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Bare Metal Hypervisor - Run Win7 + Ubuntu + OSX at the same time


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#1
luckman212

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Sorry for this noobish post. But I have a core question that I am trying to wrap my head around. I've been getting ready to blow out and reformat my PC to clear out some cruft and I am toying with the idea of partitioning my HD to allow a triple-boot: Win7, Ubuntu, and (hopefully) OSX/hackintosh. I know this can be done and there are plenty of guides scattered around on how to do it so I won't ask anyone to reinvent the wheel.

My question is about virtualization & hypervisors. I am vaguely aware of vSphere and Citrix XenDesktop - but I have not used either and I don't even know if it's possible to do what I am asking. Basically I'd like to install some kind of bare-metal hypervisor on my PC and set it up so I can *simultaneously* run Win7 + Ubuntu for example, and flip between them in much the same way that I do now in VMware Workstation, only with the added benefit of being able to completely shut down/reboot the Win7 vm without affecting the others, as well as giving direct hardware access to the VMs, thus (at least theoretically) boosting performance.

Is this possible yet? Anyone tried??

#2
Donk

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Short answer to your last 2 questions is no and no (maybe someone else can prove me wrong). The long answer is what you describe is called a "client virtualization platform" or CVP and there have been attempts to bring it to market but currently the only one is Citrix XenClient. What is needed is a virtualization core which can also display the guests, something which MS Hyper-V, VMware ESXi and Citrix Xen cannot do at present. VMware was working on a version of CVP but have stopped for now as the driver situation is really hard requiring the same level of driver support say for a Windows or Linux OS.

Windows 8 is rumoured to use Hyper-V in this way but as yet nothing has been seen. If you want to try XenClient it is available for free from Citrix but has a limited hardware compatibility list http://www.citrix.co...ntentID=2300408. I am pretty certain you won't get Mac OS X running on it as it stands today, although Citrix did actually show it running on a Macbook about a year ago.

I have started playing around with Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 and managed to install MS Remote Desktop Connection on it. Sort of a Frankenstein's monster approach. Haven't got much further with it at present, but is a an experiment I am probably going to carry on with.

#3
luckman212

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Interesting stuff, thanks Donk! Ok, I guess I'll have to settle for a boring old "one-OS-at-a-time" Triple-Boot :-) Definitely seems like an exciting area to keep an eye on, going to be definitely some amazing things probably later this year or early next.

#4
Menno

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Use vmware fusion and spaces = problem solved.
But that's not what you asked for. If osx86 works on kvm you can create a minimal install with X and then sort of manage and view you're desktops. Another great thing is pci-passthrough, but that requires vt-d. You can actually pass anything hardware related to a virtual machine. So it would be on the hardware level. I run vSphere and the raid card is not supported, but with VMDirectPath I created a minimal fedora install with and installed a iSCSI target daemon. (With the PCI id connected to the vm of course) So ESXi connects to the iSCSI and everything is working great. The best thing is that there is just so little overhead with iSCSI.

I am getting off topic. :-). Triple boot doesn't hurt.

#5
an1r0n

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Hey guys,

Wow, someone else who thinks like me! Yea, I thought about baremetal virtualization of OS X and Windows as well. No luck. Only options are Xen Desktop and Parallels Extreme. I doubt Xen Desktop will actually work, but Parallels just might. I never got the chance to try Parallels Extreme but that would be my first choice. It does require specific hardware but supports some 8800 like nVidia cards...

Hope it goes well.

P.S: I stopped the search and just installed Mac OS + VMware Fusion + Spaces. Works perfect. Of course, host os and VM's are on separate disks. But the desired effect is there : )

Cheers!

http://www.parallels...oducts/extreme/ - link for Parallels Workstation Extreme.

