Softpanorama

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

A slightly skeptical view on VMware

VMware Cost Efficiency Problem

News

See Also

Recommended Links

Tutorials

Precooked Images/Appliances

FAQ

Selected Papers

Manpages

Reference

Etc

VMware was the first stable virtualization for Windows on Intel architecture, but now Xen is also adequate, and it is much better for Linux VMs. As of 2012, all three top hypervisors (Xen, vSphere, HyperV) are OK and compete on price/performance ration. I've found for Linux VMs VMware is at best an adequate product and is obscenely priced, so in the end enterprise software houses will adapt as they did to a landscape that shifted away from closed source *nix solutions like SCO AIX and HP-UX to Linux and Solaris (while it was open).  Redhat is preferable as client OS largely because its market share. It looks like only enterprises with IT brass that has more money than technical knowledge standardize on VMware.

All VMware lovers (and there are a lot of them as VMware is by design  "VM for dummies" ;-) should understand once and forever: if the cost of virtualization solution matches or exceeds the cost of hardware server  this is not a solution for commercial environment as reliability of VMware is les then "native" OS running on "native" hardware and efficiency is just a fraction of it. Also VMware does not support paravirtualization with the exception of special 32 bit version of SLES, for which you need to pay extra. Absence of paravirtualization support dooms it from poor technical standpoint for anybody who ever programmed in assembler.

VMware is facing a serious market-place squeeze: it simply can't compete on price with other solutions and is no so much better as for stability and speed (actually paravirtualization is much better for Linux than full virtualization that VMware implements). Outside of a few neat-but-not-necessarily-used features, virtualization technology is being commoditized pretty aggressively. VMware still the best "virtualization for dummies" but enterprises that have a few good specialists in hose it is simply not cost effective. Having specialists is much better solution than paying the exorbitant license fees. Microsoft is essentially offering 'Buy Windows Server, get Hyper-V for free*', which is a pretty attractive offer for those  who aren't going to go for Xen.

Unless VMware discounts their licenses their high volume customers aren't likely to stick with them, and having strong enterprise support and brand recognition isn't exactly going to save them from Microsoft (who actually has a better brand recognition).

According to Wikipedia

In 1998, VMware was founded by Diane Greene, Mendel Rosenblum, Scott Devine, Edward Wang, and Edouard Bugnion. Rosenblum and Greene, who are married, first met while at Berkeley.[5] Edouard Bugnion remained the chief architect and CTO of VMware until 2005,[6] and went on to found Nuova Systems (now part of Cisco).

The company has its headquarters in Palo Alto, California, United States, and established an R&D Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as one at the Time Warner Center in New York City, in 2005. VMware software runs on Windows and on Linux, and made its debut on Mac OS X in December, 2006. Their customers include all 100 of the Fortune 100 companies[citation needed].

VMware delivered its first product, VMware Workstation, in 1999[7] and entered the server market in 2001 with VMware GSX Server (hosted) and VMware ESX Server (hostless). In 2003 VMware launched VMware Virtual Center, the VMotion and Virtual SMP technology. 64-bit support appeared in 2004. The company was also acquired by EMC Corporation that same year.

In August 2007, EMC Corporation released 10% of the company's shares in VMware in an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock debuted at 29 USD per share and closed the day at 51 USD.[8]

On July 8, 2008, VMware co-founder, president and CEO Diane Greene was unexpectedly fired by the VMware Board of Directors and replaced by Paul Maritz, a retired 14-year Microsoft veteran who was heading EMC's cloud computing business unit.[9] In the same news release VMware stated that 2008 revenue growth will be "modestly below the previous guidance of 50% growth over 2007." As a result, market price of VMware dropped nearly 25%. Then on September 10, 2008, Rosenblum, the company's chief scientist, resigned from VMware.

On September 16, 2008, VMware announced that they are collaborating with Cisco to provide joint data center solutions. One of the first results of this is the Cisco Nexus 1000V, a distributed virtual software switch that will be an integrated option in the VMware infrastructure.[10]

VMware acquired Tungsten Graphics, a company with core expertise in 3D graphics driver development on November 26, 2008.[11]

On August 10, 2009, VMware announced the acquisition of SpringSource, a leader in enterprise and web application development and management.[12]

Core product design

VMware software provides a completely virtualized set of hardware to the guest operating system.[13] VMware software virtualizes the hardware for a video adapter, a network adapter, and hard disk adapters. The host provides pass-through drivers for guest USB, serial, and parallel devices. In this way, VMware virtual machines become highly portable between computers, because every host looks nearly identical to the guest. In practice, a system administrator can pause operations on a virtual machine guest, move or copy that guest to another physical computer, and there resume execution exactly at the point of suspension. Alternately, for enterprise servers, a feature called VMotion allows the migration of operational guest virtual machines between similar but separate hardware hosts sharing the same storage. Each of these transitions is completely transparent to any users on the virtual machine at the time it is being migrated.

VMware Workstation, Server, and ESX take a more optimized path to running target operating systems on the host than emulators (such as Bochs) which simulate the function of each CPU instruction on the target machine one-by-one, or dynamic recompilation which compiles blocks of machine-instructions the first time they execute, and then uses the translated code directly when the code runs subsequently. (Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac OS X takes this approach.) VMware software does not emulate an instruction set for different hardware not physically present. This significantly boosts performance,[14] but can cause problems when moving virtual machine guests between hardware hosts using different instruction-sets (such as found in 64-bit Intel and AMD CPUs), or between hardware hosts with a differing number of CPUs. Stopping the virtual-machine guest before moving it to a different CPU type generally causes no issues.

VMware's products use the CPU to run code directly whenever possible (as, for example, when running user-mode and virtual 8086 mode code on x86). When direct execution cannot operate, such as with kernel-level and real-mode code, VMware products re-write the code dynamically, a process VMware calls "binary translation" or BT. The translated code gets stored in spare memory, typically at the end of the address space, which segmentation mechanisms can protect and make invisible. For these reasons, VMware operates dramatically faster than emulators, running at more than 80% of the speed that the virtual guest operating-system would run directly on the same hardware. VMware claims an overhead as small as 3% to 6% for computationally-intensive applications.

VMware's approach avoids some of the difficulties of virtualization on x86-based platforms. Virtual machines may deal with offending instructions by replacing them, or by simply running kernel-code in user-mode. Replacing instructions runs the risk that the code may fail to find the expected content if it reads itself; one cannot protect code against reading while allowing normal execution, and replacing in-place becomes complicated. Running the code unmodified in user-mode will also fail, as most instructions which just read the machine-state do not cause an exception and will betray the real state of the program, and certain instructions silently change behavior in user-mode. One must always rewrite; performing a simulation of the current program counter in the original location when necessary and (notably) remapping hardware code breakpoints.

Although VMware virtual machines run in user-mode, VMware Workstation itself requires the installation of various drivers in the host operating-system, notably to dynamically switch the GDT and the IDT tables.

The VMware product line can also run different operating systems on a dual-boot system simultaneously by booting one partition natively while using the other as a guest within VMware Workstation.

The industry consensus is that VMware's solution is overpriced. Hogwash like  VM statements:

Horschman countered the 'high pricing' claim saying "Virtualization customers should focus on cost per VM more than upfront license costs when choosing a hypervisor. VMware Infrastructure's exclusive ability to overcommit memory gives it an advantage in cost per VM the others can't match." And he adds, "Our rivals are simply trying to compensate for limitations in their products with realistic pricing."

should be ignored. No matter how much you can share the memory (and overcommitment is just a new term for what IBM VM did since 1972), you can't bypass the limitation of a single channel from CPU to memory. The more guests are running the more this channel is stressed.

But even assuming the same efficiency as multiple standalone 1U servers VMware  is not cost efficient unless you can squeeze more then four guests per server. The following table demonstrate that cost efficiency at less then four guest per physical server is just non-existent. You need at least eight guest to achieve the same cost efficiency as four Xen servers running two guests each (Novell does not charge for additional guests on the same physical server). 

  Cost of the server Number of physical servers Number of  guests Cost of SAN cards (Qlogic) Cost of SAN storage Server maintenance (annual) VM license VM Maintenance (annual) OS maintenance (annual) Five years total cost of ownership Annualized cost per one guest or physical server Cost efficiency of one guest vs.  one 1U server (annualized)
VMware solution                        
Running 2 guests 7 1 2 0.00 0.00 0.42 5 1.4 0.35 25.02 12.51 -3.24
Running 4 guests 10 1 4 4.00 3.00 0.42 5 1.4 0.35 38.52 9.63 -0.36
Running 8 guests 20 1 8 4.00 6.00 0.42 5 1.4 0.35 58.52 7.32 3.13
                       
Xen solution                        
Running 2 guests 7 1 2 0.00 0.00 0.42 0 0 0.35 13.02 6.51 2.76
Running 4 guests 10 1 4 4.00 3.00 0.42 0 1.3 0.35 33.02 8.26 1.02
                       
Physical servers                        
two 1U servers 5 2 0 0.00 0.00 0.42 0 0 0.35 18.54 9.27 0.00
four 1U servers 5 4 0 0.00 0.00 0.42 0 0 0.35 37.08 9.27 0.00

Notes

  1. Even assuming the same efficiency, there is no cost savings running 4 or less guests per VMware server.
  2. Cost of blades is slightly higher then 1U servers due to the cost of the enclosure but can be assumed equal for simplicity
  3. We assume that in case of two instances no SAN is needed/used (internal drives are used for each guest)
  4. We assume that in case of 4 guests or more, SAN cards and SAN storage is used
  5. We assume that in case of 4 or more guests Oracle virtual VM is used (which has maintenance fees)
  6. For simplicity the cost of SAN storage is assumed to be fixed cost $3K per 1T per 5 years (includes SAN unit amortization, maintenance and switches, excludes SAN cards in the server itself)

Performance on high loads is not impressive as it should be for non-paravirtualized hypervisor. Here is a more realistic assessment from a rival Xen camp:

 Simon Crosby, CTO of the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix Systems, writes on his blog: "The bottom line: VMware's 'ROI analysis' offers neither an ROI comparison nor any analysis. But it does offer valuable insight into the mindset of a company that will fight tooth and nail to maintain VI3 sales at the expense of a properly thought through solution that meets end user requirements. The very fact that the VMware EULA still forbids Citrix or Microsoft or anyone in the Xen community from publishing performance comparisons against ESX is further testimony to VMware's deepest fear, that customers will become smarter about their choices, and begin to really question ROI."

