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WHS 2011, HTPC, and Virtualization Questions


ktide1
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I'm going to tick a lot of you off and recommend ESXi if USB pasthrough is important.

 

However, you can display the video from a VM on Server 2008/2012 HyperV, and utilize the graphics card (even with your K version CPU.) Requires some work with RemoteFX if you want/need to use the power of the actual card, but I'm not sure that will be requirerd to ouput 1080P video. You will, however, need to RDP into your HTPC and go fullscreen if you want to use the HTPC as the video out. I'd recommend using Plex and using the web interface through Chrome on the 2008/2012 server platform (or the full Plex media app if you really feel you need it.)

 

I do this using my NAS as the Plex Media Server, and use my 2008R2 HyperV box as a display to my TV using the Plex web app.

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USB passthrough would be nice, but its not critical for this machine (although I do have to consider how to interact with the HTPC VM if a USB keyboard is not an otion..hmmm).  However, high quality, correctly rendered video for the HTPC is critical, which is why I steered towards Hyper-V.

 

timekills, I had already poked around on various forums and blogs about using RemoteFX to accomplish what you are suggesting so I'd love to hear more about how to make it all work.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around it completely.  I am very familiar with Plex so no worries there, although I am partial to XBMC for local playback.  Just curious, do you foresee any issues using my Hauppauge Colossus in the HTPC VM?

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Not familiar with that card. I use network attached TV recorder cards (specifically the HD HomeRun Prime) just so I didn't have to worry about PCI passthrough compatibility while using a VM for my HTPC.

 

If that is a PCI card, I can say neither I nor anyone else I know has had continued success in using PCI pasthrough for video recording in a VM. If the recording software can run on the host (hypervisor) then you can use the HTPC to serve it up, but I'd be concerned running video recording software on my server OS. I've never been a fan of the XBMC implementation of TV recording anyway, and last I tried it couldn't do scrambled cable via cablecard so my only option was WMC - which wouldn't run on a server of course.

 

Again, ESXi is much, much better at USB and PCI passthrough, but I haven't tried using capture cards with it. It's not nearly as picky about hardware as some feel. I'm running it here in Iraq on a Dell 990 workstation with the built-in NIC for management and a four-port half-height Gb NIC for my VMs, including pfSense, Server 2012R2, Server 2012R2 w/Essentials role, Win8, Win8.1, and Win7 as my HTPC (MyMovies) host, all with 16GB RAM and 2 x 2.5" WD Black 500GB drives. The Dell 990 is most certainly not on the ESXi approved list. :)

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Not familiar with that card. I use network attached TV recorder cards (specifically the HD HomeRun Prime) just so I didn't have to worry about PCI passthrough compatibility while using a VM for my HTPC. If that is a PCI card, I can say neither I nor anyone else I know has had continued success in using PCI pasthrough for video recording in a VM. If the recording software can run on the host (hypervisor) then you can use the HTPC to serve it up, but I'd be concerned running video recording software on my server OS. I've never been a fan of the XBMC implementation of TV recording anyway, and last I tried it couldn't do scrambled cable via cablecard so my only option was WMC - which wouldn't run on a server of course. Again, ESXi is much, much better at USB and PCI passthrough, but I haven't tried using capture cards with it. It's not nearly as picky about hardware as some feel. I'm running it here in Iraq on a Dell 990 workstation with the built-in NIC for management and a four-port half-height Gb NIC for my VMs, including pfSense, Server 2012R2, Server 2012R2 w/Essentials role, Win8, Win8.1, and Win7 as my HTPC (MyMovies) host, all with 16GB RAM and 2 x 2.5" WD Black 500GB drives. The Dell 990 is most certainly not on the ESXi approved list. :)

 

OK, let's say I use ESXi for the hypervisor.  I plan on using WHS2011 with software raid (specifically Flexraid) on my storage drives for pooling and raid protection.  With the k-series CPU (no Vt-d), passing my storage drives through to allow WHS2011 native access is not possible, correct?  Wouldn't I have to resort to using raw device mapping to get it done?

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OK, guys, I just found out I can get a free Windows Server 2012 license through a professional society that I can join for $100.

 

I would assume most of you would advise that route to get away from the core version and GUI-less interface.  What say you?  Also, which version should I get - Standard or Essentials?

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I would jump on that deal; that's a great price.

 

As to which to buy, if you can get WS2012 for only $100, and if it's true that WS2012 has the right to run WSE2012 in a VM for free, then that seems like a good choice. I'm just not sure if WS2012 truly has the right, and I'm not certain about the licensing issues: CALs and such.

 

Hopefully, someone else has more info on these issues.

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Go with 2012 since Essentials (as it is now) can not run Hyoer-V.  That would take an R2 upgrade.

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WIndows licensing is so ridiculously complex that i don't think anyone, including Microsoft, fully understand it, however as far as I know if you purchase a single license for Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition, then you can install it on a single server with no more than two processors. If you then enable the Hyoer-V role, and nothing else, you can then install another two copies of Server 2012 Standard as virtual machines on the same box all using the single license and this is perfectly valid. You are supposed to also purchase the right number of CALS (client access licenses) for the number of PC you want to talk to the servers.

 

If you want to run on more processors or run more than two VMs then you need to get a license for Server 2012 DataCenter Edition and be prepared to re-mortgage your house to pay for it.

 

This does not allow you to install 2012 Essentials which is an entirely separate product, what you are supposed to do is purchase 2012 Standard for the Hyper-V host and then purchase a copy of 2012E to run on it, and you don't need to get additional CALs as they are included in the price.

 

If you really want 2012E then the cheapest way is to get a single license for it but if you want to run it in a virtualised environment then use Hyper-V Server for the host which is free. However this is a 'server-core' type product and they'll be a bit of a learning curve for the remote management.

 

John

Edited by jem101
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thanks jem101. I completely agree, MS licensing is completely ridiculous. Given what you posted, I think I would have to recommend WSE2012, mostly because of the BMR.

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