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I have a server running Linux/Debian that I administrate via ssh. I need to provide some functionnalities with other OS, like openSuse or Windows. I want them running on the server in virtual machines, and I want to do so in console mode.

I have heard of VirtualBox ( i use it frequently in desktop mode ) and Xen ( i'm taking a look ).

What I'm exactly trying to do is to run many instances of a debian distribution on a server accessed only access via ssh. Moreover the solution must be open-source. It would also be a way to test others OS, but only in console mode.

What are the possibilities, which is the best one ? Thanks a lot.

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What will these virtual machines be doing? What is the hardware in the system (resources may be constrained)? Do you need ease of administration or more functionality? This is a very complex question, there's no one perfect answer unless you can give us more info. – Daisetsu Jun 25 '10 at 22:55
up vote 0 down vote accepted

You might also want to consider KVM, probably in combination with libvirt as a management tool. Libvirt can also manage XEN VMs, so if you want to evaluate different systems this might be a way to go. KVM requires hardware support, however that is included in most modern CPUs.

For running VirtualBox in console mode you should read the "Headless mode" section of the documentation.

Every hypervisor has its (dis)advantages, personally i prefer KVM for virtualizing linux guests on linux hosts (also works pretty well with windows, i'm running a Windows 2008R2 VM as well).

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+1 for the HeadLess Mode of Virtual Box, but since Virtual box has gone Oracle, i'm looking for a more "open-source friendly" solution. I'm updating my question with a bit more details. – dader51 Jun 21 '11 at 13:27
Well that practically leaves you with KVM only - XEN is not really a solution for virtualizing windows guests and VMWare is proprietary. VirtualBox is GPL since the non-GPL components were separated into an "extension pack". – barbaz Jun 21 '11 at 14:49

You might want to look into VMWare Server. It has a built in web management and you can access the VMs terminal with the same web management.

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