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Recommendations For Home Virtualization? 384

Posted by kdawson
from the ganging-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'll have to upgrade my home computers sometime in the next few months and I'm thinking it's time to swallow the virtualization pill. Besides the ease of switching between Windows and Ubuntu, I'm looking mainly for the ability to save machine state in order to be able to revert to a known working state. Googling turns up mostly guides from 2009 and earlier. Is VMWare ESX pretty much the way to go? Performance does matter — not for gaming but I am heavily into photography, so apps like Lightroom and Photoshop need to run well. Thanks for any insight."
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Recommendations For Home Virtualization?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:31AM (#33985602)

    http://www.virtualbox.org/

    • by suso (153703) *

      I second that. VirtualBox is pretty awesome.

      • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:57AM (#33986018) Homepage Journal

        I agree, VirtualBox is a lot easier to set up and run, is easy to maintain, and easy to move images between machines. It's what I've been recommending to everyone for a while now.

            He wants to run Photoshop and Lightroom in it though. I don't know how well that does with the virtualized video cards on any platform though. I know there are a lot of games I can't play in a virtualized environment, only for that reason. If I could, I wouldn't have a real Windows bootable partition at all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          IMO if he wants to do that sort of thing, he should run Linux in VirtualBox on a Windows 7 host, and run Photoshop and friends on the host. Best of both worlds, right? That's what I do, except I use the Windows host mostly for gaming...

          I also set up an OSX VM so I can write iPhone apps. I just posted a tutorial on setting that up on my blog; click my Homepage link to get there.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          I run Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop on a 2k3 VM under VMWare without any issues. With a few gigs of ram it runs rather well, my biggest performance hit is that my photograph library & catalog is on an NFS share and not locally. PS/LR should be just fine on a VM.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I've set up all of my kids with Ubuntu Linux boxes running VirtualBox for Windows. Things to note, reverting to a saved state will lose ALL saved documents, files, etc. You need a link from Windows to a folder on Linux for your users so that important files aren't lost. There's another option to set up a 2nd HDD, which would be unaffected by reverting states, but I haven't done that - although the documentation is there. Because Photoshop and Lightroom are memory / performance hogs I'd set up a test lin
      • I run VirtualBox on a 3GHz 64-bit Core 2 Linux host. Both Debian and Ubuntu have a frustrating long-term bug that makes sound choppy and unusable for Windows guests. That said, I still run it (since I'm doing 'systems' stuff and no multimedia).

        My current system is actually pretty awesome:

        1. The host Linux OS has a Samba share that is joined via winbind to...
        2. A guest running Windows Server 2008 R2.

        Clients are my other machines, and a slew of VMs running XP, Windows 7, and Linux.

        I get bare-metal file server

    • by Klync (152475)

      Thread over. We have a winner. OP said s/he wasn't interested in 3d gfx, so the matter is settled. :D

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Yep. About the only negative about VB is that its USB-emulation speed is pants. We tested that here at work and VMware is about 10x faster when accessing hard drives via its emulated USB.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Yup Go with VirtualBox. If performance is a worry solve it with hardware.
      The new AMD G34 Opterons with 8 cores are under $300 and you can get a mother board for it for not much more. They will support high end video cards as well.
      Before Anyone gets too bent over the price of hardware I am suggesting it is about the same as the price of the software he is using.
      Also load it with RAM and you will be good to go.
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182240 [newegg.com]
      And for the CPU
      http://www.newegg.com/ [newegg.com]

    • by grub (11606) * <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday October 22, 2010 @01:13PM (#33987206) Homepage Journal
      I'll second (or third, fourth, whatever) this.

      I have VirtualBox on a new iMac with Ubuntu and WinXP VMs running just perfectly.

