Windows 7 Virtualization question

Discussion in 'Virtualization' started by alkolkin, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. alkolkin

    alkolkin New Member

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    I support people who use Vista, XP, Linux and Windows 7.
    My main work computer is Windows 7. My staff works on another Windows 7 computer.
    I want to build a third computer that will house Windows Small Business Server.
    I would like one of those machines to also run Vista, XP, and Linux as virtualized OS's so that I can run them as I need to support my clients.
    My preference would be to run those virtualized OS's on the SBS machine.

    My questions are:
    1. Will each OS working in a virtual box run the same as if they run native?
    2. Do I need to use a VMWare product or does Microsoft offer a good product that will allow me to do all of that?
    3. Should the base system I build have Linux as the primary and Vista, XP, and SBS run in virtualized state?
    4. Can I run more than one in a virtualized state at the same time? For example, if Linux is the base, can I run SBS all the time in a virtualized mode and invoke the others only when I need them?
     
  2. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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  3. Adamsappleone

    Adamsappleone U.S.Navy D.A.V.

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  4. Mike

    Mike Windows Forum Admin
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    There is also a concept of bare-metal hypervisor which is offered by VMWare and Citrix. VMWare's offering in your case would be VMWare ESXi or Citrix XenServer. When you install either of these, you are turning the entire machine into just a system that runs virtual machines. This means there is no host computer, just a small footprint that runs the VMs and can be controlled over the network. A pool is created to store the data of these machines that is different from what you would consider a typical operating system Setting up ESXi or XenServer is problematic and annoying for a lot of people, but it has its advantage - no host operating system.

    They won't necessarily run "as fast", but will be close depending on the hardware.

    Here is the trickiest question of them all, the one that is going to make or break this project of yours. Microsoft offers Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008, and also offers Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 as a standalone product. Microsoft also offers Virtual PC, which in comparison to VMWare's stuff doesn't even come close, in my professional opinion. You are paying a big markup on VMWare's virtualization products for a reason: they are getting better and better and close enough that with the right processor(s) and enough RAM, you are approaching the same standards as the host. This is just the honest rundown. Microsoft just isn't there yet with the virtualization.

    SBS doesn't have Hyper-V as a Server Role, as far as I know. So this will become out of the question for you. VMWare doesn't recommend running Workstation under Windows Server, but it will work. They recommend using a workstation. If this is for SUPPORT, you will want to use Workstation, and just interact with these operating systems on a desktop, correct? There are some major issues running Microsoft's virtualization products with non-Microsoft operating systems like Linux. But there are few to no issues with VMWare.



    With VMWare Workstation it doesn't really matter. You may want to consider setting up a machine just for virtual machines. If this is for traditional desktop interaction, with support for snapshots, development, or quality assurance, go with VMWare Workstation on a host computer such as Windows 7. VMWare Workstation targets the largest possible market-share with this product, and that is Windows users
    .

    The answer would be yes, absolutely, if you are using VMWare Workstation, it is the best for your situation. I am assuming (and I hate to assume too much) that your environment for these systems is going to be issues like quality assurance for your clients, testing, and so forth.

    Here is my recommendation:

    You need to separate Windows Server SBS as a separate project. It is too important to your business to screw around with by having virtual machines on it, in my honest opinion. Use a dedicated system for the SBS server for your office, and get the best leverage from it by just keeping it Windows Server SBS. You can't run Microsoft's hypervisor off SBS anyway.

    Set up a separate machine, preferably one with 8-12GB DDR3 memory, a quad-core processor, and 3 separate hard drives installed, or SSDs, to run Vista, XP, and Linux. Use this as your "virtualization machine". Now you are saving on 3 systems right here. I don't know what type of work you are doing, but I'm guessing youre just using these OS's to support your different clientele. In this instance, you want the flexibility of Workstation, and not the rigid sort of demands of a bare-metal hypervisor. Bare-metal hypervisor's are used for things like Virtual Private Servers in web hosting and so forth. This does not read as what you are trying to do.

    There are a lot of reasons not to run Windows SBS Server as a virtual machine. There are also a lot of pros. But because you will need to make use of bridged networking to make the connections to the LAN possible, you want to have the Windows Server as a real-deal dedicated server. Similarly, you may want your "virtual machine" system running under Workstation as something that is accessible to you, and plainly easy for enough for you to configure, for client support.