VMware workstation provides additional flexibility for corporate IT guess. It can run Linux as guest and for most practical uses the efficiency is OK.

But VM server is a different story. For running Linux guests it is a really overpriced solution, unless they are mostly circulating air and you can squeeze more then four guests on a single VMware server (that means they should have very modest I/O ).  Five year total ownership cost of VMware is $11K ($5K for hypervisor + 5* $1.2 annual maintenance fee). And $11K using Dell prices as of June 2011 allow you to buy additional three Intel servers with quad-core CPU and 16G of RAM. Two questions arise:

I think that the answer to both question is no. So it's unclear what we are gaining is comparison with  alternatives.

For running Linux guests it is a really overpriced solution, unless they are mostly circulating air and you can squeeze more then four guests on a single VMware server (that means they should have very modest I/O ).

Also stability suffers just because of overcomplexity of environment and that makes advantages such as ability to move application from one server to another less attractive. BTW they understand themselves that pricewise they painted themselves into a corner and it is only matter of time for their competitors to match or exceed their capabilities at lower price. See vi_pricing3 for actual retail prices.

VMware is "heavyweight" virtual machine "built" on the underlying layer of hardware and the existing operating system. The virtual machine runs on top of the existing OS and provide emulated "virtual machine devices" that might be radically different from the underling hardware.  The great advantage of this is that you gat standard  virtualized hardware. The disadvantage is pretty heavy performance penalty in case of large discrepancies (especially in video drivers). 

VMware was the first successful product that abstracted the Intel X86 hardware layer to the extent possible for creating VMware images for different OSes running on Intel hardware as well as OSes with certain applications preinstalled (virtual appliances). The latter completely redefined the concept of the demo as many applications now became too complex to install and demo disks mostly ends in the dust bin without any real chance to be used even once.

As a side note one of the biggest mistakes on Sun's brass was that they failed to buy VMware and were unable to capitalize on the pact with Microsoft: Microsoft Virtual server does not support Solaris. VMware workstation 6 has support for Solaris 10.

What is interesting is that VMware was shockingly inept in promoting 'virtual appliances" theme. Contribution to their site are not well checked.  High quality examples from VMware itself are missing in action.  Relying on P2P network for downloading is a little bit amateurish: corporation that charges serious money for its server products can probably fund a decent server for downloading (checked) appliances.  Much smaller companies can do this.


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Mar 26, 2013] PayPal To Replace VMware With OpenStack - Slashdot

My God $1K for live migration for server: I would buy a good server for those money ;-)

mysidia

Re:VMware for free

No live migration, no centralized management, none of the features the competitors offer for free.

Live migration is not free, but it is cheap -- less than $1000 bucks per server for a standard license. Central management of Hyper-V requires systemcenter virtual machine manager which is not free.

At sufficient scale, the VMware licensing costs are almost non-consequential. For purchasing VMware to be the better choice, it is not necessary that the license have a lower cost. The ROI needs to be higher. As long as VMware can offer a higher ROI, through functionality, and advanced features, or through greater consolidation ratios (lower cost per virtualized application in a cloud; more workloads per server, less electricity or hardware cost per workload on average), then the organizations who can justify the use of those features will save more money by buying VMware's products and have lower costs than if they used a competitor's product with a lower per-unit license charge.

Competitors' products don't offer free comparable enterprise-quality equivalents to Transparent page sharing (TPS)/Transparent memory compression (memory overcommit), the Cisco Nexus1000V distributed virtual switch, CPU Memory HotPlugging, Virtual Serial Port concentrator, Host Profiles, Resource Pools/Distributed Resource Management, Distributed Power Management, Storage I/O Control, Vmware APIs for Array Integration, vShield Endpoint, vShield App, vShield Edge, vCloud Network and Security (VXLAN), etc.

The competitors' total available functionality is more limited.

mysidia

Re:VMware for free

They don't restrict you from using vHpervisor in a commercial capacity. However, you are not allowed rent out virtual machines, or host virtual machines commercially for third parties on a free ESXi (Nor are you allowed to do so with commercially purchased vSphere licenses; you can only legally sell or rent the usage of VMs on VMware software through their service provider program, where you are required to install a usage monitor, and you pay by powered on reserved virtual RAM per Gigabyte-Hour on a monthly basis.).

Jeremiah Cornelius

Re:Lesson: Licensing costs suck (Score:5, Interesting)

This story from Gigaom is a little more tempered than the article on Businessinsider. It quotes the Paypal director, saying they will continue to use VMware - if you read right through to the end of it.

http://gigaom.com/2013/03/25/mirantis-open-sources-its-openstack-cloud-management-tools/ [gigaom.com]

This, in any case, is not a "tipping-point" indicator.

With or without Mirantis or Fuel, Openstack is a tool kit for building your own CloudOS. Unless you can make a business based on the internal IP generated, there's no win here for most enterprise shops.

Amazon did this sucessfully - getting value from reselling access to raw infrastructure, based on development created for internal needs.

Yahoo failed at this, after more than a decade optimising their own OS layer for internet scale-out. They would have been better served to eliminate their OS engineering unit, buying common OTS Linux/Windows.

PayPal are somewhere between these poles. Having been on their own linux-based, scale-out physical architecture for more than a decade, they are well-positioned to derive value from Openstack. If you were Williams-Sonoma or Chevron? They do not want or need to become an OS developer/integrator.

BitZtream:

Good Riddens (Score:5, Insightful)

Theres something wrong with VMware that makes it think it can charge more for virtualization software than the hardware it is replacing. They need their asses handed to them for a few years to put them back in their place.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Riddens

The last CEO made structural changes to enhance profitability yet sacrificed the long term health of the company. For 5 years of "work" cashed in $60 million in stock grants in 3 days (Nov 2012) and was getting a $1.5M USD salary with cash bonuses.

The failed "new" licensing scheme that they tried to push thru in 2011 backfired because it was seen for what it really was, a cash grab.

The company has become extremely bureaucratic and has lost it's innovative edge. In essence it had become Microsoft. I guess that is what you get when you hire alot of management staff & executives from Microsoft.

They are responsible for their own shortcomings and present/future predicaments.

girlinatrainingbra

Re: Even for nonprofits

Being a non-profit or "not for profit" corporation does not mean that the employees and board members work for a pittance. Take a look at the salaries for Goodwill and the Red Cross and United Way in the San Diego area. Each chair makes more than $300,000.00 per year, sometimes substantially more when you include their "car allowance" and "living allowance" and "competitive allowance". A lot of their other employees are also extremely well paid. So there's no need to worry about "non-profit" behemoths like these not getting any sort of serious discount.

anne on E. mouse cow

Re: Even for nonprofits (Score:5, Informative)

Each chair makes more than $300,000.00 per year

Absolutely disgusting, taking peoples charitable donations and living like lords.

I decided to check your facts, the president of red cross US gets $1million a year!! Some people have no shame.

tlhIngan:

Re:Good Riddens

Theres something wrong with VMware that makes it think it can charge more for virtualization software than the hardware it is replacing. They need their asses handed to them for a few years to put them back in their place.

It's name. VMWare was the first to virtualize the x86, and thus people bought into them by name alone. Sort of like how people used to buy IBM, or Microsoft. Now they buy VMWare.

And I know many a sysadmin who for their home system, refuse to run anything but the home versions of VMWare (notably on Mac, VMWare Fusion). They wouldn't even consider Parallels (nevermind VirtualBox).

VMWare has name recognition primarily. You'll never go wrong buying VMWare. Hyper-V is only done because it's Microsoft.

[Mar 13, 2013] Virtualization Gains Popularity Despite Problems

I like the slide with the legend:
"88% of CIOs say that are most likely to experience problems with data backup and recovery when using virtual servers. Another 87% of respondents report cost problems. "
I see VMware cost as a problem applicable to us. In other words my impression is that cost effectiveness of Linux virtual servers on VMware is somewhat problematic.
VMware is a very expensive software (both in initial cost and in maintenance cost) and unless you run 4-5 Linux images per physical server I think all your "savings" goes directly to VMware pocket. But even a very small Linux image (my DNS servers or Sitescope) seriously tax VMware performance wise so whether this is possible without jumping too high hardware-wise (of course you can buy DL580 and run 4 Linux images on it but it will be $30K initial investment) remain to be seen. If you can't run 4 images on regular blade on a regular two socket 1 or 2U server I would say that this article rings true.
My impression is that VMware cost of ownership alone for five years is probably equal to the cost of the hardware for a blade and is higher then the cost of equivalent 1U server. It's use in large enterprise is another variation of "IBM is a safe bet" approach when management goes for it because "nobody was fired for buying IBM".
I also suspect that Linux virtual server consumes more resources on VMware then Windows image. My two tiny John Hilgart servers that are running on VMware consume quite a bit of resources despite the fact that they are doing almost nothing (one is caching DNS server (all database is in memory, so no IO), the other is Sitescope which is a web application that telnet/ssh to servers and get some primitive information from them displaying the results in a Web interface.
I think Google-style approach when either blades and 1U servers are user with no SAN is cheaper and easier for us to administer and troubleshoot ("devil you know" factor).
Another important factor is that VMware is a black box. So if you have a networking problem or other problem you do not know at which layer it occurred. And as we do not know VMware our troubleshooting skills are by-and-large useless.
So far reliability has been good, so from this point it is OK. But if particular instance of VMware is running say 3 servers and is down all three servers are down and you need to restore images to a new VMware instance. I doubt that it is easier then from one blade to another identical blade or one 1U server to another.
There is one area where VMware (and alternatives like Xen) shine and where new functionality can't be replicated using Google approach with it stress on army of identical "native hardware" servers be it blades or cheap 1U servers: software appliances. The idea that you can create something that can run on any VMware or XEN box and maintain is a disk image, not real server. That simplifies upgrades (you can copy image, perform upgrades and then just replace the image; if you fail you just discard their results and run old image). This is an area where enteprises probably should do some experimentation.

VMware KB Enabling VMI with SLES10 SP2 32bit virtual machines on ESX

Note: VMI can only be enabled on the 32bit version of SLES10 SP2. To enable VMI, the virtual machine must have an Internet connection to Novell's software update servers.

[Jun 05, 2011] VMware Communities Support VMI Paravirtualization - not...

