Saturday, June 21, 2008

Virtualization Part 2: VMware Workstation

Welcome to Part 2 of the virtualization mini-series. If you didn't get a chance to read Part 1: Virtualization, you should read it before going on (I wrote it so it must be good, right?).

VMware Workstation is a software suite that allows you to virtualize in a desktop environment. It is software that allows you to run multiple operating systems within your native operating system seamlessly. Lets begin with a scenario:

Lets say you were reading a really cool blog about cool internet sites and software when you learned about an operating system (OS). You would really like to try out the OS on my computer but it seems complicated and you think you would need to format your computer. Not so! All you need is a virtualization software. It is actually quite simple and requires little know-how. You won't even need to format. You can simply download the trial version of VMware Workstation (definitely not a free software package, although free ones exist) and try it out... FREE. All you need to do is load up Workstation and follow the steps (I have them ready to go for you right here). So now you can try out the OS without messing up your current system. Better yet, you can run both operating systems at the same time.

How does it work? Basically the software sets up a pseudo partition on your hard drive. It creates a file folder somewhere on your drive (you choose the spot - it defaults to a folder called virtual drives, or something) and allows for that file folder to be formatted (according to the file system of a particular OS) and an OS put on it. You determine the size and everything. You can even set it up so that the partition is only the size required by the OS and then anything you want to install using on that OS, you put on your native drive using the network connection that is automatically set up when you install. VMware powers up and runs the operating system and it runs like any other application. You must also (when setting up the partition) determine the memory allocation, processor allocation, etc. The beautiful thing is that both operating systems run together like two friends... and you get to hang out with both of them (wow that was a nerdy metaphor). Just know that you cannot run a Mac OS on VMware Workstation without some tweaking. The tweaking process is not easy. If you want to try it, find a tutorial via Google.

Screenshots anyone? (Left: XP running Vista. Right: Vista running XP)

Try It Free (the full version costs moneys)

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