Proxmox vs Roll your own with KVM on Ubuntu


I was interested in moving away from Xenserver and making use of ZFS on the host rather than the VM. I use the VM’s in production at a very small business and am unable to justify the cost of a paid subscription for both proxmox and the backup solution. I am a little worried about the reliability of updates without the enterprise subscription and am used to a bit more freedom in general.

What are the pro and con’s/your personal preference?

Thanks very much,

I recently made the move from Ubuntu + KVM + LXC + ZFS to Proxmox and am glad I made the switch. I’ve never used Xenserver so I can’t compare to that.

The biggest benefit is getting a web UI for all containers and VMs. While I’m happy with the CLI myself, for a home lab situation it’s nice that my wife can more easily get in if needed. For myself, I’ll say having automatic setup of a web-VNC console for VMs is great because I can use those on my iPad without any extra setup. Before, I was using X11 forwarding to my laptop.

I also appreciate that the Proxmox team pays very close attention to the kernel and ZFS itself. They’ve actually created an entirely new boot loader which works wonderfully compared to grub.

Not using Ubuntu also means I can avoid snap for lxc, which was kind of a pain.

Since you have Xenserver already, you can always spin up both Proxmox and Ubuntu in a VM and try them out.

proxmox VE Helper-Scripts | Scripts for Streamlining Your Homelab with Proxmox VE is great to disable the web UI nag screen about subscribing.

Their support forums are top-notch as well:

Personally, I wish they had a cheaper option than 150 EUR / year to support the project.

I use Proxmox both at home and at work and run the no-subscription repos on both. The updates have been very reliable. I started using it at version 4, I think, and I don’t recall any problems that weren’t of my own making.

They have very good documentation and a relatively active community that makes answering questions pretty straight forward.

In the pros column, I’d put the easy access to ZFS, a sensible web-UI that’s pretty easy to use, simple clustering multiple nodes, good cli and api tooling for automation and scripting, LXC is wonderful and gets first-class treatment.

It’s just a tweaked Debian, so there aren’t many cons. PVE has opinions about certain things that aren’t right for everyone. One common one that comes up here is using zvols with too low a default volblocksize for KVM disks. You set this value when you create the storage pool in PVE and you can have multiple storage pools pointing at the same dataset or directory, so you can set different volblocksize values for each, if you like. There isn’t any real secret sauce to Proxmox. Anything it can do, you can do with pretty much the same exact tools. You’d obviously have much more freedom of choice by rolling your own, but you’d have to do all of that yourself.