This tutorial assumes you have a basic understanding of Virtualization and the Linux (Debian/Ubuntu) CLI commands. The goal here is to build Ubuntu with a very minimal install to maximize performance.
This tutorial is ideal for small businesses or individuals that heavily use Linux and are not looking to buy Virtual Infrastructure 3 or any of the equivalent competitor products.
As you may or may not know, VMware ESX server is supposed to be an OS or a thin layer of software that has one function. To create VMs for near native performance.
There recently was a free release for ESX3i which is a stripped down version of ESX. However it lacks a the virtualized Linux console that its bigger brother has and both are limited to very specific hardware configurations. This tutorial is meant to be an alternative solution using existing VMware products and give similar results. Granted performance will be a little slower, but for most cases it will be enough to work reliably and with flexibility.
First download and burn to CD
For anyone with a x64 bit capable CPU I strongly recommend:
If you are limited to x86 hardware then download:
Boot the CD and type CLI at the boot screen.
Install Ubuntu (if you are not familiar with an Ubuntu installation please search these forums for further assistance as it is out of the scope of this doc)
Once installed please set your IP address to static by editing /etc/network/interfaces to look like:
If you have more interfaces just add eth1, eth2, etc.
# The loopback network interface
iface lo inet loopback
# The primary network interface
iface eth0 inet static
Before installing VMware server you MUST have the following installed:
build-essential linux-kernel-headers debian-helper-scripts (optional)
Install by typing
If the install goes well...
sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-kernel-$(uname -r) debian-helper-scripts
Then download VMware Server 2.0 RC1 (as of this writing) (RC2 has been released which is also VMware-server-2.0.0-110949.*.tar.gz)
by typing in the console
Then type the following each on a separate line
Answer the questions and get the free registration key at vmware.com and you are all set if you don't have one. You can also google for the key seeing as it is a free product. I will not post it here in the interest of possible liability.
tar -xvf VMserver*
Assuming you followed the default web ports then you should be able to just type http://servernameorip.com/ui and you will be presented with a login and then a fully functional web based client to create manage and provision VMs. With an open source underlying system to keep the system running and massive driver support, this in many ways already beats out ESX for SMBs.
VMware is rock solid IMO, and the management tools rock. (again my opinion).
Here is a free and very flexible alternative using Ubuntu and woudl want from ESX. And there is immense flexibility in both hardware and software to manage the host system based on the open source aspects of Linux. This tutorial can be adapted for various other distros as well that can strip the OS down to barebones, but Ubuntu is the one I have focused on since it is the distro I use and it was the easiest to implement this.
If you find any other tweaks that help boost the performance post them up. I kept this real basic for anyone new to Linux and Virtualization to follow on.