Suggestions needed for current hardware.
I have a few questions before I go ahead and try this, to see if it is ultimately feasible and would operate stable.
In a nut-shell:
I have fairly limited hardware options, but I do have a few options. I'd like to consolidate several machines into one physical machine, so I can reduce power consumption, and heat. And using free tools. As it stands right now, I have the following machines:
m0n0wall router (usually pfSense, plan to move back to it)
MS9377C, Intel Celeron 1.75Ghz, 128MB RAM (expandable - 3 slots)
Onboard LAN - comes up SiS 900 10/100BaseTX
2x belkin f5d5000 (Atheros 5212 is what mono says) 1-Internet connection (BSS) 2-HostAP mode for wife's lappy.
1x PCI linksys - comes up NatSemi DP8381 10/100BaseTX
Dell 2350 - Ubuntu - Zoneminder / Wife's animu download box (torrent) / Run squid here since using mono
Unknown mobo (Intel south-bridge), Intel 1.8GHz, 768MB ram (only 2 slots), 3 empty PCI slots
Main Computer: Win7, used for general stuff, and games.
Laptop - Wife's college computer, browsing around (facebook etc) and anime watching
I'm not 100% sure if Zoneminder can be stuffed into a VM and work well - especially using USB cameras, so it may end up having to stay on its own box. But, I would really like to reduce the number of machines here. If possible, reduce them to 1 box.
The sheer amount of computers sitting in this teeny space is ridiculous, and the heat they generate is enough that we didn't have to run the heat as much in the winter, but the summer… yuk. I think they raise the ambient temp in the room by around 10°.
What I'd like to know is if I can even RUN all this stuff in one box (maybe two), and what would be best to do it. The more I read, the more I want to try it. The most hefty thing on the 'utility' machines is probably Zoneminder, and that only when there is activity when there shouldn't be. So I'm thinking that I should be able to run these things together.
Problem I keep running into is that I keep reading that ESX (the best solution I'm seeing so far) requires a very limited set of specialty hardware. ESX 3.5 would be compatible with my 32-bit CPUs, but the rest... ouch.
A little more background: I can get Ubuntu working, I'm not scared of a CLI, but I tend to be a guide-reading, code-copy/pasting type. I can use linux, and get around with basic things, but I have issues with anything that isn't installable via aptitude. The general usability and lack of (good - aka X3, most new stuff) games is the only thing keeping me from ditching Microsoft completely. Win7 was a big dent, and so far I'm not super-impressed.
Not really any suggestions to help. But this site specialises in "white box" installations of ESXi, and may be able to help with your hardware.
You can boot ESXi off a USB stick, to confirm just what hardware it recognises, which is what I did, before biting the bullet.
ESXi 4.0U1 will run on an Intel i3 chip, and supports the ICH10 SATA controller. So the harware doesn't actually have to be all that expensive. Just don't try to run Matrix RAID :-) If you want reasonably-priced hardware RAID that VMWare ESXi supports, I think you're limited to 3Ware cards (formerly AMCC, recently bought by LSI, IIRC). Or go external iSCSI, the Iomega StorCenter ix line is VMWare-certified, and QNAP is a VMWare Partner member that self-certified I think. At the very least you could hang those NASes out the window from a sturdy Cat6 cable if you had to :-).
I just priced out a low-end VMWare box and I think it came to about $600 sourcing parts from NewEgg, et al.