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VMWare: See How the Other Half Lives

May 28th, 2006 · 5 Comments

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So� you�re a Windows user and you�ve decided that you�d like to try out Linux but don�t want to go through the process (or risk) of trying to install Linux on your Windows computer. The solution used to be to dig that old computer you�re not using anymore out of the closet and install Linux on that. But what if you don�t have an old computer or you don�t want to go through the hassle of installing an operating system that you�re not familiar with? The answer is easy (and free) now: VMWare.

VMWare uses a technology called virtualization to allow you to run one operating system (the �guest�) within another operating system (the �host�). It�s easy, it�s safe, and (did I mention?), it�s free.

Let�s say that you have Windows XP as your computer�s operating system. If you�d like to test out Linux you can download the VMWare Player and install it on your Windows machine. You can then download one of the Linux �virtual machines� (also from the VMWare site), fire up VMWare Player, point it to the Linux virtual machine that you�ve downloaded, and there you go � you�re running Linux on your Windows PC. And you�re not running some sort of Linux demo or emulator � you�re running Linux.

What�s the trick? The Linux OS has no idea that it�s running inside of Windows. Think of the Matrix movies. There was a whole artificial world created by the machines and billions of people lived in that world. They never had any idea that the world they thought was real didn�t really exist. That�s what VMWare does � it creates the artifical world that the guest operating systems run within and those guest OS�s have no idea that the world they see isn�t real.

What can you do with that guest OS? Just about anything that you could do if you went through the hassle of installing it on that old PC in your closet. Once you log into the guest OS you can make configuration changes, install programs, surf the web, listen to music � just about anything. Remember, the guest OS doesn�t know that it�s not running in a real PC, so there are not restrictions on what it will allow you to do.

But is it safe? Absolutely. The guest OS never touches the host�s hard drive. In fact, the guest doesn�t ever see anything in the host OS. If you�re using your Windows PC to host a Linux OS there�s nothing that Linux can do to your Windows operating system because it has no way of touching (or even knowing about) your Windows operating system. It only sees the world that VMWare created for it.

So, are you a Windows user that wants to try Linux, Solaris, or just about any other operating system? Install the VMWare Player, download a guest operating system, and find out what you�ve been missing.

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