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Category Archives: VMware Workstation

Windows 7 RC on VMware Workstation 6.5.2

Go to the Workstation Zealot Blog for more VMware Workstation tips, news, and views »

http://blogs.vmware.com/workstation

If you haven’t been there lately, the Workstation Zealot blog is humming. Today Michael Paiko, Workstation’s product marketing manager, gives us the skinny on the now publicly-available Windows 7 Release Candidate.

VMware: Workstation Zealot: Windows 7 RC on VMware Workstation 6.5.2.

There’s been a lot of buzz flying around about Windows 7 and what better way to try out a new operating system and see how it works than in a virtual machine. I am happy to report that you can run Windows 7 RC in a VMware Workstation 6.5.2 VM with all the great features you have come to love, including file drag and drop, text copy and paste, automatic screen resize, shared folders, and Unity. However, before we go further, I want to remind you that Windows 7 RC, both 32-bit and 64-bit, is not an officially supported guest at this time. We plan to support Windows 7 as a guest OS in a future release. This statement reminds me of the great new Mac ad “Legal Copy”.

By the way, if you do not have a copy of VMware Workstation, now is a great time to download a free trial and give both Workstation and Windows 7 a try at the same time. It’s a great way to find out how well your favorite application runs or application you are developing will run in Windows 7. This is one of those rare times when you can get a Windows OS to try without having to purchase a license upfront.

After going through the process of creating a Windows 7 VM, we decided to share some best practices on how to make this happen with some screenshots and suggestions to make it nice and easy for you. If you want to discuss your experiences with Windows 7 and VMware Workstation in more detail, please visit our VMware Workstation community forums.

Workstation in the running for developer.com product of the year

Most people don’t know I’m actually a trained scientist. (I said a trained scientist, not necessarily a good one or a successful
one, which is why I’m making my living hanging out with bloggers.) My
scientific training usually comes out in overly-long emails where I
detail every assumption and caveat and mitigating factor about some
conclusion, which is how you’d write a scientific paper. My marketing
training then usually kicks in and I edit out most of it, but I still
suspect I lose a lot of people in my more epic missives.

So I am officially a Doctor, I’ve done some statistics tutoring in the
past, and this Fall I really got into the political polling geekery at FiveThirtyEight.
As a result, I’ve developed a great respect for a well-made survey –
knowing what to ask, who to ask, and how to analyze the results are not
trivial matters That’s the main reason I’m not pointing to Alessandro’s platform survey over at virtualization.info. It’s not a
scientifically valid survey of the global virtualization community,
just a web poll, but I will be interested in the results. We’ll "win" in any case, but I’m more interested in the results if I don’t skew it by sending over hordes of VMware users from this blog.

(And I also recognize that just because you print a number doesn’t make it true.)

However, there are some polls and surveys where we so clearly
deserve to win on the merits that I don’t mind calling your attention
to them. Workstation
wins lots of awards, because it remains the gold standard for desktop
virtualization and is insanely useful to working developers and
sysadmins. So for your voting pleasure I will direct your attention to
the developer.com Product of the Year
survey. VMware Workstation 6.5 is up for Development Tool of the Year.
Feel free to vote your conscience, as long as you do it before December
15.

Using Workstation snapshots for all your projects

Erik Swenson of EMC uses VMware Workstation and a big snapshot tree to separate his Sharepoint projects. Link: SharePoint Branding & Design: Benefits of VMware Workstation for Branding.

Vmwaresnapshots7
I store them on an external drive and back it up frequently. This
allows me to take all of my work on the road or to any client site as
needed. As you can see from the screenshot on the left I normally start
all of my projects from a base vanilla image of SharePoint. … 

The great thing about VMware is that I can
always go back to any of my past projects and make edits or changes as
needed. Say for example you finished up a project about a month ago and
you are knee deep into another project. When all of a sudden you get an
email that there was this weird bug that needs to be fixed. All you
would have to do is save a snapshot of your current project and open up
the snapshot of the old project make the fix and you are done.

VM streaming and VMware Workstation 6.5 — now released

I saw this demoed a while back and didn’t realize it was in the newest Workstation, as I have become a Mactard who uses my VMware Fusion to run Windows on the Mac. But here it is in all its released glory — the very very cool feature Virtual Machine Streaming joins Record/Replay, Unity, Better 3D, Easier VM Creation, and more. If you’ve ever had to download (or even move from a fileserver) 5 or 10 gigs of heavy virtual machine down to your desktop, you’ll appreciate this feature.

