I’ve been playing with an HP MicroServer N40L for a few weeks now. Initially, I installed Ubuntu 11.10 and tried it out for a few days, but wiped it and installed Windows Server 2008 R2. I plan to use this machine as a file and media server, so I’m exploring a few options out there to give me the most flexibility and allow me to do what I want.
While reading a few blogs and forum posts, I’ve noticed most people – or at least a lot of them – are using WHS 2011 on their MicroServer. I don’t have a license for WHS 2011, but do have licenses for Server 2008 R2, so that’s what I’m using so far. In addition to using it as a file server, I would like to do some minor virtualization, mainly to separate the main OS from the media apps.
After upgrading the RAM from its initial 2GB to 4GB, I tested ESXi 5, which ran okay (a little slow using local storage), but not being able to use local disks as pass-through disks for the virtual machines was a big turn off, so I discarded that idea.
I’ve been running Hyper-V Server – initially on a full Windows installation, but then decided to try it on Core, and so far it’s been great. One of the best things about Hyper-V that fits my needs is the ability to use a local disk as pass-through. This way, I can install the OS on a VHD and use pass-through disks for storage. Been testing this for a few days, and I don’t see much (if any) of a performance hit when copying files from the network. When copying large files from a networked PC to the virtual machine’s pass-through disk, file speeds range from 20-110MB/s+, really depends on the kind of file I’m copying. Large files such as ISOs or MKVs are the fastest to copy, mostly at 90MB/s+.
Not all is nice and pretty with Hyper-V on Server Core, as it initially requires a bit more work to get properly configured and running, but once it’s up, it’s a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. I may post my installation and configuration notes for Hyper-V on Server Core 2008 R2 from beginning to end in the near future.