Archive for the 'virtualization' Category


My desktop is no longer virtual

David Berlind’s experiments with desktop virtualization reminds me that I forgot to follow up here on my own attempt to live inside VMWare.

I tried for a little over two weeks to work inside VMWare full-time (at work, not home). Or nearly so: I did still use the GroupWise email client in the host OS, but since I only check email a few times a day, that was no big deal. I wanted this to work, but what Jim called the “virtualization tax” was too high. My poor little ThinkPad wasn’t up to the task. It’s a good computer, but it’s not high-end by any means. It needs to be souped up a bit more before I could comfortably rely on VMWare alone.

If I were just running the normal suite of office applications, it would probably have worked well, or at least well enough. But my work day is spent running Eclipse and JBoss, not to mention a couple browsers and an IM client (pidgin, thanks for asking). JBoss is… more than a little demanding. Given the nature of hot deploy, which after a few deployments starts to get really flaky, I find that I’m restarting JBoss quite a bit. I cannot bear for that to be as slow as it was. Not when I’m already peeved at what I consider an unnecessary delay.

Lack of support for the second monitor was also a problem. For some reason, this particular model ThinkPad doesn’t support two external monitors. Instead I rely on a PC card for the second monitor, which means it’s sloooow. It also means that my VMWare image couldn’t used it.

At the time I was running VMWare 5. I don’t know whether VMWare 6 would improve on any of this, but I’ll probably give it a try. Except that MacBook Pro oughta be showing up any day now…

All this said, I do use VMWare every day. It’s just not for my everyday use. Follow?


VMWare full-time?

This morning a LAN administrator’s script gone awry rendered my computer at work inoperable. We ended up repaving it. Yeah, this is a pain, but I make it a policy to always expect that my computer will be wiped clean and re-imaged any morning I come in. It’s never actually happened — until today — but it helps me make sure that all my important stuff is backed up. And when I get a new computer or an operating system upgrade, it sure makes the support staff’s job easier: no need to back up everything from my hard drive before doing the installation, since I don’t care if it’s all gone. It also means that I don’t spend a lot of time tweaking my work environment to perfection, since then I might care more than I want to.

But it’s still a pain. It takes time to reinstall everything. There is of course the basic list of what I need to do my job: Java, JBoss, Subversion, Eclipse, VMWare… Also the little things that help make daily life in Windows bearable: Perl, Ruby, Notepad2, UnxUtils, Gaim…

I’m considering setting everything up in a VMWare image and spending all my time inside it. If I burn that image off to DVD every now and then, then getting back up and going would be a breeze.

As we help Cobol and Uniface developers make the transition to Java EE, we’ve found that just setting up the environment and getting them started writing code is an ordeal. A huge ordeal. I’ve been working on a VMWare image with everything they need to get going, tweaked so that everything just works out of the box. I don’t know whether this will have any uptake, but working inside it for a while might give me an idea of how successful it would be. Having two versions of Windows running all the time, though, is not too appealing.

Of course, there’s no saying that it would need to be Windows. I’ve got a development box running Ubuntu already, it would be pretty sweet to use Ubuntu for everyday work. More appealing right now, Sun has just released a developer edition of Solaris, all set up for developers. It includes an AMP stack (think LAMP without the Linux; there are either too many or not enough good names for this). I didn’t think that I had a spare 14 gigs on my too-small hard drive, but now I suddenly do. Yay?

I’ve got to give this some thought over the weekend. Do I want to live inside VMWare? Input is welcome.