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.