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by Stephen Gardner

It might sound strange coming from the VMware Knowledge Management Team, but the VMware Knowledge Base should not be your only stop for self-help. In fact, as a veteran Support Insider, I’d like to tell you about a few other places you should be checking in your quest for information. (In keeping with the Support Insider theme, this is actually adapted from an email I sent to the rest of my support team a few weeks ago!)

Check the Help menu!

Your first stop, when you have a question about the product or how it works, should be the product’s own Help menu.

Yes, I know that’s hard to believe – I can’t believe I’m saying it! I’ve struggled with plenty of products’ help systems that just have next to nothing in them. Luckily, VMware help is usually better than that. I’ll give some specific examples:

Workstation and ACE

Our published documentation is here: http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/ws_pubs.html

It includes:

  • Release notes – good for seeing known issues, new features, etc.
  • Product manuals, in PDF form. (These are the same as the in-product help)
  • The Workstation and ACE Online Library. This is also the same as the in-product help, but it’s in HTML format. It has an index, and it’s easily searchable. For instance, searching for “team”, you can find these instructions for creating a team: http://pubs.vmware.com/ws71_ace27/ws_user/ws_team_create.html
  • The Guest Operating System Installation Guide – this guide tells you how to install each of our supported OSes. There’s both a PDF version and an HTML one.
  • A link to the VMware Compatibility Guide, a searchable database that tells you which host OSes and guest OSes are supported for the various Workstation versions.
  • PDF guides for things like vmrun, virtual disk manager, vmware disk mount, and more – I’m not linking here, because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Also available from the published documentation page, but hidden in the header, is a link to the Workstation and ACE Technical White Papers. These papers have more of the theory and background that go into our products, such as the one on Understanding Full Virtualization, Paravirtualization, and Hardware Assist, but there are also some practical guidelines like Best Practices for Setting Up VMware ACE 2.0 Enterprise Edition. There are 17 more white papers there, so have a look!

The VMware Workstation Community is thriving, with lots of knowledgeable folks answering lots of hard questions (and some easy ones, too). The discussions are worth joining if you want to share your knowledge, or take advantage of someone else’s. Often overlooked, however, is the Documents area of the community. Users post procedures, guidelines, answers to commonly-asked questions, and some genuinely interesting information there. If you’re wondering if someone else has tried to do what you’re trying to do, this is the place to check.

VMware Fusion

Our published documentation is here: http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/fusion_pubs.html

It includes:

  • Release notes – good for seeing known issues, new features, etc.
  • The Getting Started guide, which explains how to install Fusion and the Guest OS
  • A PDF for vmrun, a utility for managing your virtual machine.

It does not include Fusion help. This is currently available only from within the product, but I’m working to change that. The Fusion help has answers to common questions, like how to set up and use the Applications menu (see the Help topic Using the VMware Fusion Applications Menu), or what the different options are concerning the virtual CD/DVD drive (see the Help topic Add a CD/DVD Drive).

You may find it helpful to look at the published Workstation documentation, as some of the linked documents and sites (like the VMware Compatibility Guide) are also applicable to Fusion.

The VMware Fusion community is even better than the Workstation community, especially when it comes to the Documents section. VMware staff and users have written some very informative guides, answering common questions and exploring some unsupported areas.

All products

Finally, there are some good non-VMware resources. They are worth mentioning because not all problems you run into while using VMware products are necessarily due to the VMware product… So, if you have a question about your host or Guest OS, don’t forget to check their documentation! For instance:

  • Windows: Microsoft has their own Knowledge Base and product Solution Centers, accessible here: http://support.microsoft.com/ I search their KB, and check the Vista and 7 areas, just about every day. I also check TechNet when I have a question about a server OS, or something more in depth (memory management, and environment variables, most recently).
  • Mac OS: Apple has a whole lot of documentation, articles, and resources: http://www.apple.com/support/ Either click through the page to find out what you want, or use the Searchlight-like search box to find exactly what you need. (Be sure to wait for the dropdown, which offers some helpful suggestions!)
  • Ubuntu: Canonical publishes some great documentation, both officially-created and community-sourced, here: https://help.ubuntu.com/
  • OpenSUSE: There’s a very nice wiki here: http://en.opensuse.org/Main_Page
  • Red Hat: There’s some good documentation available, but most of it is behind a customer login: https://access.redhat.com/knowledge/

Is there a topic you’re looking for documentation on, but can’t find? I can’t make any promises, but we’ll see what we can do!