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Which Host OS For My Case

Posted on 2014-10-20
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Last Modified: 2014-12-06
Hey. I just got myu 2nd rackmount case outfitted with a GA-Z97X-SLI board, New i5 and an Asus Radeon R7 260x GPU.
Now this Gigabyte board definitely supports W8.1 and will probably handle Server 2012, I plan to use this 2nd of the 2 servers for an VM DC2, additional RAID5 storage and the virtualization of my own desktop needs.

Which OS should I use for this Hyper-V host? I need the Hyper-bus to support this video card for my large flat screens and hopefully my HDMI input card.
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Question by:A_AmericanELectric
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Seth Simmons earned 250 total points
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do 8.1 pro; it would best support the hardware
server operating systems are not designed for high-end graphics; may not even be drivers for it as i only see windows 7 & 8/8.1
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by:A_AmericanELectric
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Thanks Seth! That is what I was thinking too. I plan to setup a streaming media server on the 2nd build too. What a perfect combo of new servers!
One of the next things I plan to play with is SAN (within my rack). Does 8.1 support NIC teaming and Storage roles?
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by:Seth Simmons
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it doesn't support nic teaming but depending on your adapter, the vendor might have teaming software for it
it does support storage spaces but better off with a physical raid card rather than software managed

Storage Spaces: FAQ
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/storage-spaces-pools
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by:Cliff Galiher
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I have to disagree with the initial advice here. If you plan on running a DC as a VM, you should run server 2012 R2. The hardware support between 8.1 and 2012 R2 is identical, as are the APIs. What is different is feature support, and client Hyper-V is very limited.

With that said, servers are servers and clients are clients. If you plan on driving large monitors for desktop use from this machine, you shouldn't be running Hyper-V  for production workloads at all. Those two uses are so different that you'll compromise one role for the benefit of the other. You'll never get both use cases to be both performant and reliable on the same hardware. If you want this to be a desktop machine, use other hardware for your second hyper-v host. Or if you picked this hardware for virtualization, don't run desktop workloads on it (And therefore won't need the large monitors hooked to it.)

Finally, as for the graphics card, depending on how you plan on using the system, it may or may not provide any benefit. Obviously as a desktop it will. For the usual Hyper-V server workloads, it would not. There are VDI implementations that can use a GPU for accelerated graphics, but running VDI takes very specific planning (you can't just one-off hardware on a whim) and you'd still never access the desktop VMs from the server itself. RemoteFX vGPU acceleration is designed to go hand-in-hand with compatible hardware on the client-side and console access isn't the intended use case at all.
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by:nattygreg
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I second Cliff here, now if you're really tech savvy, I would run Linux server on this because of its smaller footprint on resources than windows and you can really serve up a storm without worrying about licenses.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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WIndows Server 2012 R2. (if you have all the drivers for your hardware).
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by:A_AmericanELectric
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Thanks everyone.
Ok Cliff I kind of understand most of that but as soon as I raised the question I knew the desktop/server topic would come up. The truth is that I kinda got the fever and went a little overboard with these builds. I have always ran a server for my business on some level but really I (Administrator@apes.local) am my one and only domain user in this environment.
Initially I thought it would be cool to build a half-sized rack and move my server tower and my desktop tower into a couple of rack-mount cases with the Dell PowerConnect switch and it grew to 2 new machines.
So server 1 (2012R2) runs only Hyper-V (per your recommendation). Then I have VMs: APLUSDC-1, APLUSSERVER-3 for IIS and ColdFusion, APLUSSERVER-4 for SQL and I will probably bring APLUSSERVER-2 back on for a RAS.

Now I have server #2 ready to get the 4 1TB 6GB/s drives from the old towers slapped into it for my 1st RAID 10 and put power put to it.
Should I just leave it and its fairly expensive GPU card as my desktop or from an IT standpoint what would be the best use of it keeping in mind that although I still need to have access to my CAD,estimating and a handful of other software, much of this is based on learning new things (like SAN and job folders)
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by:Cliff Galiher
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" or from an IT standpoint what would be the best use of it"

That is *entirely* subjective and, to be blunt, I don't know why you'd expect any expert to be able to tell you what you want to do with your own hardware. The best we can do is give you practices to do or practices to avoid...which I think I've already done.

"much of this is based on learning new things"

Understood. But I'd argue this:  Does it do any good to learn *bad* habits?  Or to learn a skill you'd never use in production? Sure, you *can* learn how to run through a smoke filled building where you can't see and can barely hear anything. Should you?  Only if you are a firefighter!  Can you learn to do it without any protective gear?  Again, probably? Should you? Heck no! Not even firefighters do that!

It is a crude analogy but effective. Why learn how to force Hyper-V to do things it was never meant to do?  Why learn how to set up a machine to run as a desktop with a fast GPU *and* pull server workloads?  Sometimes the best things to learn are what *not* to do. Ever. Not even in a lab, not even for fun. You are only mentally reinforcing bad habits down the road.

So back to the question at hand and my initial sentence. We can't tell you *how* you should use your hardware. Should you use it as a server and let that high-end GPU sit idle?  If you really want to learn Hyper-V, perhaps that is a good choice. It is a waste of a GPU, yes. But at least you *are* learning by using the system as a server (and *only* a server.)  Should you use it as a desktop and just forgo having a second server to play with? You get the benefit of the GPU and have a darn good desktop workstation. But you may find your test lab is now one or two machines short and you won't be able to explore some interesting configurations.

EITHER choice is valid. I can't tell you which one YOU should do as what is "right" for me is not necessarily "right" for you. What I *can* tell you (again going back to telling you good practices or bad practices) is that trying to do BOTH (desktop and server) is a bad practice. That isn't a personal choice. It is just bad work hiding under the guise of "trying to learn." Don't do it.

Sorry if this comes across a little preachy...but...there it is.
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by:A_AmericanELectric
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No its fine and understood. Not really asking what to do with the hardware as much as I was asking someone "in the know" about concepts that I may have no idea of. I'm going to go on and install 2012 again with the 1st VM as DC2 and then play around with some other guest OS's
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