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Short description of my problem: I'm setting up a homeserver (used for backup (Bacula), media serving (mediatomb), a allround fileserver and mailserver). My problem is - I have to use a certain email server which only runs under Windows, OTOH I desperately want to use Linux.

System Specs: 4x2TB WD RED in a Raid 10 with a LSI 3442, Core i5-3470S, GA-Z77M-D3H

So I kinda have to use virtualization, but the question is if I should use ESXi to host both (or more) of those systems parallel or let the Windows machine run virtualized (prob. using VirtualBox) inside the Linux system, which runs natively. The Linux machine does all the heavy lifting, the only thing that the Windows System runs is a 3 client mail server.

Running Windows inside Linux:

  • (+) No problems with things like a maximum of 2TB per vmdk (glueing them togehter with lvm again seems a bit unclean)
  • (+) Better performance for the Linux machine (which isn't that important though, I got way more than I need)
  • (-) Less flexibility and security


  • Kinda the opposite of the above, I can easily define a test system and mess around with it, do rollbacks without hassle etc.

So, my question is: Do you see any other major pros or cons? Which setup would you use?

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closed as not constructive by Canadian Luke, Dennis, Dave M, Keltari, Nifle Jan 31 '13 at 18:27

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Using ESXi 5.1 with VMFS-5 you have a ~60TB limit on the vmdk size, see here,…, also the prcessor supports vt-d and vt-x so performance should be pretty good, – deveneyi Jan 31 '13 at 16:24
oh wow, thanks a lot, that helped me big time! – incaseoftrouble Jan 31 '13 at 16:25

Personally, I would go for the virtualized environment if you can afford it. Last I checked, ESXi requires (at a minimum) Xeon processors, which the systems they come in usually aren't cheap.

Another pro with ESXi is (nearly) 100% uptime while still being headless. I've looked into VirtualBox for my server, but as I share my computer with other users, I can't guarantee that they won't log my Windows account out, meaning I'd have to manually restart the instance to access the server again.

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Sidenote: Afaik ESXi runs on a Core i5, too (the hardware may not be on the HCL, but it runs). If it doesn't I'll probably use Xen again. – incaseoftrouble Jan 31 '13 at 15:42… -> I would say as long as your processor is modern and supports VT-X or AMD-v you should be ok. – Nathan Adams Jan 31 '13 at 15:54

I would use HyperV or another headless setup. Using VirtualBox for this type of setup- while doable- will only cause headaches, speaking from experience. What happens when you're on the road and the server gets powered off unexpectedly? That VM may or may not start backup and that means no emails for a while. If you can go headless, depending on how much email traffic you expect, you may even get away w/ running on a Core i5 or i3, most halfway beefy processors nowadays are capable of handling your processing power for home use, your linux machines should be a small footprint ram wise and unfortunately windows is a ram hog, but it can be done for low cost, as hyperv is a free download.

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Currently, the mail server is running on a Pentium 4 (!) and the rest of the stuff distributed over 4 VMs on a 2.3 Ghz AMD DualCore without SSE3, so the i5 is way more than enough. I plan to use WHS for the Windows related things fyi and the free version of ESXi (I guess that's Hyper-V then, I'm not sure about the naming) for virtualization. – incaseoftrouble Jan 31 '13 at 15:53
Yeah from a quick google of ESXi it appears that's VMWare's answer to Microsoft's HyperV, so either should suit your needs, but a bonus is that HyperV doesn't require a xeon (I don't work for MS lol, but I've used it for setting up a virtual lab using a couple of desktops and it works fine) here are the hw reqs – BigHomie Jan 31 '13 at 16:16

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