      It's a really nice system. Much smaller than VMWare too.
  • VitrtuaBox (Score:5, Informative)

    by mattver2 (1896634) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:33AM (#33985632)
    I have used VirtualBox quite a bit and I find it completely satisfactory. I have run both Win XP on Ubuntu hosts and Ubunutu on Win XP hosts and it has always worked very well. http://www.virtualbox.org/ [virtualbox.org] I think it would do everything you want.
    • Re:VitrtuaBox (Score:4, Insightful)

      by siride (974284) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:35AM (#33985684)
      I've used a Windows XP VM on both Windows 7 as host and Linux. Works great in both, although it feels snappier in the Linux host. It's more than adequate for relatively recent hardware. It actually worked quite well back on my ThinkPad T43 (I have a T500 now) and that was without VT-x and friends.
    • Re:VitrtuaBox (Score:4, Interesting)

      by prefect42 (141309) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:36AM (#33985688)

      +1 for VirtualBox. Why you'd use ESX I have no idea. I'd probably second choice VMWare Server, which is also free and works equally well.

      • Re:VitrtuaBox (Score:5, Informative)

        by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:49AM (#33985890)

        If your'e looking to have a specialized server that ONLY hosts VM's, then there is some merit to running ESXi. It's free too, and the resource footprint is pretty small. Personally, I would only use VirtualBox or VMWare Server in cases where I still wanted to use the machine running the VM's as a desktop in it's own right. Otherwise, ESXi is the way to go. That said, I DO use my home desktop to serve VM's in addition to regular desktop usage, so it runs Virtualbox :). I use ESXi for virtualizing servers at work though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jtdennis (77869)

        I use ESXi on a box at home to host about 6 VMs. the base OS is about 70MB so it's got a tiny footprint on the server and most of the resources go to the VMs. For a dedicated box it's a great solution. For running VMs on a computer that's doing more than that VirtualBox is great.

        • by prefect42 (141309)

          Absolutely, that makes perfect sense if you're talking about dedicated boxes, but that doesn't sound like it's the case here.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Martin Blank (154261)

          I have three basic systems at home:

          • An ESXi 4.1 host with 1.5TB of drive space, a Core i7 CPU, and 12GB of RAM
          • A desktop system with similar specs running Windows 7 with VMWare Workstation 7
          • A notebook with Core 2 Duo and 2GB primarily running Fedora 13 with VMWare Workstation 7

          The desktop and notebook have usually one or occasionally two guests open. The ESXi host runs about a dozen guests simultaneously, including a fairly complete Windows 2008 R2 domain, a Linux server, a Linux workstation, and a Windows

      • Re:VitrualBox (Score:3, Informative)

        by rwa2 (4391) *

        VirtualBox works very well using Linux as a host, plus you get experimental DirectX/OpenGL acceleration support... (VMware Workstation charges extra for that, though I have no idea how well it actually works)

        ESX is for enterprises running servers. You'll be missing out on a lot of hardware support, just to gain a few extra MB of RAM (cheap!) and a few CPU cycles. Also it's a pain :P

        Last I checked a few months ago, VMware Workstation / Server on Linux still uses a file on disk to back the virtual machine'

    • Re:VirtualBox (Score:2, Informative)

      by SunSpot505 (1356127)
      Second Virtual Box, however..... OP may want to note that there is limited graphics drivers support. I am able to run Photoshop CS3 in my Win XP VB install, however I would caution recommending it if you (both) use it professionally and do things that rely on GPU acceleration. VB does support pass-through 2d and 3d support, but I'm not sure how to enable that, the option has always been grayed out for me. I run AMD, you may need nVidia drivers. I have heard rumblings too that Windows after XP doesn't wo
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by springbox (853816)
        I have the option to enable both on an AMD computer with a Radeon card. You might possibly have a configuration problem.
    • by the_rajah (749499) *
      Me, too... I use Virtualbox both ways, as well. XP hosted on an Ubuntu machine so I can run Quickbooks for my home business and, here at the office, I run Ubuntu hosted on XP so I can have Linux goodness for my web browsing safety.

      I'm posting this reply using Ubuntu 10.4 on XP Pro SP3 running on a Core2Duo with 3 GB of RAM. It works on Win7, too.

