Thursday, August 31, 2006

Virtualize and be Productive ...

One of the best things that VMware has done in recent memory is to release VMWare Server free of charge for anyone to download, setup and use with no license restrictions whatsover. We may have the likes of Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtualpc/downloads/sp1.mspx) and Xen (http://www.xensource.com/), both having their own virtualization products, to thank for that ingenious (perhaps calculated) move.


I've been using VMware server since it was released. Here are the top 5 things I really like about virtualization with VMware server in particular.


  1. Compartmentalize. I can create virtual machines for a specific project or for a group of projects. This is nice because it does not mess up the install on my host computer. If the project requires additional software, I can install it, worry free, inside the virtual machine where the project resides. If I completely mess up and break the project, I can delete the entire virtual machine and start from scratch without worry.
  2. Reuse. Each virtual machine can be different from the other but if you're working on projects with pretty much the same setup, you can create one virtual machine and create clones of it for each of the projects that you have.
  3. Remote Access. VMware has 2 additional software that allows you to monitor and connect to a virtual machine in a VMWare server. The VMware server console and MUI. The VMware server console is almost like VNC, only but better because in addition to interacting with the OS, you can also set and edit the preferences of a virtual machine. MUI, on the other hand, gives you control over the virtual machines on the server. It basically allows you to suspend, run or power down a virtual machine thru a web interface.
  4. Pause. This is probably the feature that I like the most. I can literally pause an entire virtual machine and turn off the computer at the end of the day. On the next working day when I power up my machine, I can start right where I left off by.
It's not all a bed of roses, though. I maxed out my RAM to 2GB and got myself an Athlon 64 dual core processor before I felt that I could comfortably use VMware server on my machine. Then again I run 2-5 virtual machines at the same time so you may not need as powerful a rig as that. However, newer computers come with more powerful processors, faster memory and hard disks in the hundreds of gigabytes, so this could be a non-issue on newer hardware.

Update : Seems I forgot reason number 5, it's here