[CentOS-docs] new page? - Virtualization/Install MS WindowsXP as a CentOS5/Xen guest

Fri Apr 17 17:53:19 UTC 2009
Ed Heron <Ed at Heron-ent.com>

> On Thu, 2009-04-16 at 16:49 -0600, Ed Heron wrote:
>> I don't see a How To, on this wiki, specifically designed to address the
>> task of creating a Microsoft Windows XP virtual machine as a Xen guest 
>> under
>> CentOS 5.  Many of the concepts are covered in
>> http://wiki.centos.org/HowTos/Xen/InstallingHVMDomU, but it appears to 
>> leave
>> some things to the reader.
>>   I (EdHeron) would be willing to make the attempt at a page to focus on
>> this task.  It could be HowTos/Xen/DomU-WinXP-Install.
> ----

From: "JohnS"
Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 10:52 AM

> That really sounds interesting.. Are there still problems with Upgrading
> Service Packs when running Windows as a Guest? I through out Xen because
> of that reason. If problems still exist what's the work around involved
> in doing it and is it worth it?
> JohnStanley

  I haven't updated my WinXP install source to SP3, yet.  I have been 
running a WinXP guest on a Dell PowerEdge 2900/CentOS/Xen host for about a 
month and a half.  After I installed WinXP-SP2, I installed SP3, IE7 and 
subsequent updates.  I've been using a thinstation (thinstation.org) to 
connect the VM console using VNC.  I've not had any problems, except the 
sound issue that Xen Windowns VM's have.  The sound hardware emulator fell 
out of the official release. and the free VNC viewer that I'm using doesn't 
support sound.

  We (the company I work for) have about 60+ older workstations (1.6Ghz/512M 
to 1G RAM) that just barely run what we use.  Looking at brand name 
workstation replacements (eg. Dell Optiplex), we'd spend about $800 per 
workstation to replace.  The travel time (multiple locations in multiple 
states) to install them and the time to move files and settings is 
significant.  If we can use an 8 core 3Ghz HVM server with about 16G to 24G 
of RAM (Dell PowerEdge 2900 - about $4000 to $6000 depending on 
configuration), we should be able to run about 12 active WinXP VM's.  We 
could easily convert the existing workstations into thin clients for very 
little cost or time.  That'd save us $2000 to $6000 in hardware costs. 
Theoretically, we could move the existing WinXP licenses to the server. 
Later, when/if we move to Vista, we could re-evaluate our VM count per 
server and ad additional VM servers as needed.

  Plus, the administrative advantages are exciting.  I could update 
someone's computer with direct console access.  I could backup their 
machine, easily, by shutting it down and copying the virtual disk file.  I 
could easily build a new virtual machine in a remote office without 
physically putting in a CD or having physical access to the console.  I 
could move the virtual workstation to a new VM server if there is a hardware 
issue.  The remote locations could replace the thin client hardware without 
technician involvement.  Remote users would only have a portable thin client 
(laptop with internet access), reducing exposure in the case of loss, since 
there isn't any data on the computer, and reducing replacement costs, since 
a $300 to $500 laptop is enough.  In fact, say, a company VIP checks his 
computer and it doesn't survive airport security, they could purchase an 
inexpensive laptop, connect to the company extranet and download/install the 
client software.  Potentially, within 2 hours of the thin client becoming 
unavailable, a replacement is ready and has access to all the same settings, 
programs and data.  I haven't got a drop-in solution for all of this, yet, 
but the software seems to be available.

  The current shortfalls are few, but potentially significant.  Video is 
restricted to about 3 frames per second using VNC across a LAN.  This would 
be reduced across a WAN.  Sound is not included in the current distribution, 
AFAIK.  Video and sound are not normally needed in a business environment, 
so these are not enormous hurdles.  Also, support for them should improve 
over time.

  My test machine doesn't have enough memory to run very many WinXP VM's.  I 
have submitted a request for funds to upgrade to at least 4 cores and 8G RAM 
in order to put the system into limited production to gather real-world 
viability data.  I've got a similar system running VMWare and a WinXP VM 
that provides similar results, but the costs of ramping up to full 
production environment using VMWare is significantly more than CentOS/Xen.