Linux in Government: VMware Workstation 5

A look at the new VMware Workstation release--what it can and cannot do.
So What Does It Actually Do?

VMware Workstation 5 allows multiple operating systems and applications to run at the same time on a single physical computer. If you have a lot of RAM, a large hard drive and a serious CPU, VMware performs okay. In this way, it is more of a developer's product than an end-user one.

The guest operating systems live in isolated virtualized machines. VMware maps a hosts computer's hardware resources to the virtual machine's resources, so each virtual machine has its own CPU, memory, disks and I/O devices, so to speak. Each virtual machine appears to the guest operating systems as a standard x86 computer.

Once VMware Workstation installs a guest operating system on the host, you can install and run unmodified versions of Windows, Linux, Novell NetWare and Sun Solaris x86, as well as applications written for those platforms, on one machine. VMware says users can see the benefit of using multiple PCs without the expense, physical setup and maintenance of various hardware platforms. By the time you build a machine with enough resources for the guests to operate at acceptable level, you could have saved money buying separate PCs. But VMware has other advantages at which we should look.

Figure 2 provides a look at VMware Workstation running on NLD 9 with Windows XP Home Edition installed. This should give you an idea of what you can expect to see if you use this product. Notice on the top of the tool bar that an icon lets you select a full-screen mode. By selecting this option, the guest occupies all of your monitor's pixels. It's still not going to give you the benefit of a great visual experience, however.

Figure 2. Windows XP Home Edition Running on NLD 9

What's New?

The virtual hardware of VMware 5 runs better than previous versions. With a single Pentium IV or an equivalent AMD processor and 512MB of RAM, one should be able to run two virtual machines simultaneously. The previous versions would grind to a halt in such a scenario.

I wouldn't recommend running your system that way, however. If you have a need to run more than one virtual machine, you should run dual high-end processors and 3GB of memory. Otherwise, you cannot use your host machine and the two virtual machines with any efficiency.

Snapshots of an OS

Version 5 provides for multiple snapshots so a user can take a snapshot at any point and revert to its original or another state when a guest is powered down. Users can configure a virtual machine to take a snapshot when a guest is powered off and preserve an audit trail. If you need to examining a virus, for example, you can take a snapshot before you introducing the malware. If you the virus does damage, a user can restore the virtual machine to the state preserved in that snapshot. The same goes for testing new code or a patch.

Previous versions of VMware allowed for the taking of snapshots. However, once you created a second one, it would overwrite the original snapshot. So, for testing purposes, version 5 provides a significant upgrade.

Virtual Networks

Workstation teams allow users to set up a virtual network or lab on a host computer. You can power up multiple virtual machines as mentioned above. You then can configure networking the way you would on any local area network, however, this network would run on a single computer.

Users can work together in what VMware calls a LAN segment. They are invisible to the host computer's network, which creates the possibility of doing development in a virtual safe house.


The new VMware Workstation provides interesting deployment capabilities with what the company calls clones. In VMware workstation terms, two types of clones exist. One it called a full clone, which we might consider to be similar to a ghosted image used to provision another computer. The second type of clone is called a linked clone. It remains dependent on the original image.

VMware's full clone functions as an independent copy of a virtual machine. Once a user makes the clone, it runs separate from the parent. It then can go off and become a unique instance that you can use to make changes or deploy for whatever purpose you see fit.

VMware's linked clone shares virtual disks with the original or parent, conserving disk space. This permits multiple virtual machines to use the same software installation. Also, linked clones take less time to create than a full clone does.

Labs might want to create linked clones to provision to developers, quality assurance engineers, testers or maintenance programmers--literally for different tasks. By storing a linked virtual machine on your local network, other users quickly can make a linked clone. A support team can reproduce a bug in a virtual machine, and an engineer quickly can make a linked clone of that virtual machine to work on the bug.

The files on the parent of a linked clone continue to exist at the time one creates a snapshot and continue to remain available to the linked clone. Changes to the parent don't affect the linked clone, and changes to the disk of the linked clone do not affect the parent.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

fedora as guest on VMWare

Anonymous's picture

I currently run FC2 through FC4 as guests on VMWare 5

VMware Linux hosts

Anonymous's picture

VMware may not officially support all Linux distro's, but this only means that VMware is shipped with modules matching the default kernel for those Linux versions. What VMware needs to run is vmmon & vmnet modules that match the hosts kernel. Just make sure that there are matching kernel headers and kernel image. Run the ~/ and it will compile the needed modules. Runs on all version of Debian I have used.

SuSE 9.2 as VMware host

Anonymous's picture

I too had this problem. A little searching the SuSE and VMware forums brought me these commands which did the trick:

$ cd /usr/src/linux
$ make cloneconfig
$ make modules_config

Suse 9.2 as VMware host alos works for 9.3

Anonymous's picture

Just F.Y.I

I tried this proceedure on Suse 9.3 and it worked there as well.

Suse 9.3 as VMware host

Shimon's picture


Yes, works well without any problems.


SuSE 9.2 as VMware host

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the commands. You sure it was just a little searching?

I never found anything like that and used an earlier version to get it to work.

SuSE 9.2 + VMware

DJM.'s picture

> I never found anything like that and used an earlier version
> to get it to work.

The problem is that SuSE's 9.x kernels are full of additional patches that Novell/SuSE put there, so that most packages relying on pre-built modules will fail. Workaround: You have to re-compile the modules.

I have this problem with VMware but also with the Linux-versions of a VPN software I have to use (Nortel VPN client).

As for VMware and SuSE 9.2:

Here is how I solve the problem:

cd /usr/src/linux
make cloneconfig
make prepare

With "make prepare" some files that are usually created during a kernel compilation are created too, but nothing more happens, ie. the actual compilation does not take place.

When you call "" it will then find all the necessary files as if a fresh kernel had been compiled. Voilà, problem solved.

I use SuSE 9.2 as main OS on my Laptop, and VMware to run other virtual installations, e.g. Windows 2000, other Linuxes, and so on.



SuSE 9.2 + VMware

Anonymous's picture


I appreciate your explanation a ton. I was going to sell my SUSE 9.2 on eBay and take a big L-O-S-S.

I followed everyting you wrote and understand it. I wish you would post your work-around on Linux Questions or some of the other support sites.

Search engines don't pick up anything from Linux Journal because of this content management system they use. All this great advice in the comment sections and it's totally useless to the community.

Hey Editors - did you get that?



PK's picture

I too run VMware workstation to use Windows programs. 1GB of RAM with a 1.4mhz Pmobile works pretty well. Mine is running on Ubuntu 5.04 with no difficulties. It is nowhere near as fast as Windows running natively but is acceptable. I have used it on Mandrake (Mandriva), Gentoo, Redhat and Debian without difficulty. It boots somewhat slowly but runs pretty well.

The biggest problem with VMware on a laptop is that the host IP changes with locations. And then the guests cannot find the host to share files without a great deal of effort, every time you change locations. It get's old real quick. I take the laptop home at night and I'm tired of changing guest IP info.

I have never made or intend to make a clone. I don't care about this capability. And I just don't have or intend to get or make the space for two or more VMware instances on my harddrive.

Someday Intuit will release a Linux version of Quicken and possibly Quickbooks and OpenOffice's .doc compatibility will improve to the point that I no longer need Windows and I will delete VMware completely. But until then....

There's a very easy way to sh

Anonymous's picture

There's a very easy way to share files between host and guest in everywhere without modifying anything when changing place.

You just have to add another ethernet interface to the guest. Then you can define that eth0 is for the outside world (using bridge mode, probably dhcp enabled for eth0) and eth1 is using host-only mode. Guest can then have a static ip address or dhcp enabled (usually gets always the same ip address). Host has a static ip address (host-only network adapter Vmnet1), so guest OS always finds the host using that ip address. No more trickies and worries about host and guest, they have created a private LAN. Now you can change the place as much as you like.

VMware and applicable hosts

Anonymous's picture

I run VMware 5 on Fedora Core 3 with no problems.
One has to update the install for each new kernel release but that is quickly done.

The guest OS is Win2K Pro and it runs fine on my
3.2GHz pentium with 1 GB RAM and 640 GB of IDE and SATA disks.
File IO runs as 15 -20 MB/sec as a GuestOS whereas under W2K
directly I get 7 - 10 MB/sec on a good day.

My only concern is the cost as I only use two apps under Win2K.

VMware performance

Anonymous's picture

The virtual hardware of VMware 5 runs better than previous versions. With a single Pentium IV or an equivalent AMD processor and 512MB of RAM, one should be able to run two virtual machines simultaneously. The previous versions would grind to a halt in such a scenario.

I wouldn't recommend running your system that way, however. If you have a need to run more than one virtual machine, you should run dual high-end processors and 3GB of memory. Otherwise, you cannot use your host machine and the two virtual machines with any efficiency.

I don't agree that such a high-end machine is needed to run VMware Workstation. I've run RedHat Linux in VMware on a 600 MHz Pentium III, 512 MB RAM Windows box with almost the same performance as booting directly into RedHat Linux on the same machine.

All you need a machine that is powerful enough to run the applications you want to run in the virtual machine. The overhead of VMware is very less in terms of CPU utilization and moderate in terms of memory.
For example - If you can run applications A, B & C on an OS without VMWare, you can also run A on the original OS, B & C on two virtual machines if you have enough memory.
You can't expect VMware to triple the power of your machine by installing two virtual machines!

How does it differ from QEMU?

mangoo's picture

It would be nice if the article outlined some differences between VMWARE and QEMU (which is free and is packaged in many distributions).

Don't forget that VMWare 5 al

b34r's picture

Don't forget that VMWare 5 also support DirectX acceleration using OpenGL under a Linux host running a guest XP. While the feature is not yet perfect it already runs a lot of recent game titles that do not work either in Cedega or Wine at more than acceptable performances.

OpenGL != DirectX

Matt H's picture

You know that OpenGL and DirectX/Direct3D aren't the same thing, right; they're competing things. You can run DirectX 9c in vmware. you cannot run OpenGL in vmware. Almost all modern windows 3D is directX, things like Compiz on linux etc are OpenGL. important distinction as you can run windows guest games with directX if the host, vmware and guest are turned on, but you cannot run OpenGL in any virtual machine. OpenGL is seen as being at least a decade out of date, although it's making a comeback in the linux world for compositing window managers.

Short version is that QEMU is

Anonymous's picture

Short version is that QEMU is an emulator and VMware is a virtualizer. VMWARE makes an x86 look like lots of x86 systems. Qemu in theory makes and x86 look like a sparc,ppc,etc,etc it can also be used to run multiple copies but will have a higher overhead than a virtualizer. From what I have seen, VMware is way easier to setup.

Re: Short version is that QEMU is

Anonymous's picture

Sorry, but QEmu is a Virtualizer, to my limited experience no great difference with VMWare (I don't do DirctX &c.) in performance, but $200 cheaper, i.e. free.

Wine is an emulator.

W(ine) Is Not an Emulator.

Anonymous's picture

W(ine) Is Not an Emulator. Is a complete replication of M$ libraries on top of Linux. If it is slower is because it is not polished yet, it has a long way to go to replace win2000 totally.

Regards from Spain.

but QEMU isn't hard to setup :)

mangoo's picture

All I did in my Mandrake system was:

1) urpmi qemu qemu-launcher

2) Then I started qemu-launcher

3) checked "Use CDROM" and pressed "Launch Qemu"

And that was it, I was able to run another Linux from a CDROM :)

I think the comparison you ar

Anonymous's picture

I think the comparison you are looking for is between vmware and xen.

I think the comparison you ar

Anonymous's picture

I think the comparison you are looking for is between vmware and UML.

vmware and UML have more in common than either has with xen.

VMware Workstation 5 and slackware

Anonymous's picture

So how do u get this to work on a slackware 10.x system?

One Click, Universal Protection: Implementing Centralized Security Policies on Linux Systems

As Linux continues to play an ever increasing role in corporate data centers and institutions, ensuring the integrity and protection of these systems must be a priority. With 60% of the world's websites and an increasing share of organization's mission-critical workloads running on Linux, failing to stop malware and other advanced threats on Linux can increasingly impact an organization's reputation and bottom line.

Learn More

Sponsored by Bit9

Linux Backup and Recovery Webinar

Most companies incorporate backup procedures for critical data, which can be restored quickly if a loss occurs. However, fewer companies are prepared for catastrophic system failures, in which they lose all data, the entire operating system, applications, settings, patches and more, reducing their system(s) to “bare metal.” After all, before data can be restored to a system, there must be a system to restore it to.

In this one hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for better disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible bare-metal recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.

Learn More

Sponsored by Storix