I finally installed the VMware.com/ Player RPM in PCLinuxOS 0.92 the other day. Now don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have the VMware Workstation, but the player is free and the workstation last I heard was $199.00 - they do have the 30 day trial but I wanted something that didn't time bomb out in 30 days, and the player is it.
The workstation can create virtual machines and run them, the player can not, but if a copy of that virtual machine is sent to another computer that has the player installed, be it windows or Linux, that computer can run the operating system that was created in the workstation, in the virtual machine player. And it will be the exact same OS on both (or thousands of) computers. Think install, customize once, deploy as many times as you would like. I wouldn't have bothered with VMPlayer if I couldn't create my own virtual machines. With all the open source software out there you just knew it had to happen at some point in time.
Here is what I had to do to get VMPlayer up and running in PCLinuxOS.
As always, Your mileage may vary!
1. Install the latest kernel from the repositorys.
2. Download VMware-player-1.0.1-19317.i386.rpm (34.6 MB) and install it.
(The tarball download will work on any Linux distro capable of running the software. I chose the RPM. The only drawback of using the rpm is that you don't get any control over where the software is going to be installed. In most cases this is not a problem. With the tarball, you run an install script and you can specify the installation path and other useful settings. If you want or need more control grab the tarball. Your choice.)
3. Edit the vmware-config.pl file.
4. Run the vmware-config.pl so it can properly set up VMPlayer.
So why bother doing virtual machines, well first running a computer inside of a computer is catching on, but mainly because it is to your advantage. There are quite a few nice features that one can do when going virtual. That's because the virtual (guest) operating system is treated as a normal file within your real (host) operating system. VMPlayer refers to Linux as my host OS, any other OS I install is called a guest OS. You can also setup your own virtual server.
In VMPlayer terminology the host operating system is the one you have on your computer. The guest OS is the one that you'll be running under VMPlayer's virtual machine.
You can run just about any guest OS on the host OS, they can even be the same, e.g. you can run Linux under Linux, windows under windows. Oh yes you can also run windows under Linux, or Linux under windows.
Windows 2000, Windows XP and (most) Linux distributions are the only host OS's the software runs on. You can boot just about any guest OS though. The only thing about virtualization is you need a lot of memory.
You'll need enough memory to run both the host and guest OS. If you run Windows XP or the latest distro of Linux, they won't run very well in less than 256 MB. And livecd's in VMPlayer feel sluggish with only 256 MB of ram, with 512 MB or more they fly along nicely.
I can boot up a copy of GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, or even a copy of Windows. When I run a guest OS under VMPlayer, VMPlayer tricks / fools the guest OS into believing it's running on a physical piece of computer hardware all by itself and speaking to real devices. (emulation)
VMPlayer's guest OS has an Ethernet card, a hard drive, a sound card, USB, a CD drive, printer port, a keyboard and mouse. I can install multiple guest OS's, but I can only run one guest OS at time, the primary limitations will be how much physical disk space and ram you have available. VMPlayer's guest OS can have their own IP addresses (bridged) which make them indistinguishable from any other physical machine, you can also do NAT, or keep it on your LAN (off the Internet) with the (host only) setting, your choice.
What the guest OS sees as a hard disk is really one large file on the physical hard drive. This also means no partitioning necessary on the host OS! When you create your guest OS using VMPlayer what you are really doing is installing it in a file named whatever you choose, be it Test, kubuntu, windows, Linux, whatever it's just another file name on your hard drive. Think of it like a 3GB mp3 file sitting on your hard drive, unless you are using it it just sits there waiting doing nothing and not using any system resources.
If your guest OS is 4GB and you add 6GB of data then it will require 10GB of hard drive storage space. The math is easy, the unfortunate part is that you have to allocate that 10GB during the install part, if you don't and only allocate 6GB then it will not be large enough to hold more data. So having a large hard drive is very helpful! I'll get to this part later in the article.
VMPlayer does like its memory, more is always better, I usually allocate 448 - 512MB of memory for the guest OS. I do have 1GB of physical ram in my computer. YMMV
There is no free lunch. Operating systems running under a virtual machine will always be slower than it would be if it was running natively on your PC! Right now I have 2 operating systems running at the same time, but I don't have 2 physical computers.
All of the guest OS's don't run at the same time, they can't, for that you need VMware Workstation and a lot of system resources if you want to run more than 2 OS's at the same time. You can choose to run a guest OS or not, it will sit there on your hard drive waiting. You can have as many OS's as you have room for them on your hard drive.
For instance using a virtual machine:
Can put a end to dual booting into another operating system just to get some information out of a database, or use some feature that is lacking in a GNU/Linux box. Just click on the VMPlayer icon and go virtual.
This sure beets logging out, rebooting and logging in to another OS.
Back up your guest OS simply by making a copy of it and storing that copy elsewhere, just like you would save your mp3's or documents, it's a file remember? If the guest OS gets corrupted, delete it and copy back your backup. Simple!
Before all of this warm fuzziness can happen, I had to upgrade the kernel first. The reason is because of the default PCLinuxOS kernel which uses low memory for 1 gig of ram aka up-1GB. For most people with 1 gig of ram this would be desireable, because new Linux users wouldn't know how to replace or recompile the kernel to get the full 1GB usage of their ram.
VMPlayer will not work with this kernel the way it is setup to handle 1GB of ram, so I just installed the i686-up-4GB kernel and the stripped sources, yes you will need the the stripped sources for this, problem solved. Because there is the newer kernel version I opted to install the newer one instead of recompiling the original one that was installed by default.
As a user use rpm -qa | grep kernel to see what kernel you now have installed.
$ rpm -qa | grep kernel
You will also need to install if these are not already installed by default...
$ rpm -qa | grep gcc
I installed these six RPM's using Synaptic from the PCLinuxOS repository and they work fine.
Now that the updates to the OS and the new kernel have been installed it's time to install VMPlayer.
Download VMPlayer to a directory, I used /home/bob. Now run the md5sum check.
The numbers match from the vmware site, so this is not a corrupted download.
Open Konqueror the file manager.
Next... right click on the VMware-player-1.0.1-19317.i386.rpm and select KPackage.
NOTE: KPackage is not the recommended way to do your updates in PCLinuxOS, for that use the, Synaptic Package Manager!
What KPackage is used for is programs like this that have been designed not to interfere with your system when you install 3rd party RPM's. Just because you grab a RPM from some site doesn't mean that it will properly install in a system that uses the rpm package manager. You have been warned.
Click on the Install button.
I clicked to hilite the VMwarePLayer entry then clicked on the Install button again.
Next I'm greeted with the root password dialog box.
Enter the root password here, click on OK.
NOTE: the RESULT=0 above, that means the the rpm was successfully installed.
Now I have the updated PCLinuxOS kernel, and the VMPlayer installed.