      Get as much memory as you can for best performance. The minimum machine I've run it on is a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 with 2 GB of RAM shared evenly between the ho
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jandrese (485)
      I've been pretty happy with VirtualBox too, however, there is one big caveat: The 3D support is really fragmentary and doesn't really do much of anything useful yet. For Photoshop and Lightroom you might be able to get by for now, but those are the kind of apps that are on the cusp of using CUDA and related technologies to speed up processing in the future.

      There are a couple of other caveats to it as well. It doesn't handle USB devices as nicely as VMWare (I was able to run USB EVDO cards from inside
    • by houghi (78078)

      I use VirtualBox as well on my openSUSE. Nice thing is that when I install a new openSUSE on the Virtualbox, it will install all extra guest stuff to have everything integrated already with standard installations.

  • Don't do it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:34AM (#33985664)
    You won't be happy scrolling around a big image within a VM - the graphics performance just isn't there. It will work OK, but you'll always wish you were running natively.

    I use VMWare Workstation for much of each day to run MS Office Apps, and it's very useful - but no VM performs well graphically.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by davidbrit2 (775091)
      This. If you're doing heavy photo manipulation, virtualization isn't for you. Just put all your data on a separate drive so if you need to wipe/reinstall the OS, you won't lose anything important. Then you can also use the Previous Versions feature in Windows 7 to roll back any data files you accidentally hose.
    • Re:Don't do it (Score:4, Informative)

      by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:48AM (#33985888)

      You're right in principle, however if he uses Windows as the host OS, then he can run his image software natively, then run Linux in the VM.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Omnifarious (11933) *

        I would never ever do things that way. I'm setting this up for my gf, and the Windows virtual machine will be set up with no external network access of any kind. Having Windows as a host OS kills much of the benefit you get from virtualization.

        • by DAldredge (2353)
          What benefits does Windows take away when used as the host?
    • by GaryOlson (737642)
      Run the video/RAM/CPU intensive graphics application on the host OS. Suspend the VMs first; then restore when you are done with the graphics work. Then the choice of VM platform is irrelevant since you won't require specialized hardware support for applications in the VM.

      Use the VM for all those other dangerous apps such as Web Browsing, email, Facebroke, Flitter, hosting a web server, etc.
    • I have tried photoshop in a VM with large images and it is awful to work with. I also process video and rendering in a VM is pathetic. VM has it's place, but not in any serious media production environment.
    • Agreed. If you're working with Photoshop and Lightroom, you'll definitely be frustrated. CPU and mem usage may not suffer (although you better have a lot of RAM, I pushed my machine to 4.5GB actual mem usage recently doing an HDR w/PS and LR), but graphics will. Having an actual dedicated card that meets aero glass requirements is a must, and as far as I know, no VM host can do that. You'd get better performance via Wine.

      Or you could always switch to the Gimp [gimp.org] and Rawstudio [rawstudio.org] and/or RawTherapee [rawtherapee.com] under Linux.
  • A few suggestsions (Score:4, Informative)

    by pehrs (690959) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:37AM (#33985700)

    For stable server virtualization vmWare ESXi is pretty much the king at the moment, unless you want to pay an insane amount. It's free (as in beer) stable, easy to manage, fast and scalable. Sadly the management tools are windows only, I highly recommend it, if you have suitable hardware.

    For workstations it's a bit less clearcut. Generally you want a primary OS in your workstation where you do most of your work, and secondary OS that you boot up in a virtualized environment. The three primary choises are KVM, XEN and OpenVS. They all have performance penalties, and I am not aware of any clear cut advantage for any of the three. I would suggest you go with what is default in your favourite linux distribution, as maintaining virtualization infrastructure isn't an especially fun task.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      "Sadly the management tools are windows only"

      I would not know about the windows management tools I only use the command line tools so your statement is not entirely true.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        How do you configure the system initially, and actually get a console on one of the guest OS?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Thinman (59679)

      You can use http://pve.proxmox.com/ [proxmox.com] for a KVM OpenVZ virtualization machine, management is web enabled and you could log to the machines by openVNC, somewhere there is a howto to enable SPICE for better multimedia integration.

      If you could affored a Redhat Virtualization for Desktops it could be an interesting option as SPICE is enabled as default.

