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Last post Author Topic: Recommendations for a Host OS?  (Read 6281 times)

Renegade

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Recommendations for a Host OS?
« on: March 06, 2013, 05:59:25 PM »
I've been mulling over how to escape from the clutches of proprietary and closed software. Not an easy task.

I think that I've come to the conclusion that my next OS needs to be a host OS to run virtual machines in. I can then entirely forget about all this disk cloning nonsense and reinstalling the OS silliness. If I need to back up my "work OS/VM", I can just copy it. Heck, I could run it off of a USB drive and share it between physical machines.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a host OS? The most important thing is that it is reliable and will let me run multiple VMs simultaneously. e.g. My main work VM (Windows), and a Linux VM for me to transition everything that doesn't absolutely 100% need to be done in Windows.

Also, has anyone ever heard of a way to move an OS from a physical disk into a VM?
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x16wda

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 06:35:34 PM »
I presume you want something more like a hypervisor on your hardware, not something like Virtualbox that runs inside an O/S.  I had pulled down an older VMware hypervisor but could not bring myself to install it (I despise VMware).  Have not had enough time to play with Xen personally, though I have rights to muck about with my company's Xen farm enough to cause trouble.

For your Windows box, try disk2vhd from Sysinternals to pull an image to a file.  I made a copy of a box just recently and it worked fine (in Virtualbox) with minor mucking about.  You'll most likely need to reactivate to keep Microsoft happy, of course.

I'll be very interested in the responses you get, thanks for the question!  :Thmbsup:
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Renegade

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 06:51:05 PM »
I presume you want something more like a hypervisor on your hardware, not something like Virtualbox that runs inside an O/S. 

Exactly. I want to run VMs inside of a host environment, whatever that is.

I had pulled down an older VMware hypervisor but could not bring myself to install it (I despise VMware). 

Sigh, yeah... I'd like to stay away from VMware if possible. My goal is to achieve computing independence from vendors, e.g. As much FLOSS as possible. That discussion belongs in the Basement though.

Have not had enough time to play with Xen personally, though I have rights to muck about with my company's Xen farm enough to cause trouble.

Hahaha! :D I believe that my VPS is running in Xen. Not sure. But it's one of the things I've got on my list. If anyone can say a few words about it, I'd be very interested.

For your Windows box, try disk2vhd from Sysinternals to pull an image to a file.  I made a copy of a box just recently and it worked fine (in Virtualbox) with minor mucking about.  You'll most likely need to reactivate to keep Microsoft happy, of course.

Ah! Didn't know about that. I'll check it out. I'd LOVE to get my desktop into a VM. All this cloning nonsense is just way too painful. I want my main desktop OS to be portable as I'm entirely sick and tired of new installs and all that misery. There are a couple threads on similar topics right now - one on a new SSD and all that... pain, misery, ouch... :(
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40hz

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 06:54:11 PM »
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 07:01:48 PM by 40hz »

kyrathaba

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 07:37:53 PM »
If you're reasonably conversant with linux, Proxmox VE is the way to go. From what I've read, it's not for the faint-of-heart (i.e., those with only Windows familiarity).

Deozaan

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 08:13:21 PM »
Proxmox VE.

8)

Does this cause any problems with hardware drivers like VMs often do? More specifically, will this interfere with my GPU drivers and/or cause my games to run poorly?

I think it would be awesome to do something like this and run Windows 7, Windows XP, and various Linux distros all simultaneously without needing to necessarily have Windows 7 as the host OS to avoid driver problems.


40hz

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 09:52:51 PM »
Does this cause any problems with hardware drivers like VMs often do? More specifically, will this interfere with my GPU drivers and/or cause my games to run poorly?


I haven't had any problems. However, I'm not much of a gamer, nor do I do much with bleeding edge video cards, so I'm in not at all qualified to say when it comes to that.

What was suggested to me when I found out about Proxmox was to get a spare drive and install that in the machine I wanted to test Proxmox on. Then disconnect the main drive, install Proxmox on the new drive and go to town. If it didn't work out I could then just reconnect the original drive and be back to where I was with no undue hassles. Since Proxmox can be downloaded and used without having to pay anything, it makes sense to just load it up and play with it to see if you like it.

Like with everything else in the tech world: YMMV.

