We have CentOS 4.3 P4 / 512MB /Linux server installed somewhere in 2006-7. This machine has three network interaces for leased line, broadband (backup) and LAN. We use Sendmail, Fetchmail, NAT, Squid, DNS insalled on this server for about 70-80 users. Now the hardware and software has become quite old, I want to upgrade this server to latest CentOS edition.

My question is, can I go for virtual server environment using entry level desktop board having i3 or i5, 8GB RAM and 500 GB HDD without compromising any performance compared to existing machine? I intend to install VMWARE vSphere Hypervisor for this configuration.

  • For a developer, perhaps. For this I'd buy a real server. Jun 16 '14 at 13:03
  • See this answer. Much of the same problems exist when using "desktop" computers as servers as when people assemble their own servers.
    – user62491
    Jun 16 '14 at 16:34
  • Since the existing hardware is so simple I am not going to get funds for server class machine. I will be getting just entry level assembled desktop machine (about $330 equivalent Indian rupees).
    – Silkograph
    Jun 17 '14 at 6:25
  • 1
    @Silkograph You can buy a highly decent, real server (albeit an older one) on eBay for that price, and it's well worth the investment, compared to trying to make a desktop computer a server. (Just one of many examples.) This would not be my first choice, of course, but with a budget of ~$300 for a server, buying a used one is the best way to get an actual server within your budget. Jun 17 '14 at 6:58

can I go for virtual server environment using entry level desktop board having i3 or i5, 8GB RAM and 500 MB HDD without compromising any performance compared to existing machine?

With the exception of th hard discs (if you can go with an SSD that will make a hugh difference) the answer is clearly yes. The P4 is ancient - seriously ancient. Likely my mobile phone has more processing power than this one. An i3 is going to run circles around it.

Wikipedia gives the most modern P4 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_4) in a 65nm process. It was though a looong processor - the P4 line goes back to 1995.

Anyhow, you jump multiple generations if you get a current processor, so the speed advantage will be significant.

How many network interfaces would require if I create three VMs on this server?

How long is a piece of string? You are supposed to know basics as professional admin (and only those are supposed to ask here). We can not answer that. One, if you isolate draffic with VLANÄs and can live with the 1gigabit or 10 gigabit limit that this imposes. 100 if the VM's need that.

I want to move to virtual environment for two reasons, I may create two or three Windows machines which can be used for s/w product testing

You have a problem here. A 500mb hard disc WILL overload. IO is generally a very limiting factor in virutalization and patching can get hard. I would suggest either a 500mb velociraptor if you can not afford more (that at least givey you 10k RPM) or - much better - a SSD. If you run compilations / builds then man, this one poor HD will really get hit hard.

  • Thanks for your answer. Extremely sorry for the typo, I will be using 500 GB HDD not MB. I asked about no. of network interfaces because I think, I must use at least 3 interfaces for leased line, BB and lan, but not sure about other vms I will be creating for testing.
    – Silkograph
    Jun 16 '14 at 9:03
  • Totally depends how professional your backend is and whether you can dwal with VLAN's. For example in my backend all traffic runs one line towards the office. Uplink, everything. VLAN coded. THe VM's have multiple virtual NIC's that are attached to different VLAN's - of the same physical NIC.
    – TomTom
    Jun 16 '14 at 9:11

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