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I have a home server I use for various things, and have recently switched over to using VMs, however I can't seem to find a decent VM solution that does what I want.

Xen

Connection keeps dropping every few minutes (So this means it's practically unusable), but with ParaVirtOps faster than VMWare ESXi, and I can use software RAID

VMWare ESXi

Works fine, no connection drops, but I have to run it from USB stick, modify some archive file and I can't use software RAID

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So are there any other solutions out there that do allow me to use software raid, that have a stable network connection, and that also offer paravirtualization

Update: KVM seems to run quite well, I'll have to wait and see if it doesn't develop any problems. I'll also try Xen again once I switch to CentOS

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No hardware virtualization available? –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Dec 18 '10 at 23:48
    
Hardware supports virtualization yes –  Xeross Dec 20 '10 at 13:44
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Can anyone elaborate why this is something for superuser and not for serverfault ? –  Xeross Dec 20 '10 at 13:54
    
although the word "server" is used in the question, SF is meant for large scale servers like the ones sysadmins and IT pros work with. This is a home server solution and thus "consumer grade" –  BloodPhilia Jan 20 '11 at 15:34
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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 18 '10 at 23:46

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

5 Answers

I have run Xen in production environments without any networking trouble. I think you should investigate that before looking into more complex solutions.

Amazon, Gandi and Rackspace also run Xen without such networking problems.

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+1 I use VMware ESXi myself, but it can be assumed that the OP's networking problem is abnormal. I'd suggest trying an Intel NIC. –  paradroid Dec 19 '10 at 10:15
    
I am using an Intel nic Intel Pro 1000 / GT, weird part is it happens in Xen3 with PV and Xen4 with HVM but not with OpenVZ or ESXi –  Xeross Dec 20 '10 at 13:45
    
Check your dmesg logs and syslogs to see if you have any errors relating to network problems. –  Antoine Benkemoun Dec 20 '10 at 14:55
    
I checked the logs and they don't show any network problems –  Xeross Dec 22 '10 at 20:38
    
Have you tried with another NIC ? –  Antoine Benkemoun Dec 23 '10 at 7:34
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I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but VirtualBox is a pretty good solution for what you're doing. You'll have to configure a couple things from the command line to give your VM access to the raw drives for software RAID, but it works.

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Yeah running VirtualBox headless is a possibility but it's not really something made for servers is it ? –  Xeross Dec 20 '10 at 13:48
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I found for running Windows VMs that VMware ESXi seems to perform better than Xen. As far as I know, Windows does not support paravirtualisation.

If you want RAID support, there's a big "but how", because normally the VM will be accessing a large file on a drive somewhere. The VM hypervisor may manage RAID of the disk(s) and present a single disk view to the VM's. ESXi will do this for supported hardware RAID controllers.

The whole RAID + hypervisor issue needs careful consideration so that you really know what you are getting. If you want to be 100% sure an external box that is RAID but presents a single SATA / eSATA interface (and thus fools the hypervisor) is probably the most bulletproof.

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I have been running KVM for quite a while. I have no network problems. I did switch to configuring the network outside of libvirt to reduce interactions with the server's firewall.

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KVM was also an option however wouldn't that perform worse than Xen in PV mode. –  Xeross Dec 20 '10 at 13:48
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I have now switched to OpenVZ as I'm purely using Linux VMs, and it works pretty good, even though it's technically not really virtualization.

Also for the VM disks I am using LVM volumes and underneath that software RAID1.

I will revisit Xen once I have a new server box and see if the problem goes away on that.

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