In my last virtualization article Streamlined Software Development with Virtualization I discussed about benefits of virtualization and virtual machines on software development process. In this article I present how to set up an excellent free PC virtualization software VMware server to Windows XP host computer and how to install Windows XP client system on it.
Setting up VMware Server
VMware Server is an excellent virtualization software for software development. It’s feature rich, easy to set up and completely free. VMware targets VMware Server for light duty server virtualization and targets non-free VMware Workstation for software developers. VMware Workstation should have some extra features but unless you really need these extra features there is not any need to pay for them.
VMware Server can be downloaded from product homepage. To install the product, you’ll need to gain serial numbers. The serial numbers can be requested from VMware for free by filling-up registration form. Installation of VMware is very straight forward. If you don’t have Microsoft web server IIS installed on your computer, the installer will complain of the lack of IIS. The IIS is only needed if you want to manage your virtual machines over the network and for local only installation you can safely ignore this complain and press Ok to continue.
Creating A New Virtual Machine
After you have installed VMware Server you need to create a new virtual machine. Virtual machine runs on top of host operating system. It uses a large file as file system image, shares the host computer keyboard, mouse, monitor and network connection. To create a new Windows XP virtual machine you’ll need a Windows XP installation CD and a Windows XP license.
Start VMware Server. From an appearing pop-up window select local host to indicate VMware Server that you want to manage the virtual machines on your local computer and not machines on the network. From File menu select New > Virtual Machine. A wizard will start that guides you trough the virtual machine set-up process. After few initial options the first real decision you need to make is to choose the network connection type. Bridged networking is probably the best choice. If you are in a network where each computer needs to be registered for the network, then NAT networking will be easier as you don’t need to register your virtual machine to the network.
The second important choice is selecting the disk capacity. Set the capacity as high as you think you ever may need in this virtual machine, the capacity cannot be increased later on. Uncheck Allocate all disk space now option to keep disk usage at minimum. The disk will be allocated as needed. Finally click Finish button. The virtual machine will be created.
After you have created your new virtual machine you still have to specify the resources it may consume. Click your virtual machine on the inventory unless it is already selected. On the right-hand pane of the VMware Server Window under Commands bar you should have an option link Edit virtual machine settings. Press this link to open the virtual machine settings window.
On the Hardware tab set memory to 512MB if you have 1GB or more of system memory to guarantee Windows XP to run smoothly on the virtual machine. Then click on the CD-ROM settings and turn on the Connect at power on option. This makes your CD/DVD-drive automatically visible to the virtual machine. You need your CD/DVD to be visible so that you can install operating system and software to the virtual machine.
Now we are ready with setting up VMware Server itself. Let’s continue to installing the operating system.
Installing Windows XP on Virtual Machine
Installing windows XP to virtual machine doesn’t much differ from installing Windows to any other computer. Insert the Windows XP installation CD to the CD-ROM drive of your computer. Make sure you have a valid license with a Windows XP serial available. If you have autorun enabled on your host computer, ignore the window that will pop-up.
Make sure you have selected the correct virtual machine from the inventory on VMware Server control panel. Now start your virtual machine by pressing the Start this virtual machine link on the VMware Server control panel. The Virtual Machine should now start up, then connect to your host computer CD-ROM drive and start the Windows XP installer on the CD. From now on the Windows XP installation will proceed as normally.
Installing VMware Tools
After Windows XP installation has finished, there is still one more task to do before you can start using your virtual machine as normally. The virtual machine runs on top of the host computer and the performance is not optimal. All the graphics, mouse movements and key presses are transferred between the host computer and the virtual machine. VMware Tools is a package that should be installed on the newly created virtual machine to improve the performance of the host computer – virtual machine link.
On Windows virtual machines the installation of VMware Tools is very straight forward. On linux virtual machines you will need to recompile your kernel. When virtual machine is turned on and you have logged into it with administrator privileges, select Install VMware Tools from VM menu of the VMware Server control window. This will mount a virtual CD image and if autorun is turned on, an VMware Tools installer will automatically start. If autorun is not turned on, you’ll need to start the installer manually from the CD-ROM drive of your virtual machine.
Congratulations, you’ve now installed VMware Server on Windows XP and installed another installation of Windows XP on the virtual machine. To install applications to virtual machine, simply insert installer CD:s to your host computer CD-ROM drive and you can directly access them from your virtual machine. You can mount CD-ROM images on your host computer to your virtual machine.
It wasn’t that difficult, was it? If you are interested in getting some deeper knowledge on any aspects of virtual machines, please let me know. I can consider writing further articles on using virtual machines on software development.