Consolidated 4 PCs into 1 - Xen on Arch Linux, XBMC & Windows with VGA Passthrough

Joined
Nov 8, 2013
Messages
28
** If you're interested in finding out more about how I did what I did, I blog as I go and all my instructions are available here - blog.ktz.me **

During the summer I set out to consolidate my desktop, htpc and unraid server into one box using virtualisation. The results, I'm pleased to say, exceeded my pre-project expectations! I now have one box running 4 OSs concurrently, including a Windows virtual machine with full VGA passthrough which I use as my daily desktop (see pic at the bottom) but also for flawless gaming. Quick rundown of the OSs:

Dom0 (Host) - Arch Linux with Xen 4.3 and XBMC
- Utilises the CPU built-in graphics to run XBMC via a HDMI splitter to my TV in the lounge and kitchen. Only requires 15GB of SSD space and 1GB RAM to run, this is why I love Arch (among other reasons).

DomU1 - unRAID
- 18TB of protected storage available for usage by all VMs and acts as a NAS device

DomU2 - Windows 8.1 (with full 3d VGA passthrough)
- The really nifty bit here isn't the running of Windows as a VM or even the VGA passthrough, it's that I figured out a way using DevManView to automatically eject the card on reboot (this made Windows unusable before). It has been working flawlessly for over 3 months so I'd say it's ready for primetime!

DomU3 - Arch VM
- For Sab, Sickbeard, PLex etc...

****************************************************************************

Windows gaming performance seems to be the most popular question I've been asked about so I made a little video showing F1 2013 running at max settings smooth as silk @ 60FPS using my 7870.

http://youtu.be/iBaetUjsr7s

****************************************************************************

I have written extensively about how to do this on my blog, so please go check it out. Or just ask Qs here - whatever, I'll try to answer.
 

Dark Shade

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
1,872
Was the decision to go with Xen 4.3 purely out of the VGA passthrough feature or would/could you use a different platform such as KVM to do the same thing? I notice it is a special patched version of Xen?
 

Riccochet

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
25,863
Was considering doing this as well. I'll check out your blog for sure. Thanks!
 

fantabulous

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 2, 2013
Messages
229
Was the decision to go with Xen 4.3 purely out of the VGA passthrough feature or would/could you use a different platform such as KVM to do the same thing? I notice it is a special patched version of Xen?

Not sure of the OPs decision to use Xen over KVM, but KVM can indeed do all of this (including the VGA passthrough). Xen has been capable of VGA passthrough for longer, and there's more documentation for it.
 
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