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VMware Fusion 201: Layers

Layers_4
When you run an application in a virtual machine, there are several things going on at the same time. At the lowest level is the host – in our case, OS X. On top of that is the virtualization layer, Fusion. Then there’s the guest OS, and finally any applications you’re running in the guest. If you want to think about, troubleshoot, or simply appreciate virtualization, you need to think in layers.

Suppose you ran into a problem in iTunes – maybe a song skips every time it reaches 1:17. It wouldn’t make much sense to try to fix the problem in iChat. Similarly, if something’s wrong at one layer of a virtual environment (say in the guest OS), the first thing you should do is probably not to try to fix it in a completely different layer (say the host OS).

If some program is displaying a message and you’re not sure what it means, a good first step is to pay attention to where it comes from – does it look like something you expect to see in the host or the guest? If the message is from Fusion, does it specifically mention the host or the guest? For example, if a message refers to a C: drive, it’s probably not from OS X or Fusion. Conversely, if you’re in single window mode and get a message outside the console window, it’s probably not from the guest.

This isn’t to say the layer theory is completely perfect – it’s possible for problems in one layer to affect others. However, it’s a useful first step.

3 thoughts on “VMware Fusion 201: Layers

  1. ryall

    Judging by the tone of this “tip” it sounds like you’ve started getting support requests from your average mac user. Should prove helpful to them when they’re not trying to stuff crayons into the usb ports…

    Reply
  2. Eric Tung

    My idea was to set up the backdrop for future entries – this one’s not that useful on its own, but it’s an important idea that I’ll be returning to several times.

    Reply
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