VMWare is an application that simulates a virtualized personal computer which can run what is known as a “guest” operating system on a “host” PC. The guest operating system can be any PC-compatible OS supported by VMWare, while the host operating system can be any OS that can be installed on a PC.
Virtual machines are popular for a number of uses. One of the most popular uses for VMWare and software like it is as a test suite for new application software. If a developer builds an application designed to run on multiple operating systems, the process of testing that software can be dramatically simplified if that developer can set up two or three virtual environments in which to test the application and make adjustments. It is far less expensive and time consuming than having several sets of hardware available each with its own dedicated operating system.
One of the things beginners should understand before starting out with VMWare is the application’s nature. It truly is a virtualized PC, which means it requires an operating system, known as the “guest” operating system, to be installed before it can function properly.
VMWare has a standardized BIOS control system and a wide variety of settings which allow it to read and boot from your system’s optical drives, USB ports or even your network in certain circumstances.
Once your guest operating system is installed, it will operate independently of your host. It will have its own hard drive, applications and settings, all of which have to be configured and maintained seperately from your host.
As early as possible, every guest operating system should be given a “shared directory” with the host. VMWare supports a variety of options for setting these options up. There are opportunities to get instruction on these topics and others through the use of VMware online training or through the archive of documentation made available by both knowledgeable users or the manufacturer.
Further, your guest operating system will not necessarily be protected from viruses or malware by your host’s anti-malware software or firewalls. Without going into the complex details, you should take care to protect your guest systems with the same measures you use to protect your hosts.
VMWare provides several means of backing up your guest operating systems. This is essential and relatively convenient, as all the information for your guest system is stored in a single file.
As the number of devices and potential configurations increases, virtual operating systems will only become more popular. Learning to use software like VMWare is a good first step towards taking advantage of these powerful technologies.