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Windows 7: Virtualization - What Now?

24 Aug 2010   #11
jimbo45

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dogcatcher View Post
On the Asus and Intel boards, are you using Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad? If you have a mix, do you see any substantial performance difference running ESXi on four rather than two cores?

What amount of RAM are you putting in these virtual server boxes?

Tks.
Hi there
IMO most people use Virtual Machines for running old legacy hardware or applications that the newer OS'es won't run -- or also for testing newer versions of software such as Office 2010 on Windows 7.

Most of the applications aren't really CPU intensive so ESXi will run quite nicely on 2 cores as well as 4 cores.

What YOU MUST HAVE is LOADS AND LOADS of SPARE RAM and FAST I/O DEVICES and a capable Network to accomodate the number of users who are likely to be logged on to the virtual server(s).

I doubt you would use a Virtual machine for testing a new version of a Game -- modern games don't lend themselves to virtualisation since a lot of them react DIRECTLY with the hardware often bypassing standard OS calls.

Virtual servers given sufficient RAM are quite OK to run web sites, database applications and typical Office type apps.

You don't need humoungous amounts of CPU power for these types of apps.

Cheers
jimbo


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24 Aug 2010   #12
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dogcatcher View Post
On the Asus and Intel boards, are you using Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad? If you have a mix, do you see any substantial performance difference running ESXi on four rather than two cores?
My Intel board runs an Core 2 Quad (Q9400) and my Asus boards run a Core 2 Duo (E8400). For what I do with the boxes, I don't really see much difference at all.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dogcatcher View Post
What amount of RAM are you putting in these virtual server boxes?
I have 8GB of RAM in each of these boxes...as it's the max that my boards will take. This easily allows me to run 5-10 concurrent boxes. With ESXi, it does a fair amount of memory sharing, ballooning and swapping techniques...hence you can "over-allocate" RAM and things will continue to churn away like normal as VMWare will shift the RAM around as the VM's need it.

In my production ESXi servers, I usually run 20-32GB of RAM in each box.
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24 Aug 2010   #13
apollodominion

Windows 8 X64 M3 8102 / Windows 7 Ultimate X64
 
 

I always have Windows XPSP3 32Bit , Windows 2KSP4 and Linux Ubuntu 32Bit and Fedora 64Bit

I run all the older games and other apps i like (Virtual Box) i have yet to try VMware
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26 Aug 2010   #14
Dogcatcher

WinXP, Win7, PCLinuxOS
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pparks1 View Post
Let me know if you run into any specific questions. I've used all of the products quite a bit and work with some of them on a daily basis...so always glad to help out where I can.
In addition to your use of ESXi, have you used the Xen hypervisor? If so, how would you compare them?
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26 Aug 2010   #15
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dogcatcher View Post
In addition to your use of ESXi, have you used the Xen hypervisor? If so, how would you compare them?
No, I haven't used it. The shops that I have been in have been VMWare users...and it's worked very well for me, so I haven't played around at all with Xen.
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26 Aug 2010   #16
cluberti

Windows 10 Pro x64
 
 

Well, one's a microkernel and one's a macrokernel (Xen/Hyper-V are microkernels, VMWare uses a macrokernel), which affects performance. For instance, CPU performance and RAM performance are generally much better in a microkernel architecture, but disk I/O throughput is usually much better in a macrokernel design. A macrokernel provides all hardware drivers for the hardware in the OS running in the root partition on the hypervisor which increases performance (versus a microkernel which uses the drivers passing through the root partition), but this can be a drawback too - a misbehaving driver in a specific VM can take down the whole parent VM server in a macrokernel hypervisor OS, versus a VM problem on a microkernel system being less impactful on the parent OS and hypervisor, meaning less impact on other VMs on that hypervisor.

There are all kinds of differences, and no one design is "better" than the other except in very specific scenarios, so it depends more on the OSes you're planning on virtualizing and the price you are willing to pay (and of course whether or not you've already decided on a different solution already). Windows shops, or shops that run specific non-Microsoft OSes probably should consider Xen or Hyper-V, because there's more flexibility in hardware choices (another microkernel benefit over macrokernel) and thus driver availability is much greater, but shops that are running many different OSes probably want to look at a macrokernel design like VMWare because there's more flexibility in the VM hosts that can run natively (the converse of having more choice in underlying hypervisor server type/OS).
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27 Aug 2010   #17
cowpatty

windows 7 64bit professional
 
 
growing into virtualization?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pparks1 View Post
Personally, there are no real standouts. Each has it's own set of things it does slightly differently than the others. Your needs really will dictate which is best.

For example, if you are strictly going to virtual Microsoft based operating systems, then virtual PC is just fine by me. However, I use, want and require Linux boxes as well which really lead me to other solutions like Virtual Box or VMWare Player.

