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The Best Online Sources for Virtual Machine Images

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 12/5/2010

Setting up VMware virtual machine images is simple - but with pre-configured and prepared images you can save time installing a guest OS.

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    Hosting a Linux Virtual Machine

    Virtualization delivers considerable benefits to managing and supporting multiple operating systems, notably Linux-based devices. Virtual Box and VMware are the best choices for Linux VMs.

    With VMware Player or VMware Workstation installed, you might be interested in setting up a virtual machine in order to enjoy the benefits that virtualization can bring. This is easily done and with the right hardware and enough hard disk space you can even run multiple VMs at the same time!

    But how can you setup a VM if you don’t have a guest operating system to install? In this case, the answer would be to use a virtual machine created by someone else specifically for people like you to download and setup on their Linux box!

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    What is a VMware Virtual Machine Image?

    What is a VMware Virtual Machine Image? VMware – like other virtualization software – allows you to create a virtual machine. In other words, this is a software-based representation of a physical PC that is based on your devices hardware specification. With the virtual machine created, you are then able to install an operating system on it, known as a “guest OS” (the “host OS” is the one you have on your PC already).

    This installed operating system can be saved or cloned – either way, the resulting file is the virtual machine image, and this can be restored at any time or setup as a VM on any suitable computer with VMware Player installed.

    The great thing about images is that they can be saved, so any changes you make to the guest OS can easily be rolled back by simply restoring the image.

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    Strengths of VMware

    Where you might choose VMware over Virtual PC or Virtual Box is in its ability to support a wider variety of guest operating systems, from various Windows desktop and server OS to pretty much any Linux distro and even Mac OS X (although the latter would be technically illegal without a licence and signed hardware, and Windows would also require a licence).

    It should be clear from this that only open source operating systems such as the various Linux versions can be setup legally in VMware and shared.

    As such this virtualization software has the largest selection of virtual machine images available to use thanks to the efforts of other VMware users who have uploaded their Linux guest operating systems.

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    Where to Find VMware Virtual Machine Images

    There are several resources online where you can download VMware virtual machine images, although you will probably want to steer clear of many of them for various reasons. The following are all good sources of reliable and safe VMware images. – although initially a home for illegal filesharing via the Bit Torrent network, MiniNova has cleaned up its act and now only provides software that can be legally distributed. – this is a good resource for VMware images of the FreeBSD Linux operating system. – here you will find images for all sorts of Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora.