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Category Archives: geekspeak

The best way to run Windows 8 on your Mac

Microsoft decided to piggy-back on the excitement generated by the launch of VMware Fusion 4 and VMware Workstation 8 by announcing the Windows 8 Developer Preview yesterday. Microsoft's preview has seen plenty of coverage on-line and the VMware Personal Desktop team is in Southern California to learn more about the future of Windows.

VMware Fusion 4 is a great choice if you want to try Windows 8 for yourself. Many users are running both OS X 10.7 (Lion) and the Microsoft Windows 8 Developer Preview on their Mac. By running in a virtual machine you can isolate the new code from your documents and other Windows applications. You can even use the new snapshot viewer to experiment, then roll-back to a known good state, if something goes wrong.

VMware Fusion 4 is available today, download your trial from vmware.com.

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Linux 2.6.24 (And Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron), VMware Fusion 1.1.2, and Open Virtual Machine Tools

hardy heron As most of our esteemed readers know, VMware Fusion 1.1.2 went live the evening of Wednesday, April 23rd, sporting a variety of bug fixes and enhancements, aimed to make things work better, faster, stronger for our users.

What some of our more technical (ok, fine, geeky) users may also know, is that the same day the latest distribution of Ubuntu Linux, dubbed the ever-alliterative “Hardy Heron” also went from Beta to General Availability that day.

Included in the latest Ubuntu, the most widely used desktop Linux distro, were a variety of changes to the underlying Linux 2.6.24, some of which created issues with VMware Tools. 

The good news is, some smart users have already come up with some great worarounds, which we’ll get into later.  But before getting into that, it might be worthwhile to explain the dynamics that create these issues, so our dear users can better understand how these situations arise.

Machine Virt 101:Guests, Tools, and You

To the x86 operating system–whether Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, or, as concerns this blog post, Linux–installed on top of that virtual hardware,  that hardware looks no different than the “physical” hardware those OSes tie into when installed on a physical machine.

And just like with physical machines, a set of drivers provide that tie between the “guest” operating system (virtualization slang for the operating system of the virtual machine in question) and the virtual hardware that powers it.  VMware’s name for this set of drivers, Linux Guestswhich is different for each guest OS, is “VMware Tools.”

These tools are what make the seamless interaction between guest and host OS happen.  Things like the ability to drag and drop between guest and host, create shared folders between the two, automatic resize of screen resolution, and even the mind-blowing “Unity” view that VMware Fusion [YouTube Vid] pioneered, and now featured by VMware Workstation 6.5 Beta.

VMware provides the broadest set of these “guest tools” in the industry, and they come packaged with VMware products, like VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation, and so on, such that when you go to create a new virtual machine, and install a new operating system, the guest tools are there for you to install too. 

This is the primary reason why VMware product downloads can be hefty at times: they package the VMware Tools for all of those supported operating systems

Come Together, Right Now

yin-yang-15470Of course, what this also means is that these tools have to be maintained to ensure that as the operating systems they communicate with change, they still “work.”  This is the dance that Microsoft and hardware makers have been doing for years, but mainly only every four years or so.

Linux is a bit different, in that it changes more frequently.  In this case, the latest distribution of Ubuntu included some changes to Linux that broke VMware Tools for a limited set of functions.

While the latest distros of Linux aren’t on the supported OS list for VMware Fusion, we recognize that our users like to play around with the latest and greatest, whether that means Hardy Heron or Fedora 8, or what have you.

The good news is, because those great hackers who like to use VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation to help them play with the latest and greatest, are the same people who can come up with clever workarounds, including installing Open Virtual Machine Tools that have been updated to address the changes in the Linux.

Opening Doors with Open Tools

But what are these “Open Virtual Machine Tools” of which you speak?  In late 2007, VMware open sourced the majority of VMware Tools, with an eye towards making it easier for the larger open source community to more agilely update and modify the tools that enable the multitude of x86 operating systems that can run on VMware virtual hardware to better integrate with that virtual hardware.

It’s great to see this strategy paying off, with the latest version of Open Virtual Machine Tools addressing the breakage in question.

This is a great post by a user named Josh who did the VMware Fusion community a favor by pointing out a fix posted in the VMware Workstation forums about a month ago.

And as usual, the VMware forums are a great place to share and discuss technical issues.  “Mufassa” posted the fix in March after he updated 35 of his development VMs to Fedora 8, only to see after that, gasp, that the update broke VMware Tools. 

His fix is located here.

