Saturday, January 20, 2007

VMware Workstation, 6.0 Beta

I have been having a look at VMware Workstation, 6.0 Beta, for about a week now. After reading: Desktop Virtualization with VMware Player and Workstation, I decided that I would give it a try. I have used VMware server many times, but not Workstation.
I have been quite impressed with it. There are many very good features. Unfortunately the FreeBSD 6-Branch doesn't preform well as a guest. Yet OpenBSD runs very well as a guest, and so do many linux, and Windows operating systems.
Figure 1. The image is of OpenBSD running as a guest OS, in VMware Workstation 6 Beta.

There are many features in workstation which I really like, and are very functional. Some of the new features in this release are:

  • Full support for Ubuntu 6.10 as both a guest and a host. I have tested Ubuntu 6.10 as both and it preforms very well. I was impressed.
  • There is multiple Monitor support, in which you can specify how guests see the monitors.
  • There is now support for the VIX API (formerly known as the Programming API), the API allows the writing of scripts and programs to automate virtual machines.
  • New IDE plug-ins, to Visual Studio (Windows) or Eclipse (Windows or Linux).
  • You can now run Virtual machines in the background, with Workstation closed. I really loved this feature, very handy.
  • If the guest installed supports VMware tools, then there are many features involving file transfer, and peripherals. However I was mainly testing server operation.
  • There is increased RAM support.
  • USB 2.0 Support, this works really well! I was so happy to see there there was finally 2.0 support, well done!
  • There is also support for many new guest and host operating systems, including Solaris 10 Update 3, Windows Vista, and Novel Netware 6.5 SP5, as well as many Linux OS's.
For more information on new features please see: VMware Workstation 6.0 Beta Release Notes.

I was really impressed with Workstation as a whole. It was very stable running under Ubuntu, both 6.06 and 6.10 as hosts. Most of the features that I tried worked just fine, except I could not get VNC connections to guest Operating systems to work. As I mentioned before it bothers me that FreeBSD doesn't work, but what can you do? I Love that you can create teams, I had a four computer OpenBSD cluster running inside a team, and it worked so nicely. I enjoyed playing with these features. It is a pity that the server addition doesn't have teams. I also loved being able to clone a virtual machine.

Overall Look and Feel
I always find the VMware GUI's easy to use, and simple to find my way around. The general look and feel is very comfortable. Some more complicated features are a little confusing at first but after using them you get the idea. A good knowledge of networking comes in hand with some of the more advance setups. Overall I have certainly enjoyed my experience in Workstation Beta 6.

I have enjoyed working with Workstation, and I certainly think that it is worth a look if you are a developer of any sort. Or if you would like to try Virtualization on the desktop. I have to say one thing that I will certainly give VMware over some over forms of Virtualization I have tried and that is it is simple to use. Plus I really love VMware's Virtual Appliances; which are: "pre-built, pre-configured and ready-to-run software application packaged with the operating system inside a virtual machine." They are very useful, and I really appreciate the work which has been put into many of them.