagine it makes the Linux people nervous. I agree with your assessment of kvm and vbox. – tylerl May 11 '10 at 6:48
  • Minimalist = Xen, no ifs no buts. – Antoine Benkemoun May 11 '10 at 6:59
  • Minimalist how? KVM was a small patch compared to Xen before it was merged to mainline. – ptman May 11 '10 at 13:28

I am a fan of VirtualBox - in my opinion it is really well suited to a more desktop style of virtualization right now, though it certainly has features that make it reasonably competitive against the bigger server virtualization players as well. It is well supported on a Linux host, supports a variety of guests and is generally very user friendly. And it gets bonus points for largely being Open Source as well.


If your looking free solutions xen http://www.xen.org/products/xenhyp.html is right products, or if you looking paid version for the same then you can go for RHEV in that you'll have server virtualization right now RHEV 2.2 beta


ESXi or vSphere if you can afford it, especially if you can get your hands on san storage.


I'd be looking at ESXi or Xen Server, so that you get as close to the bare metal as possible. Ideally you don't want the overhead imposed by an OS to run something like VirtualBox if that OS has no other function. I have no idea where KVM fits into that.

  • KVM is part of the kernel, which makes it as close to the hardware as ESX, and closer than Xen (which requires an additional microkernel, instead of being within the OS kernel) – dyasny May 11 '10 at 6:35

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