HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:23 am

Nesousx wrote:Hello all,

I have an hardware question for you. I plan to upgrade my scren to a 27" WQHD. However, in order to attain this resolution both in Dom0 and domU I need to replace the Dom0 onboad IGP by a dedicated PCIe card. The problem is that my current motheboard (Asrock Z77 Pro 4 M) only boot from first PCI express card. This means that my Linux "working" rig has "low end" PCIe card at PCI 3.0 16x while my "gaming" rig has a "high end" card at PCI 2.0 1X (I can't use the 4X slot with my current case, space limitation). The best solution would be to use my "high end" card in PCIe slot 1 and "low end" card in PCIe slot 2 or 3. Which probably means changing motherboard.

I am looking for motherboard (supporting socket 1155 CPUs), that offers the possibiilty to boot from PCI express 1 or 2. Something like PEG1 or PEG2 into the bios. I know Asus does it, but it also seems that Asus doesn't offer VT-d. It is very hard to find accurate information about bios even from vendors themselves, that's why I am asking here directly.

Could you please let me know if your motherboard allows those functionnalities :

* ability to choose from PEG1 / PEG2 inbox Bios
* VT-D
* has to be micro ATX (or smaller)

Thanks in advance

I would hold on to your board. My board doesn't offer any VGA related option in the BIOS and, like you, I thought all hope is lost. Until I tried out Ubuntu 14.04. Both the Unity and the Gnome versions automatically detect both cards and the attached screen and configure a dual screen setup. At first it was annoying, until I saw I could easily disable any of the "screens" (actually the graphics card). In all my recent experiments with Ubuntu 14.04 and Xen as well as KVM I chose the dom0 and domU graphics cards via configuration, not by changing their PCIe slot.
Linux Mint 17 is just around the corner. I'm sure the same can be achieved with LM16, I just haven't tried.
For an experiment, replace the PCI IDs for your domU graphics card in the initramfs and make sure you got a graphics driver for it, then reboot.
Asus Sabertooth X79, i7 3930K CPU, 8x4GB Kingston DDR3 RAM, Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler, Sapphire 7770 GPU, PNY Quadro 2000 GPU, Asus Xonar Essence STX, Sandisk Extreme 120GB SSD + various HD, Corsair 500R case, SeaSonic 660W Gold X PS
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:41 am

SIPHOR3ON wrote:Hi,
I just updated to Ubuntu 14.04. My VM just works fine with 2GB RAM assigned, but when I go for 4GB the VM will start but without a passthru or I get the error NUMA placement failed. Have you ever seen that bug? I will attatch the config files later..
My hardware i5 2400, HD 7870GHz and 8GB RAM just worked fine with Ubuntu 12.04.
Greets

I read about that bug (you need to configure the VM below 4GB). I gather that you switched from xm to xl toolstack?

I can't remember more details, need to look it up.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby SIPHOR3ON on Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:34 pm

powerhouse wrote:
SIPHOR3ON wrote:Hi,
I just updated to Ubuntu 14.04. My VM just works fine with 2GB RAM assigned, but when I go for 4GB the VM will start but without a passthru or I get the error NUMA placement failed. Have you ever seen that bug? I will attatch the config files later..
My hardware i5 2400, HD 7870GHz and 8GB RAM just worked fine with Ubuntu 12.04.
Greets

I read about that bug (you need to configure the VM below 4GB). I gather that you switched from xm to xl toolstack?

I can't remember more details, need to look it up.


It's exactly that. Yeah I switched to xl (also tried xm but didn't work too).
I tried to compile xen and qemu mysefl but it failed..
Would be nice if u remember the fix (if there is one). I searched a lot, found a few tips and patches but it doesn't work..
Thank you
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby woodsman on Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:03 pm

This is a very long thread so I am posting here before I work my way through the entire thread.

I am looking into ways to extend the life of XP for certain users who want to migrate to a Linux system. I am not concerned with Windows Vista, 7, or 8.x.

Dual booting is bearable but becomes tiresome. Buying a new second machine and networking with the XP machine is doable but includes hardware costs.

Running XP in a VirtualBox VM is not palatable because XP sees different hardware and requires reactivation. XP can use multiple hardware profiles to avoid reactivation when booting directly or in the VM, but at least one additional reactivation is required. Not to forget that using hardware profiles requires being asked to select the desired profile with each boot setup. Theoretically the user should never need to boot into XP directly and should be able to use only the VM, thereby avoiding the profile prompts.