    If I knew more about your business I could try to give you more tips in this regard, as I have had my share of time dealing with a great deal of this technology. In general I have started leaning away from bare-metal hypervisors that turn the entire machine into a virtual machine-store because of the ease of use of VMWare Workstation and what I use it for: software evaluation, testing, tutorials, support, and demos. I accomplish this on my end with a single Intel Core i7 with 12GB DDR3 and 4 Crucial solid state hard drives in a RAID-0. But to cut costs you may want to look at using standard drives with each VM on a separate drive. Resource consumption will be your biggest challenge, but you can still save money on hardware (and space) using similar methodology.
     
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  5. alkolkin

    alkolkin New Member

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    Your assumptions were right on. I support about about 100 customers, most of them seniors, who live in planned communities here in Florida. They have all three operating systems. Those who cannot afford new computers, buy a used Dells from me that are quite old. I add a faster hard drive, a sata controller, inexpensive discrete graphics, and install Ubuntu. They can get email and browse the Internet without the slowdowns inherent in old PC's. They require a lot of support and hand holding for awhile, but they ultimately are very happy. Installing more memory on mine should do the trick to run the VmWare based product, since I have ample hard disk space among 6 drives. Thank you again!
     
  6. alkolkin

    alkolkin New Member

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    WOW! Does VMWare Workstation work great or what?!
    I have Windows 7 x64 as the base system, with XP x32, Vista x32, and Linux Ubuntu x32 running simultaneously with an I7 and only 6 GB of RAM (6 more is on its way because I am at 92% with only 6GB).
    My C drive is an SSD, my data drive is a RAID 0 and used for storing temp files as well as data, my Virtual storage is on a 750 GB drive, and my backup is ShadowProtect 4.0 Desktop backing up incrementally twice daily and a full backup once a week. It all works seemlessly. Each virtual machine has freeware virus protection (except for Linux, though that will change shortly), and the base machine has NIS 2011.
    I am going to start sharing between the OS's next week after I read some more and get the extra memory.
    Mike, I have to really thank you for the way you explained this all to me. It makes my office much neater with fewer computers, it save my electric bill, and is a far better support platform.

    Albert
     
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  7. djwnaz

    djwnaz New Member

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    Hi, Could I do this on laptop?
     
  8. alkolkin

    alkolkin New Member

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    Absolutely. Whether there is a BIOS setting in your laptop that allows virtual acceleration or not will effect speed. In either case you will be able to install VMware. If you have the capability of 2 drives in your laptop, that would also improve performance if the drive u use for virtualized OS's is in a separate drive. I have XP, Vista, Windows 8, And 2 versions of Linux virtualized and I can take my laptop with me whenever I go to clients to demonstrate an OS that he/she does not have. For me it has been an opportunity to get familiar with Linux.

    Perusing Windows 8 preview is also quite fast and has reasonably good virus protection built in.
     
  9. djwnaz

    djwnaz New Member

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    could i use portable HD for the OS's?
     
  10. alkolkin

    alkolkin New Member

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    Whoops, I misread. It would be slow, but I see no reason why not. I have not used it on a portable USB drive so my answer is not definitive.

    Just download the free vmware version and try it out.
     
  11. djwnaz

    djwnaz New Member

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    Thank alkolkin, for the information.
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Banned

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    Windows VPC is very likable, too. Personally, I use it for all my VMs. (Although, W8 DP is running on VirtualBox but, that will likely be changing soon).

    Thanks, Mike, you saved me a lot of writing, lol.

    Drew
     
  13. williamharris

    williamharris Active Member

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    The concept of virtualization goes well with cloud computing as the users are able to enjoy greater number of resources along with effective utilization too.
     
  14. catilley1092

    catilley1092 Extraordinary Member

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    Yes, you can. But it would be best of the port were either USB3 or eSATA. USB2 isn't as fast, and it's very noticeable running VM's through this port. I've tried it, twice, using both VBox & VMWare Player, USB2 just doesn't cut it.

    USB2 has an advertised, or theoretical speed of 480Mbps. But that's it's max output, and is easily slowed by bottlenecks, many users never see this speed. When using Macrium Reflect to backup my USB2 desktop, it does good to hit 300Mbps, and that's an occasional burst. While USB2 was a good option years ago, eSATA was much better, and in more recent years, USB3 became the gold standard, having the potential of reaching 4.8Gbps, but most users will never see that either. A realistic speed is 400MB/sec.

    USB 3.0 Speed

    Still, that's far faster than USB2, and should be quite fine for running VM's on. I have a HDD that I place in a docking station that I run Ubuntu 11.10 on (not a VM), and speeds are just as fast as though the drive were installed. What I like about running Ubuntu like this is that it's not dependent on a particular computer install, it'll run on any working USB3 port (USB2, at slower speeds).

    Cat
     

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