I am new to VMware and am evaluating Workstion v9 with 30-day license. I have read most of the relevant documentation, installed and configured the product, created several VMs, twice installed an OS within VMs, connected and disconnected USB devices, operated Snapshot Manager, and generally familiarized myself with the system. I like what I see and am tending toward purchasing.
However, several questions have arisen almost immediately. Since evaluation licenses are apparently not eligible for technical support, I am turning to this community for help. Thanks in advance for your assistance! First of all, my host system:
- Dell XPS 8300 workstation
- Intel 8-core i7-2600 CPU @ 3.40 GHz
- 16 GB RAM
- OCZ Vertex 4 SSD 256 GB dedicated to OS and applications
- WD Black HDD 2 TB dedicated to user data
- eSATA 6.0 port for external HDDs for VMs
- 16X DVD +/- R/W double layer writer, 6X Blu-ray double layer writer
- Broadcom NetLink gigabit Ethernet NIC
- Dell DW1520 Wireless-N NIC
- multiple USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports
- AMD Radeon 6870 1 GB display adapter
- Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium sound card
- Microsoft Windows 7 Professional / SP 1
- wired and wireless LAN managed by:
- Apple AirPort Extreme Basestation
- behind 2Wire 3801 HGV FLX U-verse residential gateway
- TAP-Windows Adapter V9 for outbound VPN
- Windows native inbound VPN
Next, my VMware Workstation configuration:
- 8192 MB host RAM reserved for VMs
- some VM memory swappable
Finally, my typical VM configuration:
- guest OS: Microsoft Windows 7 x64
- 1 processor, 8 cores/processor
- 8092 MB RAM (why won’t VMware permit the full 8192?)
- bridged networking
- SCSI controller: LSI Logic SAS
- virtual disk type: SCSI
- maximum virtual disk size: 200 GB preallocated single-file (why not “quick format”?)
- virtual optical drives mapped to both physical drives
- USB compatibility: USB 2.0
- virtual sound card mapped to physical device
- accelerated 3D graphics (but dog-slow, as you’ll see later)
- folder sharing always enabled
- user data drive E: shared
Whew! Frankly, I doubt that *any* of that information is relevant to my questions, but what do I know at this point?
I have many questions, but I'll begin with just three:
1. Although this may be irrelevant and even normal, the VMware logs always complain that "C:\Users\msm\AppData\Roaming\VMware\config.ini" cannot be found ("msm" is my user account). Sure enough, that folder contains only "inventory.vmls" and "preferences,ini". Does this matter? For your reference, I am attaching the three log files associated with one of my VMs.
2. One of my VMware projects involves converting a mature Windows 7 installation (152 GB, 168 entries in Control Panel > Programs and Features) into a virtual machine so that snapshot cloning and forking can be used to simplify the evaluation of several major alternative software application systems. I have used Acronis True Image for years to backup and restore the entire C: drive. I store the associated TIB files on external eSATA HDDs, and a backup or restore takes about an hour with ~150GB images. Truly I am hoping that VMware snapshots and reversions will be much faster. We'll see.
Anyway, the first decision is how to import such a system into VMware. VMware Converter only supports Acronis True Image 10 and 11, but I’m using v2013. True Image can create VHD, but VMware Converter won’t import that. It may be possible to convert to VHD and then use StarWind or WinImage to convert to VMDK.
But, I thought… since VMware is all about virtualizing the physical, why not just do – in the virtual world – what I always do in the physical world – when I want to restore a TIB image to my C: drive? Namely, boot from Acronis Recovery Media (a simple version of True Image bound to Linux in ISO form) and then run that to restore the image?
So, I powered on an empty VM with Acronis Recovery Media in the physical optical drive. The Linux kernel loaded, ran the Recovery Media user interface, and let me launch True Image. Wow! Looking good so far!
I had already attached an eSATA HDD containing the TIB archives, so I browsed for the TIB file that I wanted to restore. Please see attached VMware001small.jpg. Note that the TIB drive appears in Linux as “TIB1 (C:)”, the optical drive with Acronis Recovery Media appears as “CD Drive (D:)”, and what I infer to be the VMware virtual disk (200 GB preallocated single file) appears as “Removable Drive (E:)”. Frankly, I’ve never understood how this particular flavor of Linux maps physical drives to drive letters, but I’ve always been able to find and use what I need. Just for fun, I even explored “Computers Near Me”, supplied login credentials, and browsed the physical C: and E: drives on my host computer. Looking even better!
But then I tried to specify recovery settings, including the new partition location. Please see attached VMware002small.jpg. The only writable partition is “NTFS (TIB1) (C:)”, which is the TIB drive. What I had previously inferred to be the VMware virtual disk (“Removable Drive (E:)”) is not evident. The obvious question is: why not? If new virtual disks cannot be found, then this process is clearly doomed.
To try to understand this better, I shut down the VM and powered it up again with the Windows 7 Professional / SP 1 installation DVD in the physical drive. Please see attached VMware003small.jpg. Disk 0 is the 200 GB virtual disk, and Disk 1 is the TIB drive. So I went ahead and installed Windows, snapshotted, installed VMware Tools, snapshotted, and began merrily to explore the wonders of virtualization. But… but… but… why couldn’t the Linux kernel in Acronis Recovery Media find the virtual disk?
If I cannot resolve this problem, then I’ll try converting TIB to VHD to VMDK and report back later.
3. If anyone is still reading this, then I’d be slightly surprised! However, my third question is probably the most important of all. I’ve only spent a couple of hours running Windows inside VMware Workstation. Just to begin to understand the landscape, I scored Windows Experience Index and compared that with my physical system:
7.9---5.9---Primary Hard Disk
How Memory can be faster in the virtual world is a mystery. Graphics is very disappointing. Can anything be done about that? Should I be installing my physical host’s AMD Catalyst/Radeon display adapter driver inside the VM? I’m guessing that Primary Hard Disk will increase if and when I place virtual disks on SSD (that 5.9 virtual score matched exactly my previous physical system in which C: was on an eSATA WD Raptor 10000 RPM HDD).
I must say that just poking around in Windows (I haven’t installed anything yet in the VM beyond VMware Tools) doesn’t seem particularly sluggish. So… in blissful ignorance of the pitfalls surely ahead… I am wondering whether virtualization is mature enough for me to use it *all the time* going forward? Does it make sense to rebuild my host system as bare bones with only device drivers… and then load my 100 GB of applications into one or more VMs? From what I’ve seen so far, the virtual process of managing a snapshot/clone tree is *far* preferable to the physical analog involving True Image TIB files, eSATA HDDs, repatching load loaders and records, etc.
If there is any merit to this pipe dream, then I need to understand exactly what belongs in the physical host and what belongs in the VM. For example, I’ve been experimenting with various outbound VPN solutions (AirVPN/OpenVPN, VPN4ALL, others). Can they reside in VM? Should anti-virus be physical or virtual or both? I run my current system as dual-monitor… where one of the displays is our family’s Samsung DLP HDTV… with monitor switching handled by hot keys in Radeon Catalyst Control Center. Is that possible with virtualization? Should Catalyst be physical or virtual?
The list of questions goes on and on. What I really need is a set of references to some good books or manuals of best practices about this stuff. Do they exist? Searching Amazon hasn’t been terribly helpful so far.
That’s it for now, folks. If you’re still with me, I offer my gratitude… and thanks in advance for any assistance that you can render.