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Which OS Makes the Best VMWare Host? 141

Posted by Cliff
from the better-than-a-multi-boot dept.
astrojetsonjr asks: "A few days ago, Trillian_1138 asked about running Linux on a laptop. Yagu started a thread suggesting the use of VMWare to allow running multiple flavors of Linux and Windows at the same time. Lots of readers then posted their success stories using VMWare . My primary machine is an IBM laptop and I'm getting ready to move to using VMWare to allow me run Linux, Solaris and Windows at the same time. First, what is the OS/distro with which you have had the best success hosting VMWare? Finally, what host OS install and setup tips do suggest?"
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Which OS Makes the Best VMWare Host?

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  • Priorities first. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ant P. (974313) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:04PM (#15373992) Homepage
    Pick whichever supports most of the physical hardware, since whatever it can't see the emulated OS can't either. If you're left with more than one choice there, narrow it down further depending on which matters to you more: speed, stability, security etc. Of course in a perfect world you wouldn't need to choose between those, but then you wouldn't need a virtual machine either.
    • In his case he's going to be pretty well covered with his IBM laptop, unless he's got one with the ATI video chipset, which is most of them. That's a bitch to get acceleration working in some, if not all, Linux distributions.

      On the other hand, I run Debian on my T30, no acceleration on the video at all. It used to be working just fine, but somewhere along the way it stopped working and I never noticed it. VMWare runs just fine on that laptop.
      • That's a bitch to get acceleration working in some, if not all, Linux distributions.
        No, getting 3d acceleration is quite easy.

        The problem is that the card and/or drivers are very finnicky, so it's hard to get 3d and suspend to work at the same time. Unfortunately, the workarounds provided in the Windows drivers don't work for Linux, and the vendors of Designed For Windows hardware refuse to give us Linux people any love.

        • While 3d acceleration works fine under linux how are you getting it working under VMware? If VMware supported 3d hardware I'd think about using for games that cedega doesn't support but currently they don't touch it with a 30ft pole. Even being able to switch control of the video card between the host/guest OS for full-screen support would be a step forward.
        • No, it is NOT easy. For example, did you know that the T30 ATI chip is NOT supported by name in the Linux kernel? You have to guess which on it really is. Then, after you've tried everything, you discover that there's a special patched hacked up driver just for that card. What a pain in the ass.

          On the other hand, getting everything working with the NVidia drivers was trivial. Even suspend.
          • Then, after you've tried everything, you discover that there's a special patched hacked up driver just for that card. What a pain in the ass.

            Do you have any more info? I'm afraid my google-fu isn't quite as good as I'd hoped.

      • Re:Priorities first. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Deorus (811828)
        > That's a bitch to get acceleration working in some, if not all, Linux distributions.

        All ATi chips before and including the r250 (ranging from the RADEON 7000 to the RADEON 9250) have open source drivers bundled with Xorg and the Linux kernel. All other ATi chips can be used with the binary drivers from ATi. The thinkpads I know have RADEON MOBILITY 7500 chips, so they are perfectly supported.

        > On the other hand, I run Debian on my T30, no acceleration on the video at all. It used to be working jus
        • No, it's not a good time to switch to Gentoo. Gentoo would have had the same problem, because in 1998 I doubt that Gentoo had a good ATI driver setup. It's time to get a proper installation of the ATI drivers. How about a decent driver.

          The driver's just fine. It's the installation that's a bitch. Pretty much your only tool is a HOWTO that's not entirely helpful when your working with an ATI laptop chip which identifies as two different (non-laptop) chips with different tools. And the only diagnostic is a si
    • I'm quite happy running Vmware on Ubuntu 5.10. My main goals were to get a certain Lexmark X125 printer/scanner to work properly and to access a remote network on a MS-only setup of VPN.

      The printer driver hangs all the time under native windows XP, and watching the same happening inside the virtual machine was the last drop. It was cool to see that printer working (sort of) under linux after my failed attempts to get it to work using the normal drivers. All that Ubuntu needs to do is detect that there is s

  • Which OS Makes the Best VMWare Host?

