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VMware Releases Open Source Virtualization Client 218

Posted by kdawson
from the not-before-time dept.
ruphus13 writes in with the news that VMware has finally decided to open-source its client for virtual desktops, releasing it under the LGPL. This was in response to intense pressure from the growing number of Linux distros that include virtualization by default. From the post: "The CEO replacement who entered VMware last year was Paul Maritz, a long-time Microsoft executive with intimate familiarity with how Windows swallowed up entire categories of utility software as it grew up by simply wrapping free utilities into the operating system. Paul knows about that, and he had to have seen last year the dual threats to VMware of open source virtualization offerings and virtualization on board in operating systems. The VMware View Open Client allows businesses to host virtualized desktops in the data center, and users can access their desktops from any device. Going with an open source solution like this was VMware's only choice, especially as Microsoft includes Hyper-V virtualization in Windows Server. I'm sure Maritz was very focused on the Microsoft threat, because he used to be behind similar threats. VMware can grab market share with this move, stave off Microsoft's dominance, and offer support and services around its open source offering.'"
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VMware Releases Open Source Virtualization Client

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  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:17AM (#26723697) Homepage

    A popular way of distributing software - especially for people to try it out - is as a complete Linux distribution disk image that you can run with the VMWare Player. Is that program also going to become free? (If not, I guess it should be replaced with VirtualBox, but VirtualBox doesn't seem quite as polished.)

    As far as I can tell this is just a client application connecting to the VMWare View server, which is some kind of Citrix-like remote desktop server and remains proprietary. So no big deal, it appears.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:19AM (#26723713) Homepage

    VMWare's Workstation and advanced server products are expensive and companies have been buying them for quite some time as part of their infrastructure. Asking these customers to believe that "free" stuff is greater-than-or-equal-to what they have been spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on is like asking Christians to consider the notion that there is no god. They simply can't go there mentally.

    There is value perceived in spending lots of money on something. Take diamonds for example. They are NOT by any means "rare." Their beauty is debatable. But people perceive their artificially high prices as value even when faced with the fact that diamond "resale value" is nearly nothing by comparison. Some people think spending more money on things make them more worth while, more valuable, more elite. Starbucks built a nationwide chain on the idea. Clothing stores have been exploiting this perception for more than 100 years in the U.S.

    And then there are the commercial software vendors...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:19AM (#26723715)

    You have no idea what you are talking about. VMware is far from doomed given the current "virtualize the moon" craze. Also, the fact that you called Sun's VirtualBox by the name OpenBox clues me into this fact. Also, the fact that you don't see HyperV as a threat to other virtualization systems, tells me you haven't played with it. It's fairly fast in a lot of performance tests, it's pretty damn stable compared to VMware, VirtualBox, and LVM. It also works for most Windows environment operations, something that you'll find other virtualization suites don't do. Not to mention the cost, free with a Windows Server 2008 license.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:23AM (#26723745)

    Great, now let's have a GUI for Virtualcenter/ESX that doesn't require Windows.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:46AM (#26723947)

    There is value perceived in spending lots of money on something.

    The housing market and the .com industry imploded under the weight of perceived value as soon as those invested in them, respectively, wanted the money they were alleged to have had.

  • Re:Too late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:58AM (#26724023)

    VMware basically ruined whatever marketing value the zero cost VMware Server gambit provided. For those who aren't familiar with the drama:

    VMware Server 1.x contains a straightforward native client that works efficiently as a console for virtual machines. It's the same basic client VMware has used for the last decade or so across the produce line. It isn't perfect, but it is very usable, stable, etc.

    With the 2.x release they eliminated this client and replaced it with an enormous Tomcat+Java+Browser plugin mess that is slow, unstable, buggy, a memory hog and generally horrid.

    Oh, and the download size went from ~120MB to >500MB, installs to 1.5GB, erects a complete Tomcat stack and mangles your browser(s) with nifty new plugins.

    At one point VMware considered enhancing the new client to pop up goatse.cx images at random moments throughout the day to drive the last post-1.x holdouts to VirtualBox, but it turned out to be unnecessary. There aren't any holdouts.

    Tragic really.

  • Re:Thanks... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whereareweheadedto (959728) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:00AM (#26724045)
    Both are quite easy to deploy and Xen performs faster than ESX, but I never want to even think about running non-clustered virtualization solution. In this aspect does Vmware come in front. My bosses argued that the solution I select must have some level of official support and my free time is too valuable to spend saving 40 to 60 production virtual servers from crashing due to package update. I went to a Citrix presentation, where they showed us features of their Enterprise solutions. I must say that it worked flawlessly and I liked it, altough I am OSS fan. But final cost of Citrix solution is almost the same as Vmwares, if not higher. I was also considering using SLES10 Xen and Zenworks Datacenter management tools, which provide a high degree of availability, but in the end, when technical and financial aspects of every possible solution were compared, Vmware was clearly the solution we had to accept to achieve our goals. For next three years, we're commited to Vmware, but closely watching Xen. I hope I'll get to run it in a datacenter one day :) THe sooner the better.
  • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:09AM (#26724131) Homepage Journal

    Agreed. Even a web client. How hard is that, VMware?

        What company builds their product on top of Linux and then builds a GUI client that only runs on Winders?

  • by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:21AM (#26724239) Journal

    Not to mention the cost, free with a Windows Server 2008 license.

    That's not very free...

