Should I try yet another hypervisor?

Hypervisor is a cool word
Hypervisor is a term based on the term supervisor but with the latin prefix hyper-, meaning it's a level of supervision elevated above even the supervisor. It is an overseer of overseers. In the case of virtualization, it is the overseer of the virtual machines it hosts.

There's a two types of hypervisors. Type 1 hypervisors run directly on the server in question, in lieu of a traditional operating system. Microsoft HyperV, VMWare ESX and a few others fall in this category.

Type 2 hypervisors are applications which run on top of a traditional operating system. Microsoft Virtual Server / Virtual PC run on a Windows OS. VMWare Server 1/2 run on a variety of operating systems.

In my quest for virtualization over the last few years, I've tried a few different hypervisors, with mixed results.

Virtual PC - at least it worked
I have a server that is used as a file server. It's a beefy box because I'd intended it to be used as a virtual machine hypervisor as well. I started off trying to install VMWare Server 2 (a Type 2 hypervisor) on top of a Windows 2008 64-bit host. Unfortunately VMWare was in beta, and unstable. VMWare Server 1 wasn't supported on Windows 2008, so I switched to Microsoft VirtualPC. While not officially supported, it ran, and was good enough for a couple of lightweight 32-bit Windows guests. Support for other operating systems was awful, however, so I abandoned that for VMWare Server 2 once it came out of beta.

VMWare ... so ... slow ... arg
Since having multiple hypervisors seems to be an issue, I ditched Virtual PC and recreated my VMs in VMWare Server 2. Everything should have been as it was meant to be. I had my W2K8 host with 2TB of storage in via software RAID 5. I had two Windows guests, and two Ubuntu JEOS guests. There was just one problem - SMB disk access was horribly slow. These VMs got somewhere on the order of 20KB/s reading from the host operating system's file shares. That was absolutely intolerable.

ESXi - the big tease
I then thought I would just ditch the Windows host entirely and go with VMWare ESXi 3.5, a free Type 1 hypervisor. Unfortunatley, hardware support in ESXi was pretty bad, and my motherboard wasn't fully supported. Too bad - ESXi knowledge would have transferred well to work.

HyperV - the problem child
Growing frustrated, I ditched VMWare and installed the HyperV role on the Windows host. I quickly set up a couple of Windows guests, and set up an Ubuntu CLI server. There are a few problems with this setup, however. The most annoying - my Windows VMs crash with I/O errors while running Handbrake. There is also limited support for VMWare tools under Linux, and it's not compatible with the VMWare guests that I use at work.

So now what? VirtualBox? Xen? (sigh)

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