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How would you configure a computer to run a single virtual machine?

Keeping it virtual is important to:

  • Create snapshots
  • Achieve hardware independence

The server in question is a build server so performance is relevant.
Guest OS will likely be Windows XP (and possibly Windows 7 later on)

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If it is a dedicated Virtual-Host Machine, than I'd most likely go with VirtualBox and a completely lightweight Linux underneath (Xubuntu and Lubuntu are jumping to my mind), maybe even an own build which does not have more than the basic kernel (Ubuntu Server Install) + a lightweight window manager just running Virtualbox.

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I would guess you need this VM always on, even on host restart. In that case, you can go with very tiny host OS (as others said, ubuntu server min install will be ok), and VMWare server (it's free).

You can then configure it to start the VM on host start.

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If you are on a Mac, you could use VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop. The snapshots feature is available and can be easily used on both products. I'm not so sure about "hardware independence" but it should be supported.

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I've had great success running a Headless virtualbox install on commodity hardware on top of a basic ArchLinux install. I manage my VMs using VBoxTool so that they behave nicely when I reboot the server, etc... I also set up virtualbox to serve as an RDP server for the machines, so I can connect to each remotely.

You'll have to get acquainted with the VirtualBox manual (pdf) for more info

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