      Regards.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      For workstations it's a bit less clearcut. Generally you want a primary OS in your workstation where you do most of your work, and secondary OS that you boot up in a virtualized environment. The three primary choises are KVM, XEN and OpenVS.

      Don't forget VMWare workstation. That's what I run at home (for almost two years now). I wouldn't want to do without it now.

      maintaining virtualization infrastructure isn't an especially fun task

      Depending on what you're doing, VMWare Workstation doesn't have a whole lo

  • by hjf (703092) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:38AM (#33985712) Homepage

    You mean desktop virtualization? Do you need to run 2+ OSes at the same time? That's what virtualization is for. Or do you need to just suspend and restore states? You can get away with hibernation for that. Or do you mean go back in time to a known working configuration? Windows can do that (System Restore), but I don't really see why you would need that on your main machine. If you're trying stuff out, you should try it inside the VM anyway (you use Workstation or VirtualBox for that).

    ESX is nice, but it's not what you think. You don't get a local console (last time I checked, anyway), you're supposed to access it from SSH or VNC. It also designed for datacenter stuff (like SAS disks and controllers. It doesn't support IDE for example). You're looking for VMWare Workstation (Paid) or VirtualBox (free for non-commercial use), which are pretty fast. Paravirtualization (ESX or XEN) will give ~98% speed on Linux (on a PV kernel) and Windows only works well if you use GPLPV drivers, otherwise is slow as hell.

    I'd just recommemd you stay away from virtualization if you're just a desktop user. Unless you're trying out shareware/malware/stuff that can break your install. If you're upgrading, why not use the old machine to try ESX, XEN and other stuff and figure out yourself how you want to use it? Stick to dual-boot for now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by powerlord (28156)

      I'll second ESX being a SERVER VIRTUALIZATION ONLY. We use it at work, and it doesn't give you a "Desktop". You need to use RDC, or SSH (or direct connect through their Windows client) to get a desktop on the Virtual Machines.

      As far as DESKTOP VMs solutions:
      I just did a migration of my wife from her XP machine to a new Windows 7 machine (hey, she wants/needs it for her work, I'm happier with Linux/OSX, so to each their own :) ). As part of the migration I turned her old XP laptop into a VM, and installe

      • by Ash Vince (602485) *

        I'll second ESX being a SERVER VIRTUALIZATION ONLY. We use it at work, and it doesn't give you a "Desktop". You need to use RDC, or SSH (or direct connect through their Windows client) to get a desktop on the Virtual Machines.

        ESXi 4.02 seems to have a console tab in the vSphere client that contradicts this statement unless I am misunderstanding you.

        The only problem I have with ESXi is its piss poor handling of USB disks. For me this would rule it out as desktop virtualisation platform.

        • by powerlord (28156)

          You CAN connect to them via the Console tab, but then you're using the vSphere client (instead of the RDC or SSH client) so its still not the same as a Desktop, but you're right, I did forget to include that.

          I've found the Desktop tab in the version of ESX we use (3.5 I think) to be very slow for anything involving graphics (of course its over a network). Usually we just use it for a remote console to some Linux box.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday October 22, 2010 @12:12PM (#33986234) Homepage

      I'd just recommemd you stay away from virtualization if you're just a desktop user.

      I'd recommend the exact opposite.

      Virtualization rocks for keeping things separate. My personal machine has a quad core CPU with 8GB of RAM. I've got 2-3 VMs running most of the time so I can keep things separated and do different things. It also lets me have Linux, FreeBSD and Windows guests without the power/space requirements of multiple machines.

      VMWare workstation is only about $200 or so (maybe even $150), and I gather Server is free (but at the time running it on Vista 64 wasn't very easy). The ability to snapshot machines or sandbox things is really awesome. It also allows me to have multiple dev environments set up which don't interfere with each other, and a quick linked clone of a machine gives me a disposable test-bed in about 3 minutes if I think I need something new and isolated.

      The only thing I regret is that my CPU is one notch down from being able to do 64-bit guests because I wasn't aware of that at the time.

