Take a closer look at VMware Workstation setup, advanced procedures

Setting up VMware Workstation opens the door to administrators who need a flexible test environment and a way to share virtual machines.

Whether you're running tests in a home lab, developing an application or managing several racks of servers in your company's data center, the flexibility and protection afforded by a virtualized environment cannot be understated. The first step toward using virtual machines starts with the right VMware Workstation setup.

In addition to saving hardware costs, a virtualized platform provides a sandbox where upgrades, patches and cloud development can be handled without the fear of harming the rest of your infrastructure, should something go awry.

Sander van Vugt's VMware Workstation - No Experience Necessary introduces a virtualization platform for those looking for this testing ground away from the production environment. As the title indicates, van Vugt assumes the reader is new to Workstation and explains how to use the application, from a proper install to more advanced topics such as sharing virtual machines and using clones andsnapshots.

Chapter 1, titled "Installing VMware Workstation," is available to download and read here (PDF). In this chapter, van Vugt details the installation process for Windows and Linux operating systems as well as the recommended hardware for this environment.

Highlights from Chapter 1:

An important part of the configuration of your VMware Workstation host is the amount of RAM that you'll make available for the use of the virtual machines. On one hand, you need to make sure that there is enough RAM remaining to keep the host operating system running smoothly. On the other hand, you also want to make sure that you have enough RAM to allocate the needs of all of your virtual machines. If you don't have sufficient RAM for the host operating system, it will start swapping, and if you don't have enough RAM for the virtual machines, the virtual machine memory will get swapped, neither of which is good for the performance of your computer.

Also under Memory, you can specify how the swap is going to be used. The best option for good performance is to disallow the usage of the swap completely. To do this select Fit all virtual memory into reserved host RAM, but this means that you might not be able to run all the virtual machines that you need on your host computer. The default option, which is selected, is Allow some virtual machine memory to be swapped. This offers the best compromise between performance and the amount of virtual machines that you can run. If you want to be able to run as many virtual machines as possible on the available hardware at the host computer, select Allow most virtual machine memory to be swapped; but be prepared for bad performance if you plan to run multiple virtual machines on your computer.

Editor's note: VMware Workstation - No Experience Necessary by Sander van Vugt is available from Packt Publishing Ltd.

This was first published in October 2013

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