    Why do you want to run VMWare? I have used both VMWare and qemu (as well as Xen, but I don't think that will work if you are interested in running Windows), and have found qemu to be the superior of the two. Sure, there is no built in GUI, but there are external 3rd party GUIs available if you want. Seriously, qemu makes networking much easier thatn VMWare does. No need to mess with modules (unless you want the accelerator, which I recommend), no need for services or daemons running like with VMWare. Additionally, it is open source, which I consider a huge plus. You can also emulate other CPUs. Want to emulate a PowerPC so that you can test compiling your app on FreeBSD on a PowerPC processor? How about Sparc? The *only* way in which I would see VMWare as being superior is if you are using one of their server consolidation products (GSX or ESX, I think). For workstation-level stuff, qemu is the way to go.

    • Don't forget coLinux (Score:5, Informative)

      by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:18PM (#15374030)
      If Windows is the host, coLinux [colinux.org] is a worthy solution. It runs almost as fast as a native install. And you can download a preconfigured Debian or Gentoo root image from the website.

      Basically, it is a Linux kernel patched to run under Windows.
      • Is colinux still alive? It is far from a complete project, and has had only a single 0.0.X update in the last year.

        The project is cool, but doesn't work very well and seems quite stale.
        • by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:15PM (#15374172)
          The project is cool, but doesn't work very well and seems quite stale.

          Worked great last time I used it, although the configuration involved editing text files.

          The last release came out in February. That's recent enough to indicate that it's still being developed.
          • Worked great last time I used it, although the configuration involved editing text files.

            Yes: it's very tough to get up and running (I tried and gave up two or three times before I eventually got it all working to my satisfaction), but once everything's configured, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

            The last release came out in February. That's recent enough to indicate that it's still being developed.

            And the next release is imminent; version 0.6.4-pre2 was released for testing just five days ago. I'd
        • You're mistaken, it's coBSD that is dying...
        • Pragmatically, colinux hasn't needed any new updates. The only feature missing is native X support, and it has been taking a very long time to get that done. Colinux works fine for any non-gui purposes in it's current form.
    • Don't forget that now with Qemu 0.8.1 and the 1.3.x-pre acceleration module, kernel-mode acceleration of the target is also supported.
    • by inflex (123318) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @05:47AM (#15375155) Homepage Journal
      >>Why do you want to run VMWare? I have used both VMWare and qemu (as well as Xen, but I don't think that will work if you are interested in running Windows)

      What is it with people and their desire to try and disseminate your reason for having or wanting to, God forbid, purchased a software package. Mostly I hear it from people who -

      - don't use VM's for business work
      - don't like commercial software
      - don't understand that time == money
      - have more time on their hands than pending tasks

      It's one thing to not want to purchase software, fair enough - but let's not try and stone people.

      Fact is, vmware out of the "box" runs and runs very well. It's a dead simple system to use even with an unsupported distro like Slackware linux. It's $199 USD (for workstation) and the cost of the purchase is long forgotten after the ease of use has saved you many times more. There's a lot more "messing around" with other solutions. You can burn up $199 in wages in half a day.

      The difference between a functional package and a usable -and- functional package often isn't a lot but it's a small difference that a lot of people are more than happy to pay for.

      • Although I have licenses to VMware workstation, I've been using vmware server beta lately.

        VMware server beta is free. Plus it competes with M$ VirtualPC. VMware as a company seems to be pushing standardization in VMs.

        I got my VMware workstation license for free also, by going to some free seminar on vmware.
        • Actually VMWare Workstation is the direct competitor to VirtualPC while VMWare Server is the (mostly) direct competitor to M$ Virtual Server. Now a good question would be why VMWare Workstation 5.5 is still charged for while VMWare Server, a superior product for server consolidation work (ESX is still best there though). No idea on that since I've been testing for both companies in this space since forever for VMWare and for M$ since they entered the space.
      • Have you tried qemu?

        It's dead simple even on the command line. (I came in a bit later, before it was some odd interface).

        The GUI's available make it fairly easy as well...

        It really is fairly zippy...

