How To: VMware Installation
I decided to virtualize an IP PBX and a NAS, as these are both independent functions running on my small network. Without the luxury of excess funds, space, power, and switch ports, I'm always looking for ways to optimize functionality in my network. Prior to this project, I was running separate physical PCs for Linux and Windows XP Pro, two NAS devices, and had daisy-chained multiple desktop switches to connect all my devices on a LAN. Each of these devices produces fan noise and heat, contributes to a higher electrical bill, and fills up shelf space in my lab.
I chose VMware's free server software, version 1.3, as VMware seems to have the most buzz in the industry. I tried upgrading to versions 1.4 as well as the newer 2.0 beta version, but had problems with both and reverted to 1.3, which seemed to be the most stable on my Windows XP Pro system.
Downloading and installing the VMware software is straightforward. The software is available from VMware's website, and installation is point and click. VMware Server is designed to run on a server OS, and during installation on XP Pro warns that some of the features may not be available, as shown in Figure 2. Not to worry; it works on XP Pro.
Figure 2: Warning that VMware Server is designed for server OSes
Further, VMware offers a web interface, which on a Windows box uses Windows IIS (Internet Information Services). So I encountered a warning message (Figure 3) that indicated manual configuration may be required. Note that IIS is not installed by default on XP Pro, but can be added via the Add/Remove Windows Components option in the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. Since I'm not using the web features of VMware Server for this article, I can ignore these warning messages and not worry about IIS configuration.
Figure 3: Warning that IIS is not installed (default on XP)
A few more clicks on OK and a full reboot, and VMware is installed with an icon in the system tray as well as on the desktop. With the virtualization application installed, we're now ready to install a new guest operating system.
How To: Installing a Virtual Linux Machine
Linux is a highly available operating system that comes in many different "flavors" or distributions. In the past, if you wanted to play around with Linux, you'd install it on an old computer or set it up a dual-boot on an existing system. Or if you were lucky, you might find a "Live CD" version of the desired distro, which ran entirely from the CD.
In the old computer case, there is the luxury of a standalone machine, but the negatives of requiring another switch port, more electricity, and more space. In the dual-boot case, changing to the other OS, such as Linux, requires a reboot, creating a trade-off between two systems. And for the Live CD, the OS disappears when you shut down your system.
With virtualization, Linux can be installed within VMware, and it will function completely as if it were an independent machine, all while the Host OS is functioning normally. The first step is to download an ISO file image of the distribution of your choice. For this example, I downloaded a fresh copy of Ubuntu Linux 7.10 from Ubuntu's website.
To install the virtual machine, there is a simple wizard that guides the process. Clicking New and using the Typical options moves the process along quickly. A subsequent window prompts to check which operating system will be used. In this case, see Figure 4, I chose Linux and selected Ubuntu from the Version drop-down menu.
Figure 4: Selecting Ubuntu Linux as the OS
After giving the machine a name and choosing the directory on my host machine in which to save configuration files, I selected my network option, bridged networking, as shown in Figure 5. Bear with me; I'm going to go into more detail on this subject in a later section in this article called "Networking with VMware."