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VMware Server

VMware Server

VMware Server (formerly VMware GSX Server) is an entry-level server virtualization software suite from VMware, Inc.

The software installs on any existing server and partitions a physical server into multiple virtual machines by abstracting processor, memory, storage and networking resources, providing a high degree of hardware utilization and flexibility.

Users can provision a new server in minutes, run Windows and Linux on the same server, increase the utlization of a physical server, move and migrate virtual machines, and capture the state of an entire virtual machine and roll back to that state with a mere click of a button.

The software uses a client-server model, allowing remote access to virtual machines, at the expense of some graphical performance (and 3D support). In addition to the ability to run virtual machines created by other VMware products, it can also run virtual machines created by Microsoft Virtual PC. It has support for a wide number of guest operating systems, including RedHat Enterprise, Mandriva, Turbolinux, Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, SuSE and more. We installed Ubuntu 8.10 as the guest operating system, if only because that is what we recommend newcomers to Linux try first.

One of the distinguising features of VMware Server is its Web-based interface. In the previous version of VMware Server, the software used a standalone client-based application to create and configure virtual machines. However, in version 2, the web browser now itself creates, administers and runs the virtual machines.

The above screenshot shows the web interface in action, providing the user with information about the hardware being used by the virtual machine, and a wealth of other information and functionality at your finger tips. All you need to access VMware Server is a web browser which also allows you to create virtual machines from any machine on the network.

Installing Ubuntu is just as easy as installing XP or Vista. The only complication is that VMware Tools needs to be installed, if you are going to get good performance out of the virtual machine.

Here are a couple of screenshots showing the Ubuntu guest operating system in action, running, of course, under the gorgeous GNOME desktop environment. Applications shown include SeaMonkey (an all-in-one internet application suite, GNOME terminal (a terminal emulator), K3b (burning software), Audacious (advanced audio player), XChat-GNOME (graphical IRC client), Blender (3D creation tools), Comix (Comic Book Viewer), and Firefox.

VMware Server is a great way of experimenting with Linux distributions. It is a very mature, well-engineered piece of software, and the web-based interface is slick. Even though this is a free download produced by a commercial organisation, it is not in any way a low-end product that has had important functionality disabled. VMware Server is the way forward for virtualization software.

 VMware Server 2.0.1

Free to download


Proprietary, Open Source edition available

VMWare Inc


Support Sites:
Users Manual, Data Sheet, FAQ, Forums

Selected Reviews:

Features include:

  • Can be managed by VMware VirtualCenter to efficiently provision, monitor and manage infrastructure from a central management console
  • Supports two-processor Virtual SMP, enabling a single virtual machine to span multiple physical processors
  • Runs on a wider variety of Linux and Windows host and guest operating systems
  • Captures the entire state of a virtual machine and rolls back at any time with the click of a single button
  • Installs like an application, with quick and easy, wizard-driven installation
  • Quick and easy, wizard-driven virtual machine creation
  • Opens VMware or Microsoft virtual machine format and Symantec LiveState Recovery images with VM Importer
  • Supports Intel Virtualization Technology
  • VMware Infrastructure (VI) Web Access management interface
  • Independent virtual machine console
  • Support for USB 2.0 devices
  • Multi-tiered permissions: Configure different levels of permissions to access virtual machines in different ways, including browsing, interacting, configuring and administering virtual machines
  • Hardware editors: Edit and add devices such as USB 2.0 devices and legacy devices such as floppy drives, serial and parallel ports
  • Automatically start your virtual machines
  • Link to Virtual Appliance Marketplace
  • Support for up to 8 GB of RAM (up from 3.6 GB in Server 1.0) per virtual machine, 10 virtual network interface cards and up to two virtual SMP (vSMP) processors per virtual machine
  • 64-bit guest operating system support
  • Support for Virtual Machine Interface (VMI)
  • Support for VIX API 1.5
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)
  • Virtual Machine Communication Interface (VMCI)
  • Support for SCSI pass-through (generic) devices
  • Expand disk capacity on the fly: Allows for adding new SCSI hard disks and controllers to a running virtual machine
  • Firefox 3 as a supported browser for the management interface
  • Remote Client Devices: Access devices such as CD-ROMs that are not physically connected to the host via VMware Remote Console
Next Page: VirtualBox

Read ahead:

Last Updated Sunday, April 19 2009 @ 04:03 PM EDT

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