I am unfamiliar with the Xen hypervisor. Based upon the original posts in this thread, XP could be run as a virtual machine in something called passthrough mode.

Do I then understand correctly that XP would see the same exact hardware and would not trigger any reactivation requests?

My concern is that while the Microsoft folks are still (strangely) supporting activation for new XP installations, they are not accepting reactivation of previously registered activations.

I realize several variables come into play in this discussion. At the moment I am only trying to understand the fundamentals without discussing all corner cases.

Note: I am not concerned about discussing XP security issues. That is a different topic. Also know that I am looking into this only as a work-around solution for a handful of people who are, at least for the moment, locked into vertical software.

Thanks much! :)
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby Nesousx on Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:12 pm

powerhouse wrote:
Nesousx wrote:Hello all,

I have an hardware question for you. I plan to upgrade my scren to a 27" WQHD. However, in order to attain this resolution both in Dom0 and domU I need to replace the Dom0 onboad IGP by a dedicated PCIe card. The problem is that my current motheboard (Asrock Z77 Pro 4 M) only boot from first PCI express card. This means that my Linux "working" rig has "low end" PCIe card at PCI 3.0 16x while my "gaming" rig has a "high end" card at PCI 2.0 1X (I can't use the 4X slot with my current case, space limitation). The best solution would be to use my "high end" card in PCIe slot 1 and "low end" card in PCIe slot 2 or 3. Which probably means changing motherboard.

I am looking for motherboard (supporting socket 1155 CPUs), that offers the possibiilty to boot from PCI express 1 or 2. Something like PEG1 or PEG2 into the bios. I know Asus does it, but it also seems that Asus doesn't offer VT-d. It is very hard to find accurate information about bios even from vendors themselves, that's why I am asking here directly.

Could you please let me know if your motherboard allows those functionnalities :

* ability to choose from PEG1 / PEG2 inbox Bios
* VT-D
* has to be micro ATX (or smaller)

Thanks in advance

I would hold on to your board. My board doesn't offer any VGA related option in the BIOS and, like you, I thought all hope is lost. Until I tried out Ubuntu 14.04. Both the Unity and the Gnome versions automatically detect both cards and the attached screen and configure a dual screen setup. At first it was annoying, until I saw I could easily disable any of the "screens" (actually the graphics card). In all my recent experiments with Ubuntu 14.04 and Xen as well as KVM I chose the dom0 and domU graphics cards via configuration, not by changing their PCIe slot.
Linux Mint 17 is just around the corner. I'm sure the same can be achieved with LM16, I just haven't tried.
For an experiment, replace the PCI IDs for your domU graphics card in the initramfs and make sure you got a graphics driver for it, then reboot.


Good to know, thanks! I'll give it a try as soon as I have the hardware.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:44 pm

SIPHOR3ON wrote:
powerhouse wrote:
SIPHOR3ON wrote:Hi,
I just updated to Ubuntu 14.04. My VM just works fine with 2GB RAM assigned, but when I go for 4GB the VM will start but without a passthru or I get the error NUMA placement failed. Have you ever seen that bug? I will attatch the config files later..
My hardware i5 2400, HD 7870GHz and 8GB RAM just worked fine with Ubuntu 12.04.
Greets

I read about that bug (you need to configure the VM below 4GB). I gather that you switched from xm to xl toolstack?

I can't remember more details, need to look it up.


It's exactly that. Yeah I switched to xl (also tried xm but didn't work too).
I tried to compile xen and qemu mysefl but it failed..
Would be nice if u remember the fix (if there is one). I searched a lot, found a few tips and patches but it doesn't work..
Thank you

Here is one reference: http://lists.xen.org/archives/html/xen-users/2013-07/msg00491.html. But see also this thread: http://lists.xen.org/archives/html/xen-users/2012-09/msg00333.html. The latter one is an issue with dom0 memory ballooning that you could easily fix.
I'm sure I found some more definite answer, but can't recall where. Could be on the Xen-users mailing list.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:14 pm

woodsman wrote:This is a very long thread so I am posting here before I work my way through the entire thread.

