A few days ago I installed VMWare Workstation 4 on my PC.
VMware Workstation is powerful virtual machine software for the desktop. Optimized for the power user, VMware Workstation runs multiple operating systems -- including Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Novell NetWare -- simultaneously on a single PC in fully networked, portable virtual machines. VMware Workstation provides more choice, greater flexibility, and more powerful functionality than any other virtual machine software in the marketplace today.
I have to admit, I'm quite amazed! VMWare lets you create one or more virtual pc's, hosted on your (single) machine. Each virtual pc has it's own isolated envirionment (harddisk, nic, cdrom, ...) that can be used to install a large number of operating systems (Windows XP/2K/2K3/..., Linux, DOS(!), ...). This is perfect for trying out software,testing, .... without messing up your Windows setup, since you can pretty easy revert back. In fact each virtual pc is a set files on the host pc, which can be copied. You can connect to your virtual pc's using a virtual network connection, each pc gets its own ip address (if you want so). A very nice feature is that you can use an ISO file as a virtual CDRom drive. So you can download Linux ISO images for example and install them without having to copy them to a cd! At this point I'm installing Mandrake Linux (don't worry, just for fun ;-). You can try VMWare out for free by downloading a trial version (fully functional) from their website.
Connectix is a product with the same features and is recently bought by Microsoft. I haven't tried it out, so any experiences/comparisations would be appriciated!
[UPDATE] Mandrake 9.1 linux is downloaded and installed. I hope my colleagues won't read this, it would be a good laugh monday morning! ;-) The installation procedure went quite nice, in my opinion not as slick as XP or 2003 Server, but better as I expected. There were some problems when installing the network:
- It seems that Mandrake doesn't recognizes the correct network card, so I had to manually select the PC/Net 32 network driver. More info: VMWare support page
- The second one was pretty hard to find: there is a problem getting an ip address for your network adapter using DHCP. But luckly I found a solution, again on the VMWare site. The solution is not so easy to apply, you have to manually edit the /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth[n] file and add a line: "MII_NOT_SUPPORTED=yes". But be aware, you need to login as the root to be able to change this file!
Next things to try: Samba, Apache, maybe even Mono, but for sure: checking how my blog looks in linux! ;-) Have a nice weekend!