DISCUSSION: Howto run Windows with VMware Player in Linux for free
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OK, so you've bought a new PC and have Windows pre-installed. First, you shrank Windows partition to the minimum and installed your favorite Unix distribution. Then setup a dual boot to either operating systems and wondering if you really need to reboot to Windows each time you need to test how something looks on Windows or perhaps your girlfriend wants to do wicked stuff. This page explains how to run Windows in Linux environment without a need to reboot or reinstalling Windows. The solution is to run VMware Player from raw Windows partition under Linux. Everything on this page is pure hacking, even worse, not a single manual has been read. Everything you do falls under your responsibility and your own risk. You've been warned. Actually there's a good reason for VMware not to release manuals on vmx and vmdk formats: you should use their tools (VMware Workstation) to do such things and not poke around. Here is a to-do list of this howto:
Install VMware Player
Create a Virtual Machine
Create a Virtual Disk
Decontaminate Hazardous Booting Options
Prepare Windows for the Last Journey
Boot It Up and Install VMware Tools
Launch the registry editor: Start-Run-Open: regedit
Backup the registry by clicking on the top most node ("My Computer"), choose File-Export, type in some meaningfull name, such as reg2006-08-26
Goto HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run and see what programs are started. You might discover a virus or two sitting already there. Cleanup as you did with your "Startup", you should keep the anti-virus if you have one
Goto HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run and cleanup there as in previous step. You want to come back here more often to remove other weird stuff like RealPlayer/AcrobatReader "quick startup".
Here are the steps to create a hardware profile for VMware Player:
Right-click on "My Computer" icon, choose "Properties".
Choose "Hardware" tab in "System Properties".
Click "Hardware Profiles" button.
Click "Copy" button, this should create one more profile (usually there is only one profile, unless you use docking station..).
Click on "... (Current)" profile, click "Rename" button and rename it to e.g. "vmware".
Click "OK"..."OK" until you close all windows except "System properties".
Click "Device Manager" button
Disable all your network adapters, display adapters, sound drivers (except "Legacy" and don't touch codecs, only drivers!) and any exotic non-generic devices you might have, like TVcard. The network, sound and especially display adapter drivers will be provided by VMware tools.
Now I am assuming that you will run the "vmware" profile that is going to be dedicated to VMware Player virtual hardware. Say good-bye and reboot back to Linux now. Booting it Up in VMware Player Now you work in Linux. Launch VMware Player with vmplayer windows.vmx. If not successful look at vmware.log and try googling for the solution, http://sanbarrow.com/ has plenty of advices. Typical problems are wrong disk configurations. Sometimes deleting nvram helps. If Windows finally got up and running, it will find plenty of new hardware, but you must cancel all the driver setup until VMware Tools are installed. Don't even click on a System Tray balloon asking to change Display adapter resolution or whatever, this might result in blue screen of death. You only need network card for now, perhaps Windows will find some default (AMD?) drivers for your virtual network card. My Windows XP Home Edition required a new product activation when I first logged in. Not sure if it's because of infamous Windows Genuine Advantage program, but Windows 2000 Professional still works without any call-home or sentiments to real hardware. The product re-activation looked like the following: Windows rejects the old key, then the other choice in the dialog is to call a local Microsoft representative, luckily that was charge-free number, dialog displays the long installation number and asks for activation number which is dictated via phone. Eventually click finish and it's done. Except that you might not be able to run Windows on a real hardware anymore since it will need product re-activation (in 3 days) again. Installing VMware Tools in Windows VMware Tools are optional, but they provide drivers for display adapter (to run in higher than 640x480 resolution) and greatly improve the interaction with virtual machine, so it's highly recommended. Here are the steps from http://www.brandonhutchinson.com/Installing_VMware_Tools_with_VMware_Player.html: <ol> Get the VMware Workstation from http://www.vmware.com/download/ws/, e.g.
VMware server is free and has more virtual network support features
hm.. yes that's true, VMware Server can do most of the things in friendly fashion. But I still have problems with extended partitions: VMware complains about the disk configuration it tries to create, it says remove the disk and put it back again. Perhaps it's a vmware bug.
And besides, vmware-server still requires registration (serial number) for some reason :-/
First thank you for a great article, it solved all my problems.
I just wanted to point out that once you have windows.iso on your linux box, instead of going through step 5 6 and 7 to copy the iso in the windows VM, you could edit your vmx file to point to the windows.iso. You need to replace this line :
ide1:0.filename = "windows.iso"
make sure the windows.iso file is in the same directory of your wmx file.
Boot your windows VM and open up "My computer" you should see your cd-rom "VMware Tools ( D: )" Double click on this icon and it will launch the setup.
Linux is my primary OS. For years I've used a dual-boot system, with Win2000 and Debian. I just recently installed vmware server on my linux system, and now I'm running Win2000 in linux with minimal effort! Now I rarely find any reason to reboot at all. From what I've read on this post, running vmware server is MUCH easier than dealing with vmware player, although you have to have the Windows installation media at hand.
seriously rocks. One thing thou the link under creating a virtual machine doesn't work anymore . But I guess I can just copy and paste the files.
One thing which would be a nice update is to have explaination for multiple hard drives and for sda instead of hda. If it all works i'll post my updates
Once this is up and working I think I might reach computing heaven
I am looking into creating a virtual Windows machine on Linux. So far the only real choices that I have are KVM, Virtualbox OSE, or this VMware hack that you have posted. My question to you is how flexible is this method to multiple distributions? Have you tried this on more than one distro with the same partition or do I have to go through this again every time I decide to change my distro?
When you purchase a computer, immediately buy a retail copy of the operating system at the same time. Wipe the drive and install the retail version. You don't know what the vendor might have put on the box, and you can't change it, and you can't recreate it. In other words, "useless." Windows is over-priced, yes, but maybe not outrageously so. Carefully select the features that you actually need. Set up passwords and limited-user accounts according to best practices.
Full versions of VMWare are inexpensive, and well worth the expense. They can be hosted by any operating system, and since the actual magic is being done by the microprocessor itself, all hosts are more or less equally efficient. The simplest scenario will have Windows as the host-OS ... why not?
External hard-drives with either USB 2.0 or FireWire connections are also inexpensive now, and again, well worth the expense. Use an external drive to be the guest operating systems' system residence volume. (Hey, I might be an old VM/XA mainframer at heart, but I didn't say SYSRES or DASD, now did I?)
My two-cents here is that there are many times when "free" really isn't worth it. If you give value to your own time and to your own present and future flexibility with regard to managing your own system, "free" can rapidly turn into the most expensive proposition. Give the Devils their due. Fair is fair.
Last edited by sundialsvcs; 03-01-2012 at 10:19 AM.