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TF2 on VMWare ESXi with Gentoo Linux guest
Hello everyone,

First thanks to all the great resources I could find here setting up my first TF2 server.

I was reading a lot about bad performance on vmware and to avoid it. Unfortunately I have a box which needs to run vmware (theres a Solaris guest) and I wanted ESXI for better manageability (Dell Poweredge 1950 Server) .

I had the problems many people her described, especially really nasty lag spikes.
After compiling a bunch of Linux kernels and playing with the settings, I came to the following (intermediate) solution of getting the best out of the box than possible under this circumstances.

Guest OS is latest Gentoo Linux, 2.6 kernel. VMWare platform the latest ESXi. Hardware 2x Dual Core Xeons 3 GHz, 4 Gigs RAM. VMWare tools installed, but not the vmxnet driver - using e1000 network driver instead.

What I did to optimize things was:
1. Use a tickless kernel - this fixed a lot
2. Configure Kernel for low latency Desktop system
3. Assign the Guest dedicated CPUs to avoid vCPU switching
4. on the shell:
root@host# echo 0 > /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
"Swappiness" is the tendency of the kernel to swap out idle processes to disk. It can be between 0 and 100. 0 means the kernel will not or hardly ever attempt to put stuff on swap space.
5. Configured Kernel to use VMI extensions for better performance under VMWare
6. Installed VMWare tools (Of course a must on a Linux guest)

I hope I could help a bit with these hints - maybe others have more good ideas how to optimize a Linux guest on ESXi for srcds.
(Don't use VMWare Server or workstation for game servers).

If anyone wants to test the server:
Mapchanges take very long sometimes and its not perfect, but still enjoyable.
Server is sometimes down when I work on it, but should usually be on 24/7.

ADDENDUM: After removing MRTG, which was monitoring our CPU and traffic the server now is basically clean of lag spikes. It seems VMWare ESXi (as opposed to server and workstation) is capable of handling an srcds gameserver unlike it was told in many threads (mostly vmware GSX was adressed there though).
What we still miss to completely confirm it works well is a stress test with more players, like 24-32 or so. With 6 players the server was completely smooth. And running it at 33 ticks seems not to cause any problems or glitches at all.
I've been using Ubuntu Server 8.04 on VMWare ESXi to host CSS server without any problems. Thanks for the tips though!

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