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Using virtualization to host multiple operating systems

CentOS running in VirtualBox
This week we have learned about several different server-ready operating systems. But what should you do if you need to run multiple operating systems? Should you fork out the cash for multiple servers? It really depends on your needs, but if you know you will not need an entire dedicated server for each OS, you can save money with virtualization.

Common proprietary virtualization solutions include VMWare and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Open source solutions include Xen, VirtualBox, and OpenVZ. What virtualization allows you to do is run “virtual machines” within your main (host) operating system. For example, you might have a Linux server, but through virtualization, you can also run Windows and BSD on the same box.

Virtual machines can be customized to use specified amounts of resources. This ensures that you do not over tax your server. Furthermore, some operating systems might require more RAM, for example, than others. While the backend administration will make the virtualization obvious, users who login to the virtual machines will have no idea that they are working in a virtual environment.

Photo: Flickr

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