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Proxmox VE 1.2: First Impressions

Download, install and go to work in less than an hour.

The Proxmox VE (Virtualization Environment) system isn’t the main thrust of Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH. The company began in 2004 as a provider of anti-spam and anti-virus mail gateway appliances. They currently offer both a virtual appliance and a CD version of their Proxmox Mail Gateway. The CD version of the software must be installed on its own dedicated hardware to create the appliance.

Proxmox VE (VE) offers both OpenVZ containers and full virtualization via KVM in the same system. This flexibility provides you with the native speed of OpenVZ virtual machines and the traditional convenience of fully virtualized operating systems.

Installation

Installation of Proxmox is almost a “forehead”* install requiring only that you accept the EULA, enter a root password, an administrative email address and networking information. The current Proxmox VE version, as of this writing is 1.2 (released May 12, 2009). The ISO image is just over 300MB. Download it from PVE Downloads, burn the ISO image to a CD-R disc, boot from the CD/DVD drive and follow the on-screen instructions. This installation will overwrite your system’s disk and is meant for installation onto dedicated server hardware.

Your hardware needs to be server quality with plenty of RAM, disk and CPUs with virtualization extensions. You should use a quad-core system if you’re going to have more than a handful of VMs running simultaneously.

Proxmox VE Features

  • Container (OpenVZ) & Full Virtualization (KVM)
  • Bare-metal ISO Installation
  • Centralized Web-based Management
  • Open Source
  • Backup – Restore – Live Migration
  • GPLv2 Licensing
  • Debian-based Host

Upgrading from Proxmox 1.1 to 1.2

If you downloaded and installed an earlier version of VE, like I did, there is a simple upgrade path for upgrading 1.1 to 1.2. To upgrade, login via SSH to the Proxmox host system as root and issue the following commands:

# wget http://pve.proxmox.com/debian/dists/lenny/pve-upgrade-1.1-to-1.2
# chmod +x pve-upgrade-1.1-to-1.2
# ./pve-upgrade-1.1-to-1.2

The upgrade process takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Once the upgrade is complete, you might want to run # ./pve-upgrade-1.1-to-1.2 --purge to remove all unnecessary packages. Reboot the system to enable the new kernel version.

Creating a Repository

Figure 1: The Main Proxmox Console
Figure 1: The Main Proxmox Console

Unless you want to boot from physical media (CD/DVD) for every new VM installation, you’ll need to create ISO and OpenVZ template repositories. The Proxmox web interface makes this very easy to do.

  1. From the main Proxmox console, shown in Figure 1, click the Appliance Templates link.
  2. From the Appliance Templates page, you create your ISO repository by uploading ISO images from your local computer.
  3. Uploaded ISO images appear in the Qemu/KVM Templates and ISO images list.
  4. To download ready-made OpenVZ templates from the Proxmox site, click the Download tab.
  5. From the list, shown in Figure 2, select a template.
  6. Click the Start Download link. The templates, once downloaded, will appear in the OpenVZ Templates list.

Figure 2: Appliance Templates
Figure 2: Appliance Templates

The populated repository, shown in Figure 3, is ready for use.

Figure 3: Populated Repository
Figure 3: Populated Repository

Working with Virtual Machines

Now that you have a working repository, you can create VMs without using physical media, although you still have that option.

Create a new OpenVZ VM

  1. From the main Proxmox console, shown in Figure 1, click the Virtual Machines link.
  2. Click the Create Tab.
  3. Select Container (OpenVZ) from the Type dropdown list.
  4. Select your VM template from the Template dropdown list.
  5. Enter a Hostname for the VM.
  6. Allocate Memory and Swap space to your new VM in MB.
  7. Enter a root password for the new VM and confirm it.
  8. Select the Network Type from the dropdown list
  9. Enter an IP Address (venet) or select an interface to bridge. Edit other network information as needed.
  10. Allocate Disk Space to your new VM in GB.
  11. Click Create.

Create a new KVM VM

  1. From the main Proxmox console, shown in Figure 1, click the Virtual Machines link.
  2. Click the Create Tab.
  3. Select Fully virtualized (KVM) from the Type dropdown list.
  4. Select your Installation Media from dropdown list (CDROM or ISO image).
  5. Enter a Hostname for the VM.
  6. Allocate Disk space (GB) and memory (GB) to your new VM.
  7. Select a Disk type from the pulldown (IDE, SCSI, VIRTIO).
  8. Enter a number of virtual CPUs.
  9. Select a Guest Type
  10. Select the Bridge type (Bridge or NAT)from the dropdown list.
  11. Select a Network Card from the pulldown list.
  12. Click Create.

Once you’ve created a new VM, select it from the Virtual Machines list and click the Start button. When the VM starts, a new link appears: Open VNC Console. Use this link to open a java console session to your new VM.

Proxmox is the easiest and quickest way to get started with OpenVZ and KVM virtualization. If you want something that just works, Proxmox is it. You’ll be able to leave your frustrations behind and dive right in to productive virtualized operating systems and services.

* A Forehead install is an installation that would proceed normally if you fell asleep and your forehead landed on the keyboard pressing a key.

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