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After switching over to Windows Vista, I had to reinstall my virtual machines. Read on for a short overview of the virtualization situation.<

Starting situation

My notebook is running Vista x86, and I wanted to have two systems running on it. A legacy Windows XP VM and one with Linux.

Virtual PC 2007

Microsoft gives the Virtual PC 2007 away for free. The installation is quick and does not even require a restart. However, it's clear that Virtual PC is aimed at virtualizing Windows. Installing Windows XP in it was painless, very fast and without any problems (except that Microsoft says that my Windows XP key has been used to often. Had to get a "fresh" key from MSDNAA). With the machine additions, it blends very well into the desktop and works perfect, just as you would expect. Performance is a bit low, but that's basically it. Unfortunately, Virtual PC is a dead end. I plan to run a server at home one day (most likely a Linux-based one), and the VPC VMs won't work there. Moreover, it works fine for Windows, but not for Linux. Although it is possible to get a Linux running (in my case, Ubuntu), it is not that easy and even when installed, the Linux integration remains far behind the Windows integration (for example, you can resize the VM window and it dynamically adjusts the screen resolution in the guest OS if the guest is Windows, but not with Linux).


Just like last time, I tried the VMware products again. There are two main free products from them: VMware player and VMware server. The player is just a runtime to start a VM while the server is capable of creating and managing several VMs. Another important advantage is that the server comes with VMware tools, which are the cross-plattform equivalent of Microsoft's VM Additions. With those, you get all the nice integrations features of VPC for both Linux and Windows. First step was to install VMware server and both machines, which worked right out of the box. In the next step, I tried to install the VMware additions for Ubuntu (having set Linux:Ubuntu as the guest OS), but this did not work - it did mount the ISO, but it was full of 0-byte files. So I switched to Linux:Generic 2.6.x kernel, selected to install the tools and after a short installation everything was running fine (it complained that it needs a kernel module but the installer was able to compile it...). However, the mouse wheel support seems to be broken since then. After setting up the VMs using VMware server, I deinstalled it so I could run the machines with VMware player as it has a much better GUI performance and a slightly better desktop integration (switching to full-screen switches the VM resolution, too, as long as the VM tools are installed). The only problems that remain is the broken mouse wheel support and that VMware player does not support Vista officially - you get a warning about unsigned drivers during the installation and it somehow blocks the system before the VM starts up.