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I will soon be setting up a home server running both Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu Linux. This server will host some webservices, and as a home user, sometimes unexpected maintenance is required (this machine is multipurposed). My idea was to run these webservices in a virtual machine so that I could migrate them to another machine for a few hours, and then move them back when they're done.

So my question is:

  • is this possible
  • what VM package should I use? Ideally, it would support both Windows and Linux, although supporting just one would work.
  • what can I expect from this?

EDIT: Okay, no "live" migration. What about cross-platform virtualization which can be painlessly moved between servers and operating systems while the VM is shut down?

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migrated from Jan 18 '11 at 18:09

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

Questions about home setups are not allowed on ServerFault; please see the FAQ for details. This question will be migrated to SuperUser. – Chris S Jan 18 '11 at 17:49
Sorry about that, this (virtualization) seemed a little extreme for what I thought was the target audience. – MighMoS Jan 18 '11 at 17:51
What do you mean by cross-platform? Are you asking if you can migrate from Hyper-V to ESXi? – Zoredache Jan 18 '11 at 18:19
Once you get above "copying files" as your migration method then you start to make things quite involved, and the free options start to dwindle and/or get real complex real quick. I consider myself to be a server geek, I've worked with virtualisation for years, I've written papers and FAQs on it for Microsoft so I'm comfortable with the tech and have all the install media handy, yet this is still something I'd hesitate to do at home for the hell of it - not because I'm not capable but because its expensive, a hell of a lot of hassle and isn't likely to get you much "real world" benefit. – RobM Jan 18 '11 at 19:39
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Hyper-V Server R2 supports clustering and live migration; but requires a SAN to do so. I think most solutions will require infrastructure that will be well out of your price range.

As for moving from one platform to another - I highly encourage you to use a bare-metal hypervisor unless this is a workstation. If it's a workstation then stick with Virtual PC or KVM (Win and Linux respectively). If you insist on trying to get cross-platform working, Virtual Box or QEmu may be your best bet, but both have slightly different hardware available to the VM based on the host OS. It'll turn into a tricky situation quickly.

Virtualization is not some simple layer you can add to any OS, it's extremely complicated. While it provides certain benefits, many of which are of great benefit and importance, those come with many drawbacks, limitations, and penalties (performance not being the least of them).

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