Wednesday, July 2, 2008

VMware Server 2.0 Release Candidate (thoughts)

I've been working through the beta trial iterations with VMware Server 2.0 and just finished installing the latest build "RC" on my lab computer at work. So far, it works great on Firefox 3.0 (one of the stated improvements in this build), but not well at all on IE6. I have not tried it on IE7 or IE8 yet however. The problem with IE6 is with the console plug-in (oops, IE calls them "add-ons"). It just keeps saying my console add-on is out of date and needs manual intervention. I follow the directions and remove the add-on ActiveX component and restart the browser and repeat the update process, but it just does the same thing over and over. With Firefox 3.0 however, the first update worked correctly and it seems to function well. Overall, the RC build appears to run a little faster, especially when switching context from one VM guest to another. I'm still a little bummed at how much response lag is incurred by moving from a desktop application to a web application, even when running everything local. Not unexpected, and there are benefits gained from decoupling the guts from the UI via the web, but I suppose the solution is hardware (and money of course).

I still find it odd that the pop-out console disables most of the guest machine settings from the pull-down menus while the machine is running. If they're going to disable it all (except for the obvious "troubleshooting" options like "power off" and "reset", etc.) then why even show them at all? You can modify VM guest settings like NIC, audio, and CD-ROM while the guest is running, which is very handy at times. It would be nice to have those features accessible from the pop-out console window menu, but I'm not holding my breath for that to be added at this point.

All in all, VMware Server 2.0 is a nice upgrade from 1.x and will make it much easier and less confusing to scale up to Virtual Infrastructure and Virtual Center if one should decide to go that direction. The UI is very similar. I also ran the VMware Converter standalone utility to import a physical lab machine and it imported into VMware Server 2.0 RC without any issues at all.
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