Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls



  • I have a client that wants to repurpose 3 Windows Servers that are no longer used but contain data that needs to be kept.

    The data can be read by specialised software that is installed on the servers.

    I'm thinking of running up a Linux box and having these servers run as VMs on the Linux box so the data can still be accessed.

    Currently the Windows servers are imaged using Macrium Reflect which doesn't run on Linux.

    I need some advice & suggestions.

    I'm trying to save my client some money as they've been hit by this virus, hence Linux.

    So, what can I use to image Windows servers, so that I can then use the image to create a VM that will then run on Linux?

    What brand/build of Linux? Open to anything as long as I can get lots of Google results for the Linux questions I ask (I'm not a Linuxer).

    What hypervisor software for Linux? KVM? something else?

    There's TBs of data per server. Would it be best to move this onto some sort of external storage medium? If so, what?

    Any other suggestions, is there anything else I could use for this?

    Thanks for any help.



  • ProxMox comes to.mind, or run free HyperV but management can be tricky



  • Just because it's what I know, and am reasonably confident will work:

    Hypervisor : XCP-ng (OK, so I know Citrix XenServer, but from what I've seen it's more or less the same)
    backup/restore: Veeam agent for Windows (free will do what you need)

    Not sure how legit licensing will be, I'd have to guess that it's going to depend on the actual licenses and specific versions of server that you're dealing with.



  • @siringo Any P2V tool should work. It's been years since I've used one now tho. I think @StarWind_Software has one that people around here have used recently.

    As for the hypervisor, KVM is the fastest and easiest to setup as it's included with almost every linux distribution. I'd put XCP-NG and Proxmox as my 2ndary choices. Hyper-v is just a pain to get management setup for.



  • What is this magical Linux box you're going to put these VMs on? Do you have it already? Does it have enough storage to hold all of the VMs from the three hosts?

    KVM and Proxmox seem to be the go to Hypervisors right now.

    As mentioned P2V the installs from their current location to the new VM host. Then your old backup solution should continue it work (at least in most cases).



  • Putting the same vulnerable windows servers on a Linux hypervisor host doesn't do anything to secure them unless you are shutting them off.

    There has to be a better way to store just the data if that's all your concerned about. What database are these windows served running? You can run SQL on Linux and do it on one small server if it's just for accessing archives.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    What brand/build of Linux? Open to anything as long as I can get lots of Google results for the Linux questions I ask (I'm not a Linuxer).
    What hypervisor software for Linux? KVM? something else?

    A bit of cart before the horse. Linux is inconsequential here, it's an artefact. What you want is a hypervisor (that is free) and that may or may not imply that Linux will be involved at some point. But Linux doesn't matter in any way in this situation.

    If you use "Linux as the hypervisor", that's another way of saying KVM. KVM is the only situation where Linux isn't a VM on top just like your Windows workloads. So if Linux were to be a goal, then KVM is a foregone conclusion.

    In reality, Xen (which can be Linux, but doesn't have to be) and Hyper-V are excellent choices, too.

    If you aren't using Linux for other things and don't already have experience and a standard for it, then Hyper-V is easily the right choice.

    Although as someone is sure to mention, ProxMox makes KVM so crazy easy that that's almost always how I'd go for a stock setup like this. Simple web GUI, loads of features, all of the work done for you. Easier than any "build it yourself" virtualization stack, even Fedora/KVM and Ubuntu/KVM and obviously, a million times easier than Hyper-V.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    There's TBs of data per server. Would it be best to move this onto some sort of external storage medium? If so, what?

    External storage is generally slow, risky, and expensive. The first two factors don't probably matter here if you were able to save money doing this. But how would an additional server, in addition to the original, make it cheaper? It's hard to make two servers cheaper than one.



  • Thanks everyone for the input.

    I have an old HP server I can use, dual Xeon, 24GB RAM but only 500GB 15K SAS disk.

    I don't know what Proxmox is, I'll take a look.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    I don't know what Proxmox is, I'll take a look.

    ProxMox is a "package" of KVM. Unlike installing KVM or Xen on your own and needing to assemble all of the parts, it's a complete ecosystem package like vSphere is to ESXi. So you get the GUI, the web interface, the API, the file systems, the backup tools, and so forth. It's an "install and use" system, not a "pick each piece and put it together yourself" system. Nothing wrong with putting your own together, but unless you are getting some extreme advantage from carefully knowing and tuning every piece that you select, better to go with something already assembled, known, and supported rather than reinventing a really well built and free wheel.

    ProxMox is basically the XCP-NG of the KVM world.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    I don't know what Proxmox is, I'll take a look.

    ProxMox is a "package" of KVM. Unlike installing KVM or Xen on your own and needing to assemble all of the parts, it's a complete ecosystem package like vSphere is to ESXi. So you get the GUI, the web interface, the API, the file systems, the backup tools, and so forth. It's an "install and use" system, not a "pick each piece and put it together yourself" system. Nothing wrong with putting your own together, but unless you are getting some extreme advantage from carefully knowing and tuning every piece that you select, better to go with something already assembled, known, and supported rather than reinventing a really well built and free wheel.

