VMware Server -- What Is It?
VMware Server is a commercial virtual machine. If you want to know more
about the general concept of virtual machines, check out Virtual Machine
VMware is professional solution Virtual Machine. It's been developing for a
few years and is now a fairly mature product. As a commercial solution, it is
not open source. However, the company that makes VMware Server (and many other
computer management products) has now made VMware Server freely available to
VMware is unquestionably a professional Virtual Machine solution. It provides
a full GUI environment for installing, maintaining, and running guest operating
systems within a host. It has many features that make installation of guest systems
easy to accomplish.
The computer on which VMware Server is installed is called the host. Within
the VMware engine can be installed other operating systems that run on the
host. The operating systems installed in VMware are called guests.
VMware can exist on Linux and Windows hosts. On these respective hosts can
be installed X86 based guest operating systems.
For many of the more modern guest systems, VMware has packages called
VMware Tools. When installed in an operating guest, these additions
provide speed enhancements, better keyboard and mouse performance, and in some
cases (Like Windows NT) enhanced graphics drivers.
The result is that you can choose a host you like for most of your
work, and still be able to run a wide variety of guest operating systems in a
window on your host.
How do you get VMware Server?
You can go to VMware.com to get the
latest VMware install. Install packages are available for Linux and Windows. For Linux,
I found and downloaded a VMware Server tarzip installation file.
Recently, VMware has made their VMware Server freely available. So you can
go to the VMware site, download an appropriate version for your system, and
register for a free license. You'll need the license number to install the
VMware Server product.
The procedure I used to install VMware Server on Debian Etch was:
Unzipped and ran installer (as root)|
Choose NAT as the networking interface for guests
Rebooted, allowing VMware to make its pseudo network (vmnet8)
Once installed, you simply type 'vmware' to bring up the system. If things
have installed correctly, an ifconfig command will show the addition
of VMware network connections, such as vmnet8.
On Debian Etch, installation was straight forward, and all aspects of the
engine seemed to work well on my system. On an Ubuntu install the situation was
much different. The Ubuntu install is covered at the end of this article.
How Do You Install A Guest Into VMware Server?
Installing a guest system is also straight forward. The VMware GUI lets you
simply click on Create a new virtual machine to add another system,
select a few initial parameters such as the OS name and type, memory allowed
(workable defaults for different systems are available), and guest disk file
name and size.
Then VMware boots from the install source, usually a cdrom, and runs through
the install. When finished, it assumes the next boot of the new system is from
the new disk image, though you can easily force a boot from cdrom whenever
You can use the VMware menu system to define other disk drives, the cdrom,
floppies, networking, sound, serial ports, parallel ports, and SCSI devices in
the configuration for each guest.
How do you launch a VMware guest?
To run a VMware guest, first start the VMware engine, select Connect to
Local Host, use the mouse to select which of the installed guests you wish
to run, then click Power On.
Once in a system, across the top bar of the VMware are some pulldowns,
one of particular interest is VM. When VM is clicked, it drops
down and gives you control over removable media. You can mount and unmount
cdroms, floppies, usb devices, and network adaptors. The VM pulldown also
gives the you the opportunity to install the VM Tools in your guest OS.
Note that not all guests, such as MSDOS, can make use of VM Tools.
Networking with VMware is most easily done with the NAT interface. The
VMware Server Engine emulates an AMD PCNET PCI network adaptor, and most
systems have a driver for this common adaptor. For the guest, set up to use
DHCP, and usually other guest network parameters can be left alone.
Clicking on the guest window lets the guest control the mouse and keyboard.
To move out of the guest, use the CNTL-ALT key combination.
To exit a guest, be sure to first use the guest options to shut down. Then
click the Power Off button on VMware Server.
I've tested VMware with Freedos, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP
guest systems. All installed easily and run quite well in my one gigahertz
system. The VM Tools installed with no problems. I was pleasantly surprised
that the VM Tools install on my Windows NT guest provided a VMware svga driver,
greatly improving the standard NT vga video driver.
One interesting aspect of VMware is how it deals with the serial ports. I
describe in my qemu
review that my quickpad keyboard would not communicate with the qemu
serial port, though other products would.
Happily, the serial port support in VMware seems to perform well, even with
the quickpad interface software. I did have to click on the Yield CPU on poll
check box in the serial port setup window to get the quickpad interface to work.
Issues with Ubuntu
Once finally installed on Ubuntu, VMware Server worked very well with
Windows XP Professional. However, there were numerous issues with getting VMware
properly installed on the Ubuntu platform. Each, however, was solvable.
The Ubuntu install of VMware Server seemed to stall on several points, and I
eventually found 4 issues that had to be solved. Here's list of the 3 things
that had to be done prior to installing VMware, and one that had to be done
after the install.
1) 'touch' 2 files in /etc/vmware/ssl: rui.key and rui.crt|
2) Install ia32-libs
3) Install ssl and openssl
4) After install, move /usr/lib/vmware/libgcc_s.so.1 to
Our need for the ia32-libs may be due to using a 64-bit kernel on the
Ubuntu processor. Detailed discussions of these issues can be found at:
After these fixes, VMware Server seems to work well in Ubuntu. There was one
issue with installed guests involving the usb access. The easy fix is described
Basically, the fix is to give VMware access to the usbfs virtual disk. To solve
this problem, insert the following line in your /etc/fstab file. Then the
problem is automatically taken care of whenever you boot into Ubuntu.
usbfs /proc/bus/usb usbfs auto 0 0|