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I'm currently building a home server to do various tasks, but i have a problem with the OS to put on top of it. Right now I have a FreeNas, an IPCOP and a standard debian distro (hosting my dev environnement) all on their own computer, but I would like to put all of them on a single, more powerful system (the reason being the lady), yet at the same time retains those os which I'm used to and works extremly well for my needs.

I've read a lot of articles about virtualization and how awesome that is, but I never toyed with it myself, so I would like to know: is it possible to build a system so that those 3 OS would run together on the same computer, at the same time ? If yes, what tools should I be looking at ?

The processor has hardware virtualization support and is a quad cores, and there are 6 GB of ddr2 memory which should be enough.

Thanks for any help

PS: I didn't know whether this belonged to superuser of serverfault, sorry if i'm mistaken

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superuser sounds perfect to me for that question :D – brandstaetter Nov 24 '09 at 13:48

Definitely possible for free. Check out VirtualBox and VMware Server. You could even convert your current physical partitions to virtual machines to avoid setting everything up from scratch with VMware Converter.

If you prefer to start from scratch, you'll need the CD/DVD or ISO image you used to install each one so you can install it into the virtual environment.

If you're running them all at the same time, I'd recommend running each one from a separate hard disk for optimal performance.

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I recommend using VMWares ESX ( On a short note, the ESX is an OS, which runs virtual machines. So basically you install ESX on a machine, then run it. Now you have 2 options (for each of your machines): - create new virtual machine for each of the 3 you have and install from scratch (might be a good idea if your systems are cluttered, but it will take a lot of time) - create a virtual machine from the actual host with vmware converter ( (this is actually the fastest way to get things going as you won't need to re-configure (much) the existing machines).

I myself implemented a similar solution to this problem. You can see my solution here:

Basically I have 1 physical machine, running a bunch of VMs, and I connected my keyboard, mouse, screen, USB stuff to one of the VMs using Passthrough/DirectPathIO

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Take a look at Virtualbox. It's free and quite good.

Also, your system sounds powerful enough to run Debian as the main system and the other two as virtual machines.

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Both recommendations - VirtualBox and VMware - are awesome. I recommend VirtualBox if you'll be doing graphical interaction (X window) with your VMs. Your hardware platform's definitely more than sufficient for virtualization.

Here's a strategy I recommend for you: On your base OS, get IPCOP, FreeNAS, and the virtualization solution all working side-by-side. I recommend this instead of putting each one in a separate VM. Just use VMs for your dev environments. Here's why:

For FreeNAS -Network Attached Storage is both disk-subsystem and network IO intensive. Why go through the physical-to-virtual overhead for all that?

For IPCOP - that's likewise network IO intensive... and it needs to interpose for everything going into and out of other machines on your network. So again, why add the overhead?

Once you're accustomed to using a VM for your development, you'll wonder how you did development without one. The extra management layer that virtualization solutions provide gives you outstanding control over the machine.

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