I am looking into ways to extend the life of XP for certain users who want to migrate to a Linux system. I am not concerned with Windows Vista, 7, or 8.x.

Dual booting is bearable but becomes tiresome. Buying a new second machine and networking with the XP machine is doable but includes hardware costs.

Running XP in a VirtualBox VM is not palatable because XP sees different hardware and requires reactivation. XP can use multiple hardware profiles to avoid reactivation when booting directly or in the VM, but at least one additional reactivation is required. Not to forget that using hardware profiles requires being asked to select the desired profile with each boot setup. Theoretically the user should never need to boot into XP directly and should be able to use only the VM, thereby avoiding the profile prompts.

I am unfamiliar with the Xen hypervisor. Based upon the original posts in this thread, XP could be run as a virtual machine in something called passthrough mode.

Do I then understand correctly that XP would see the same exact hardware and would not trigger any reactivation requests?

My concern is that while the Microsoft folks are still (strangely) supporting activation for new XP installations, they are not accepting reactivation of previously registered activations.

I realize several variables come into play in this discussion. At the moment I am only trying to understand the fundamentals without discussing all corner cases.

Note: I am not concerned about discussing XP security issues. That is a different topic. Also know that I am looking into this only as a work-around solution for a handful of people who are, at least for the moment, locked into vertical software.

Thanks much! :)

You already mentioned a number of concerns, so lets start with the most obvious ones:

1. For this solution to work, you need hardware that supports VT-d (or AMD-Vi for AMD processors), as well as a second GPU. You may or may not have that hardware.
2. Windows (any version of it) will see different hardware when running on the Xen hypervisor. You can pass through a number of PCI devices such as SATA controllers, the graphics card, or USB hosts, all of which will then be recognized by Windows as native "bare metal" devices, but essentially Xen is providing a virtual environment. You may or may not succeed in "fooling" Windows that it is running on (almost) the same hardware.
3. It will be a real challenge to get this working for one PC, but doing that for multiple PCs with perhaps different hardware in each case will be a nightmare.
4. Of course, were you doing a new installation and activation of Windows, that would be a different story. A virtual Windows VM is easier to port, or to backup, so there are advantages. Unfortunately Microsoft requires you to obtain an expensive retail license of Windows to install it legally on a virtual machine. OEM licenses (the ones you typically get when buying a new PC) won't do, as they are not transferable and must be used with the hardware in question. As an enterprise customer you may get better license terms.

I don't see how this will work. Sorry.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby woodsman on Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:26 pm

I don't see how this will work. Sorry.

That is an acceptable answer. :)

We are working with individual users (not enterprise) who want to migrate from XP to Linux. Most do not have vertical app needs in XP and are content to dual boot occasionally into XP, mostly to refresh their memories how they performed a specific task. There are a few who have vertical app needs and there is no nice easy answer. We are only exploring possibilities at this point. I was hoping a type 1 "bare metal" hypervisor might be sufficient to avoid the reactivation problem.

Thanks for your time and an interesting thread. :)
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Fri May 02, 2014 3:11 am

woodsman wrote:
I don't see how this will work. Sorry.

That is an acceptable answer. :)

We are working with individual users (not enterprise) who want to migrate from XP to Linux. Most do not have vertical app needs in XP and are content to dual boot occasionally into XP, mostly to refresh their memories how they performed a specific task. There are a few who have vertical app needs and there is no nice easy answer. We are only exploring possibilities at this point. I was hoping a type 1 "bare metal" hypervisor might be sufficient to avoid the reactivation problem.

Thanks for your time and an interesting thread. :)


I think I found something for you: Use a real Windows 7 partition in Virtualbox / KVM / VMware Player under Linux.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Sun May 04, 2014 5:38 am

With users (including myself) reporting reboot problems with AMD graphics cards, or error 22 when using the xm toolstack, I finally decided to explore another alternative to Xen: KVM.

To make the story short: I'm running Ubuntu 14.04 with kvm and passed through my (AMD) Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 to a Windows 7 Pro 64 bit guest using primary passthrough and it works! Here the WEI:
kvm_ide_amd7770.PNG
kvm with vfio-vga support passing through a AMD HD 7770 card as primary display

The guest configuration is:
VCPUs: 8
Memory: 8GB

Ubuntu runs the proprietary Nvidia driver (no issues with kvm so far). I'll do some more testing and when satisified I will produce a new how-to for VGA passthrough under kvm.

