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VMWare Inc. Releases Free Virtual Machine Runtime 318

rfinnvik writes "VMWare Inc. has released a new free (as in beer) virtual machine runtime called VMware Player. According to VMWare, this free VM runtime makes it possible for anyone to run virtual machines created in their Workstation, GSX or ESX products. It also runs virtual machines created in Microsoft's virtualization products. The runtime is available for both Windows and Linux."
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VMWare Inc. Releases Free Virtual Machine Runtime

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  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:40PM (#13840267) Homepage Journal
    why- cause it really WONT cost me anything to try...

    Just pray I'm a vocal member of a new majority...
    • Unbuntu has two different versions. One is an install CD, the other is a run CD that lets you launch linux from disc without installing anything. Now, of course, the CD version is going to be more limited, but given that you can read/write fat32 and network NTFS(and read local NTFS) you can still do a decent bit with it. It's not bad at all if you just want to give linux a whirl and see what it is all about/teach yourself how to use some aspects of linux.
    • No need for VMWare for that really. Knoppix is pretty good, and you can even find versions of it that come with QEMU. No need to install anything.
    • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:48PM (#13840750)
      I'm using the VMware Player to browse Slashdot, RIGHT now, with something called the "Browser Appliance," which I also downloaded from their site. "Browser Appliance" consists of a version of Ubuntu and Firefox 1.0.7. It works slicker than shit, with almost zero system degradation.

      I'm impressed!
  • by eMartin ( 210973 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:42PM (#13840278)
    AFAIK, the existing virtual machines really just consist of a simple plain text file that describes the machine, and a disk image that can be one created by VMWare or another text file that points to a "standard" image file type.

    So, does this mean that if I create those files myself, I don't need the commercial products at all?
    • And yes, I know that it doesn't offer the more advanced features such as snapshots, but I'm just trying to figure out why they would leave out the creation of virtual machines, if that's a relatively easy task.
      • I'm just trying to figure out why they would leave out the creation of virtual machines,

        M-o-n-e-y. Being able to play back a VM is really cool, but they will make thier money off selling workstation, GSX, ESX, etc. This is a great way to distribute demo software. Think about it, Knoppix and other bootable Linux's are useful, but I don't use them for the same reason I don't dual boot. I want to run both Windows AND linux at the same time. I can do that with VMWare.
    • Sounds like it, but watch out... those "text" files may contain patented information...
    • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:46PM (#13840319) Homepage Journal
      As far as I'm aware, there is nothing out there which can create (Bochs and Qemu can read) VMWare disk images, and they're more advanced than simple raw or dd-created files with filesystems slapped onto them.
      • by yeremein ( 678037 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:12PM (#13840518)
        As far as I'm aware, there is nothing out there which can create (Bochs and Qemu can read) VMWare disk images, and they're more advanced than simple raw or dd-created files with filesystems slapped onto them.

        Actually, if you create a "pre-allocated" virtual disk (as opposed to dynamically growing), you'll end up with a text file "something.vmdk" that provides disk geometry and points at a raw bit dump "something-flat.vmdk". VMware (Workstation 5.0, anyway) can use an existing dd dump if you create a .vmdk file that refers to it. I've done this several times.
      • by mvdw ( 613057 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:44PM (#13840720) Homepage
        Whatever their format, is there something in the VMWare license that says you can't share them? Because if it's possible to share them, then someone with a valid copy of VMWare (or even, dare I say it, an evaluation version), can create a whole bunch-o-images, and the rest of the world can benefit.
        • Nope, nothing in the EULA for VMWare Workstation to prevent you from sharing/distributing images and I've read that sucker each and every time we do another beta/release candidate (mostly to catch typos). You're supposed to stockpile these puppies if you need them so you have a stack of testing platforms. Now I'd be real careful about Microsoft EULA's, but those are supposed to be modified here shortly, if they haven't been already.
      • by kju ( 327 )
        Just use this [] to create an empty vmdk-file. Boot virtual machine from CD-ROM and install OS.
      • All you need is one person with a VMWare license to create an empty .vmdk file and distribute it. Then player-demo users can fire that up and install an OS on it. You won't be able to save a snapshot, which negates VMWare's (IMHO) second-best feature (the primary feature being able to to run other OSes without rebooting), but it's still pretty cool considering what you paid (i.e., nothing). If you really want to be able to revert, get the OS to where you want it, shut it down, and make a copy of the .vmdk f
    • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @09:32PM (#13841403) Homepage Journal
      This looked great, but the verbage on the web site is a little misleading. I downloaded and installed it thinking "Great! Now I can load up those MS Virtual PC Images I've been using for testing (and supporting those legacy VB6/Access applications), and I don't have to boot to Windows anymore!"