My preference between VMWare Player and Virtual Box is vmware player. Mostly because I use VMWare ESX and ESXi at work extensively...therefore ease of use and consistency is key. VMware player 3.x does a great job with graphics and can do the aero interface...which I don't think Virtual box can do yet. VMware Player works just fine for me whether wired or wireless network. Also, VMware Player has a quick easy way to import XP Mode and also allows for Unity mode...thus giving me the ability to run apps seamlessly on my host.

With all that said, VirtualBox is a nice application as well. It allows snapshots and you can snap forward or back...and snapshots are not possible with VMware Player 3.0. In addition, VirtualBox has a unique method for using shared folders between the host and the guest which is nice for accessing files. However, I don't particularly like the way it bridges network interfaces...especially wireless ones.

So, I'd say to try each one and find the one that suits you best. Or keep multiple of them installed and use each one for it's strong suit. I used to do that for awhile when it was vmware server 2.0 and virtual box. But since VMware player 3.x came out, I no longer had a compelling need for VirtualBox...so I quit using it.


In all honesty, I think the best free product out there is VMware ESXi. However, this is a bare metal hypervisor...which means you don't have an OS installed on the machine....rather ESXi is the OS. It's somewhat picky with storage controllers and NIC's (as it's geared towards "real servers"), but you can find whitebox setups that work just fine. This product does a much better job with hardware utilization, reporting, scheduling, etc. You can really get the most bang for the buck out of the box since it's not also having to run Windows as a host OS with all of the guests.
Thank you for seasoned advice. While I did not ask the question, I too am interested in moving toward virtualization. My path so far have been with Ubuntu as a host OS and Virtualbox, with a variation of guest OS, as well as VMworkstation 7 hosted by both Ubuntu as well as Windows 7. I am struggling with the learning curves, and reading your post reminded me that I might move again, this time to EXSi. Please allow a couple of concept probes. 1) how well does EXSi deal with both Linux files as well as Windows files? My concern here is that I am struggling with "if" i can raid my boot drives, which I suppose most be Linux compatible, while the disk drives that work with Windows 7 apps must be NTSF? Finally how do i spec out a new EXSi box, and still have raid drives. 2) From what i can read (not clear), a new system build on EXSi, may require multiple boxes, one for the EXSi console and a second box to do the work. Warmest Personal Regards, cowpatty
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27 Aug 2010   #18
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cowpatty View Post
1) how well does EXSi deal with both Linux files as well as Windows files?
Perfectly fine as these are all individual virtual machines...so the virtual linux machine is just that and so is the virtual linux box.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cowpatty View Post
My concern here is that I am struggling with "if" i can raid my boot drives, which I suppose most be Linux compatible, while the disk drives that work with Windows 7 apps must be NTSF?
Raid the boot drives of what???? The virtual machines themselves...or the ESXi hypervisor machine? It doesn't necessarily make sense to RAID the boot drives of any of the VM's as they are going to only run as fast as the disks in the hypervisor itself.

As far as RAIDing the hypervisor, the boot drives don't do much. It's a very, very small OS. In fact, it boots in about 15 seconds and weights in around 180MB of disk space.

The drives comprising your datastores (where your VM's live), now that is a different story altogether. These can be raided and most likely will need to be raided for best performance...but they have to come from a server class RAID board or a few consumer class boards like the Adaptec 2405 PCI Express RAID card (which can do RAID 0/1/10). In other words, pretty much no onboard motherboard RAID is going to work in an ESXi box.

The other option is to use a dedicated storage box and connect the ESXi hypervisor to it via Fibre Channel (expensive), or iSCSI (pretty much free). You could use something like FreeNAS or OpenFiler (both free) on a commodity box and RAID your drives there...and then access them over iSCSI Nic's across the network. Of course, your speed is then limited by the NIC's themselves rather than the spindle speeds of the drives.

The underlying drives under ESXi are formatted as VMFS (vmware file system). However, the virtual machines format their VMDK files (their own virtual hard drives) and use whatever file system type the virtual OS supports. So, linux might be EXT2/3/4, while Windows would be FAT32 or NTFS.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cowpatty View Post
2) From what i can read (not clear), a new system build on EXSi, may require multiple boxes, one for the EXSi console and a second box to do the work.
This is correct. The ESXi box is a linux based console...Thus, no GUI. You cannot manage the VM's from the console of the ESXi box. Instead, you must install the VMWare vSphere client (free) on a Windows/Linux host with a GUI and connect remotely to your ESXi box to manage it.

Hope this helps.
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03 Sep 2010   #19
Mycatisbigfoot

Windows 7 Ultimate x32
 
 

Vm player will not let you use your own disks to install the os,
You will have to go with Vm workstation 7 but I love 7 alot as it works quite well ,
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14 Sep 2010   #20
Pikey

Windows 7 64bit RTM
 
 

Interesting thread!

I've been experimenting with Win7 XP mode and some VirtualBox machines recently .. might go and see what this VMware vSphere Hypervisor is all about next!
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