#6
OnePlane

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Xen will do what you need. I have it set-up:

Debian Linux 6 with Xen 4.0 (both free) on a Xeon X3232 and a DQ45CB with onlt 8GB of RAM, internal Video, PCIe Video and PCI (non-e) video, so three video cards. Synergy and one keyboard/mouse; this gives you:

Three displays (with Linux on the internal video), one for Linux, one for Mac OS X (currently just at 10.5.2) and one for Windows 7. The mous and keyboard will actually work on all of them, I can move the pointer from screen to screen and the keyboard actually follows that. When it boots, you get to see Linux booting on the internal DVI connected LCD, then once it's at ±40%, Xen starts Windows 7 and Mac OS X as well. Windows 7 boots a little faster at this moment, but that's probably because 10.5 isn't as fast as 10.6, because 10.6 pwns Windows 7.

It's not hard to do, but you really need to know what you are doing! Use only VT-d capable hardware, and have plenty of RAM. Don't use disk image files but use LVM mapped volumes! (Or real disks if you have enough - I have it all running on a single RAID1 array of 2TB, Hitachi)

#7
an1r0n

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Does Xen give VM's direct access to hardware? How do your Win 7 and Mac OS VM's "see" graphics card, what's the speed? Please give more details on speed! : )

Thanks!
an1r0n

#8
OnePlane

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Yes, Xen is VT-d aware, and the video cards are actually directly connected to the guest VM's. (DomU's as they are called in Xen). You can directly pass hardware to guest operating systems, and if it's video hardware, the video output is actually on the video hardware, instead of a windowed console viewer.

Win7 sees the old ATI 9700 directly as it's main PCI video card, Mac OS X sees the HD4580 as it should (after some upgrading and driver hacking). Mac OS X has the audio hardware as well, and one USB controller for quick fixes and external drives. Windows 7 doesn't get once, since I don't like it. Windows Server 2008 R2 works just as good.

Speed is near bare-metal on Windows 7, but still not maximum on the Mac OS X guest, it's like a 2008 Mac Mini (that's the best I can give as a speed marker). I don't have fast networking on Mac OS X yet (I have a hacky serial loop and a fake USB netcard), so that's not optimal either. Since my workload is getting worse every day, I don't have much time to spend on the Xen setup. :(

#9
Donk

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Does Xen give VM's direct access to hardware? How do your Win 7 and Mac OS VM's "see" graphics card, what's the speed? Please give more details on speed! : )

Thanks!
an1r0n


IF this is the approach you want to take as well with separate graphics cards and monitors then ESXi would probably also work using VT-d and DirectPath. Think that works even in the free version of ESXi.

These ideas are a bit different though from having a single machine e.g. laptop running a hypervisor like XenClient or VMware CVP which is something I'm interested in.

#10
OnePlane

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ESXi is just a lame ass implementation of what Xen had 2 years ago. DirectPath is not even a real thing and VT-d is the only stuff that is on the menu in this case :( XenClient and XenServer are almost the same, it's Xen with some corporate n00bsauce spilled over it.

A laptop with VT-d mobo, firmware, cpu, chipset and a xenified linux distro or just the kernel to have a microhypervisor will suffice, but needs two disks in raid0 or two seperate SSD's. A couple of ExpressCard/USB/FireWire GPU's would be required too. Windows won't work (only if you assign the internal video to it) unless windowed.

#11
an1r0n

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Yes, Xen is VT-d aware, and the video cards are actually directly connected to the guest VM's. (DomU's as they are called in Xen). You can directly pass hardware to guest operating systems, and if it's video hardware, the video output is actually on the video hardware, instead of a windowed console viewer.

Win7 sees the old ATI 9700 directly as it's main PCI video card, Mac OS X sees the HD4580 as it should (after some upgrading and driver hacking). Mac OS X has the audio hardware as well, and one USB controller for quick fixes and external drives. Windows 7 doesn't get once, since I don't like it. Windows Server 2008 R2 works just as good.