      When it didn't work, I had to dig around the site, eventually downloading the "VMwarePlayerManual10" PDF file, where on page 3 I found:

      Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server Virtual Machines (Windows Hosts Only) On Windows hosts, VMware Player can run Microsoft Virtual PC and Virtual Server virual machines. When you open a Virtual PC virtual machine in VMware Player, it automatically creates a VMware-compatible configuration file (.vmx), while preserving the original Virtual PC (.vmc) configuration file. You can save the VMware-compatible virtual machine.

      But can I then load up the VMX in the Linux version of the player? It doesn't seem to like it very much - I guess it just doesn't work.

      Crap! I guess I have to plunk down some $ and re-create thost images in VMWare if I want to do that - easier just to keep booting into windows - it takes hours to install and configure Windows on a new virtual machine...

  • by multiplexo ( 27356 ) * on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:43PM (#13840292) Journal
    Right now you have live CDs that you can boot from to run Linux on a Windows machine without touching the hard drive, but you then have to reboot the machine into Windows to run your Doze stuff, now you could run Linux apps in your Windows environment. Another cool application might be a virtual machine that runs your browser and another one that runs your e-mail, get a virus? Not a problem, it's isolated in the virtual sandbox. I haven't worked with vmWare in a long time, how does the performance stack up these days? I might have to get a copy and play around with this.

  • Gee, that's nice. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:43PM (#13840295) Homepage Journal
    However, given the compatibility problems with previous versions of VMWare I am not sure how much use it will be to people who download Open Source VMs off of the web to run (and I assume that's part of who this is aimed at). I've read a couple of places, for instance, that the current version of VMWare won't run the VMWare installation of Plan 9 that you can download from Bell Labs.

    That said, you can run Qemu [] with kernel acceleration on Linux, FreeBSD (a platform VMWare doesn't even support) and 2000/XP and get pretty good performance - and it's probably a better option than a mere 'runtime' given that not only does it support an additional platform (FreeBSD), but you can create a VM on one platform and run it on all the others (even ones w/out accerlation, such as NetBSD -though you really would not want to).
    • I run both, and have very little trouble with VMware and the OS that is being run under it.

      If you want to compare speeds, QEMU still lags way behind VMware, and unless you have one hell of a machine, you cant use it in production as its way too slow.

      QEMU also has major troubles with hosting windows installs, which is what most people in business use VMWare for. ( virtual servers )

      Dont get me wrong QEMU is a great thing and its improving quickly, but i would still not trust it for production, yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:44PM (#13840302)
    Anything free out of VMWare these days seems more like a response to free competitors like QEMU [] (or it's faster virtualization form KQEMU) than anything else.

    Still, in the time between QEMU catches up to VMWare feature-wise it's nice to have a legal-but-hobbled copy.

  • At least until someone writes a program to build compatible VM's, if they haven't already. The low risk trialware aspect of this is pretty interesting, and you know that none of the free VM's will run Windows, if Microsoft has anything to say about it.
  • Wondering (Score:2, Interesting)

    by umbrellasd ( 876984 )
    Has anyone had luck with running VMWare on Linux and using a virtual machine to play Windows games? I play two online games and they are the only reason that I use Windows as my primary operating system. Not familiar with the performance concerns, but it looks like I could prepare a Windows gaming VM and run it when I game, and then work on other tasks in my preferred Linux environment. Googling...
    • The video card it emulates is pretty low end. It's acceptable for the old SimCity games (I've tried them) but not for any modern shooter.

      There is also the problem where you're still sharing your CPU with the virtual machine so you may experience pauses in the game. Not really noticable with strategy and turn based games, but it may be a problem with shooters.

      The good news is that you can load up different Windows versions for different games (you do still have the licenses, right?). So you can run Win95 or
    • Re:Wondering (Score:3, Informative)

      by richmaine ( 128733 )
      Games and emulation just don't go together. That applies to pretty much all kinds of emulation - VMWare, Virtual PC, whatever. Games just tend to require performance that emulation can't deliver. Plus games are often picky about hardware such as video cards.

      Of course, this overgeneralizes. If you have some text-based game, or even a graphics one old enough to not strain current hardware, then maybe. But generally speaking, assume that games won't work acceptably.

