VMware Workstation 6.5 Review

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If you aren’t familiar with virtual machines, you will be intrigued and excited when you discover the benefits virtualization has for green computing. Virtual machine technology allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical PC. For end users, one PC can take the place of three separate systems running (for example) Windows Vista, Ubuntu Linux, and Solaris. There is no need to reboot, no need for multiple partitions, and no need to reconfigure the host system. I’ve used previous versions of VMware Workstation before. The product line keeps getting better and better. Things that previously weren’t possible have been made possible by VMware.

Install & Setup (5 out of 5)

The install is straightforward, and considering the capabilities of the product, the install does not require expertise or necessitate any planning. Just install. After install a reboot is required because of the addition of several drivers for the virtual machines. After this reboot, installing, starting, shutting down and rebooting virtual machine “guests” takes place without any need for a reboot of the host system.

Setting up new virtual machines and installing each Guest OS is more painless than on dedicated hardware. Standard configurations and built-in install help make choosing the right configuration and understanding what the options do a breeze.

Features (5 out of 5)

VMware Workstation 6.5 continues to impress with features such as multiple monitor support for virtual machines, file drag-and-drop between the host PC and virtual machines, and even between virtual machines. Drag and drop functionality even works between different OS platforms. With support for 10 virtual NICs simulation and testing of software firewalls or multi-homed servers is simple.

One of the ideal uses for VMware Workstation is for developers. Several virtual machines running on their development PC can simulate several independent servers, mirroring what will be an actual production environment, whether or not that environment will use virtual machines, blades, or individual host servers. In some cases such as development projects including integration with legacy environments, virtual machines allow for thorough testing that would not be possible or cost effective with production hardware equipment. VMware has added support for Microsoft Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs for developers. OS support includes Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows XP, Vista, Linux, BSD, Solaris x86 and even NetWare. VMware Workstation 6.5 supports enhanced importing and converting from other virtual machine formats.

Another new feature that I was excited to discover was recording of virtual machine execution. Being able to “restart” and replay the exact computations, actions, and decisions that resulted in particular results is a powerful troubleshooting and debugging tool. There is also support for leaving virtual machines running in the background even after exiting the Workstation interface.

Pricing (4 out of 5)

Retail pricing starts at $189.00 for a single user license. Considering the functionality and flexibility of VMware, this is a great deal. Pricing scales down based on the number of licenses purchased. 10 pack licenses are $1,690.00. Upgrades are $99.00.

(5 out of 5)

I have always liked the virtual machine concept, and have always been impressed with VMware’s offerings. Workstation 6.5 continues the tradition of flexibility, ease of use, and high performance. VMware has focused on the needs of systems administrators, developers, and all their users to extend the features and value of their virtual machine solutions. Virtual machines reduce the total number of hardware systems required. This is one of the cornerstones of green computing.