Want to build a VM lab environment, but use it also as a home PC

Discussion in 'Highly Technical' started by starriol, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. starriol

    starriol Member

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    Hi guys,

    For my lab, I need to be able to nest virtual machines. That is, run several virtual machines inside one virtual machine.
    If I install Windows 8 and then VMWare 9, I believe I won't be able to assign properly the resources to the nested virtual machines, that would run all under, let's say, a Debian VM.
    Or will I?
    Is it more convenient to run:
    1) On physicall hardware: Windows 8
    2) A VM based on another copy of Windows 8, which will in turn run VMWare Workstation 9, which will then assign resources to each of the individual VMs.

    Or...
    Is there any hyper visualizer that would allow me to run a Windows 8 virtual machine and have it perform properly under games, for example?

    What do you guys recommend?

    Thanks.
     
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  3. heymrdj

    heymrdj Diamond Member

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    You can virtualize inside a virtual environment if your processors support it. Your processors much support Intel's EPT (Extended Page Tables) or AMD's RVI (Rapid Virtualization Indexing). Set the VM as Virtual Hardware Capacity 9 (not 8) in VMWare Workstation. Select to virtualize AMD-V/Intel-Vt on the processor options page.

    If I remember correctly you can nest 3 vm hosts this way, so like VMWare Workstation hosts ESXi which hosts another copy of Workstation.
     
  4. starriol

    starriol Member

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  5. heymrdj

    heymrdj Diamond Member

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    Yes I run VMWare Worksation 9 with ESXi 5.1 nested on a Xeon E3-1225. RVI is not a requirement for Workstation 9, therefore, it's not listed. But if you want to nest VM's you need it. Remember that at no time is nesting VM's supported for production use, hence it's not in official documents.
     
  6. starriol

    starriol Member

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    Thank you.
    Last question, I've no experience with ESXi. It does not support installing software, correct? I'd like to install open VPN on it, so that all Internet traffic goes through a VPN. If I can't do that, I'll need to nest under a nested VMWare Workstation using Windows 8, which will have open VPN running.
    Will I be able to run the nested VMs using a virtualized Windows 8 running VMWare Workstation 9, and assign hardward resources freely?
     
  7. starriol

    starriol Member

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    Another solution would be to have VMWare Workstation on the physical PC be binded only to one of my 2 ethernet interfaces (each with one ISP).
    I know that's easy to do, but can I also have a host only network access, so that from another computer on my network I would be able to access to the virtual machines?
    I think that's doable, right?
     
  8. heymrdj

    heymrdj Diamond Member

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    Your best bet would be to setup the system running OpenVPN and ESXi separately side by side, as no you can't install software on ESXi. That way you're not adding an extra layer. Hardware resources become more difficult to administrate as you have to "push" resources up the chain, ie the VM holding the VM above it has to have to resources available to assign to the VM above it.

    Level 1: Host machine with windows 8.
    Level 2: OpenVPN VM and ESXi. Point ESXi's network to run through OpenVPN
    Level 3: whatever else you're hosting from there
     
  9. starriol

    starriol Member

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    Great solution, thanks a lot Heymrdj!
     
  10. imagoon

    imagoon Diamond Member

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    So far the farthest I went was:

    Windows 7 -> VMWare Workstation 8 -> ESXi 5.1 -> Windows 2008R2 HyperV -> Windows 2008R2

    I think I could have kept going but performance at the top was getting laughably bad. If you want to game, you need to use an OS like Windows 7/8 and then use either a) VMWare workstations 8/9 for 7 or Windows 8's version of Hyper-V

    Unless you have a really decent chunk of resources, don't expect the games to run well when VM's are running.
     
  11. starriol

    starriol Member

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    So which one do you think is the best for the first level of virtualization?
    I have experience with VMWare Workstation, but none with Microsoft's Hyper-V.
     
  12. imagoon

    imagoon Diamond Member

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    I would use workstation since you want the base machine to still be a workstation / gaming rig.

    You will need a lot of RAM. ESXi5.1 won't install with less than 8GB as I recall. Hyper-V will install with less than 8GB but has higher overhead than ESXi so you may not end up with enough space to do anything reasonable.
     
  13. starriol

    starriol Member

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    Allright, thanks, I'll go that way then.
     
  14. deaner

    deaner Senior member

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    Honestly, the best way..... seperate Box with a Hypervisior, be it XenServer, Esxi or Hyper-V. I have a Citrix environment at home on XenServer (free version) and run all W2K8R2 boxes needed, along with Virtual Netscaler, etc.

    Point is, I use an FX-8120 / MB / 32GB / 1TB HDD - and it cost me around $350 -

    Food for thought - then you have isolated your Virtual environment from your everyday PC.
     
  15. Chapbass

    Chapbass Platinum Member

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    Just a quick note on this (I know its getting a little old), ESXi 5.1 has a 2GB ram minimum, it will install with 2GB of ram and a dual core processor, not 8gb at all.