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Windows 7: virtual windows server and workstations system requirements and config


28 Feb 2013   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 
virtual windows server and workstations system requirements and config

I am currently enrolled in a college course on networking, which be followed next semester by a course on Windows Server 2008 R2. Through Dream Spark I have Windows Server 2008 R2 and various versions of Windows 7 available free of charge. The household budget cannot support more than one extra computer with two monitors.

My desire is to tinker with a client server network here at home without impacting the other computers in the house. I am thinking that a test machine is my best choice to accomplish this. Ideally I would like to have a Windows 7 Professional, x64 host with a virtualized network employing a Windows Server and a Windows 7 client. I would like to be able to view the server on one monitor and the client on a second monitor. If my understanding is correct, that way I can restore a VM snapshot without disabling the host machine if I encounter any critical or fatal errors during the learning process.

My only experience with VMs has been Windows 7 hosting Ubuntu (for an intro to Linux course) on VMWare Player. Only the bare minimum configuration for enabling Ubuntu was used. So ----
  • Is this even possible?
  • What are the minimum processor and memory requirements to support this? (i3 with hyperthreading and visualization enabled and 8GB Ram?)
  • Are high end video cards necessary?
  • Can the virtual network be set up in the VM by a novice?
  • Are separate VMs required, or can it be done on a single VM?
  • What VM would be the best option to use?
  • Is this too complicated for a VM novice to tackle while learning another new topic at the same time?
  • What else do I need to know?
Your answers to these questions and any other useful feedback will help me decide if I should invest the time and money to proceed. Thanks for your feedback.

drpepper

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

03 Mar 2013   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Sure it's a good idea to try everything on VMs, both the server and some clients, for the sake of testing it's easier and don't cause any problem on the real machine.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
Is this even possible?
Yes, of course, it's the idea of using Virtual machines for testing.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
What are the minimum processor and memory requirements to support this? (i3 with hyperthreading and visualization enabled and 8GB Ram?)
Will vary greatly depending on how many clients you want to simulate and what OSs are involved. The main requirement will be RAM and disk space. Processor is not that important as the VMs will be mostly idle, I guess an i3 will do.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
Are high end video cards necessary?
Not at all, unless you plan to run games. For a network practice and server management course, I doubt you need it


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
Can the virtual network be set up in the VM by a novice?
Depends on the VM used, sure it's doable, the only thing is how much control you want to simulate (like routers, forwarding, IPs, DNSs and DHCPs). By default, most VM programs leave defaults that "just work", but hardly simulate real life enterprise environments. I would start with those defaults, make everything work, then customize the network, security, and everything else. It's a nice way to practice too, as some servers are really virtual machines too.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
Are separate VMs required, or can it be done on a single VM?
Yes, you need multiple. At least 2, one for the server and one for a client using it, both running at the same time. The real host may simulate a client to some extent too. More VMs can be used to add even more terminals.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
What VM would be the best option to use?
I only used VirtualBox, and know it's good for the task. No idea if it's THE best, but can do for sure.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
Is this too complicated for a VM novice to tackle while learning another new topic at the same time?
I don't think so, mostly it's setting up a bunch of parameters explained in the GUI and get it to run, install and configure. VMs today are really simple to use.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by drpepper View Post
What else do I need to know?
Maybe keep the manuals/website of the VM handy just in case?
Otherwise, just start and see how far you can reach, if something goes really wrong, you have only to delete the VMs and start over.


I can think of another alternative too. Given that you have a free copy of Win2008, you may as well install it in the real machine and use it as your main OS instead of Windows 7, so you can freely explore the extra features alongside your normal usage, and create VMs for simulating clients only. Sure it's more work and implies a full reinstall, but it's another choice too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2013   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 

Alejandro85,

Thanks for addressing my questions in a point-by-point fashion. Now that I have some foundational information, I will explain the intended use of a new computer. The existing computers in the house are in continuous use for several hours every day for school and work purposes. The new computer will be for test purposes not limited to the VMs. I do not want to compromise the other computers with my tinkering. Problems with the test computer can wait virtually forever before being repaired while allowing the other computers to perform more critical tasks. Therefore I am reluctant to involve any of them in a "real" network during my learning process. The Windows workgroup is sufficient for now to share files and printers.

Please tell me if I am wrong here. Regarding your suggestion about installing the server as the main OS and clients in VMs, I think that my desired use would be better served by a different configuration. Here is the architecture which I believe would be a good choice for the intended use.

For testing both inside and outside of the client/server, I am thinking that the host OS would be Windows 7 Pro x64. Then set up separate VMs with Windows Server 2008 R2 and one or two Windows 7 Pro clients. Using two monitors I could view both the server and client at the same time to observe the results of server configuration changes in the client in real time and manipulate both the client and server without the necessity of moving from one computer to another. Meanwhile I can retain use of the host OS for other testing if I crash any of the VMs. Does that sound reasonable?

Would the VMs include virtual hardware (like switches or routers) or support hardware emulators to simulate the real hardware? Is this too technically difficult?

As for specs, I have continued my research. From what I have encountered so far, it looks like recommended (not minimum) specs ask for 2GHz processor speed, 2GB RAM, and 40GB HDD for each of the individual OSs. The i3 exceeds this speed, host + VM server + 2 VM clients = 8GB RAM, and host + VM server + 2 VM clients = 160GB HDD. If my understanding is correct, this would be the recommended specs to run all four OSs simultaneously. When the VMs are not running, all the hardware resources would be available to the host OS. Is that correct?

drpepper
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


04 Mar 2013   #4

W7 X-64 RTM,SUSE 11.1, XP PRO SP3 as a VM, VMware ESXi
 
 

Hi there
IMO ALL servers should be run as Virtual machines -- I run a W2K3 server as a VM -- works brilliantly. - Incidentally W2008 server has problems if you want to use SOUND and W2012 server has problems if you want to play video in a browser on your server.

I'd suggest running the SERVER as the VM rather than the client computers -- then you can share programs like Office etc (I think you can have up to 4 clients before you need to get extra licenses -- that's what worked with W2K3 server -- don't know about recent licenses though with newer servers).

An easy way to monitor the server is to simply use RDP from any client machine -- you can RDP to a Virtual machine just like you can to a Physical machine - but unless you are logging on to the server from a HOST machine running the virtual server you need to connect via a LAN rather than via Wireless otherwise the response can be poor especially if you want full screen full graphics capability in the RDP session and also if you want to transfer large chunks of data.

Note also that a SERVER running as a VM can be accessed by users from any client machine WITHOUT having to have an account on the HOST system the VM server is running on -- they simply need to have an account the server itself --just like a physical machine.

For HOME server use I'd suggest you make the W2008 server look and behave more like a workstation -- running a "Normal server" gives quite a lot of "Nag" messages etc which aren't appropriate in a non commercial environment.

http://www.win2008workstation.com/

I did a similar thing for W2K3 server -- even had XP games installed on it. !!!

Note if you DO run W2008 server as a desktop OS you still won't get any sound -- so Bang goes your TV / Movie watching. W2K3 is fine -- although you probably won't be able to find the OS any more however if you CAN find a copy -- this is what I did with it .

http://win2k3.msfn.org/

Cheers
jimbo
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 virtual windows server and workstations system requirements and config




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