Confused/Please Help?!?

SliPC

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May 11, 2012
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Pa
Ok I am building a server and want to be able to run multiple "vm's" or "Servers" from the same server. I would like to be able to run atleast 4 seperate OS's on the server. Ubuntu, Win Server 2008 r2, maybe Debian or other form of linux/windows. I have heard of some "operating system" like programs that run as the base of the server which then allow for Virtual Machines to be run off of it.

I am really new to the whole virtual server idea but I really like how it sounds.
Please ask any questions so I can clarify things or be helpful. I would love if someone could let me know if I am even remotely close to understanding this. I would prefer to not have to use windows as the main os and instead have it be ran from a vm.
As far as I understand the ideas below are all possible:
-Windows running as a vm with space on the hard drives, own NIC( Mac Address etc.), Remote Desktop
-Ubuntu server running with access to its own NIC, access to hard drives, etc.
-All vms would share the hardware resources and show up on the network etc.

Thanks in advance for any help!
here are the server specs(I am making two of them that's why everything is doubled)
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=20221346
 
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dba

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Feb 20, 2012
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You can learn a great deal by reading these forums. Basically, your first decision is probably this one: Which "base" operating system to use. The top choices are VMWare vSphere (Esxi) and Windows HyperV.

HyperV may be appealing if you are Windows savvy and have a Windows 2008 server license at hand. It's essentially built in to Windows server and is very easy to install and use. If you are not Windows savvy, don't have a Windows 2008 server license, or prefer Linux, then the free (but artificially limited) VMWare vSphere (aka ESXi) package is your choice. I find it to be more difficult to get running (more time spent making sure that the hardware is compatible) but it is easy to use once you have it going.

I think that VMWare is the better product overall, especially its memory management, but I use HyperV at home because it's easy. I especially like that the automatic Windows server backup (which is truly awful but at the same time 'good enough' if your data fits on a single hard drive) backs up all of my VMs automatically every evening. I very much wish that HyperV had better memory management, but then again RAM is cheap. I know that VMWare has more efficient drivers, but in practice I don't notice the difference.

Right now I am running about 30 VMs on an 12-core 1U server sporting 64GB of RAM. At any given point, 10-15 of the VMs are running and the rest are turned off. One important tip: While any $100 hard drive can "hold" a large number of VMs, you would be doing yourself a disservice to run more than two or maybe three lightly used VMs on one drive. If you have ever migrated a computer to an SSD drive then you understand how much that old spinning drive was holding back your performance. Now imagine if that old drive was 1/4 as fast - which it essentially would be if you were running four active VMs at one time on it. Running multiple VMs on a single traditional hard drive is awful. Spread your VMs over multiple drives, put them on a fast cached RAID volume, or go SSD. I ended up building a cheap 1,200MB/Second SSD RAID which has been wonderful, except that I need to idle it every week to let garbage collection run.
 

Patrick

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First off, dba did a great job and echos thoughts similar to my own after reading the OP.

I also have both ESXi and Hyper-V. I like Hyper-V because Windows drivers are easy to come by and ESXi has a much stricter HCL. On the other hand, Hyper-V's integration components are not as good/ easy once everything is set up. ESXi 5.0 has a 32GB limit (Hyper-V will allow more) which basically means you can use a single socket or low-end dual socket machine and not have something over-built. If you ever wanted to play with FreeBSD, Solaris 11 or something similar, then I would probably go ESXi.
 

