How to Use VMWare

by Justin H. Pot

If you want to run two operating systems at once, VMware's software can make that possible. Grasping virtualization is easy if you can keep two concepts in mind: host and guest. The "host" system is simply your computer, while the "guest" system is a complete virtual computer running using only software. This means you can run another operating system within yours. How useful this might be is up to you, but it's a great way to run programs you need another operating system for without dual-booting.

Find and download the version of VMware you need. If you plan to download a pre-made virtual machine, free version VMware player should work great. Installing Windows, and need to set up the virtual machine yourself? Get VMware Server, a free download with registration. Finally, if the host machine is a Mac, get VMware Fushion, a program designed to run Windows and Linux inside Mac OS X --- but a program that costs money. Check out the resources section for VMware's "Products" page, where you can download these programs.

Install your version of VMware. How to do this will vary depending on the host computer's operating system and which version of VMware you want to use; consult the documentation that came with the software. Generally, the process is the same as installing other programs---Windows users double-click a "setup.exe" file, Mac users drag the program to the "Applications" folder and Linux users install using the package manager their distro uses.

Acquire, or create, a virtual machine. If you want to try out a given Linux distribution, pre-made packages are easy to come by; check out the Resources section for a link to VMware's collection pre-built virtual machines. Search for the operating system you want to try out. Want to run an operating system that's not freely available, like Windows? You'll have to create your own operating system in VMware Server. Insert your Windows install CD, then open VMware Server. Click "Create a New Virtual Machine," select the version of Windows you're installing and pick where the virtual machine will be placed. Make sure the hard drive you're install the virtual machine onto has at least 2 GB of space. Once everything is configured, you can start the virtual machine; it should detect your install CD and begin the Windows Installation process.

Install VMware Tools in your virtual machine. This will make it possible to seamlessly move your mouse in and out of the virtual machine, not to mention copy and paste between guest and host. Click "Install VMware Tools" in the VM Menu to do this.

About the Author

Justin H. Pot is a freelance journalist, writer and blogger based in Boulder, Colo. He's written for local newspapers in the United States and his native Canada, and also blogs for the environmental website Ecohearth.com.