Friday, November 25, 2011


VMware is a popular commercial application that abstracts Intel 80X86 hardware into isolated virtual machines. VMware runs as an application on a host operating system such as Windows or Linux and allows this host system to concurrently run several different guest operating systems as independent virtual machines. Consider the following scenario: A developer has designed an application and would like to test it on Linux, FreeBSD, Windows NT, and Windows XP. One option is for her to obtain four different computers, each running a copy of one of these operating systems. Another alternative is for her first to install Linux on a computer system and test the application, then to install FreeBSD and test the application, and so forth. This option allows her to use the same physical computer but is time-consuming, since she must install a new operating system for each test. Such testing could be accomplished concurrently on the same physical computer using VMware. In this case, the programmer could test the application on a host operating system and on three guest operating systems with each system running as a separate virtual machine. The architecture of such a system is shown in Figure 2.16. In this scenario, Linux is running as the host operating system; FreeBSD, Windows NT, and Windows XP are running as guest operating systems. The virtualization layer is the heart of VMware, as it abstracts the physical hardware into isolated virtual machines running as guest operating systems. Each virtual machine has its own virtual CPU, memory, disk drives, network interfaces, and so forth.