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VM test rig...

Discussion in 'Virtual Computing' started by Gaz 45, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. Gaz 45

    Gaz 45 Kilobyte Poster

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    Thinking of setting up a VM system, but i'm not sure I want to do it on my own computer, so thinking of getting a cheap rig to play around with. Anyone suggest a minimum/reasonable spec for this?
    Was thinking ~2GHz, obviously RAM (500MB? 1GB?) and HDD space important, what about graphics? Recommend AMD or Intel? Hoping to set up a couple of Win Server 2003 machines, couple of XP's, and (maybe) a UNIX/Linux system.
    Cheers!

    Oh, Virtual PC or VMware?
     
    Certifications: MCP (70-229, 70-228), MBioch
    WIP: MCDBA (70-290)
  2. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    You look like you want to run about 5 different VMs...do you want them all to run at once? Remember, your host machine and VMs need to share RAM so the more machines you want to be active at any one time, thee more RAM you'll need.

    I know people who run 512 megs of RAM on a laptop host and run one VM. Seems to be ok. I usually run 3 VMs at a time (one server and two clients) and have 1.5 gigs of RAM in my lab machine. If I open anymore than that, I start paging and my performance slows down quite a bit.

    I use Intel in all my boxes but I don't see that using AMD would make a significant difference. Also remember that each VM OS uses the same amount of HDD space as would a "real" machine, so make sure you have a hard drive that's pretty roomy (mine is 200 gig ATA drive).

    One thing to consider is VMWare tools (assuming you'd be using VMWare). After you load the base operating system, in order to get all of the functionality (screen resolution, etc) the OS is capable of, you have to load VMWare tools which amount to additional drivers. This is a piece of cake on a Windows VM but involves a few extra steps on Linux (and I assume UNIX). There are instructions both in the box and online. You have to be more or less comfortable with tarballs and the Linux file structure to install the VMWare tools (on both Windows and Linux, VMWare tool installation emulates an installation from the VM's CD-ROM Drive).

    I have zip experience with Virtual PC and am hoping our bird from the flames can help with that one. Hope this helps some.
     
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  3. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Id ask why you 'dont' want to run it on your real machine, the very purpose of it is to section off all your testing into virtual machines, so I wouldnt worry too much about that
    and from your system spec last time I read your main rig is more than adequate

    problem with VM is it does require a pretty beefy machine for real testing, so its often hard to justify buying a second system that powerful :)

    id say 1024MB ram if you can afford it, you can get away with 40GB hard disk if all you wanna do is VMs on the machine, your looking at 10 machines with 4GB a piece, get a bigger one if u can, 200gb not much more than 40gb these days ~2Ghz is fine

    make sure u get a 7200rpm 8mb cache HDD if poss, the benefits are many!
     
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  4. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I don't recall Ryan...do you have any experience using Virtual PC?
     
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  5. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    ive used it for a few things mate, but no where the level i know VMWare :)
    why?

    edit: duh me, only just noticed that final line

    my simple answer mate, is if you want to do anything other than windows on it, along with advanced networking stuff VMWare is king, if its primarily basic windows stuff and you have a lower spec PC, then VPC can handle most your needs

    I know of a few folks using Virtual Server, although out of the league of most people any MSDN subscribers can get a hold of a copy usually, and also trying to get hold of GSX/ESX server to boot
    see what the differences are there, if any
     
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  6. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I strongly suspected it would only really run Windows VMs. As you probably already know, I've pinned the WMWare vs Virtual PC shootout so folks could see the differences laid out.
     
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  7. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    it does I believe run both, but non MS stuff is not very well supported, nor implemented, and linux is hard enough to work out without having a dodgy system to work with :D

    that link can also be found in our Resource Thread i believe :)
    but thanks for highlighting it trip
     
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  8. Gaz 45

    Gaz 45 Kilobyte Poster

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    Good article, that. Looks like VMware if i'm going to try SUSE.
    Phoenix, i've not listed my system spec on here before, but it should be more than adequate...

    Athlon XP 3000 (2.16GHz I think, 400MHz bus)
    1GB RAM (PC3200)
    160GB HDD (7,200rpm, 8MB cache)
    Gainward 'Golden Sample' GeForce FX5900XT 128MB

    Think you're right, no real reason why I shouldn't set it all up on this system, just fancied a system that I could really go to town on mucking about with. :biggrin

    Now just steeling myself for that 550MB download for Win Server 2003!
     
    Certifications: MCP (70-229, 70-228), MBioch
    WIP: MCDBA (70-290)
  9. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Seems like good system specs. I do have a machine that I use primarily for lab work. In my case, it is practical because of my writing. I use my laptop to actually write on and run my VMs on a separate lab machine. Tho my family occasionally asks to use it for certain purposes (my son has a laptop and we have a general purpose PC for family use) but on the whole, it is used mostly as my test machine.

    I have both VMWare and SnagIt on it so I can do labs on the various VMs and take screen shots of the steps and results. The shots are then used as graphics in whatever book or other content I'm writing. While Ryan is correct in saying that for the most part, there's no reason to buy a separate unit as your Virtual Machine host, I can argue that under certain circumstances, there are advantages.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  10. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    I agree that there are indeed advantages, it just more comes down to weather or not you want to spend the money :)
    I'm about to build a dedicated server/VM Machine as I dont like to shut down my VMs just so i can go play games (which you would have to do on your primary rig if you played games on it)
    this way I can run numerous real live servers using VMware GSX Server on one powerful Box (Dual Xeon 2.8, 2GB DDR Ram, 2TB Array partitioned accordingly), its all down to your needs really :)
    for testing, I dont see why you cant suspend them to go have your fix of BF2, however if you ever plan on running a perm VM or the reasons trip mentions, then a second machine is a great solution
     
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  11. Gaz 45

    Gaz 45 Kilobyte Poster

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    The idea was to have something I could throw anything at, without worrying about my data & backing up. Something I could freely install various OS's on and format whenever, but there is the problem that it would need to be almost a similar spec to my own. My dad's about to buy a new one and promised me his current one as a test rig, but the specs on that are too low really (700MHz Athlon, 384MB Ram, 27GB HDD, GeForce 1 card) to be useful for VMing. Looks like i'll set it up on my comp and invest in a test rig if I feel i'm going to need one. Cheers for the advice/info!
     
    Certifications: MCP (70-229, 70-228), MBioch
    WIP: MCDBA (70-290)
  12. G1BB0

    G1BB0 Nibble Poster

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    lo all

    I currently have 2 pc's available for a lab

    I have my main pc - p4 3.4 and 1024 ram, 250gb sata

    2nd pc is a amd xp 2000, 256 ddr and a 160gb ata 7200 8mb

    the 2nd pc I was given by a mate, I currently have a router etc so....

    should I just use my main pc or, can i use my main and also the 2nd pc via the router in VM?

    only just got the software so aint really played about with it - this is for MCSE server 2003 btw and so will be installing server 2003, xp pro and win 2k in vmware but if it is such a hog then would like win 2k on 2nd pc maybe

    cheers in advance

    Steve
     
    WIP: N+ & CCNA
  13. Phil
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    Phil Gigabyte Poster

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    I'd go with putting VM on your main PC, the more poke you can throw at your virtual machines the better. The main problem with the second PC is ram, I think you really need at least 500mb to get a couple of virtual machines running under VMware. You could just build the second PC as a w2k3 server and so long as you've configured the networking on the VM's right it will be able to talk to them as if they were real machines on your network.
     
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