Jul 17, 2008

Re: Support VMI Paravirtualization - not working on RC1 azmir wrote:Ed, Just specific Linux distros - I believe just Ubuntu 7.10 and 8.04 support paravirt. None of the Windows OS are supported

Yep, Ubuntu 7.10, and 8.04, and SLES10 SP2 (i.e. SuSE Enterprise Linux 10 SP2). All 32-bit only. Turns out there's no point for VMI for 64-bit Linux guests since it doesn't provide much of a performance boost due to a fortunate confluence of factors.

[Jun 05, 2011] Suse Linux kernel patch boosts VMWare efficiency

The first working release is SLES 11 SP1. They change $600 per year just for patches. See VMware Online Store - Buy VMware SUSE Support, Linux Phone Support

Suse Linux kernel patch boosts VMWare efficiency Novell offers better interoperablity for virtual machines By John Fontana | Published: 10:17 GMT, 17 June 08

Related Content News Acer to cut 300 jobs in European operation Google claims phishers stole emails from politicians, activist Oracle gives Apache the OpenOffice.org codebase Features How is your ERP? Channelling the White Stuff Barclays partners with IBM for private cloud project Opinion and Debate CIO view: Is the cloud just marketing hype? The emperor's new clothes and other stories Cutting through the cloud The missing link in data quality Novell has released updates to its Suse Linux kernel designed to make the operating system more efficient when running on top of VMware environments.

The upgrade to the Suse Linux Enterprise kernel lets it take advantage of paravirtualisation techniques so it runs more efficiently as a guest operating system.

Novell has built in support for VMware's Virtual Machine Interface (VMI). "The patch to the kernel provides increased performance and better interoperability," said Carlos Montero-Luque, vice president of product management for open platform solutions at Novell.

The kernel patch is available in Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 Service Pack 2, which can be downloaded.

In a paravirtualised environment the guest operating system is modified to work more closely with the underlying hardware and not just with the virtualised environment. It is one of a handful of variants for designing virtual machine environments.

In order to take advantage of paravirtualisation, however, an operating system must be specifically ported to run on top of a host system. Novell and VMware have been working on the Suse upgrades for the past nine months.

Novell also has a kernel patch to support paravirtualisation of SLES on the Xen hypervisor that SLES uses when it is serving as a host environment.

Login | Register Subscribe to our newslettersRegistration is free, and gives you full access to our extensive white paper library, case studies & analysis, downloads & speciality areas, and more.Sign up to our newsletters and get up to date articles directly to your inbox. Get the latest, breaking IT news, our most read articles, expert insight and latest white papers. In addition, Novell has been working with Microsoft in a lab the two opened last September to ensure SLES runs in a paravirtualised mode on top of Windows Hyper-V, which is slated to ship later this summer. The two are also ensuring Windows Server 2008 runs in enlightened mode on top of Novell's Xen hypervisor. Enlightened mode is a Microsoft technology that allows the server to recognise when it is running on top of a hypervisor and then automatically take different avenues to access memory management and IO.

"Regardless of the different environments - VMware or Hyper-V - we want SLES to be the best supported, best performing guest operating system," Montero-Luque says."We expect to see mixed environments in the future for a number of reasons and interoperability has been a key part of our strategy."

 

[May 20, 2011] SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 for VMware

In other words standard distribution SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 includes VMware friendly kernel and the installer is able to recognize the installation under VMware and use this kernel.
NOVELL

IMPORTANT: SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 for VMware is intended for use by customers running VMware vSphere and its subscriptions and support are sold only by VMware and its partners.
For more information visit
http://www.vmware.com/go/slesforvmware.

If you have obtained a subscription for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell, that subscription does not provide the right to use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware, nor does it provide access to patches, maintenance, or support for SLES for VMware.

If you are a Novell customer, please download the standard SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 from http://download.novell.com.

VMware goes open source with desktop virtualization release - Network World

VMware has released open source desktop virtualization software designed to let its business partners optimize thin clients for the delivery of personalized virtual desktops.

VMware View Open Client, available for download on the Google Code site since Monday night, helps further VMware’s strategy both for desktop virtualization and open source. VMware CEO Paul Maritz said last September that the company had considered open sourcing ESX, its server hypervisor and flagship product.

This week’s news doesn’t go that far, but it does introduce an open source component into what is expected to be a fast growing market for virtual desktops. VMware cited Gartner research that predicts 50 million user licenses for hosted virtual desktops will be purchased by 2013.

“We are sharing our source code in VMware View Open Client so vendors can easily optimize devices to create the best virtual desktop solutions,” VMware desktop vice president Jocelyn Goldfein says in a news release. “This … brings us closer to our Universal Client vision, where users can securely and efficiently access rich personalized desktop environments, from any device at any time.”

Related Content
View more related contentView all related articles

The open source software is complementary to the commercial product VMware View, and will let partners optimize thin clients and other devices for that product, the company said.

VMware View Open Client lets Linux machines connect to remote Windows desktops, but the project Web site says those Windows desktops must be virtualized with the commercial version of VMware View.

Open Client features include two factor authentication and the ability to create a secure tunnel using SSL. The initial release does not support multiple desktop sessions. The open source software is compatible with VMware Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM) 2.0, 2.1, and VMware View Manager 3.0.

[Mar 20, 2008] Everyone chimes in on VMware memory overcommitment and ROI by David Marshall

Other things equal Solaris zones are a better deal that virtual machines that VMware provides but in general in many cases both are redundant and just reflect laziness of putting several applications on a single server (or more correctly fears that application will not play nicely with each other). "Memory commitment is little more than a Virtual Memory Manager that the hosted OS's use, except done in a Virtual Machine and having VM awareness."

Everyone chimes in on VMware memory overcommitment and ROI

These past few days, we've seen some back and forth postings taking place on various corporate blogs around the topics of virtualization ROI and a unique feature found in VMware ESX Server called memory overcommitment.

VMware's Eric Horschman posted an interesting blog post on VMware's Virtual Reality Blog site answering remarks made by many in the industry that VMware's solution is overpriced. Many have said that with companies giving away platforms built on top of Xen, and Microsoft planning on charging $28 for their yet to be released Hyper-V hypervisor, it seems as though VMware's price tag could be a little steep and might have to come down to a price that is more "reasonable".

Horschman countered the 'high pricing' claim saying "Virtualization customers should focus on cost per VM more than upfront license costs when choosing a hypervisor. VMware Infrastructure's exclusive ability to overcommit memory gives it an advantage in cost per VM the others can't match." And he adds, "Our rivals are simply trying to compensate for limitations in their products with realistic pricing."

To back his claims up, Horschman lays out an elaborate presentation and example of how to calculate this cost per VM, and attempts to show readers how a free hypervisor ends up costing more money per VM than that of the more expensive ESX Server product because of the memory overcommitment feature currently exclusive to VMware.

Roger Klorese, Senior Director on the Product Marketing team for Citrix XenServer, answers Horschman's post with a blog posting of his own. As a side note, in addition to now working at Citrix on the XenServer product, Klorese was, in another life, an early member of the VMware family and so he draws on some of his past experience with the ESX Server product.

"The test he uses to support the claim is very impressive - if what you want to do is to power on virtual machines. If you're going to look at their screensavers all day while you do your work with a pencil and paper and abacus, power-on statistics are meaningful. And the moment you power on is the time you get the most out of page-sharing: nearly all pages are either operating system and services code pages (which are identical from guest to guest in many cases) or all-zero (which are all initially mapped to the same physical page)."

He continues, "What do you think happens when those pages start to un-share, as people start doing real work? How big do you need to expand those balloons, and how much do you have to starve those guests, to keep your 5:1 memory allocation? And if you can't balloon 5:1, how much do you further degrade it when you start using the hypervisor swap file?"

Simon Crosby, CTO of the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix Systems, writes on his blog: "The bottom line: VMware's 'ROI analysis' offers neither an ROI comparison nor any analysis. But it does offer valuable insight into the mindset of a company that will fight tooth and nail to maintain VI3 sales at the expense of a properly thought through solution that meets end user requirements. The very fact that the VMware EULA still forbids Citrix or Microsoft or anyone in the Xen community from publishing performance comparisons against ESX is further testimony to VMware's deepest fear, that customers will become smarter about their choices, and begin to really question ROI."

Citrix wasn't alone in answering Horschman's blog post. Microsoft blogger James O'Neill didn't agree with the numbers either. On his blog, he wrote, "They were able to start 40 instances of Windows XP to achieve the 40 VMs, with 512MB of memory on a machine with only 4GB of RAM - a 5 times over commitment ratio. Of course they didn't actually run anything in them, because if you and I fired up Outlook, and IE (with our own mail boxes and choice of pages) you open word and I open PowerPoint very few memory pages will be sharable (I've got 47 pages open in IE right now, and it's using over 300MB of RAM, almost all for data). That means a lot of paging will have to happen in the virtualization stack. Brace yourself for really poor performance."

Where to begin? All of these blogs are starting to get wonderful responses. And the battle over memory overcommitment and product pricing continues.

What's interesting to note is that it sounds like Citrix may already have the memory overcommitment capability in the Xen product. But they haven't gone further down that road because of performance issues. Microsoft is also supposedly planning on adding this very feature into the next version of Hyper-V according to a recent interview done with Bob Muglia.

All of this discussion around memory ballooning, paging and memory overcommitment made me remember something I heard in a break-out session back at VMworld 2006. The memory overcommitment feature was described to me as an automobile airbag. It's one of those features you are glad to have in case of an emergency, but you certainly don't use it on an everyday basis.

From the responses that many of these blog postings are receiving, it sounds like a mix bag review of the feature. Some say it works great for them in their environment - and they do get a bump in consolidation densities. Others are saying that it drags down performance of their virtual machines. Again, sounds like a case by case issue. And the battle... er, discussion, rages on.

===

Memory commitment is little more than a Virtual Memory Manager that the hosted OS's use, except done in a Virtual Machine and having VM awareness.

Anyone who knows anything about Virtual Memory knows that it's a technical kluge. You want it because it allows the system to run in situations where, without it, the system could not run at all. You can elaborate on that by saying that machine performance is allowed to degrade in a stepwise fashion, as memory is overcommited, rather than halting abruptly.

None of this addresses the fact that Virtual Machines, as a method of server consolidation, invited the hardware inefficiencies of partitioned memory in the first place. Why was this acceptable? Because it was better than having one full physical computer per application!

One application per logical computer--since when was this a good idea? It mainly comes about because customers don't believe that applications can play nice together, on a single OS instance. Address that and you obviate much of the need for Virtual Machines.

