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Managing VMs

VMs are often managed via network applications such as telnet, ssh, VNC for Linux or RDP (Remote Desktop) for Windows. With Virtualization Station, you can also run and manage multiple virtual machines via a browser. I found it quite efficient to have the QNAP QTS operating system running on one browser tab and an additional tab for each VM console.

The Virtualization Station browser interface provides options to view status, create, import and export Virtual Machines (VMs), adjust network settings, take VM snapshots, review log messages, edit preferences, perform account management and visit a VM marketplace. A console window is available for each VM by clicking a console icon.

I used IE11 and got the error message shown below when I started a browser window for VM console access. The message states Chrome, Firefox, and IE10 are the only supported browsers. Nevertheless, I used IE11 and had no issues with console access to multiple VMs.

Supported Browsers

Supported Browsers

The console window opens via a browser and gives you full KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) access to the OS. Below is a screenshot of the console window for the Linux VM...

Linux Console

Linux Console

...and a screenshot of the console window for the Windows 7 VM.

Windows Console

Windows Console

Storage

Running a VM on a NAS means the VM can have direct access to storage on the NAS. Virtual hard drives for the VMs in Virtualization Station are created on the NAS itself. Virtualization Station's default virtual hard drive uses a virtual IDE controller. But you can customize that hard drive and/or add additional storage for your VM using virtual SCSI, SATA, or VIRTIO controllers.

The VIRTIO controller provides higher disk I/O performance than the virtual IDE or SATA using a special driver included in Virtualization Station. Additionally, storage on the NAS can be accessed by the VM via iSCSI, which is a means of creating IP-based storage that appears as local storage on the VM. (QNAP has a nice tutorial on setting up iSCSI storage here.) Further, if the storage designated to a VM needs to be expanded, Virtualization Station allows for adding additional virtual drives to the VM.

I set up my Linux and Windows VMs with the default IDE controller. I also added a mapped network drive to access the NAS. Both worked well, although the mapped network drive is somewhat inefficient as reading and writing data to/from the VM and NAS entails going in and out two Ethernet interfaces on the same box.

KVM Access

A neat aspect of Virtualization Station is that you can use your VM like a physical PC with a physical keyboard, mouse and monitor. QNAP's QvPC technology enables direct access to a VM with USB keyboard, mouse and HDMI monitor. Physical ports on the TS-453 Pro include three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port.

To use a physical keyboard, mouse and monitor with a VM, you need to enable QNAP's HD (Hybrid Desk) Station application and the QVM application within HD Station. As with the Virtualization Station application, QTS does the hard work. All you do to install HD Station is find the application in the App center, select it and let it download and install. You also select which VMs can use the QVM application in the VM Preferences page, shown below.

QVM Options

QVM Options

With HD Station installed and QVM configured, I connected a USB keyboard and mouse, as well as an HDMI TV to the TS-453 Pro. I selected the input on my TV to the HDMI cable connected to the TS-453 Pro and was presented with a screen that allowed me to select from multiple QNAP applications. All of these options were manageable with my USB keyboard and mouse.

Once I selected a VM, the VM desktop was displayed on my HDMI monitor and was manageable with a USB keyboard and mouse. The only issue I had was screen resolution. My HDMI TV is 1920x1080 and the HD Station application resolution was set to 1920x1080, but the desktop image slightly exceeded the screen on my TV, making it difficult to click top corner window options as well as applications in the bottom desktop tray. Notice in the image below how the Windows start button is partly visible in the bottom left.

Screen resolution problems

Screen resolution problems

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