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How to create a cheap virtualization server

Proxmox is an open-source cooperate level type one hypervisor like Vmware Esxi. It has a lot of the same functions as Vmware Esxi with few limitations.

Overall, VMware vSphere offers more functionality than Proxmox, although the promox's features are more practical. When a user adds nodes to a cluster, Proxmox may automatically enable them to use the same shared storage. ESXi, on the other hand, requires the user to explicitly set up a node to access the cluster's shared storage.

While both technologies may be used for cloud computing and server consolidation, Proxmox is most commonly employed for virtualized server isolation and software development.VMware vSphere is more likely to be used for business-critical applications and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).


WHAT IS A HYPERVISOR?


A hypervisor is a type of virtualization software that allows you to construct and run virtual computers. The hypervisor's host system is referred to as a host, while the virtual computers are referred to as guests. This little explanation will enough for the purposes of this essay. You may read more about it in this Wikipedia article.


I've published numerous articles about VirtualBox in the past. The contrasts between Docker and VirtualBox have also been discussed. So, what distinguishes Proxmox or ESXi from VirtualBox?


This is where the various Hypervisor kinds come into play.


Types of Hypervisor


Hypervisors enable the operation of guest operating systems in isolation from the host operating system while enabling the guests to access the host's hardware resources. There are two types of hypervisors: Type 1 and Type 2.


Copied from vembu.com


Type 1 Hypervisor

A Type 1 hypervisor, generally known as a bare-metal hypervisor, is a light virtualization operating system that operates directly on the host hardware. This operating system then lets you manage one or more bare-metal servers (nodes), each of which has one or more virtual machines.


Proxmox VE, VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix/Xen Server are a few examples of Type 1 hypervisors.


Type 2 Hypervisor

The virtualization engine of a Type 2 Hypervisor, as seen in the image above, operates on top of a host operating system, much like other computer programs/apps. The virtualization engine may then be used to create isolated guest computers.


Oracle VirtualBox, VMware Workstation, and Microsoft Virtual PC are a few examples of Type 2 hypervisors.


It should be noted that Proxmox operates on top of a host operating system. However, by default, it employs KVM (Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machines), which turns a host operating system to a hypervisor. As a result, Proxmox is classified as a Type 1 hypervisor.

It's important to know why I needed this setup and how I came across Proxmox type one hypervisor


I bought Macbook M1 not so long ago. Currently, it's not possible to install virtual machines i.e. "windows server" directly on Macbook M1. It's possible to create "Linux operating systems" virtual machines on Parallels type 2 hypervisor. This problem forced me to find a solution. I was looking for solutions. I talked to my schoolmates about this problem, They gave me ideas like Pfsense, VMware ESXi, opensource hypervisor, and OpenVPN. That discussion gave me an idea of where to look and what I can do. I started with OpenVPN on my router, I installed Microsoft RDP(remote desktop protocol) on MacBook, and I installed OpenVPN. After all those installations I was able to access my main windows server, But it wasn't safe and secure. I started looking for a better solution. I came across the Proxmox server implementation. That felt like a solution I needed.


What you need

  • A Computer: System requirement

  • Proxmox ISO

  • Opensource Ventoy. It's best in my opinion. It doesn't need to create a bootable disk, just create a Ventoy bootable disk, after it's done, just copy the ISO image file to the bootable flash drive.

  • Bootable flash drive

Why Proxmox

Proxmox is very friendly to install on personal computers. I didn't have a server to install a Hypervisor server due to lack of space and money :D.

The open-source platform Proxmox VE comes with zero license cost, provides full access to all functionalities, and increases the flexibility, security, and reliability of your IT infrastructure.

It is not so heavy to build on a workstation. It is not necessary to get a dedicated server for this machine.


How to install Proxmox and setup VM's

First of all, you need a cheap workstation computer like dell Optiplex 3040 with i5 6500t, 16GB ram and 512 SSD.

I bought it on finn.no for 2000kr(185$), it's like a Norwegian version of eBay. where one can buy used products.


To install Proxmox,


Create a bootable USB flash drive with Ventoy.


After you have created a bootable ventoy flash drive, Copy the downloaded ISO for proxmox to the bootable drive.


Boot to proxmox

Click on "Install Proxmox VE" and follow on-screen instruction.




When the installation is completed. you get an IP address and port number you can use to connect to your Proxmox server.

Note: Ipaddress:portnumber is important to remember. same goes to your password that you saved when you installed proxmox. default username for login is "root".

After installation is complete, you don't need your monitor and keyboard connected to the Proxmox server. It can be accessed remotely through IP address:port number.



Password is what you have selected for your hostname in installation process.


This is just a notification. It's an open-source program. Proxmox does have an enterprise version which cost a bit. We don't need an enterprise version as we are just planning to use it for private use.


Post-installation



We need to fix few things on the Proxmox server, to make it more friendly.


by default, the proxmox server creates two partitions, one for hypervisor and the second for VM's.


The main volume is just 99GB, it enough for basic functions. but if you create a backup of VM's. It will not be enough.


The 2nd logical volume(local-lvm) is about 350GB. It's a lot of disc space just to be used on disk images and containers.

if we had a server with many terabytes of disk space. We didn't need to make this change at all.

to delete a storage "local-lvm" just click on Datacenter then Storage and select "local-lvm volume" and click on the remove button.



at last, I clicked on "pve" and then on the shell to open a terminal, there I just removed logical volume. so that I could use free space on my main disc, That's all I needed to use the whole disc for the main volume.


My local volume was 431GB after I was done.


After removing the disk, we lost the container and VM installation rights on the main disc, as it wasn't created for that purpose. To fix that part all we need to do is to Click on datacentre then storage and select "local" disk and click on edit persmissions, then select "disk image" and "container" and click ok.


Now we can install Virtual machines and CT containers.

Upload ISO images for VM's you want to install.



It takes a few minutes to copy ISO images to the server.


When you are done with uploading VM's ISO's, then you can start creating VM's by clicking on Create VM on the top right corner of the interface.



Select the OS image you want to install.


you can select other graphic cards, I didn't change it. it's much smoother with default as an option.


default is 35GB, I selected 50GB for most of my OS. It's not so difficult to change allocated space, but better to start with bigger disc space.


I selected two cores. In some cases, it's enough. It is totally dependent on what you want to use your VM for.

It's better to give a bit higher RAM, lower RAM makes a computer work slowly, that why you also need more RAM on your server.


The best part of Proxmox is CT containers. Containers don't need the kernel part of OS, they can work on top of the main OS,s kernel.

We can either create and upload custom containers. or we can just download templates. Proxmox have a lot of templates one can choose to download from.




To create a CT container. just click on Create CT and follow on-screen instructions. CT containers don't utilize a lot of pc resources. which makes them perfect for specific tasks like OpenVPN, WordPress etc.



Now that I have a type one hypervisor operating at home, I already have configured OpenVPN.

All I need to do is to connect to OpenVPN and further, I can open the IP address of my Proxmox server to use Virtual machines.

Hope it helps you get your Proxmox server up in no time. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries. I will do my best to respond to you to the best of my ability.


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