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How To: Setting up Virtualization on Windows Using VMWare Server
One of the greatest strengths of today's computing environments that is completely underutilized by most of the user base around the world is that of virtualization. Virtualization allows you to run multiple "guest" operating systems simultaneously on a single machine. You might ask - "Why is this so groundbreaking?". Virtualization offers numerous advantages over traditional single operating system setups for a lot of reasons, but not limited to the following -
- No longer need to dual, triple or "more" boot your main machine so you can stay in the operating system that is most comfortable to you while allowing you to learn, test and experiment with other operating systems (great way to learn Linux).
- No need to run multiple computers saving on power and equipment costs while also saving on space (only needing one keyboard/mouse, no A/B switch, no KVM needed, etc.)
- Quicker and more efficient restores of system settings and data allowing for more testing of applications, settings, etc.
- Increased flexibility in moving virtual machines from one physical machine to another.
Those are just some of the advantages of setting up a virtual environment. Now that I have convinced you on virtualization merits, how do we get everything setup. My virtualization software of choice is VMWare Server 2.0 which is free to use and allows you to install this software on your current operating system. My computer at home was running Windows Vista Ultimate at the time which made the decision of what virtualization software easy to use as Windows Virtual Server 2008 doesn't support Windows Vista.
Installing VMWare Server 2.0
Here's a pretty easy guide to follow for installing VMWare Server.
Once VMWare Server 2.0 is up and running on your "host" machine, you want to start setting up "guest" machines. In preparation of starting the guest virtual machine process, you want to obtain an ISO of every operating system you want to setup. For me, I get all my Windows ISOs through my MSDN Universal subscription, but you can definitely create Windows ISOs other ways. For Linux distros, you can download those freely from that distro's website. After you have all the operating system ISOs you need, you are ready to create your first guest virtual machine.
Creating a Guest Virtual Machine
For this example, I am going to create a Windows 7 Ultimate guest virtual machine because it's probably the most complicated (and that's not saying much). I followed this guide for creating a Windows 7 virtual machine. You would follow very similar steps for setting up any other VM whether Windows or Linux.
Using Your New Guest VM
I won't rehash too much of what is already spelled out in the above guide; however, there are a few things I want to point out. When you load up the VMWare Web Access Home Page, you may get an authentication prompt and you have no idea what to put in. You will put in the same username and password that you used to log into Windows. After that, you will want to make sure you install VMWare Tools as directed by the guide. This allows for much easier copying and pasting between your host and guest machines. In addition, I have found that VMWare Web Access doesn't work properly in some browsers like Google Chrome so you might be forced to use a browser that you don't normally use like Internet Explorer - especially when trying to launch the console plug-in.
Once you have powered on your guest VM, click on the Console tab in the Web Access page, load the console plug-in viewer and start using your new VM! Good luck to everyone trying to setup virtualization - once you go virtualization, you'll never go back.