So … a machine dies in Virginia - the one hosting a wiki and a Notes server for our development group at work. Bit of irony here - seems it is the RAID card that died. The hardware is an old desktop box with a collection of 9GB disks in a RAID 5 configuration. Probably not worthwhile to re-build the machine.

Had a Windows XP box in the local office that was not seeing much use - it was used to host installs of software prototypes, and for testing with different databases (Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server), among other things. Had wanted to put VMware on the box eventually, to support testing with multiple server configurations (for folk in the office - I have my own test box here at home). Given the dead box is Virginia, seemed hosting the Notes server and wiki on this box was the best alternative.

Downloaded and burnt a CD with the Ubuntu 6.06 “desktop” install. Fired up the install and … everything just worked. Simpler and slicker than a Windows installation.

Was not sure, but thought that the free VMware Server might be appropriate. Downloaded the VMware Server installation files and documents (not real clear what was required - so grabbed everything). Hint: The installation instructions are in the “Server Administration Manual”. Once the install instructions were found, installation was very straightforward.

Copied over some pre-configured virtual machines from my home test box (using a paid copy of VMware Workstation) - clean/base installs of Windows NT Server, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows 2003 Server (I have a developer’s license, so this is all legit). Fired up the VMware Server console on the new Ubuntu box - and after a bit of housekeeping, the various Windows instances were ready to go.

Now for the very cool part - installed the “VMware Server Console” on my Windows box, and I can now start, control, and interact with the VM’s running on the Ubuntu box - as though they were running locally! OK - if you’ve played with VMware server products before, this is probably old hat. I had not, so this was a pleasant surprise.

The free version of VMware Server is lacking the “clone” operation in VMware workstation (fair enough). Copying an entire VM image is a bit of a pain (copy the folder containing a rather large amount of data), but do-able. Odds are the VM hosting the Notes server and wiki will eventually be transferred to a machine run by the IT folks, running a full version of VMware (once they procure more hardware).

Setting this all up was a lot easier than I had expected. Something amusing about using Linux to make Windows installations easier to use. :)