Posted by: Brian at March 20, 2008 06:22 PM

===

Memory overcommit can be very helpful in many situations. Particularly when you have a mix of VMs where some are active at one given time while others are idle. We mix VDI and production where our VDI is used heavily at night and production heavy during the day. It affords us some awesome use of the memory management that VMware offers.

And of course Citrix and Microsoft are going to bash VMware. It is in their nature. Personally, the Citrix folks should worry less about what VMware is doing and do a better job of catching up. Like having multiple VLANs per NIC and NIC teaming. How can someone think of virtualization and NOT have NIC teaming and VLANs??????

Posted by: Steve H at March 21, 2008 09:25 AM

===

I don't know if Citrix and Microsoft really think that memory overcommitment isn't important. In fact, as I said, I believe this capability exists in Citrix, and Microsoft is working toward supporting it in the next version of Hyper-V. The argument may be centered more about the claims that VMware's employee was making.

I agree, memory overcommitment is useful. However, my own personal experiences haven't proven to me that on every use case, every scenario, this is the right thing to do. If you have a server of virtual machines that are all clones from a single template image, this probably does wonders. If you have servers filled with virtual machines that are very different from one another... then maybe not so much. And for the many implementations that are somewhere between these two extremes, it really is case by case whether the performance of said virtual machines remain high enough.

What have you seen in your real world experiences? Did they look and act like the example? I'd love to hear about your environment and your density ratio and performance.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: David Marshall at March 29, 2008 07:10 PM

Memory Resource Management in VMware ESX Server

Publisher:
VMware

Latest Revision:
Dec 8, 2002

Download:
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/usenix_resource_mgmt.pdf

Description

This paper introduces several novel ESX Server mechanisms and policies for managing memory. A ballooning technique reclaims the pages considered least valuable by the operating system running in a virtual machine. An idle memory tax achieves efficient memory utilization while maintaining performance isolation guarantees. Content-based page sharing
and hot I/O page remapping exploit transparent page remapping to eliminate redundancy and reduce copying overheads. These techniques are combined to efficiently support virtual machine workloads that overcommit memory

VMware VMware Virtual Reality Memory Overcommitment in the Real World

Memory overcommit is only the act of oversubscribing memory. There are several features that are in play to allow for memory overcommitment. Transparent page sharing, memory ballooning, and paging are all components that allow for memory overcommit. First of all not all hypervisors have memory ballooning. The Xen Open Source hypervisor is the only one with memory ballooning today and it's not even picked up by any of the commercial distributions that use Xen (Citrix, Red Hat, Novell, etc). That aside, memory ballooning only kicks in when there's pressure on the memory resources which happens *after* transparent page sharing (a VMware exclusive) has freed up a lot of memory. I should also mention that just because a guest isn't using memory doesn't mean it hasn't been assigned. Only transparent page sharing will allow for free and like memory pages to be consolidated and truly allow for high performing VMs while oversubscribing host memory.

So really there is no "memory overcommit" piece of technology - it's just a feature that's made possible by transparent page sharing, memory ballooning, and paging. There's a really good academic paper from the patent holder for these features here: http://www.vmware.com/resources/techresources/531.

===

KVM has transparent page sharing, memory ballooning, swapping, paging, processor overcommit, paravirtualization drivers for block and network devices, live migration, support for tons of third party drivers/devices, dynamic load balancing, distributed file system and alot more.

BUT! KVM does not have any good centralized management GUI for the enterprise. As far as I know, it does not even exist one.

Previous post I talked about "memory overcommit" like a standalone feature. My bad. English is not my main language.

===

Blinkiz,

Currently VMware is the only one to implement the features you describe. KVM does have a lot of this on their roadmap which can be found here: http://kvm.qumranet.com/kvmwiki/Roadmap. Most other hypervisors (Microsoft and Xen) also have some of these features on their roadmap for 2 - 3 years from now. All of this further validates the value of these features.

It will be interesting to see how the other hypervisors implement the technologies since VMware currently holds 4 patents around memory technologies which don't start to expire until 2017.

P.S. Don't worry about the English as a second language. I wish I spoke more languages. Indeed a lot of these posts to talk about memory overcommit as a feature like it alone is a piece of technology. I guess you could call it a feature but it's made possible by other underlying technologies.

Posted by: Mike DiPetrillo | April 15, 2008 at 01:47 AM

===

Hi their Mike
The roadmap is outdated. All features under the memory section is already implemented.

Still, KVM is a new product/solution that has not been tested as much as vmware vi3. Currently I cannot recommend any company to run kvm. But watch out in the future for KVM! The solution to have the linux kernel as virtualization engine is very effective. KVM = Kernel-based Virtual Machine

[Jun 24, 2008] VMware's CEO talks Microsoft, security, EMC and cloud computing by Jon Brodkin

06/24/2008 | Network World

Diane Greene is the president, CEO and co-founder of VMware, a pioneer of x86 server virtualization and one of the most innovative companies to hit the IT world in the past decade. Greene was in Boston last week with her VMware team, briefing analysts on new technologies that haven't been made public yet. She took some time out to speak with Network World's Jon Brodkin about a range of topics.

Microsoft is entering the market with Hyper-V. How are you preparing for that?

We've got our hypervisor, which is the world's best, the most reliable, the most secure, the most functional, the smallest footprint. Then we have this broad portfolio of 21 products that make this hypervisor powerful. We've been expecting competition for years. We got ready for it. We knew what they would do, they would come in and say 'the hypervisor is free.' And we have shifted our revenue, we have shifted our value to the software that makes that hypervisor so valuable.

VMware does charge a lot more than its competitors. Are you feeling any pressure to lower your prices?

We're the only company with a price point for every kind of use of virtualization starting with just the hypervisor. ESXi is available from our Web site for $495. We have a free VMware Server that is very actively used, if you look at the discussion groups.

The portfolio of software for managing and automating the applications for running virtual machines, giving them quality of service, is where we increasingly charge, but that's completely separate from the base platform, the hypervisor layer.

What really differentiates the VMware hypervisor from Microsoft and Xen server virtualization software? (Compare server products.)   

VMware's hypervisor is incredibly robust. We have a [big pharmaceuticals] customer that has run one with no reboots for over four years. No restarts. It's the only hypervisor that has no dependence on an operating system. It can be much more secure because a hypervisor is only as secure as its weakest link. We have this architecture that can be embedded in the hardware with this small, very secure footprint [under 32MB]. And the functionality our hypervisor supports, such as memory overcommit and so forth is the broadest. Not to mention that it's in use in production by over 100,000 customers.

IBM virtualized the mainframe several decades ago. How is VMware's technology modeled after mainframe virtualization?

VMware was founded with the notion that if you revisited this concept of virtualization that IBM had done and modernized it, and brought it to industry-standard systems, that where hardware had come in terms of fast CPUs, and cheap memory and cheap disk and networking support was going to make it phenomenally valuable. We had taken it to a much broader applicability than was originally done on the mainframe, but the concept of virtualization and a lot of the value proposition that IBM saw in the late ‘60s hasn't changed at all.

There were some rumors about EMC selling VMware, which seem to have fizzled out. How much attention do you pay to that kind of thing?

As CEO of VMware my job is to keep the company executing and fulfilling our potential, and that's really what I focus on and lead the company to focus on.

Any idea why these rumors crop up from time to time, though?

The situation VMware is in, where we're 86% [owned by EMC] and a partial spinout [on the stock market] is an unusual situation and has some instability associated with it. Naturally people are watching that closely. If you looked at data on companies that get partially spun out, generally something happens afterwards, you know it evolves one way or another.

You've discussed in the past how it was important to keep the operations of VMware separate from EMC, even though EMC owns VMware. Who do you report to? Is there any interference from on high?

VMware is now a separate public company from EMC. As CEO I report to the VMware board.

Which is composed mostly of EMC executives?

The VMware board is mostly EMC, either directors or officers of EMC. What we're focused on at VMware is our partnering, that's very key to how we go to market, how we integrate, and executing on our strategy.

Do you ever feel friction or have strategic disagreements with EMC?

I find that it's important to be very articulate about how in order for VMware to realize its full potential -- and we're in an amazing position right now -- the importance of our partners and our ability to execute in an unfettered way.

You co-founded VMware with your husband. What is his current involvement with the company and what's your business relationship like?

VMware had five co-founders and Mendel Rosenblum, who is my husband, is our chief scientist. He's also a professor of computer science in the systems space at Stanford University where he continues to be a full-time professor. But he is also very involved at VMware one day a week and on an ongoing basis.

Is there a next wave of virtualization we don't know about?

What we're doing with computers is getting more complex. The sophistication with which we handle delivering applications with the top quality of service and security. The next wave is using virtualization to provide a complete simplification of how you do that -- being able to build, develop, deploy, maintain and update applications, where an application can be a composite application of multiple virtual machines, and delivering that from any place over any set of hardware resources, be it on-premise or off-premise in a cloud, if you will.

How does cloud computing play into virtualization?

Virtualization is really the key building block to being able to do cloud computing, because the notion of a cloud is that all the resources are kind of aggregated, sort of magically, and you just run services from the quote cloud. It's very important you be able to separate the software from the hardware and move it around without any service interruption. And be able to have the application take with it the quality of service it wants. So what customers want is complete freedom of choice. They want to take their application and run it anywhere in any cloud. The only way to do that is with virtualization.

Amazon uses virtualization in its EC2 cloud. Are they using VMware?

I can't comment on that, but I think the model that Amazon is doing is helping people to understand what's possible.

What's the biggest challenge for VMware this year?

If I had to identify one thing, we've definitely stepped up our communication this year. Part of that is being a public company. Part of that is explaining, as the noise has increased due to our expected arrival of competitors coming into the market, explaining the different category of value proposition we have.

What are the most innovative VMware customers doing with virtualization?

There are great innovations going on in the desktop and in the data center and even in the cloud. The desktop is used heavily in the health industry and the hospitals. There's Huntsville hospital [in Alabama], which uses thin clients on wheeled carts with the desktop hosted on a centralized server. They're using virtualized desktops so they can have wireless thin clients running around on hospital carts.

The U.S. Marine Corps consolidated 300 data centers down to 30, and 100 mobile platforms, a data center in a box, that can go on a tank or what have you. With [virtual desktop software] VMware ACE, they can carry [desktops] on their thumb drives and deploy on any PC.