SliPC

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May 11, 2012
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Ok thanks for the input, So this ESXi is like a form of linux made buy VMWare? Can someone tell me if my hardware is compatible or where I can find the compatibility info. I would rather not use windows because although RAM is cheap (when you have an income source to $$$ pay for it) I do not have the resources and the budget to support those sort of upgrades at the moment. I id build the servers with upgrades in mind ( I used 8Gb sticks instead of 4x2GB or Something like it) I have 4 DIMMS. I also have one SSD (64GB) as my main drive) I assume I would be installing the ESXi stuf on that. I plan on doing RAID5 on 3 WD500GB SATA III drives. I am not using the servers for serious work. Basically I am going to run Game servers, FTP, possible web hosting(if any it will be small) For some of the games I will need windows and for some I will need linux. I plan on dividing the memory between a linux and windows vm. I figure 8gb for each vm. The linux vm will probably use it because it will be running Minecraft( anyone who doesn't know what I am talking about go here > http://mc.echo-gaming.net:8123/) the only concern I have about my current hardware configuration is the fact that I only have 3 hard drives and I really want to put them in RAID5 and still allow for the VM's to see them and use them. I would probably split it so each vm could have half of the space. I mean I have other servers (hardly "servers") that i can dedicate to FTP and such.

I sort of got off topic so yeah. tl;dr need to see if hard ware is compatible with ESXi need help
 

Patrick

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Minecraft servers/ web hosting/ ftp: look at OpenVZ, KVM or Xen. Basically that looks more like a VPS hosting box to me.

Minecraft hammers CPU, RAM and disk pretty hard, and there is a big difference between SSD and spindle disks when game server hosting companies use SSDs versus hard drives from what I have told. Given, I did buy the iPad Minecraft in an airport and tried it for less than 5 minutes so I do not have a ton of first hand Minecraft experience. I do have readers who run game servers and I was basically told, E3-1230 to E3-1270 (get the V2 version now such as the Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 reviewed today), as much RAM as you can get and you need a SSD.
 

dba

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Feb 20, 2012
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One thing SliPC,

Unlike a "full" operating system, you don't get to load additional drivers when Esxi launches, one consequence of which is that you cannot load software RAID drivers. If you want RAID (of any type) then you will need to do it in hardware - for example by using a PCIe RAID card.

Of course you can simply use plan SATA hard drives, with a small partition on one of them for booting Esxi. If you need redundancy, look into running RAID1, RAID1E, or RAID10 using a cheap used IBM M1015 RAID controller from eBay. Since you don't really need a separate hard drive for Esxi (since it isn't a full operating system) you might consider buying 3-4 drives and skipping the SSD - or you might consider buying only SSD drives if your storage needs are not large.
 

SliPC

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May 11, 2012
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Pa
I already have 2 64Gb ssd's and 3 500GB sata III 6.0GB/s per server. I posted the "wish list" which is actually all the parts I already have. I am thinking about using the windows based HyperV just because I really need driver support and the ability to have raid. With hyper can I still run an ubuntu server vm?

Also: I heard from a friend that Oracle has an application layer that has to be managed by another host computer and can run and manage virtual machines? It is called Oracle VM server http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/vm/downloads/index.html
Does anyone have ANY experience with this? He swears by it. but he can't help me because of time zone changes and he is super busy.
 
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dba

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Oracle VM Server is based on Xen.

I already have 2 64Gb ssd's and 3 500GB sata III 6.0GB/s per server. I posted the "wish list" which is actually all the parts I already have. I am thinking about using the windows based HyperV just because I really need driver support and the ability to have raid. With hyper can I still run an ubuntu server vm?

Also: I heard from a friend that Oracle has an application layer that has to be managed by another host computer and can run and manage virtual machines? It is called Oracle VM server http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/vm/downloads/index.html
Does anyone have ANY experience with this? He swears by it. but he can't help me because of time zone changes and he is super busy.
 

SliPC

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May 11, 2012
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Pa
Oracle VM Server is based on Xen.
hmm Xen looks interesting. It is open source too right? Is Xen any better or worse than ESXi, Also It looks like Xen will do what I need. I am just wondering if I should go with a more mainstream method than Xen? it seems like it has less of the market than the other solutions?
 
