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What a great idea, sounding very similar to a free project called bochs. The idea is to have a virtual machine that emulates all the hardware of an IBM-Compatible computer, and allow window to run on it and think that it is a computer. Though the idea may have started of by looking at the bochs project, VMWare is far more complete. It emulates all hardware, and appears to do it well. I managed quite easily to run my copy of windows in a window, with very little effort. However, this is not a real solution if you need to be able to use Windows quite a fare bit. This is because it slows down your system so much, that is is unbearble to work at. Inorder to use VMWare big time, you really need huge amounts of ram, large hard drives and multiple processors. If you can afford all this then why bother stopping at that? Why don't you just get another system minimally configured (no monitor, sound or extras (infact it could just be one of your old computers)) and run it next to your linux box networked, and use WinVNC to use it over your network. This solution will always be quicker, and is often less annoying.
The idea behind VMWare is pretty incredible . How can you split one computer into many ? Get one machine to implement one or many virtual machines in software . Many of the emulators for various systems you'll use will run some games with glitches but seeing as how complicated it is to emulate a PC VMWare is a stunning product . So what do you get ? You get as many virtual machines as you have memory to run at once . Since modern operating systems need at least 30-40 megs of ram to run reasonably you're going to need a fair amount if you want to be able to run a couple of machines together . As well as a virtual machine you get a virtual Soundblaster 16 card and a virtual network adapter which you can use to connect your virtual machine to your real one or local network . Your virtual machine is exactly like a real one in nearly every way , VMware have supported most video resolutions - which I thought would be a problem . The speed of each of the virtual machines is impressive . On a P3-500 windows 98 took roughly 50 minutes to install so that's probably akin to an 486-100 although performance seems to vary depending on what the system is doing . Running quake on your desktop is out of the question - playing solitaire or slow windows games will be no problems . I started up VMWare and got a few error messages about network connections not being available . This was misleading and there doesn't seem to be much information on the site about some of the associated command-line utils that control bringing up/down connections . As far as configuring your virtual machine , it's been made very easy by VMWare's wizards that lead you through selecting the size of virtual partition , memory size and devices . Booting the machine starts up the virtual bios code ( that phoenix have supplied ) and away you go to installing an operating system . VMWare really comes into its own against other prod
ucts in terms of support for graphics and its stability . Having installed linux and windows 98 on it without a glitch I can say the emulation is first class and the list of operating systems that are supported is very impressive . The performance of the graphics speed can be upped by installing supplied drivers - which do offer a hefty perfomance increase . I am not sure though how much water this nifty bit of kit would hold towards everyday use . While it's fun to be able to run apps from another operating system , now it's not so hard to set up pc's to dual boot . Although the idea of being able to do development on another system is good VMWare could have provided some more tools to be able to pause the machine , dis-assemble memory contents .. etc . Instead you're given the option of saving or loading machine states from disk files . VMWare claim that use of other operating systems would be excellent for tech support but I can't really see it happening . Having said that - VMWare as a product is pretty much faultless , it emulates perfectly the hardware of a fully functional pc , the display is clear and it's very easy to use . My gripes would be the poor documentation - especially on networking and the included utilities and lack of debugging features . I think it would be an excellent app though ( both the linux + windows version ) for people learning to use a pc - because they have the assurance that even with an environment that's alien to them there's no possibility of 'messing it up' . Again there's freeware progs that will offer similar functionality - have a look at bochs ( now renamed ) or download the 30 day trial version of VMWare . I'd imagine it'd be hard to develop a rival product to topple this from the top of the pc emulators . A great bit of kit , even if you have no 'real' use for it.
Well the abilty to run a windows PC inside a Linux environment sounds OK to me. (although Linux geeks probably cannot think of anything worse) The need for compatibilty with the 95% of people out there running windows or similar is one of the main stumbling blocks for the Linux community in general. Alongside WINE (which is supposed to emulated a windows box as well - but by allowing XWindows to run PC apps) this is one solution you can use to get a windows environment working in your Linux installation. It works by essentially using a certain amount of your system to emulate a less powerful PC. It runs all of the things a PC would do in hardware, using software. Of course, its not particularly quick; my experience of this software is pretty positive really. I think it needs some work doing to make it really really useful, but still.