The National Security Agency, of course, has used it to provide different security levels on the same physical machine. They've been a customer of ours since 1999. They started out really early, we gave them our source code right away, they did a full audit of it. One of the first things they used it for was to isolate what people are doing because a single individual that has top security clearance needs to do different things at different security levels. [Previously], they had to have a different PC depending on how secure the data was. They were able to consolidate that onto a single machine made up of multiple virtual machines. Each virtual machine was encrypted and so forth and had a different security clearance level.

The VMsafe program you announced in February essentially opened your hypervisor to security vendors. Has anything innovative come out of that yet? (Compare security products.

You'll see products over the next 18 to 24 months out of that. Once that comes out you'll see a new level of security, because instead of being either inside the operating system or out on the network, you're on a special very secure virtual machine that can aggregate what's going on in all the memory and CPU and operating system and network. Also, people won't need to install antivirus in the software anymore because you'll be able to put it in the container [the virtual server running the software]. In other words, you can control what goes in and out of a virtual machine. If there's a new virus you can update right there, you don't have to update the operating system or the application.

Do you think a virtual server today is more secure or less secure than a physical server?

I would say it's certainly as secure and in some ways more secure simply because the hypervisor is so small, so you can really secure the hypervisor. And a virtual machine container is as secure as the hardware.

Are there any problems people run into that are unique to virtual servers?

With products like ACE, where you can actually put security policies around the virtual machine, that actually takes it to a stronger level. You can have a desktop virtual machine not allowed to send anything to a printer or have to check in with a central server to make sure it's still valid and properly updated before you can operate it. You can add security policies around that in a way you wouldn't be able to do with a physical machine.

Another problem is virtual server sprawl. How does that compare to physical server sprawl?

A virtual machine when it's inactive uses no power. A virtual machine doesn't require physical space other than the disk the virtual machine file sits on. So if you have excellent monitoring and management tools around a virtual machine you're going to be in a much better position than if you had to bring out a new physical machine every time you want to run another workload. It is interesting, oftentimes when people bring in our capacity planner tool, they'll discover machines and nobody knows what they're used for.

VMware is doing application virtualization now, with the acquisition of Thinstall.  Are there any other types of virtualization you haven't done yet that you might get into?

Virtualization can be a very broad, all-encompassing term. People apply virtualization to social networks, even. But we virtualize comprehensively all the hardware resources: servers, storage, network, memory, CPU, disk, I/O. We do that within ESX.

That lets you separate the software from the hardware. Then we let you virtualize the application from the operating system so you can seamlessly install an application on any version of the operating system.

In a way we're virtualizing how you do management and automation because we're simplifying it.

... ... ...

[Jun 9, 2008] Free tool secures VMware servers

June 9, 2008 | Network World

Enterprise IT managers dealing with a proliferation of virtual servers might want to check out a free tool that promises to ensure virtual servers are configured for optimal security.

ConfigCheck is a free utility that downloads to a desktop and compares active virtual server configurations against best practices guidelines development by VMware Inc. The tool was jointly released Wednesday by VMware and configuration management software maker Tripwire Inc.

"This is a free application that automates the process of checking systems for configuration errors that could cause security and compliance issues in customer environments," said Mark Gaydos, vice president of marketing at Tripwire.

ConfigCheck downloads to a desktop and IT managers point it at ESX servers to compare actual configurations against the best practice guidelines laid out by VMware. Tripwire scaled back its Tripwire Enterprise product, which is designed to perform configuration and compliance audits of large environments. (Compare network configuration management tools.)

ConfigCheck is equipped with VMware-specific configuration information to enable IT managers to more quickly -- and with less manual effort -- determine if ESX servers in their environment are configured properly for security, compliance and performance.

[PDF] Using VMware Player

[May 31, 2007] Frameworkx, VMware Workstation 6.0 Build 45731 RTM!

VMware Workstation 6.0 Build 45731 RTM!

This release provides experimental support for the following operating systems:

This release provides full support for the following operating systems:

New Features in Version 6

Fixed Bugs

The following bugs were reported as known issues in Workstation 5.5.3 and were fixed for the Workstation 6.0 release.

Known Issues

[May 31, 2007] Viktor's Home Page: Running VMware in a Virtual Frame Buffer

Okay, I figured out how to run a vmware virtual machine on Linux without a physical display. Why would you want to do such a thing you ask? For instance, you might want to run a machine for remote access, with PCAnywhere.

To run an X program without a physical screen, you need a virtual frame buffer driver. Fortunately, XFree-86 comes with one: Xvfb. You also need to make sure that vmware doesn't complain about a variety of things that it usually complains about when you connect to a "remote" machine. For this reason, start vmware first over a remote session (I did so from my Windows workstation, on which I have X-Win32 installed) and click all the clickables to get it to no longer display those warnings. While you are at it, you might also want to make sure that devices like the floppy, CD-ROM, or sound card start disconnected. Oh, and make sure your virtual disk is non-persistent or undoable; since there's no way to "nicely" shut down a virtual machine that you cannot interact with, this is essential!

With all these preliminaries done, you can start the virtual frame buffer and the virtual machine as follows:

Xvfb :1 -screen 0 1280x1024x16 &
vmware -x vms/W98_PCAW/win98.cfg -- -display 127.0.0.1:1 &

The name of the configuration file may differ of course.

[03 Apr 2006] VMware exec On free specs, virtualization's boost for Linux By Jan Stafford | SearchOpenSource.com

VMware Inc. is opening up its virtual machine disk format specification, but today's news is about sharing, not open source technologies.

VMware's decision to share at no cost its format specification with developers and vendors will spur big gains in virtualization innovation, according to Dan Chu, senior director of developer/ and ISV products for VMware, an EMC company in Palo Alto, Calif. Meanwhile, says Chu in this interview, virtualization is knocking down barriers to enterprise Linux and open source software adoption.

Why did VMware decide to share its core virtual machine disk format specification?

Dan Chu: People with large enterprise environments are fully standardizing on VMware; but they also depend on a whole set of key vendors -- like BMC and Symantec -- to provide other functions to do such things as manipulate, update, patch and back up data and systems.

The virtual machine format and specification defines everything from how the application operating system is encapsulated to how it is then put onto a data file system or local or network storage. Giving unrestricted access to the core formats and interfaces and APIs around virtualization lets any developer leverage and develop on top of virtualization.

Their innovations will make server virtualization easier to deploy and manage and more highly optimized for customers.

Before this, you would have to either reverse engineer or enter into a very proprietary license that would be restrictive and inhibit development against virtualized environments. We want to make it fully open.

This is not an open sourcing of the VMware virtual machine disk format specification. What is VMware doing in the open source area?

Chu: We are opening up the format specification of the virtual machines, but not open sourcing the code. In other areas, we do share our source code for people to work on and contribute their work back to our base. However, we are not open sourcing the code, but sharing it and providing people the ability to contribute to it. For example, our community participants are taking advantage of this to introduce a whole array of InfiniBand capabilities into VMware.

Generally, you are talking about development of proprietary applications. Does today's announcement open up any opportunities for enterprise open source application usage?

Chu: Some vendors have found that their software fits with a variety of open source products and projects, and virtual appliances are the best way to distribute and deploy their environment with this software bundled in it.

Opening up the virtual machine format and specification will promote development of virtual appliances. A virtual appliance is a fully pre-installed, pre-configured application and operating system environment that is encapsulated in a virtual machine.

The appliance with proprietary and open source software inside is easily deployable and completely integrated as a package. We've seen this, for example, in virtual appliances [containing] open source collaboration suites like Open-Xchange, open source IT PBX and great open source intrusion prevention systems.

While VMware takes a platform-agnostic approach to server virtualization, Linux proponents say that this technology will remove barriers and speed enterprise adoption of Linux. Have you seen this happening?

Chu: We actually have heard a number of Linux infrastructure managers and customers say that virtualization facilitates the adoption of Linux tremendously.

Once people have VMware, they can substantiate virtual machines for any platform. Then, people can piggyback Linux on that big Windows infrastructure without having to do a massive, up-front hardware server [implementation with] all those costs, particularly without having to buy expensive new servers. This is something that we hear about a lot.

Virtualization allows you to break down the barriers to Linux adoption because you don't have to segregate it. You don't have this sprawl of lightly- utilized Windows servers and databases and domain controllers and file and print. So, people can introduce their Linux infrastructure without having to do so through a massive budgeting or migration hurdle.

VMware hasn't faced much competition on the enterprise front from open source alternatives. Now, there's Xen. There are also new server virtualization systems from such vendors as Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. How does that change VMware's go-to-market approach?

Chu: It doesn't. We are glad to see the enthusiasm others have for virtualization. We also think it will take a fair bit of time for those new products to get to the hardened enterprise-level functionality that customers expect from virtualization. What they have may fit some companies' needs for non-production uses on five- to- 20 servers.

[Apr 3, 2006]  Microsoft to 'host' Linux virtually CNET News.com Company said that it has now made Virtual Server 2005 R2 a Free Download

Microsoft will support customers who chose to run Linux with Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 R2, software for running multiple operating systems on one machine.

In addition, the company on Monday said that it has now made Virtual Server 2005 R2--which the company had charged either $99 for up to four physical processors or $199 for an unlimited number of processors--a free download. The announcements were made in conjunction with the LinuxWorld conference in Boston this week.

Virtualization, an emerging technology which is garnering growing interest from corporate customers, allows a server to run multiple instances of an operating system. This makes it easier for corporations to consolidate many applications on a single hardware server and provides a level of reliability.

Microsoft said that it has developed software to simplify the installation of Linux distributions from Red Hat and Novell SuSE to run on Virtual Server 2005 R2 on Windows. In addition, Microsoft will provide technical support customers running Windows and Linux side by side.

"We’ve made a long-term commitment to make sure that non-Windows operating systems can be run in a supported manner, both on top of Virtual Server and our future virtualization products," said Zane Adam, director of Windows Server product marketing, in a statement.

Microsoft has said that the server edition of Windows Vista will have virtualization built into it. Specifically, it said it is developing so-called hypervisor software, code-named Viridian, to host multiple operating systems on one machine.

Microsoft faces competition in the market from EMC subsidiary VMware and increasingly the Xen project that's being built into forthcoming versions of Suse Linux Enterprise Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

[Mar 27, 2006] VMware Server Replaces VMware GSX Server VMware Server—a free virtualization product for Windows and Linux servers

VMware believes that the benefits of server virtualization should be universally available. Period. VMware has introduced free VMware Server Beta for immediate download.