Speed is near bare-metal on Windows 7, but still not maximum on the Mac OS X guest, it's like a 2008 Mac Mini (that's the best I can give as a speed marker). I don't have fast networking on Mac OS X yet (I have a hacky serial loop and a fake USB netcard), so that's not optimal either. Since my workload is getting worse every day, I don't have much time to spend on the Xen setup. :(


Wow, amazing! You actually had nerves and will to try all that : ) I wanted to do the same few years ago, but definitely don't have time and that amount of linux knowledge to do it. Might do it in future but on secondary machine, since my primary Hackintosh works perfect and I really don't want it disturbed.

Would I be asking too much if you could post us some screenshots of your machine in use? It's just amazing that you managed to get it all running! I wish you good luck with getting it to work at full speed : )

Thanks!
an1r0n

IF this is the approach you want to take as well with separate graphics cards and monitors then ESXi would probably also work using VT-d and DirectPath. Think that works even in the free version of ESXi.

These ideas are a bit different though from having a single machine e.g. laptop running a hypervisor like XenClient or VMware CVP which is something I'm interested in.


Hey Donk,

Thanks for your reply! I actually didn't know that ESXi offers direct access to hardware, so I'll try it out. I follow your thread on getting OS X to run on VMware products for some time now, but as far as I can notice, it doesn't work still completely on vSphere nor ESXi? Big downside to using VMware ESX would be the fact that I would need a second machine to actually use it?

XenClient, been studying it for some time now. Looks good, unfortunately I didn't had time to test it out. The video you linked looks pretty much like VMware Fusion with Unity and spaces : ) Which is just the same I use on my machine. But, you know what? I'll try it, looks good enough, and they offer express version trial.

Did someone try XenClient in use before?

Thank you,
an1r0n

#12
Donk

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Wow, amazing! You actually had nerves and will to try all that : ) I wanted to do the same few years ago, but definitely don't have time and that amount of linux knowledge to do it. Might do it in future but on secondary machine, since my primary Hackintosh works perfect and I really don't want it disturbed.

Would I be asking too much if you could post us some screenshots of your machine in use? It's just amazing that you managed to get it all running! I wish you good luck with getting it to work at full speed : )

Thanks!
an1r0n



Hey Donk,

Thanks for your reply! I actually didn't know that ESXi offers direct access to hardware, so I'll try it out. I follow your thread on getting OS X to run on VMware products for some time now, but as far as I can notice, it doesn't work still completely on vSphere nor ESXi? Big downside to using VMware ESX would be the fact that I would need a second machine to actually use it?

XenClient, been studying it for some time now. Looks good, unfortunately I didn't had time to test it out. The video you linked looks pretty much like VMware Fusion with Unity and spaces : ) Which is just the same I use on my machine. But, you know what? I'll try it, looks good enough, and they offer express version trial.

Did someone try XenClient in use before?

Thank you,
an1r0n


Runs fine on ESXi including free version. However never tried with DirectPath enabled to use a graphics card so not sure how well it would work. The test ESXi box I do the work on is actually tied up at the moment so I can't really try it out.

#13
MSoK

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IF this is the approach you want to take as well with separate graphics cards and monitors then ESXi would probably also work using VT-d and DirectPath. Think that works even in the free version of ESXi.

These ideas are a bit different though from having a single machine e.g. laptop running a hypervisor like XenClient or VMware CVP which is something I'm interested in.

Donk,

All I can say is WOW, looks very interesting, I work for a Citrix partner so I have access to XenClient 1.0 SP1 as part of our agreement, although the free trial version Express is available to everyone. I had a quick dig and my laptop is fully supported for XenClient (HP EliteBook 8440p with Core i7 CPU), so will give it a go and report back.

Can only find a press release from some time ago for VMware CVP, is this still something VMware are working on in the background, if so that would be even better than ESXi or the desktop solutions Player, Workstation and Fusion I think!

#14
ToGr82B4Gotn

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Hey guys. There is a commercial product out there that just went free for single users.

