Server Hardware

roswaldroswald Member Posts: 35 ■■□□□□□□□□
I'm thinking about building a decent machine for running VMs on. For the time being it will be a lab machine for testing and learning, but ultimately I'll use it for some personal hosting once I'm more familiar with some of the concepts.

I'm thinking core2duo with 4gigs of RAM, but I've never built a computer with the intention of it being a server. Are there a few good chipsets to look for in a Mobo? For storage should I go SATA? I'll probably do a raid5 array with 3 drives.

I'm not trying to build a real production grade server machine - but I'm looking for performance on a budget.


  • MishraMishra Member Posts: 2,468 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Only thing that I would care about is 2 cores and 8+ gigs of ram. You can get probably 8-10 VMs mostly running a gig of ram on that machine.
    My blog

    You may learn something!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Yea, it really depends on your needs. I can get a dozen going with 4gb. The single disk is my bottleneck though. RAID 10 would give you better performance, but it won't make the most out of your disk space. SATA II is fine for what you're doing.
  • roswaldroswald Member Posts: 35 ■■□□□□□□□□
    So I found out that I can probably get my hands on VMware ESX server. I've heard that I should probably go with SCSI drives if I wanted to be able to use ESX. I know it's not going to be on their certified compatibility list, but does anyone know if its possible or plausible to run ESX on a homebuilt server?

    I'm only looking to run around 10 or so VMs, and ESX is definately way beyond what I'll need, but I'd still like to play around with it. Maybe go after a VMware cert later on as well.

    I'm still up in the air about a motherboard and storage, but I'd like to go Core2Duo and throw 8gigs of RAM at it and see what i can do. If ESX is out of the question I'll probably just go with straight VMWare Server.

    I'm looking for something that will last or at least be upgradeable, so I'm going to get a solid rack mount case and power supply to go into my networking lab rack. I'm looking at a mobo w/ crappy onboard video (initial setup only), intel xeon/core2 support at 1333Mhz fsb, up to 8gb ram support, redundant onboard sataII controllers, and dual gigabit NICs. If I go SCSI I'll probably end up w/ a PCI controller card.

    I like the idea of storage virtualization and I'd like to get into some of the things that ESX can do, using the most basic hardware possible. Would a SCSI card w/ a few older drives in a RAID5 array work? Is ESX just a dream and I should stick with free VMware Server and keep my hardware simple?
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Check out the compatibility guides:

    Also, version 3.5 now officially supports SATA. That'll get you much more for your money. I don't see any reason why you'd need to use SCSI for a small home lab like that. I run 10 VMs on a 7200rpm drive on my laptop (which is admittedly a bottleneck, but it's really not noticeable unless there's a lot of disk activity).
  • remyforbes777remyforbes777 Member Posts: 499
    It is definitely possible to run ESX on a home built server. I am running it now on a Dell 260 pizza box. Not the best set up but you can become familiar with it a bit.
  • astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
  • homerj742homerj742 Member Posts: 251
    Is it possible to setup a lab that tests out VMotion? would you need more than 1 server box?
  • MishraMishra Member Posts: 2,468 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Ran into this

    Looking for a evaluation version of vmotion for you
    My blog

    You may learn something!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,314 ■■■■■■■■□□
    The 3.5 trial is good for 60 days, and includes all the features, such as VMotion.

    You need two machines running ESX to use it though. The purpose of VMotion is to transfer a VM from one ESX host to another.
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