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Looking to Make a Cheap Xen/KVM/ESXi Test Box

Discussion in Hardware Hangout started by ::1/128, Jan 29, 2013

  1. Oct 27, 2010
    Hey, so I'm trying to get more experience working with virtualized eviroments and I would like to get a cheap box that will allow me to play around with Xen/ESXi.
    I would like it to be cheap enough so that I could buy two and play around with failover, live mitigration, and load distribution.
    I found some too good to be true stuff on craigslist but Im hoping people will have some recommendations for builds. I've look at some cheap lenovos / dells / etc. So if you have a good recommendation there it would also be appreciated.

    Direct I/O capable CPU (>=2 cores)
    >=8GB of memory

    Thanks :grin:
  2. Jun 11, 2012
    If you are looking for a cheap desktop and don't care about how old it is companies/university who phase out their PCs sells them to a distributor thus that would be the best place to find some cheap stuff. Or refurbished PCs should be fine for most.

    However since your looking at +4GB memory hardware which correlates to x86-64, you may be limited in terms of searching them on craiglist. I built a server for 500$ and it does well when it comes to virtualization.

    I had to look up quickly for a Xen supported hardware and it seems the majority of Intel and some AMD are supported. But your biggest issue will be finding a graphic adapter that works well with Xen since a limited of them are supported. But this depends if you want to do any of the VGA stuff (http://wiki.xen.org/wiki/Xen_VGA_Passthrough_Tested_Adapters).

    Not a Xen expert but most PCs seems to be supported. I'll try to write something coherent since this took me 5hrs to write morsel by morsel due to work :razz:
    Benderius, Jan 29, 2013 Last edited by Bender Bending Rodriguez, Jan 29, 2013
  3. Apr 9, 2007
    I just tried Xen this weekend, it didn't go very well. udev wouldn't detect my hardware, and then things went horribly lol :frownbig:
  4. Oct 27, 2010
    I haven't given a lot of thought to graphics yet, I'll keep that in mind.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it though I do have a Nvida Quadro 3800 laying in my closet. I guess it would be a good opportunity to get it back out again.

    I want the hardware to have VT-d / whatever-the-hell-AMD-calls-it capabilities so I can really just play around with all the options. I've made a new egg box for like $450 but would like to get another 50-100 off so I can double up.

    Sounds like a good sign; can't wait for that. :razz:

    I also want to try out KVM (specifically Proxmox). My job currently uses ESXi but I'd like to learn more about the whole operation by using the other options. Also their iSCSI SAN targets are effed so vMotion won't work :arrogant: .
    ::1/128, Jan 29, 2013 Last edited by ::1/128, Jan 29, 2013
  5. Oct 27, 2010
    Okay so here is what I've come up with and a brief overview of my plans (generated in complete ignorance):

    I've pick out the MOBO+CPU because of know VT-d compatibility. It's unlikely that I'll actually use PCI passthrough but I just want to have the option if I ever want to try it out. This build come out to about $430 which is more than I would like it to be but it's pretty much all I could come up with and feel safe that stuff will be supported. Here is the test box build:
    CD-ROM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106289 (<- Is it worth it? I'm thinking just in case...)

    I want to make 2 of these.

    Since I don't have a access to a NAS or another spare box to set one up with I want to try out Proxmox with Sheepdog and see how that goes. If anyone has any experience with sheepdog please let me know about how it went. If that all goes up in smoke I'll set one up with Xen and the other up with KVM and see how those compare.

    Does anyone have any suggestion on hardware changes?
  6. Jun 11, 2012
    With the way installing OS has been going your better off not having CD-ROM and you can install USB install. I've installing linux distro using USB, hell my server doesn't have CD-ROM and I never ran into a issue. Unless you have stuff that need cd installation...matter fact, rip out the install stuff or put into a iso (at worst).

    Better invest in a SSD (128GB should be fine) and use that TB as where all your data goes. That case looks fine but the low amount of flow may be a slight thing to look at. I have the HAF 912 with superb cooling fans (I believe 4 fan at each corner and place superbly to flow air)

    This set up cost me 550$ in canada but this was in sept 2012, might be cheaper now and also everything is cheaper in states.
  7. Dec 6, 2011
    I don't mean to be a derp here, but what exactly is a Xen/KVM/ESXi Test Box?
  8. Oct 27, 2010
    Xen, KVM, and ESXi (which is VMwares Xen based hypervisor) are all hypervisors used to as the basis for virtualized machine environments. Its basically like running Parallels or VMware to make a virtual machine that allows you to, say, run windows on a mac without having to reboot. These just operate at a much lower level without the underlying operating system. I want to make a test box(es) that explores these hypervisor(virtual machine manager) options. It's really where the IT industry is going/is right now and I don't know anywhere near enough about it (i.e. almost nothing).

    I would likely only install Proxmox/Xen/ESXi on that though wouldn't I? I want to have all of the geust VMs located on the same volume so I can try out live migration stuff along with HA clustering. My plan right now is to use Sheepdog to make a distributed storage system between the two boxes and use that volume for all the guests. It will be slow as shit most likely and I'll probably get fed up with it, but I think it's worth checking out.