Sunday, October 10, 2010

Virtualisation for Beginners

I recently learnt that Dr Dobbs Journal is no more, having just become a sub-section of Network World.

This prompted me to go pick up the article code ZIPs from the old web-site to trawl for any useful bits.

I pointed my Getright Browser Tool at - and downloaded the lot (1.31GB of zip files) while it is still there.

Amongst the goodies I found that I had downloaded a zipped image for a Ubuntu Dot.Net Development virtual machine.

I put this Zip and the FREE VMPlayer from VMWare onto an old 786MB / 40GB / AGP video Pentium PC running fully up-to-date XP SP3.

Honestly, there are probably better machines hardware-wise put out for recycle at the side of the road.

I unpacked the 1GB ZIP which became about 11GB on account of a 10GB disk image in there.

I installed and ran the VMPlayer and was happy to see that it actually ran OK on such a low-spec machine and handled the wireless 11n NIC OK.

I tried to run the Ubuntu virtual machine but if failed as it was created to run as a 2-CPU machine though luckily only with 512MB RAM.

I changed the VM settings (so easy that the cat could do it) to 1 CPU and away it went.

Then VMPlayer announced that my Linux VMWare Toolkit was out of date and offered to fix it up while I was still using the Ubuntu VM.

I accepted and the tools were downloaded verified and mounted so that they suddenly appeared as a CD inside the Ubuntu VM, Impressive!

I opened the .tar.gz tools archive file on the CD and dragged the contents to my home/user directory and they were uneventfully extracted.

I then ran the enclosed .pl install script and voila, my Ubuntu virtual machine is all updated with the latest VMWare tools.

Now I can play with Ubuntu Dot.Net development any time I want without having another old PC hanging around.

Actually, I’m tempted to get VM Workstation and make a VM of the old XP machine so that I can run IT under Windows 7 in the future.

And NO I won’t even try and run Ubuntu in VMWare in the virtual XP machine, I’ll make a separate Ubuntu machine. :-)

So, two take-aways from this –
  1. Getting a hands-on taste of Virtualisation is cheap and easy, and…
  2. You don’t need a high-end machine to experiment on (and get some Virtualisation experience you can claim when job-hunting).

Have a go! :-)