Review: VMware Workstation 4.5
VMware Workstation 4.5
Palo Alto, California
Attentive readers will know that I've been a long-time user of VMware.
So it's no surprise that I was happy to see a new version come out (and
even happier that it's a free upgrade from 4.0). VMware, of course, is
virtualization software that lets you run a virtual computer in a window
on your main computer. Provided you have plenty of RAM, you can, for
example, have a Windows XP computer and a Windows 2000 computer both
running as virtual machines on a Windows Server 2003 box (in fact,
that's the situation on my development computer right now). VMware lets
you flexibly network the real and virtual computers, and makes it easy
to switch from one to the other. This is great for testing new software,
debugging client problems with obscure operating system variants, or
just testing client-server systems when you only have a single computer.
Workstation 4.5 doesn't add any revolutionary features, but it does
ratchet things up a bit in the ongoing rivalry with Microsoft's
VirtualPC software. Here are a few of the things to like about the new
- Support for the current Longhorn betas and the 2.6 series of Linux
- Performance counters that track some of the key numbers for the
virtual machines, available to the host computer's copy of PerfMon.
- Support for virtual machines with up to 3.6GB of RAM (if only I had
that much physical RAM in this box!)
- PXE support, making it easier to set up new VMs using network
- Easier installation of USB devices.
- A revised VMware tools installation.
Installing the update was pretty painless. It did require me to
uninstall the previous version, but a thoughtful dialog box let me keep
my existing software licenses in the registry. I also found that
snapshots saved under 4.0 didn't want to open in 4.5, leading me to
reboot some virtual machines that I'd suspended. But other than that,
everything is still going smoothly - which is a good thing, because
VMware is one of the applications that I use most frequently. If you
haven't started using virtual machine technology for development, you're
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.