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Basic steps and recommendations for installing a virtual server

OK - I am ready to play around with installing a Virtual Server and testing installing configuring, crashing, fixing, etc etc.
I am assuming this question will continue from here and spawn into what I hope will be some further instructions on how exactly to go about this.  But I am going to start simple.

So please expect this to continue further - but all of it underneath the scope of my original question.

I have licenses for both Server 2003 and Server 2008 available.

I only have 2 servers, both in production - so i am not about to screw around with them.  And that is precisely what I plan to do - install some Virtual machines and play around.  I would like to go so far as creating a virtual network and practice configuration, AD, install Exchange (I have licenses avail there too) - and basically run the whole field of things one could do - and not have to worry about making any wrong moves.

I am mostly self-taught, and had a lot of help in configuring my current network - and I want to try it all on my own and see what happens from scratch.  
I am contemplating implementing virtualization in my network, plus, I am about to start taking Microsoft Courses, and I have read ALOT of help menus, tutorials, study guides, and alot of EE posts - but I need to really dig in and get my hands dirty.

So, I am looking for recommendations on how to do this.

Question #1
Do I need to do this on a "server" machine?  Or can it be done on a desktop?  


Question #2
Do i need to have a server OS on the Host?
Or can I do it on a nice beefy XP machne (Intel Core 2 6600 2.4)?  
Or even 1 or 2 more older desktops available in my shop (minimum Pentium 4 3.0GHZ machines probably with 1-2 GB RAM)?
I swear I read about people putting virtual servers on XP hosts, is that true?

Question #3
That beefy machine I mentioned above is a production machine that I work on - am i risking anything by using this machine to play around with?  If i crash a virtual server - what risk am i putting the rest of my machine at?  Or should I stick to a decommissioned machine?

Question #4
Which of the virtualization softwares would you recommend I start with?  I intend to try several of them to see which I might want to use in production -  all the more reason for this testing - but being new to virtualization - is there one you would recommend a newbie start with?

Question #5
What are your "top 5" pitfalls - biggest blunders to watch out for, that kind of thing - for virtual server installation.  I intend on playing with BOTH 2003 and 2008, and Exchange 2003 and 2007 (32-bit test mode).

I would like to stop there for now.  I am sure you will all have questions, and as stated - I intend on coming back to the well for more and to keep this open as I get going and get through at least installing one of the Virtualization softwares and at least one server OS.

I am NOT trying to be lazy and ask things that are answered elsewhere.  I have read more than my fair share of posts here on EE - so many I cant remember - so if something is already documented elsewhere that can help me here - please just point me in the right direction...
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mmorocco
Asked:
mmorocco
2 Solutions
 
ComputerTechieCommented:

Q1: You can run Virtual Server on a desktop fine if your have enough memory and processors speed.
Q2: Yes a Q6600 will run fine as long as you have enough memory. I have ran two server on one box.
Q3: When you crash a Virtual server it like crashing a server. Normal the host is safe but i would not use a production machine.
Q4: I personal like using vmware it runs on 64 bit operation systems.
Q5: Make sure you make all your hardware changes and install vmware tools and other updates before activation your operating system  
CT
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stlbridgeCommented:
You shouldn't post 5 questions within a single question.
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Abhay PujariCommented:
Answer to your questions
Question #1
Do I need to do this on a "server" machine?  Or can it be done on a desktop?  
>>> No, you do not need server, provided your desktop got enough RAM and HDD.

Question #2
Do i need to have a server OS on the Host?
Or can I do it on a nice beefy XP machne (Intel Core 2 6600 2.4)?  
Or even 1 or 2 more older desktops available in my shop (minimum Pentium 4 3.0GHZ machines probably with 1-2 GB RAM)?
I swear I read about people putting virtual servers on XP hosts, is that true?
>>> No, not necessary. You can use multiple machines. As I stated above, you need Enough RAM and good HDD space.

Question #3
That beefy machine I mentioned above is a production machine that I work on - am i risking anything by using this machine to play around with?  If i crash a virtual server - what risk am i putting the rest of my machine at?  Or should I stick to a decommissioned machine?
>>> No, if you play around VM, your host will not be affected. But it is better to use Test machines.

Question #4
Which of the virtualization softwares would you recommend I start with?  I intend to try several of them to see which I might want to use in production -  all the more reason for this testing - but being new to virtualization - is there one you would recommend a newbie start with?
>>> You can use all the softwares that are in your production environment.

Question #5
What are your "top 5" pitfalls - biggest blunders to watch out for, that kind of thing - for virtual server installation.  I intend on playing with BOTH 2003 and 2008, and Exchange 2003 and 2007 (32-bit test mode).
>>> Absolutely nothing. If you encounter errors post them here. I assure you a solution.
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mmoroccoAuthor Commented:
thank you ComputerTechie and abhvp.

i intend on getting around to trying this out asap.  it is going to be the only way I really start learning.  

the problem is i spend so much of my day trying to keep up with what i have going on now, that I never know when I will find time to just start playing around installing virtual OS.

So, in any event, I am splitting the points between you two and thank you for your input.  I am closing the question to award you the points and not keep it open as I had originally hoped to and keep going further on from here.  I suppose I will just start new questions later if necessary.

Thx!
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