Vmware server 1
This a free piece of software that can be a solution for some people.
First I want to say that VMware server 2 should be avoided. You better download VMware server 1.0.8 from the vmware site.
Server 2 uses a very anoying web interface with a very anoying way to mange the consoles. It feels much slower en cubersome to use. The only advantage I discovwered is that i theorie you should be able to use usb 2.x devices. I did not get this to work however.
It does not work in seamonky and searches about this seems to uncover that firefox also has problems.
I also thinks that is it absolutle crazy to have a virtualisation enviroment depend on a web browser. (what is the connection????) I rather like way the vmware console works on windows and on linux.
When using a vmware enviroment you are bound to be useing virtual hardisk files. Back in the old days on the Amiga platform we where used to this and is was a wide know fact (within this community) that hd files were very slow compared to assigning a dedicated hd to an emulator. (be it pc, mac, atari, bcc, msx, achimedes). So when possible we used dedicated partitions or complete hd's for an emulator to gain realtime io access. Vmware uses image/hd files. and vmware server 1 allows you to use a full hd as a harddrive.
This worked very fine in my test setup. I have been experimenting.
I was tired of re installing my linux system every year, after a crash of software or hardware failluren. Spening hours of getting my old setup back.
So I though lets try vmware.
At home this works flawlessly,
I have one vhost, this runs centos 4.5 (I did not get it to work with centos 5.2)
I installed vmware 1.06 on the host.
On the guest I put centos 5.2
The guest should only hold the system in the vmware image file. The data should all go on an external usb drive. (usb us slower than internal ata, I know but I do not need speed. I need reliability and the speed is not that bad)
Of course I plugged the usb disk in to the host. That mapped that drive in my vmware guest as /dev/sdd and it had been working for 7 months now under very heavy load. (downloads, mail, copy files) and it has not failed me once.
So next step
Now I needed a new production set up.
I did the same only one different hardware.
This time the mapping of an external drive seemed to work but when you use it. it goes away and it some how also kill the vmware network connection. I do not know why and it seems weird. google searches did not help at all. using vmware server 2 does not help since the whole option mapping a full drive to a guest does not exist. and the way to manage guest in vmware server 2 really sucks.
I tiried every thing vmware server 2 vmare 1 and ofcourse the correct vmware-tools needed.
I tried to use it as an usb direct rive under vmware server 2 but it never registered to the guest. (okay I did only spend 2 hours trying to get that to work and not a few weeks.)
I tried with and with out write cache. but every time it fails.
To be complete: on the host, I can mount this usb disk and copy 1 tb to and from it without problem. So the hard ware is fine. so is the connection to and from the host. there is just some thing that makes vmware shoke.
Next step was to try and iscsi setup.
I only experimented with this for a few hours. but I got it to work. but afer some heavy loead this failed on me too. I hate it. but it is not vmware failt.
Last resort , which I avoide because you every one reports problem about it, was nfs.
I used the nfs that came with centos 5.2 on host and guest, and now it works.
I can really abuse it and it keeps working.
So my point, vmware server 2, only use it when you really need usb 2.0 stuff. and even then. I would not rely on it. YOu get a very badly arranged way (and slow) aranged way to mange your guests. and it in the end you cannot be sure things will work.
I think the only things you can use in vmware are the virtual enviroment (cpu and virtual drive) and network. Forget the rest, use existing things based on networking. Okay I have been using an usb 1.1 scanner / printer for years now on vmware 1.
vmware esxi does not support software raid so if you need software raid you cannot use this.
(ps, I need software soft)