SolutionBase: Installing VMware GSX Server under Linux

Microsoft's vitural machine software, Virtual Server 2005, runs only under Windows as a host system. VMWare's GSX Server can use Linux as a host. Here's how to install GSX Server under Linux.

One of the key benefits that VMware's GSX Server has over Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 is that you can use Linux as a host operating system instead of Windows. Configuring GSX Server under Linux is a little different than doing so when using Windows as a host operating system. Here's what you need to know.

Author's note

For more information about what you need to know before deploying GSX Server, see the article "Installing VMware GSX Server." My host server is an Athlon 2100+ machine with 2 GB of RAM and a 60-GB disk. I'm installing GSX Server on a Red Hat Linux 9 system.

Linux installation

As with the Windows version of the software, you need to pay for VMware GSX and then download the appropriate installer for your platform. I found the RPM installation on my test Red Hat 9 server to be extremely simple, with no special steps required to get the product up and running. Just use a supported operating system for the host! Get the software download. In this case, I used build 9089 of VMware GSX Server 3.1, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

VMware GSX Server 3.1 RPM installer

The installer will prepare your system and indicate what's going to happen, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Dependencies are checked before the installation actually happens

After that, VMware GSX is installed and you're ready to go. If you're using a different Linux distribution, be sure to refer to the VMware Web site before you forge ahead. A number of installation notes are provided for different distributions. For example, VMware warns that the default firewall configuration in Red Hat 7.2 and 7.3 can prevent access to the virtual machine management tools. Just look before you leap.

Starting VMware GSX Server

On Linux host machines, you can start the VMware service by typing VMware & at a command prompt, or by adding it to your system startup options. The VMware command line in Linux also has a huge number of other options that's beyond the scope of this article. However, just issuing the command above will start the virtual machine interface and let you create, start, stop, and delete virtual machines.

Figure C

The Linux administrative interface

From the console shown in Figure C, you can create a new virtual machine, start an existing virtual machine, connect to a different GSX host server, or change the GSX Server parameters. The configuration options available for the GSX server include limiting the amount of host RAM available for virtual machine use; deciding whether virtual machine-dedcated RAM can be swapped to disk (this will result in a performance hit, though); changing the default location for virtual machines; and deciding whether to use SSL for virtual server communication.