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Category Archives: VMware Server

VMware Server – Roundtable Podcast #23

VMware Server was our topic this week, with product manager Azmir Mohamed as our guest. One of the most fun parts of these podcasts is that they are decidedly not our standard webinars/webcasts. I come up with the guests, but the agenda is set by both our Roundtable Panel and now increasingly by the live listeners who show up every week to listen, chat, and call in. As always, listen via the widget on the right or the mp3 (56:01 duration). More info on the podcasts. We are on iTunes.

If you want more of an introduction to VMware Server, please register for this VMware Server webcast. And although we did cover the topic, you can also check out this slightly cheesy but informative VMware Server vs ESXi podcast with Azmir and Amir.

Check out the VMware Server FAQ page, but the PDF version of the VMware Server FAQ is a bit longer and more complete.

This week we succeeded in generating more heat than light a few times, but here are a few things I learned this week about VMware Server: You can manage Server v1.x with VirtualCenter, but we don’t yet have that capability to do that in version 2.x. The reason is that, frankly, not many people were using that feature (you have to buy a VC Agent license to do it, so we know exactly how many people are taking advantage of it), so even though we demoed an early version of the feature for 2.0, we felt like there were higher priority features we should be working on. Here are some of the new features in 2.0:

  • New expanded operating system support
  • 64-bit operating system support
  • VMware Infrastructure (VI) Web Access management interface
  • Independent virtual machine console
  • More scalable virtual machines
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)
  • Support for Virtual Machine Interface (VMI)
  • Virtual Machine Communication Interface (VMCI)
  • Support for VIX API 1.6

So, if you need to manage Server via VC, please continue to use Server 1.x, which is far from a first gen product with its roots in GSX Server. If you feel strongly about this or any other topic, make yourself heard over at the VMware Server Community.

Another thing that I learned is that we’re running as native 64-bit on Linux.

Best tip from the show: keep a backup copy of your VC Management Server in a VM on VMware Server on a spare machine somewhere in case of emergency.

Join us next Wednesday @ noon Pacific Standard Time with EMC’s Chad Sakac. (This week all our European friends were missing because they switched from Daylight Saving last week and showed up an hour late! We here in the US do it this Sunday, so we’re back in sync.)


VMware Server 2.0 on the Roundtable podcast

Rick Vanover at SearchVMware.com runs down the recently-released VMware Server 2.0. That will be our topic today on the podcast. Listen/chat live. Link: VMware Server 2.0: New look, new Web interface.

The 2.0 version also offers several functionality highlights:

  • New console tool. The console tool for VI Web Access is a
    browser applet that runs in a separate browser window across platforms.
    The console tool has some nice features, including re-direction
    capabilities for local media (such as CD-ROM) to the guest VM. The
    console display also has dynamic resolution resizing, including
    full-screen support. The figure below shows a guest VM in the new


  • USB 2.0 device support

  • Live disk addition You can add an additional hard drive to a VM on the fly.
  • New programming features The VMCI socket interface and VIX API allow for programming and scripting directly to VMware Server.
  • Increased hardware boundaries You can now assign up to 8 GB of memory to a VM. Enhanced 64-bit processing support is available.
  • In praise of VMware Server: 5 Tips

    I asked another VMware employee recently if VMware Server could run on a certain piece of hardware, and he replied: "If you could load Linux on a toaster, it would run VMware Server." While that’s glossing over some details (system requirements are on page 5 of the VMware Server Admin Manual (pdf)), the fact is it runs on Windows Server, many Linux distros, and a wide range of hardware. Here’s to VMware Server!

    Link: The Downeys » Blog Archive » VMware Server in Production. (Five tips on VMware Server)

    I’m an old hand at VMware. I began using it back in the late 90s
    when the company was still very young. Along the way, I’ve picked up
    quite a bit of knowledge of the product. Although VMware’s ESX Server
    offering is really “where it’s at”, when VMware Server was released
    early last year it brought true “server” virtualization within reach of
    small IT shops with very tiny budgets (like The Linux Fix!)

    But first off, VMware Server is no replacement for ESX Server. ESX
    is a very robust part of the Virtual Infrastructure, within which you
    can do almost magical things. However if you have only a handful of
    VMs, or are running a small shop were you’d like to just set things up
    “proper” without ganging up all software onto one OS installation to
    keep things clean, VMware Server is a great way to make sure your
    getting the most of out the money you’ve invested into your server
    equipment. Especially since it doesn’t involve investing any more
    money–an especially great fit for us!

    One misnomer is that VMware Server isn’t “stable” or enough of a
    “performer” for production use. This is absolutely wrong: VMware Server
    clunks along happily. For example, our environment regularly goes as
    much as six months without needing to take it down–and generally for
    some unrelated reason or to simply upgrade VMware itself.

    Free VMware Server in action

    Link: software.gurock.com » Free VMware Server in action.

    After using our new server(s) for some time now, I can say that the performance is much better than we actually hoped for. We can start a build on our virtual build machine and everything else like our email and Subversion servers are as fast as normal. And the 4GB RAM gives us enough capacity for more servers and development/tests machines in the future. The actual performance and required hardware obviously depends on the actual number of users you have and our two users are probably not very representative.

    But based on my observations and tests, I suspect that such a server should easily handle all the common services like Subversion, E-Mail, File Server, Active Directory and web based applications for up to 10 users or more and therefore makes it a very economical solution for small ISVs. And besides the space and cost savings such virtual servers provide, it becomes ridiculous easy to backup entire servers just by copying or burning the virtual machine files.

    [via Tarry]

    This apple makes terrible orange juice!

    There’s nothing more likely to get a VMwarite riled up than comparing Microsoft Virtual Server (MSVS) and VMware ESX Server. Although they both virtualize an x86 system, MSVS runs on top of Windows, and ESX Server doesn’t. VMware does have a server product that runs on top of a host operating system like MSVS, and it’s the free VMware Server. MSVS should by all rights be compared to VMware Server, not ESX Server. ESX Server is much more powerful, but comes at a higher price, a bit more complexity for enterprise-scale deployments, and a smaller universe of supported hardware.

    So let’s look at this article by the usually excellent Alex Barrett at the usually excellent SearchServerVirtualization. It starts with a fair premise — for some small shops, it’s a path of least resistance to just use MSVS and call it a day. And when you read closely, Alex mentions VMware Server, but when the people he interviews start talking about price and VMotion in an article on MSVS, my alarm bells go off.

    Microsoft Virtual Server flawed, not broken, users say.

    That’s fairly typical of most small shops, said Chris Wolf, senior analyst with the Burton Group and author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise. "If [you] have just a few test systems, you’re not going to see much of a difference in performance," he said, between MSVS and VMware. But systems that start to max out their physical RAM might not get the performance from MSVS that they would with VMware, whose memory management feature moves underutilized memory to the hard disk, freeing up RAM for other busy virtual machines.

    I think he’s talking about ESX Server’s balloon memory driver, which along with shared memory pages does help use memory more effectively between multiple virtual machines … for ESX Server, not VMware Server. Also note how he compares "MSVS" (a product) and "VMware" (a company name, but he means ESX Server).

    But the performance kick he gets from VMware does come at a price:
    having to learn an unfamiliar new operating system. "I wish I were more
    of a Linux person," Laudenslager said about having to administer his
    Linux-based VMware Server. Especially when it comes to setting up
    security policies, "I feel I could do a better job with Windows."

    Laudenslager should be running VMware Server on Windows, not Linux, if he’s a Windows person. VMware Server comes in both flavors.

    Then, there are a few things that MSVS flat out does better than
    VMware. Hardware compatibility, for one thing, said Anil Desai, an
    independent consultant in Austin, Texas. VMware has done a good job
    expanding an extensive hardware compatibility list, but it can’t
    compare with the 20,000 to 30,000 devices supported by MSVS’s
    underlying Windows Server 2003 platform, Desai said.

    Again, if you run VMware Server on Windows, you get to take advantage of all the device compatibility of Windows 2003, the same as MSVS does. It’s when you move up to the power of ESX Server that you start having to be more careful about hardware compatibility.

    If you buy contemporary hardware from tier-one OEMs, hardware
    compatibility shouldn’t be much of an issue for most VMware shops, said
    Andrew Kutz, an operating systems specialist for the University of
    Texas, which runs VMware. But, "if you’re a white box shop that builds
    all your own stuff, you’re going to run in to some problems," he said.

    And now I sound like a broken record — use VMware Server on Linux or Windows on your white box all day long. Go to the VMware Forums if you’re hardware savvy and you can probably even get ESX Server up on unsupported hardware for your lab, although we don’t recommend it for production. But great googly moogly, don’t go saying VMware doesn’t have a free product to run on that cheapo white box you just bought — just use VMware Server!

    Is it sour grapes to complain about an article that calls your competitor’s product "flawed" in the title? I see this mistaken comparison so often, maybe I should start a new "apples to oranges" category in the blog for all these sightings. Of course, they’ll go away as soon as Microsoft’s upcoming Viridian hypervisor is here (2008? 2009? Infinity + 1?), and they strangle MSVS and dump it in a back alley. In the meantime, I guess VMware has some more marketing to do, since VMware Server is a great solution to pop on top of Windows Server and get started virtualizing — no cost, no  Linux, and it runs just fine on your current hardware.


    New Book: VMware Server and VMware Player

    Dennis Zimmer’s new  book covering VMware’s free virtualization products is now available: VMware Server and VMware Player. The way forward for Virtualization. It’s an update and translation of his original version in German. More information can be found at his site VMuser.com, including a table of contents, an index, and three free chapters on Virtual Networks, VMware Tools, and VMware Server.

    Via virtualization.info — check out the virtualization.info bookstore for information on this and other books. See also the list of books that were at the VMworld bookstore.

    VMware Server on Windows

    Andrew Kutz has been writing some nice material about VMware Server at SearchServerVirtualization.com. His latest: VMware Server on Windows vs. VMware Server on Linux.

    On to happier topics. The biggest reason to host VMware Server on Windows is the host operating system’s manageability. When joined to an Active Directory, Windows can take advantage of centrally managed domain accounts, group policy, SMS and many other must-have features for controlling large pools of servers. The stand-out reasons to run VMware Server on Linux are an easy-to-use command-line interface and the fact that the host OS is free.

    And SSV has put up a nice table of contents to Andrew’s recent 8-part series, VMware on Windows, which includes

    • Introduction: How VMware Server Works
    • Components and preparing the host server
    • Installing Windows and configuration tips
    • Windows security and Internet Information Server
    • SMTP and VMware Server
    • Configuring VMware Server
    • Creating a virtual machine
    • Installing a guest operating system and conclusions