    ProxMox is basically the XCP-NG of the KVM world.

    Yep, I've had a quick read, it looks absolutely fantastic, this is something I'm going to get my hands dirty with.

    Thanks.



  • Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    You don't have any extra desktops or laptops not being used so can install Proxmox on it?

    https://www.proxmox.com/en/proxmox-ve/requirements
    cb2fdd03-f2ef-49ac-a2ae-beb0147a3409-image.png



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    No, because that requires nested virtualization and no provider is going to allow that. That creates a mess for cloud providers and makes their products not work properly or make sense. So while for a lab that would be handy, allowing it for a lab would potentially make a production nightmare that they all want to avoid.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    You'd need to use a bare metal server. Vultr offers these, but only at $120/month currently.



  • There are a few issues that haven't been really vetted.

    You mention that these servers run a custom software that allows access to the the data. This is fine, so long as you can virtualize the existing physical servers and run them as virtual machines.

    • The big if being that there isn't some custom hardware that doesn't support virtualization

    The next question to be raised is if they were hit with a virus, how would virtualizing these systems fix this issue? Virtualizing offers many features, including the easing recovery from such events, but that doesn't make the system more secure from viruses.

    • Are these systems going to be air-gapped from the rest of the world?

    Last you've asked what hypervisor should be used, there are a plethora of them.

    • ProxMox is a full management stack and hypervisor in one.
    • XCP-Ng is another, that you'd then optionally install XenOrchestra (likely by "building it yourself" or using my github script).
    • You could of course install Hyper-V and use Hyper-V manager as well (another totally free Hypervisor and management solution, albeit backups aren't included)

    I believe ProxMox is locally managed only (meaning you'd need to be on the LAN). If you're performing any maintenance for the client in the end, this may be an issue.

    XCP-Ng can be managed from XenOrchestra which can* hosted in a cloud environment easily and securely.

    Hyper-V has no such option as far as I'm aware.

    You also mentioned TB's of storage, virtualizing a physical server does nothing to reduce the amount of storage the system is using or has allocated. You're just changing where and how the storage is presented.

    I'm assuming these servers likely have hardware or software RAID, converting these VMs for this may be a bit more tricky due to this.



  • @black3dynamite said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    You don't have any extra desktops or laptops not being used so can install Proxmox on it?

    https://www.proxmox.com/en/proxmox-ve/requirements
    cb2fdd03-f2ef-49ac-a2ae-beb0147a3409-image.png

    Last night I remembered I have an i7 16GB laptop lying around, so I'll fire that up. Thanks for the help.



  • @travisdh1 said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    You'd need to use a bare metal server. Vultr offers these, but only at $120/month currently.

    Yeah, I started looking at these last night, too expensive. I remembered I have an i7 laptop. Otherwise I might have bought a 2nd hand something online.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    There are a few issues that haven't been really vetted.

    You mention that these servers run a custom software that allows access to the the data. This is fine, so long as you can virtualize the existing physical servers and run them as virtual machines.

    • The big if being that there isn't some custom hardware that doesn't support virtualization

    The next question to be raised is if they were hit with a virus, how would virtualizing these systems fix this issue? Virtualizing offers many features, including the easing recovery from such events, but that doesn't make the system more secure from viruses.

    • Are these systems going to be air-gapped from the rest of the world?

    Last you've asked what hypervisor should be used, there are a plethora of them.

    • ProxMox is a full management stack and hypervisor in one.
    • XCP-Ng is another, that you'd then optionally install XenOrchestra (likely by "building it yourself" or using my github script).
    • You could of course install Hyper-V and use Hyper-V manager as well (another totally free Hypervisor and management solution, albeit backups aren't included)

    I believe ProxMox is locally managed only (meaning you'd need to be on the LAN). If you're performing any maintenance for the client in the end, this may be an issue.

    XCP-Ng can be managed from XenOrchestra which can* hosted in a cloud environment easily and securely.

    Hyper-V has no such option as far as I'm aware.

    You also mentioned TB's of storage, virtualizing a physical server does nothing to reduce the amount of storage the system is using or has allocated. You're just changing where and how the storage is presented.

    I'm assuming these servers likely have hardware or software RAID, converting these VMs for this may be a bit more tricky due to this.

    Thanks for all the info Dustin, much appreciated.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @black3dynamite said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    You don't have any extra desktops or laptops not being used so can install Proxmox on it?

    https://www.proxmox.com/en/proxmox-ve/requirements
    cb2fdd03-f2ef-49ac-a2ae-beb0147a3409-image.png

    Last night I remembered I have an i7 16GB laptop lying around, so I'll fire that up. Thanks for the help.

