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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

VMWare a qualified success

I blogged previously about my experiments with VMWare, and now I'm actually using this approach to my Tapestry Workshop at a customer site.

I'd call it a qualified success and I will follow this approach further. Perhaps the biggest problem was the setting on the VM's memory size ... it was set to 512MB, but the client machines only had about 512MB of physical RAM and this caused a lot of thrash. Dropping this to 256MB (which can be done by editting the .vmx file, or as an option inside a launched VMWare image) made all the difference. This is certainly something that will take some care.

Performance seems to be reasonable. Of the ten students, eight are working fine, one has a few mysterious problems and may have to reload his image from the DVD and the last decided to "go it alone" and copy the labs off of the CD and work on his native desktop (in other words, follow the pattern I've used in previous Tapestry workshops).

Right now, we're using a Windows XP image and that's causing some problems; I'm in the process of building out a Mandriva Linux image instead ... no licensing concerns, and will probably outperform Windows XP by a good margin.

On the one hand, this client is a good choice for the experiment ... the desktops in their training center are uniform and recent (if not powerhouses). On the other hand, no previous clients I've trained had such a setup, so I'm still concerned about facing a more typical client ... one with a tangle of varied laptops and hand-me-down desktops of all shapes and descriptions.


Richard said...

And then there are those of us who use Macs or Linux laptops. But then, we're used to being self-supporting!

Hugo Palma said...

I've also had some performance problems when running XP over XP. I then tried Linux over XP and the performance really improved. I used the Ubuntu that proved to be a great option for someone that comes from the windows world. Among other things it's fast, free and almost as user friendly as windows.

John Troyer said...

Outside of a controlled lab/classroom setting, you will need to be vigilant for gotchas.

- Are the machines recent/beefy enough, with enough RAM? (You already hit this one)
- Player needs to have administrative privileges to install.
- Player is remarkably good with installing itself on unsupported Linux distributions, but it can only do so much automagically.

However, you are approaching this realistically -- in most cases, it'll save time/effort, and on the edge cases where you have to work without a virtual machine, you're no worse off than before. We're glad VMware Player is proving useful in your work.

Howard said...

Mac users: sorry ... how about Mac on Intel? I really suspect that WMWare will come to the rescue here.

Linux: I should include the Linux vmware player on the DVD as well.