Kyle Maxwell

Just me.

Adventures in virtualization

I’m exploring “virtualizing” my desktop by doing most things from VMWare guest systems rather than from my actual, physical desktop. This is partly for “safe” browsing and partly for experimentation. Depending on how this goes, I’m considering virtualizing my main desktop, too.

This is a horrible verb, by the way.

Most of the appliances actually are based on Linux or some form of Unix (since you can’t distribute Windows virtual machines freely). Applications I can move easily include:

  • Browsing & all that that implies
  • GIMP
  • Music listening
  • OpenOffice

Other things won’t work as well, either for performance reasons (EVE Online and other games) or because the software just isn’t available as easily in Linux. I don’t want to spend a weekend getting my scanning and OCR stuff going, as an example.

So a couple of weeks ago, I installed VMWare Server 1.0.5 and downloaded several appliances: BackTrack, Ubuntu 8.04, and OpenSolaris. They were all compressed using 7-zip, which seems to be taking off for some reason.

When I started the server console, it prompted me that updates were available. Why didn’t I see the 5/29 build before, since I installed on 6/11? After re-downloading and trying to start Ubuntu, VMware prompted for a serial number. There were several floppy drive error messages, which I basically ignored since I don’t have a floppy drive.

When it came time for the Ubuntu login, I realized I should have noted it at the download (user/user). Synaptic doesn’t show any pending updates; not sure yet why that is. Firefox 3 beta 5 was installed, which is fairly recent. I set the desktop resolution to 1900×1200 in QuickSwitch mode.

At, FF3 gave me three different options for Flash plugins. I chose the Adobe “real thing” version, let it install, and within moments I was listening to Orgy’s cover of “Blue Monday” (better than the original tbh). Most of the other add-ons I use in Firefox went off without a hitch.

Middle mouse button doesn’t seem to work, though, and that’s an annoyance. I haven’t figured out what I’ll be doing about file-sharing from the host to the guest either. And it occurred to me that my online backup service (Mozy) is going to get real busy if the VM image files change every time I use it.

More to come as this progresses.


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