I am looking to start using virtualization.

I will want to run a few servers (some Linux and some Windows), and at least on Mac machine for iphone development.

I am somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of different products that VMWare are offering.

Where should I start? and how do I select the right product for me?

Can VM's be moved between the different products (Workstation, Player, Server, Fusion, vSphare...)?

How important is planning on this case? - what happens if I start using workstation and it turns out that I actually need server? (or the other way around).

Are there any limitations that I should be aware of if I want to store the virtual machines on a netgear readyNAS ? and is it a good idea to do this any way ?

Is there some big product comparison table somewhere?

Are there any other good alternatives for VMWare that support pc & linux servers as well as MAC machnies ?

3 Answers 3



Player (free) - very entry level, but works perfectly well - If I have a machine prepared and I need to show it to someone non technical, I would give them the files and they install and run... very simple.

Workstation (pay) - Very stable and robust virtualisation, gives many advanced features that make for a brilliant testing and development environment.

Server (free) - Very similar to Workstation but with some limitations, it is designed to be more robust, easier to manage and whilst it doesn't have to be, it is designed to go on a server and just left alone.

Fusion - sort of like Workstation, but for macs.

Vsphere (Very expensive) - Basically, it is installed on bare metal and gives a VERY high performance virtualisation environment - it is VERY good!

(not listed but...) ESXi (Free) - Vsphere but with many of the management tools missing.

As for what happens if you use one and then move to others - A lot of the products are actually compatible with each other - you can create in one and use in others as long as you pick the correct levels when creating a new VM:

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For Readynas, quite frankly, unless this is a huge enterprise environment, I would recommend just using local storage.

As for alternatives, you can use Hyper-V, but... None of these products support Macs as a guest (apart from VMware Fusion) - IT breaks the Apple EULA.

Personally, If this is for one machine you own, use VMWare Workstation. If this is for a server that you are currently using and don't want to format/change, use VMWare Server. IF this is for a brand new server, use Esxi.


Check VMWare's homepage ( http://www.vmware.com ).
Workstation - If you need normal desktop virtualization, where you can have guests with 2 and 3D acceleration. That's what most people need. Like the one you want for iPhone dev (however, you should try AirPlaySDK.)
Player - The most basic solution for desktop, it's free, and it knows the basic stuff.
Server - For Servers. Basically if you have a dedicated server somewhere, and want to run VMs, you use this. No GUI included. (And it's also free.)
Fusion - The workstation / player for MAC OS X.
vSphere - "Private cloud computing." (Read the info page. If you don't know what is cloud computing and you don't want to build a cloud ... you don't need this.)

  • Comment: It's against Apple's EULA to run MAC OS X on other host than a MAC, but I have tried (yes! arrest me! HARR) the image that can be downloaded from various places. Anyway, it's REALLY SLOW. If you want to develop normally, and without a hassle, try AirplaySDK or use Dualboot. (Install MAC OS X86 to an other partition on your PC.)
    – Apache
    May 22, 2011 at 12:15
  • Okay ... SU didn't send me the notification about Wil's reply. :( Anyway, check the Airplay, and about the virtualization .. idunno... that'd drive me crazy due to the slowness.
    – Apache
    May 22, 2011 at 12:21

Here is a comparison chart between few of VMWare's products that you might find useful. Personally I've used VMPlayer which gives me the functionality (seamless integration with an existing network and easy sharing of VM images) I need to set up any type of operating system for testing the various applications that I work with.

  • this comparison table point out that "VMware Server was declared End Of Availability on January 2010. Support will be limited to Technical Guidance for the duration of the support term." vmware.com/support/policies/lifecycle/general what would you consider to be the successor of VMWare Server ?
    – epeleg
    May 23, 2011 at 9:13
  • any idea re VMWare server successor ?
    – epeleg
    Jun 2, 2011 at 7:26

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