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VMware Workstation 6.0 Released

VMware Workstation 6.0 is now generally available.

From the press release:

New features in VMware Workstation include:

  • Windows Vista support: Users can deploy Windows Vista as a guest or host operating system, facilitating re-hosting of legacy systems, enabling upgrade and migration projects with minimal end-user disruption and simplifying Windows Vista evaluations.
  • Multiple monitor display: Users can configure one virtual machine to span multiple monitors or multiple virtual machines to each display on separate monitors with this industry-first capability, enhancing desktop productivity.
  • USB 2.0 support: Users can take advantage of high-performance peripherals such as Apple iPods and fast storage devices.
  • ACE authoring capabilities: As a companion to VMware Workstation 6, VMware now offers a VMware ACE Option Pack, which enables VMware Workstation 6 users to create secure, centrally manageable virtual machines. Mobility is one of the primary benefits of this Option Pack, as it allows users to securely transport virtual machines on portable media devices such as USB memory sticks.
  • Integrated Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) functionality: Users can create a virtual machine in minutes by “cloning” an existing physical computer.
  • Integrated virtual debugger: Users can deploy, run and debug programs inside a virtual machine directly from their preferred integrated development environments (IDEs), accelerating debugging with this industry-first integration with Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio.
  • Background virtual machine execution: Users can run virtual machines in the background without the VMware Workstation user interface for an uncluttered user experience.
  • Automation APIs: Users can write scripts and programs that automate and help quicken virtual machine testing with support for VIX API 2.0.

In addition, VMware Workstation 6 advances the state of the art in virtualization technology with groundbreaking new capabilities including:

  • Continuous virtual machine record and replay (experimental): Users can record the execution of a virtual machine, including all inputs, outputs and decisions made along the way. On demand, the user can go “back in time” to the start of the recording and replay execution, guaranteeing that the virtual machine will perform exactly the same operations every time and ensuring bugs can be reproduced and resolved.
  • Virtual Machine Interface (VMI) support (experimental): VMware Workstation 6 is the first virtualization platform to allow execution of paravirtualized guest operating systems that implement the VMI interface.

Record/Replay in Workstation 6

Interesting set of articles on the Amazing VM Record/Replay Feature in VMware Workstation 6.  Steve Herrod, VP of Engineering at VMware, describes the challenge of recording and replaying the execution of a virtual machine.  At first it may seem straightforward – we all know what record / replay is – but it gets complex given the need to replay the exact timing of external interrupts to the operating system and other non-deterministic behavior. For replay to work, there is a lot of data to record.

And there are some useful implications for software development and debugging.

For those wanting even more detail, one of the development engineers on this feature describes additional technical nuggets.

Bigger Better Betas

Like any good software company, VMware is always trying to improve the quality and effectiveness of our beta programs.  We want to collect feedback from users, give early adopters insight into the new product features, and create an overall positive experience with the product. 

With these goals in mind, we’ve created a new way to interact with the VMware product experts during betas:   live weekly question and answer conference calls. 

VMware Lab Manager 2.5 beta launched this concept with hour-long calls every Wednesday starting last week. 

It’s an opportunity to talk with product management and the development manager about all aspects of the beta release.  Participants are asking  technical as well as use-case and product philosophy questions; they are picking up ideas and information from Q&A with other beta participants; and they are sharing their comments on the product.  And VMware is getting live, interactive feedback.

So, join the Wednesday Lab Manager 2.5 Beta question and answer to see how it works.

Michael Dell uses Ubuntu (and VMware Workstation)

We’re happy that Michael Dell uses Ubuntu, but if you follow the link to Michael’s official bio, you’ll see he’s using the VMware Workstation 6 beta release as well.  That really warms our hearts.

From Michael Varsavsky, Michael Dell Uses Ubuntu!:

Interestingly I just got an e mail from Michael Dell in which he says he
also uses Ubuntu
. As the link shows he went as far as to say so in his
official bio in the Dell web site. Now if Dell, the corporation goes the way of
Michael Dell, the CEO the Ubuntu distro will rise from relative obscurity to the
big league of Vista, Windows XP and MacOSX. Fans of Ubuntu should watch this
opportunity carefully Michael Dell may be coming your way just as the new Ubuntu is about to be
released.

