Best Hypervisor for a Home Lab?



  • What do you prefer? Why?



  • XenServer - Because of the amazing functions of the open source community, combined with the amazing tools offered for free, such as Xen Orchestra and HALizard (of course not forgetting about Xen its self)



  • @DustinB3403 Interesting, Thanks. Can you still get support from Citrix when using these tools?



  • Well you can always opt to buy per socket licensing with XenServer from Citrix and Xen Orchestra from what I can tell also offers this even if built from their sources.

    I'd confirm, but I believe so.


  • Service Provider

    @anonymous said:

    @DustinB3403 Interesting, Thanks. Can you still get support from Citrix when using these tools?

    Of course, these are tools that use the API. Just like Microsoft still provides support even if you buy third party products to run on Windows.



  • If you are doing a home Lab and don't want to pay the Microsoft tax, I'd also suggest XenServer. If you have a Windows 8/10 Pro license and want to tinker with Hyper-V, there's that as well.

    I'd stick with XenServer though. My current home server is Hyper-V and I am planning a switch to XenServer soon.



  • Hyper-V is 100% free.
    @dafyre - I'm not sure what MS tax you're talking about when it comes to just the hypervisor.



  • @Dashrender said:

    Hyper-V is 100% free.
    @dafyre - I'm not sure what MS tax you're talking about when it comes to just the hypervisor.

    /facedesk -- You have a good point. I continuously forget about that fact they they offer it free now.



  • @Dashrender said:

    Hyper-V is 100% free.
    @dafyre - I'm not sure what MS tax you're talking about when it comes to just the hypervisor.

    To use Hyper-V manager you need a desktop or server license of Windows. Most people have it already but it is an extra expense if you don't. That being said Hyper-V's powershell toolkit is really good.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said:

    @Dashrender said:

    Hyper-V is 100% free.
    @dafyre - I'm not sure what MS tax you're talking about when it comes to just the hypervisor.

    /facedesk -- You have a good point. I continuously forget about that fact they they offer it free now.

    They always did :) The non-free thing was always a SW rumour. Hyper-V was free from day one.


  • Service Provider

    @coliver said:

    @Dashrender said:

    Hyper-V is 100% free.
    @dafyre - I'm not sure what MS tax you're talking about when it comes to just the hypervisor.

    To use Hyper-V manager you need a desktop or server license of Windows. Most people have it already but it is an extra expense if you don't. That being said Hyper-V's powershell toolkit is really good.

    but there are free tools and you can use the API. Just like any free system, there are free and non-free add ons.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @coliver said:

    @Dashrender said:

    Hyper-V is 100% free.
    @dafyre - I'm not sure what MS tax you're talking about when it comes to just the hypervisor.

    To use Hyper-V manager you need a desktop or server license of Windows. Most people have it already but it is an extra expense if you don't. That being said Hyper-V's powershell toolkit is really good.

    but there are free tools and you can use the API. Just like any free system, there are free and non-free add ons.

    No argument there. Just thought I'd mention it as that is where @dafyre was going.



  • Not very happy with XenServer :(

    • You have to create your own ISO store (not hard, but seems like it should be built-in)

    • XenServer forces you to use a lot of memory when defining VMs. For example, the CentOS won't let you define a VM with less than 1GB of memory. This can be a problem when testing XenServer stuff on small (linux) machines such as a jumpbox.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    Xen Orchestra

    I agree with the ISO store, I did however use my Drobo 5N as the ISO store. I personally like vSphere 6, they have a free version that requires you to use the "somewhat" outdated vSphere Client but its not that bad...


  • Service Provider

    When we were using XenCenter, we just shared the ISO Store from the Windows box used for XenCenter. SMB shares work fine.



  • @anonymous said:

    Not very happy with XenServer :(

    • You have to create your own ISO store (not hard, but seems like it should be built-in)

    • XenServer forces you to use a lot of memory when defining VMs. For example, the CentOS won't let you define a VM with less than 1GB of memory. This can be a problem when testing XenServer stuff on small (linux) machines such as a jumpbox.

    You can set local ISO stores (XO makes this a lot easier with pretty much just typing the folder and hitting save) and you can change the RAM for a template. You could also not use the templates and just choose other or whatever the option is.

    xe vm-param-set uuid=<template uuid> memory-static-min=268435456 memory-dynamic-min=268435456 memory-dynamic-max=268435456 memory-static-max=268435456

    That sets the template at 256 MiB



  • @johnhooks said:

    @anonymous said:

    Not very happy with XenServer :(

    • You have to create your own ISO store (not hard, but seems like it should be built-in)

    • XenServer forces you to use a lot of memory when defining VMs. For example, the CentOS won't let you define a VM with less than 1GB of memory. This can be a problem when testing XenServer stuff on small (linux) machines such as a jumpbox.

    You can set local ISO stores (XO makes this a lot easier with pretty much just typing the folder and hitting save) and you can change the RAM for a template. You could also not use the templates and just choose other or whatever the option is.

    xe vm-param-set uuid=<template uuid> memory-static-min=268435456 memory-dynamic-min=268435456 memory-dynamic-max=268435456 memory-static-max=268435456

    That sets the template at 256 MiB

    I think that is @anonymous 's point... Shouldn't have to do that from the CLI.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said:

    I think that is @anonymous 's point... Shouldn't have to do that from the CLI.

    You don't, the GUI does it. The CLI was just for changing the template that he was using. The issue is that he didn't like the default templates, not that Xen or XenServer had any limitation.



  • I would say there is no "best" virtualization platform for home use if you want to use it as a tool to learn virtualization; rather, you should learn whatever you think you need to learn for what systems you're most likely to encounter.

    That said, for a pure lab environment, ESXi allows "nested" virtualization, while Hyper-V does not. What that means is that in Hyper-V you can only have two tiers: bare metal and virtual; while in ESXi you can have multiple levels of VMs tiered on top of one another. In production this is something you would NEVER do, but for learning it's very easy to clone an entire "ready made" environment with multiple machines and have several of them running.

    Conversely, with a Hyper-V environment you can experiment with some advanced features that would cost money to unlock in VMWare, like failover clustering, VM level backups, and virtual SAN.


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