P.S.: This kvm setup is running from an external USB drive. My day-to-day system is still running Xen.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby wolfiegr on Sun May 04, 2014 5:45 am

Hello again and happy easter to everyone. I bought an SSD for my win7 install under the VM and I'm looking again to try and make it work. I was considering to buy an older nvidia geforce to softmod it to a quadro but I see that others have managed to make the hd6450 which I bought for that reason to passthrough.
Tbh I gave up on the idea of trying LM13 again. Too much hassle installing it. Do we have an ETA on LM17? I remember LM16 failing, debian jessie failing. I had problems with the beta version of ubuntu. Well I'm gonna try with deb unstable and kubuntu 14.04 and see how it goes. Should it matter if I have the AMD card on the pc prior to fresh install or I need to insert it after I've seen everything booting under Xen? (Inserting and removing the card each half an hour as problems arise is not the optimal thing). As a last resort I guess I'll try compiling my own kernel.
So in order to sum up. With what configuration did you have the best results passing the HD6450 powerhouse? I'm a bit reluctant trying to hardmod my gtx660 to a quadro yet.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby ozieboy on Sun May 04, 2014 6:09 am

Hi Powerhouse,

Thanks for all your help so far. I have chat to you in the Fedora forum before.
I gave up the VM with vga pass through on my intel NUC as it was not stable. when I saw your post about the ubuntu 14.04 and xen 4.4 I thought of trying once again.
So with ununtu 14.04, I managed to get it all installed and after many many many tries eventually managed to boot the windows 8.1 vm with vga passthrough but it was soooo sooo sosoo slow. It booted to the login screen in 45 mins. then anything i do is same slow. in about 15 mins i was able to see the device manager and saw that the display adapter was still the windows basis one ( and not intel hd5000).
I have the mSATA in the Intel NUC now and not using the sata SSd anymore (could that have made the difference). If I just boot the vm without vga passthrough it works fine and i can see it in VNC with no issues and works perfect. Please advise any ideas. I was wondering if I can build the ubuntu kernel + headers with pass through built it. It may be more stable then loading the module? I tried and failed, basically I have not idea how to build the kernel. My config is as follows:
# =====================================================================
# Example HVM guest configuration
# =====================================================================

# This configures an HVM rather than PV guest
builder='hvm'

# Use this device model! Upstream qemu has poor support for GFX passthrough -- esp. intel

# Guest name
name = 'Windows'

# Enable Microsoft Hyper-V compatibile paravirtualisation /
# enlightenment interfaces. Turning this on can improve Windows guest
# performance and is therefore recommended
viridian = 1

# Initial memory allocation (MB)
memory = 4096

# Number of VCPUS
vcpus=4
acpi=1
apic=1
pae=1
#PAE is 32-bit only

# Network devices -- You can leave this vif = [ '' ] if you want DHCP to do the work
vif = [ 'bridge=xenbr0,ip=192.168.1.101' ]

# Disk Devices -- Replace filename and OS_install.iso with the names you chose earlier
disk = [ 'phy:/dev/vm/Windows,hda,w', '/mnt/Windows.iso,,hdb:cdrom,r' ]
boot='dc'

#Passthrough devices are inserted, but will be commented out for the time being because we need to install first.

gfx_passthru=1
pci = [ '00:02.0', '00:03.0', '00:1d.0' ]

nographic=1
sdl=0
vnc=1
vnclisten="192.168.1.101"
vncpasswd=""
serial='pty'
usb=1
usbdevice='tablet'
localtime=1
xen_platform_pci=1
pci_power_mgmt=1
device_model_version = 'qemu-xen-traditional'

Any help is appreciated.

