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Windows 7: VM Ware or Hyper-V?

03 Jun 2010   #1
loaba

Windows 7 Home x64
 
 
VM Ware or Hyper-V?

I'm taking Windows Server and Linux Essentials this summer and have used both VM Ware (Linux, Ubuntu) and Hyper-V (Server 2008 R2).

I want work on both OS's from home and I could do a triple boot, but I think it would be good to use virtual machines for a while. What's the best configuration here? Should I just install both apps, or is one clearly better than the other?

I'll get lots of experience using Hyper-V in the the Windows class, so if I use VM Ware at home I think that would be okay.

Couple of random thoughts... My system only has 4gb of RAM, so I'll only be able to run one VM at a time. If I upgrade to 8gb pg RAM, how taxing would it be to have both VM's up at the same time? I'd allocate 2gb each, leaving 4gb for the host (Win 7).

What are your thoughts?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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03 Jun 2010   #2
smarteyeball

 
 

I can't comment on which VM machine is more suited to your task (I use VM Ware Workstation and Suns VirtualBox) but upgrading to 8GB for running multiple machines would indeed be beneficial. (less pagefile swapping is always a good thing for smoothness)

Personally, on my intel OC'ed Q9550 8GB and my current i7 + 6GB I didn't/dont feel the machine was taxed at all and was easily able to handle multiple VMs running at once.

However, the CPU's themselves also had a large part to do with that.


Basically, more RAM = Better
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Jun 2010   #3
loaba

Windows 7 Home x64
 
 

Smarty - I don't have any real application, other than initial setup and running lab exercises. Long term, I imagine Server 2008 will go away, or be relegated to a testing role. Linux is another beast entirely. Initially, it to will be for lab purposes, mainly command line stuff. However, I like Linux and want to continue using it, along with Windows.

Currently, I have a dual-boot situation that is more than a little unsatisfying. I'd like get away from it, so virtualization is really tantalizing. I think the best setup will be to use Windows 7 as the host and to then virtualize Linux (and Server 2008). I just don't know which VM app is best.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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04 Jun 2010   #4
smarteyeball

 
 

Depending on how the app itself behaves inside the VM, it essentially comes down to a matter of personal preference.

I haven't personally used Hyper-V myself, so can't comment on that one.


I have found that overall, Suns Virtualbox 'feels' smoother and snappier than VM Workstation does. Conversely, it does does have it's limitations. Seamless integration wise, it can be hit and miss depending on which distro you use. Some are great, others not so much.

Popular distro's like Ubuntu for example, even support Compiz etc. Other's have spotty host/guest integration support.

Another downside is that Sun has now been taken over by Oracle and I have as yet to try it's offering as anecdotal reports are that it's still rather buggy. I don't know how much longer the Sun version will be supported. Current version is 3.1.8

Workstation, once running is smooth, but does take longer to resume/save states etc. As for distro support, I haven't really used it as much for Linux as I tend to use Virtualbox for most of my Linux VM's.

I guess the simple and unfortunate answer, is try them all and use the one that works for what you need, and which you like the best.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2010   #5
loaba

Windows 7 Home x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by smarteyeball View Post
I guess the simple and unfortunate answer, is try them all and use the one that works for what you need, and which you like the best.
Well, I am trying to a get an Associates degree in Systems Administration (perhaps even a Bachelors in Computer Science), so trying 'em all is exactly what I should be doing.
  • Hyper-V - as I said earlier, I'll get plenty of this in my two Windows labs, so maybe I can pass on it at home.
  • Virtualbox - I keep seeing references to this app, who makes it? Is it free DL?
  • VM Ware - I know there is a free (gimped?) version of it, so I'll definitely give it a go.

Thanks for all your input, Smarty.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2010   #6
smarteyeball

 
 

Virtualbox is free for personal use:

Sun VirtualBox was originally created by Sun Microsystems. It was relatively recent that they were bought by Oracle who have kept the name Virtualbox.

Last of the Sun Versions:
Download_Old_Builds_3_1 - VirtualBox



Oracle Version:
Downloads - VirtualBox

VM Ware Player (the 'gimped version')
VMware Player: Run Windows 7, Chrome OS - Free Download for a Virtual PC
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2010   #7
fseal

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
 
 

I love Virtual Box, free, functional.

That means it MUST be screwed over and soon, it's the way life works

But since it is a free DL and takes a minute to install and try out, there's no reason not to.

VMWare works pretty good but it's also not without it's own tweaky host integration problems. I use it at work, but at home I use VirtualBox.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2010   #8
zzz2496

Windows7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

loaba, there are 3 major virtualization techniques that are commonly used today. I'll try to explain it as simple as I can...
  1. Software mode: this is what VMware has been (with some Virtualization acceleration, maybe it'll speed up a little). This type, you can say it's the most "compatible" of all techniques, because it recreates every hardware there is in a PC in software. With the help of Virtualization acceleration (VT-x, AMD-V), it can boost the speed a little, but most of the hardware recognized by the VM Guest is still in software. This type is the slowest of all, because every instructions the guest issued will be checked to see if it's safe or not, a not safe instruction can crash the VM and the HOST together. Several examples: VirtualPC, VirtualBox, VMware Player/Workstation/Server
  2. Paravirtualization mode: this is what is used by Xen (or XenSource). It's a virtualization technique that requires a modified kernel, to make the guest aware that it's virtualized and needs to use "safe" instructions. This type is much faster than any other types but it requires a lot of work on the guest OS kernel side. Example: Xen.
  3. Hypervisor: this is the last type, it's the latest technique, bare metal, use the latest tech in virtualization world. Most of other virtualization techniques, you need a host OS, and the virtualization software runs on top of this host OS. Hypervisor OTOH is THE OS, it's a thin layer of virtualization platform that have very small foot print that manages the guest OSes. This type is the hype these days, it's currently the faster ones and almost the most "compatible". Several examples: Hyper-V, VMware ESX, and Proxmox.
zzz2496
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2010   #9
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I use virtualization stuff extensively at work. We run about 150 boxes virtually in production as well as test and development. All of our virtualization stuff is using VMWare's ESX products, or ESXi.

