Getting Your Feet Wet in Virtualization

I’ve had the chance recently to get my feet wet in an area that I hadn’t had much experience, desktop virtualization. I’ve been doing some testing of screen casting software under Ubuntu 7.10 running in a VM on a Windows XP laptop. This laptop is a dual boot laptop with Windows XP and Ubuntu, however, I’ve been having problems with the Ubuntu side randomly locking up. I suspect it is something to do with the graphics subsystem. Anyway I really needed to do some testing for the virtualization user group and the local Linux user group. So what a better way to do testing than to use a Linux VM.

So what is the easiest way to get your feet wet with virtualization? VMware Player is available for free. VMware Player can play any virtual machine created by VMware Workstation, VMware Server or VMware ESX Server, as well as Microsoft virtual machines and Symantec LiveState Recovery disks. You are not able to create new machines, but can play them from many different sources. One of the nicest places to download VMs is from the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace. At the Marketplace there are hundreds of different VMs for special purposes or just general usage.

I downloaded a recent Ubuntu 7.10 VM for my testing. Once downloaded, you simply start up the VMware Player and select the image you down loaded and it will go through a boot up process. Once started you are able to log into the machine just as if you were booted directly off of a normal install. You are still able to do anything that you would normally do in an Ubuntu installation I added myself as a new user, added myself to the sudoers file, removed the “user/user” default account created by the VM creator. I was also able to install the software that I needed to test. I have a fully functioning Ubuntu desktop that when I’m done with my testing can be saved and handed over to the Virtualization User Group to use for screen casting our meetings/presentations. Very cool!