Wednesday, 15 July 2009

VMware and Unity

I've been running Fedora 11 (x64) on my workstation at work and running Windows XP (32b) in a VMware virtual machine. It was a VM I'd created with server so all I needed to run it was the free VMware Player.

First, installing VMware Player was a bit of a problem. The install from RPM didn't work, it hosed initially. Then the install from the bundle also failed... Much like it does for many users Online it turned out so there was a community-created patch which worked just fine.

Then there was running the VM. Initially, it seemed great. I was running Windows XP full-screen on my right-screen and had my Fedora desktop / apps on my left screen. But it was pretty wonky about mouse control so I got to the point where I was firing up the Windows VM only when I needed it and then not in full-screen mode.

But I discovered that VMware's Unity mode helps bridge the gap. It pulls you out of console mode and launches any apps from the guest VM in their own windows in your desktop environment. This is especially useful for say, running MSIE or MS Outlook. It's still a little weird because the apps *look* like they should be running natively yet the responsiveness is clearly far behind local apps, but the only real gap is that I can't Shift+Right-Click -> Run As... on tools like Active Directory Users and Computers (which I need). I tried switch back to the console, doing the Run As... and then switching back to Unity, but the escalated app doesn't show up.

Well, it's great and closes the gap some, but for now I'll just keep updating Player and Tools and see if eventually that full-screen mode just gets fixed and works transparently.

- Arch

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