[TriLUG] virtualization stacks for linux servers

David Black dave at jamsoft.com
Thu Apr 7 10:09:37 EDT 2011

VMware ESXi 4.1 with NFS datastores.

Several months ago I switched from XenServer 5.6 Free and haven't looked back.  Just got tired of unpredictable VM problems and crashes, often a day or two after a live migration.   According to Citrix's forums, I wasn't alone in this experience.

Why I'm happy with ESXi 4:

 Stable - not a single hiccup, yet.  #1 reason.
 Compatible - runs wide(st?) variety of guest OSes and the list is frequently updated.
 Free - as in beer.  I prefer FOSS but at the end of the day at least the hypervisor needs to just work.  The free feature set is a good start for personal/home use, and easily scripted to do more if one wants to tinker.
 Community - of the few minor problems I've had, someone else already solved every one.  There are also well-documented tweaks, e.g. add a driver for my RTL8169 gigabit NICs, and to run directly from a 1 GByte USB key.
 Graceful VM RAM overcommit.  For maintenance, I can temporarily cram VMs onto a smaller number of hosts and nothing bad happens.
 Paravirtualized I/O drivers available but not required - an option with at least Windows and Linux to make them go a little faster, and relatively painless to switch.

Con: the definitive management UI (vSphere Client) runs only on Windows.  Otherwise I'm happy with it.  Live migration and templating in the free feature set (as XenServer has) would be nice, but I scripted workable substitutes and am not complaining.   There's no way I'm paying for a hypervisor for home use, as there are too many decent, free choices already.

BTW, I am curious about Hyper-V and keep up on news about it, but to the OS vendors now getting into hypervisors: if you're serious, don't even give the appearance you're playing favorites with guest OSes.  I run various flavors of Linux, Windows, Solaris and FreeBSD on my setup and deplore any vendor trying to nudge (force) me into their preferred set of guest OSes by offering incomplete support and lagging currency for certain ones with which they may compete.


----- Original Message -----
> What are you using? Maybe...
> * Homebrew with all open source components
> * Ganeti
> * OpenStack
> * VMware (in its various flavors)
> * Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization
> * Citrix Xen
> * Oracle VM
> (the list goes on....)
> I'm more interested in what drove you to use one stack over
> alternatives you considered than in the details of what stack you're
> using, so if in composing your reply you would focus on the relative
> merits of what you picked compared to the alternatives, that would be
> great. At the risk of repeating myself, I'm not terribly interested
> (here, now) in the relative merits of kvm and xen, but I am
> interested
> in the relative merits of higher-level management tools. You might be
> using zones or some other interesting virtualization off in
> non-linux-land, but for the purposes of this thread let's stick to
> comparisons of virtualization solutions that support Linux-based
> guests.
> Pointers to articles which discuss the relative merits of VM
> management tools/frameworks are also welcome.
> Thanks!
> --
> Cristóbal Palmer
> Systems Administrator
> University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
> --
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