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Revisit: choosing virtualization solution

Posted: Saturday, October 30th, 2010 at 9:43 amUpdated: Saturday, October 30th, 2010 at 9:43 am

It has been almost 1.5 years since I wrote my original Choosing virtualization solution article. While I’m still cheap (read: always try to get the best deals out there) but other things have changed — especially in the built-in support of virtualization on some Linux distributions.

My new (used) server

So this time, I got my server Sun Fire v40z off Craigslist for what I think is a very good price: $300. It came with 4x AMD Opteron 852 with 16GB RAM, 5x 72GB Ultra SCSI-320 10K RPM. The CPU is a single core Opteron, for a total of 4 cores.

I wanted to upgrade to dual core CPU. I’ve been watching eBay for a good deal and finally, I got a listing for lot of 4 HP processor memory board w/ AMD Opteron 880. Moreover, it came with 12GB memory. The best part, I got it for $52. I also bought a PCI-X SATA II controller and a 750GB SATA-300 disk for about $100 for extra disk space.

So, for only $450, my new server configuration is as follows:

  • 4x Dual core AMD Opteron 880 2.4GHz for a total of 8 cores.
  • 28GB memory
  • 5x 72GB Ultra SCSI-320 10K RPM disks configured as RAID 1E
  • 1x 750GB SATA-300 disk

The 28GB ECC Registered DDR memory itself, I think, worth more than $450.

Choosing virtualization solution

The virtualization solution hasn’t changed much. Readers of my previous article, Choosing virtualization solution, would get the idea of the kinds of virtualization solutions out there. Since the CPU on my server, AMD Opteron 880, doesn’t support AMD-V, my only option is either Xen or VMWare.

Many Linux distributions other than Debian Lenny has dropped Xen from their distribution packages in favor of KVM. It is still feasible to install Xen on other distributions, but that means recopiling kernel, etc, which I didn’t want to do.

So this time, I have to opt for VMWare ESXi 4.1. It turned out to be very good. Eventhough Sun Fire v40z is officially supported in ESXi 3.5, ESXi 4.1 runs pretty stable on it. The only customization that I have to do is to add support for my SATA II controller card, but that’s for next article that I’m going to write and publish hopefully soon.

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