        Unfortunately, some of us often have to justify a purchase for even 10 or so measly workstations. Do this enough and you will undoubtly run into more questions and reports.

        None the less, I've been fairly happy with qemu and I'll probably continue to use it. (That said I probably will look into how vmware is doin
        • Another reason to use VMWare is that I can move the images from my workstation to the server. It's really nice to prototype the next server on my desktop and iron out the bugs while it's under my control, then I upload the files to the server team and they deploy it. We COULD do the same thing with QEMU, but they aren't going to run QEMU on their IBM zSeries boxes, they have ESX and contracts, and SLAs to adhere to.

          That being said, I've used QEMU and VMWare myself. I find VMWare to be faster, and even the w
    • I use both Qemu and VMWare extensivley, but what are you smoking to think that networking is easier in Qemu? No offence. With VMWare, you select a network type (bridged/nat/host only) and from then on it just works. I've spent many days messing around trying to get Qemu's networking to work with no success (Linux host os). I do like Qemu, it works great for testing.

      Have you found a tutorial for networking in Qemu that actually works or is up to date?
  • Windows is probably the best host for workstation, mostly because the current state of video drivers makes windows better for any app that needs graphical output. I haven't run GSX/server, but given my experience with ESX I would assume that linux is superior for those kinds of workloads.
    • I'm not sure how the state of video drivers affects VMWare sessions. 3D graphics under VM sessions are all software-rendered anyway, so 3D should be very close on either platform, and the 2D graphics drivers for all but the VERY latest cards are nice and accelerated under X.

      http://ftp.x.org/pub/X11R6.8.0/doc/radeon.4.html [x.org]

      I use a RADEON 9200 here at home because I use 3D in Linux and I don't want to use the binary-only driver, but at work I have an X600, which has perfectly good 2D, but only software 3D. I d
  • Under Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yhetti (57297) <(ten.xivehs) (ta) (ittehy)> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:15PM (#15374022)
    I've been using VMWare Workstation and GSX (now just "Server") very successfully under Linux. I have two virtualized Linux and three virtualized 2003 Server instances on a 2x Opteron 240. It works wonderfully.

    However, to be honest, on a laptop it likely makes more sense to run the host as WinXP. With Linux hosting and XP in Vmware, you don't get hardware graphics acceleration (perhaps in either OS.) Linux and laptops are still not there yet, so you may as well use XP as the host OS and get full hardware support.
    • Actually, I've never had any problems with Linux on any of the laptops I've used. Although then again, my new laptop was made around 1998... either way, I've used both VMware and QEMU on various different machines of mine, and have had no problem with either running under Linux on a P233/96MB Latitude CP. Don't use it very often on the laptop, of course, but it is useful if I want to play with something like OpenBSD and don't have a spare system to try it "natively" on.

      And if your laptop's a more modern o
    • I've been running various incarnations of SuSE for the last two years on a T42 without any issues. The only hardware not supported is the Winmodem (and I'm reasonably confident I could get it working if I felt like devoting some time to it). I have VMWare Workstation running with two different XPPro guests and a Slowaris for Intel guest as well.

      Your point about framebuffer acceleration under Windows is well taken. However, the only thing I really need the XP VM for is IE...some wag built the corporate

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have a Linux desktop machine that runs Vmware workstation, and basically nothing else (the window manager is TWM, pretty minimal). I run several FreeBSD and Linux VMs so that I can do development.

    I've never used it under XP, and never on a laptop, but you might want to consider that with Linux you can tune everything (filesystems, kernel, etc), remove stuff you don't use (printer daemon, etc), etc.
  • VMWare ESX (Score:4, Informative)

    by danpat (119101) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:25PM (#15374046) Homepage
    VMWare ESX runs without an underlying OS (it provides one of its own). It might be overkill for your needs though....

    http://www.vmware.com/products/esx/ [vmware.com]
    • Re:VMWare ESX (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OiBoy (22100) <caleb&webninja,com> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:13PM (#15374169) Homepage
      And would be absolutely useless on a laptop since ESX requires SCSI.
    • The underlying OS just happens to be Linux. I think it is Red Hat 7.x or something like that.
      • Re:VMWare ESX (Score:3, Informative)

        by swmccracken (106576)
        Does ESX Server Run on Linux? On Windows?
        ESX Server runs natively on server hardware, without a host operating system. The ESX Server virtualization layer is a highly compact and efficient operating system kernel entirely developed by VMware for optimum virtual machine performance. This allows ESX Server to fully manage the hardware resources and provide the highest levels of security and performance isolation. ESX Server also incorporates a service console based on a Linux 2.4 kernel that is used to boot t
        • ESX Server also incorporates a service console based on a Linux 2.4 kernel that is used to boot the ESX Server virtualization layer.

          I'm reasonably sure this is marketing-speak for "ESX server is an application that runs on the Linux OS". Would it really be reasonable for VMWare to deal with all the low-level hardware driver crud when there's Linux right there?

          • Nope (Score:3, Insightful)

            by blueZ3 (744446)
            ESX is an OS in itself, not derived from Linux. However, ESX includes a "Linux-compatibility layer" that provides compatibility with Linux on some level (drivers, for instance). The console OS is a linux derivative I believe, but the COS is just an interface to the ESX Server OS.
            • Definitely. ESX may look like Red Hat when you're installing it, but when the service console fires up the VMKernel it is entirely separate from the console OS. The hardware supported by ESX is very limited as well so it's best to plan the purchase of it along with new hardware. We've had excellent results with IBM servers for instance since they're partners. Of course, you're going to pay a premium for the hardware, but consolidating 20-30 servers onto one quad processor server box is much nicer than h
          • No; ESX has its own kernel and is its own OS. The official name of the OS is VMNX or something like that. The service console that is based on RedHat runs the same as other guest OS's however it has escalated privileges with respect to what it is allowed to see and do to the running ESX kernel. If it were the case that Linux was actually providing the hardware support you'd be able to run ESX on a whole lot more than you currently can!
    • And would be useless because ESX includes no way to get to your virtual hosts on the local console.
  • So obvious (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Either BeOS or AmigaOS...
  • It depends... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 222 (551054) * <<stormseeker> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:29PM (#15374058) Homepage
    I've run GSX Server on both Win2k3 64-bit and Suse Enterprise 64-bit, and neither one really presented any issues. The linux configuration is slightly more complicated, but its nothing to really shake a stick at.

    The core issue is which OS are you more familiar with? If that isn't an issue, then there are some benefits to the *nix side of things.

    It's possible to get a linux install down to 200~ megs while only using 64 megs of system memory, which is a strong advantage. If I understand correctly ESX Server is essentially a very very thin linux distro. That should say something ;)

    I've also read of a perl script that can make hot backups of a Virtual Machine; while this is possible under Windows using commercial products, it's another thing to be taken into consideration.

    Hope this helps ;)
    • You are correct about ESX essentially being a very stripped down RedHat install. It has some stringent hardware requirements, however (SCSI, limited NIC support, requires 2 physical cores minimum), so not really good for the consumer market. I know ESX comes with a pl script called VMSnap, which performs a hot backup to a remote linux host (or anything that understands scp, really). I wodner if the same script can be hacked to work with GSX.

      Which reminds me, is there any specialty linux distro in the works
      • There is a thread above this one that explains this as well but I'll reiterate.

        ESX is not a linux distribution. ESX is its own kernel (VMkernel) that uses the ESX Service Console as a glorified boot loader. Once the VMkernel is loaded it takes over the hardware and turns the Service Console install into a semi-virtualized Linux install. What ESX does have is a Linux like environment to manage it and interact with it.
  • On my laptop.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trelane (16124) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:33PM (#15374071) Journal
    I run Linux, and have VMware around for the (thankfully very very few) times I need to run Windows. With attached storage, I'm thinking about also doing a SuSE image, to help walk my parents through how to do things on their computers.

    So, as a Linux user, I run Linux as the host, and Windows XP & 98 as the guests.

    That's my situation anyway. Things work fine on my laptop under Linux, and I hope my next laptop will be even better (since I'll be ditching ATI on the laptop for Intel (and a linux pre-install, which should give the "works with linux" guarantee even if I don't keep the original install around (plus, I get to give a distro money!)), which will likely make things even easier.)

    • I should also mention that I had great success with vmware workstation 5.5 running through at least one, if not several suspend-resume cycles. It was without the ATI driver (fglrx) in the kernel, and as is well-known, all bets are off when ati starts mucking about in your kernel. It just kept going like nothing had happened.
    • So, as a Linux user, I run Linux as the host, and Windows XP & 98 as the guests.

      That, it seems to me, is key: if possible, make the host OS the one you are most comforable or happy using, and the one where you're likely to do the most diverse set of random, general purpose computing tasks. If you love windows and resent having to use linux, pick a windows host. If you love linux, pick a linux host.

      As a linux nut who both dislikes and is almost completely inept at using the windows interface, the choi

  • by CFD339 (795926) <andrewp.thenorth@com> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:41PM (#15374099) Homepage Journal
    VMWARE on Win32 will only be as stable as Win32 of course. So from that perspective, most people here would agree that Linux makes a better host.

    On the other hand, if you're running a laptop or have some high end video or hard disk that requires drivers not available for linux, you may find your performance better under Windows (again, depending on many things, like how you configure vmware and its use of hardware).

    There's no perfect answer to your question. My plans for new LAPTOPS will be to run the native drivers with Win32 as the host. Custom build desktops, however, I may well run the opposite way.
    • > VMWARE on Win32 will only be as stable as Win32 of course.

      The days of 'unstable Win32' died with Win9x and ME... 2000 and XP on supported hardware is just as stable as any other OS. Linux fans who claim otherwise (usually on the basis that they saw a friend's Windows system crash) have about as much credibility as the idiots who reflexively claim all kernel panics to be 'linux bugs'.

      • Yes windows stability has improved over the years, but it asks you to reboot for the most trivial changes. What a crock.
      • XP is stable in the absence of external factors. Yes, it doesn't randomly blue screen most of the time now.

        HOWEVER...if you start actually using it day to day, you become vulnerable to many 0-day exploits (see the recent Word/rootkit issue) and so in practice you can end up with many problems through no fault of your own. If you think this isn't an issue for you, please note the many infections that have occured through non-obvious vectors (viewing .jpg and .wmf files, playing a Sony audio CD, installing
        • Most Windows users (especially those doing anything serious) on their machines know the security landscape and have taken steps to mitigate the problem with a defense in depth strategy (including, importantly, not running as admin). As for zero-day exploits, I'd love to know how anything is immune to specially crafted/0-day attacks.

          Also, if someone demanding 'reliability' is going to view jpg and wmf files -- as a privileged user -- and listen to CDs with Autoplay=on (which was how the Sony rootkit spread),
      • IME, Windows is NOT as stable as Linux. XP is probably good enough (unlike Win9X, which crashed everytime I burped), but I have had it hang, though not often.
  • Linux and XFS (Score:4, Informative)

    by jtatum (164201) * on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:44PM (#15374104)
    I've run Workstation and GSX (Server) on Windows and Linux. The best performance by far was Linux with XFS. Ext3 does not cut it (regardless of writeback option used). XFS support is a little tricky to find in VMWare supported distros. For less critical servers, I prefer Centos 4 with the Centosplus kernel (see the Readme [centos.org]). Centos isn't supported by VMWare but Red Hat is.

    VMWare Server supports Ubuntu as a host. It's a little easier to setup XFS and VMWare on Ubuntu. VMWare server claims experimental support for Ubuntu Dapper. I am running it on two servers for testing and it is performing very well. As Ubuntu gains popularity, the choice may be clearer. For right now, Google University has more help for VMWare on Red Hat^W^WCentos than Ubuntu.

    If your system is AMD64/EM64T, you may be tempted to load a 64-bit OS. Resist the temptation. VMWare now claims official support for x64 host operating systems, but in practice these are more trouble to get working than they are worth (MUI, authentication, and even stability can be problematic IMO). With hardware that supports 64-bit virtualization (many new Pentiums and Opterons), 64-bit guests can be run on both 32- and 64-bit hosts. Determining whether your CPU supports it is so difficult, VMWare made a tool to do it for you called the processor check utility. (It's about halfway down this page [vmware.com].) Down the road when 4GB+ is standard on laptops, VMWare's x64 support will probably be a lot better.
    • Re:Linux and XFS (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trelane (16124)
      a word of warning about xfs: make sure you can always shutdown cleanly, or data loss and/or filesystem corruption can easily result. With that caveat in mind, however, XFS totally rocks.
      • Re:Linux and XFS (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fimbulvetr (598306) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @11:23PM (#15374196)
        Which is exactly why I quit using XFS. For production systems that reboot semi-often and cleanly, XFS is good. When XFS is up for quite some time (On 2.4.x at least, it can tend to get messy after 1yr+ of uptime with heavy writes. Eventually you'll have to umount and do an xfs repair just to get it back to normal.) it's not too good.

        Even worse story for crashes. I've had to go to backup many times because a heavily used system locks up and XFS gets into it's unable to find superblocks or another one of it's infamous cryptic, non documented bugs/errors. I don't recall ever having to do this on a ext3 system unless the disk went bad or it crashed multiple times without a fsck.

        That said, XFS is an excellent choice is some areas, such as realtime (soft guarentee) systems, etc.
        • --Suggest you try JFS instead. I switched all my big Reiserfs partitions over to JFS and haven't had a problem; except that sometimes you need a (very) quick fsck before mount. YMMV.
          • I had tried xfs and jfs back a few years ago (when I first got this notebook), but they both ate my filesystems for lunch. So for notebook systems, I now am pretty dedicated to ext3.

            That said, both jfs and xfs are pretty comparable, save for xfs's storing data in the directory inodes, which can be a good space-saver.

            • xfs's storing data in the directory inodes That *should* read: "xfs's storing small files in the directory indoes

              Looking at my mailserver [maildir], I'm pretty sure this is saving me quite a bit of space.

      • Apparently that is not really true anymore with the 2.6.x kernel, whereas XFS was a little flaky with the 2.4.x kernels. I had several ex-SGI employees on the local LUG link to a ream of data showing that the flakiness has been fixed for the 2.6 kernel series. I had thus switched my ReiserFS 3.6 partitions to XFS and they benchmarked a little better and I've had zero problems with them even after a bunch of unclean umounts due to playing with laptop suspend/resume.
        • I can testify that XFS on my Debian Sarge kernel (2.6.8?) overwrote my mozilla bookmarks file with NULs when my computer crashed and had to be rebooted. Let's hope that never happens to the important files.

    • Good suggestions, btw. :)

      I use the latest VMWare on the latest Dapper release from Ubuntu and have XFS for the filesystem. No issues at all, the install just has to compile a custom kernel module so you have to make sure you have gcc, make, and kernel headers. Otherwise, works great!
    • --I've had good results speedwise with JFS filesystems, even after a crash. I'm a reiserfs fan for the small file tail-packing feature (makes it good for root filesystem and Squid cache) but speedwise, JFS is much better - especially for Writes.

      --For a drop-in vmware solution, I'd recommend Ubuntu. Vmware has precompiled kernel modules for it; and it's debian-derived, which means all the apt-get goodness.
  • by ID10T5 (797857) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:47PM (#15374113)
    Having run VMware (I'm assuming workstation) on both Windows and Linux hosts, I have seen plusses on both.

    VMware needs kernel hooks to provide its virtualization services. Under Linux, there are only a few supported Linux distros (and specific versions at that) that have pre-built modules installed as part of VMware. I run my personal VMware on an FC5 Linux host, and had to download an unsupported "patch" (from one of the VMware developers -- not even hosted on the VMware web site) to allow the vmware-config.pl script to build the necessary modules for my specific kernel. Every time I upgrade kernels, I must then rebuild the modules to get VMware working again. Also, under FC5 with SELinux enabled, I had to manually change the context of one of the VMware files after install before SELinux would even allow VMware to run. Under Windows, all of the above "just works".

    Under Linux, I get better performance when running multiple VM's at the same time. I have had three 384MB VM's running at the same time, and because of memory management under Linux I only saw an increase of approximately 600MB vs. not running the VM's (no swap increase either). I also have better I/O performance as well. When installing the 3 VM's above, I had the CD's mapped to ISO files on the same disk that my VMware files were being created on. During the install, my load average was constantly around 15 and my system was definitely slower, but it was still functional. I have brought a Windows host (with enough memory to host both VM's fully in RAM -- no swapping) to its knees trying to install just 2 VM's simultaneously in the same way (ISO files on the same disk as the VMware files). It was so unresponsive, it took almost 5 minutes to bring up Task Manager to see what was going wrong -- and Task Manager didn't really show me what was wrong, just that the CPU was pegged and the VMware processes were doing all the work.

  • Emacs! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    determining which OS is best to run emacs in is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • I've enjoyed using VMware at home and the office. I haven't had a chance to try Xen or qemu. Briefly, here's my experience:

    At the office, I work with 5 quad processor (dell) servers with Gentoo Linux as the host running VMware GSX and 1 running VMware Workstation -- all guests are Windows 2k or 2k3. At home, I run VMware Player on Kubuntu, and VMware Server on a W2k3 server and a Gentoo server -- some guests are Windows, some are Linux.

    Usually everything works great. The Linux host systems seem mo

  • It's a personal opinion, of course. But I think Parallels Workstation is going to be a major plus. It is available for more than Mac too, by the way. Currently, I'm running VirtualPC 6 on a 1.25 Ghz G4 eMac. So maybe I'm not the best person to ask, I think I might be a little biased.
  • The latest release 0.8.1 of QEMU (along with 1.3.0 of KQEMU) achieves a surprisingly fast and stable emulation for a free (as in beer) tool.

    You can save yourself the money and just use QEMU. It emulates a PC just fine and can run most anything as a guest. I use it for a Windows guest so I can write my book. Granted my workstation is a "bit" high end, but when I full screen it, it's just like running a real Windows box (shudder).

    Trick is to make sure the KQEMU accelerator is loaded and running correctly.
  • Debian (Score:3, Informative)

    by metamatic (202216) on Sunday May 21, 2006 @01:15AM (#15374534) Homepage Journal
    VMware Workstation runs nicely under Debian Testing, with ReiserFS filesystem.
    • I have to use VMWare Workstation on my machine at work. I run Debian testing, and must disagree with the parent poster.

      Unfortunately, the VMWare propritary kernel modules don't come with binary version prebuilt for Debian kernel. Ok, fair enough, there are installation scripts that build them for you. But they don't work with the Debian kernel versions either.

      The vmware-any-any patch [ftp.cvut.cz] helps a lot. This gets you working kernel modules. But I still have weird problems. If I shutdown my machine, vmwa

      • Huh? I've had absolutely no problems with the regular VMware build scripts, and I run the standard Debian 2.6.15 kernel.
  • Regardless of what you use for the host, when you run Linux as a client there are a couple of things to be aware of. First, include AMD ethernet and Buslogic SCSI drivers in your kernel. Second, if you're running a 2.6 kernel, they'll eat a lot of extra CPU when idle unless you redefine HZ and recompile the kernel.

    The VMWare web site has info on this and on fixing other clock problems: http://www.vmware.com/support/kb/enduser/std_adp.p hp?p_faqid=1420 [vmware.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just to share some experience. I have just bought a new computer but with no floppy drive (to save money). Therefore, I could not load the SATA driver during windows install from floppy and could not install Windows XP.

    After struggled for 1 week (trying to rebuild the windows install CD to include the driver, etc), I installed VMWare Server in linux, installed XP in a virtual machine directly accessing the harddisk, installed the SATA driver and eventually got a working windows which boot from BIOS.

    http://f [mocasting.com]
  • VMWare was originally designed to run under linux, and there are still some advantages to running it this way:

    If a usb device has no driver under linux then it can be passed straight through and driven by an os running under vmware (you have to unload native linux drivers for any device you want passed to vmware), the windows version works differently in that you must have a native driver installed before you can pass a device to vmware. This issue has manifested itself many times when we've been at customer sites and presented with a random usb device (usb to serial adapters mainly) for which windows requires extra drivers (and linux includes drivers in the default kernel).

    Performance - networking runs much faster when vmware is running atop linux, this is especially important for me as i`m often doing pentesting which involves lots of network scanning...

    Security - you can nat your windows images behind your base linux install, your base linux can have everything turned off to minimise the chances of it being exploited (windows will often not let you turn some services off)

    And finally, try vmware server as opposed to workstation, you can run it headless and only attach a gui when you want one..
  • The real trick to any virtualization is how you utilize
    your processor, gobs and memory and fast storage.

    In VMware
    ---
    Under Linux you would go to Edit -> Preferences -> Memory (tab)
    and choose Fit all virtual machine memory into reserved host ram.

    this will greatly boost speeds as nothing is swapped to disk

    ---
    to speed up your resuming of virtual machines you would go to
    Edit -> preferences -> priority (tab) and uncheck Take
    and restore snapshots in the background.

    this one is significant for those vm i
  • by d3matt (864260)
    I have one bone to pick with VmWare right now (I'm running Workstation 5.5 on top of Fedora Core 5). Whenever a virtual machine hangs (a la windows), it hangs the vmware process; thus you cannot totally kill the vmware process. Not sure if it is the same in windows, but I would be surprised if it was any better. So my beef is: why can a virtual environment kill the host environment?
  • For work I had an IBM T41 laptop with 2GB ram. It ran XP.
    On it I ran 2 virtual machines, one with a full blown oracle installation on Linux running a 10GB database. The second VM was running W2K with apache/tomcat/jboss. I used this machine to teach loadtesting classes with this as the web/database server taking the load and it performed spectacularly.

    At home I moved off of XP because I got tired of having to call Microsoft for reactivation keys and started running Linux. Whe
    • I work for Big Blue and have a T41 Thinkpad as my primary workstation. It's loaded with 2GB RAM and runs the standard OpenClient build, based on RHEL 3 Workstation.

      Because I use a couple of apps that only run on M$IE, I loaded VMWare WS 5.5 and setup an XP guest...never saw ANY discernible performance impact. Later on, we solved the app dependency using the native Linux Citrix ICA client, but I still use VM for demos and training modules. This past week, we held a 3-day product training session that u
      • Here are two examples with empirical data to support them. Either the T41 is an extremely exceptional machine (It is nice, but I wouldn't go that far) or VMWare runs on both operating systems with what could be called "acceptable" results.
        To get more accurate information you would have to look for (or perform) some well designed and run benchmarks. Determine which is your prefered Operating System. Also, find out if there are any functional limitations to VMWare on either of these platforms
  • I tried VMware on Windows and i wasn't impressed with the speed Ubuntu ran on it, as well as the lack of graphics acceleration.

    I was wondering if there are any solutions that let you switch quickly between OSs without all the overhead, sort of like hibernating one OS and dehibernating another?
  • I don't know how this was missed, but VMware GSX has been free for a few months now, to compete with MS virtual server. Havn't tried qemu or xen yet, but VMware runs rings around MS virtual server disk I/O wise (that and it runs on Linux)

    Just when I was running out of rackspace! (and electrical outlets)

    http://www.vmware.com/products/gsx/ [vmware.com]
    • Actually an earlier poster also brought it up and, again, actually VMWare Server (nee GSX) went free first and M$ freed their a few months later in response. I have both here and while VMWare Server is still not operating at its full potential (debug code and other issues due to it still being in beta), I agree with you about the comparison between the two products. I much prefer the VMWare product as compared to Virtual Server Release 2.
  • Ask VMWare. They sold you the software in the first place, they should support it. Slashdot is not your I.T. department.
  • My experience using VMWare for a test platform showed that is better to not use your primary PC. Use another computer and install VNC on the virtual machines in VMWare. Then your primary PC can access them remotely. Install lots of RAM too.
    Note: this was for J2EE developemnt.

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