VMware Workstation 3.2 Review

Reviewer: Joshua Jones
Category: 
Software
Version: 
3.2
Price: 
$299

OK. I have been a Vmware Workstation user for quite a while now. As always each new Vmware Workstation release offers new features and fixes bugs that plagued its predecessor. I use the hell out of this software and it has rarely let me down. Whether you use it for network administration, help desk, development, or just for fun you will definitely get your moneys worth!

System Requirements

These requirements are the basic ones when using the compressed archive version of the software (IE you need to install using their Perl install script). Please check thier website for your specific distribution.

- Standard PC with a minimum 400Mhz processor. If you want to run a Windows 2000/XP guest I would recommend at least a 800Mhz Processor.

- You need enough memory to run both the host and guest OS. 128MB RAM is the minimum and 256MB is recommended. 512MB is you want to run Windows 2000/XP guests.

- A minimum 256 color display.

- Disk space. 20MB for the software. You need enough disk space to run each guest operating system.

- NIC for networking.

New Stuff

I won't go into too much detail on this version of the software. Just read any of the previous articles concerning the 3.X versions. They are basically all the same except with some enhancements. These are the common enhancements:

- Windows certification....blah blah. Forget this if you run a Linux Host. It is for the Windows version only. The same goes for the administrative lockout feature. We run Linux!

- OK they claim better Pentium 4 performance. I have noticed a few things. My system used to crash every once in a while on my laptop and it never crashed on my AMD system at home. I have also noticed that my guest Windows XP OS doesn't claim to have a 6Ghz processor any more. Oh I wish I had one of those! Other than that I have not seen much more performance. Maybe the Windows version runs better?

- There is support for the RedHat kernel update too. Vmware now installs those kernel modules after you use up2date to upgrade to a new RedHat "canned" kernel. I wouldn't know because I download the kernel source and compile my own.

- Support for Windows 2000 SP3 is a nice touch. So that's why it kept on crashing after installing that version of the Windows service pack. I kind of figured that was the culprit. Be sure to read the workaround.

- For those of you who test NetWare 6, good news, there are now Vmware tools for that NOS. Vmware is getting better at supplying its Tools for various host operating systems. I would still like to see support for OpenBSD and the i386 version of Solaris, or better yet a SPARC emulator.

- Be sure to read all of the release notes before you Install anything.

My Perspective

Installation was pretty straight forward. Just read the release notes first. After the "upgrade" I was promptly informed that my Vmware Tools were out of date and I upgraded them. I don't see too much of a performance boost. Every once in a while my system would crash on me and I have not had a repeat since I have upgraded.

If you have a really fast, recent system with tons of RAM then you shouldn't have too many performance issues. I recommend at least 512MB of RAM if you want to run anything that is resource intensive (IE Windows XP; 256MB for your host and 256MB for your guest). The rule is, have a fast system.

If you are looking to run Windows games, especially 3D games then forget it. Joysticks are not supported and neither is 3D video support. Use Wine or Transgaming's WineX. It would be nice to have but doesn't look like it is on Vmware's agenda.

Final Remarks

This product is a great buy if you already have not done so. The 3.2 upgrade is free if you have already purchased a 3.X version. This product is indispensable if you run a Linux desktop but need to manage a Windows-based network, write Windows based programs, test products, etc. A bit pricey but worth it.

Conclusion

The Good - Pros
  • A few new features and bug fixes over the last version.
The Bad - Cons
  • Although some major bugs were fixed I would like to see more "official" support for non RPM based distributions. I'm not sure about Turbo Linux. A lot of people used Debian based systems. Lets see some good support for them.
  • Rather costly for home use.
The Ugly - Problems
  • N/A
The Verdict - Opinion
  • Definitely a great product for for software testing.

Innovation: 
4/5
Performance: 
4/5
Stability: 
4/5
Cost / Value: 
2/5

16/20

Overall score


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