      I've used VMWare (though it has been a while)
    • Re:Wondering (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tiny Elvis ( 171954 )
      I had an old game (magic the gathering) that ran on Win 98. I had problems running it on win 2k mainly due to the fact it would run too fast and was unplayable. I heard running in under 98 made it run the proper speed so I setup a Win 98 VMWARE instance to play it. As the others replying have said, you can forget running anything that requires 3d. It makes a great sandbox to test other stuff in though.
    • I do not play windows games on my virtual machines but
      applications like google earth run very smooth, essentially
      with the same speed than in windows. Just make sure to
      check OpenGL, when using Google earth.
      In general, with virtual machines, it is important to have
      enough memory. VMware is the main reason, I throw into my
      main linux boxes as much memory as I can afford.
  • by GiMP ( 10923 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:48PM (#13840336)
    Need to run Linux at work but corporate policy won't let you? (or plan to install Linux anyway, but need that killer-app for Windows?)... Boss won't buy you a copy of VMWare?

    Buy your own copy for personal use and simply install this "player" on your work PC. Need multiple users wanting to emulate an OS and don't have terribly high demands? One copy of vmware... multiple players.

    I'm drooling.
  • USB adapters... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @06:54PM (#13840378) Homepage Journal
    So far, no virtualization systems I've used has ever supported dynamic USB support.

    I wonder what kernels their Linux player supports usb support. I assume it will be something like FC4 or RHEL ?.

    Can someone who has downloaded tell me how the usb hotplugging works for you ?.
    • If I understand what you mean by dynamic USB support, then VMWare does it. I've used it with Windows MCE on VMWare.
    • Re:USB adapters... (Score:3, Informative)

      by dougnet ( 913517 )
      I work for a large company and we have a number of VMWare Workstation licenses. I downloaded the vmplayer today and used my existing VMWare workstation image with it (W2K image on Linux host). It started up fine. I then plugged the USB connector for my Kyocera 7135 Palm phone into my Linux system and hit the hotsync button. A "button" appeared accross the menu bar of the VMWare window with the title of the USB device (something like "Kyocera phone"). I could click on the botton to toggle as to whether or no
  • Another option (Score:2, Informative)

    by technoid_ ( 136914 )
    If you dont want to figure out what is missing with the VMware offering, Parallels is offering 60 day trial licenses for its Parallels Workstation 2.0 Beta3. Check out

    Disclaimer: i have no affiliation to Parallels, I have just been trying out the product.


  • osx86 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 )
    ha now that osx86 installation vmware image you downloaded can run on a leagal copy of vmware!
    • Re:osx86 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Macka ( 9388 )

      Actually I'm hoping that VMware will port their products to the new osx86 when it ships. I'd love to have the choice to run Linux & Windows in VMware on my first x86 Apple Mac when I get one.

  • And in other news... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by williamyf ( 227051 )
    Microsoft Released Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Visio viewers. meanwhile lotus released a viewer for Freelance Graphics.

    Now, on a more serious note, This is cool, the "Player" is far more complicated than any viewer/player out there, and the uses for the thing are intriguing. From the Web Page of VMware, collages can work on a support case and all share the same one in a VM, or you can demo apps in the confort of the VM. The page even points to VMs made available by IBM, oracle and others. Of course, questio
  • by D4C5CE ( 578304 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:25PM (#13840604)
    ...especially as many banks would certainly want to pay for the privilege of getting another few years out of their legacy apps on that platform.

    Other than the lack of OS/2 support, however, VMWare does not seem to have any other important shortcomings, now that the free player allows to "clone and ship entire virtual machines" e.g. for the hassle-free demo and deployment of FOSS solutions.

    Besides, it's a blessing for many computer classrooms, helping in particular to make them less Microsoft-centric and saving much time for administration at the same time...

  • Downloaded the player and their browser appliance image. Anyone know what the root password for the browser appliance is? [BTW, it's a very stripped down Ubuntu install, with Firefox, GAIM, BitTorrent, and a Terminal Server Client]
  • by www-xenu-dot-net ( 922425 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:32PM (#13840648)
    Does this mean what I think it means...I can run their Browser Appliance from a USB Key for free? That would be awesome....!!!
  • by dosguru ( 218210 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @07:34PM (#13840659)
    Player has a lot of positive buzz right now here, as soon as we all get back home they'll be thousands of player installs all over North America. This is the product I've been hoping for to help demo products for external customers, and allow internal clients to use VMs without having to pay extra money or allow them to change things.

