Updated: July 30, 2006
In a world dominated by Windows operating systems, migrating to Linux sounds a daunting task. Apart from the
basic questions of getting used to a whole new and different world of computing, there is a question of
functionality. How capable will be a new Linux user? Many Internet sites are poorly coded so that only Internet
Explorer users can view them properly. Most of the software market (mainly the home sector) is severely biased
toward Windows applications. Will the new Linux user be able to retain the full flexibility of choices like in
Well, the answer is ... maybe. The newer Linux distributions are becoming more and more flexible and
home-oriented, coming bundled with a variety if highly useful packages that are intended to make the Linux
experience as complete and painless as possible. Nevertheless, some things will always remain purely
Windows-only and no amount of improvisation will be able to help. Most of the games market is oriented toward
Windows. Most online banking sites seem to be IE only.
To address this problem, Linux programmers have come with a variety of programs that allow a sort of patching
and virtualization, enabling partial support for Windows applications. Unfortunately, most of these solutions
do not really work. Running pieces of Windows separately does not work as well as the complete operating
system. So, instead of "hacking" individual executables and DLLs to make them run in Linux, why not run Windows
Why not indeed?
I consider being able to run Windows in Linux is an important achievement. One, it grants an empowering feeling
of geeky accomplishment. Second, for Linux doubters, this is one more reason why you SHOULD consider using
Linux. If the lack of compatibility for your favorite Windows application has been a major obstacle till now,
it is no longer so.
How did I do it?
Again, I must praise the superb VMware products that allowed me to do
this. But let's take this one step at a time. I'm going to write down a full guide how I successfully managed
to configure VMware Server in SUSE Linux and then install Windows as a guest operating system with full network
access. Hopefully, you will be able to reenact my feats.
I should add that I have successfully installed VMware products in several distributions, including Ubuntu and
PCLinuxOS. SUSE Linux is just one of the many distributions that will allow you to do so. Alternatively, you
can also use VirtualBox, an open-source virtualization solution
similar to VMware Server. But this guide focuses on SUSE + VMware Server. Here is the list of things that you
need to do:
- Install SUSE Linux on your computer (physically; NOT as a virtual machine).
- Download VMware Server for Linux.
- Install VMware Server for Linux.
- Carefully configure all of the little options to make sure there are no conflicts with other software.
- Start VMware Server and install Windows XP (or any other, for that matter) as a guest operating system; for
more details, you can refer to my Installing Windows XP article.
Install SUSE Linux
Please refer to my Installing SUSE Linux
article for step-by-step
Download VMware Server for Linux
You will need to register to be able to download the VMware
Server. After registering, you will receive the software serial number through email. After that, you will
have to agree to the software EULA before you will be able to download the necessary files. After you complete
the above steps and reach the download page, you will need three packages:
VMware Server for Linux (either .rpm or .tar.gz).
VMware Management Interface (tar.gz).
- VMware Server Console included inside VMware Server Linux client package
Marked in red are the actual names of the downloads on the download page. Download these to your /home
Follow the instructions in VMware Server Beta 3 Release Notes
step by step
. Linux instructions are located half down the page. Every step is
documented thoroughly and precisely, in detail. No special hacking knowledge is needed. Just read carefully and
execute each command line in turn. Although the Release Notes refer to Red Hat Linux, this works flawlessly for
You may be overwhelmed by the amount of information on the page, but do not panic. Here are some simple rules
that you should follow:
- For each of the packages mentioned above, you will first need to extract the tarballs and then run a
configuration wizard to set everything properly. You will need to be logged in as root (su) to do this.
- Once you run the configuration wizard, use the default settings for files, folders or ports. This will help
you debug possible troubles later on. Most how-tos will offer solutions based on the default configurations.
- On several occasions, you will be asked to designate a subnet of IPs for VMware network adapters. Let the
wizard find the adequate unassigned ranges by itself. Make sure all your network connections are plugged in
while you do this so that the wizard will see the IP ranges that would normally be reserved for your ISP or
local network and skip them. If you are using a DHCP server (if you use your SUSE machine as a router or
similar), you will have to manually add the subnet ranges to avoid conflicts.
- You will need to assign a directory where your virtual machines will be stored. Try not to assign a folder
on /root partition but rather on your /home partition. This will prevent possible access permission conflicts
and unnecessary clogging of the system partition. You should dedicate a sufficiently large hard disk space for
your virtual machines.
Start installing the packages, one by one. Run the configuration files. If you encounter a problem,
print-screen the Terminal windows or write down the exact error message that you receive so you will be able to
get accurate help in SUSE forums.
Run VMware Server
To start VMware Server, execute the following commands in a terminal window:
If you have done everything carefully, VMware Server should start.
Now, it was time to install Windows. So I built myself a virtual machine. VMware Server can do it for you, but
you can also use EasyVMX!
. Please refer to my VMware Player -
a great friend
article for more details.
In the home window of my VMware Server, I opted to run an existing machine. I located the .vmx file, located
inside my virtual machine folder, and ran it. The Windows XP virtual machine started booting from the CD and I
was on my way to install Windows XP.
Half an hour later, I had my XP alive and kicking, safely caged inside SUSE. Here's the familiar Windows XP
Here's the Internet Explorer 6 SP2, live and kicking inside Linux:
Of course, I had to install Firefox (plus some extensions):
Hard to believe, eh? But here I was, running Windows in Linux. The feeling of accomplishment that I feel is very
sweet. Using Linux is far more rewarding than I could ever possibly imagine. The little tricks make all the
It's up to you now. With a bit of luck and the right choice of graphic card manufacturer, you will be able enjoy
full network support (Internet, LAN), full 3D acceleration, VMware Server, and Windows XP with Internet access,
without any conflicts or bugs, all running smoothly on your SUSE Linux machine. Throw in a printer as a bonus
(Hewlett Packard has drivers that work for both HP AND Lexmark in Linux, go figure), and I doubt you will ever
need to look back again. Have I convinced you yet?
Links to SUSE forums:
SUSE Linux Forums
SUSE Forums - The Global SUSE Community
Open Source and Linux Forums
Links to VMware Server forums:
VMware Server Discussion Forums
VMware Server Discussion Forums -