"What if i could play around with a lot of server systems at the same time? Totally for free of course!"
Ready for trying out different server systems on one single piece of hardware?Got some old, but still powerful hardware around and have no clue what to do with it? Go virtual! Make a lot of servers and run them simultaneously!
Try to install VMWARE ESX software. Yes, it is totally free for one hardware server.
What do i need?
Well, for hardware you don't need a lot, but the more servers you want to install on one system, the better the hardware needs to be. Got an old Xeon system with 1.5 Gb of ram? More than enough! P4 with 512 MB? Don't expect that much performance. Basically get as much memory and as much GHz possible.
But remember, it all depends on how powerful you want your server(s) to be!
Basically just some hardware then?
Well, yes. Although VMWARE ESX software doesn't work really well with moest SATA or IDE controllers. Plain old SCSI usually works perfectly and is relatively cheap. A standard network interface card is required.
Just one network interface card? I'm gonna make 10 virtual servers!
Doesn't matter. The VMware system will make very good use of your single network card. Don't worry. Every server will have it's own ip and the VMWare system will handle everything. Yes, every ip works.
The system will even define its own virtual switch. Standard this is a 56 port switch so you have plenty of 'virtual connections' available. Or you just make more of them.
If you have more hardware available (two network cards, more harddisks, etc) then you can all use them in the VMWare system, provided they are recognized by the system. You can define if you want to use them seperately, as failover system or team them together for better performance. You decide.
So, what do i do?
Well, first you register yourself at VMWARE.com and get your download link for VMWARE ESX(i) and the serial code via email.
Download the ISO file, burn it on a cd and boot your server with it. You will see some Linux like boot system. It will tell you if it can or cannot install depending on your hardware specifications. The harddisk will be formatted of course.
So, it installed and i rebooted, now what? Can i make servers now?
If correctly, you now see an IP adress on the screen. Go to a client computer on the same network and type in the IP in your webbrowser. You should see a local website where you can download the VMWare InfraStructure Client software for your windows system.
On the server you can press F2 to configure the server system a little. Set a password for the root user.
After that you don't need a screen, keyboard or mouse on your server system anymore.
I got the client and try to login. Says i got 60 days of evaluation.
Execute the VMWare InfraStructure Client, have it connect to the ip of the server, login name root and the password you created in the previous step.
It will greet you and you should see your single ESX server there. Click on it, click on the tab Configuration, click Licensed Features, Click the edit at License Source, Click Use Serial Number, type in the serial number you got from VmWare in your inbox. Click OK and ignore all the warnings of all other plugins and addons that will be disabled, since you don't need them anyway.
Done! You now have your own personal free virtual server center!
Now you can make servers as much as you want to! Linux, Unix, BSD, Windows, Windows Server, you name it, you can make it. Just right-click on your esx server name and choose New Virtual Machine. It's up to you how you define your server, how much power you give it and how much space.
What are the advantages of virtual servers?
- Single management center for a lot of different servers
- Virtual servers can communicate with each other inside memory. This means that they can communicate almost as fast as the memory banks are! (And that's a lot faster than 1 Gbit!)
- Cheap maintenance. Make one, destroy one, all in a minute.
- Servers only take the performance they need. Most servers run pretty good with 500Mhz and 256MB of memory
- All kinds of operating systems next to each other on one system. Make as much machines as you need.
Any more tips?
Make an ISO file of your favourite os disc(s) and put the ISO file on your data storage (See Configuration Tab, Storage and double click the required storage container). This way you don't need the discs anymore
There are TONS of free virtual server systems. Take a good look at The Bitnami Stacks for a lot of nice server systems.
Server that doesn't work? Just kill it! Make a new one.
Want maximum security of your VM data? Encrypt your servers with TrueCrypt. Also totally free of course.
Your windows system need a license! Depending on the license form of course, but if you have a single server license, don't make more than one system with the same license! Linux servers are of course totally free, so you could make as much LAMP Ubuntu servers as you want to for free.