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This question isnt about an urgent technical problem, rather Im seeking a discussion about system architecture with the hope of gaining some insight from those more experienced than me on the subject. I joined the world of linux a year ago, finally giving Windows the finger, running Ubuntu 12.04 on my laptop.

A month ago I set up a home server running Ubuntu Server 12.04 headless. The primary purpose is for serving media (samba server) but I am also running a torrent and web server on it amongst other things. It doesnt run 24-7, just when its needed. The server is connected to the home wireless network.

I also installed OpenELEC (lightweight linux distro for XBMC) on a RaspberryPi which serves as the media center for the living room TV. The Pi contains no media at all and is connected to the home server via ethernet, sharing the home servers internet/wlan connection through static routes and some UFW rules. The ethernet connection direct from the server ensures fast streaming of HD videos etc to the Pi.

Since the home server sits right next to the TV anyway, would it be better/more efficient to run the media center on Ubuntu Server in a VirtualBox VM? The home server has a decent graphics card that is going to waste (headless) and this method would mean OpenELEC is only running while the server is switched on, the rest of the time, its useless anyway.

Which way is more energy efficient? Moving the media centre to a VM on Ubuntu server would mean only 1 machine is running but the Pi uses very little power and the server load would increase running a VM. Also would this setup improve the media centers internet/home network connection, which doesnt seem to be great at the moment?

An alternative architecture is installing VMWare ESXi and running Ubuntu Server and OpenELEC as 2 different VMs with access to the disc drive partition that contains all of the media. At work Im currently moving some of our customers systems to the ESXi architecture and it seems nice and efficient and minimal but it seems to have a long boot time (at least the free version does) which means I would lose Ubuntu's ridiculously quick boot time. As its not running 24-7 maybe the power of ESXi is only realised on a commercial scale and isnt suitable for a home setup?

Look forward to your response.

Cheers, Clive

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If your file server is powerful enough just run any recent version of Ubuntu and install XBMC over the top and set it to start up when it automatically logs in. OpenElec while it is nice and lean it has zero to little ability for command line or background configuration (doesn't even have access to apt-get)

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Good point, OpenElec was a total bitch to configure. So you don't think XBMC is worth running on a dedicated OS in a VM or something? Currently the file system is on the same disc as the server OS but I'm thinking I should move it to a partitioned simple file system drive. I assume that's the most efficient file system, with samba server set up to share it across the network? It's decent at the moment we can be watching something on XBMC and copying/streaming music and videos on multiple devices connected in the network. –  user162390 May 30 '13 at 11:44
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