Sorry. Wish I had a better answer for you. :)

Are there any other Proxmox users here that would know the answer to that?

kyrathaba

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 10:38:06 PM »
Yeah, definitely leave yourself a hassle-free way to return your system to its pre-Proxmox VE state. Since this virtual environment was designed to make better use of server hardware,  it can be installed on bare hardware (no OS needed). You simply download an ISO image and burn it on a CD or create USB stick, then boot from that media, and start the automatic installer. 8 GB of RAM is good, more is better of course. The quick setup guide is here . You can also install on top of X Windows, Debian, and, if memory serves, Windows Server 08r2. I second 40's suggestion to play with it only on a spare drive.

ewemoa

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 10:48:06 PM »
Proxmox VE.

Looks quite interesting!

A bit of searching turned it up in the following list -- perhaps there is another alternative there for comparison?

  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernel-based_Virtual_Machine#Graphical_management_tools

May be the following?

Quote
OpenNode - RHEL/CentOS-based open-source server virtualization and management solution with a simple bare-metal installer, providing KVM+OpenVZ host and standard libvirt, func management interfaces together with standard CLI tools like virsh and vzctl.

Perhaps "OpenNode" refers to:

  http://opennodecloud.com/about/
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 01:12:27 AM by ewemoa »

Deozaan

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 11:03:00 PM »
I haven't had any problems. However, I'm not much of a gamer, nor do I do much with bleeding edge video cards, so I'm in not at all qualified to say when it comes to that.

Are you running on the metal? Or installed on an existing OS?

I just tried installing ProxMox in a VM so I could test it first. I can't seem to figure out how to configure it without having to connect to it via web browser from another PC. That's lame. I want to use the machine I put it on. Not access it from another PC.


Renegade

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2013, 07:04:53 AM »
I just tried installing ProxMox in a VM so I could test it first. I can't seem to figure out how to configure it without having to connect to it via web browser from another PC. That's lame. I want to use the machine I put it on. Not access it from another PC.

I can see why that is. It's meant for data centers, and not home use. You're expected to have other machines running. This isn't really much of a problem for me though.

However, installing a Windows VM inside it is a problem... I'm stuck. I don't see any docs on how to do it, and it won't seem to let me select an ISO file to use. :(

Any hints on how to actually get a VM running in Proxmox VE?
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Shades

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2013, 08:38:55 AM »
VMWare carries a product called ESXi, which sounds (very) similar to ProxMox. If memory serves me right there was a free version of that software. Don't know if there are limitations to be able to use it.

Sorry don't have time right now to put links in this post... :-[

Carol Haynes

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2013, 10:00:54 AM »
When I looked at ESXi it only seemed to run on certain hardware and had quite specific requirements. I may have misunderstood that though or maybe things have changed now.

40hz

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2013, 10:29:27 AM »
I haven't had any problems. However, I'm not much of a gamer, nor do I do much with bleeding edge video cards, so I'm in not at all qualified to say when it comes to that.

Are you running on the metal? Or installed on an existing OS?

I just tried installing ProxMox in a VM so I could test it first. I can't seem to figure out how to configure it without having to connect to it via web browser from another PC. That's lame. I want to use the machine I put it on. Not access it from another PC.

Hardly lame. It's a Type-1 hypervisor. It's designed to be run on bare metal. And connecting via a remote console is also how you do connect to most (if not all) Type-1 hypervisors. They're intended for use in a 'headless' configuration. ;) 8)
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 10:54:45 AM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2013, 10:46:39 AM »
VMWare carries a product called ESXi, which sounds (very) similar to ProxMox. If memory serves me right there was a free version of that software. Don't know if there are limitations to be able to use it.

Don't know much about ESXi (other than what I've read.), but it provides the same functionalities as Proxmox for all intents and purposes. It's yet another bare metal hypervisor solution.

The Linux Action Show did a segment on it a while back (link here) and there are videos up on YouTube where the Hack5 folks were doing things with an older version if you want to see it in action. The Proxmox site also has some videos.

----------------------

Note: If anybody needs to get up to speed on virtualization or what a type-1 hypervisor is, there are some really good plain-talk presentations by somebody who goes by the name of "Eli the Computer Guy" on YouTube that I often point my more technically curious clients to. His intro to virtualization is here. His intro to Type-1 hypervisors is here. If you're new to this, I think they're worth watching.

----------------------
Addendum:

You can also install on top of X Windows, Debian, and, if memory serves, Windows Server 08r2.

