Will the full build HL15 support running VMs out of the box?

As written in the title, will the full build HL15 shipped with Rocky Linux + Houston have the ability to run VMs out of the box, or does one need to install additional packages / modules ?

I have no knowledge of this, but I would believe they would not and are following best practices.

Usually, server installs only include minimum packages required. If someone was running a pure file server, they wouldn’t want VM software on it. You can easily add whatever packages you want.

how to install Virtualbox on Rocky: How to Install VirtualBox on Rocky Linux 8 (Step by Step)

If you are setting up rocky with a desktop environment you can add virt-manager: Rocky Linux 8 : KVM : Create Virtual Machine (GUI) : Server World

Specifically regarding Houston, I see no mention of a VM tab

I agree to the earlier response.

Each individual may have a preferred hypervisor.

Some platforms are shipped with their own ISO while other software can be installed via the package system.

Just because 45 drives ships Rocky it does not limit you. This is a DIY system. All the hardware have manuals available (to understand the motherboard chipset, etc). Weblink below

You can install anything you prefer. Xcp-by and proxmox have a dedicated ISO to configure everything. You can also install QEMU independently (or can server).

You can go the TrueNas scale route. This is the nice thing with the platform, you can choose the path you want to take.

45 Drives is offering their Houston system for you to add if you use a different distro.

For me: I will probably keep the NVMe that is shipped with the unit as a base testing platform, but use my own NVMe to try other distro/configures.

Feel free to ask more or share what you are (or have done).

45 Drives is offering their Houston system for you to add if you use a different distro.

Houston is currently tested and support on Rocky 8 and Ubuntu LTS 20.04. It is essentially an additional set of modules for Cockpit.

Cockpit however, will have a larger set of supported systems. This will let you manage a Linux server with a web based UI.

We’re not purchasing a complete all-in-one solution with the 45HL. Instead, we’re purchasing a chassis and backplane solution that is tailored towards consumer/enthusiast PC parts. There’s not may backplane systems out there that support standard ATX PSU/Mobo pinouts. So that’s the real value proposition.

Regardless of OP’s choice in OS/hypervisor, I’d implore them to familiarize themselves with the CLI of any solution they intend to employ. Your homelab is where you learn, and clicking through a GUI is not a consistent skill set. Anyone that has worked within Azure (ahem, Entra!) can attest, UI elements change faster than the weather.


In the past I had used the project “webmin” to manage the system.

I will be testing cockpit or becoming more familiar.

New info after scrolling through 45Drives blogs.

This actually looks like it has been done by 45Drives for other clients, Houston UI on top of Proxmox. Here is a demo they posted:

Although the prebuilt systems may not ship with this, it should be pretty straightforward to setup.
It’s basically Houston UI for storage management and Proxmox for VM’s.

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That looks sweet. Wish they would post a guide for how they set it up.

While I recognize that most of those who have purchased the HL15 are primarily buying it for the hardware, one of the objectives of the HL series as stated by 45drives is to make homelabbing easier / more accessible from a technical standpoint.

So if they are going to be shipping Rocky Linux + Houston , you have to compare it with the competition which primarily is TrueNAS, unRAID and Synology DSM. Each of those are storage first OSes with added capabilities to run apps/containers and virtual machines.

My understanding is that the full build HL15 will ship with podman installed for container management. It would be nice to have a “Virtual Machines” tab in Houston at some point in the near future for those who quickly just want to spin up a VM and for feature parity with the competition at a macro level.

Yeah running VMs on a NAS may not be best practice for a production environment , but this is a homelab device.

I plan on running unRAID on my Full Build, but on ZFS (probably). As of now, I’m running unRAID on my frankein-build CSE-836 since 5-6 years, and previously in a consumer-grade case. Since i got 10 x new 18TB drives, i’ll start fresh and move the data. I’m a total noob for ZFS, never used it.

Hi @hakunamatata ,

I’ve been digging through 45drives website some more. Under their “Solutions” section and choosing the “Houston UI” you can get to an interactive demo.

If you click the “45Drives system” in the left most gray column, it will show a sub column with a virtual drives category. ( the sub-columns are not interactive in the demo). Since Cockpit (Houston UI) is just a web interface and will create the command line arguments behind the scenes, I have changed my opinion to “yes” (You will be able to configure VM’s out of the box)

Maybe @Hutch-45Drives can confirm this for you.

Hi All, referencing @daemon1001 post. yes, there is a tool you can add to Houston which gives this VM UI. We do normally recommend using it, i don’t believe we have any of our enterprise customers using it because of the issues we have had with it in production environments.

We do not make or use that part of the UI it is a package that was added that we have since removed. If you wish to have a VM server for running VMs I would suggest using ProxMox and then adding Houston UI to Proxmox. this allows ProxMox the ability to run the VMs but also allows you the Houston UI for management purposes

That being said if you still wish to use the Virtual Machines tab you can use this redhat guide on how to install it and make a VM. This guide shows MDSDM, not ZFS pools just keep that in mind. https://www.redhat.com/sysadmin/manage-virtual-machines-cockpit