Cool Tools: Working with Windows 2000 in a VMWare Virtual Machine

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Oct 8, 2000


Thomas Shinder

Ever get the feeling that there just aren't any killer app's anymore? If you were around during the heyday of the desktop computer and the early Internet, it seemed like a day didn't go by without some totally awesome application appearing on one of the shareware sites. These days, it feels like all the stuff coming out is just a rehash of what we saw in 1996.

Ever get the feeling that there just arent any killer apps anymore? If you were around during the heyday of the desktop computer and the early Internet, it seemed like a day didnt go by without some totally awesome application appearing on one of the shareware sites. These days, it feels like all the stuff coming out is just a rehash of what we saw in 1996.

However, here's something that really is new and very cool. The product is VMWare. The handy tool allows you to run multiple, different operating system simultaneously on the same machine! You heard it right. Run Linux, FreeBSD, Windows 95, Windows NT and Windows 2000 all at the same time.

Great For Application Developers

There are a lot ways you can but VMWare to use for yourself or your organization. If you are an applications developer, you need to be able to develop for multiple platforms. In this past, this meant dedicating several machines to different operating systems, and then moving from machine to machine. Or, you could install multiple operating systems on a single machine, and use a boot manager to reboot the machine into the alternate platform. With VMWare you don't have to do that. You run all your development platforms simultaneously. Now more moving around or restarting the computer!

A Boon to MCSEs in Training

A lot of beginning and established MCSEs don't have multiple computers on their practice network. They might be able to afford two or three computers, but in order to get a good feel for many of the new and powerful networking features available in Windows 2000 and the new BackOffice (.Net) Server family you'll need many more computers. You can place VMWare on each machine, and run two, three, four or more operating systems on each machine, turning your 3 computer network into a 12 computer network that runs all the latest and greatest Microsoft Server applications. Instead of spend $12,000US on a bunch of new computers, you can spend $99.00 x 3 ($297.00) for a license for each of the machines.

What's It Like?

After you install the VMWare software you'll run the Guest Operating System configuration wizard. A Guest Operating System is an operating system that runs in a virtual machine inside the operating system you booted into during machine startup. For example, if I started the computer up in Windows 2000 Professional, I can run Windows 2000 Server as a Guest in a Virtual Machine.

You pick the operating system you want from a list in the configuration wizard, as seen below:

After you've created the base configure for the operating system you want, the next step is to install that operating system into the virtual machine. The easiest by to do this is to use a bootable CD, which is supported by VMWare. If you are installing an operating system, such as Windows 95 (that doesn't include a bootable CD), you can install DOS first and add CD-ROM drivers (generic IDE CD-ROM drivers work fine) and then install Windows 95 or Windows 3.x.

Once the installation of the Guest operating system is complete, you're ready to rock! You just click the "Power On" button in the VMWare console, and the Virtual Machine starts up just as if it were a physical device, complete with BIOS startup screen and all!

Is There Anything Else Cool About VMWare?

As an instructor, when of my most frustrating experiences relates to teaching about fault-tolerant disk sets. The vast majority of training centers have computers that contain only a single hard disk, and therefore we are not able to actually implement fault tolerance configurations. While Microsoft often provides videos (or I make my own) of how to do this, its just not the same as having the students do it themselves and learn about the vagaries of configuring different RAID types.

With VMWare, you can create multiple virtual hard disks, and configure any kind of RAID configuration you like! Check out the screen shot below to see what I mean.

For More Information:

For more information on VMWare, check out the VMWare website HERE.

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