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Recommended Test Virtualization software and hardware??

Posted on 2008-10-03
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Last Modified: 2010-04-09
Hi,

I am planning on setting up a Test Virtual Network so that I can experiment with Windows 2003 servers, DB Servers, Web Servers etc.

To be portable I plan to build a Micro ATX box which would contain an Intel Q66 Quad  processor on Intel board with 8GB RAM (4 X 2GB). In addition I plan to have two SATA 2 500GB 7200rpm drives.

The host O/S could be windows 2003, XP or WIndows 2008. I have all of the MS stuff, so fairly flexible here.

Currently I use VirtualPC 2007 SP1, but I guess I could use Virtual 2005 Server or Hyper V. I have even considered Sun's VIrtualBox due to its speed and Linux support. I want to create a virtual network for testing and training purposes as well as for developmental purposes. I also plan to RD into the virtual machines.

What are your thoughts on this? What would be the best setup ?

Thanks,

Sam
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Question by:SamJolly
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kevinhsieh earned 500 total points
ID: 22641480
Sam,

You are starting off in pretty good shape.

The Microsoft virtualization software is easy to use, and you're already using it, so I would stick with it.  The advantage of Virtual Servr 2005 R2 SP1 over Virtual PC is that the virtualization service runs as a service, and your guests can automatically retart after a reboot.  Hyper-V has the same advantage, and it's much faster.  Hyper-V can only be managed via Vista or Windows 2008, which is a downside.  You can use the same VHD files that you already use to move to Virtual Server or Hyper-V.  Hyper-V also supports x64 guests, where the other two don't.  My general recommendation is to go to Hyper-V if you can.

On the hardware side, your processor supports VT and Hyper-V, so you're good there.  You may want more RAM, depending on how many VMs you want to run and how much RAM you want to give them.  I suggest adding up all of the RAM for your guests and than adding 512-768 MB for the host to come up with your total RAM requirements.
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22642834
Kevin,

Thanks for your comment. I have some friends using Hyper-V with good results. I do have Windows 2008 so could install it. I went for 8GB RAM since I was struggling to find a board that suppored more. Perhaps I was not looking hard enough, but I am plannign on using a ASUS/Gigabyte type board costing around £100 ($170).

Out of interest is Linux a no-no for Hyper-V?

Thanks for your help,

Sam
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 22652583
I am not very good with Linux.  I have had problems with installing Linux distros under Microsoft virtualization technologies (Virtual Server, Virtual PC) because of hardware detection issues and then X configuration issues.  I believe that Microsoft's video driver is 32 bit or 16 bit color only.  You will need to edit xorg.conf to switch your color depth to 16 bit or the display will be all wrong.  Suse is officially supported with VMadditions.  Other distros are not supported.
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22652898
Kevin,

Thanks for this.

Out of interest do you have any experience with running several VM solutions on the same machine. I am thinking of possibly using Hyper-V and VirtualBox for the Linux stuff.

Sam
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 22654378
I looked at VirtualBox, and it looks like a full software based emulation like Virtial Server, Virtual PC, VMWare Server/Workstation.  It may run inside/along another virtualization environment.  You can probably also use KVM or Zen (with paravirtualized guests).
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Author Comment

by:SamJolly
ID: 22655078
Kevin,

Thanks for your help. Really appreciated. I will close this off now.

Have a great week.

Sam
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