When Jayme and I moved in together she came up with the idea of building a computer. She wanted to learn more about computers and I had never built one myself. We also wanted to try lots of different Linux distros and maybe have access to Windows (we both have Macs, only hers is Intel), so I immediately set my mind on virtualization. This had been in the back of my mind since it was discussed on Security Now episodes 53 and 54.
I don’t remember how I first heard about Xen, but I had already decided I wanted bare metal virtualization capability. I wanted to run 2 or 3 vm’s at one time without the overhead of Windows or Mac OS running underneath them. Xen seems to be the open-source frontrunner, at least for someone who is not a Linux guru (and even that I am not sure about).
In trying to narrow down our main components, these were our requirements:
Size. We didn’t want it to be too big. I already have a gimongous heater under my desk (PowerMac G5). Luckily, Jayme only has a little MacBook.
Virtualization support. Needs to be on the CPU and the motherboard. This meant Intel chips with Intel VT or AMD Pacifica and a lot of research to confirm mobo support which I am still only guessing about.
Networking: Gigabit ethernet, for speedy VNC connections on the LAN.
Graphics: Need integrated graphics for minimal use with monitor, mostly during initial setup.
Bus: SATA, because I have a spare 250GB SATA drive.
Total cost. We were aiming for ~$500.
This is what we have come up with. Jayme researched the case and power supply, and I did the cpu and motherboard.