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VMware Player

VMware Player

VMware Player is a freeware virtualization software product from VMware, Inc.. The software allows 32- and 64-bit Windows, Linux, NetWare, or Solaris x86 operating systems side-by-side, without rebooting or partitioning the hard drive. This software runs guest virtual machines produced by other VMware products. It can also download virtual appliances and access Open Virtualization Format (OVF) and Open Virtual Appliance (OVA) files. However, VMware Player cannot itself create new virtual machines.

Fortunately, there are freeware tools that allow virtual machines to be created without having to purchase a commercial VMware product. But an easier option to try out Linux as the guest operating system is to use one of the images available at the Virtual Appliance Repository or from the chaps at These sites offer a wide selection of pre-configured Linux distributions to run under VMware Player. We tried out a number of the images they offer including Fedora 10, Ubuntu 8.10 and CentOS 5.3.

VMware Player installs like a standard desktop application. Once installed, the software runs virtual machines in a separate window. VMware Player includes features that enable users to configure their machines for optimal performance as well as access host PC devices.

VMware Player has good configuration options. You can disconnect devices to restore the host's access, make simple network configuration choices, and adjust the amount of RAM dedicated to the virtual machine. However, some advanced options can only be set when using the full VMware Workstation product. Users can configure a virtual machine so it reverts to a snapshot or takes a new snapshot when it powers down. It is also possible to copy/paste and drag/drop with the host system, as well as sharing folders between the host and guest operating systems.

It is worth downloading an image that has VMware Tools software installed. All of the images from the Virtual Appliance Repository conveniently have this installed. Why is VMware Tools so important? Basically, the performance of the guest system is noticeably enhanced. It improves the performance by accelerating the network, video, offering host to guest time synchronization, seamless mouse movement between the host and guest operating sytstems, and cut & paste from guest to host and guest to guest.

In the first screenshot above, we have Ubuntu 8.10 Server running as the guest operating system, with Firefox, Gnumeric (spreadsheet software) and a terminal emulator in operation. The second screenshot shows Fedora 10 running as the guest, with Firefox and Abiword (word processing program) minimised.

The target audience for VMware Player consists primarily of power users needing an effective virtual environment to try out new software or operating systems. Whereas, VirtualBox is more focused on the everyday user, but who still wants an extremely feature rich, high performance product.

The free VMware player brings many of the benefits of virtual machines to the average user. It will not create new virtual machines or connect multiple virtual machines in a virtual network. Yet it makes running two operating system to be simple and free. It is definitely worth a download, and comes with a strong recommendation.

 VMware Player 2.5.2

Free to download



VMWare Inc


Support Sites:
Documentation, FAQs, Forums, ThoughtPolice VMware Image, bagvapp Virtual Appliances, Open Virtual Machine Tools

Selected Reviews:, PC Magazine

Features include:

  • Run 32- and 64-bit virtual machines
  • Leverage 2-way Virtual SMP for improved performance when working with multi-threaded, resource-intensive software
  • Use 3rd-party virtual machines and images
  • Share data between host computer and virtual machine
  • Broad host and guest operating system support
  • Support for USB 2.0 devices
  • Get appliance information at start-up
  • Gain easy access to virtual machines via an intuitive home page interface
  • Configure a virtual machine so it reverts to a snapshot or takes a new snapshot when it powers down
  • Copy/paste and drap/drop with the host system
  • Share folders
Next Page: VMware Server

Read ahead:

Last Updated Sunday, April 19 2009 @ 04:00 PM EDT

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