Saturday 19 February 2011

VMWare Workstation on Windows

Having abandoned CentOs as the host for my VMWare VMs, I went back to running Windows XP as the host.

A bit of a pain (two sets of virus detectors, and all the other bloatedness of Windows). That would have been OK, except that most times I started the client, it decided it had only 1 monitor, and rearranged my desktop accordingly. So every morning, the first few minutes would be spent putting things back on the correct monitor. Would you believe that moving a quick launch toolbar from one monitor to another reorders all the icons?

At least my USB 3 drive worked (and aren't they _fast_ !). And my headset.

However, performance was not good, and too many things caused screen updating to stop working. And VM clients had a tendency to jump from one (ATI Hydravision) virtual desktop to another (on the server).

The NTFS filesystem going corrupt, so that one of the 2GB files that made up my hard disk suddenly thought it was 2TB was the last straw.

I finally gave in, and decided to "de-virtualise" my desktop. I took loads of backups, made a BartPE CD, booted it, and repartitioned my disk. Then I restored the backup of my VM client desktop, and rebooted.

Then I was stuck in a boot loop - as soon as the Windows logo appeared, the machine rebooted. Safe mode (even safe mode with command line) did not help. The only way out was a repair install with the latest CD I had (XP64 SP1), followed by a whole day downloading updates and service packs and copies of Internet Explorer.

So I can now advise that virtualisation is not ready to host your desktop on the one machine, and that changing the hardware of your Windows working environment is still a horrible nightmare.

CentOs and VMWare Workstation

I had other problems with my CentOs VMWare WOrkstation host environment. I have a Logitek USB headset, which I use with Skype in my VM client running Windows XP.

However, a while ago the microphone stopped working - all I got from it was a load crackling noise. I tried buying a new headset, but that was the same - it seems to be a reaction between CentOs and VMWare.

Yet another reason to abandon CentOs :-(

CentOs and USB 3.0

I run CentOs 5 as a host operating system for VMWare Workstation, and use a VM client as my main working environment.
I was finding backing up my environment to be a slow and painful process using USB2 disks, or the Gigabit network card.
I read that USB 3.0 was much faster, and that Linux was the first O/S to support it, so I bought a controller card and disk.
Then I found CentOs didn't support it :-(
I was encouraged by the nice people at el-repo to try their experimental kernel for CentOs, and, after a lot of messing about, I managed to get it booted, and accessing the USB 3 disk. However, I couldn't also use their fglrx ATI Radeon driver at the same time (it only works with the stock CentOs kernel). As dual monitor support is vital to me, I gave up, and finally abandoned CentOs.