      For me, a big machine with loads of RAM and disk and VMWare makes for a really sweet setup. If you've got the resources on the box, it really does make some things easy. Soon I'll migrate my second physical box (an old XP machine) into a VM so I can keep some legacy software installs going without worrying about an aging machine.

    • VMWare Server, despite its name, works well for desktops. It's basically a server-ization of their workstation product, and is free.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:38AM (#33985714)

    the new ver's of Photoshop does use video cards for speed up. You can make images and save the VM over head and have the easy fall back.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      I got go with the dual boot as well. I have some graphics customers and the penalty for using heavy apps like PS in a VM just ain't worth it. The new PS as you said does GPU offloading, and losing that via VM slows the process down enough it would be quicker to simply reboot into Windows and do the job.

      After trying VMs with several graphics apps my customers chose dual booting (one even deciding to keep two machines and just had me set up a KVM and file sharing between them) simply because VMs just aren'

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Modern versions of KVM allow you to pass through PCI devices to a guest OS, would this work installing a secondary videocard in the host system and passing it to the guest?

  • I'd like to run a virtualized copy of windows with direct hardware access (passthrough) to my video card - for games and bluray playback.
    I've seen a couple of messages talking about it, but not much in the way of a guide or a list of gotchas.

    • Sorry, no can do.

      You will not be able to use the proprietary NVidia or ATI/AMD drivers in an OS (Windows or Linux) in a virtualized environment.

      I don't know why exactly. Maybe software is the only roadblock, and drivers that are aware of virtualization will solve the issue. But it's also possible some trap instructions must be added to the video card hardware to enable virtualized performance as good as native performance. AMD and Intel have worked on the x86 instruction set to make virtualization be

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:39AM (#33985732)

    Your question gives me pause on a few different levels:

    A) You're not familiar with this technology. This is probably not the best way to get indoctrinated with VM's.

    B) Other options for 'ease of switching' exist, like a KVM, Wubi, etc. These are likely to give you a more satisfactory result.

    C) "Performance does matter" - yeah, no. Nobody uses VM's to increase their performance. They use them to save money, increase density, etc.

    The tech is cool and has a number of really novel applications, but 'home use' and 'performance' are probably not among them unless you're some kind of super nerd. And if you were, you'd be too busy trying things out to spend time asking slashdot... :)

    • by hsmith (818216)
      I absolutely use VMs to increase my performance. It allows me to develop on my laptop, have two VMs running doing server tasks - anywhere at anytime, a connection or none. I can be writing iPhone/Android code on OS X - be developing my server component in Windows on a 2008 VM and using a SQL Server VM to store the data, just like my production environment.

      Hogwash.
      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Homonyms are fun! 'Your performance' is not equivalent to the performance of your hardware, and I assume you well know that.

      • by cduffy (652)

        If you read the parent the way their statement was clearly meant, it would have been more like the following:

        "Nobody uses VMs to improve their systems' performance" ...and it would be true. Your comment is interesting and useful, sure -- but accusing someone of "hogwash" based on a clear misreading is going a bit far.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      One example of where VM might "improve performance" is if you are trying to share one very powerful box rather than having a less powerful box run your other OS. In this situation, it's quite possible that even for computationally intensive tasks that you would be better off running in a VM. It all depends on what the landscape looks like.

      Ultimately, you will have to try it out for yourself and see how it works.

      Unless someone here has already done what you're asking about, they're just shooting in the dark

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:57AM (#33986042)

      A) You're not familiar with this technology. This is probably not the best way to get indoctrinated with VM's.

      Quite the opposite. its how I always learned the ins, outs and plain 'don't do this again-ness' of various computer systems. The alternative is to read the documentation and find out what the manufacturer wanted you to learn.

      Still, IO and Gfx performance is not something a VM is good at. Did I mention I also learn a lot by reading slashdot? :)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Getting current information on a subject is how a nerd should start any endeavorer. That way you move on instead of repeat discoveries.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The tech is cool and has a number of really novel applications, but 'home use' and 'performance' are probably not among them unless you're some kind of super nerd.