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:27AM (#26724297)

    Is that VMWare just fucking works. We use it at work and I'm real happy with it over all. It does it's job and does it well. I use Workstation on my desktop for managing images of lab machines (you can clone right out of the VM back to physical hardware, don't need to sysprep or anything if you took the original VM using VMWare converter) and we have a VMWare enterprise server for running some various servers on. We are working on virtualizing more as time goes on.

    I've played with other virtual solutions and I find them all lacking in comparison to VMWare. Some of it is in terms of user features. For example VMWare has an extremely robust and easy to use snapshot system in their Workstation version. Real useful if you are screwing around with software that might blow up your image, and it can branch if you start playing with multiple versions and such.

    A larger part would be that VMware seems to work well with all OSes. It runs Windows happily, it runs Linux happily, it runs OpenSolairs happily, etc. All the OSes I've tried with it run well and problem free. That's not the case for others I've messed with. They work well with whatever their favored OS(es) is but they don't work well or at all with others. Xen seems to work real well provided you are wanting to do Linux on Linux, but has problems with Windows. The MS solution I haven't played with much yet but I'm going to bet it doesn't care for Linux at all.

    As I alluded to earlier there's also how it deals with physical systems. VMWare has a program called VMWare Converter that'll nab an image of a physical computer, and convert it to virtual. Good for taking a system that needs to be virtualized but would be hard to reinstall. However it works real well the other way too. Symantec Ghost Solution Suite runs in VMWare fine and can take an image of the system. However you don't need to do that, GSS will read vmdk files directly. So you can go back from virtual to physical with ease. Also as I said when done right this works with no sysprep or any of that. So you build a base image on hardware and get the necessary drivers. You convert that to virtual. You then setup software in the VM, where you've got snapshots and the like in case something goes wrong. When that's good, hand teh VM disk to Ghost and have it push the image to all your client machines. This isn't theoretical, by the way, I do it all the time.

    I could go on but you get the idea. They do things better than others, or that others don't do.

    So while VMware certainly isn't the only game in town, it does seem to be the only one that does a really good job. The others are probably good if you are in a more limited situation. Like if you are an all Linux shop, ok maybe Xen is what you need. However if you've got a mix of OSes, or you need to mess with physical as well as virtual, or need advanced features, well then VMware is your best, and maybe only, solution.

    That may not translate to world domination, but should ensure a solid market. There's money to be made in doing things real well.

  • by OnlineAlias (828288) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:31AM (#26724345)

    You discount the fact that really big implementations nearly require VMware to work by simple virtue of the maturity of the product. By really big, I mean 1000 to 3000 guest servers and 10's of thousands of desktops. You think enterprise managers are going to go with Xen or Virtual box in these scenarios? Not a freaking chance. The marginal cost of the software is a pittance compared to the losses incurred when the project fails or even worse, when it sputters for a long time and then dies.

    Here are some numbers.

    VMware enterprise licensing and support= 2 mil.
    Server hardware, infrastructure and storage= 4 mil
    Professional services = 2 mil.
    Overall savings to organization in in heating cooling, data center, backups, personnel and equipment refresh over 5 years= 10 mil.

    Savings doing it with some other software= 500 grand (no one cares).
    Failed project = -16 mil.

    Comparing VMware to Starbucks as a luxury boutique product is nonsense. It is the only one that can and has actually delivered an enterprise capability.

  • Re:Thanks... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tweek (18111) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:33AM (#26724363) Homepage Journal

    Having done enterprise installations of both (pre-Citrix), vmware took the cake.

    The problem with Xen was the problem with a lot of open source "products". They may be superior in terms of resources or technology but they aren't "enterprise-ready".

    You can argue all you want about "hiring someone to hack on it" or "developing support tools internally" but those honestly don't fly except at a very specific company size. There are certain features and expectations that someone has when using something as core to infrastructure as virtualization and Xen isn't it (or at least wasn't at the time).

  • Re:Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip...paradis@@@palegray...net> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @12:01PM (#26725871) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, just look at all those Linux and BSD boxes, crashing all the time. Good thing everyone uses almost nothing but Windows in their server farms these days.
  • Re:R U kidding? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by figleaf (672550) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @12:58PM (#26726653) Homepage

    Netscape Communicator 4 was one of the worst browsers I have ever used.
    Netscape shot themselves by not releasing Netscape Communicator 5 in time. Netscape 4.5 was just 4.08 repackaged.
    By 1998, IE4 had already caught up and had better support for HTML, CSS and other recommendations than Netscape.

    VMWare on the other hand has been consistently releasing new versions with excellent new features and have maintained their lead.
    Superior products do win.

  • by setnaffa (718589) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:38PM (#26727951)
    Erroneus needs to read up on TCO. Businesses live by evaluating ALL costs. Direct acquisition costs are only a small part of that. Support costs for open source ARE more expensive than for major vendors who supply training and other support. Just because something costs more to buy does not mean it costs less to operate. Windows-based sysadmins are easier to find than those who claim to know Linux... Supply and demand... Trust me or not. Your choice. The attacks on US-based Capitalism are totally non-sequitor and equally shallow.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:23PM (#26729849) Homepage

    Once again, just as in asking a Christian to consider that there might be no god, people cannot look outside of their comfy EULA "guarantee of nothing" world to see that F/OSS is becoming a very big dog lately and doing some very big things.

    I tend to think the real underlying problem is that people are afraid to actually do things for themselves or in truth, discover that they can't do something for themselves. F/OSS represents a rather serious hurdle -- learning something new.

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