Hypervisor for mixed client and server OSes

Mark asked:

I need to replace three old boxes I use for development, running Linux, Win Server and Win XP. Instead of purchasing three new boxes I am thinking of purchasing a single box and virtualizing the OSes. As it is for development, absolute performance is not a problem, but I want the Linux and Win servers to run continuously, while running Win 7 as if it is a regular PC. Therefore running Linux and Win Server on top off Win 7 is not an option.

Is this a viable solution? Has anyone done this? What is performance like? I’d like to get decent graphics performance with Win 7, sufficient to run the occasional game. If so, I’m looking for suggestions or recommendations on which hypervisor or virtualization option to go for.

My answer:

Since your host machine here is going to be a workstation here, rather than a server, I would suggest VMware Workstation or VirtualBox.

Both have sufficient OpenGL/Direct3D support to do light gaming; I’ve even managed to run World of Warcraft in a Windows Vista VMware virtual machine on a Linux host.

Both also have decent performance (after installing guest tools) and full screen mode for pretending it’s the only OS on your computer at the time.

Remember that the host machine must have the video card manufacturer’s 3D drivers installed for best performance. This means AMD or NVIDIA video card; Intel stuff will do 3D desktop compositing, but won’t give you decent gaming performance in this scenario.

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