And lastly, cheers to Peter Cooper for blogging about this in the context of VMware Fusion and Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, and doing a great job of breaking out the process, step by step.  His post is located here.

Snapshot, Snapshot, Snapshot!: Take Your Virtual Machine Back in Timeflux capacitor

This post also provides a great opportunity to comment quickly on the value of  snapshotting virtual machines. 

Because virtual machines are just files, in addition to be able to do things like suspend and resume them rapidly, unlike Apple’s Boot Camp, or even VMware Fusion running on top of Boot Camp, you can also take a picture of them in time, with the “snapshot” feature.  Later, if you want, you can revert to that snapshot, if you don’t like what has happened to your virtual machine thereafter.

It’s a new idea for a lot of users, but the great thing is, you can use a snapshot to try out new software, with no risk to your “production” virtual machine.

For example, recently, Windows Vista pushed its new Service Pack.  Only Vista users running in virtual machines had the ability to take a snapshot before installing the Service Pack, install it, and then see if everything still worked a-ok.  It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Fusion Geek Speak: Cross Platform Encrypted Drive with VMware Fusion

The guys over at the BitTube blog have a cool post up about creating a truly cross-platform encrypted, portable drive for use on a Mac or Windows.

For those who don’t know, TrueCrypt is a free, open source, encryption application.  The latest version supports the ability to make a portable drive that works cross-platform.

The BitTube guys went and did some great documentation on how to do it.  There’s only one catch: they did it all without having a physical Windows machine!

They did all their creation and testing on a single Mac, and then later tested the results in a Windows VM, running on VMware Fusion.

Here are some screen caps of the results.  The first picture is of the encrypted drive mounted on the Mac:


And here’s the same encrypted drive, mounted in the Windows VM, running on VMware Fusion:


Very cool stuff!  Thanks for sharing guys!  If you’re interested in learning more, check it out.

Fusion Geek Speak: Cooking up a Poor Man’s RAID-Z with ZFS, USB Memory Sticks, Solaris, and VMware Fusion

OK, this post may not be for the faint of heart…put on your propeller beanies, because here we go.

Jim Laurent over at Sun has a really cool post over on his blog about using a VMware Fusion hosted Solaris 10 virtual machine to play around with the open source ZFS file system and  a trio of USB sticks to make a poor-man’s Raid-Z array using USB sticks instead of actual hard drives.

So if you ever had a dream of using your Mac to make yourself a redundant array of inexpensive disks using USB sticks, but without having to deal with RAID-5’s write hole (ed note: what a great name), well, now you know what you’re doing this weekend.

You can see a more advanced version of what Jim did with his VMware Fusion Solaris VM and three USB sticks demo’d by some german colleagues of his in this video, where they use three separate USB hubs, each with four USB sticks in it, to demonstrate  the redundancy of zPools and ZFS in a RAID-Z configuration.

Are your propeller’s spinning yet?

Nuts and Bolts: Printing to Mac Connected Printers from Windows Virtual Machines

Nuts_and_boltsOur friend Rob Griffiths over at Macworld magazine has a great post today about the intricacies of printing to a Mac printer from a Windows machine, either virtual or physical.

Lots of people know about Apple’s Bonjour networking software and how it can be used to print on a Mac printer from Windows.   But what a lot of people may not know is that with some tweaking, even a non-Bonjour capable printer can be used to print from Windows, with the help of an additional Apple technology: printer sharing.

Check out Rob’s post to get the lowdown.  One thing to note: if doing this from a Windows virtual machine on VMware Fusion, you’re going to want to be in Bridged Networking mode.

And you can see more about printing in VMware Fusion virtual machines, and more about Windows on Mac, on our self-paced tutorials page here.

Fusion Geek Speak: Shawn Morel Talks About Virtualization at C4 Mac Dev Conference

Team Fusion member Shawn Morel gave a killer talk at Wolf Rentzsch’s C4 indie Mac developer conference last year.

The talk was excitingly named "Virtualization Vivisection" and gets into as much nitty gritty detail about x86 virtualization as you can probably get before you have to start paying tuition.

Some of the topics Shawn dives into (and some helpful links for you to follow as you go along with the talk)?

1. Virtualization history and basics going back to Popek and Goldberg and their seminal paper on virtualization.

2. Why the Intel architecture was such a challenge to virtualize.

3. How VMware did it back in 1998 (or, how the researchers who eventually founded VMware did it, and then how that became what VMware is today).

4. "Hijacking OS X" and other things that sound scary, but make VMware Fusion possible.

