Network Virtualization: Getting Started with VMWare Player

You can dip your toes into the shallow end of the virtualization pond by downloading and experimenting with VMWare’s free virtualization product, called VMWare Player. You can download it from VMWare.

The following figure shows VMWare Player’s main screen. From this screen, you can create a new virtual machine or run one of the virtual machines you have already created. As you can see in the example, there are two virtual machines so far: one running Windows Server 2008 R2, the other running Linux.


You can run an existing virtual machine by selecting the VM and clicking Play Virtual Machine. This launches the virtual machine, which opens in a new window, as shown in the following figure.

When you launch a virtual machine, the VM behaves exactly as a real computer would when you power it up: First it initializes its virtual hardware devices and then it loads the guest operating system that has been installed in the VM. In the figure, Windows Server 2008 has booted up and is waiting for you to press Ctrl+Alt+Del to log on.


The prompt to press Ctrl+Alt+Del illustrates one of the peculiar details of running a virtual machine within a host operating system (in this case, running Windows Server 2008 R2 within Windows 7 Ultimate): When you press Ctrl+Alt+Del, which operating system — the host or the guest — responds? The answer is that the host operating system responds to the Ctrl+Alt+Del, so the guest operating system never sees it.

To get around this limitation, VMWare uses the special keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+End to send a Ctrl+Alt+Del to the guest operating system. Alternatively, you can use the VM pull-down menu that appears in the menu bar above the virtual machine menu. This menu lists several actions that can be applied to the virtual machine, including Send Ctrl+Alt+Del.

Another detail you should know about when working with a VM is that when you click in the virtual machine’s window, the VM captures your mouse and keyboard so that your input will be directed to the virtual machine rather than the host computer. If you want to break the bonds of the virtual machine and return to the host computer, press Ctrl and Alt.