      *laugh* I'm running two VMs right now on my home machine with VMWare workstation. I occasionally run as many as three at the same time. VMWare is always running on this machine -- that was part of what I bought it for.

      Buy a big honking machine with obscene amounts of RAM and disk space, and VMs are a pretty sweet thing. I use 'em at home for t

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:40AM (#33985740)

    I'm running 64-bit linux host with VMware Workstation and a Windows XP guest.

    Performance all around is very very good. If you full screen the guest, you can't tell that it's running virtual unless you check for the VMware icon.

    Video performance is OUTSTANDING, essentially native. Netflix videos play full screen with very little CPU overhead.

    Suspend and resume can be slow if your guest has lots of RAM.

    I recommend using XFS for the filesystem containing your VMware images. I've tried other filesystems but nothing can touch XFS when it comes to handling those enormous virtual disk files.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Its true, but only with the latest VMWare Workstation (7.1), which is not one of their freebie offerings. Its not too expensive though.

      http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/new.html [vmware.com]

      VMware Workstation was the first to support 3D graphics in virtualized environments and is now the first to support Windows Aero in Windows Vista and Windows 7 virtual machines. Run even more 3D applications with support for DirectX 9.0c Shader Model 3 and OpenGL 2.13D graphics in Windows virtual machines.

  • Virtualbox (Score:3, Informative)

    by mejustme (900516) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:40AM (#33985744)
    More specifically, the PUEL edition of VirtualBox directly from the VirtualBox web site. Don't bother with the version available through the app repository. VirtualBox is great at releasing bug fixes every 1 or 2 months, the PUEL edition will give you all the extra bits like USB and 2D/3D acceleration. I left the various VMWare products behind many years ago and migrated to VirtualBox both at home and at work, and today I still think I made the right decision.
  • I've been writing a lot of documentation for Linux virt-tools here [virt-tools.org].

    Rich.

  • Servers or desktops are very different. There are plenty of server virt bits out there but for exporting desktops you pretty much looking at vnc or rdp screens so a pretty basic frame buffer, I don't think any of them will provide much performance in pushing the pixels.

  • I tried vmware and it just pissed me off everytime there was an OS kernel update. Would have to recompile the vmware modules and half the time they wouldn't work. The last straw with vmware was clock skew problems on the guests. I had to practically sync the clock every *minute* in order to keep the guest clock from getting out of whack. Even using Chrony didn't keep it synced well. VMware had a lot of messages on it's forum about the problem but never did anything about it.

    I use Linux KVM now and will

  • a simple answer (Score:2, Informative)

    by carlosap (1068042)
    Dont do it. And dont ask. Photoshop will always use all avaiable power, and thats good, fast rendering, etc. If your time is like gold dont vm it
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Friday October 22, 2010 @12:00PM (#33986094) Homepage

    I'm running multiple VM systems including VMWare Server, VMWare ESX, VMWare Workstation, xen, KVM and VirtualBox.

    VMWare Server is going away and sort of a pain to manage. However, it was free and worked decently. I have since replaced it with VMWare Workstation on my desktop and laptop systems. I use VirtualBox on my Mac laptop because it's free and was the easiest/cheapest to get going.

    On my servers I am running VMWare ESX, xen and KVM on AMD systems (mostly dual core, but a couple quad core systems in the mix).

    VMWare ESX was the most finicky as to installation but has been pretty simple to manage. The remote console options are simple. The VSphere management client is Windows only though. There is support for command line administration, but it's somewhat of a bear. You can script around it though and many people have done so and provide scripts online. Check out the VMWare community pages. Support is so so..

    Xen was my workhorse for the longest time, but since my primary OS is RedHat/CentOS and RH is moving towards KVM, I've also been moving to KVM. The GUI management tools work fine, but are not as polished as VMWare ESX. However, it very much makes up for it in being able to do just about everything from the command line. I can deploy an image with a single command and this works wonderfully for testing. Performance is awesome with both xen and KVM. Well, the caveat is that some network intensive stuff seems to be bottlenecking somewhere, but it only has a single gigabit NIC across 8 VMs. I'll be adding another NIC in the next couple weeks and either bonding the adapter or just splitting them up.

