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I've been using VMware Server to run some development virtual machines on my PC for the past year or so. The idea was that I get tired of having to reinstall all my development tools and other software every time my motherboard dies or I need to upgrade my hardware, so I decided to do a minimal install on my host OS, with all of my software installed in virtual machines. So far this system has worked pretty well, but there are a few minor annoyances, such as the following:

  1. VMware Console is a little slow, so I use Remote Desktop to connect to the VMs instead.
  2. Occasionally the sound card gets "disconnected" from the VM, and I have to open the VM configuration and reconnect it in order for sound to work.
  3. Multi-monitor support isn't very good. There is no obvious option to enable dual screens for VMware Console, and using Remote Desktop with the -span option is annoying because the 2 screens are treated like a single extra-wide screen (e.g., the taskbar spans across both screens, and windows open half on one screen, half on the other). My workaround is to use WinSplit Revolution, but even that can be annoying.
  4. Switching between multiple VMware Console windows is extremely annoying. When you click the previous/next buttons in the console window bar, those buttons are repositioned based on the length of the virtual machine's name. Also, all the VMware Console windows seem to minimize and maximize at the same time, rather than just the one that I tried to minimize/maximize.

There are probably a few other annoyances, but these are the big ones. I've looked over the product page for VMware Workstation, but I have a few questions for someone who has actually used it:

  1. Does VMware Workstation have the same problems I've listed above?
  2. Is VMware Workstation worth the extra $150?
  3. How well does the Eclipse integration in VMware Workstation work (rewinding/replaying test sessions for debugging)?
  4. Are there any other products I should be looking into besides VMware Workstation? (I'm strictly asking about products that can match VMware Workstation 7 feature-for-feature. At a glance, it looked like VirtualPC and VirtualBox were lacking several of VMware Workstation's more advanced features, although VirtualBox does look like a better fit than VMware server for what I'm currently doing.)
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1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I use VMWare Workstation. To address your concerns:

  • I find that the console is more responsive than the VMWare Server console, so that's a plus. I will switch between remote desktop and direct console and don't notice much of a difference in responsiveness.
  • Sound performance is great. I've never had disconnects like you describe.
  • I understand VMWare Workstation 7 has multi-monitor support, though I have no experience with it.
  • VMWare Workstation does group all of the machines together in one Window, so they have to be managed as tabs and not as separate windows.

VMWare Workstation does have some additional drawbacks over VMWare Server.

  • In particular, there's no automatic suspend support. If you accidentally log off or shutdown the host computer, all of you guests will be instantly powered off. They claim there's no reliable way to shut them down without running them as a service, and they can't run them as a service for security reasons. In other words, "it's complicated".
  • There's no good remote administration support. You can execute command-line scripts, or you can remote desktop into the host, or you can use VNC (if you've enabled it for a given machine), but there's no web interface to administer workstation.

Some of the reasons I run Workstation over Server.

  • Some of you reasons mentioned.
  • Better hardware support.
  • I feel better supporting the project financially, as it's the best product out there and the price is reasonable.
  • Great snapshot support. Multiple live snapshots, live VM cloning, shared disk space.
  • It doesn't run that dreadful Tomcat stuff with all of the bugs that come with trying to get it to work well under Windows.
  • I feel like VMWare Workstation makes much better use of my resources.

Other reasons for keeping VMWare over other VM products.

  • Memory over-allocation. You can run a 2GB virtual machine on a host with 2GB of memory. I don't recommend it in general, but in a pinch, it's a nice feature.
  • Great hardware support - connect high-speed USB devices and many other things. I've always found VMWare ahead of the curve with machine virtualization technology. I've rarely seen a feature of another product that VMWare didn't already do well.
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Thanks for the thorough answer! –  rob Dec 2 '09 at 17:46

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