3 Replies Latest reply on Aug 19, 2013 6:41 PM by jmattson

    New user with questions about VMware Workstation v9

    milo47 Novice

      Greetings all,

       

      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:

       

                  physical---virtual---component

                  7.6---7.5---Processor

                  7.6---7.9---Memory (RAM)

                  7.8---4.7---Graphics

                  7.8---6.0---Gaming Graphics

                  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.

       

      Best regards,

       

      M. Miller

        • 1. Re: New user with questions about VMware Workstation v9
          WoodyZ Guru

          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.

           

           

          It hurts nothing that the file does not exist and the message you see is normal and expected and if you do not want to see the message in the .log file then manually create the missing file as a zero length file.

           

          why couldn’t the Linux kernel in Acronis Recovery Media find the virtual disk?

           

          I'd say it was either or both that the Acronis Recovery Media was not loading drivers to see the LSI Logic SAS SCSI controller and or the because the virtual hard disk had not yet been partitioned/formatted.

           

          3. If anyone is still reading this

           

          ROFLMAO

           

          Should I be installing my physical host’s AMD Catalyst/Radeon display adapter driver inside the VM?

           

          No, because that device does not, not can it, exist inside the Virtual Machine!

           

          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?

           

          Only you can make that determination however in the long run IMO clean building is always better then a P2Ved VM.

           

          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?

           

          Yes they can.

           

          Should anti-virus be physical or virtual or both?

           

          Especially if a Virtual Machine is connected to the Internet it is at risk just as much as a Physical Machine so all relevant security measures should be implemented!

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: New user with questions about VMware Workstation v9
            milo47 Novice

            WoodyZ,

             

            Thanks so much for your prompt response.  It has already helped:

             

            1.  The problem with Acronis Recovery Media not finding the virtual disk does indeed seem to have been lack of formatting.  Since I subsequently installed Windows on the virtual disk, I knew it was formatted, so I powered up, entered the virtual BIOS (how cool is that?), changed the boot sequence to optical drive, loaded Recovery Media, ran True Image, and browsed for TIB files.  Please see VMware004small.jpg.  The virtual disk (C:) with its bare-bones Windows 7 installation is there!  After selecting the TIB file I want to restore, I browsed for new partitions.  Please see VMware005small.jpg.  Along with the TIB drive, I now have the choice to over-write Windows on the C: drive.  I then went as far as I could go without damaging my new virtual Windows installation and specified TIB recovery options.  Please see VMware006small.jpg.  It's all set to use the 200 GB C: partition (minus 1 MB, which True Image always likes to reserve for some reason).  At that point, I canceled the procedure and powered down the VM.

             

            So... my next project will be to create another 200 GB VM, power up with the same Acronis Recovery Media (which also contains their Disk Director utility for formatting and otherwise managing partitions), run Disk Director, format the bare virtual disk, rerun True Image, etc.  I suspect that it will work correctly this time!

             

            In passing, I observe that VM > Settings has Hard Disk Utilities... but only Defragment, Expand, and Compact.  It might be nice to have Format as well just for situations like this.

             

            Anyway, if and when I finally have a virtual equivalent of my current physical software environment running, I'll be in a much better position to evaluate what works, what doesn't, and whether virtualization will be fast enough for my daily workflow... or just adequate for evaluating alternative software applications.  Even if only the latter, I think it will be a win for me.

             

            2.  OK, so I cannot install my AMD Catalyst/Radeon display adapter driver inside the VM.  Are there techniques to replace the VMware display adapter inside the VM... or tweak its performance so that it's not the bottleneck in Windows Experience Index?  The larger question is what kinds of performance tuning methods are available for Windows VMs?  And, with respect to disk performance, would you expect WEI virtual disk scores to approach physical scores if I placed all VM disk files on SSD?  And has anyone benchmarked performance differences between a single preallocated file, a dynamically growing file, and a series of 2 GB files?

             

            3.  If I can virtualize my current physical environment, I'll see how outbound VPNs, monitor switching, and my other concerns play out.  I agree with you that simply virtualizing what I currently have now is suboptimal... but it will teach me a lot about where virtualization could fit in my life.  Again, any favorite reference books about workstation virtualization practices on your list?

             

            Thanks again for your insights.  Much appreciated!

             

            Regards,

             

            M. Miller

            • 3. Re: New user with questions about VMware Workstation v9
              Champion

              milo47 wrote:

               

               

              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:

               

                          physical---virtual---component

                          7.6---7.5---Processor

                          7.6---7.9---Memory (RAM)

                          7.8---4.7---Graphics

                          7.8---6.0---Gaming Graphics

                          7.9---5.9---Primary Hard Disk

               

              How Memory can be faster in the virtual world is a mystery. 

              Under VMware Workstation, all guest memory is cached write-back, regardless of the cache settings of the guest OS.  If WEI normally bypasses the cache to measure physical memory performance, it could be misled when operating inside a VM.