Virtualization Part 1: VMWare Player
As promised this is the first part in my virtualization series. There are multiple vendors in the market place that are in the desktop virtualization space but I am going to talk to a couple of them. For this series we are going to talk about:
1. VMware Player (free)
2. Oracle VirtualBox (free)
3. VMware Workstation (not free)
4. VMware ESXi (free for non-commercial use)
5. VMware Fusion for Mac
6. Microsoft Hyper-V Server (free for non-commercial use)
7. Microsoft Hyper-V (not free but comes with every version of Windows Server 2008 R2, optional download for Windows Server 2008 and comes with Windows Server 2012)
8. Microsoft Virtual PC (for Windows 7)
9. Parallels of Mac
For some high level explanations of what visualization is please refer to:
This post will be about VMware Player.
You can get VMware Player at this link:
VMware Player is available in a couple of flavors, Windows and Linux. We are going to stick to Windows for this post and cover VMware Player for Linux under a separate post.
VMware Player will support both x64 and x86 architectures (32-bit or 64-bit operating systems)
VMware Player will install on Windows XP through Windows 10
The following Matrix shows what Operating Systems are supported under VMware Player
Let’s install VMware Player. I am installing VMware Player on a Windows 7 Enterprise PC. V
Browse to your Downloads folder where you saved the VMware Player installer.
Double Click on the Installer File, VMware Player-5.0.0-812388
Close Install location, generally you leave this at its Default Location
Click Check for Product updates on startup. This is important because VMware updates its software regularly and you want to have the latest versions running.
Optional button but I like to help out other vendors by sending usage data
Create Shortcuts. Click Next
Ready for Install, Click Continue
Install Complete. Click Restart Now
Your PC has to reboot because VMware Player has installed 2 new network adapters on your system. Both act as separate networks and network types for accessing your VM’s on your PC.
The first network adapter is for NAT addressing. NAT stands for Network Address Translation, or having one IP address that sits in front of others, in essence hiding the internal network from the external network and just exposing one point.
The second network adapter is for bridging your VM’s to your existing network. Bridging is where your laptop or desktop/server passes all the physical network information to the virtual network adapter on the VM, allowing it to behave like it’s on your physical network.
This diagram from VMware shows the whole data flow and how all things are connected in your PC now that you have VMware Player installed.
The CPU, Memory, NIC and Disk of your physical computer are available to each VM you install on your system. VMware uses CPU time slices of free clock cycles to give to each VM you have. It also takes a MIN and MAX ram for a VM. The NIC is using available bandwidth to your physical network. The disk is where are your VM’s are stored, in VMware formatted files called .vmx and .vmdk files. A .vmx is a text file that has all your VM’s configuration information, name, location on disk, how much RAM is allocated, how many CPU’s and Cores, how much disk space is allocated, MAC address etc. the .vmdk file is basically the hard disk for the VM, with all the OS, data and applications encapsulated in one file.
Now that you are back into your computer, with a little more understanding of what you just installed let’s move on to creating a VM.
Click on the VMware Icon on your Desktop
Click Create a New Virtual Machine
Click Browse and browse to your ISO library you created in a past post.
Select the OS you want to install. In this demo we are installing Windows 7 Enterprise x64
I did not enter a product key to show you this message. Click YES
This screen lets you name your VM and chose a location to create the VM.
Here you select how big you want your .vmdk to be. 60GB is a good round number and is the default for Windows 7 VM’s
There are two options here for the disk after you pick its size:
1. Store virtual disk as a single file
2. Store virtual disk into multiple files
If you select “Store virtual disk as a single file” the .vmdk will grow into a single file. It make file management a little easier to do but you’re dealing with a single large file, you have to make sure you store your .vmdk’s on either a FAT32 or NTFS formatted volume or you will have issues with file sizes.
If you select “Store virtual disk into multiple files” your VM is spread across multiple files. It is all seen within that VM OS as one file system. It makes file management a little more complicated on the host side but it makes moving the VM if you have to much easier by moving more but smaller files. In total it will still equal the size of the single larger file.
Chose which option suites your needs best. I choose option one, “Store virtual disk as a single file” and Click Next
This is a summary screen for the VM you are about to create. There is a “Customize Hardware” button that allows you to change virtual hardware on this VM.
Click Customize Hardware
There are numerous options here for what types of hardware you can present to the VM:
1. Memory, How much RAM will you give the VM
2. Processors, How many Processors will you assign the VM (limited to how many you have on your physical system)
3. New CD/DVD, whether to use the physical drive on your system or a virtual ISO like we have already
4. Floppy. Not much use anymore but it’s nice to have an option
5. Network Adapter. This is where you choose your network types, NAT, Bridged or Private
6. USB Controller, if the VM will be able to use your physical USB devices i.e. printer, webcam etc.
After you’re done choosing what hardware will be presented to your VM click Close
Here Click Finish and VMware Player will start installing your Windows 7 VM
To familiarize yourself with the VMware files, from your physical computer browse to where you created your VM.
You will see files here but the two important ones are again the .vmx and the .vmdk.
There is something important that I left off and I wanted to add it here. For the most part VMware Player installs the Integration tools automatically when your OS comes up for the first time. If it doesn’t follow these steps:
On the top left of the screen click the Player button Click Manage and Reinstall VMware Tools.
What are VMware tools and why are they important. Simply its a set of programs and drivers from VMware to help improve the performance of your VM. Here is a quick rundown of what they are.
VMware tools Service (VMwareService.exe on WIndows or vmware-guestd on Linux and Solaris. This service syncs your VM’s time with the hosts time. In Windows it also captures your mouse and keyboard from your physical system.
A set of VMware drivers that include an SVGA, a vmxnet driver (network driver) a BusLogic SCSI driver, a sync driver to quiesce I/O for Consolidated Backup (when using ESXi or vSphere), VMware mouse driver and a memory controller for efficient memory allocation between VM’s
Some scripts that help your automate guest OS operations. The scripts run when you change the VM’s power state from power off to reset etc.
VMware control panel that lets you modify settings in the VM, shrink your virtual disks and connect and disconnect virtual devices like your USB
So that was a quick rundown of the VMware tools. My recommendation is to have then installed on your VM’s as you will see a performance increase with them installed.
As I stated, there are literally dozens of Operating Systems you can deploy on your local machine with VMware Player. Poke around, play with it and as always, ask any questions you may have, I’m here to answer them the best I can.
Thanks for reading