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For learning purposes even a laptop or desktop with a minimum of 8GB of RAM (way better if you can get 12GB at least), 4 cores and a SSD drive would suffice to install OpenStack properly on VMs.

The way I usually have it is with 5 VMs if I want to test Swift or Ceph and just 2 VMs if all I need is to test OpenStack. The VMs can be installed on VMware Workstation or KVM with virt-manager (I haven't tried Virtual Box but probably would work too).

Basically I have 1 VM with nova controller, keystone, glance, cinder, horizon, mysql and rabbitmq and another VM for nova compute. Both VMs have 2GB of RAM and 2 vCPUs (I have just 8GB of RAM). Then, if I also want Ceph or Swift (I prefer Ceph), I set up 3 more VMs with just 1GB of RAM and 1 CPU each.

Intel or AMD CPUs will be fine, it's important to have the Intel VT or the AMD-V CPU flags (most current decent CPUs have them). When you configure the compute VM remember to expose the VT flag to your VM and that's all.

As for the disk, with VMs you have lots of flexibility as you set it up any way you want. For the Ceph or Swift VMs and for the Controller (which has Cinder in it in my setup) set up the VM with two disks and use the first for the OS (Ubuntu 12.04 is ideal) and the second one for the service in question (Ceph, Swift or Cinder).

With that you can boot an instance and even ssh into it. If after testing devstack you want to try something closer to what you would do in a real production environment I strongly recommend using Ubuntu 12.04 with the Ubuntu Cloud Archive repository.

I hope this helps.