    Xen who? It's not even on the radar here. Nothing against Xen, but it is years behind WS5 or ESX3.

    Microsoft has been here giving away Virtual Server 2005 with a free R2 update. I have 4 copies of it and I have no idea what to do with any of them. MS was presenting today how they plan to integrate Virtual Server directly into Longhorn. How long with VMWare count MS as a partner instead of as their primary threat?

    ESX 3.0 looks sweet, lots of new features. AMD, IBM, HP, and Sun have also been showing off their newest and greatest hardware for running ESX farms.
    • Microsoft has been here giving away Virtual Server 2005 with a free R2 update. I have 4 copies of it and I have no idea what to do with any of them. MS was presenting today how they plan to integrate Virtual Server directly into Longhorn.

      Convienent as Microsoft is adopting virtual licenses [].
    • Of course it was only a matter of time before MS did its usual stunt and began eroding a better product by "integrating" or giving away a lesser product, don't we eventually want virtualization built into Windows much as it is in grown up computer systems?

      I guess what I'm hoping for is a more dynamic way to create virtual machines -- on a per application basis or something, where I don't have to create a wholly unique OS environment for one-off systems and some of the clunky, albeit flexible, stuff you have
  • by phorest ( 877315 )

    I was at a Microsoft event last month where the presenter was really talking up Microsoft® Virtual PC 2004 as being the cats meow. He actually spent 10 minutes out of the 3hr+ technet program to hawk it.

    So..... I went to look it up after seeing the story posted (No, I didn't RTFA) but they had links to download a free 45 day trial and the listed price was ($129.00 MSRP) for the software title. So then I went to VMWare Inc's site to compare products and darn it if MS is undercutting their pric

  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gadren ( 891416 ) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @08:27PM (#13841029)
    People BUY VMWare? O_o
  • It looks like you can download an evaluation version of VMWare workstation that "dies" in one month. I'm not sure if you can create a VM with that, then play it with player, or if they're DRMed, but it's at VMWare's site [].

    You could also download a virtual machine here [] it looks like. I'm sure if you google you can find others.

  • Anyone know of a (trustable) source for a solid OpenBSD vmware image?
  • I know this going to sound like an advert, and maybe it is, but I'm not getting compensated for it.

    VMWare lets you run multiple virtual machines on one computer. That's cool and all, but there is another product out there that does the inverse - it lets you join together multiple independent machines (like those in a beowulf cluster) and turn them into one big virtual machine with one system image. So, if you have 16 seperate PCs, you can boot and run linux and it will look like one big 16-cpu server.

  • I think this will be good for free (speech or beer) applications. Especially applications with smaller development communities often have times because people don't have the hardware to test on a lot of differet OSes. I've worked on a few OSS apps where I've been the only one to work on porting applications to anything other than one of the couple of Linux distros that the main developers use, just because out of all the developers I was the only one with a valid windows license and a copy of VMWare- due
  • by imemyself ( 757318 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:11AM (#13842144)
    I've used VMWare(Workstation and GSX) a lot for the last couple of years. I use VMware Workstation daily on my desktop at home. I have maybe 30 or so VM's(versions of Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, Netware, and OS X). I run Netware and Windows Sever in GSX on RHEL4. I couldn't live without VMware. Novell has recently started distributing some of their eval stuff via VMware images, I think Oracle has as well. I'm assuming that VMware is doing this to encourage other companies to start doing similar things. It's really a pretty neat idea, testing/learning about different OS's and software through VMware. I have also used Virtual PC, and I must say that VMware is much, much better that Virtual PC. The only think I use VPC for is to occasionally screw around in OS/2, and I'm probably going to try and install that in VMware sooner or later. I'll admit I haven't used Xen, but for me the best thing about VMware is that I can run different OS's. I don't think running Linux-on-Linux is nearly as amazing or revolutionary as running Netware-on-Linux, or Solaris-on-Windows, etc. I think that VMware Workstation 5.5(currently in beta I think, I've not tried it though), will supposely run x86_64 guests, on x86_64 hosts. VMware seems to be really moving forward a lot, each new release seems to add something that I will actually use unlike a lot of other software. I only wish they would offer updates to GSX a litte often. Right now GSX won't work with VMware Workstation 5 VM's(which support multiple snapshots). VMware Workstation 5 will run 4.5 style VM's, but you cannot use snapshots. Other than that, I can't say there's anything I don't like about VMware. And no, I don't work for them, nor am I in any way associated with them. Just a very, very, happy customer.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982