Link: ChipLog » Blog Archive » VMware Workstation 6.5 released!.

Virtual Machine Streaming

Ever want to preview a downloadable virtual machine without having
to grab the entire zip file or tarball? VMs can be quite big and it’s a
pain to download one only to find out that it doesn’t meet your needs.

The new VM Streaming feature gives users the ability to point Player
or Workstation to a remote VM (if provided in the proper format). It
will then download the bits as needed, and allow users to pause or
restart the stream. It’s important to note that this will be slow at
first until it has enough data to smoothly run files off the disk. When
finished with the VM, the user can choose to keep what they have, or
delete the cached VM from disk.

VMware “refuses to sit on its laurels”: Workstation vs. VirtualBox | InfoWorld

I’m proud to work with a team that produces software like VMware Workstation that keeps getting better and better, keeps receiving award after award, and keeps winning review after review. (Did you know we got put into the Jolt Hall of Fame so somebody else could win for a change?) Randall Kennedy at InfoWorld seems to be of a similar opinion.

Link: Virtualization showdown: VMware Workstation vs. Sun xVM VirtualBox | InfoWorld | Review | 2008-09-11 | By Randall C. Kennedy.

Legendary thoroughbred
What
is there left to say about VMware Workstation? Few products have spent
as much time at the top of the heap. But as I mentioned in my preview of the Workstation 6.5 Beta earlier this year,
the company simply refuses to sit on its laurels. With each new major
release, VMware raises the bar for would-be competitors. And not just
by a few inches — in the case of version 6.5, think several feet. The
change log is that impressive.

                        

But
where to begin? I suppose I could talk about my favorite new feature,
Easy Install. Simply create a new VM, point it to the installation
media for the desired Windows OS edition (client or server), and grab a
cup of coffee. By the time you return, VMware has installed the OS
(including specifying product keys and default user accounts),
slipstreamed its own VMware Tools suite, and basically left you with a
fully baked guest OS image that’s ready for work. If you spend a lot of
time building and tearing down VMs like I do, you will instantly fall
in love with Easy Install. …

Of course, the biggest changes involve Workstation’s support for
VMware’s ACE technology. Whereas in the past you had to run a separate
version of Workstation — the ACE Edition — to edit and apply ACE
policies, version 6.5 incorporates these features seamlessly into the
base Workstation UI. You can now enable/disable ACE functionality for a
VM with a single click, and given the depth and breadth of options
available, one click may be all you need to securely lock down and
manage a wayward VM. …

Calling VMware Workstation 6.5 versus Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.0 a two-horse “race” might have been misleading. With Workstation’s
                           expansive feature set and top-notch performance, it really isn’t much of a competition.

OK, I’ve cherry-picked the good Workstation quotes, but Randall does give plenty of props to VirtualBox as well. VirtualBox is pretty good and provides the basics, but it’s 30% slower than Workstation and doesn’t provide at all the same features for an enterprise user or developer.

VMware student discounts

For current students, prospective university students, or academic faculty and staff, VMware has made it easier than ever to purchase VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion at an academic discount.  Visit http://vmware.com/go/academicstore for up to 50% off the commercial list price for these award-winning VMware products. 

By the way, here’s more on the VMware Academic Program if you’re interested. More places for academics to virtualize coming soon…

Introducing VAssert

VAssert is a new API, debuting in Workstation 6.5, that uses the Record and Replay functionality that we’ve been talking about for some time now. As you can tell by its name, VAssert is a relative of your standing programming ASSERT debugging tool, but by delaying assert-checking until later when the exact machine instructions are replayed, it can be very fast. That’s some virtualization Deep Magic.

VMware engineers Weiming Zeng and Min Xu give us this guest post on demonstrating VAssert within Apache, and include the Apache patches they used so you can give this a try at home.

A Virtual Buffer-overflow Checker for Apache

by Weiming Zeng & Min Xu

1 Overview

The Record and Replay feature in workstation 6.5 introduces a new guest programming API – VAssert (Virtual Assertions). It is intended that software developers can use it to move expensive program error checking, such as buffer-overflow, to the deterministic replay phase. But does VAssert live up to its promise? As an experiment, we applied VAssert to Apache httpd and wrote a simple buffer-overflow checker by modifying the memory manager in Apache Portable Runtime (APR). Comparing with the same buffer-overflow checker implemented using traditional assertions, the virtual assertions incur 78.77% less runtime overhead.

