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I understand now that a Type 2 (or hosted) hypervisor is the same as using VMware or VirtualBox within an existing operating system, so I want Type 1.

Using a Type 1 (or native, bare metal) hypervisor runs one or more operating systems at the same time, without running one inside the other.

Would VMware ESX (or ESXi) run both Windows 7 and Ubuntu simultaneously and support DirectX, Direct3D and hardware acceleration using my graphics card drivers properly?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yep but nope!

ESX does support some graphics and you will be able to use Direct3D, however, it is in no way that good.

ESX is designed for headless servers (with the rare connection from an admin). It is not designed for desktop usage (which it sounds like you want).

It will not be able to utilize your graphics card.

I recommend you look at dual booting - or, VMWare Workstation (on a modern computer, it can be near native performance... but, still won't be that good at gaming).

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If I run VMWare Workstation from Ubuntu with Windows 7 inside it, it can support 3D gaming (for example StarCraft 2)? – Brian Graham Mar 16 '12 at 17:03
@BrianGraham it is DirectX compatible but, it certainly isn't that great and won't be that fast - I have had quite a few problems with it running on Ubuntu and would recommend the other way round - using workstation under Windows to run Ubuntu... and install your games normally. – William Hilsum Mar 16 '12 at 17:17
Whichever OS will be the one that you play games on, you should use as your native/primary OS, virtualize the one that will not be used for games. – kobaltz Mar 16 '12 at 17:20

As mentioned William Hilsum - ESXi and other type 1 hypervisors are really intended for headless operation. They are the wrong choice for any type of interactive use - particularly gaming.

An option - though I still think dual booting or at least using your primary/host operating system for gaming - is to use a feature of VirtualBox called PCI passthrough. The hardware and software requirements are pretty strict to allow it to work properly, but you could give it a shot. VMWare supports the same thing through "VMDirectPath" though I think it might be restricted to their higher-end vSphere product line.

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