Oooo...missed that. And yes, supposedly it can be loaded as a guest in a VM environment provided your VM allows for nesting...

Quote
Testing Proxmox VE as a VM

Proxmox VE can be installed as a guest on all common used desktop virtualization solutions. But note, KVM will not work in almost all cases - only if your software allows nested virtualization (experimental feature).

OpenVZ containers works well.

Note that it's an experimental feature.

Sorry...not for me. Life's too short to get involved in that sort of a science-faire project if you're not a full-time student. ;D

« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 11:55:31 AM by 40hz »

f0dder

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2013, 11:58:07 AM »
Also, has anyone ever heard of a way to move an OS from a physical disk into a VM?
Sure, it's called V2P - there's also P2V, V2V, and P2P, for various scenarios. It's not entirely trivial, since you're possibly dealing with both conversion between virtual disk formats, as well as OS adjustments (drivers, boot devices).

I've had pretty decent success with Paragon Virtualization Manager, it's how I do Windows installs - set everything up in the comfort of a virtual machine while doing whatever on the host OS machine, when everything looks golden the OS gets a defrag, and then I can V2P+OsAdjust it on to the physical hardware.

Good luck with running your main rig hypervised - haven't seen any product that offers non-sucky graphics performance. Vmware comes close, but not if you want full DirectX (or OpenGL, if you swing that way) feature support (or performance).
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xtabber

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2013, 12:52:24 PM »
You really need to think about what you are asking for.  You want to run Windows and other proprietary software in a non-proprietary and open environment, but you want the reliability and support that comes with proprietary software.  TINSTAAFL !!!

I'm not a big fan of Microsoft or VMware as corporate entities, but they do provide the most reliable and flexible working environment, which means I can get my work done while wasting a minimal amount of time trying to get everything to work together.

VMware runs on Windows, Linux and Mac (Fusion) hosts, but Windows provides the best host environment.  VMware Workstation 9 is a quantum leap forward over previous versions because of its virtual networking, which makes it dead simple to run a local network of VMs on a single host or over a LAN.  The virtualization manager in Paragon HD Manager Pro makes it easy to create VMs from physical systems .

I could probably get much the same results from a mix of FOSS elements, but life is too short, and there are other things for me to do with my time.

40hz

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2013, 01:31:20 PM »
they do provide the most reliable and flexible working environment

I could probably get much the same results from a mix of FOSS elements, but life is too short, and there are other things for me to do with my time.

Well there you have it. The gods have spoken!

Guess that ends this particular discussion. ;D


Ath

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2013, 01:51:42 PM »
I'll +1 what xtabber said :Thmbsup:

Renegade

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2013, 05:50:19 PM »
You really need to think about what you are asking for.  You want to run Windows and other proprietary software in a non-proprietary and open environment, but you want the reliability and support that comes with proprietary software.  TINSTAAFL !!!

You missed what I was asking for. My main FLOSS concern is for my desktop OS - not the host OS. What I want from the host OS is reliability.

1) I wasn't explicit here, but the context follows in the second paragraph.

I've been mulling over how to escape from the clutches of proprietary and closed software. Not an easy task.

I think that I've come to the conclusion that my next OS needs to be a host OS to run virtual machines in. I can then entirely forget about all this disk cloning nonsense and reinstalling the OS silliness. If I need to back up my "work OS/VM", I can just copy it. Heck, I could run it off of a USB drive and share it between physical machines.


2) The further context falls in here.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a host OS? The most important thing is that it is reliable and will let me run multiple VMs simultaneously. e.g. My main work VM (Windows), and a Linux VM for me to transition everything that doesn't absolutely 100% need to be done in Windows.


i.e. The host OS is to help me escape from MS and use Linux as my main OS. My requirement for the host OS is reliability and multiple VMs. FLOSS isn't a requirement for the host OS, but would be nice.


I'm not a big fan of Microsoft or VMware as corporate entities, but they do provide the most reliable and flexible working environment, which means I can get my work done while wasting a minimal amount of time trying to get everything to work together.


Right now I'm playing with Proxmox VE in VMware Workstation. I'm not dead set against using VMware - I paid for a license after all - but I would like to try to avoid it *if possible*.


VMware runs on Windows, Linux and Mac (Fusion) hosts, but Windows provides the best host environment.  VMware Workstation 9 is a quantum leap forward over previous versions because of its virtual networking, which makes it dead simple to run a local network of VMs on a single host or over a LAN.  The virtualization manager in Paragon HD Manager Pro makes it easy to create VMs from physical systems .


One of the reasons I'd like to try and move to a pure VE as a host OS instead of a desktop OS is that desktops take up a lot of resources, and Windows still suffers from stability issues thanks to wonderful display drivers. (I think what Linus Torvalds had to say to NVIDIA about sums it up - someone posted a video of him around here somewhere.)

However, I'm using VMware 7, and unless there is a REALLY REALLY REALLY compelling reason to upgrade, I just won't. Networking in 7 works just fine for me.

I should look into that Paragon HD Manager Pro though -- that sounds very sweet!

(I want to move my current Windows installation into a VM if possible and use it that way instead of being anchored to an SSD. The idea of copying the OS as a file is just uber-sexy!)


I could probably get much the same results from a mix of FOSS elements, but life is too short, and there are other things for me to do with my time.


I'm at the research and experimentation stage right now. So I'm willing to spend *a little* time figuring out what will work. I refuse to invest a huge amount of time on this though. If I'm forced into using a paid solution due to time costs, I will. It would simply be nice to avoid the proprietary world for the host OS if possible -- for freedom and cash concerns both.

Like you said, life is short.


 
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Renegade

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2013, 05:51:25 PM »
Does anyone know how to create a Windows VM (or anything) in Proxmox VE? The docs are basically non-existant, and the ones that show you how to mount an ISO are way out of date and not applicable to v2.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

xtabber

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2013, 08:11:21 AM »
Does anyone know how to create a Windows VM (or anything) in Proxmox VE? The docs are basically non-existant, and the ones that show you how to mount an ISO are way out of date and not applicable to v2.
You are making my point more eloquently than I did.

When I say reliable, I don't mean problem free (although that's nice too). I mean that I can rely on what software does, and how it does it. That in turn means adequate documentation, but also maturity and a user base that can be mined for solutions to the inevitable problems.

As for running on bare metal rather than a host operating system, that's asking for trouble, IMHO. Hardware vendors develop drivers for the host OS, not the emulation hardware in the VM. The VM provides drivers for its internal environment, but passes the results to the host, which uses its own drivers to access the real hardware.

If you are a Google or an Amazon, it definitely pays to build your own host environment and optimize it with your own drivers.  For us jes plain folk, relying on what OEMs wrote for Windows, or what the OSS community has developed for Linux, is the smarter way to go.


Renegade

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2013, 08:21:51 AM »
Does anyone know how to create a Windows VM (or anything) in Proxmox VE? The docs are basically non-existant, and the ones that show you how to mount an ISO are way out of date and not applicable to v2.
You are making my point more eloquently than I did.

Yeah, I suppose so. :)

I had glitches with Synergy, but overall, it's running very well once I got over that 1 little hurdle.

For Proxmox VE, I'm guessing that there will be a few things like this.

But with a lot of good software, you do end up with a learning curve or a few hurdles in the beginning. I'm ok with a little bit in this instance as I'm basically trying to run a server style of system for my desktops.

Right now this is just the investigation phase. So, I'm ok with glitches for now. I don't plan on migrating for a little while, and am in no real rush. If I were in a rush, I'd ditch Proxmox VE right now. (Just kind of hoping that 40 chimes in with an answer. hint hint ;) )
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40hz

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2013, 08:54:26 AM »
Does anyone know how to create a Windows VM (or anything) in Proxmox VE? The docs are basically non-existant, and the ones that show you how to mount an ISO are way out of date and not applicable to v2.




Their channel is here.

Eloquence aside, it's not very difficult IMHO.   ;)

Renegade

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Re: Recommendations for a Host OS?
« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2013, 08:56:47 AM »
Does anyone know how to create a Windows VM (or anything) in Proxmox VE? The docs are basically non-existant, and the ones that show you how to mount an ISO are way out of date and not applicable to v2.




Their channel is here.

Eloquence aside, it's not very difficult IMHO.  :)

Fantastic! Thanks for the link! I'll get on that ASAP.


Some software just has a very different approach, so I sometimes miss things. e.g. I started up an ecommerce site with osCommerce and had a heck of a time figuring out the module system as it was "counter-intuitive" compared to other CMSes that I've used. But, once you "see" how it works, it's simple.

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker