VMware Player Review – Virtualization that’s easy

VMware Player allows for the installation of a virtual machine onto your workstation.  This means of creating a second operating system within your operating system allows you to test or use an operating system of your choice.  The user-friendly interface is truly the easiest virtualization software there is.  Anyone wanting to try Windows 8 or any Linux distro can use this software to test operating systems.   VMWare Player can be downloaded here.

VMware Player is fully customizable and the wizard provides instructions that are well written and with easy to find settings.  Kudos to VMware for providing this excellent piece of software in an easy to use interface.

Remember, once you start the VM,  if you click the mouse in the window, it will take focus.  To release the mouse,  press Ctrl-Alt.

You must also remember to protect any OS in a VM.  (Antivirus information)

The first thing you will need is an .iso of your operating system of choice.

Win7iso

Above is the ISO for 32 bit Windows 7 with SP 1.

Next, install the VMWare Player.   The installation is straight forward and easy even for a novice.

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Now start the VMware Player by double clicking on the icon on your desktop.   In this scenario we created a new virtual machine.

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The New Virtual Machine Wizard walks you through step by step in setting up your operating system.

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The wizard will ask for a location of the ISO or you can install from your DVD drive.  Select the appropriate location at this time (below).

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Enter your product key and information if prompted to do so.  The Easy Install Information automates the installation process.  You can of course customize Windows and reset passwords, enable the Administrator account and change information once the operating system is installed.

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Once the wizard reaches the customization stages for your hard drive, you can adjust this to meet your needs.

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You can select the Customize Hardware button to adjust memory, processors and other hardware.   Remember to give your host machine plenty of memory.   Do not use more resources than you have.  This may cause lockups or other errors upon launching your OS.

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One of the best features is the Network Adapter Advanced Settings.  It allows you to bridge or NAT (Put your OS on a separate network – hidden from other computers on your network).  Bridging your network allows your virtual computer to be ‘seen’ by other computers as though it is a physical computer.   Because you are sharing a network card, you can limited the bandwidth (Inbound and Outbound traffic) of the virtual computer.

You can also generate a MAC address for the computer at this time.

The screenshot below (post install) shows the virtual computer when bridged (on the same network).

network

It is important to keep an eye on the resources of your host computer.  You can do this by using the Windows Task Manager.

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Once you finish, Windows will launch into setup mode.   You will see a message alerting you to other devices that can be used (Webcams and other devices) if they are available.

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As you can see from the screen shot below, the IP address is on the network with my other computers.  This allows the computer to share out documents and to utilize any device within the network.

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The VMware player tools provides drivers and other features.

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Installing the tools

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Once the tools are installed, a restart should be made to the operating system.

Remember the option to use other devices during the setup – items such as the Webcam?  Click on Player when the VM starts and you will see the other devices.

Extra Stuff

You should also run a side by side comparison on the Task Manager’s to ‘see’ how much resources you are using.   As you can see, the host (left) is maxing out the memory of the host computer.   The virtual computer is not utilizing all of the allocated memory.   Therefore the 2Gb of RAM allocated can be tweaked by decreasing the memory if performance is not an issue.

Side by Side comparisons of resources

Once the VM is shutdown, you can adjust the settings in the console.

VMWare Complete

With dozens of tweaks and configurations, one of the best is the defragment, expansion and compact option under the hard disk in the virtual machine settings. (Compact only sorts the graintables but has no effect on size – optimizing your vm)

hard drive utilities

Overall VMware’s Player is an excellent tool that can be used (non-commercially) by anyone wanting to experiment with or run other operating systems.  VMware Player is an excellent virtualization tool that allows users to install and test or run another operating system.   The performance is based on shared resources of the host computer.  The ease of setup is definitely a pro.  Users should make every effort to ensure they have adequate resources on the host computer and the maximum amount of memory and other resources can be dedicated to the virtual machine.

Linux Live USB Creator

Here’s an excellent review of Linux Live USB by Bill Mullins -

If you’re looking for a painless way to run Linux without having installed any one of 200+ distributions to your Hard Drive, or without having to boot from a Live CD, then open source Linux Live USB Creator could be the perfect tool. In a very simple process, Linux Live USB Creator will install any one of a huge range of Linux distributions to a USB drive.

VirtualBox Gadget to monitor your virtual machines

Need to monitor your virtualbox operating systems? vBox Gadget for Windows monitors the performance of each virtual machine.

         

VirtualBox is now Oracle VM VirtualBox

Hopefully Oracle leaves VirtualBox free for home users… well Oracle VM VirtualBox.

VirtualBox Version 3.2.0 is a major update and is available now. The following major new features were added:

  • Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle, the VirtualBox is now called Oracle VM VirtualBox and all references were changed without impacting compatibility.
  • Experimental support for Mac OS X guests
  • Memory ballooning to dynamically in- or decrease the amount of RAM used by a VM (64-bit hosts only) (see the manual for more information)
  • CPU hot-plugging for Linux (hot-add and hot-remove) and certain Windows guests (hot-add only) (see the manual for more information)
  • New Hypervisor features: with both VT-x/AMD-V on 64-bit hosts, using large pages can improve performance (see the manual for more information); also, on VT-x, unrestricted guest execution is now supported (if nested paging is enabled with VT-x, real mode and protected mode without paging code runs faster, which mainly speeds up guest OS booting)
  • Support for deleting snapshots while the VM is running
  • Support for multi-monitor guest setups in the GUI (see the manual for more information)
  • USB tablet/keyboard emulation for improved user experience if no Guest Additions are available
  • LsiLogic SAS controller emulation
  • RDP video acceleration
  • NAT engine configuration via API and VBoxManage
  • Guest Additions: added support for executing guest applications from the host system
  • OVF: enhanced OVF support with custom namespace to preserve settings that are not part of the base OVF standard

VirtualBox 3.0.0 Released – Supports up to 32 processors

With guest SMP with up to 32 virtual CPUs (VT-x and AMD-V only), VirtualBox 3.0.0 released earlier this week, produces more processing power than ever.  With this update alone, computers with dual or quad core processors makes Sun’s VirtualBox the most powerful virtualization software applications available.  With dozens of fixes and improvements, VirtualBox is an ideal software to host an additional operating system on a host computer.

CPUs

VirtualBox CPU support