Best Regards,
Gary.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Sun May 04, 2014 5:45 pm

wolfiegr wrote:Hello again and happy easter to everyone. I bought an SSD for my win7 install under the VM and I'm looking again to try and make it work. I was considering to buy an older nvidia geforce to softmod it to a quadro but I see that others have managed to make the hd6450 which I bought for that reason to passthrough.
Tbh I gave up on the idea of trying LM13 again. Too much hassle installing it. Do we have an ETA on LM17? I remember LM16 failing, debian jessie failing. I had problems with the beta version of ubuntu. Well I'm gonna try with deb unstable and kubuntu 14.04 and see how it goes. Should it matter if I have the AMD card on the pc prior to fresh install or I need to insert it after I've seen everything booting under Xen? (Inserting and removing the card each half an hour as problems arise is not the optimal thing). As a last resort I guess I'll try compiling my own kernel.
So in order to sum up. With what configuration did you have the best results passing the HD6450 powerhouse? I'm a bit reluctant trying to hardmod my gtx660 to a quadro yet.


I agree that LM13 can be a hassle. LM17 is to be released by end of May - see here (Ubuntu 14.04 was released in April).

I got mixed results with Ubuntu 14.04 and Xen 4.4, but I managed to pass through my Sapphire Radeon HD 6450, and rebooting the guest was fine. You will need to use the xl toolstack - see one of my posts above with the complete guest config file.

Right now I'm exploring kvm - hope to be able to share some how-to soon.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Sun May 04, 2014 5:55 pm

@ozieboy: I remember our chat.

In your config file, try
Code: Select all
gfx_passthru=0

for secondary passthrough.

Can you post your hardware specs?

About building the latest kernel/xen: I'd wait with it until all other options have been tried, or until someone comes with a definite solution.

I'm currently testing KVM with VGA passthrough and that might be yet another possibility.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby ozieboy on Mon May 05, 2014 5:37 am

Hi Powerhouse,

Thanks for your reply. I did tried that in config file, but it didn't work. I have just the single VGA, that is the integrated Intel HD5000.
Hardware spec: its an intel NUC unit.
http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ ... 0wykh.html
VGA passthrough was a success with fedora but I feel more comfortable with debian based os. Plus it was not 100% stable. Blue screens ocationally.
As I said, it did booted once in to the windows 8.1 but just so so so slow.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Mon May 05, 2014 11:09 am

ozieboy wrote:Hi Powerhouse,

Thanks for your reply. I did tried that in config file, but it didn't work. I have just the single VGA, that is the integrated Intel HD5000.
Hardware spec: its an intel NUC unit.
http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ ... 0wykh.html
VGA passthrough was a success with fedora but I feel more comfortable with debian based os. Plus it was not 100% stable. Blue screens ocationally.
As I said, it did booted once in to the windows 8.1 but just so so so slow.


Could it be related to this? Try suspending your Linux host before rebooting the guest. If that makes things different, it's the guest reboot/graphics card reset issue.

Sorry I haven't had a chance to look up your hardware. If VGA passthrough worked on Fedora, chances are you can get it work in Linux Mint or Ubuntu. Which kernel and Xen did you run under Fedora?
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby wolfiegr on Tue May 06, 2014 3:49 pm

So I tried Debian Jessie with a custom kernel and Xen compiled from source. Everything went well up to the windows installation. Where I failed to install it since the installation couldn't find a suitable drive. Then I tried kubuntu 14.04 with your setup powerhouse and I got it working now. At first I had to use that long radeon blacklisting options in grub. I had to remove type=vif from the network card in win7.cfg and still installation couldn't find a disk to install to. Problem was that I was using the
Code: Select all
lvcreate -l 100%FREE
argument to fill the whole ssd I bought for the windows VM. After some trial and error that 100% doesn't work. When I said -L 150G (from the 256GB ssd) everything went on right. The AMD driver only (installation failed but after a restart I had my VM out from the radeon HDMI output). Now everything seems to run pretty nice, apart from synergy. To be able to use my machine I have to have the vnc window on top and use windows from the vnc window. So any info on someone that managed to do it would be helpful. How can i change it now so that windows will take up all of my SSD?
I guess that custom kernel + xen from source would have worked if I had made the LVcreate using less than the available disk space. I'll post passmark results on the other thread.
Thanks a lot powerhouse again.
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Wed May 07, 2014 8:37 am

