PCs

Trying out Linux the really easy way: VMware Player

After floundering around with Virtual PC, a friendly suggestion steered me toward VMware Player and a virtual appliance of Ubuntu 8.04. Installing it is a snap, and it's free. It's the perfect way to get acquainted with Linux.

Since I treated you all to the painful recitation of my labors trying to install Hardy Heron on Virtual PC, I might as well update you on how that is proceeding. Although I finally achieved a measure of success out of sheer stubbornness, after a week, I took great pleasure in removing all traces of Virtual PC from my machine. Ubuntu on VPC was slow, the audio was terrible, and the Firefox 3 beta was prone to freezing and crashing for no apparent reason. I may be stubborn, but I'm not masochistic.

Our veteran Linux tip writer, Vincent Danen, kindly suggested the free VMware Player and a virtual appliance. I quickly installed the Player and then went browsing for the appliance. The number of choices was bewildering, so I ended up getting the Ubuntu 8.04 build from VMPlanet. Well, as they say somewhere no doubt -- butter my buns! (I like that phrase -- it has assonance and consonance. I told you I was an English major.) It works like a charm, of course, with absolutely no work required for me. The only thing I've had to do so far is "downgrade" to Firefox 2, so that I could install the Rhapsody plugin, which does not work with the pesky Firefox beta. I haven't had time to do much yet, but I can already tell that Gimp is a very slick graphic editor, just from doing a quick crop of a photo.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

13 comments
rsmundy
rsmundy

RichardSM You know Ive sense installed Ubuntu 8.04.1 on and older desktop and I must say Im very pleased with its performance It has not crashed once yet been running for three months, unlike MS with all the Malware and such I'll keep it networked on my network. I still have need of Vista and XP. Just maybe MS needs to work as well as Ubuntu does.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

You would see the gigantic file library.You would browse for a program type then select the various functions for your own program.You could even store your efforts in your own Torrent software writing site,with an option to sell your programs to the Government.When you render the exe the writing program queries you on folders and so on.Icons and icon creating is also there.

Selena Frye
Selena Frye

As I said in the post, the number of appliances to choose from was overwhelming! If I were to try out another distribution, just for educational purposes, are there ones you recommend?

seanferd
seanferd

just for kicks, I tried out Haiku. It's what happened to Beos. For Linux, try some appliances with xfce or e desktops. Very nice.

cbader
cbader

Im very new to Linux, but Im interested in learning. So right now I have VMWare Workstation with Ubuntu, SUSE, and Fedora installed. Going through the setup and install was real easy, now I just have to learn how to install apps and start playing with the damn thing lol.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

A Live CD may be a simpler way to try Linux. Download an iso, burn the iso, boot the system from the Linux Live CD, look around...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The next step may be to install VMware Server or VMware Server 2 Beta (version 2 is a very nice update) and try a clean install on a compatible platform. I'm partial to Mandriva as a distribution and installing the minimum custom packages (kernel and config helpers + custom package selection; sshd, kdebase-konqueror, rpmdrake) then adding my prefered programs with urpmi after first boot. It results in just what you need installed for the programs you want to run. That becomes the never ending step three (quest for the perfect build config) after your confy installing the more bloaty default configs. Good to hear VMware Player treated you right though. It's less educational regarding the dirty bits of a Linux distro but more educational in demonstraiting how a distro is supposed to work.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd recommend Debian, Suse, Redora/Red Hat, Mandriva, knoppix (liveCD only for the post part) and Gentoo. Your core distributions are the rpm based, deb based and source based so you want to hit one or two from each. If you want to learn how a posix like OS goes together then skip the survey and choose a single distro your mostly comfortable with then cut a second VM and start mucking with Linux From Scratch or DYU Linux (think that's the second one); they are both build your own OS from scratch distributions with a strong emphasis on learning. If you just want to see how they all look; carry on.

ukstar
ukstar

You are right. Much easier to burn a live disk and run it. VMware need 7-zip, another pain. Live disk the way to go.Try Solaris if your machine is old enough!

bdfew
bdfew

I agree with Neon Samurai. I tried player but found Server easier to use. I am currently torturing Fedora 8, Ubuntu Hardy Heron, and Mandriva. Not sure if I'll ever totally switch but it is nice to be able to learn about linux distro's w/o screwing up the wifes computer

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's worth keepign in your tool kit as it's a USB friendly portable app and opens multiple compression formats along with it's own 7zip format. I prefer the winRAR interface (haven't touched winZIP in years because of it) but 7zip is handy to keep around.

Selena Frye
Selena Frye

I had to download it to unzip my virtual appliance file, but it was no big deal. It's a quick install like WinZip.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Whatever it is, I haven't needed it for any virtual Linux system I've configured under VM.