VMware Server is a robust yet easy to use product for users new to server virtualization technology. VMware Server enables companies to partition a physical server into multiple virtual machines, and to start experiencing the benefits of virtualization. With VMware Server, companies can provision a new server in minutes without investing in new hardware, run multiple different operating systems and applications on the same physical host server, move virtual machines from one physical host to another without re-configuration, and much more!

VMware Server can be used to streamline software development and testing, evaluate software in ready-to-run virtual machines, re-host legacy applications or simplify server provisioning. In addition, users can leverage a wide variety of plug-and-play virtual appliances for commonly used infrastructure.

VMware Server offers more than GSX Server

In addition to the VMware GSX Server capabilities, the generally available release of VMware Server plans to offer the following unique features:

Learn more about VMware Server.

Support and Subscription Options

VMware is fully committed to GSX Server customers' continued success. Notwithstanding VMware's Support and Subscription agreement terms, GSX Server will be fully supported by VMware for two years after VMware Server becomes generally available. GSX Server customers will be able to renew existing support contracts during that period.

Upgrade Options

The free VMware Server represents the upgrade path for all GSX Server customers. Once VMware Server is generally available, which is currently planned for Q2 2006, it will replace GSX Server as VMware's hosted server virtualization offering. At that time, VMware will also start offering Support and Subscription services for VMware Server for purchase.

VMware also offers very favorable terms for upgrading from GSX Server to VMware Virtual Infrastructure products—VMware ESX Server and VirtualCenter. To learn more about the terms of purchasing Support and Subscription for VMware Server or upgrading to ESX Server and VirtualCenter, please read VMware Server Order Information.

To learn more, please read the GSX Server FAQ.


Start experiencing the benefits of server virtualization

  1. Download VMware Server.
  2. Download pre-built, ready-to-run virtual appliances from industry-leading ISV partners, open source partners and the VMware community.

[Mar 20, 2005] VMWare's GSX Server not fit for prime time. Says who

In a move to defend against competition from Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005, VMware last month said it would discontinue GSX as a paid-for product, replacing it with VMware Server, a free follow-on to GSX Server.
IT shops that use the popular GSX Server from VMware Inc. might be interested to learn that the company's sales and engineering teams are now saying the about-to-be-discontinued software was unfit for a production environment.

At a recent VMware whistle-stop road show, Kirk Niska, a VMware software engineer, told IT managers that GSX -- which until recently sold for roughly $3,750 for a two-CPU server -- was never intended for use in production. The company is recommending that customers use its flagship product, ESX Server, a data-center-class virtual server, in business-critical environments.

In a move to defend against competition from Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005, VMware last month said it would discontinue GSX as a paid-for product, replacing it with VMware Server, a free follow-on to GSX Server. VMware Server is expected to come out sometime in mid-year. Customers can purchase support for VMware Server, and those with an existing GSX license will also continue to receive support, the company said.

GSX Server users were both amused and bemused at the suggestion that GSX Server was never intended for prime time. "I didn't know [it wasn't intended for use in a production environment]," said Tom Fitzgerald, a technical analyst at Medical Information Bureau, a Westwood, Mass., company that serves as a data bank for the life insurance industry. "We've used it in production, and it seems stable."

Fitzgerald's company has been using GSX Server to virtualize its eight Windows-based servers for more than two years.

Another long-time customer agreed that VMware's repositioning on the use of GSX Server was surprising. "If anything, [VMware] encouraged the opposite," said John Weeks, director of IT at Mutual of Enumclaw, an Enumclaw, Wash., insurance company. "In a small environment, GSX is solid. VMware's posture changed when Microsoft's Virtual Server started making inroads."

Both customers are in the process of moving to ESX Server for the improved performance benefits.

[Feb 27, 2006] Getting Started with OpenSolaris Using VMware

So you want to try out OpenSolaris, but you don't have a machine available. Then VMware is what you need. Even if you do, VMware is great tool to get help you get started with OpenSolaris and can be a great tool to help you on your kernel hacking efforts. VMware workstation 5.5 has "experimental" support for Solaris, but I have found that OpenSolaris actually runs quite well with it. This article will take you through the steps to get OpenSolaris up and running on VMware and assumes that you are new to VMware and OpenSolaris. This article will also be helpful if you are just interested in Solaris on VMware.

First, you need to get yourself a copy of VM Workstation. It will run on Windows and some Linux distros. You really don't need super impressive hardware to get started. My first test machine has only 512 mb of memory and is limited with disk space which requires me to run off an external USB drive. In both cases the performance is tolerable. But, of course, the more memory, disk, and CPUs you have the better.

You may be wondering, so what is VMware? VMware is an application that emulates a PC or runs as a virtual machine (VM). So basically when you run OpenSolaris on VMware, it acts as its own dedicated box, when actuality, it is running as an application on Windows or Linux. Hardware, such as NICs and video cards, is emulated in VMware, which can be your saviour if your underlying hardware isn't yet supported by Solaris.

VMware's back

VMware's back

http://www.tools.de/solaris/xf86/
Useful Solaris resources page by Jürgen Keil
XFree86 drivers Solaris port, wheel mouse driver, etc.

http://www.jan.exss.de/vmware/solaris/en_index.html
Solaris on VMware information by Jan Exss
Solaris installation instruction, Custom Jump Start (automatic installation) for VMware, etc.

[ Aug 11, 2005] Techworld.com - VMware adds para-Linux and x86 support By Manek Dubash, Techworld

 VMware will now support what it calls para-virtualised Linux, and the Solaris x86 operating system in future releases of all its core products.
VMware will now support what it calls para-virtualised Linux, and the Solaris x86 operating system in future releases of all its core products.

The news follows its earlier announcement to open its code with the aim of promoting open virtualisation standards. Techworld examines the issues behind that move here.

Para-virtualised Linux is an OS that's been specifically modified to run in a virtual environment. The technique involves modifying the guest OS slightly to run on an architecture similar to the host machine while omitting the parts that are hard to virtualise. It's particularly important on x86 platforms because that architecture has many features that are complex and inefficient to virtualise. The benefit is said to be decreases in the performance overhead of virtualisation - down from some 20 per cent to two per cent, according to some sources.

VMware said it would add support for such Linuxes "as they become adopted in commercial operating system distributions". This gives customers the choice of running both unmodified and para-virtualised operating systems, with or without assistance from underlying processor technologies, concurrently on the same virtualisation platform.

VMware is also adding support for Solaris x86 across its virtual infrastructure products. It said the advantage is that enterprises with mixed environments can deploy and manage any combination of Linux, NetWare, Solaris x86 and Windows and instances across the same VMware virtualisation platform.

According to VMware, its support for these additional operating systems means IT admins can use its management software VirtualCenter with VMotion technology - which allows live servers to be moved from one virtual machine host to another.

Comment
"VMware's support for para-virtualised Linux and Solaris x86 operating systems and our experience with enabling virtual operating environments for more than 10,000 enterprise server customers is consistent with our continued commitment to give customers greater choice," said VMware marketing VP Jeffrey Engelmann. "With more options available, customers can transition a larger portion of their data centre workloads to a virtual infrastructure and thereby benefit from the proven ROI of a virtual operating environment."

"Using VMware virtual infrastructure on a large scale since 2002 has brought us multiple benefits," said Tony Adams, technology analyst for J.R. Simplot. "VMware's support of a wide variety of operating systems gives us the flexibility to run key applications on multiple operating systems in test, development, staging and production, and manage them with one set of tools. We plan to leverage their support of para-virtualised operating systems to continue to strengthen our infrastructure."

IBM locks in VMware through 2007 The Register

>By Ashlee Vance in Chicago Published Wednesday 19th May 2004  Shocking as it may seem, IBM and EMC have agreed on a three-year technology sharing pact. Well, not exactly.

IBM has reupped its partnership with virtualization software maker VMware through 2007. The deal between the two companies has and will continue to have VMware's software be the main partitioning option for IBM's x86 (Intel and AMD) server customers. Extending this relationship through 2007 proves IBM was not put off by EMC's $635m acquisition of VMware late last year.

"Being able to virtualize computing and manage systems remotely is a critical aspect of on demand computing," said Leo Suarez, vice president of IBM's xSeries servers. "Our partnership with VMware complements the IBM on demand strategy by bringing partitioning to the xSeries and Intel-based BladeCenter product lines. Combined with IBM Virtualization Engine, VMware extends IBM's virtualization capability across the entire xSeries and Intel-based BladeCenter servers."

IBM has long been VMware's biggest cheerleader. Big Blue has been reselling and sharing engineering efforts around VMware's ESX Server product for years. The latest agreement also sees IBM getting behind VMware's VMotion, VirtualCenter and Virtual SMP products - all of which help administrators manage applications on partitioned servers.

There had been some speculation that IBM might cool on the VMware relationship after bitter storage rival EMC bought the firm. VMware's products do play a fairly central role in IBM's future server plans by letting administrators run Linux and Windows together on the same system and by letting them consolidate applications. On its higher end Unix and mainframe systems, IBM uses in-house technology for these types of tasks.

VMware, however, appears to have convinced IBM of its independence. To its credit, EMC saw the need to keep VMware neutral moving forward, as it has attracted attention from HP, Dell and a host of other server/software makers on top of IBM.

VMware currently claims 5,500 customers and 2.5 million users of its products.

Q&A Ed Bugnion, VMware co-founder, on the EMC acquisition - Computerworld

Q&A: Ed Bugnion, VMware co-founder, on the EMC acquisition
VMware will remain independent, he says
APRIL 30, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - VMware's ability to run multiple operating systems on a single physical server was a technology sought after by the top echelon of IT vendors, including IBM, which was rumored to be a contender for buying the company. But VMware went to EMC Corp. (see story), which closed on its acquisition of the company in January. This week, VMware Inc. co-founder and chief architect Ed Bugnion talked with Computerworld about that acquisition and where the integration with EMC technology is today.

Why did you pick EMC to acquire you? The surprise was that IBM didn't buy you. We were on track with deliberate plans to put forth an IPO, at which point we got interest from multiple offers. The criteria we were looking for was a partner that ... would allow us to increase our growth by effectively eliminating what was the biggest sales detractor, which was some uncertainty about VMware's future as an independent company and who we'd be acquired by. We obviously found EMC to be ideal along that criteria, because it is a key brand within the most mission-critical parts of the data center. It's something customers relate to. And it's something that really eliminates every doubt about the viability of VMware as a unit of a company the size of EMC, with a $30 billion market cap.

