Home Virtualization Project

Virtualization FunnelAs some of you may know, though may or may not actually care, I was previously running my home server on Ubuntu Jaunty x86_64, and ran VMware Server 2.0 on it.  I had VMs for my SSL VPN and some occasionally used VMs for other things.

I was tired of performance that VMware Server offered, along with its baggage.  For instance, the Web UI suffered from frequent crashes, and it was also fairly slow.  Having had great success in the lab at the office with VMware ESXi, I decided that was the way to go.  ESXi 4.0 is still fairly new, and I’ve had some trouble with my SSL VM on it, so I decided to sit that one out for a bit, leaving me with 3.5u4.

Next hurdle – my hardware.  I use a Shuttle XPC for my server.  It’s small, and doesn’t inhale too much power, so I found it to be a good choice as a Linux server, what it’s spent most of its time as.  Unfortunately, as it uses a Marvell Ethernet chipset (the sky2 driver), and that’s not on the VMware HCL, there wasn’t a driver for it.  But then, KernelCrash to the rescue.  The author gives very nice build instructions to get a mod_sky2.0 driver that works on ESXi 3.5u4.  It’s been good enough that I haven’t noticed any problems with performance or functionality.

I did have to give up my Linux software raid, so at the moment, I’m sort of running without a net.  My plan is to add an external RAID box, either connected via eSATA or 1GbE NAS.  Obviously eSATA will perform better, but I’m not yet convinced I’ll see much of a practical performance difference.  I’ll add a new Intel e1000 NIC to the system dedicated to storage if I do that.  Anyone have thoughts on VMware iSCSI vs NFS performance?

Now I’ve got VMs for my SSL VPN, my File/Pri DNS/DHCP/kitchen sink server, a secondary DNS, and a FreeNAS, as well as some assorted client systems to test various things.  All in all, it’s worked very well.

If you want to go straight to ESXi 4.0, KernelCrash has you covered there as well.

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