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I'd like to set up a linux environment on a local Virtual Machine to test/develop code before running it on a cluster. I don't need or want a GUI on the VM as all the work I need it for will be command-line based.

What is the best way to set up a VMWare Linux virtual machine with ssh access, without installing a GUI? Ideally the VM would be as light-weight as possible to minimise the impact on the host Mac.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I can't quite tell but I assume you want the guest host to not have a GUI (gnome, kde, etc), so just download whatever distro (I like Ubuntu) and install their server version, which doesn't have a GUI.

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Virtualbox is a fast easy to use virtualization application. You can use the headless mode to run the virtual machine without a GUI.

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For the guest, I use Ubuntu JeOS, which stands for "Just enough OS". It is an installation option specifically for VMs.

And I use VMware Server, which is free (as is beer) for the VMware host.

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But VMWare Server isn't available for MacOS X. – Matthew Schinckel Aug 22 '09 at 11:25

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