The second criteria we thought was important for the technology to be successful was for it to remain independent of server platform. From a value perspective, an acquisition player that remains neutral with respect to server distribution was attractive. Otherwise we would have effectively been limiting ourselves to the market share of that vendor.

What was the value proposition of VMware, and how has that changed? Historically, and I mean two years ago, it was primarily centered around server consolidation. Server consolidation is about taking a reasonably large server and splitting it up so you can run lots of smaller servers inside that machine. That was the first and second generation [of our product]. What we have right now is a product set designed to run on a clustered environment ... in a farm of physical servers and manage that server farm from a single location and as a single pool of physical resources. That is basically to say [VMware products] manage compute bandwidth, memory bandwidth and I/O bandwidth.

It's very similar in value proposition to the kind of value that EMC provides with the ability to migrate certain storage across arrays.

Where's does integration with EMC's products stand right now? VMware remains an independent, wholly owned subsidiary. So VMware is an EMC company as opposed to an EMC division, which means we maintain all our corporate functions, maintain our legal function, maintain our sales force and -- associated with the sales force -- we've maintained all our own distribution network, all sets of resellers and strategic partnerships, including Windows server vendors.

Do you ever see that changing, where you're more tightly integrated with EMC? At this time there are no plans to change the model. I think there's huge value in maintaining independence. I think that maintaining independence doesn't mean it's void of synergy for EMC customers. I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive. There is, for example, a lot of value in interoperability and joint solutions that show how independent products work together to solve a problem and [how] a solution worked out from an end-to-end basis, but to keep the products independent of each other. VMware will remain independent.

How long will it take to integrate your software with EMC's so that business applications and associated storage can be moved together without disrupting operations? I think we're too early into the integration process to be able to talk about the type of solution that requires new releases on either our part or EMC's part. Right now we're working on really just a level of documentation and writing up how joint solutions look and work together.

VMware Workstation 4.5 focuses on enterprise

Companies can test applications on several platforms, including Linux, Windows and NetWare on the same physical server. Enhancements to 4.5 include:

Directions on Microsoft lead analyst Michael Cherry said interest in workstation and desktop virtualization software is rising now, as companies test software for server consolidation projects. Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wa., provides independent analysis of Microsoft products and happenings.

"Another proof point that this is a big market right now is that the two big [virtualization] players were recently acquired; VMware by EMC and Connectix by Microsoft," Cherry said. "I think that shows enough interest in the space that they want to play there."

VMware product manager Pete Giordano said enterprise demand for VMware Workstation arose from its GSX and ESX server customers.

"Enterprises want to manage the software lifecycle by developing and testing applications on virtual machines before rolling them out departmentally or to the data center," Giordano said.

VMware Workstation 4.5 supports many different Linux guest OSes including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 and 3.0, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 and 8, Red Hat Linux, Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, SuSE Linux, Turbolinux and Mandrake Linux.

"For organizations that want to evaluate Linux, this gives them a way to do that without large investments in new hardware," Cherry said.

Workstation 4.5 is VMware's second release since the EMC acquisition was finalized in January. Last month it released GSX Server 3, and update to its mid-tier virtualization server. That release also targets application-testing groups inside the enterprise.

"There are three places VMware stands out," Cherry said. "The product works very well and it's very stable. They also support both the workstation and the server where Microsoft has yet to release its server implementation yet. Finally they support a large number of guest OSes."

Analyst Reaction to EMC's VMware Bid Mixed

Analyst Reaction to EMC's VMware Bid Mixed>
December 30, 2003
By Clint Boulton

When EMC (Quote, Chart) announced its intent to purchase VMware two weeks ago, many technology analysts greeted the news with praise while their Wall Street counterparts balked, citing a lack of synergy between server virtualization and EMC's core competency, storage.

Count Susquehanna Financial Group among the doubters of EMC's $635 million bid, which it says is expensive considering VMware's 2003 sales.

While encouraged by EMC's earlier purchases of Legato Systems and Documentum to bolster the company's information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy, Susquehanna views EMC's interest in VMware as largely impractical.

"VMware provides little synergy with storage, whereas Legato and Documentum are building on EMC's Information Lifecycle Management strategy," a Susquehanna report said. "VMware, which makes server provisioning software for Windows and Linux environments, is in a different space altogether."

Susquehanna analysts Kaushik Roy and Phillip Rowe also voiced concern that VMware's revenues are from a low price-point software product with limited growth potential.

VMware offers a number of products, but most revenue comes from software licenses of VMotion, ESX server, and GSX server. VMotion helps customers consolidate servers by migrating applications from smaller servers to new, higher-end servers with no downtime for the applications.

"Although this is a valuable tool, we believe these migrations are relatively infrequent (perhaps several times a year)," Roy and Rowe said in their report.

The ESX and GSX server products allow users to partition their Intel servers for the usage of multiple operating systems and applications simultaneously.

"With already about 2 million users and less than $50 million in revenue last year, we can conclude that these products have a low price point," Roy and Rowe said.

But Mark Stahlman, who covers EMC for American Technology Research, feels VMware could prove very valuable for EMC.

He sees what other analysts from companies such as Sageza Research or Gartner see: a company undergoing a metamorphosis as a leading purveyor of storage hardware to a software provider of so-called on-demand, or utility, computing.

Stahlman dismisses the term utility computing as unclear marketing hype, preferring the phrase "virtual computing" to describe a software-driven strategy that configures and reconfigures computing and storage systems with no downtime.

Stahlman told internetnews.com EMC's recent purchases are evidence that the company is trying to improve its position in storage at the same time it is building a broader strategy in virtual computing.

The increased interest in virtualization as a viable computing platform technology is paving the way for an expansion into servers and networks, Stahlman said. IBM (Quote, Chart), and HP (Quote, Chart) already have placement in this arena.

"EMC's benefit from the deal is likely to be an opportunity to integrate its own R&D with the products of VMware as well as gain access to the new company's considerable x86 expertise — crucial now that the Intel architecture is the largest volume for EMC and now that the 64-bit versions of x86 are getting ready to expand rapidly," Stahlman said.

While he wouldn't make any predictions outright, Stahlman said EMC repeatedly referenced network virtualization in a conference call, which he said could be an area EMC is targeting while it digests VMware.

Among the players in the networking virtualization is Inkra Networks. The Fremont, Calif.-based company integrates multiple services, such as firewall, VPN, intrusion detection, SSL, and load balancing in hardware platforms.

Meanwhile, Gartner analysts believe an application monitoring and management or server provisioning company is on tap for EMC. And Sageza Research Director Charles King recently told internetnews.com he expects EMC to acquire database and directory components.

While no one seems to agree on what EMC may buy next, EMC CEO and President Joe Tucci has said his company wasn't actively looking to acquire after VMware. Of course, he said the same thing after announcing the Documentum bid in October.

LinuxTicker: Emulating a complete PC with VMware(Jan 24, 2000)

"VMware is not just an emulator. It is complete virtual machine "built" on the underlying layer of hardware and the existing operating system. It doesn't take control of your keyboard, mouse and video -- you can run it in full screen mode as well as in a window. This, however, requires some modifications to get everything to act as usual. The virtual machine runs on top of the existing OS, using its devices to access the underlying hardware. The great advantage of this is that you can, for example, have up to four virtual network adapters on your virtual machine, and have them all bound to the network which uses the hosting OS as gateway."

Q: What is your target market for the product?

A: There are many market targets that we find suitable for VMware: people who need Windows Productivity Applications on Linux (Office, Mail, Browsers) because they can run Windows programs without the need to reboot the computer; developers who write and test software as well as people who provide tech support, because they can have multiple platforms to work on and test various configurations at the same time; people who develop web content and web sites, because they can use different browsers on different platforms to preview the content they're working on.

Q: Do you believe your product will change the way people think about operating systems?

A: Yes, we would like to think that VMware will change the way people think about their PC and operating system. Today, there is a 1 to 1 mapping between your hardware, the OS you run and the applications you can run: For example, on a PC running a Windows Operating System, you can run only Windows NT and/or Windows 9x compatible applications, on a Linux PC you can run only Linux compatible applications, etc. And there's no way to concurrently run applications for Windows NT and Linux on the same PC, natively.

As a result, you are limited in what you can do:

These are basically arbitrary rules preventing innovation.

With VMware, you can now do much more:

Q: Do you plan to port VMware on other platforms?

A: Not at this point. VMware technology is tightly linked to the Intel x86 Architecture.

Q: After unveiling some secrets about Transmeta CPU, do you think that VMware and Transmeta share some points of view? If you were making decision to choose best things from virtual machines philosophy and new CPU "idea", what are the things you would take from both worlds?

A: It is a little too early for us to speak on that subject. Transmeta has not completely unveiled their technology at this point. We are anxious to see the Crusoe launch on January 19.

Q: How would you compare Bochs and Wine projects with VMware?

A: Wine allows some unmodified Windows 3.1, Windows 9x and Windows NT binaries to run on Intel PCs under Linux and other x86 UNIX-like operating systems. Wine is an implementation of the Windows 3.x and Win32 APIs on top of X and Unix. One advantage of Wine is that it does not require a separate Microsoft operating system to run applications. Wine also provides relatively good performance as application code runs natively on the underlying hardware. Individual Windows applications may or may not be supported by Wine. Wine is an alternative implementation of the Win32 API while VMware is a virtual machine monitor. VMware allows multiple operating systems to run by multiplexing them onto the underlying hardware. VMware requires a Microsoft operating system to run Windows applications and provides very high levels of application compatibility. VMware also provides advanced capabilities such as isolation and encapsulation that Wine does not provide.

Bochs is an emulator: Bochs runs entirely at user level and emulates all of the different devices and CPU instructions. As I stated before, VMware is a Virtual Machine monitor (not an emulator or simulator) and as such will take advantage of the underlying hardware to execute instructions and have much better performance. Also, Bochs is not feature complete at this point. Last I checked, networking and some other features where not complete.

