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I keep seeing a lot of stuff about VMware and virtualization on the net these days, after some research it appears it is mainly to run different operating systems on the same PC and also at the same time.

What are some other uses for this technology besides multiple OS's?

Also is there a free version of VMware?

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VMware Player, VMware Server, VMware vSphere Hypervisor are free products. –  LiuYan 刘研 Jun 24 '11 at 6:49
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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

VMWare Player is free and a recent update added the ability to create new VMs (as opposed to only playing VMs which have been created by VMWare Workstation which was all that previous versions of Player could do)

An open source alternative is VirtualBox

Microsoft's Virtual PC is also free

There are many reasons for virtualisation.

I use them as a sandbox to test things without affecting my main operating system.

As a developer I use them to test code in different environments and configurations

VMWare's take on Benefits of Virtualisation

VirtualBox's take on it

Wikipedia too

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don't forget vmware server - though if vmware player can make new vms, one of server's main advantages is lost. qemu is also useful in some cases - for dissimilar architectures, and 'installless' vms in windows, even if its not as great performancewise –  Journeyman Geek Mar 18 '10 at 0:04
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In addition to Shevek's answer both MS and VMware produce server versions that are free to use. The Benefit of these versions is they run as a service and dont require being logged in to use them and they can both be controlled from a VM client elsewhere on the network. the benefit of the VM server is that it runs on both linux and Windows, so you can easily port VMs between different underlying OSs.

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See this thread. I believe it will answer your questions adequately.

What virtualization software to use?

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Answering your questions in reverse:

Also is there a free version of vmware?

As mentioned by others VMWare Player is a free version of VMWare for desktops and other providers also have various solutions.

What are some other uses for this technology besides multiple OS's?

Obviously one of the biggest uses for virtual machines is to run multiple OS's but it can also be used to just run multiple INSTANCES of the same OS (eg. you could have Windows 7 as your host OS and as a Guest Virtual Machine). As to why you would do this a good list of uses is shown in: 7 Uses For a Virtual Machine which list:

  • Try new operating systems
  • Test your software
  • Set up an office quickly
  • Small Biz disaster recovery
  • Build kid boxes
  • Backup your system
  • Save Legacy Systems

Another one i can think of is to have a very 'clean' empty host and put all your installed stuff on your guest and use snapshots so it is easier to backup if something goes wrong or allow you to test things as mentioned.

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