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I use VMWare Workstation to run VM's (windows mostly) on my own PC. However, I also have another nice PC right next to me with plenty of RAM and muscle, that is busy doing almost nothing.

So I consider just moving the VMware workstation to the server and simply RDP to the server and start/stop VM's as needed and connect to the individual VM's using RDP.

While that is surely possible, it also seems like something that would have a better solution. Like the VM Workstation would run as a server - and then I connect to it with a client and get basicly the same experience as I am getting now locally.

What good options are there here for this? Or am I just delusional? ;)

I know this is a little bit fluffy question, and I have rewritten it 10 times now, but it is just one of those situations where I have an idea something could be done better and there is most likely a brilliant solution for this, but I simply do not know the right terms or concepts - hardly even how to ask the right question.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Optimally you'd set up your server as a ESX(i) host. That's the VMWare "hypervisor" or VM framework that the VMs can then be installed and run on. That's the way VMWare is designed to be run to support actual servers.

This costs money though. If you have money to spend on this project, the VMWare Essentials package is probably the best "bang for your buck" if you're looking to setup a basic but capable ESXi host and VM server config, I'd look into this and see if it fits in your budget.


I stand corrected. Dave M's download link shows the ESXi software is free. You'll want to research licensing for the server OSes you'll be running as sometimes it can differ for virtualized hardware, especially with apps like Microsoft SQL, which are licensed per CPU.

But I highly recommend using the ESXi hypervisor to host VMs. Using this system allows your VMs to access pretty much all the hardware resources with very little used up by the hypervisor. Running server systems inside the VMWare Desktop tool means you're having to run the underlying OS in addition to the hypervisor in addition to the VMs, which is extremely inefficient.

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+1 for being sure you are OK(legal) on the various OSs and other apps you wish to run – Dave M Feb 14 '12 at 16:36

The ESX (i) hypervisor is free. I would install that and run your VMs there. ESX(i) Download Page You can easily run several VMS if the server has enough cores and RAM, but do not forget disk. RAID 5 will have significant performance issues. RAID 10 is likely easiest. Failing that, a VM per disk with GOOD backup plan. The disk I/O issue has been the biggest challenge when retasking hardware.

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