wolfiegr wrote:So I tried Debian Jessie with a custom kernel and Xen compiled from source. Everything went well up to the windows installation. Where I failed to install it since the installation couldn't find a suitable drive. Then I tried kubuntu 14.04 with your setup powerhouse and I got it working now. At first I had to use that long radeon blacklisting options in grub. I had to remove type=vif from the network card in win7.cfg and still installation couldn't find a disk to install to. Problem was that I was using the
Code: Select all
lvcreate -l 100%FREE
argument to fill the whole ssd I bought for the windows VM. After some trial and error that 100% doesn't work. When I said -L 150G (from the 256GB ssd) everything went on right. The AMD driver only (installation failed but after a restart I had my VM out from the radeon HDMI output). Now everything seems to run pretty nice, apart from synergy. To be able to use my machine I have to have the vnc window on top and use windows from the vnc window. So any info on someone that managed to do it would be helpful. How can i change it now so that windows will take up all of my SSD?
I guess that custom kernel + xen from source would have worked if I had made the LVcreate using less than the available disk space. I'll post passmark results on the other thread.
Thanks a lot powerhouse again.

Glad you got it working!

Strange that lvcreate -l 100%FREE yourvg didn't work. However, for a SSD it's best to leave some 10-20% unused. The simple (=short) explanation is that SSDs can't write data back to the same place it was read from, so if you were to modify a large file - say 5G - it would require at least that free space to write it back to SSD. In addition, leaving extra space increases the lifetime of the SSD and ensures good and consistent performance.

synergy: I don't use synergy (though I've tried it) but you need to install a synergy server under Linux and a synergy client in Windows. It also needs a little configuration, but I'm afraid I'm not the expert. It should have decent documentation, though. Of course you should check your Windows network communication to see if you can access dom0 (for example try a Samba share on your Linux host). The best is to use a bridge (as described in the how-to).
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby Sambo99 on Thu May 08, 2014 7:21 am

I love this post! I've literally been reading it for an hour.

Just one question though. Is it possible to say, as a foundation use LM(maybe just command line only?) for 3 to 4 Windows VMs that would be used 100% of the time? My wife and I just built this BEAST machine, justified only by consolidating all 3 of our computers into 1, in hopes of sharing its resources for gaming and schoolwork.

One day in the distant future our goal in building this is to be running 3 to 4 most(or fully) functioning PCs in one.

Is it possible? Can i buy you pizza? lol
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Re: HOW-TO make dual-boot obsolete using XEN VGA passthrough

Postby powerhouse on Thu May 08, 2014 11:49 pm

Sambo99 wrote:I love this post! I've literally been reading it for an hour.

Just one question though. Is it possible to say, as a foundation use LM(maybe just command line only?) for 3 to 4 Windows VMs that would be used 100% of the time? My wife and I just built this BEAST machine, justified only by consolidating all 3 of our computers into 1, in hopes of sharing its resources for gaming and schoolwork.

One day in the distant future our goal in building this is to be running 3 to 4 most(or fully) functioning PCs in one.

Is it possible? Can i buy you pizza? lol


1. LM is an excellent desktop OS, but I doubt it would be the first choice for a server (command line only). Of course, it's often easier to use the tools (distro) you are familiar with.

2. Xen can handle 3-4 Windows VMs, but if you need VGA passthrough for all of them, your hardware needs to be up to the task (PCIe-16 slots, etc.). Sometimes PCIe-16 slots are behind a PCIe-bridge, which can make PCI/VGA passthrough more difficult. So the ability to run so many Windows VMs with VGA passthrough very much depends on your hardware. Keep in mind that you also need VCPUs (virtual CPUs) for each VM and for Linux (dom0), as well as enough RAM.
Of course you can create Windows VMs without using VGA passthrough.

3. As mentioned above, the hardware selection is a critical part it making this a success. See the hardware requirements in the how-to.

4. I can't remember where I read it, but someone reported successfully running multiple VMs on his Xen server, with HDMI extenders and additional add-ons to run his entire house on one PC: At least 2 desktops, media centre, servers, etc.

5. You need some familiarity with Linux to make it work. And not each hardware or BIOS is created equal. VGA passthrough is still somewhat experimental, though I've been running it for nearly 2 years (and experimented a little with different VGA cards). I personally wouldn't want to go back to dual-boot or anything else.
Asus Sabertooth X79, i7 3930K CPU, 8x4GB Kingston DDR3 RAM, Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler, Sapphire 7770 GPU, PNY Quadro 2000 GPU, Asus Xonar Essence STX, Sandisk Extreme 120GB SSD + various HD, Corsair 500R case, SeaSonic 660W Gold X PS
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