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I have currently have a PC with 16GB of RAM. I will be running multiple virtual machines using VirtualBox.

Would I get the best performance from running the VMs on a Linux host, or a Windows host?

If Linux is best can anyone recommend a distribution to use?

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Pick the host OS based on your daily needs when you're not running VMs. –  Joe Internet Jul 7 '11 at 12:41
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Well, as long as the OS is 64-bit I don't think it really matters. It's down to personal preference. I've ran VirtualBox on Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 and have not seen much of a performance difference. One question is what processor do you have, and is it enough to run enough Virtual Machines to take advantage of 16GB of RAM?

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thanks for you answer, I will am using an i5 3.3 GHz 2500k –  Mark O'Grady Jul 7 '11 at 11:01
    
It depend of what you want to do. If you want an hypervisor type 1 then Virtualbox is useless, and you machine will work fine. But if you want to try hypervisor type 2, then you can try out virtualbox, and I would says, both linux or windows work fine with hypervisor type 2 –  Anarko_Bizounours Jul 7 '11 at 12:59
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I have worked with virtual machines using suse 11.2, 11.4 and also run it on debian lenny. I would recommend that your host is a linux box due to the fact that it can handle the load and is stable. I would say linux is a better server os. so go with any linux distro you like.

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I would probably reccomend using a minimalist linux distro, perhaps a server version with XFCE or similar desktop, running your virtualisation software. Less load on your host, the better. :). As for a disto, probably Ubuntu Server 10.04 for me personally, and if your not used to package management, the ubuntu one ( apt ) is real easy to use.

Hope that helps :).

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There shouldn't really be too much difference in performance, perhaps besides the drivers available for the host's video so proper acceleration can be utilized. I have used both VMWare on Windows and Linux (as well as VBox more recently) and I have not really noticed any pertinent differences.

As someone else mentioned, the only obvious benefit would be that linux has a much smaller overhead to run as compared to Windows. So you should technically have more resources free to run more virtual machines. In regards to linux distro it shouldn't really matter, but Ubuntu anywhere from Lucid Lynx (10.04) forward would be a good starting point.

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