Robert's Virtual

Building a Virtual Network - Part I

Installing a guest OS in VMWare Server

OK, let's get started by getting our ISO image of Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 by clicking here. The ISO file is over 700MB.

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution and is absolutely free. It comes with several applications and utilities installed with access to several thousand others. Ubuntu is stable, simple to install and is user friendly.

The first thing you want to do is move your newly downloaded ISO to the C:\Virtual Machines directory or wherever you installed VMWare Server. The reason for this is that VMWare can mount an ISO as if it were a CD/DVD, which is exactly what we'll do.

Next go ahead and log into VMWare Server and click on create virtual machine.
Create virtual machine
Create virtual machine

This starts the create virtual machine process

  • The first thing you want to do is give your machine a meaningful name as the default "Virtual Machine" isn't very descriptive. Click "Next"
  • Guest Operating System -  Select the "Linux" radio button and from the drop down select "Ubuntu Linux (32-bit)" or 64-bit depending.
  • Memory and Processors - Allocate some RAM; 512MB is recommended, but you can get by with 256MB. Be advised that VMWare will take the memory from your physical memory. Select 1 processor; you might be able to select 2 if you have a dual core.
  •  Hard Disk - Select "Create New Virtual Disk". VMWare will suggest 8GB, but you can get away with less. 6GB should be adequate.
  • Network Adapter - Select "Add a Network Adapter". Under properties, you'll have a choice of NAT, Bridged or Host-Only. For now, select NAT; it will give you access to the Internet through your physical NIC. We'll cover this in detail in Part II.
  • CD\DVD Drive - Select "Use ISO Image" and navigate to your ISO.
    Select ISO image for virtual machine
    Select your ISO
  • Floppy Drive - Select "Don't Add a Floppy Drive".
  • USB Controller - Select "Add A USB Controller". This might come in handy later.
  • Ready to Complete - Select "Finish". You now have a virtual machine with a 6GB unformatted hard drive and a bootable CD (The ISO) waiting to install Ubuntu Linux.

Now that we've created our VM, it's time to install Linux. However, before we begin we need to install the VMWare plug-in for our favorite browser.

Once you're back in the VMWare management console select your virtual machine, then the Console Tab and then click “Install plug-in” to begin the installation process. This plug-in is required to access your VM’s while they are running.
Install VMWare Plug-in
Install VMWare Plug-in

The plug-in is now installed. To start the installation process for Ubuntu simply select your VM in the left-most pane and click the start button on the VMWare management console tool bar VMWare Start Button. The VM boots from the ISO image and the installation of Ubuntu begins. To open up and interact with your VM click anywhere in the Console area.
Opening the VM
Opening the VM

Something unique about running VM's. You can either send mouse and keyboard actions to a virtual machine or the host machine, but not simultaneously (Except for CTL+ALT+DEL) or seamlessly. When you click inside a VM it "captures" your keyboard and mouse. Issuing CTL+ALT returns control to the host machine. Here are some key combinations you'll need to remember:

  • Click inside your running VM to send mouse and keyboard actions to it.
  • CTRL+ALT+INSERT sends the traditional CTRL+ALT+DEL to your VM …otherwise both the host and guest will process the CTRL+ALT+DEL if issued.
  • CTRL+ALT+ENTER will cause the VM to enter full-screen mode.
  • CTRL+ALT exits full screen mode and returns the mouse and keyboard over to the host machine regardless if the state of the VM was full screen.

The OS may boot using the "Live-CD" option which loads the OS into memory. This allows you to evaluate Ubuntu Linux without actually installing it. If Ubuntu boots to a configured desktop and you have an "Install" icon on your VM's desktop double click it to begin the install process. Otherwise select "Install" when the CD initially boots.

The Q & A that accompanies the installation is self-explanatory with the possible exception of the partitioning option. Select "Guided - Use Entire Disk" and the installer will take care of drives and partitioning. Once installation is complete VMWare changes the guest OS's BIOS, causing it to boot first from the hard drive and not the CD.

Almost done. the only thing left is to install VMWare Tools on our guest machine. What is VMWare Tools? VMWare tools are a set of additional drivers and tools that enhance the user experience and virtual machine performance and include:

  • Not requiring the CTRL+ALT sequence to release the mouse and keyboard.
  • Time sync with host machine.
  • Better video and mouse performance on the guest machine.
  • Copy/Paste between host and VM.

To install VMWare Tools on Ubuntu, first make sure the VM is running. Next, in the VMware management console select the VM in the left-most pane, click on the summary tab and click on "Install VMWare Tools".
Installing VMWare Tools
Installing VMWare Tools

This causes the guest OS (Ubuntu) to mount the VMWare Tools ISO. Extract the .tar.gz compressed archive to the /tmp directory. Double clicking the file will open it up in a software compression program that will do this for you.
Extracting the .tar.gz file
Extracting the .tar.gz file

Once the files are extracted bring up a terminal and switch to the newly extracted directory and install the tools with the following commands:

cd /tmp/vmware-tools-distrib
sudo ./
You'll need to supply your user password to continue. accept the defaults for the installation. there are several of them.

Complete! you now have a functioning virtual machine. Moreover, if you haven't used Linux before, this will give you an opportunity to explore and start getting comfortable with it.

One last note - A virtual machine does not have to be visible to be running. Once a virtual machine is started it remains running until it is shut down. Even if you close the VM console and the Web management interface, the VM is still running. Also, treat VM's like "real" computers; that is; power down gracefully and not by using the stop button on the management console.

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