VMware Workstation and Fusion: I do appreciate both more now

When I received my invitation for VMworld Barcelona 2012 as booth staff, I noticed I was scheduled for the VMware Workstation 9 and Fusion 5 booth. I honestly have to say that wasn’t my first choice. In VMware I mostly cover VMware View, ThinApp and Horizon. I considered Workstation and Fusion to be more “consumer products” and not enterprise. How wrong was I!

I had the pleasure of talking to the Product Manager of VMware Workstation/Fusion, Jason Joel but also the pleasure of talking to many end users during VMworld. Four things I noticed during my conversations:

  • I noticed that still, there are people who don’t know Workstation/Fusion. Well, let me quickly introduce Workstation and Fusion: Both products are, what we call, a type 2 hypervisor.  So, you install both programs on top of an Operating System. You install Workstation on top of a Windows OS (for example Windows 7 and/or 8) and you install Fusion on top of Mac OSX (for example Mountain Lion). It is called a type 2 hypervisor because you install the programs on top of an OS and not on top of bare metal. Installing a hypervisor on top of bare metal is called a type 1 hypervisor. vSphere/ESX is an example of a type 1 hypervisor.

After installing Workstation/Fusion (and yes, you can install WS on Windows 8 and Fusion on Mountain Lion), you will be able to create virtual machines on top of your desktop/laptop. To give you an idea:

You can run Windows 8, 7, XP, Ubuntu, Server 2012, Hyper-V and vSphere/ESX inside Workstation. Also, you can run Windows 8, 7, XP, Ubuntu, Mountain Lion, Server 2012, Hyper-V, and vSphere/ESX inside Fusion.

To know more about Workstation, read here: http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/overview.html

To know more about Fusion, read here: http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/overview.html

  • The second thing I noticed is that a lot of people are running either one or both products privately. User who are using Workstation and/or Fusion on their private laptops, testing software, getting familiar with new Operating Systems, following courses and have to do tests. Although I expected this use case, I still was impress with the amount of people who are using these products this way
  • The use case in #2 also expanded to the enterprise: users using WS/Fusion on their corporate desktops/laptops for testing purposes. I do have to admit, I didn’t expect this use case with this amount of users. I know many customers giving developers/testers a View desktop besides their “normal” laptop.
  • Fourth, I do expect WS/Fusion to become way more “enterprise”, meaning, both products are very separate from the rest of VMware EUC now, but I do think it is coming together. During the EUC keynote with Steve Herrod and Vittorio Viarengo, VMware View and Mirage merged. So, what is the place for WS/Fusion? BYOD!  Today, you could install Fusion on a private BYO Mac, install a Windows OS, Mirage agent and the company can stream a corporate image to your Mac. Yep, cool, but still too manual to my liking. I would like to see a system where, via Mirage, an image is being streamed with WS/Fusion wrapped around it. Yes, like WS Ace Edition had with VMware Player in the old days : ). Maybe it even is an idea to make a Mirage Image available via PXE: turn on Fusion, PXE boot and get the initial image. Another option is to manually install WS/Fusion, and IT sends you a link to a streamlined Windows package with the Mirage agent. Click, download, open and run it. Maybe thinking out of the box, maybe there are tools like Apple Remote Desktop to push Fusion and then the VM.

After spending a week with the VMware team and partners/customers I have the feeling WS/Fusion is a bit under estimated, under valued maybe not recognized although it won many awards. Both products aren’t just for people at home. It also is for the enterprise. I agree, both need more features around policies like expiration dates, policies around physical and virtual networks etc. Work to be done, yes. Know that WS/Fusion are evolving, are great products and can be used in the enterprise. Do read about the features like “restricted VM’s”.  Also, do understand both products are great test environments for View and vSphere.An example is the video driver. In all products this driver is the same and has been tested in WS/Fusion first before it comes into View/vSphere.

Lastly, do check out WSX. WSX makes it possible to remotely connect to your hypervisor/VM and show a VM’s content to, for example a tablet. Read more about it here.

I became to appreciate WS/Fusion a lot more after talking to Product Management, customers and partners. It is a great and mature products which will integrate with more products.

VMware; Running View Client with Offline Functionality/Workstation/Player together

I bet many people have run into this; You have a laptop/device with VMware WorkStation/Player. When you want to install the View Client with Offline Functionality, you get an error saying you have to uninstall WorkStation first. Both applications can’t run on the same device together out of the box.

There is a way to get both application to work on 1 device. However, and read this carefully, it is NOT supported by VMware. If you run into issues, VMware support can ask you to revert to a supported configuration first before they help you. VMware Product Management created this workaround because of the demand but purely as informative. Thanks to Product Management for letting me publish this.

The background of this all is that VMware Player (PL), View Client with Offline Functionality (VCWOF) and WorkStation (WS) share a common virtualization engine, called the VMX. You can’t install different versions of the VMX’s on 1 device. To make things easier for customers, PL gets installed with VCWOF as well with WS. This is to line up both products and their VMX. This to ensure compatibility. As long as the VMX (build/version) of all products are the same, you could theoretically run all 3 applications on 1 device. Make sure all products (in this case WS and VCWO, the PL part) have the same build/version. If they don’t have that, this co-install will fail.

Co-install View Client with Offline Functionality and VMware Player;

Let’s start with co-installing VCWOF and PL. This is easy because when you install VCWOF, PL gets installed as well. You just don’t see PL as a general purpose application.

To enable PL as a general purpose application you have to expose a EULA for you to agree to, and put a PL shortcut in a desired location;

1. Locate the EULA.rtf in %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\ and copy it to %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\Local Mode\

%ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\

2. Create a shortcut to vmplayer.exe and place it where ever you want. vmplayer.exe can be found in the %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\Local Mode\ folder.

3. Double click on the shortcut, accept the EULA and you are good to go!

Co-install View Client with Offline Functionality and VMware WorkStation;

1. First, you have to make sure the installer of VCWOF and WS have the same virtualization engine. You can check which version of WS your current VCWOF is compatible with; Install VCWOF, browse to %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\Local Mode\, right click on “vmplayer.exe” and click on the details tab;

2. Install the compatible WS version and license it properly.

3. Copy the content of %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware Workstation\ to another place; let’s say %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware Workstation-Copy\

4. Uninstall WS. Go to Control Panel, Add Remove Programs. IMPORTANT; preserve the license and user preference information! This is the default setting so don’t uncheck the boxes.

5. Now WS is out of the way you can install VCWOF. Run the installer and after the installation, make sure everything works; start VCWOF, connect and check out a VM.

6. Browse to %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware Workstation-Copy\, copy “vmware.exe” to

%ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\Local Mode\. Vmware.exe is the executable for the WS GUI.

7. Create a shortcut to the “vmware.exe” you just copied to %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\Local Mode\. From now you can run WS and VCWOF on 1 device. However, there are some functionalities that won’t run unless you copy more binaries to the “Local Mode” folder. To be sure, copy everything from the root of “VMware Workstation-Copy” to the “Local Mode” folder.

8. Last thing you will have to do is to register “vmdkShellExt.dll”. This utility adds the ability to directly interact with .vmdk files via Windows Explorer. This utility only works on 32-bit hosts today. To register this dll, you have to run cmd with Administrator privileges, navigate to %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware View\Client\Local Mode\ and execute the command “regsvr32 vmdkShellExt.dll”.