Q: How secure is VMware? I.e. is it possible to break in from the cracked virtual box into the real operating system? (from the Internet and from the local machine, if we imagine that user can't run anything other than virtual machine)

A: The Virtual Machine is like another computer on the same network. If you have the Virtual Machine "VM1" running on top of the host "H1", it is like having two machines, VM1 and H1 on the same LAN. As such, any security violation that can be done between two machines on the same LAN can be done between VM1 and H1 (through networking protocols). From VMware's perspective, the memory and disk are completed isolated. One cannot get to read, and/or corrupt data on H1 through the VM1. If you decide to not have networking on VM1 (disable the Ethernet interface through the settings panel), it will be 100% isolated from the rest of the world (no network access to it). There is a variety of other networking settings that you could apply to VM1 and H1: attach H1 to VM1 through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and VM1 to the world on the Internet, set one up as a firewall and use IP masquerading for the other one, etc. You can therefore do much more with a PC when using VMware :-)

Q: Could it be possible that some exciting new Microsoft technology (like DirectX 15.0 ;-) ) suddenly prevent VMware from running applications that use it? How long would it take to release new version, the one that support that new feature?

A: If there is a new technology not supported by VMware, applications using it would either not run or run in a "less complete" mode. Depending on the technology, the effort to support it will vary in difficulty. Our goal is to be feature complete and we are working in that direction. We are of course very involved with the evolution of technology and do our best to stay on top of it :-)

Q: If there's one thing you would like to improve in VMware, what would it be?

A: We are always working on improving our software. As the product matures, we are trying to better understand how to serve our customers better. We have a pretty steady stream of communication with our users through Email, and newsgroup postings. Each of our releases have addressed bug fixes and product enhancements as demanded by our users. In the long run, we would like to be as feature complete as possible and support a large variety of host and guest operating systems.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: We would like to build a solid company and expand our product line and technology to help change the way people use their PCs. VMware wants to help people go beyond the current constraints of the traditional computing model. VMware delivers flexible computing to dramatically increase productivity and innovation. Our current product is aimed at the desktop market. We will look in ways our technology could be used in other fields.
 

Linux Forum

I'm not saying that Linux can't do everything I want. It just doesn't do it the way I'm used to. Since I come from the world of Windows desktops, there are some things I've gotten used to and don't want to leave just yet. It's not that Windows does them better, faster or more reliably; it just does them in a familiar way. As the Linux Desktop environment continues to evolve many of these programs will be either ported or similar programs will have duplicate feature sets. Until that blissful day, there is VMware.

VMware is a virtual machine emulator. It doesn't emulate any particular Operating System. It emulates the machine, and it is up to you to install the OS. In my case I need Windows 98 to run several programs that I don't have an equal for under Linux. Below I'll give you my install experiences and tell you what I've found to be good and bad about the product. One thing you should to keep in mind, I generally don't read the documentation first. There is no challenge in software with documentation. Beside installation and operation should be intuitive.

	The machine I used for this install is:
	Celeron 300A
	128MB SDRAM
	Creative Labs AGP Banshee Video
	Adaptech 2940UW SCSI Controller
	(2) 4GB SCSI Drives
	Panasonic 16X CD ROM
	ESS chip sound card
	Realtek Ethernet card

As you can see from the list of components, this is a slap together machine. I'm running stock Mandrake 6.0 with updates from one of their mirrors. This machine is configured as a desktop with no server type services other than Samba. I have recompiled the kernel like any good user should to optimize it for my machine components.

I downloaded the demo from http://www.vmware.com/ and registered for the free 30-day trial. Installation was quite easy. In fact I really can't remember anything siginificant about the installation process. When I first ran the program and ran through the configuration I realized that I needed about a gigabyte of free space to create the virtual drive. You can set this to any size you want and tailor it to the OS you are going to install. This gave me reason to add the 2nd 4GB drive. After the configuration file and virtual drive was created. I proceeded with the install of Windows 98. The virtual machine comes rather complete. Below is a snapshot of the initial boot process. You can even go into the virtual BIOS. The install of Windows 98 ran flawlessly. The only thing to note is the install took about twice as long as it would have on a stand-alone machine. I feel this is due to the CD ROM access, more about this later.

 

VMware boot's like a real machine complete with memory checks and BIOS.

Once the Windows 98 install was complete the virtual machine rebooted, into Windows 98 with no sound and a 16 color screen. Each time the virtual machine reboots, Linux stays up and the window reboots. This makes the Windows desire to reboot after every little change more bearable. At this point I downloaded the VMware Tools and installed that into Windows 98. After a reboot I had the same color depth as my X window (32 bit) environment and no sound. Two and a half hours of trying to figure out what was wrong with the sound (remember not using any documentation), I finally found how to enable sound support in the configuration wizard and got Windows 98 to detect the virtual sound card. I had sound after a Windows reboot.

From that point on it has worked like a charm. My Linux machine hasn't rebooted in the past eight days even though Windows 98 reboots at least three times a day. Every desktop style application I've installed has worked flawlessly with no noticeable delays in operation. I have even installed a few games. Games usually require a bit of adjustments in presetting the screen size and color depth. To do this you will have to set your screen depth on your X Window environment since the virtual machine runs at the same screen depth of your X Window environment.

Below is my list of neat stuff, things to watch out for and what needs to be fixed either by VMware in upcoming versions or through a workaround.

Neat Stuff

You don't have to mount floppies or CDs. VMware takes care of the mount process. It appears that VMware doesn't really mount the CD or floppy in a traditional way. It just accesses the device as needed. This could be one reason for some of the apparent slowness during installs.

While the applications are running and not accessing an external device, there is no apparent slowness. I've put a heavy processing load on my Linux machine and popped over to VMware. The switch to the virtual machine is slow but once I'm in the virtual machine everything appears to run at normal speed.

You can make multiple virtual machines. You can even duplicate a current configuration and virtual drive and run the duplicate as if it was a new machine. If you are really paranoid you could setup a script to automatically copy your working virtual desktop every night so if Windows blows up on you, you have a complete backup.

Using Samba you can mount Linux directories as virtual drives. This way you can keep your virtual drive fairly small and share your data files between Linux and your virtual machine. If you are curious how to setup Samba for this you can check out Simon Says Simple Samba Server for setting up a simple Samba server.

Watch Out

Windows has a really neat feature of polling the CD at regular intervals for auto notification and running all of those autorun files on the CDs. Turn it off. This is the first source of slow downs you will find on your virtual machine. To turn it off open your Windows Control Panel, open System, go to Devices and open the properties on your CD Rom drive. Uncheck Auto notification.

You should have at least 128MB of RAM on your system if you plan to run Windows in your virtual machine. Linux runs quite well in 64MB and Windows needs at least 64MB for any sort of reasonable speed.

Make sure you install the VMware Tools. This greatly speeds up your screen displays. VMware also offers an optimized version of XFree86 3.3.3.1. I haven't installed this because I'm using a 3dfx video card and I'm currently using a specially patched XFree86 3.3.3.3.

When you install the network ability you have several options. The one I chose is bridged. Inside Windows 98 I had to assign a unique IP address to my virtual machine. In many ways I feel that this is the best approach, at least for my networking environment. This makes the virtual machine very independent. It looks and acts like another machine on the network.

Bleah - Things that need to be fixed

There is no ability to change the color depth of the virtual machine's screen without changing the depth of the X Window environment. Many games and education software run at 256 colors. My Linux desktop doesn't look that great in 256 colors.

VMware needs to use lots of space in /tmp. For most people this won't be a problem, but for me I only have 40MB free in that partition. When it fills up, the only way to fix it is to crash your virtual machine.

 This was bothering me so much I went to the VMware web site and read the documentation. There is a workaround where you can set the temp directory to another directory by adding a line to your .cfg file for your virtual machine. This fixed the problem for me, but I really would have liked for this to be an option in the configuration wizard. To date I haven't seen it take too much more than 50MB for temp space.

All in all this is a great program. It allows me to run programs like Quicken, Eudora, Turbo Tax, Bryce 3 and Starcraft on my Linux machine without dual booting. I've always disliked the way MetaCreations programs took over the whole screen. Now, I can have it take over a whole virtual machine and keep that machine in a window.

If I had to rate vmware I'd give it 4 1/2 bears out of 5. But we don't do ratings like that here... yet.

[Nov. 20, 1999] Build a useful five-headed penguin

VMware's system emulator lets you run up to five OSs on one box simultaneously

Rawn Shah checks out VMware's latest system emulator, version 1.1. It promises to let you run a Linux host OS, then switch -- without rebooting -- among up to four other guest OSs that operate inside virtual hardware created by VMware. (2,100 words)

[July 25, 1999] Welcome to VMware Inc. - Virtual Platform Technology 

VMware software initially comes in two flavors, depending on the user's host operating system: VMware for Linux, and VMware for Windows NT. VMware for Linux (time-limited demo) -- run DOS-, FreeBSD-, Windows 3.x, 9x and NT 4.0-applications easily under Linux. VMware is included in SuSE distribution: http://linuxpr.com/releases/176.html

Experience of on of the users who has Celeron 450 MHz, 256MB RAM and had given virtual machine 64M was quite positive. He used NT driver SVGA from vmware, and after than it started to work with the screen noticeably faster and supported modes more than 800x600. (vmware recommend X 3.3.3.2). in this configuration Visio is working satisfactory (redrawing of screen is a little bit slow in non-full screen mode), but generally is OK. The fact that it's now possible to work on a single computer

Recommended Links

VMware Official Website

Workstation 6.0 Release Notes (HTML)
VMware ACE 2.0 Release Notes (HTML)

Workstation and Workstation ACE Edition Online Library (HTML)
     Workstation User's Manual (PDF)
     VMware ACE Administrator's Manual (PDF)

Related Documents
     Guest Operating System Installation Guide (HTML | PDF)
     Virtual Machine Mobility Planning Guide (PDF)
     Processor Check for 64-Bit Compatibility Guide (PDF)
     Disk Mount User Manual (PDF)
     Virtual Machine Converter User Manual (PDF)
     Technical Note: Dual-Boot Computers and Virtual Machines (PDF)

VMware's back

Solaris on VMware



Etc

FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit exclusivly for research and educational purposes.   If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 

ABUSE: IPs or network segments from which we detect a stream of probes might be blocked for no less then 90 days. Multiple types of probes increase this period.  

Society

Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least


Copyright © 1996-2016 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. www.softpanorama.org was created as a service to the UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License.

The site uses AdSense so you need to be aware of Google privacy policy. You you do not want to be tracked by Google please disable Javascript for this site. This site is perfectly usable without Javascript.

Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.

FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.

This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...

You can use PayPal to make a contribution, supporting development of this site and speed up access. In case softpanorama.org is down you can use the at softpanorama.info

Disclaimer:

The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author (or referenced source) and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the author present and former employers, SDNP or any other organization the author may be associated with. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.

Last modified: February 19, 2014