    Now if you planning using the laptop, you will want to disable the laptop from going in to standby mode when or if you close the lid.
    https://thedaneshproject.com/posts/disable-laptop-lid-action-for-proxmox/



  • @black3dynamite said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @black3dynamite said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Is it possible to run Proxmox up on an online hoster like Vultr or similar so I can have a look at it. Any suggestions??

    You don't have any extra desktops or laptops not being used so can install Proxmox on it?

    https://www.proxmox.com/en/proxmox-ve/requirements
    cb2fdd03-f2ef-49ac-a2ae-beb0147a3409-image.png

    Last night I remembered I have an i7 16GB laptop lying around, so I'll fire that up. Thanks for the help.

    Now if you planning using the laptop, you will want to disable the laptop from going in to standby mode when or if you close the lid.
    https://thedaneshproject.com/posts/disable-laptop-lid-action-for-proxmox/

    Thanks black3dynamite, i'll bookmark that.
    Also found out that Proxmox doesn't have an easy way to get onto wifi, so i'm sorting that out atm.



  • Gave up on wifi, found it's not worth the effort, can be a bit finnicky.

    Anyway, got Proxmox installed with a test Windows server, a relatively painless process.

    Next on the look into list, is see if I can create VMs from vhdx files in Proxmox?



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Gave up on wifi, found it's not worth the effort, can be a bit finnicky.

    Anyway, got Proxmox installed with a test Windows server, a relatively painless process.

    Next on the look into list, is see if I can create VMs from vhdx files in Proxmox?

    Converting from vhdx to qcow2
    https://mangolassi.it/topic/19781/converting-hyper-v-to-kvm
    https://www.servethehome.com/converting-a-hyper-v-vhdx-for-use-with-kvm-or-proxmox-ve

    Import a qcow2 into Proxmox
    https://mangolassi.it/topic/21751/import-a-qcow2-into-proxmox



  • @black3dynamite said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    Gave up on wifi, found it's not worth the effort, can be a bit finnicky.

    Anyway, got Proxmox installed with a test Windows server, a relatively painless process.

    Next on the look into list, is see if I can create VMs from vhdx files in Proxmox?

    Converting from vhdx to qcow2
    https://mangolassi.it/topic/19781/converting-hyper-v-to-kvm
    https://www.servethehome.com/converting-a-hyper-v-vhdx-for-use-with-kvm-or-proxmox-ve

    Import a qcow2 into Proxmox
    https://mangolassi.it/topic/21751/import-a-qcow2-into-proxmox

    Fantastic, thanks mate, that's great. I really appreciate your help. 😊



  • just had a quick look at xcp-ng, it looks very good as well.

    I'm wondering which one I should concentrate on, Proxmox or xcp-ng?

    I don't know either. Possibly the biggest thing I'd like to be able to do is be able to migrate VMs off Hyper-V and onto one of these 2.

    Does one have a better support community than other?
    Does one have a more mature product than the other?
    Does one have better tools than the other?
    Is it easier to migrate from Hyper-V to one, more than the other?

    Thanks for any help.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    I'm wondering which one I should concentrate on, Proxmox or xcp-ng?

    My straight up answer is to try them both out.



  • @siringo

    There are tools to help with migrating VMs. I know we have guides here for KVM (Proxmox). I believe we have some here for XCP-ng or XenServer.

    Personally, I would create a new VM on Proxmox or XCP-ng and then sync the data over.

    They both have pretty good community forum.
    XCP-ng
    https://xcp-ng.org/forum/

    Proxmox
    https://forum.proxmox.com/



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    I have a client that wants to repurpose 3 Windows Servers that are no longer used but contain data that needs to be kept.

    The data can be read by specialised software that is installed on the servers.

    I'm thinking of running up a Linux box and having these servers run as VMs on the Linux box so the data can still be accessed.

    Remember licensing. MS Server is licensed after physical cores on the hypervisor, not the VMs. So moving from a physical server to a virtual might require higher licensing costs.

    Same goes for the software that's on these servers. You have to know what it is and how it's licensed.



  • @siringo said in Windows Servers Archived onto Linux, suggestions/help pls:

    I'm not a Linuxer

    I think you are better of with vmware essentials. It's low cost and don't have all the bells and whistles but there is a lot of people in the "windows world" that can manage it and you don't need any linux knowledge at all.

    We use xcp-ng & xenserver and while it has a windows client for managing that is really good, you still need to be able to do things in linux to get by. Same thing with proxmox.

    So for a windows shop with people that has windows knowledge, vmware makes more sense. Even if there are options that gives you more value for money.

    But I suggest starting to play with some linux virtualization in your home lab.



  • thanks for the help @Pete-S I appreciate it.

    I'm not worried about any MS licensing, the old servers will just be used for reference should any need ever arise for the data on the servers to be looked at in the future, they won't be in production and will likely stay shut down.

    That's why I was looking at an open source virtualisation platform, I was wanting to come up with a solution that wouldn't cost much, if anything, and have no licensing issues.

    Again, thanks for the help.


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