Fun With VMware Workstation, Part Deux

A couple of weeks ago I downloaded a free trial version of VMware Workstation out of pure curiosity to see what it was like. As of the last posting, I had installed openSUSE 10.3 as a virtual machine, which I am enjoying a great deal. This week I finally have the time to fulfill my original plan, i.e. to install WindowsXP. I wanted to get XP installed so I can use the Yahoo! Music service, of which my family is a member.

Unfortunately, Yahoo! recently announced that it is discontinuing the service and tossing everyone over into the Rhapsody Music service instead. When I read that news, I decided to read the writing on the wall and get my butt over to Rhapsody, as well. While Rhapsody is double the cost of Yahoo! Music, it runs in Firefox, so I can access my account from practically any computer. Thus, despite having to shell out more money for Rhapsoty, the music problem is solved. I take consolation because at least I paid nothing for my new Kubuntu distro, and I didn't need to shell a grand+ for a new computer with lousy Windows Vista.

Still, to satisfy my curiosity, I installed the WindowsXP virtual machine on VMware Workstation, and I had success! All I had to do was answer a few questions to get my virtual machine ready, such as choice of OS, size of the partition, type of networking, etc. Once I fired up the virtual machine, it recognized the WindowsXP CD in the drive of my R-Cubed laptop and started the installation process.

The only spot where I was a bit leery was when I was asked to create the 8 GB partition for the virtual machine. I kept it small because I don't expect to store many files on it. I wasn't quite sure where this partition would reside and if agreeing to the partition would screw anything up. As far as I can tell so far, nothing was lost nor mutilated.

The thing I am most impressed with is how easy it is to maneuver between your 'real' world and 'virtual' world with VMware Workstation. Just clicking on your virtual machine activates the mouse in your virtual world, and Ctrl-Alt pulls you back out into your real world. Furthermore, it's no problem to have your virtual world churning away at a task while you do something else in your real world. For example, while I installed XP, I was writing this posting in Kate in my real Kubuntu world.

One thing that ticks me off is that Microsoft is making me activate my copy of WindowsXP, though I haven't actually done it yet. Perhaps it won't cause me any headaches, but it's the same copy of XP that is over on the other partition of my hard drive. Are they going to give me a hassle because it is a different installation? They better not!

Sighs, more things are ticking me off. Windows is doing an auto restart, which is hanging on me. To solve the problem, I powered down the virtual machine and powered it back up, and XP started up normally, complete with Internet access. Nice work, VMware!

In case you are curious, here are a couple of screenshots of my experience:
Setting up a virtual machine
The WindowsXP install process

VMware-start.png82.93 KB
VMWare-Winstall.png95.72 KB

James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.


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Install VMware Tools

Xouba's picture

You should install VMware Tools on the Windows XP guest. I think you can get them for free from VMware's website (it's an ISO file that you can mount as CD). They will allow you to use special drivers for networking (so to speak, "native VMware NIC" drivers) and switch between the virtual machine and your desktop with just moving the mouse cursor over them.

By the way, they can also be installed on Linux guests. But I don't really know what they add because I have not tested them myself.