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Question about home virtualisation

Last response: in Windows 7
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November 29, 2010 10:36:37 AM

Hi guys,

Just wondering if someone could provide some information on whether the following configuration is actually possible or not, and if it is, what I software I would require to complete this task. (sorry if this is in the wrong section)

I would like to have the main computer that will run 3 virtual machines simultaneously and I would like to have 3 LCDs attached to this computer with each of the virtual machines displayed full screen on each computer. However I would like each of the LCDs placed in different rooms with their own separate keyboard and mouse,

one in the garage as a music jukebox,
one in the kitchen for email, music and news &
one in the outdoor entertainment area for music jukebox



The method I plan on extending the video signal to the screens is through VGA over Ethernet modules and the USB keyboard and mouse through network USB hubs (such as belkin device) and audio is split through the use of 3.5mm and adaptors.

The reason:
I would like to have a set up like this for numerous reasons:
1: Since this computer doubles as my file/print server, it will be on 24/7 meaning less power to have 1 machine on than 3
2: Since it is on 24/7 I could simply turn on my screen and voila no need to wait for a computer to start up
3: Being Virtual machines, should something go wrong, I can simply load a new VHD
4: By only having 1 machine, I can keep costs to a minimum by only needing to pay for VGA to ethernet modules and Network USB hubs

The problem:
1: I'm don't know to have it so that all instances of the virtual machines can be run at the same time so that one active window doesn't steal priority from another window (not sure if that part makes sense)
2: I'm not sure how to assign separate keyboards and mouse to each virtual machine

November 29, 2010 10:58:29 AM

Asmium said:

1: I'm don't know to have it so that all instances of the virtual machines can be run at the same time so that one active window doesn't steal priority from another window (not sure if that part makes sense)


Interesting setup! I do not know about the different keyboards to the different virtual machines, but for the controlling of processor power to VMs it will depend on which virtualization enginge you will be using?

If for example using Vmware Free Hypervisor there is very good ways to control resources between VMs.
a b $ Windows 7
November 29, 2010 11:09:35 AM

Bear in mind that the maximum length of a USB cable is 5m, so you'll need multiple hubs to span the distance. The maximum run you can get is 25m.

I have to say that this setup looks overcomplicated to me and I can't see it working smoothly. Personally I'd stick with individual computers.
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November 29, 2010 11:11:03 AM

Ijack said:
Bear in mind that the maximum length of a USB cable is 5m, so you'll need multiple hubs to span the distance. The maximum run you can get is 25m.

I have to say that this setup looks overcomplicated to me and I can't see it working smoothly. Personally I'd stick with individual computers.



That's correct and that's why I'm extending it through the use of Belkin Network USB hubs
November 29, 2010 11:14:28 AM

Ijack said:
Bear in mind that the maximum length of a USB cable is 5m, so you'll need multiple hubs to span the distance. The maximum run you can get is 25m.


One possibility could be to look at some thin client with a monitor and keyboard/mouse and running Remote Desktop in to the different virtual machines.
November 29, 2010 11:16:02 AM

ricno said:
One possibility could be to look at some thin client with a monitor and keyboard/mouse and running Remote Desktop in to the different virtual machines.


True but that would defeat my initial purpose of powersavings and instant on features of this configuration.
a b $ Windows 7
November 29, 2010 11:19:09 AM

That's the least of your worries. As far as I know there is no way that you can direct the input from several USB keyboards/mice to individual VMs. You need something akin to Terminal Services with thin clients for that sort of functionality.

Checking out the cost of VGA over ethernet modules, a pair of them (in this country at least) are going to cost more than a cheap PC!
November 29, 2010 11:20:22 AM

Asmium said:
True but that would defeat my initial purpose of powersavings and instant on features of this configuration.


I do not really know, but I would guess such a thin client would not take much power to run.
November 29, 2010 11:23:08 AM

Ijack said:
That's the least of your worries. As far as I know there is no way that you can direct the input from several USB keyboards/mice to individual VMs. You need something akin to Terminal Services with thin clients for that sort of functionality.

Checking out the cost of VGA over ethernet modules, a pair of them (in this country at least) are going to cost more than a cheap PC!


I'm in australia, and I've managed to pickup a few VGA to Cat5 for about $16AUD a pair.

and I've found that VirtualBox allows assigning individual USB devices to individual Virtual Machines
November 29, 2010 11:24:08 AM

ricno said:
I do not really know, but I would guess such a thin client would not take much power to run.


An individual thin client might not consume much power but 3 thin clients 24/7 (should i satisfy instant on requirement) might take um considerably more power
November 29, 2010 11:29:09 AM


If Virtual Box supports USB pass through have you tried starting a VM and then connecting one of the USB keyboards over the network and see if it is recognized?
a b $ Windows 7
November 29, 2010 11:30:38 AM

You only switch on thin clients when you need them. They start up almot instantaneously and have very low power consumption. Don't forget that you're going to need power for all those VGA over ethernet adaptors and USB hubs - could well total more than that required for a thin client (which you'd switch off when you're not using it).

I still think you're going for a complicated solution, but good luck with it.
November 29, 2010 11:31:11 AM

ricno said:
If Virtual Box supports USB pass through have you tried starting a VM and then connecting one of the USB keyboards over the network and see if it is recognized?


Haha yeah I plan on trying it out, but where I am It is 11:30pm so I'll try it out tomorrow, and let you know the outcomes tomorrow :) 
November 29, 2010 11:34:36 AM

Asmium said:
Haha yeah I plan on trying it out, but where I am It is 11:30pm so I'll try it out tomorrow, and let you know the outcomes tomorrow :) 


Really different time zones! Here in Scandinavia it is 02:30 PM, lots of snow and -12 C. Perhaps not in Australia? :) 

Try the USB and let us know if it worked.
November 30, 2010 6:11:29 AM

Just an update on how it's going:

I've solved both issues (maintaining focus of active windows) and USB attachment with virtual box which works extremely well.

Problem: I can't extend usb with my Belkin USB Network hub :(  It won't seem to work through usb hubs (also tried attaching keyboard and mouse through the USB hub on my logitech G19 with no success).

I've just ebayed some USB over ethernet adaptors ($8 a pair) to test if that will work.

BTW ricno, hahaha yeah that is a big difference to Australia where it is between 20-28 C :D 
!