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VirtualBox or VMWare on desktops and servers
Archon
Member #4,195
January 2004
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I do the sysadmin at my work; it's a small business. Currently it has Windows Server 2008 installed on it and I think that it may need to upgrade to 2008 R2. However it is the the production server so I need to tread carefully.

I was thinking about how easier it would be to have Linux installed on it and running a virtual machine of the Windows Server inside it. If I try and tweak the system and it becomes unstable then I could just copy the backup image onto the production image and the damage would be undone. The Linux system would only be interfaced locally; no ssh or anything. Also, by using Linux, we would have access to the Linux tools (like rsync) and host virtual hard drives remotely (Windows Server Backup does not do incremental backups to remote locations).

I was wondering whether this is a good idea and whether anyone does this? How much of a performance hit would it be to run a server VM? Are there licencing issues?

Also, what is the performance hit (in your experience) to run workstation VMs? Can they access the 3D acceleration hardware if they run 3D software?

Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
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The licensing for VMWare may not be something your work will like, but it does come with decent support I think.

The problem with the other solutions is lack of support, and in KVM's case, its really crap at running windows :( sadly. I'd have suggested KVM otherwise.

Performance hit on a decent paravirtualized system is pretty low, like 10%. There are ways to allow access to a graphics card, but typically you need hardware support for that to work properly, and its not cheap.

You can run VirtualBox as a daemon, I've not done it myself, and I'm not sure its the best idea, but it could work.

--
Thomas Fjellstrom - [website] - [email] - [Allegro Wiki] - [Allegro TODO]
"If you can't think of a better solution, don't try to make a better solution." -- weapon_S
"The less evidence we have for what we believe is certain, the more violently we defend beliefs against those who don't agree" -- https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/592870205409353730

Archon
Member #4,195
January 2004
avatar

The licensing for VMWare may not be something your work will like, but it does come with decent support I think.

The VirtualBox base package is free and I am under the impression that it is quite stable.

Quote:

You can run VirtualBox as a daemon, I've not done it myself, and I'm not sure its the best idea, but it could work.

What do you think is wrong with the idea?

MiquelFire
Member #3,110
January 2003
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I think it's the fact it wasn't designed to run that way.

---
Febreze (and other air fresheners actually) is just below perfumes/colognes, and that's just below dead skunks in terms of smells that offend my nose.
MiquelFire.red | +Me
If it doesn't resolve the issue, we'll evaluate whether the latest round of anti-speculative-execution patches we've had to apply could somehow be responsible. (The performance impact of this fix is estimated to be just a couple of percent, but a banana on a football field isn't even that much and yet woe unto the quarterback who steps on it.) Gonna have to start looking at AMD CPUs. ~Owner of Nearly Free Speech.net

Jeff Bernard
Member #6,698
December 2005
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What's the bitness of your Server 2008? If you're 64bit, then you can just install Hyper-V and run the VM through that.

(Also you must not be pre-RTM Server 2008, which I just assume you aren't.)

--
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

Archon
Member #4,195
January 2004
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I think it's the fact it wasn't designed to run that way.

No one runs jailed operating systems like that (i.e. not just for testing)?

MiquelFire
Member #3,110
January 2003
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I meant the VirtualBox as a daemon. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that it was designed in a way that it's a bit of a mess doing it.

---
Febreze (and other air fresheners actually) is just below perfumes/colognes, and that's just below dead skunks in terms of smells that offend my nose.
MiquelFire.red | +Me
If it doesn't resolve the issue, we'll evaluate whether the latest round of anti-speculative-execution patches we've had to apply could somehow be responsible. (The performance impact of this fix is estimated to be just a couple of percent, but a banana on a football field isn't even that much and yet woe unto the quarterback who steps on it.) Gonna have to start looking at AMD CPUs. ~Owner of Nearly Free Speech.net

Archon
Member #4,195
January 2004
avatar

I meant the VirtualBox as a daemon. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that it was designed in a way that it's a bit of a mess doing it.

I would've thought that doing this would be way more common -- it would allow testing and production on the same hardware without buying the extra hardware (the production server couldn't be resource-intensive or being required to be always on).

furinkan
Member #10,271
October 2008
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I'm interested in the outcome of your adventures.

I thought that the hardware was presented to the virtual machine as very generic, and the only hardware compatibility that one should usually concern themselves with is making sure that VMWare itself can interface with your hardware. ???

Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
avatar

Archon said:

I would've thought that doing this would be way more common

VirtualBox is a desktop virtualization solution. It doesn't make using it as a server as easy as using it as a regular desktop app.

--
Thomas Fjellstrom - [website] - [email] - [Allegro Wiki] - [Allegro TODO]
"If you can't think of a better solution, don't try to make a better solution." -- weapon_S
"The less evidence we have for what we believe is certain, the more violently we defend beliefs against those who don't agree" -- https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/592870205409353730

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