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SliPC

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May 11, 2012
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Well I am thinking I might just stick with windows because of my lack of experience with Linux and server management in general. I will use hypervisor. Unfortunately I ordered incompatible ram ( fml )
 

Patrick

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Well I am thinking I might just stick with windows because of my lack of experience with Linux and server management in general. I will use hypervisor. Unfortunately I ordered incompatible ram ( fml )
Always check the compatibility list either on the server vendor's page or on the memory vendor's page. Good learning experience :)

Also, the idea to stay Windows at first is a good one. I will say, ESXi is also fairly easy to get setup as long as your hardware is compatible.
 

SliPC

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May 11, 2012
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Its the Asus P8B WS that you reviewed. I need 8Gb Ram sticks. I am thinking that I will get this ram Crucial (CT2KIT102472BD1339). But not sure. can someone double check this?
Actually I have thought about it and I am just going to not use ECC ram. I have found nothing but problem cases in shich people could not get the ECC to work with the motheroard. I will probably go with two sticks of 8Gb of a good brand 1333MHz.
 
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sotech

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Jul 13, 2011
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I also have another question? I want to buy a RAID card because I have SATA III drives and only SATA II connections to the motherboard. Can someone recommend a RAID card that is of High quality and is compatible with most things.

Will this work? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816115114
IBM M1015 is the cheapest and probably most popular RAID card/HBA for this sort of thing. Vastly compatible, 6gb/s and can be flashed to IT mode so you get straight-through access to the drives. $60-90. I would personally stay away from Highpoint; anyone I know who has tried them has not been using them 12 months later and have moved on to LSI cards or similar (e.g. M1015).

We have a P8B WS and have had no dramas using Kingston ECC RAM with it, FYI.
 

sotech

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We're in Australia so where I bought it from probably won't help you - either way:

Here is where we purchased the RAM from.

That has the model numbers. I'm happy to leave 16GB in that system until Kingston have reasonably priced 8GB 1600 ECC modules. We put eight of these into our S2011 server to get 32GB reasonably cheaply.
 
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dba

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The only time you'd have problems getting ECC RAM to work is if you purchased a motherboard not designed for ECC. For a server, or any machine on which you will keep or process important data. you *really* want ECC RAM. I would never go non-ECC on anything but a dedicated gaming machine - one where I stood to lose nothing if there was a crash or corruption.

Its the Asus P8B WS that you reviewed. I need 8Gb Ram sticks. I am thinking that I will get this ram Crucial (CT2KIT102472BD1339). But not sure. can someone double check this?
Actually I have thought about it and I am just going to not use ECC ram. I have found nothing but problem cases in shich people could not get the ECC to work with the motheroard. I will probably go with two sticks of 8Gb of a good brand 1333MHz.
 

dba

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Feb 20, 2012
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San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
sotech is correct - the IBM M1015 is great. Visit the RAID controller forum on this site (or any other devoted to small servers) and you'd think that the M1015 is the only RAID card made. It isn't, but at $75 (on eBay) for eight ports of SAS/SATA3, excellent speed, bulletproof reliability, and unmatched compatibility, it's the only one most people should consider.

IBM M1015 is the cheapest and probably most popular RAID card/HBA for this sort of thing. Vastly compatible, 6gb/s and can be flashed to IT mode so you get straight-through access to the drives. $60-90. I would personally stay away from Highpoint; anyone I know who has tried them has not been using them 12 months later and have moved on to LSI cards or similar (e.g. M1015).

We have a P8B WS and have had no dramas using Kingston ECC RAM with it, FYI.
 

Patrick

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sotech is correct - the IBM M1015 is great. Visit the RAID controller forum on this site (or any other devoted to small servers) and you'd think that the M1015 is the only RAID card made. It isn't, but at $75 (on eBay) for eight ports of SAS/SATA3, excellent speed, bulletproof reliability, and unmatched compatibility, it's the only one most people should consider.
Point taken :) But in that price range, it is basically a category killer which is why it generates a lot of buzz.
 

OBasel

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Dec 28, 2010
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I tried a server full of adaptec 2xxx series cards and will not touch them again after lsi sas cards.

I would advise the op to start with virtualbox or esxi, get the basics, then move on. Most desktops can support virtual machines.