The company, Virtual Computer has developed a type 1 hypervisor to use with their flagship product.
They have recently let people register and use it for free.


Http://www.virtualcomputer.com

Nxtop Engine is what you want.

#15
OnePlane

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There is no source code, therefore I don't trust it. Even Apple has much of it's Darwin/XNU kernel source downloadable. Xen is completely open. KVM is open. ESXi is lame and Hyper-V is lame as well. If people want to play with gui's, they should stay in userland with desktops.

#16
Donk

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Sorry for this noobish post. But I have a core question that I am trying to wrap my head around. I've been getting ready to blow out and reformat my PC to clear out some cruft and I am toying with the idea of partitioning my HD to allow a triple-boot: Win7, Ubuntu, and (hopefully) OSX/hackintosh. I know this can be done and there are plenty of guides scattered around on how to do it so I won't ask anyone to reinvent the wheel.

My question is about virtualization & hypervisors. I am vaguely aware of vSphere and Citrix XenDesktop - but I have not used either and I don't even know if it's possible to do what I am asking. Basically I'd like to install some kind of bare-metal hypervisor on my PC and set it up so I can *simultaneously* run Win7 + Ubuntu for example, and flip between them in much the same way that I do now in VMware Workstation, only with the added benefit of being able to completely shut down/reboot the Win7 vm without affecting the others, as well as giving direct hardware access to the VMs, thus (at least theoretically) boosting performance.

Is this possible yet? Anyone tried??

Interesting experiment here on using Hyper-V http://blog.drtritsch.com/?p=142

#17
OnePlane

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It's not that hard to do. But using windows drives de cost up to crazy heights! And there's not a single bit of performance over Xen... ;) What is hard, is doing that on a laptop, since most laptops have broken firmware or non vt-d hardware.

#18
MSoK

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It's not that hard to do. But using windows drives de cost up to crazy heights! And there's not a single bit of performance over Xen... :) What is hard, is doing that on a laptop, since most laptops have broken firmware or non vt-d hardware.

I have by a coincidence a similar HP EliteBook 8440p with dual HD's, not SSD sadly but still capable of running Windows Server 2008 R2, in fact I have run Windows Server 2008 x64 with full functionality before. So I can and will repeat the process with Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, or even Datacenter. But I would much prefer to use Xen, the 8440p definately has vt-x and vt-d so some pointers would be much appreciated.

I have dabbled with NxTop as well as XenClient from Citrix, both of which work on my hardware and provide some level of functionality with Windows guests, but not able to make the leap to OS X, as for Hyper-V and OS X!!

Regards,
MSoK.

#19
OnePlane

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Install a stable linux distro with Xen 4. Debian has it, Fedora too, and SuSE as well.

#20
MSoK

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Install a stable linux distro with Xen 4. Debian has it, Fedora too, and SuSE as well.

OnePlane, thanks for the info, which distro do you use, it makes sense to not re-invent the wheel!

I have by a coincidence a similar HP EliteBook 8440p with dual HD's, not SSD sadly but still capable of running Windows Server 2008 R2, in fact I have run Windows Server 2008 x64 with full functionality before. So I can and will repeat the process with Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, or even Datacenter. But I would much prefer to use Xen, the 8440p definately has vt-x and vt-d so some pointers would be much appreciated.

I have dabbled with NxTop as well as XenClient from Citrix, both of which work on my hardware and provide some level of functionality with Windows guests, but not able to make the leap to OS X, as for Hyper-V and OS X!!

OK, my HP EliteBook 8440p is up and running with Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise w/SP1, with all Windows 7 features fully functional, including the "perenial thorn" BlueTooth, as well as Hyper-V. See link below to a very helpful website with a step by step guide:

http://www.win2008r2workstation.com/

The only thing is I cannot get a couple of things to install, including VMware Workstation or Player and also Nero, complaining about incompatible versions. I know I can use Orca to amend .MSI's but not sure best route mainly for VMware Workstation or Player, any thoughts gratefully received!

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