ESX Server Patch Recall

Update (April 19, 2007): New patches are available that replace the two recalled patches.  Details on the two links below.

Normally we don’t directly blog product announcements on the VMTN Blog — instead, they are always blogged on  VMTN Top News, which is also subscribable via RSS.  But in this case, we wanted to be sure we fully communicated the recall of the latest ESX Server patch:

The 2.5.4 patch 6 (Build #41630) and 2.5.3 patch 9 (Build #41618) have been
recalled in the interest of stability for ESX servers.

In an environment where Windows and
Linux virtual machines are configured with vmxnet virtual NIC driver, when the
virtual machine is either powered off, suspended or migrated live via VMotion to
another host, a small amount of memory is not freed.  Hence, multiple virtual
machine power-offs, suspensions and VMotions may cause the host to run low on
memory.

A replacement patch which fixes this
issue will be released within a few days and posted to the same page as the
original patch:

2.5.3 Patch Download Page: http://www.vmware.com/support/esx25/doc/esx-253-200703-patch.html

2.5.4 Patch Download Page: http://www.vmware.com/support/esx25/doc/esx-254-200703-patch.html

Additional details, including workarounds, are available at the two links above.

The Next Big Thing

From Karl Rumelhart, Senior Product Manager and TSX EMEA presenter:

We had a fun session this afternoon at EMEA TSX called “The Next Big Thing for VMware.” I had the pleasure of hosting the event but credit for the concept and the organization go to Richard Garsthagen. Five conference attendees were invited to present a product idea that they felt could be the “next big thing.” The audience then voted on which idea they felt was the most compelling with the winner getting a 24in iMAC – along with a copy of VMware Fusion, of course. Briefly, the ideas were the following.

  • “ESX SMB Edition” proposed an offering for SMB that includes all VI3 features (and others) but removes the need for traditional shared storage by using the ESX Server hosts themselves as storage targets with striping across hosts for availability.
  • “Virtual Applications” suggested introducing an ‘Application Object (AO)’ primitive in VirtualCenter that would be the point of management and availability for the potentially numerous virtual machines running on multiple ESX Servers that make up the application.
  • “Virtual Document Management” proposed a tool to automatically generate documentation in various formats that captures the full configuration of a VI environment – “enough to rebuild the environment.” By introducing version control the tool could be used for change and configuration management.
  • “Access Control on Virtual Equipment” pointed out that VMware needs to provide the same degree of control over Networks and Datastores that it does for Virtual Machines and Hosts.
  • “Virtual Appliances as Templates in VirtualCenter” suggested that VI Client have consistent treatment (e.g. deployment wizards) for local templates and remote virtual appliances and that the virtual appliances available for download appear in the client similar to the way songs do in Apples iTunes.

The voting was secret ballot and I can report that it was very close. But a plurality of the crowd chose the “Virtual Document Management” tool. This is definitely a cool idea as it neatly links change and configuration management with a problem faced by every solutions consultant: the need to document what you build. The other ideas are also very important. In my opinion, if we had all the solution ideas available today, the ESX SMB Edition (which implies VI3 without traditional shared storage) would be responsible for the biggest change in our business.

While the votes were being counted we did another fun exercise with the audience. I proposed a series of questions and the audience members held up red or green papers to express their opinion. There were some interesting results. For example, by an estimated 70/30 split the audience felt that long term DR was a bigger market for VMware than VDI. And approximately 80% of the participants felt that within 18 months virtual appliances would be a good way to purchase, and not just evaluate, software. But an almost equal fraction felt that that is not the case today.

As with any product feedback, it is important to review who is giving it. And one of the best thing about the event for me is that fact that we were engaged with folks who are very hands on with the technology, a large percentage of them folks who consult on VMware technology for a living. In my opinion, VMware product management should miss no opportunity to engage with our technical channel. And in this case it was particularly special since the attendees were all from EMEA, folks obviously pretty far away from our base in Palo Alto.  The presenters were from Belgium, South Africa, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. That is awesome.