QUICKLY NEED A TEST SERVER ENVIRONMENT - VIRTUAL OPTIONS? OTHER OPTIONS?

I need to test some server applications and want to setup a windows 2003 test server.  Ideally like to set this up on my desktop PC which has XP Pro. Also don't have money to spend on any software.

Which FREE Virtual Software would you recommend? Does it have a OS package (VHD ?) ready to go for Windows Server 2003? 2008?

Can it be installed on XP Pro? Win 2003? Win 2008?

Other option would be dual boot? OR ?

 PLEASE HELP NEED TO SET THIS UP TODAY! THANK YOU!
ETdudeAsked:
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
2 VMware products are free -> VMware Player and VMware Server. Player *is* supported for your host OS (XP), but VMware Server is *not* supported for XP...you have to install it on a Windows Server OS (or Linux). Now, in saying that, there has been many posters who have installed Server on a non-windows server OS and its run, but others have done so and have had problems with certain functions. I will never recommend doing so (you don't get a warning during install about being on a non-supported OS...so it may install ok, but may not work/function correctly). You can certainly try VMware Server since this is just going to be for testing. Either of the virtual products do not come with a W2K3 VM. You need to have that OS on your own. You could certainly create a dual-boot system but the problem with that is the hassle of having to log out of XP to be able to then log into W2K3. So, with the 2 VMware products I mentioned above, the only cost involved is the W2K3 software; but if you already have that to create a VM with, then it's all free.

Hope that helps.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Go here to download Player:
http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/desktop_downloads/vmware_player/3_0
(here is a getting started guide, but doesn't share too much in the way of usage, etc.: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vmware_player310.pdf; you can look at the Workstation Guide for more info: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/ws71_manual.pdf, which is what VMware recommends to use for Admin/Usage for Player)

or here for Server:
http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/datacenter_downloads/vmware_server/2_0
(here is the User Guide for Server: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vmserver2.pdf)

Hope that helps.

~coolsport00
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
Isn't MS Virtual Server Free as well? Looks like they have VHD files which basically is ready to go SERVER OS for trial \ testing period?

Does vmware offer the same?
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coolsport00Commented:
Yes, I believe VS is free, but again, you have to have the W2K3 server OS disk to create a VM. MS doesn't have a 'ready-made' W2K3 to test with (that I'm aware of)?

~coolsport00
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coolsport00Commented:
Let me clarify for you as well - Virtual Server I use at my org, and have for over 4yrs now. I have always had to have an OS install disk to create a VM. I think you may be confused on the "server OS" part. I believe a requirement to use VS is that it also has to be installed on a Windows SERVER OS like VMware Server (in other words, you can't install it on XP). You'll have to look at the sys req's for VS as I don't have them on-hand at the moment. Does that help?

~coolsport00
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
Ok if I have to have my own OS (WIN 2003 for example) then what is this VHD all about?
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coolsport00Commented:
I don't understand. What is what VHD all about? VHD is the virtual disk format used by MS VS. Do you have a W2K3 VHD file?

~coolsport00
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=a4fbe2f3-45dd-46bf-8747-16a111c04107&displaylang=en

This looks like a ready to go OS ?  I would imagine other such VHDs exist somewhere for other OS?
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Dk_guruConnect With a Mentor Commented:
VMware
You can get ESXi for free (trial or license) or you can get a 30 day trial of workstation.
then check out the appliances in particular:
http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/649
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
Dual booting may be a cleaner and easier way to go?

Does it matter which OS installed first for a dual boot to work (XP or server OS) ?

Is there some software to make dual boot easier ? Free or cheap option?
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Ah...ok...a test for W2K8. OK...yes, that is a 'ready-to-go' virtual disk (not a VM). You just create the VM then choose not to create a virtual disk with it, but instead use an already created virtual disk (the W2K8 VHD file. Your problem is what to use. MS VS req's a server host OS to run. But, you can use MS Virt PC:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=04d26402-3199-48a3-afa2-2dc0b40a73b6

~coolsport00
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
Ok so I can use MS Virt PC on my XP PRO and then use VHD for W2k8 to load\run off of the Virt PC ?
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
According to the sys req's on that link, yes. You just need to have 1. available disk space for your guest (VM), as well as RAM - min for your VM for a W2K8 R2 OS would be 1GB, then enough memory for your XP host...so a total of 4GB minimum is my suggestion.

~coolsport00
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
ok...so Virtual Appliance = VHD file = ready to go OS to install on a Virtual server (can be installed on MS Virtual PC or server) ?

Vmware doesn't work with VHD or have their own file type \ virtual appliance?
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coolsport00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Umm...not exactly. A virtual appliance is a whole VM, with a specific application(s) installed for the appliance(s) specific purpose. A VHD is simply a virtual disk. It is close, though, to what you think...it may or may not have an OS installed...and/or apps, etc. with it....or it may not. You can create a brand new VM with a virtual disk (VHD) and it not have an OS installed on it, yet.

No, VMware doesn't have a server VM like that....not Windows-based, but you can double-check the link "dk_guru" gave you above. They do have Linux-based VMs, though, if I recall (been a while since I've been to VMware's VA site). If you want to use VMware, what you have to do is first use Virtual PC to create a VM and use the VHD. Then, you can use vCenter Converter Standalone tool to convert that VM to a VMware-based VM....if you want to. It really just depends on what platform you want to use/test with. If you want to learn more about VMware, it would be more work to install PC then create the 2K8 VM, then convert it to VMware, but not hard...just a few more steps. According to the User's Guide for Converter (http://www.vmware.com/pdf/converter_standalone_guide401.pdf, pg. 21), you can convert Virt PC VMs.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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ETdudeAuthor Commented:
got good array of options to try
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