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VMware 2.0: Virtually Magnificent - page 4

Two OSes, One Machine

  • April 10, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

Installation is a very straightforward process. VMware ships as a tarball or RPM. Should you need to install from the tarball, a Perl script is provided to install the binaries, documentation, and init scripts. The modifiable installation script is a nice touch, conferring a level of flexibility and control more experienced Linux users are going to expect.

Once the RPM is installed or the archive unpacked and installed, a second Perl script steps users through basic configuration, including establishing networking for the virtual machines, determining Samba configuration, and making sure the parallel-port support is properly enabled.

Once the general framework is established, a wizard is available to create a virtual machine on which the user can install a guest operating system. The wizard is as simple and straightforward as the install and configuration scripts, and it presents no real challenges.

Installing an OS
Once a virtual machine is created, the real "gee whiz" factor of VMware becomes apparent: starting the program and selecting a newly created virtual machine causes a window to open on the desktop with the black screen, BIOS version banner, POST results, and boot sequence of a typical Intel-based clone. Just like a clone, it won't find an operating system on its virtual disk and will promptly halt unless a bootable CD or floppy is available.

Windows 98 installed under the virtual machine without a hitch. We ran fdisk and reformatted the virtual hard drive, which was a little alarming at first. VMware is very responsive in full-screen mode, and it's easy to forget the simulated clone you're about to fdisk and format is just that: a simulation.

Speed of installation varied among the machines involved, with the low-end 266 taking well over an hour for the most stripped-down install we could force Windows to run. The higher-end Pentium III/500/128 handled the process much more quickly, moving about as fast as a slightly slower "real" machine. We probably slowed the process down a little by surfing with Netscape and generally enjoying our Linux desktop while Windows installed in its X window.

Once an operating system is installed, VMware provides VMwareTools, which installs from a floppy image within the virtual machine and further enhances VMware, providing SVGA video support, interface enhancements, the option to timesync with the host machine, and the ability to cut and paste between VMware windows and the host desktop.

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