5. Intel’s VT versus good old fashioned Binary Translation (BT)

6. Virtual devices (and why USB is a tough nut to crack).

7. PowerPC virtualization (and why it’s probably not going to happen any time soon).

8. 3D Graphics in virtualization

9. Virtualized Mac OS X on Mac OS X (which is funny, because this talk was given months before the Fusion Team demo’d Mac OS X Leopard Server virtualized at Macworld)

And, of course, much, much more.  Thanks to Wolf and company for getting these talks up on Viddler:

Some other great talks at the event:


Weekend Geek Out: The Second Coming of NeXTstep

Our Mac cred runs deep here on the VMware Fusion team.  Today swinging by the QA corral to drop off some borrowed hardware, I had a chance to see what some creative engineer had done with his VMware-provided modular bookshelves.

Regis Duchesne had a post a while back about what some people had done with the bookshelves (apart from putting books in them).

The Tetris shelves were pretty cool, but I’m a big fan of the NeXT Shelves too:


Upgrading your Tivo with a Mac, and VMware Fusion

TivoWing Wong over at the Winged Power Photography blog has a great, and delightfully detailed, post on how to upgrade your Tivo’s hard drive using a Mac and VMware Fusion.

Wing’s problem was one that a lot of Mac users are familiar with: a specialized peripheral (in this case, a Tivo DVR), that needs specialized software to update it (whether we’re talking about a Garmin GPS, Nokia cell phone, and so on), but which software doesn’t run on Mac OS X.

In this case, when removing a drive from your Tivo (Because 40 GB of Battlestar Galactica, Mythbusters, and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, just isn’t enough!) in order to put a bigger one in there, to prep your new drive, and also to push your old content over onto the new drive, you need to run specific Linux-based tools from MFS Live .

In this case, VMware Fusion comes to the rescue, letting you run that Linux MFS Live ISO as a virtual machine, to prep your new, beefier drive, so you can spend even more time in front of the tube, catching up on email and your favorite shows (at least, that’s what I would do with a larger drive…YMMV ; ) 

Most people think of VMware Fusion at the best way to run Windows on a Mac, but as Wing shows us, there are lots of mainstream reasons why VMware Fusion’s ability to run Windows, Linux, and more than 60 other operating systems on the Mac, can be a total lifesaver.

Check out the full glory of Wing’s post here, and when you’ve got your own neat hack or VMware Fusion story, let us know, and we’ll make sure to blog it.  Hit us up at teamfusion AT vmware DOT com.

VMware Fusion: Cross Platform Developer’s Delight

Sol Young has a great post on using VMware Fusion on a Mac to provide the best of all worlds for cross-platform development.

In this case, Sol’s rig consists of a MacBook Pro with XCode installed, and VMware Fusion hosting both a primary development virtual machine with Visual Studio installed, and a handful of other Windows virtual machines (XP Home, XP Pro, Vista, etc. etc,) for doing regression testing of built apps.

Sol does a great job of doing a quick intro of how VMware Fusion can be used above and beyond just letting you run Windows on a Mac, but can even help turn your Mac into a serious development platform for Windows applications. 

Sounds funny to the ear at first, but Sol, and lots of other users are doing just that, using VMware Fusion to take full advantage of their great Mac hardware, while using the power of virtualization to do things like snapshot and rollback to allow a clean base state for testing.  Not to menion: finally getting Visual Studio for Mac!

Great post Sol!

Weekend Geek Out: BeOS, Haiku, and VMware Fusion

  This was posted earlier this week by Ars Technica,
Wired and
MacUser , but we
wanted to note it to our readers as well.

Most people think of VMware Fusion as being the best way to
run Windows on a Mac. But it’s important not to forget that VMware Fusion not only will let
you run Windows 3.1 all the way through Windows Vista, but also more than 60  x86 operating systems as well. And
that includes operating systems many people thought had already rode into the

Old school tech heads may remember BeOS, which many back in the day thought might ultimately replace Mac OS Classic
as Apple’s operating system of choice. Well, when Apple went with NeXTSTEP, many thought BeOS was doomed to the

Well, BeOS is making a comeback, in the form of the Haiku
, an open source version of the operating system.

And if you have an interest in playing around with the newest open source
version of what was once hailed as the successor to Mac OS Classic, you can
certainly do just that, using VMware Fusion to run a pre-built virtual
machine with Haiku already installed
(zip file).

The people at Haiku have even made it easy for you,
providing VMware-based virtual machines on their download page.

Go forth and geek out! 

And as a preview, here’s a neat demo that the Haiku team pushed onto YouTube: