From Issue #145May 2006
VMware is non-free software, though some is provided gratis in order to gain market share. I would like to know why Mick Baur feels VMware is a compelling purchase in the face of competition from free solutions. That is a very dismissive statement to make without giving any reasons for it. I would like a comparison of the various free virtualization solutions with each other and with VMware. (I am behind in my reading of LJ and came here expecting to find at least a partial answer. I am shocked no one raised the issue previously.)
Even if Mick Baur is correct in his statement, few people have as stringent needs as Mick Baur. Certainly my needs are not as stringent as his. Free virtualization solutions might very well meet my needs just fine. Even if I am enabling someone to use a virtual machine to host a non-free OS and associated non-free ap(s), I prefer to do so using free software for all the reasons the Free Software Foundation so eloquently explains. I am very interested in virtualization software because I have noticed that people who are not committed to the principle of free software and who are using dual boot systems because they have one or more programs they need Windows software for, tend to just leave Windows running once they boot to it. I believe they would mostly use GNU/Linux Free Software if they were running Windows virtually and it was merely another window on their desktop rather than the hassle of rebooting back and forth between OSes.
The facts are lacking here, but I do say VMWare is a compelling purchase. Admittedly, I am a power user. One of the things I need is speed and VMWare Workstation runs right up there with kemu and acceleration enabled, making them among the fastest virtual CPUs. This goes beyond a CPU though in many respects.
The new versions support usb 2.0, allowing me to use external drives in my guest OS without lag. Not to mention some of these devices have no drivers for Linux because they are obscure oldies but goodies. Experimental 3D support is featured as well and can run DirectX games on a Windows guest with respectable speed. Some of these games wine won't run the first line of code and forget other VM solutions for 3D support. Admittedly, it still has some bugs like flickery video in some DX8 and 9 games and crashing in some very recent games but the fact you can run them in a playable fashion under Linux is just great.
I run CPU intensive Windows apps such as video converters with functions that Linux alternatives have yet to implement and the VMs are consistently stable and comply well with CPU scheduling to avoid slowing down the host OS too much. Many free alternatives just can't hold up under that kind of thing, though a few can.
I think it boils down to the package. VMWare does almost everything exceptionally, which has been making it an ever more viable Windows replacement for those of us still stuck needing a few of Mickeysoft's applications. Some free alternatives do 1 to a few things exceptionally, like kemu's quick processing speed, but I have yet to see anything else fully replace a Windows machine when you need one so well.