Proxmox Virtual Environment – Part 1

May 12, 2009 by



For a few years now I’ve been using a bunch of different virtualization products. I’ve mainly used VMware, although I’ve tested a bunch of other alternatives. I’ve used Fusion on Macs, Player and Server on Windows, and Server on headless Linux machines. When it comes to data center equipment I’ve been working with VMware ESX. Then, not too long ago, about half a year ago or so, as I was researching Qumranet and KVM, I stumbled across a little known open source product from an Austrian company called Proxmox Virtual Environment (Proxmox VE). Proxmox VE is a bare metal install, which is best run on enterprise grade server hardware. It’s based on a customized and optimized Debian kernel. Proxmox VE is in many ways similar to VMware ESX or Citrix XenServer. Although a relatively young product, already in version 1.1 of Proxmox VE, most of the “enterprise features” of its commercial cousins are available. Some features may still be lacking, but in email exchanges with one of the Proxmox VE’s main developers, I was told to look forward to some “very exciting” enhancements coming in 2.0 of the product. Installation of Proxmox VE is a breeze.

Once you have downloaded and burned the ISO, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to install. Once installed, one can download ready-built VM OS and app templates directly from the management interface, which is all web based. That’s right, it’s not like VMware’s crippled web UI, where you can only take some actions, like starting and stopping a machine. All management is done through the web UI.

Proxmox VE is a very versatile product. Not only can one run KVM on top of Proxmox, but it will also run OpenVZ containers. The choice between KVM or OpenVZ usually comes down to what kind of OS you need to run. If you need to run a Windows machine, KVM will be your choice, while you will likely use OpenVZ for most Linux servers.

Back to the templates. All templates available at the time of writing this are OpenVZ templates. However, the Proxmox VE developers say that KVM templates are coming. Getting a template is as easy as point-and-click, and a few moments later, as soon as it’s downloaded to your “template library” you point-and-click again to create a new virtual machine container. It literally doesn’t take much longer than half a minute to build a new OpenVZ machine.

There is probably at least 10 different templates available already, varying from basic OS templates to full application appliance templates, such as:

  • Ubuntu 8.04
  • CentOS 5
  • Fedora 9
  • Zenoss Core Network Monitoring
  • Joomla!
  • Drupal
  • WordPress

The full list of current templates can be found on the Proxmox VE Wiki.

Even if you don’t have “enterprise hardware” lying around at home, but only have some old clunker hardware with a CPU that supports virtualization, I highly recommend downloading and installing Proxmox VE. It’s a great virtualization platform.

In Part 2, I’ll be discussing more of Proxmox VE’s features and dig a little bit deeper. Stay tuned …

Comments (3)


  1. Ben says:

    I’ve also had my eyes opened to Proxmox VE but still recently forced myself to try some alternatives. I’ve had to do this in order to evaluate each for my clients.

    Xenserver 5 is very nice but I really do not like the fact that in order to get all the available server management features you have to install a windows based application on a pc on the same subnet as the actual server.

    Esxi is also worth a serious look & I’ll probably dabble with that next.

    Truth is though, in particular since Proxmox 1.2 has just been released, I’ll probably go back to Proxmox to stay at least for my personal use. It’s so so easy to install, setup & use & has been perfectly stable for me evn when stressed with multiple vm’s running.

    I still look forward to the upcoming version 2 with enhanced drive management support & hopefully much better & easier to implement vm usb support.

    Proxmox is a keeper.

  2. Hi, thanks for this nice wrapup. I agree that Proxmox is an astonishing product, even considered its price ;-). I am looking for a VMware Server replacement, and Proxmox is it. I do hope they get payed enough to keep this ball rolling, all commercial users should donate imho, I will.

  3. Very hepfull. What about part number 2 ? Never is too late…


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