I have tried using Hyper-V, and even bought a book on Hyper-V to try to come to grips with it and compared to VMWare's offerings, I just don't care for it at all. The administration is a nightmare when you have workstations and servers in mixed domains, or some in workgroups and some on the domain.

At work, I have a few desktop type machines which I use for testing. With a dual core or quad core processor and 8GB of RAM...I have no problems running 3-4 concurrent virtual machines and still getting very good performance across all of the VM's and the host computer itself.


VMware has a smattering of virtualization products. Many of which are free...but not necessarily "gimped" as you suggested...just suited for different types of people. I'll highlight the main points of each one
  • vmware server 2.0. It's free and runs on a Windows system or Linux system. It's meant to be more of an enterprise or server based appication. It runs as a service, so you can log out of your computer and the VM's still run. However, it runs on-top of a fully running operating system...so performance while good isn't as good as it can be with a hypervisor based product
  • vmware-player 3.x. It's free and runs on a Windows system or Linux system. It's a client side workstation application...so you cannot log out of your session without shutting down the VM's. In the past, player could only playback machines...but with the 3.x release it can create them as well. It supports advanced graphics stuff like AERO. However, it doesn't support creating snapshots of running VM's and it's network choices are more simplistic than VMWare Workstation. Again it runs on-top of a host operating system, so performance less stellar than hypervisor based product.
  • VMWare Workstation: This is around $180. It's a workstation based product...This supports snapshotting and far more networking options than the VMWare Player application. Again it runs on-top of a host operating system, so performance less stellar than hypervisor based product.
  • VMware ESXi : This is free. It's a hypervisor product...which means that it runs as it's own operating system...thus there is no Windows or Linux host already running on the machine. It has a very small install footprint and utilizes hardware extremely well. You do have to manage the guests and the configuration of them from another machine on the networking using the free vsphere client. It has tons of hardware options and is pretty much fully functional....but there is a catch. The advanced functionality features like DRS (dynamic resource scheduling) and vmotion (automatic failover of VM's to another ESXi box) require the purchase of a vCenter Server and associated licenses for the ESXi boxes themselves. And these licenses aren't cheap ($1,000 to $15,000). Of course, in all fairness.....these advanced features also require things like shared storage and such to function....and these are often expensive solutions themselves. Be advised that you need to make sure that the hardware that you want to use must be on the approved hardware list.. This product works great on servers and with certain chipsets, storage drivers and network drivers for some consumer based mobos. There are whitelist guides which will help you buy the right parts to assemble a desktop style machine capable of running ESXi 4.0. And one great tidbit, is that when you first install this product...you get 60 days of eval mode which enables all advanced functionality (of course you will have to also setup a vcenter server eval as well..which is free for 60 days to control that advanced functionality). So, you can see everything that VMware has to offer for free...and you could rebuild your test environment every 60 days if you were so inclined.
  • VMWare Vsphere (ESX). This is the non-free version of ESXi. It's the older system where VMWare loaded a hypervisor that was more of a fully functional Linux server after install. It comes by default with the licensing features and such which provide the advanced functionality...but immediately comes with a $5,000-$15,000+ cost up front just to get started.
Note: VMWare is really moving towards customers using ESXi as the hypervisors and just licensing vCenter Server and getting the associated advanced functionality licenses. The reason: ESXi is a smaller installed footprint, is not as much as a fully functional server...so it's smaller, faster and has less to patch and secure.


For my test lab at work, my workstation is custom built with ESXi friendly hardware and runs ESXi 4.0. It connects to local hard drives within the host, as well as shared storage being provided by another desktop via iSCSI and running OpenFiler.

For my actual workstation machine....I run Windows 7 on the host and VMWare Player 3.1 for my own personal testing and experimentation. This product has proved more than sufficient enough for everything that I have ever thrown at it. I evaluated the VMWare Workstation product...but couldn't justify the cost of the product for any of it's features...as they are not needed for the types of things that I do on this test machine.


At home, I used to use VirtualBox...but switched to VMWare when VMWare Player 3.x came out. For me, it's the ability to import the free XP Mode image, ability to run Aero, and the Unity mode which sealed the deal. Plus, since I'm so VMWare centric at work, it just made sense to use the same type of thing at work and keep consistency.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2010   #10
infomike

win 7
 
 

Hi,

I use Windows 2008 R2 as my workstation OS for everything with Hyper-V enabled, I think it's a great OS and Hyper-V allows me to quickly prototype in the test environment. One thing that you might find useful is a benchmark which helped me understand some of the finer configurations which are needed to get the most out of performance: Benchmarking Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Performance Tuning

--cheers

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by loaba View Post
I'm taking Windows Server and Linux Essentials this summer and have used both VM Ware (Linux, Ubuntu) and Hyper-V (Server 2008 R2).

I want work on both OS's from home and I could do a triple boot, but I think it would be good to use virtual machines for a while. What's the best configuration here? Should I just install both apps, or is one clearly better than the other?

I'll get lots of experience using Hyper-V in the the Windows class, so if I use VM Ware at home I think that would be okay.

Couple of random thoughts... My system only has 4gb of RAM, so I'll only be able to run one VM at a time. If I upgrade to 8gb pg RAM, how taxing would it be to have both VM's up at the same time? I'd allocate 2gb each, leaving 4gb for the host (Win 7).

What are your thoughts?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 VM Ware or Hyper-V?




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