2 The idea

Our idea to detect buffer-overflow is simple. When allocating memory, append a byte of magic number (the guard) to the end of the memory block; during execution, we frequently check whether the guard is changed. If so, a buffer-overflow is detected.

Image001

One of the benefits of this detector is that it is simple to implement. There is no need to intercept all (or most) memory accesses, as other detectors require. But this detector can cause a huge program slowdown if the guard bytes are checked frequently. The slowdown might alter a program’s behavior so that bugs disappear when the detector is activated. With a “virtual” detector, however, the slowdown happens mostly during replay time. Since the replay is deterministic, the detector can find bugs without altering a program’s behavior.

Continue reading

It’s like a VCR for your VM: Execution Record / Replay in Workstation

Dear Workstation Team,

Please don’t tease us. Where is the VAssert video demo so we can Digg it?

Sincerely,
All the software developers in the world

Link: Enhanced Execution Record / Replay in Workstation 6.5 | Workstation Zealot.

So, what’s so cool about that? Well, one advantage of
execution record / replay is its interactivity. For instance, let’s say that
you decided while replaying a session that you would have liked to do something
different then what was done at record time. Maybe you want to alter some of
your actions half-way thorough the recording, or change the settings of some
software running on the VM. Well, you can “take the VM live” as we call it –
essentially, stop replaying and start interacting “live” with it from exactly
the point of your choice. I guess one could think of the recorded session as
prolonged super-snapshot of the VM over a long period of time, which allows you
access and modification of said VM at any point during this time. 

And if that’s not exciting enough for you, let me give you
another example of this feature’s power. As everyone who writes code knows, code
tends to have bugs. And some bugs, like cockroaches, tend to be worse then
others. Anyone who has ever had to deal with a deadlock, a race condition, or
any timing-related issue for that matter knows just how annoying and difficult these
problems can be. You are sitting there all pumped up and ready to fix the
problem, but Murphy’s Law guarantees that it just refuses to even happen for
you in the first place – despite anything your try. But sure enough, the second
someone else uses your application – or, better yet, you try to demo it – there
it is. Sigh. And you are just left wishing you could somehow magically capture
the bug as it happens, to be able to investigate it later… But wait, VMware has
just right kind of magic! Record the execution of your VM, catch the issue in
action once, and then have eternal access to it with the virtual debugger.

Preview: VMware Workstation 6.5 beta surges ahead

Link: Preview: VMware Workstation 6.5 beta surges ahead | InfoWorld | Review | 2008-04-10 | By Randall C. Kennedy.

They say market leadership has its privileges.
When you’re way out in front and the competition is just a distant blip
in your rearview horizon, you get to take a breather. Coast a bit.
Maybe focus on the big picture for a while. Yes, it’s good to be the
leader. All of which begs the question: What the hell is wrong with
VMware?

These guys are so
far out in front that the competition has to dial 011 just to get them
on the phone. This is especially true in the traditional desktop
virtualization space. VMware has almost zero competition on the
dominant platform, meaning Windows. Yet it continues to innovate – and
at an alarming pace, no less.

                  

Case
in point: VMware Workstation 6.5. Though only just entering beta,
Workstation 6.5 is already causing a stir among the virtualization
faithful. That’s because the feature set reads like a veritable wish
list to Virtual Santa from all the good girls and boys down in the
in-house development and help desk departments.

I have nothing to add to that.

Are you a Workstation Zealot? 6.5 beta, new blog

Are you a Workstation Zealot? Rob Baesman writes on the new blog. Link: And now for something completely different…

Us "old-school" folks at VMware are finally getting into the 21st
century and starting a up what we hope will be a great new source of
news, information and amusement for the millions of Workstation
faithful out there.  From time to time, you’ll see postings from
various developers in the team on interesting technical topics,
thoughts on industry developments, highlighted use cases, beta
announcements, insights into life in the Workstation trenches, and more.

How will this blog be different from other assorted VMware blogs?
Well, if you’re someone who cares enough about Workstation to read a
blog about it, you can probably consider yourself officially
"hard-core" :-)  So we’ll do our best to keep things lively with the
sort of info that takes your clearly superior intelligence into
account.  If we’re lucky, even I’ll be befuddled by some of what our
development team will have to say, so stay tuned!

And to go with the new blog, a brand-new shiny public beta of Workstation 6.5, together with a newly-designed beta community.

What’s New in VMware Workstation 6.5:

Enjoy. There is also an ACE 2.5 beta portal as well — more on that later.