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Home Hypervisor Hardware Help

Discussion in 'Servers and Enterprise Solutions' started by slinxy, 14 Sep 2021.

  1. slinxy

    Mobster

    Joined: 3 Dec 2002

    Posts: 3,942

    Location: Groovin' @ the disco

    Hi Guys...

    It's been over a decade since I've had to buy hardware for the home so please bear with me as I've been lucky and the places I've worked at had in the past allowed me to use their infrastructure for self dev/training and testing, but the new place has much tighter security and processes.

    The issue I have at the moment is that I have beefy but dated apple client machines, i7 32GB imac, i7 16GB mbp and an i7 32GB mbp; guess what I do.. :)

    But would like something to host:
    windows server,
    windows client,
    macOS client (this can be done via one of my apple clients),
    linux server to run tomcat and java,
    small sql server,

    I do have an old i5 16gb micro hp desktop and was thinking of getting another micro desktop something like an i7 64gb and a mac mini (not sure if I want a m1 or intel yet; depends on vmware beta testing).

    Or get a dedicated server/workstation but would like help specing it up...

    Sorry for just dumping my thoughts... would welcome any suggests and thoughts.. Thanks
     
  2. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,465

    Location: West Berkshire

    That's a tough call when you're talking about two divergent CPU architectures. Rosetta will handle instruction translation from x86 to ARM for apps, but that doesn't extend to a hypervisor (i.e. you can't, so far as I'm aware, run any x86 OS on an M1 Mac). Intel is basically a dead-end as far as Macs are concerned (I'd not be surprised if support starts to die out within a couple of years, as it did with PowerPC). You're better off keeping those two separate then.

    As for Windows, basically anything recent will run the rest of what you want given enough resources. I can run all of that on a Windows 10 laptop (admittedly a high-end one). Running VMs on an SSD makes a huge difference, so definitely do that, then add up the number of CPU cores and memory you think you'll need and you're well on the way to having a spec. Although you can over-provision to some extent, its best to try to spec without relying on that because you will almost inevitably need more than you think you do.

    PS - you can run Java and Tomcat on Windows. Its not as easy as Linux, but I've done it in the past (even on production servers).
     
  3. slinxy

    Mobster

    Joined: 3 Dec 2002

    Posts: 3,942

    Location: Groovin' @ the disco

    I think I will get a micro desktop i7 with as 64gb first (I may get away with 32gb)... having relied on using work infrastructure/hardware for so long it means that I really don't have much in terms of hardware/components around the house and it will get expensive rather quickly.

    Install ESXi onto that and host the windows VMs, sql VM and see if it can coupe with the linux server (this is to emulator real life working environments).
    I can host all the macOS stuff on my imac for now and add mac mini later once my iMac needs to get replaced (about 2 years).

    Storage wise, I think I try to get something with an eMMC just to hold the ESXi, 2TB SSD. I have a home setup already, just a pi4 and nas, so the storage in the so called hypervisor will be just for the VMs and the configurations which I will be messing about with, breaking, rebuilding, snapshoting etc. There won't be much actual data on the VMs; just OS, app and config.

    Speed is not a factor; as it's not a production environment.. as long as it's just not frustrating slow.

    I can always add a second/third micro desktop later if needed, which will allow me to power on/off boxes depending on what I'm doing at the time.
    I don't really want my open-plan house looking like a server farm or spend something like 8k on a solution for me not to use it for one reason or another.

    Does this sound sensible?
     
  4. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,465

    Location: West Berkshire

    Running multiple VMs on consumer-grade spinning rust can get frustrating fast (it gets horrible on my laptop, though desktop drives will perform better), so yes, that SSD is a good plan. eMMC for the hypervisor is plenty (most commercial hardware seems to use SD cards, since they're cheap, easy to replace, and only affect boot performance anyway).

    I don't know the specific CPU/RAM requirements for your VMs, so can't comment on those specifically, but sounds like you're on a decent track. Given that these systems are generally powered on 24/7, its worth spending a little extra on decent hardware (particularly power and cooling), but 8K would definitely be overkill!
     
  5. andshrew

    Mobster

    Joined: 25 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,514

    Depending on exactly what you want to do and how much of it you want to do concurrently you might find you don't actually need lots of dedicated hardware.

    I'm able to do almost all of my homelab work directly from my Windows workstation using VMware Workstation. The most important thing being lots of RAM and SSDs for your VMs. Even with a decade old i5 it's very rare that I actually run out of CPU. In the case of Windows VMs I have base installs of the various OS's at the sysprep stage and then use the Linked Clone feature so I can dramatically cut down on storage requirements by having them all sharing that base install disk. For Linux and everything else they don't typically have huge storage footprints so I just build them individually as needed, but combined with the improvements that Windows Subsystem for Linux has seen I often don't even need to have full Linux VMs these days for testing things there.
     
  6. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,465

    Location: West Berkshire

    Similar to what I do - except I have Windows 10 Enterprise so Hyper-V is included. I'm not sure how they compare for performance. I think OS images can be shared with the cut-down Hyper-V but haven't figured out how, and don't tend to use snapshots anyway due to the performance hit on spinning rust. Maybe putting a shared OS image on an SSD and just the snapshots on the other drive would help me, but that's for another thread!
     
  7. slinxy

    Mobster

    Joined: 3 Dec 2002

    Posts: 3,942

    Location: Groovin' @ the disco

    I think I'm going to start this weekend working on my imac (i7 32GB 1TB fusion).
    This will give me a rough idea on what hardware I need and I can aways migrate them later to another system.
    I wasn't playing on spending cash till black friday/cyber monday anyway, but this shoud get me a linux server running tomcat and java and a small db server, what I need immediately and I see what the preformance is like.

    Most people in my team are using old gaming rigs for their homelabs but I game on consoles and been in the apple ecco system for decades so It's about time I spent some cash on some pc equipment.
     
  8. slinxy

    Mobster

    Joined: 3 Dec 2002

    Posts: 3,942

    Location: Groovin' @ the disco

    Hi again..
    I discovered a I have a HP EliteDesk 800 G2 with a 5th gen i5. Do you think it be worth adding 32GB ram and a 1TB SSD to that and trying it or would that be a bad investment?
     
  9. Berserker

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 4 Nov 2002

    Posts: 15,465

    Location: West Berkshire

    That obviously depends on whether the hardware can be moved to anything newer at a later date. Looks like its DDR4 so that's a start. Will be limited to SATA SSDs so not the best performance, but still usable.

    4C/4T and 32GB will be sufficient for several VMs provided the workload isn't too high. The only gotcha will obviously be that its not certified hardware for VMWare. That's never been a problem. :)