    Be aware that client/guest images generally do not have video acceleration so many games will fail to load. If you're running VMWare Workstation on a laptop, or the more recent KVMs then there is some measure of acceleration, but not 100%. Also, sound can be finicky especially across the network.

  • I have done something similar. Some points. 1. First pay attention to what CPU you get. Some Intel CPU's do not support VT extensions. Most AMD CPU's do. 2. I have always found better performance if the VM virtual disks were on their own disks vs. the OS, and then vs. each other, if possible. 3. I have used Photoshop on a Windows VM with VMware Workstation, and did not see graphics performance issues as described. VMware workstation is not free, but is not too $$$, and has some nice features vs. the fr
  • I have been using KVM [linux-kvm.org] on my home workstation for a few months now and I can highly recommend it. I typically use it for testing different linux distros, files systems, server configurations, etc.

    If your system supports VT-x or the AMD equivalent the performance is very impressive, almost no noticeable difference. The virt-manager [redhat.com] produced by Red Hat makes creating and configuring virtual machines a snap with its friendly user interface.

    It supports many useful things like, headless VNC mode (defaut), s
  • ...Acronis. You can use it to image a machine, so that you can easily restore it to a known working state again later, even on different hardware. I'm a big fan of trayless disk caddies too, so you could have something like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817994076 [newegg.com] that would let you swap disks in and out easily. I like it because not only can I upgrade my machine on a new disk with no chance of thrashing my currently working machine, but I can also use the additional tray slots

  • If you are doing it just for OS state reasons, and you're using Windows, is to just run Windows 7 and boot from a differencing VHD, keeping your data files outside of it.

    Its no more complex than safely using virtualization to do what you want (and ensuring you don't lose data on a revert) but you're running bare-metal. Virtualization doesn't buy you much if you're just doing a single OS.

    • by linuxguy (98493)

      For anyone considering Microsoft Virtual PC, please keep in mind that it cannot run 64-bit guests. For me this was a non-starter.

  • It's not really for you. While it does squeeze significantly more performance, especially with I/Os, out of a system. It is really too much enterprise and not enough desktop to make for a happy GUI experience. Virtualbox and VMware Workstation are excellent products, I would recommend running Linux VMs on a Windows host to maximize your Photoshop performance. I run the other way around, with Linux host and Windows guest because my important apps are Linux apps. For laptops I would also recommend the Linux-o

  • As others have posted and others sill undoubtedly post, we need more information to give you the recommendation you want. Making some assumptions from your question, it sounds like you want to virtualize your workstation. For full baremetal performance, don't virtualize your primary OS. The technology isn't there yet, but VMWare is making huge strides with their VMView [wikipedia.org] product. Set up properly, you can have CAD running in a virtual machine on a server with a thin client displaying the output with very r

  • Okay here's my experience of using virtualization at home and with a bit of office work:

    Xen - for the time I started using it in 2008, a really big advantage was paravitualization mode which allows to run virtualized linux instances really fast -- in that respect Xen is awesome, however there are several disadvantages: in theory you could run anything that supports paravirtualization mode, so that means you could run All the BSDs, but I never succeeded of installing any of them when I tried, windows of cour

  • VMWare Workstation is king for desktop virtualization. People will recommend all sorts of free/opensource tools, but the features simply wont compare to VMWare. DirectX support, snapshots, seemly windows etc etc etc. It does cost about $150, but well worth it if you have serious needs.
  • I initially read this comment as "I am heavily into pornography."
  • I am very happy with my setup. And I arrived at this after much trial and error. I am mostly a Linux person but I reached a point in my life where I could not deny that I need both Windows and Linux to get stuff done. So I setup a quite beefy 6 core CPU machine to handle all my home computing needs and then some. You don't have to go all out like I did, if your needs are simpler. Here is the setup details:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T
    Motherboard: GA-785GMT-USB3
    Memory: 16GB
    Hard Drives: 4 1TB RAID10
    OS: Wi

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